Friday, September 30, 2016

Big Pine Island Redfish On The Fly

After a bit of a slowdown, the reds turned out in force this morning.  I only hit two different spots but we were on fish the entire time.  Angler JP from Virginia finally nailed this 27 incher after casting to at least two dozen tailers that were beyond spooky.  This red was sitting in a sand hold in northern Pine Island Sound and ate a #4 shrimp pattern called a Giblet.  The water is getting very clear up there so sight casting to these guys will only get better in the coming weeks. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Snook Season On The Fly

Dr. Dennis Jeter from TN with a beautiful snook on fly that will probably be legal in 2018.

I have to admit, these fish aren't being that kind to me once again. None of my anglers have managed to land a slot-legal snook with a fly since the season opened at the beginning of the month.  We're hooking plenty of undersize beauties, like the one in the photo that hit a crab pattern meant for a redfish, and that's more than OK.  Our tides and weather have been great and several of my friends landed legal snook on spinning gear this week, but the big girls are still a problem for me.  I'm sure we'll get a fly rod keeper eventually, and it's definitely going on the grill. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Rosate Spoonbills In Pine Island Sound

I don't come across these birds all that often when I'm fishing and this guy didn't give me enough time to get by camera set up to shoot him in the mid-day sun. They still manage to be beautiful no matter what the light is doing.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

On Island Time

Looking east from the Matlacha drawbridge at sunset last night.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Tailing Redfish With Topwaters

Right now the redfish are everywhere and there's nothing better than getting to hit something on the surface. I've always been a big fan of the Flats Walker lures from FlatsHQ, especially with the inline single hooks. These are as close to weedless are you're going to get from a topwater and that's especially important while our water is still warm and dead calm.  This is one of two tailing reds that my buddy Tim and I caught yesterday morning using a red and white Flats Walker.  When their heads are buried down in the mud, dragging one of these lures across their backs can be surprisingly effective.  Keep your retrieve slow with sharp twitches and you'll definitely get some attention. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Wood Storks

It's true. Not all of the dinosaurs died off after the meteor hit the Earth 65 million years ago. Several species did survive and eventually evolved into birds. Wood storks are proof of that. These guys like to hang around the boat ramp at Matlacha Park, especially in the evening after most folk have dumped their extra bait in the water.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Coming Soon: The New 2017 Beavertail Mosquito

These are the first shots of the pre-production Beavertail Mosquito that I took two weeks ago when we ran the boat on the Manatee River. I converted them to black and white since this is a very rough hull and the there will be a few changes made to the deck layout. I'll be posting some full color shots in the next few weeks once the first customer's boat hits the water. You can see the finished production hull for yourself on October 8th at the 2nd annual Beavertail Skiffs owners tournament open house event in Ruskin, FL.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Red September In Matlacha Pass

Here are some recent shots of my buddy Greg Heine going to work with the fly rod at low tide in Matlacha Pass. The redfish are out there in force right now and this is looking like one of the better fall seasons we've had in a long time.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Bald Eagles Return To Pine Island

Bald Eagles are seasonal residents down in this part of Florida and they return like clockwork at the end of summer.  This bird is one of a pair that nest on the mangrove island just north of Matlacha and have been there for at least seven years.  The most remarkable thing about this pair of eagles is that they routinely produce three chicks that all survive to fledge.  I've seen this happen four years in a row and below is a photo of the brood from 2014. 
This is very uncommon as the first hatched chicks will often kill the youngest so the isn't as much competition for food.  I guess this is a sign of good genetics from this pair of eagles.  I love photographing these guys so stay tuned and I'll post as many shots as I can. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

September On Pine Island

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, you’ll still have several periods of skinny water over last two weeks of September where 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 that moves 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 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 Clouser Minnows will nail trout all day long.  The Two Pines area is a great place to find them just inside the Burnt Store sandbar.  Two to four 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 or Flats Walker 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.