Thursday, December 29, 2016

Late December Redfish

We've had two weeks of exceptional weather for the end of the year and the fishing can't be better. The big reds have been all over Matlacha Pass and if you can drop a live shrimp or well tied crab fly in front of them you should get a quick eat. This will probably change before the weekend with morning temps dropping into the low 50's with an oncoming cold front. You'll still be able to find these fish after the temps drop but they'll be more active later in the day. Sleep in a bit next week and go fishing after lunch time. The late incoming tide will be your friend in Matlacha Pass starting this weekend.

Monday, December 19, 2016

New Beavertail Mosquito Video

Be sure to watch this one on the full screen setting. Beavertail Skiffs: Mosquito from Beavertail Skiffs on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Winter White Pelicans In Matlacha Pass

I love these big migratory birds and look forward to seeing them this time each year. White pelicans are almost twice as large as their brown cousins and much more photogenic.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Very Low Tides Off Pine Island

This is a common sight on almost every flat in Matlacha Pass this week, at least for a few hours.  In case you don't know what you're looking at, those are crab traps on the Indian Fields and they're normally covered with water.  We've got some of the lowest tides of the year happening right now and while this might make getting around a bit of a chore, the fishing can be excellent once the water starts moving.  You kayakers should be having a blast chasing reds in this area.  Just follow the mullet and you'll find the redfish.  I didn't see any tails this morning, which was surprising since the wind was dead calm, but I'm hoping that will change since the water temps did a quick rebound after last week's cold front.  We've got another two weeks until the Christmas snowbirds return so get out there while the flats are still quiet. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Christmas Is Coming

Here's my article from this month's Coastal Angler Magazine.  Hope it helps some of you doing a bit of shopping.

With Christmas coming at the end of the month, some of you might be thinking about picking up a first saltwater fly rod for yourself or another angler in your life. If you have no idea what to look for or where to start let me give you a few suggestions.

  For almost every inshore situation, especially along the coast of SW Florida, a 9-foot long, 8-weight rod is just about perfect. They will cast the flies and land most of the fish that cruise our flats without much trouble. This size is also perfect for freshwater bass fishing, too.

  You’ll want to match the rod with a large arbor, adjustable drag reel made from bar-stock aluminum. These are more corrosion resistant than the less expensive cast aluminum models and worth the extra money. The large arbor will also allow you to crank the fly line in much faster, which is a great help when fighting a hard running saltwater fish.

  And speaking of fly line, you’ll want to spool the reel with a weight-forward, floating fly line for the shallows. Intermediate or sinking fly lines are only useful in deeper waters and are a bit more difficult to cast, especially for beginners.

  Now if you’re a complete novice and everything I just wrote sounded like a foreign language, don’t worry. It’s just a very basic outline and any local fly shop (or even Mr. Google) will help fill in the blanks. With dozens of rod and reel makers doing business right now, you’re only limited by your budget. There are some excellent $99 combos that will work just fine or you could easily drop over $1000 on just a rod for someone who Santa thinks has been extra good this Christmas.

  If I were personally buying someone their first saltwater rod, I would start them off with an 8-weight BVK from Temple Fork Outfitters. This fast action, 4 piece has been around for several years and is one of the best-selling fly rods on the market. They come with a lifetime warranty and still retail for only $250. That’s an astounding price for a piece of gear with so much quality and capability. You’ll literally have to spend an extra $500 to get something that casts better. Pair it with one of Temple Fork’s Super Large Arbor reels, which also retail for around $250, along with 200 yards of 20# backing and you’re almost ready to hit the water.

  The last thing you’ll need is the fly line and I can’t recommend Royal Wulff’s Bermuda Shorts Triangle Taper highly enough. It’s the only fly line I’ve used for the last six years and I have no intention of changing that. If you’re an experienced caster and haven’t tried it, do yourself a favor and give it a shot. This 8-weight line matched with the Temple Fork BVK combo is as close to perfect as you can get, and all for around $600 total.

And in case you’re wondering, I have no financial affiliation with any of these companies. I have both fly and spinning gear from at least half a dozen different manufactures but this is always my first choice when people ask me where they should start. Best of luck and Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

December On Pine Island

Saltwater fly fishing is not just a game for the shallow water crowd.  It’s true that the sport is mainly embraced by anglers with flats skiffs and kayaks here in SW Florida, but folks running the larger bay boats and center consoles should also give it a closer look, especially this time of year. 

December is usually the last month we have before the cold fronts and their northern winds start churning up Charlotte Harbor.  Our water temps are currently still in the lower 70’s and plenty of species are happily feeding in the 3 to 10’ range.  That makes this the perfect time to throw flies into the deeper drop offs from Burnt Store to Boca Grande.  This is where some of the most aggressive fish can be found right now and they’ll usually eat anything that swims.

Right before Thanksgiving, my anglers had several terrific late morning fly fishing trips in the Harbor just by following the birds.  Diving terns and gulls are a sure sign of hungry predators and this time of year that can mean big schools of Spanish mackerel, jacks, and bluefish.  We came across lots of feeding frenzies just north of Bokeelia and got effortless hookups with any pattern from my fly box.  This was usually happening in about 6’ of water and we often had one or more bay boats tossing live bait with much heavier rods while floating next to my 18’ Beavertail flats skiff.

If you’re one of the numerous owners of a 24 Pathfinder or similar hull and don’t have at least one fly rod under your gunnel, now is the time to fix that.  When a half acre of ladyfish are blitzing glass minnows in the middle of Charlotte Harbor, nothing will make you smile more than sticking a few of these insane jumpers with a 7 or 8-weight outfit.  Trust me, you’ll instantly discover a whole new appreciation for these “trash fish” when they’re ripping off a bunch of fly line from the deck and pulling your reel into the backing.  Think of this as the ultimate way to catch cut bait. 

You really don’t need to spend that much money for a solid fly outfit to use in the deeper water.  There are plenty of great rods out there in the $99 range that are more than capable of landing anything that swims inshore around here.  You can pair that with an equally inexpensive, bar-stock aluminum reel that will easily stand up to the salt and you’re ready to fish.  Just look for something with a lifetime warranty and you can’t go wrong. 

Flies are obviously an important part of your deeper water arsenal and this is the really easy part.  Your entire fly box can be filled with nothing more than Clouser Minnows of different colors and sizes, and you’ll be in great shape.  The standard green and white pattern tied on a #2 hook will be eaten by just about every predator in Florida.  They’re not too expensive to buy, either locally or online, and they’re very easy to tie on your own. 

So the next time you’re out on the 24’ bay boat, toss a weighted Clouser Minnow into 6’ of water anywhere in Charlotte Harbor and chances are you’ll pull something off the bottom.  It might be an unwanted catfish or underrated ladyfish, but you also might bring in a hard pulling jack crevalle or a great tasting pompano from the same spot.  Best of all, you’ll get some experience with a proven type of tackle that will be invaluable to your saltwater skills.  Good luck out there.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Beavertail Skiffs Demo Day On Matlacha

If you're looking for a new toy from Santa stop by the Old Fish House Marina on Matlacha tomorrow from 10AM to 4PM and check out the latest Beavertail Skiffs.  They'll have a pair of all new Mosquitoes, as well as a Micro, Strike and Vengeance all in the water for test rides.  You can also meet with company owners Will and Liz to talk options and pricing.  This is always a very busy event but the Marina is an excellent place to hang out, have lunch and listen to some live music in between boat rides.  Hope to see you there.