Friday, November 29, 2013

Two Years and 700 Hours With My Beavertail BT3

I brought my 2012 model BT3 home from the factory two years ago today and the meter on my Yamaha F70 happened to read exactly 700 hours on this morning's charter.  Both the skiff and the outboard have performed better than I expected on the hundreds of trips I've run in that time.  Keep in mind that the average recreational angler only puts about 100 hours on their boat each year. 

The hull of my BT3 is no longer flawless.  There are more than a few nicks and scratches in the gelcoat and a couple of really good gouges here and there, all of which are my fault.  Put any fishing boat in the water close to 500 times and you're going to get some war wounds, especially with all the oyster bars and worn out docks in this area.  But one thing you won't find anywhere on my skiff are spider cracks in the gelcoat, which are a sign of weak points and flex in the hull.  I've run my Beavertail across some really rough chop in Charlotte Harbor in the last two years and there's no sign of weak spots or flexing anywhere.  I've seen (and owned) other high end skiffs that developed spider cracks after just a few months of use. 

My Yamaha F70 has run almost flawlessly over its 700 hour life.  I say "almost" because I picked up a tank of contaminated gas a couple months ago that would have knocked out any engine.  (Thanks a lot Shell station on NW Pine Island Road.)  The injectors got really fouled but once my local mechanic jumped on them I was back on the water with no lost charters.  Other than that, this current F70 has performed great and still cruises the BT3 along at 28 mph while burning just under 3 gph.  I do plan on swapping this current outboard for a new one in the next month or so but that's more of a business decision and has nothing to do with my trust in its reliability.  In fact, there are dozens of commercial mullet and crab fishermen in this area that have racked up thousands of hours on their Yamaha outboards. 

Overall, I still can't say enough good things about the BT3 and Beavertail as a company.  I'm a huge fan of everything they build from their newest little Micro on up the offshore Aeon 23.  Their 17 foot Strike is probably the best selling technical skiff on the market right now and the boat I would seriously love to own.  Will and Elizabeth Leslie have done an amazing job with their lineup in a very short time.  Beavertail's sales have gone through the roof this past year and are clearly giving their two bigger competitors a run for their money. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Cold Front Slam

Just before our temps were set to plummet on Thanksgiving morning, we had one really good morning in the south part of Matlacha Pass.  Melissa and Eric from North Carolina came back to Pine Island and landed a pile of reds, two snook and one nice trout with me this morning, all on Gulp shrimp fished under the mangroves.  Even if it gets as cold as predicted things will warm back up quickly and next week with its morning low tides should be excellent.  I'm really looking forward to December here on Pine Island. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pine Island Fishing Report: Perfect Tailing Redfish Conditions

Negative low tides in the mornings gave us several perfect days to throw flies at tailing reds in both Matlacha Pass and Pine Island Sound.   Minnesota angler Reed Saunders, who just recently became a local snowbird, landed this excellent 27" beauty on fly with me yesterday near Cabbage Key.  He was casting a Dupre Spoon fly at this fish which was digging up the bottom in just over a foot of water.  Reed used the same pattern to land a 20" red in even shallower water an hour earlier that morning. 

Sight casting to these fish is best accomplished when the water is as low as possible and the tide is just starting to flood.  If this happens in the mornings, starting about an hour after sunrise, then that's even better.  We've had these conditions all week and the cloudless blue skies have helped out tremendously.  Next week's tides aren't so hot in the mornings but the first week of December is going to be perfect.  I've still got a few days open then so give me a call if you want a shot at a big tailing red. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Stuff I Like: 239 Flies

A good friend just hooked me up with a box of inshore patterns from 239 Flies, (which was also a much nicer gesture than I deserved.) I saw these online a few months ago and thought they looked great but had no idea how really well made they are.  I'll be trying them out on some low tide redfish and snook during the next few days and I'm sure they'll get their share of eats.  Check out his website here and pick up a few for yourself.  If your fly box looks like mine in the photo above, there isn't  much you can't catch on the flats. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Lockjawed Redfish Around Pine Island

We've been covered up by redfish over the last 48 hours but getting them to eat has been a real chore for me. They've been tailing on the flats in Matlacha Pass and clinging to the backs of stingrays in Pine Island Sound so finding them hasn't been a problem. They just don't seem to want the artificials that my anglers have been tossing at them, except for the Gulp shrimp. That's what the 26 incher in the photo above ate today for my buddy Tyler Davis just south of Cabbage Island. It was a gorgeous fish but we had to work way too hard to catch it. Just one of those days.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Another Cold Front Brings Some Big Trout

All of these 20" plus fish were caught north of Matlacha during the afternoon falling tide. Far from the best conditions but the results haven't been too bad this week.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Fishing On A Classic

I just spent a cloudy afternoon catching trout off Matlacha on my neighbor Bob's old Whipray. His boat is one of the very first skiffs built by Hell's Bay back in 1998.  The fishing was great but the light was terrible so in honor of the old boat I thought I'd make the photos look old, too. 


Friday, November 8, 2013

Save The Great Barracuda

My buddy Capt. Mike Bartlett down in Key West loves fishing for big barracuda and just wrote a great article about protecting this very unappreciated gamefish.   Click here to read it and please pass it along to your friends.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cold Front Redfishing

It's that time of year again, when the chilly air and high winds from the north push down and blow the water off the flats during the lowest tides. I really don't enjoy fishing in these conditions and I even cut a full day charter short yesterday after it became a lost cause with 30 knot gusts around 11AM. But this doesn't mean you can't catch fish before, during and after a nasty cold front and the photos above show just that. Just remember that the reds will stack up in the potholes and channels right outside the flats that they frequent during ideal conditions. The fish in these pics were landed in three foot holes near Smokehouse and Buzzard Bay at the bottom of the negative lows. Dropping Gulps into any good looking pothole is a great way to haul out a slot-legal red or really big trout over the next few months. If you use live shrimp or cut bait you'll be even more effective but expect more than your share of catfish, too.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Pine Island Fishing Report: Sightcasting To Big Reds In The Sound

Great new for all you fly anglers:  the waters of Pine Island Sound are clearing up beautifully and some nice schools of redfish are still cruising the grass flats out there. I spent the last three days fly fishing with angler Terry Rusthoven who splits his time between Colorado and Central Florida.  We found piles of big reds in Orange Pass and on the flats near Cabbage Key but getting them to eat a fly was a real chore.  The few that did eat were over slot fish that took deer hair sliders and spoon flies dropped right on their heads.  If you're out there tossing live bait you should be sick of catching them by now.