Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Cool Video: "Frontal Cortex-First Tarpon On Fly Rod"

A few months ago I came across a film on YouTube by a guy named Chris Helt about fly fishing for tarpon on the old Tamiami Trail.  It was called "The Trail:  A-Z" and you can see it here.  I thought it was a great piece of work and was more than happy to share it on this blog. 

Chris e-mailed me his latest film the other day which takes on the subject of tarpon fishing from a very different angle than his previous effort.  It's a short and kind of trippy video but well written and very skillfully edited.  This guy clearly knows his way around a Go-Pro and its software.  I really look forward to seeing more from him in the future. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Shallow Season

A great video showing the tailing redfish of Panama City. We're starting to see the same kind of activity down here.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New Beavertail BT Micro In Production

I just got this photo from Beavertail's Facebook page.  This is the mold for their newest skiff, the 2014 BT-Micro.  It's currently in production and the first few will hit the water in about two weeks.  I've already been on the prototype and it's an absolute blast.  They haven't released the final numbers yet but at just over 16 feet in length, this is going to be one shallow running skiff. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Pine Island Backcountry Snook On Fly

Here are a few more shots I took last week while fishing with Tim Reed from Idaho on the newest Beavertail Strike.  The more time I spend on that boat, the more I fall in love with it.  We ran and poled through several miles of backcountry creeks on a falling tide without ever once bumping the bottom, (or putting any scratches in the brand new gelcoat.)  It was also just before sunset when these shots were taken and getting stuck way back in the mangroves at dark never once crossed my mind.  That's nothing short of a death sentence this time of year thanks to the no-see-ums and mosquitoes. 

The snook bite has been better than I expected but we're not bringing in too many keepers.  Most of the fish I've landed this month have been in the 20 to 24 inch range like the one in the above photo.  These guys are a blast on an 8-weight rod and beautifully colored thanks to our dark water.  This one hit an all white deer-hair streamer.  You can't go wrong with patterns like that for snook under the mangroves.  And remember, if you're not bouncing every other cast off the branches, you're not getting close enough. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Strong Trout Bite Returns To Matlacha

Brian Favara from New Jersey with a fat 20" trout caught north of Matlacha.
While the redfishing has been really great in both Matlacha Pass and Pine Island Sound all month, the sea trout have been no-shows on a lot of my trips lately. That changed for me this morning when the trout started hitting Zara Spooks almost immediately.  My anglers only brought a pair on legal fish back to the dock but the bite stayed steady all morning.  We were fishing the Indian Fields just north of Matlacha and for the first time in several weeks the water actually tasted salty up there.  We're supposed to get another pile of rain over the next few days but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the salinity won't drop back to zero once again.  At least the redfish aren't affected either way. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cabbage Key Redfish On Fly

Idaho angler Tim Reed came down to test out the new Beavertail Strike and chase some redfish with his fly rod at the same time. Mission accomplished.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Double Header Redfish

My dad and I were out last night off Matlacha looking for tarpon but came across a huge school of redfish instead.  We both cast into them and pulled out this pair of 27 inchers a few minutes later.  Had we been entered in a tournament these two reds would have been worth a lot of money for us, maybe even a new boat.  Funny how things like this happen.  Oh well, at least I got a couple good meals and a great photo out of it. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Beavertail Skiffs At The Tampa Florida Sportsman's Expo This Weekend.

The last Florida Sportsman Expo of the year will be held at the FL State Fairgrounds starting Saturday morning at 10AM.  The entire line up of Beavertail Skiffs will be on display there and owners Will and Elizabeth Leslie will be on hand to answer any questions and arrange demo rides.  I'm planning on showing up for a few hours on Sunday myself so stop by the main Expo Hall, Space D, and say hello. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Pine Island Fishing Report: The Sky Is NOT Falling


Here are some of the fish that local angler Len Favara caught with me yesterday afternoon during the last hour and a half of the falling tide. We were off Little Pine Island in Matlacha Pass where the water is still very brown and almost completely fresh. And just like I've been saying here for the past few weeks, the fish still don't seem to mind one bit.

 The mullet are absolutely everywhere when the tide bottoms out and the redfish are schooling up right along with them. The two reds in those photos, one was 27" and the other 28", were both part of a big school of at least 100 other fish, tailing like crazy and eating everything in their path.  They ate white Gulp jerk shads as soon as they hit the water, and so did the trout.  The jack smashed a Zara Spook even before it hit the surface and pulled so hard we were convinced it was an oversized red.  Before all this happened Len spent over an hour casting to rolling tarpon in the exact same water. 

If anyone is telling you that all of the fresh water we're getting is ruining the fishing, please show them this post. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

September On Pine Island

From This month's Nautical Mile newspaper: 

Welcome to September, the very best month to fish the flats around Pine Island and Matlacha.  Everything you could possibly want to catch in the shallow water will be here in force over the next several weeks and well into the fall. 

Tarpon season is still in full swing as long as you’re looking for the smaller ones.  The huge migratory fish have moved along and won’t be back until next spring, but a few big stragglers can still be picked off in Charlotte Harbor.  The real action will happen in the dark waters of Matlacha Pass where hundreds of resident juveniles will pop up at sunrise every calm morning.  These ten to twenty pounders are my favorite fish and the perfect fly rod species.  They spend the entire fight in the air and can be boated quickly without a lot of stress to both the tarpon and the angler. 

Redfish will start pouring back onto the flats in big schools as they get ready to spawn.  While there aren’t any negative low tides for the first half of the month, which are always the best tailing conditions, you’ll still have long stretches of skinny water where feeding reds are easy to spot.  Pine Island Sound has dozens of excellent flats but the huge stretch of water just north of Pineland Marina is often Ground Zero for schooling redfish.  I’ve seen them so thick out there that they look like a solid blob of orange coming towards my skiff.  These big schools aren’t an everyday sight but when it happens they’re easy to spot and even easier to catch.  Throw almost anything that moves in front of them and you’ll get a strike.

Sea trout made a nice return in the middle of August and the cooler mornings of September give us even better conditions for this easy to catch gamefish.  Just about every angler in Southwest Florida knows that a Cajun Cork with a live shrimp or Gulp under it is magic on trout and effortless to use.  They also love to eat flies and are a great species to target for beginners.  An inexpensive 8-weight and a handful of easy to tie Clouser Minnows will nail trout all day long.  Once again, the Pineland area is a great place to target these guys but you’ll want to get in a little deeper water than where you’d be searching for reds.  Three to five feet over the grass and sandy potholes is perfect, especially on the rising tide during the morning hours. 

Finally, snook season is once again open here on the west coast of Florida for the first time since the disastrous cold snap back in the winter of 2010.   For those of you who are new to the area, keep in mind that you’ll need an additional $10 stamp on your saltwater license if you want to keep one of these fish.  Snook are some of the more heavily regulated species in Florida and rightly so.  Taste one that’s been properly grilled and you’ll know why.  You have to work a little harder to land a slot sized snook but just about any shoreline will hold them, especially at high tide.  I love working a topwater lure like a Zara Spook along the mangroves to get that explosive strike, but a baitwell full of live pilchards is more effective than anything. 

So that’s September in a nutshell, lots of fish and cooler weather, but that’s not the best part.  This is also one of the slowest months of the year for tourism and the snowbirds are still up north.  If you’re out on the flats during most weekdays you’ll often have the water all to yourself.  Enjoy it while it lasts. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The New Beavertail Strike Elite

Here's some photos I took of Capt. Luke Williams from Ft. Myers Beach on his new 2014 Beavertail Strike Elite.  This skiff has an all Kevlar hull with carbon fiber hatches and poling platform deck making it even lighter than the standard resin hulled Strike.  The Elite package starts in the low $30k range for the boat, motor and trailer.  That's an absolute steal for what is easily the best flats boat on the market right now.  Stop by this weekend's NMMA Tampa Boat Show to see the entire Beavertail lineup. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Big Labor Day Redfish

Tim Rose from Vero Beach landed this fat 29 inch red over the weekend with me off Little Pine Island.  We were fishing in the south part of Matlacha Pass where the water is still almost totally fresh.  This was one of six reds we boated this weekend as well as a pair of under size snook, a few trout, and some jacks.  We were also the only boat down there since most folks were scared north by all the Lake O runoff talk.  Fine with me.