Thursday, February 26, 2015

Big Jacks Near Matlacha

I love jacks and so does just about everyone else who fishes light tackle on the flats.  Pound for pound there's almost nothing stronger that swims in the ocean.  The one in this photo, caught by Mike Kitz from Ohio, was only a five pounder but nearly spooled the Shimano reel loaded with 15# Power Pro braid.  We were just pulling away from Seven Seas Bait & Tackle when a big school of these guys started blasting minnows right off their dock.  We chased them around for 20 minutes and this was the second jack that Mike landed just a few yards from the shoreline.  These fish are a common sight around the bridge this time of year but you have to be ready when their feeding frenzy starts.  Watch for the birds to start diving and toss anything you've got into the center of the action.  Just make sure your drag is cranked down since even a small jack like this one (they easily grow over 30lbs.) is enough to dump most smaller reels. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Still Bringing Home The Trout

Mother Nature obviously hates the northeast right now, but she doesn't seem to like Pine Island too much this month either.  Last week we had cold temps, the lowest in five years, but it warmed up quickly and that created a lot of fog.  Even though our skies are drippy and grey, the fish are eating once again and snook season is right around the corner.  Keeper size trout are an everyday catch and I've sent a few guys home with decent meals this week.  Live shrimp are always the best bet and our local bait shops are selling some really nice sized ones lately.  If they run out this weekend a bucket of Gulps is almost always just as effective. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

New Beavertail Skiffs On The Water

We did a video shoot in Bradenton last week along with Thomas & Thomas fly rods and got to run some of the newest BTs to hit the water.  You can see all of these boats in person starting this Friday at the Tampa Outdoor Expo.

The amazing 20' Lightning with a new 250 Evinrude.  This boat should come close to 80mph.
Fly casting from the enormous deck on the Lightning.

The 17' Strike.  BT's best selling skiff and my favorite, too.

Capt. Mark Cowart's new Lightning with a the Mercury 150 4-stroke.

Another view of Capt. Mark's Lightning.

The Lightning 250 at the dock.

The 16' Micro with a 30hp will still hit 30mph and draft in only 5" of water.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

2004 Hewes Redfisher For Sale, $18,000

This boat belongs to a friend on Pine Island and is in perfect condition. It's a real bargain at $18,000.

2004 16' Hewes Redfisher
2004 90HP Yamaha 2 Stroke 547Hrs, complete service all filters, water pump, thermostat, fluids etc. 8/14
2004 Performance Alum. Trailer, LED lights, leaf springs are about 2 years old and newer tires and hubs lightly used. Newer Fulton jack
-Garmin 440 color GPS
-Lowrance X-4 Pro depth/Fish Finder
-Icom 304 VHF/Shakespeare Ant.
-Clarion CD/Dash Control/Pioneer Speakers
-Custom Poling Platform/Powdered Coated W/Rod holders
-Spreader Light on Platform
-Under gunnel courtesy lights
-6Ft Power Pole w/ Remote, and New Spike
-Minn Kota 24v 80lb ipilot with remote
-2 1200 Odyssey Batteries mounted in bow locker
-20 gal livewell with recent 8/14 plumbing and new shutoff valve and Tsunami 750gph pump
-2 New 8/14 Deka AGM M40-12 SLD M mounted in center console with selector switch mounted Aft/Stbd locker new 4ga tinned wiring
-Guest On-Board 2 bank charger for trolling motor
-Custom Console Cover
-Sea-Dek Under Gunnels w/ Redfish Logo
-21ft Stiffy fiberglass Push pole
-3 SS popup cleats
-Power-Tech 3Bld S.S. Prop
-New 8/14 Lenco Trim Tab actuatours
-New 8/14 Baystar hadraulic steering
-New 8/14 Atlas Microjacker

$18,000 FIRM.
Contact Eric at 336-601-7874

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Stay Warm

The third cold front of February throwing rain against my window right now.  That means another three days of chilly temps and we might even hit the upper 30's by Friday morning.  At least the reds and snook are making a big comeback on the flats and we're getting shots at them my the dozens each morning.  We'll be back in the 80's by the weekend and March is right around the corner.  The best fishing of the year is on the way. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Miami Fishermen, 1925

We have definitely come a long way over the last 90 years...

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Winter On Pine Island

Sorry Boston.  At least you have that new Lombardi Trophy to keep you warm.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Big Trout Save The Day

John Stewart from Minnesota with a 21" trout from Pine Island Sound
Thank God that February is a short month.  It looks like we're in for another cold snap later this week and that will keep our water temps down in the low 60's at best.  It's not the end of the world but a lot of bigger fish aren't having anything to do with it these days.  I can't complain about too much about the trout fishing though, and we've even managed to pull in some really nice ones in the afternoons.  The clear waters in the north part of Pine Island Sound have produced a few gators last week, especially in the potholes near Orange Pass. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

My Favorite Artificial For Pine Island Redfish

You're looking at it.  A 3" Gulp Shrimp in New Penny color rigged on a 4/0 Owner's weighted Twist Lock hook.  This is my go-to artificial for pulling big reds out of the mangroves, and it catches just about everything else, too.  Now that January is behind us we should start seeing more upper slot fish like the one in the photo.  March can't get here quick enough, though. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Crab Flies For Sheepshead

From this month's Nautical Mile Newspaper:
My buddy Tyler with a nice sheepshead on fly.  We'll talk about that shirt he's wearing in another article.

Every serious saltwater fly angler, no matter where they fish, has at least three or four crab flies in their box.  For those of us here on Pine Island, that number should be much higher.  Every gamefish that swims in our waters makes crabs a big part of their diet, and they have dozens of species to choose from out there.   Trying to tie or purchase enough imitations of all the different clawed creatures that inhabit our grass beds would be an almost impossible task, but fortunately you don’t even have to come close to that.  In fact just one pattern, with a few small adjustments, will do it all.

Legendary angler Del Brown’s classic Merkin Crab fly has been around for thirty years now and although it was originally designed the fool the notoriously difficult permit down in the Keys, it works on every other inshore species, too.   Tarpon, redfish, and even snook will hit this pattern and it can be tied in an endless variety of sizes and colors.  Since the Merkin is basically a few strands of rug yarn and a couple of feathers, it’s obviously not too hard to modify.  You can eliminate the weights to make it a surface pattern for tarpon in the passes or tie on some extra heavy dumbbell eyes to dredge up grouper from the near shore reefs.

The Merkin was such a revolutionary pattern that almost every “new” crab fly introduced over the last few decades has been nothing more than a tweaking of Del’s original masterpiece.  There have been several well publicized attempts to reinvent the permit fly recently but all of them still share 90% of their DNA with Del’s original masterpiece.

One thing I really like seeing is anglers modifying it specifically to fool sheepshead.  These are one of the most common but sadly underrated inshore gamefish on the entire east coast of the United States.  Sheepshead are difficult enough to catch on live bait since their entire diet consists of barnacles that they eat off of dock pilings and oyster bars.  Fooling them with a fly is a serious chore but, like a lot of other species, they can’t resist a good looking crab. 

Catching a big sheepshead on a fly rod is just as much as of an angling accomplishment as landing a permit in the Keys.  Fortunately for us here on Pine Island, it can be done year round. 

Learning where the neighborhood oyster bars are located is the first step to hooking a sheepshead.  Now that we’re in the winter low tides this shouldn’t be too difficult.  These huge clumps of oysters are poking way out of the water just about every day this month.  Mark them on your GPS and charts because it’s during the high tides when you want to be out there fishing.  That’s when the sheepshead most actively feed along the oyster bar’s edges.  Cast and bounce a #4 or smaller Merkin, or similar crab pattern, off the deepest part of these bars and you’re most likely to get a very subtle bite from a sheepie.  Just remember to pull straight back with your line hand to set the hook on them.  The sheepshead’s mouths are solid teeth over even more solid bone so lifting the rod tip like you would on a freshwater trout does next to nothing.  Strip strike them like a tarpon or the hook will never bury itself in there. 

This is just a thumbnail sketch on how to fish for this tricky species with a fly.  Even though I rarely target sheepshead on any tackle, I really wish I could dedicate more time in pursuit of them on my charters.  They’re a very worthy adversary and not difficult to find here on the waters around Pine Island.  Give the sheepshead a serious shot with some crab flies and let me know if what you’re doing is successful.