Sunday, March 29, 2015

Stuff I Like: Royal Wulff Bermuda Shorts Fly Line

Actually, I don't just like this fly line, I absolutely love it.  I tried it for the first time four years ago and they've been my favorite lines ever since. The Bermuda Shorts are part of their Triangle Taper series and have a 22 foot head making it incredibly quick to load and shoot. I first put them on both of my 8-weight rods, a Sage Xi-2 and Temple Fork BVK, and found them to easily be the best line for casting at our small rolling tarpon around the canals of Matlacha. You can instantly haul it off the water's surface with one false cast and shoot it at a different fish when they appear.

The shooting head is light blue and the running line is a lighter yellow which is a nice looking combination, especially on the new BVK reel. It also features welded loops in both the backing and leader ends. I really like this because I hate nail knots and have never really learned to tie one properly. A simple loop to loop conection for both the leader and backing is the best possible connection and this line comes ready to go right out of the package.

All the Triangle Tapers retail for around $75 which is what you'd expect to pay for any premium saltwater line, and there are a lot more expensive ones out there. Unlike some of its competitors, this one actually will add 20 feet to your cast. Bermuda Short fly line is really great stuff and you can pick them up locally at Norm Zeigler's Fly Shop on Sanibel or from several online retailers.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Pine Island Fly Fishing Club

Last month's inaugural meeting of the Pine Island Fly Fishing Club had over 40 local anglers show up and it was standing room only at the tiny Chamber of Commerce building.  The next meeting will be this Monday, March 30th, at 6:30 PM at the Matlacha Park Community Center.  It will feature a guest speaker and also several fly tying demonstrations.  The club is open to anyone and you don't have to be an experienced fly angler to attend.  If you're new to the sport and want to meet up with a lot of avid local fishermen, this is a great monthly event. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Love Those Pine Island Jacks

We never turn down a shot at a big jack on my boat, especially with the fly rod.  There have been plenty of them cruising up and the shorelines of Matlacha Pass all month and they rarely let us down when they see anything moving in front of them.  My buddy Don Atkinson nailed this six pounder on his very last cast of the day on Friday afternoon and saved us from going home with the skunk still in the boat.  They don't have the glamour of tarpon or snook this time of year but I'll fish for jacks any chance I get. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Pine Island Snook On The Fly

Snook season has been really great since it reopened at the beginning of the month.   Everyone loves chasing these fish on any kind of tackle but tossing flies at them is a whole different game.  Snook have great eyesight, a powerful lateral line, and a good sense of smell.  In other words, they're tough to fool with a just hook wrapped in feathers.  There are dozens of proven snook patterns and most of them resemble some kind of baitfish.  The most successful flies in our dark Pine Island waters are mostly white and unweighted so they land softly.  In other words, you'll want to use some kind of Deceiver.  This is what we were tossing yesterday when Boston angler George Scott landed several snook including the 25 incher in the top photo. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Man, The Myth, The Mustache.

There is so much Awesome in this photo I don't even know where to begin.  This is my buddy David Fish from PA.  Yes, his last name really is Fish and you can only wish you'll look this cool when you're retired.  David can also bring bananas on my boat and still yank a 24" red out of the mangroves, blowing that old superstition right out of the water.  Toss in the loud golf hat and t-shirt and you've got everything I love about Florida in this one photo. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

More Jacks On Fly

I love coming across a school of feeding jacks because I know that anything we toss into them will get eaten.  You can find them blitzing glass minnows almost anywhere right now, from the mangrove bays of Pine Island to the shoreline of Matlacha.  The most important thing is to be ready all the time and I make sure I've got an 8-weight with a bait fish pattern tied on at all times.  The jacks in these shots hit a Deceiver and a Clouser Minnow, two of the best all around flies for just about anything in saltwater. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

My New Website Is Awesome!

After ten years of no changes, my website was completely redesigned last month and everyone seems to love it, especially me.  The overall look of the pages came from my brother Randy, a brilliant graphic artist who designed the fonts and my excellent logo.  I've posted some of his other work here.  The real heavy lifting was done by my buddy Sam Peplinski of Rising Tide Design.  He took every single one of my brother's ideas and brought them to life exactly as we wanted to see them.  Best of all, Sam also put my site at the top of the page for several different Google searches for Pine Island.  I can't say enough about his work and if you need any kind of web work done get in touch with him ASAP.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Beavertail Strike: A Beautiful Flats Boat.

Every new 17' BT Strike is a work of art but my buddy Tyler still has the best looking one I've seen so far.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Matlacha Snook Are Hungry

I landed almost a dozen of these guys in just over an hour this afternoon. The snook in Matlacha Pass are fished hard but I had no problem getting them to eat a Zara Spook from my 13' Beavertail Ambush.  

This is the ultimate stealth fishing platform and being right on top of the water had a lot to do with getting under the snook's radar. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

More Big Jacks In Matlacha Pass

We got into a real feeding frenzy yesterday.  I was out with my buddies Brooks and Forrest, two of the better local fly anglers, when several waves of these 10 to 15 pound jack crevalles came pouring down the flats just north of Matlacha.  Catching fish like this on a 7-weight fly rod is as good as it gets.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Snook Season!

We haven't landed any keepers yet but at least they're willing to hit flies.

And we're getting some nice trout, too.
The water temps in Matlacha Pass are back in the mid 70's and just about everything is starting to eat once again. If it keeps up like this we should start seeing some tarpon in Charlotte Harbor before too long.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Microskiffs For Pine Island

From this month's Nautical Mile Newspaper:

As a full time guide, I get asked by a lot of folks for my opinion on what type of flats boat they should buy for Pine Island and my answer usually surprises them.  I tell just about everyone to buy the smallest boat with the least amount of horsepower that will do everything you want.  It’s that very last part that’s most important. 

Everywhere you look you’ll see flats and bay boats with 200hp motors or more, and those rigs definitely have their place.  But if you’re new to SW Florida and want to dedicate yourself to fishing our excellent shallows, you need to start out with something as basic as possible, and a microskiff is the way to go.

The term “microskiff” has only been around for a dozen years now but the boats themselves go back much further.  For most anglers it means a boat less than 18 feet long, designed for two people (a third is possible in some situations) and powered by no more than a 25 horsepower outboard.   Basically, these were the only kind of flats boats available until about 50 years ago. 

The modern microskiff was actually designed by a rocket scientist.  Harley Gheen was a senior engineer at Cape Canaveral in the early 1960’s.  He was also an avid fisherman who loved poling the Indian River in his canoe and casting to the huge redfish that prowled those flats.  What Harley didn’t like was constantly being dumped out of his tippy craft every time he tried lifting one of these fish on board.  Between Gemini and Apollo launches he carved a new design at his desk from a hunk of balsa wood that would eventually become the Gheenoe (short for Gheen’s Canoe,) and 45 years later over 50,000 have been built.    

Even if you’ve never heard of a Gheenoe, you’ve seen them at the boat ramp or parked outside the bait shops in the morning.  I’ve actually owned two over the last decade and will probably pick up another one in a few years for my kids to use.   A 15’ Gheenoe with a 15hp outboard is the perfect first boat for anyone looking to learn their way around the shallows of SW Florida.  They’re light enough to launch almost anywhere and fast enough to get you and another angler wherever you want to go.  When you run one hard aground (trust me, YOU WILL) they’re light enough for one person to drag back into deeper water.   A Gheenoe isn’t much fun to run in choppy conditions but they will teach you to when to head out and when to stay home.  Best of all, you can easily pick up a used Gheenoe for under $1000, and that price could include a small motor and trailer. 

As a guide, I obviously need something with a little more capability and a lot more creature comforts.  My current boat is an 18’ Beavertail BT3 that can run three anglers and myself anywhere around Pine Island in almost any kind of weather.  It has all the features like a brand new Yamaha 4-stroke outboard, remote controlled Minn-Kota trolling motor and Power Pole, and a full color Garmin GPS.  The BT3 is an excellent machine and does everything I possibly want when I’m out with paying customers. 

But on those rare days when I have a few hours to myself and the conditions are right, the 18’ BT3 stays in the driveway and my 13’ Beavertail Ambush hits the water with me.  This is the ultimate microskiff and is built for only one person with a maximum 6hp outboard.  It looks like a powered surfboard but is actually a very capable skinny water boat that will float shallower than most fishing kayaks.  I’ve used my Ambush to chase redfish on the Pine Island flats during some of this winter’s lowest tides without ever thinking about running aground.  I’ve also had a blast poking into some very narrow creeks that I never knew existed but took me to hidden pools of baby tarpon way back in the mangroves, (thank you, Google Earth.)  If I was starting from scratch with no knowledge of the waters around Pine Island, running around in an Ambush would be a great education. 

Before you start boat shopping, take a minute and decide how you’ll be spending most of your time on the water.  Sometimes you really can do a lot more with a lot less.