Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Big Trout Invading Matlacha Pass

 I keep cursing out the high winds for messing up my tarpon fishing but at least trout like this are everywhere right now.  Most of my anglers have gone home with some really nice filets for the grill this week so that's a big plus.  Use Gulps under popping corks on almost any 3 foot deep flat and you'll catch trout like this, too. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Pine Island Fly Fishing Club Meeting Monday 4/27

Last month's meeting had almost 80 local anglers show up at the Matlacha Park Community Center, twice as many as the first gathering.  Even though some of our snowbirds have gone north, this week's meeting should be just as packed since more folks are hearing about the club each week.  This month's speaker will be Dave Westra, the owner of Lehr's Economy Tackle, one of the very few fly shops in the area.  If you're interested in fly fishing at any level, stop by the Community Center (4577 Pine Island Road, Pine Island) at 6:30pm.  Hope to see you there. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Too Windy For Tarpon, Great Day For Snook

Northwest winds screwed up our plans for tarpon fishing this morning so we worked inside the Matlacha Pass mangroves and chased snook instead.  Local angler Greg Woodsum landed at least ten of these guys by tossing a white deer hair slider on an 8-weight.  Undersize snook like this are common on just about every inch of shoreline in this area.  Just make sure your flies have their barbs crushed to make releasing them easier since these fish will be legal in just a year or two. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Carbon Marine Fly Line Lair vs. Stripping Basket

Carbon Marine Line Lair
Every fly angler knows that one of the biggest headaches when fishing from a skiff is controlling the loose line on a windy day.  Carbon Marine's Line Lair is a very simple solution to that problem. 

This product has been around for several years and just about every serious angler I know is using them.  As you can see in the photo above, it's nothing more than a thick mat with a few dozen 3" rubber spikes molded onto its surface.  These loosely hold the fly line in place without snagging it for the next cast.  At $129, it's a rather expensive slab of rubber but the Line Lair really works as advertised. 
Ryobi Collapsible Leaf Basket.
Solid stripping baskets are a popular solution but I've never liked them since you often have to look down after the cast to make sure the line is actually going in to them.  That's a big distraction when you really need to be focusing on the fish.  They also tend to be just as expensive as the Line Lair. 

A much cheaper solution, and one I used to use for years, are the folding leaf baskets that sell for about $20 at Home Depot.  These actually work better since they have a larger mouth than the rigid line baskets sold specifically for fly fishing.  They need quite a bit of weight added to their bottoms to keep them from blowing off the deck in 20 knot winds.  A large, soaking wet beach towel dropped in their bottom usually works but a piece of garden hose filled with lead sinkers is the preferred  modification.  Unfortunately, that doesn't stop the top half of these baskets from dancing around in some serious gusts.  For that reason alone I stopped using them completely. 

If you can swing it, get the Carbon Marine Line Lair.  It's one of those rare examples of something that you'll get more than your money's worth out of over its lifetime. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Windy Day Crevalle

The weather knocked out our chances at catching a tarpon on Friday but Punta Gorda angler Nick Smith landed this big jack on a very light rod north of Matlacha.  He also completed a Slam with a lot of undersize trout, snook, and a red.  Not bad for a cloudy and windy day. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Airborne Tarpon

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I don't post a lot of tarpon pictures since we jump far more fish than we actually land and I rarely have a camera in my hands during the fight.  I got lucky with this tarpon, a midsize guy that ate a fly in the flat calm afternoon water in Charlotte Harbor.  The light was harsh so it isn't a great shot but not bad for having a Nikon in one hand and a push pole in the other.  This fish also spat the hook about two seconds later. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Pine Island Sound Reds And Snook

I finally had a chance to fish with my buddy Eric on his excellent new Beavertail BTV this morning.  Our plan was to look for tarpon but the wind screwed that up and we hit the mangroves instead looking for anything that would bite.  Eric actually hooked the Slam but his huge trout popped off before we could land it.  The snook and redfish cooperated and were sent back after their photo session. 

Both of these fish came from the water around Mondongo and Patricio Islands in the north part of Pine Island Sound.  This is a great little microcosm of grass flats, oyster bars, and both shallow and deep mangrove shorelines.  It's an excellent area to explore on a rising tide, especially when you need somewhere to hide from a southeast wind. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Osprey Showing Off

We have a very healthy population of osprey on Pine Island and seeing them dive on fish, usually mullet or small speckled trout, is an everyday event.  But whenever one of these birds nails a particularly nice gamefish they seem to make a point of flying right past my bow with it on full display.  This osprey actually struggled for nearly a minute before he could lift this over-slot trout out of the water, and he still managed to give us a fly-by anyway.  This fish was way bigger than any we brought home that day.  Osprey's can be real a-holes sometimes. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

First Pine Island Snook

This one has a few more years until it reaches the 28 inch slot legal size but it was NJ angler Ron Walton's first snook so it counts.  He and his wife Cindy also landed a pile of trout but missed their redfish to complete the Slam.  Next time. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Indian Fields

My buddy Vic took this shot of me poling a client for tailing reds on the huge flats just north of Little Pine Island last week.  A beautiful morning and perfect low tides for sight casting.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Tough Meal

I've seen great blue herons eat everything from snakes to stingrays but I was sure that this softball sized blowfish was going to be too much.  This bird wasn't giving up and kept stabbing away until the fish deflated and then flew off with it's meal.  I've never tried blowfish (which can be very toxic) but over in Japan it sells for almost $200 a plate so I'm sure this heron thought it was worth the effort. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Pine Island Tarpon Are Here

Actually they've been here for a few weeks but the big cruising fish are finally making a good showing in the skinnier water and I've been putting my fly anglers on them over the last few days.  This is a great sign to have this many tarpon on the shallows here in early April.  The big migratory schools usually don't show for another month so it looks like we're in for a great season. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Big Snook Revival In Matlacha Pass

Last week's cold snap put them away for a few days but Tennessee angler Joe Todd landed this 27" snook on the last cast just a mile south of the Matlacha Bridge before sunset yesterday.  It hit a white Gulp Jerk Shad under a Cajun Cork, the best all-around combo you can use on a spinning rod for just about everything in our waters right now.  This fish went back in the water since it was an inch under the legal size (of course) but there are a lot of bigger ones out there.  I commonly spot at least two dozen over slot snook every day while I'm poling the shorelines with fly anglers.  Seeing them is easy.  Getting them to eat is a serious chore.