Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Herman Lucerne Memorial Tournament.

FLATS HQ Presents Herman Lucerne Memorial 2015 by Dan Decibel from FLATSHQ on Vimeo.

This is a very well done video, great scenery and background music, too.  I didn't fish this tournament but plan to next year. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Jack And Dolphin Attack In Matlacha Pass

I got to spend a few hours on Capt. Don Moorhead's awesome Shearwater bay boat a few days ago. We set out looking for reds under the mangroves but were quickly swamped by several waves of big jacks which hit everything we threw at them.  We landed three but the real highlight was watching a dolphin trailing us smash into one of our released fish.  Here are some shots from that morning.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pine Island Sound At Sunset

Surrounded by tailing redfish last night that just wanted something better than what we were offering.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Restoring The Little Juniata River

Restoration Spotlight: The Little Juniata from Chesapeake Bay Program on Vimeo.

I grew up fishing this river in Central Pennsylvania.  It was almost my backyard and this is a very well done short film on the  current efforts to keep it healthy.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Snook Season So Far...

We're almost three weeks in the fall 2015 snook season and fish like the one above are all we've pulled out of the water.  Catching something that fits the 28 to 33" slot limit is a real chore as usual.  Undersize snook, like the 20" fish my buddy Tim Gleason is holding, are actually easy to land.  Almost every shoreline in Matlacha Pass holds them, especially at high tide.  They're still a lot of fun and will hit a lot of different baits, especially white plastics like the Flats Swimmer in the photo.  We've got a lot of water around the mangroves at sunset all weekend and the rains are finally ending.  Good news for a change. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Tough Conditions For Redfishing

Falling tides, cloudy skies and frequent rains have tossed a monkey wrench into things these last few days.  A week ago we hit the mother load of schooled up reds in the north part of Matlacha Pass and they're still up there.  Finding them in a feeding mood is another story.  The choppy surface hides them perfectly so working the mangroves with live shrimp seems to be the best option.  High tides work best for that but they're occurring in the afternoons along with the thunderstorms.  Not easy but these big fall fish are more than worth it. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Win This Boat: 2015 Beavertail Ambush With Custom Trailer

My friends at Beavertail Skiffs are raffling off this brand new 2015 BT Ambush along with its custom fit Peterson trailer.  All the proceeds will be going to the WoundedWarrior Anglers charity.  This entire boat and trailer package has a retail price of $5,800 and the raffle tickets are only $20 each. 


The BT Ambush is one of the most unique skiffs on the water.  At 13' long, 38" wide and weighing only 150 lbs., it's rated for just one passenger and a maximum 6hp outboard.   Depending on the load it has a 3" draft and 20mph top speed. 


The Ambush is more than just a stand-up paddleboard on steroids.  It's a very serious fishing machine and can get an angler anywhere the fish are on any flat no matter what the tide is doing.  I've owned an Ambush for almost a year now and it's become my "day off" boat that I use when I'm alone and don't feel like launching my full size BT3.  Hooking a big fish on such a little skiff is something you just have to experience for yourself.  It's absolutely addictive. 


The raffle tickets for this boat are currently available online at the Beavertail Skiffs Owner's Tournament website.  You can also buy them in person during the weekend of October, 17th at the BT Skiffs Owner’s Tournament Open House.  This is being held in Ruskin, FL at the Inn at Little Harbor marina.  The Ambush winner will be announced at 6PM that evening.  You don’t have to be a Beavertail owner to sign up for this raffle and you can purchase as many tickets as you like to support a great cause.  And please stop by the open house on the day of the tournament to check out the entire line up of boats.

Monday, September 7, 2015

September Redfishing

My cousin Bob Filler with a perfect 24" red pulled out of the Indian Field mangroves yesterday.

End of summer and early fall are always the best time of year to target schooling reds. We've got at least one 0.5 or lower tide almost every day this month in Matlacha Pass which means excellent tailing conditions for at least an hour or two. Check your tide chart and hit your favorite grass flat at least an hour before the water bottoms out and if the winds are calm, the redfish should be there.  If the water is especially flat then it's time to break out the fly rods to avoid spooking them. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Key West: No Fish, Just Scenery

Fishing the flats with my buddy Mike Bartlett is always the best reason to go down to Key West but the town itself is almost as interesting.  Some shots from a while ago. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

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 as far as I’m concerned.  Everything you could possibly want to catch in the shallow water will be here in force and should stick around 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 and off the Gulf beaches.  The real action is happening in the dark waters of Matlacha Pass where hundreds of resident juveniles 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 are already pouring onto the flats in big schools as they get ready to spawn.  While there aren’t any negative low tides this month, which are always the best tailing conditions, we’ll still have long stretches of skinny water in the evenings when 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 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 both 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 find 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 rising tides during the morning hours. 

Finally, snook season is once again open here on the west coast of Florida.   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.  Just taste one that’s been properly grilled and you’ll know why.  You have to work harder than ever to land a slot sized snook, which are between 28 to 33 inches and you’re only allowed one per day.   Even if you’re not interesting in keeping any, most of our shorelines will hold them.  I love working a topwater lure like a Zara Spook along the mangroves to get that explosive strike, especially at high tide, 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.  And that’s not even the best part.  This is also one of the slowest months of the year for tourism and the majority of our snowbird residents 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.