Here's what's been going on...
This is the section of the site
where I'll report day to day reports of fishing (or lack thereof)
from the "Time to Fly". I'll put more recent stuff first
and archive older reports. I'll be adding to this section now and
then, so check back for updates...
Yes, we are still fishing here in sunny Palm Beach, Florida. Yes, I have badly neglected the Log updates. Remember that lack of updates mean busy fishing...But I have honestly waxed about as poetic as I can regarding the reports. In the very near future a "Fishing Forecast Calender" will be added to our web site and hopefully this can be a good resource to those of you looking ahead six months to a year wanting to know what is likely to be happening in our area in the future.
Though reports of some nature will continue on this site, for more up to date reports, I will have much more timely reports going up on my Facebook pages:
FLYFISHING EXTREMES FB PAGE:
CAPT. SCOTT FB PAGE
Anyhow, winter fishing is almost in full swing and should be all out war after these next couple of cold fronts blast through our area. The same weather systems that have and soon will bring the horrendous weather to the northern parts of the country are exactly what we really need to push the schools of mackerel, jacks, bluefish and baitfish south, running away from colder water and they basically keep running until they end up right here off Palm Beach where the Gulf Stream keeps the water temps closer to what all those species prefer.
Jacks, Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish, Ladyfish, a few Pompano and Cobia have all moved into the inshore waters, both along the beach and inside the inlets. King Mackerel, assorted runners, jacks, snappers and some exotics like Coronetfish are starting to pile up around offshore structure. A few dolphin and blackfin tunas have been out beyond the reef and numbers of sailfish increase with the passage of every cold front.
I hope to get more time in on the Sailfish thing this winter,(one of the few types of fishing that still gets my knees knocking...teasing a sailfish up to the transom and throwing flies will send your heart rate into triple time), than in the past couple of years. The majority of the hot sailfish bites came very quickly and was done. If you weren't there when it was happening, you were out of luck. Here's hoping for good weather, good numbers of sailfish and a good long time to go get them.
For those of you looking for the Spinner Sharks, I expect to be seeing them very soon, as in the next two weeks. And they may well be here now, but several weeks of fairly windy weather has prevented me from fishing along the beaches. I can only hope for a similar performance to last winter when they finally do move into the area....which was, quite frankly, as good as it gets with tons of action of a world class nature. For those of you wanting to be here for them, they usually move out of the area in late March or early April.
I guess we are skipping spring fishing this year and moving directly into summer stuff. Thank our extremely warm weather over the winter for that I guess. I will also blame the enormous lack of cooperation from the spinner sharks this winter on the weather, mainly because I do not know what else to blame it on. Lots of sharks...very few interested in playing the fly game. Very similar to tarpon fishing actually...lots of looking, seeing, casting. Hooking, not so much....
But everything else was fairly par for the course as winter fare goes. Ravenous bluefish, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish. Pompano and Cobia numbers were down, just not enough cold weather to push them down from the northern waters. In recent weeks, schools of big,(and I mean big,"not sure I want to hook that thing"big) Jack Crevalle have been both on the beach in good numbers periodically, and very consistent out on the deep water wrecks. Sinking lines, big flies and Hang On!
The Cobia have made a strong showing in recent weeks following the station wagon sized Bull sharks around the reef edge. The Bulls are feeding on the early False Albacore arrivals, as well as Huge schools of Lessor Amber-jacks. Unfortunately, hooking a Cobia will get the attention of the Bulls, and if you not lucky enough to get said Cobia back to the boat in short order, you get a real feel for the "agony of defeat"...
There were small numbers of dolphin,(and Albies for that matter) around all winter, whereas in a typical winter, they all but disappear until right about now. So the early waves of dolphin, and albies and King mackerel are just reinforcing what was already here. I think,(speculate, hope, forecast, whatever...) a good long season will be had on all the aforementioned critters.
Seems like the winter fishing is off to a nice, early start. Everything from Sailfish to Ladyfish. Bluefish, Spanish and King Mackerel, Jack Crevalle, Pompano and even a few Spinner Sharks. Dolphin are still around, as well as the small Blackfin Tuna, Skipjack Tuna and False albacore. Full dance card, I'd say.
I haven't been fishing much between a huge amount of work to done around the house, a typical lack of clients for this time of year,( especially maddening considering the damn good fishing) and kinda crummy weather. Fun fishing for myself isn't really enjoyed when I know all the things that need doing back at the house. But I did get a couple of "restocking the freezer" trips in, Dolphin and Tripletail filet's will be nice for the next couple of months. I met a bull Dolphin that must have been raised by Tuna, judging from the way he fought. After a smoking run and a couple beautiful jumps, he spent the next forty minutes on his side, fifty feet straight down. Smart old bull, he got broadside and fought for every inch. Very tough fight. An unused to, but well enjoyed, butt kicking.
Hope you're all looking forward to the winter season as much as I am.
Wow, I have been a baaaad boy. I am very sorry, it has been way too long between fishing reports. I was shocked to see I hadn't posted a report since the beginning of the year. The reason,(not an excuse mind you), is being delightfully busy with charters, and as always, sitting at the computer will always have to take a back seat to preparing for and doing charters.
Lets see if I can remember way back to the winter and spring fishing. The spanish mackerel, bluefish, jack crevalle, king mackerel, ladyfish were pretty typical with lots of very cooperative fish. We made attempts at sailfish a few days, but weather conditions made it difficult at best. The days that the sails were active had waves so big you were looking up at the tops of them. And the sails were just not in the mood during more favorable conditions. The spinner sharks were as thick as I have ever seen them, and we had spectacular action with them, though they left a little too early around the first of April. That is the one thing about the spinners; they leave en mass, without warning. All 50,000 of them evacuate in the space of about twenty-four to forty-eight hours. It's like sudden withdrawal, you can have a great time with them one day, and the next day they are gone, not to be seen for nine months. Very annoying.
We had probably one of the best winters on cobia I can remember. Lots of big fish creating all kinds of chaos. Big fish for my boat was right around sixty pounds, but that was about an average sized fish this winter! Biggest one I heard of was right around one hundred pounds!
We did not see the repeat of the skipjack tuna fishing that we had in 2010. We did have a considerable amount of windy weather through the winter when they may have been out there, but just couldn't ,(or didn't want to) get to them. Also sadly absent were barracuda,( the most underrated fly rod fish in Fl., hard to fool with fly, sizzling fast and great jumps) over fishing and a commercial market now in place for them are to blame I am sure.
Spring fishing was a little weird. The false albacore showed up early, as they have for the past several years, with catches of them were reported as early as late March. The big schools of monster jack crevalle,(fish in the twenty to forty pound range) were very late, arriving in early May instead of late March. Dolphin fishing was also late, instead of getting started in April, did not really get going until late May. And there were some dandy fish in the forty pound range landed and some bigger ones lost. And we are still catching them, last Friday we had non-stop action on dolphin in the five to fifteen pound plus range for several hours. There was some really good king mackerel fishing in April and May, but there was an honest flotilla of boats parked on top of the king schools 24/7, and since I'm not a big fan of "combat fishing", I never took part in that action.
The tarpon fishing this year has been abysmal, and will go down as the worst year anyone in the area can remember unless something changes. And it very well may, I am still hearing of lots of tarpon to our south. The juvenile fish in the inland waters are there, but the big schools of migratory adults have been absent thus far.
Currently we have more False Albacore than you can shake a fly rod at, blackfin tuna of various sizes showing themselves occasionally, snook in the inlets and on the beaches around bait schools, hordes of blue and rainbow runners, plenty of big sharks of various flavors eating everything you don't get reeled back to the boat in short order, and enough sailfish to make dragging teasers, if only briefly, a good idea. Oh yeah, there has been a significant number of blue marlin in the area due to the large food supply. But since they all start at about three hundred pounds, they are probably not a viable fly rod target.
I currently have plenty of time available on the calender for anyone in need of a really good fishing fix.
Temperatures are in the thirties here this morning, so much for global warming. Nothing quite as bad as what I see happening in other parts of the nation, but pretty bad for us. Looks like we will be repeating last winters weather, hopefully with a repeat of the spectacular fishing. This cool-cold weather,(yes, I know other parts of the country are much colder, but thirties in South Florida are like below zero temps anywhere else) started a month ago, just about the time the first schools of bluefish, Spanish and king mackerel, pompano and spinner sharks started showing themselves. I find myself totally unprepared in the terms of fly supply, (something I plan on taking care of shortly) and cold tolerance,(something I can do nothing about). All of these species arrived about six weeks early, (as did hummingbirds in my yard) another indicator as to the type of winter we are in store for.
The last two months had some very good fishing for dolphin, king mackerel, jacks and assorted deep species such as amberjacks, snappers, runners and tuna. Alas, customers were few and far between, so most of the fun was enjoyed by myself and a few fishing buddies.
Sailfish have also arrived early and I plan on spending as much time as weather will allow fishing for them over the next two months. Honestly, the sailfish gig is one of the few things that still get my knees knocking and the heart racing. There is nothing quite like throwing a fly at a six foot plus fish that is only fifteen feet away. And not even a Porsche has the off-the-line speed of a sailfish...I vow to have sailfish on fly pictures up by Christmas. Now I just need someone to come help me get it done.
Happy Holidays to All...
The past two months have flown by in amazingly short time. Great fishing, great customers, but alas, not such great weather. The consensus among my guide buddies is that this was easily the windiest summer any of us can remember. For the most part, it wasn't windy enough to shut down the fishing offshore completely, but there were a substantial number of days where common sense dictated that fishing inside the ICW would be favorable to getting beat up out in the sloppy and rough ocean. And that was OK, because for the most part, the inshore fishing was pretty entertaining with Snook of all sizes, juvenile Tarpon, Jacks and Barracuda putting on a good show.
The Albies this year were serious studs, with the average size before the fourth of July being twelve to fourteen pounds. I heard the phrases "These pull to hard", "Are there any weaker fish we could fish for?", and "Thats it, I'm done" more times than I can count. After 7/4/10, a flood of biblical proportions of "small" (5-8lbs) Albies moved into the area, and with them monstrous Blue Runners up to seven and eight pounds. It's a good thing Blue Runners don't grow to twenty or thirty pounds as I believe they would out fight everything out there. As it was, anyone willing to step up to the plate with a six or eight weight fly rod was in for a whooping.
Most of August had King Mackerel action that was world class. Kings in the ten to thirty pound range were chumming to the surface just like Albies, skyrocketing on baits and putting on aerial displays that were oh, so cool, to watch. Several occasions, they would hit surface poppers with gusto, taking the fly fifteen feet,(and higher), into the air. Try as I might, I was unable to get any of that action on video.
The middle of the summer had disappointing Dolphin action, with only a small handful being caught between mid June and Mid August. but in the past couple of weeks, they have started reappearing and hopefully the fall action will be a repeat of last year when we got tired of eating them.
Blackfin tuna have been here through out the summer, though getting past the Albies to the bigger fish (15-30+lbs) was difficult at best. Many of the smaller footballs, (5-10lbs) have come home for dinner and to date, we haven't tired of eating them. Maybe now with the Albies thinning out, we can boat some of the big guys.
Despite the large fish kill during the extremely cold weather last winter, our Snook supply seems to be in very good shape. Areas like Flamingo and Everglades National Park, the Indian River to our north and west coast Snook hot spots had huge numbers of dead Snook,( and Tarpon among other species) so much so that it is uncertain the FWC will open a season on Snook this year. But catch and release fishing for them in this area is un-affected and action remains strong along the beaches and at the inlets.
The next several months of fishing look like this: Dolphin and tuna,(Skipjack and Blackfin) offshore, possible Wahoo around offshore debris, a smattering of Kings and Albies on the reefs, assorted Snappers, occasional Grouper, juvenile Ambrejacks around the wrecks,reefs and ledges, and beach action in the form of the mullet run/ bait migration including Snook, Tarpon, Jacks, Mackerel,(both kinds) and Spinner Sharks.
I've got too much time open on my calender and it's a shame to let all this great fishing go to waste....C'mon down and fish!!!
OK, I know it has been a long while between reports. No good excuses for the hiatus other than really good fishing keeping me away from the keyboard. That and some truly grueling fly tying sessions. This getting up at 4:30 AM to tie flies because the supply was exhausted from the day before is getting a little old. Can thank the largest number of bull sharks I may have ever seen in the area for the large number of lost flies. Some days they just won't let us get very many fish to the boat. Though I must admit, everyone gets a big kick out of a half dozen ten foot sharks all converging on one hapless Albie on the end of their line. At least the first couple of times, then that gets old too. When the sharks get really out of control, a little looking around usually will produce Albie's off by them selves with far fewer sharks
I know I called last years Albie season the "Season of the Beast" because of the average size the fish were running. I'm not sure just what to call this year, because, if anything, the Albie's are running even larger and in greater numbers. Twelve to fourteen lbs is about normal with very few fish under ten pounds. And trophy sized sixteen pound and up fish,(largest to date was just a hair over twenty pounds!) are coming over the side regularly.
There have been quite a few Blackfin tuna in the mix, though deliberately picking one out of the rampaging mass of Albie's is a knack most have not mastered. A few small ones in the five to ten pound range have visited the ice box,(Blackfins are truly great table fare), but the magnum sized twenty to thirty pound plus fish have eluded capture to date. A smattering of snook, tarpon, king mackerel, dolphin and deep water work around wrecks and reefs have rounded out the current action. A good number of sailfish have been moving into the area, a hint that last years action,(Sailfish were Everywhere in July and August) has a good likelihood of repeating. Now if I can just keep the Albie's from running interference while trying to get a sailfish hooked up, life will be grand.
There is still plenty of time open in my calender and this type of action stayed at a break-neck pace well into late August last year if anyone had a mind to get in on this years season. And for those of you looking for a fall getaway, dolphin fishing last fall was epic,( my wife told me to stop bringing home dolphin because she just couldn't eat anymore). The Skipjack tuna, snook and tarpon also put on a great show last fall.
The winter season is flying by and I have learned several things in the past couple of months. First, I still hate the cold. I learned to hate it while living in Maine twenty five years ago and my abhorrence of it has not abated in the least. Several mornings in January there were icicles hanging off my boat until noon. Thats cold for here in Palm Beach. I mean seriously...icicles??? I prefer sweating over shivering any day. And we've been consistently cold throughout the season, with temps in the low forties just a few days ago. Second thing I learned is that even though my clients had just come from northern states with far colder temperatures than we had,( though not by much ) getting salt water spray on you at forty five degrees pretty much levels the field and Everyone thought it was cold, uncomfortable and pretty horrid.
The only saving grace was what the horrid, cold weather did to the fishing. The non-stop action on every one of our typical winter targets has been so fast and furious that my research into becoming a Costa Rican resident is on hold, although if we see temperatures like this again, my research may resume. That and the constant fly tying to replace wrecked flies is what I'm blaming my lack of reports on anyhow...
Our winter visitors,( the fish, not the snowbirds ) arrive in December and generally begin to leave around early April, so this action continues as of this writing and I hope to see another month of it. I'm sure it is too much to hope for the Spinner Sharks to leave around the 25th of April as they did last year, ten days later than ever before.
The Jack Crevalle number in the thousands, the Spanish Mackerel number in the millions,( I kid you not, one school of Spanish mackerel was over five miles long), Pompano fishing this winter is as good as it gets, and though it all, the Spinner Sharks have been there day in and day out. Bluefish, Ladyfish, Barracuda, and some of the very best Cobia fishing ever. So many fish, so little time.
We haven't had much in the way of calmish weather for offshore forays, but the few I've managed in the past several weeks have produced Skipjack Tuna every time. I heard today of some nice dolphin being caught, and yesterday we managed a false albacore of about ten pounds. Both of those fish herald a early spring season on both of those species. I'm also going to take it as a sign that warmer weather is on the way. Which is really good because my wife wouldn't have moved to Costa Rica anyhow.
The weather has finally turned here in S. Fl. Thank God, September and October was about as hot in temps as I've ever seen or care to see again. It was easier to take the hot temperatures because the fishing was just as hot. Snook and Tarpon fishing were off the hook. The mullet run/bait migration started in August and is still going on as of this writing. All the winter visitors, Jacks, Ladyfish, Bluefish, King Mackerel, Pompano and even a few early Spinner Sharks are all showing up. This most recent cold front that came through has pushed sailfish and dolphin into the area and the boats that have been getting out are reporting good catches of both. I have several reports of the Skipjack tuna being spotted offshore. It is shaping up to be a very entertaining winter.
Summer is winding down finally, and what a great summer of fishing it was. Albies put on a beautiful show, and here it is the
beginning of September. and they are still in the area! For most of the season, the average size was big, twelve to fourteen pounds
and not much at all in the way of smaller fish. And world record class sixteen to eighteen pound fish being landed every day.
Then about the beginning of July, the smaller six to ten pound fish flooded intothe area. I did not keep an accurate count of
albie releases this summer like I usually do, but somewhere north of three thousand sounds about right.
We had encounters with blackfin tuna of all sizes throughout this period, and while we did boat quite a few of the
smaller five to eight pound fish, the twenty five to thirty pound + blackfins stayed elusive.
July also had alot of sailfish in the area. In the process of trying to get one of the big blackfins in the icebox for dinner, I released three sails solo one afternoon.
I should have spent more time dragging teasers for them with clients, I'm sure it would have been worth it.
Since the beginning of August, the king mackerel have been spectacular and as good as I've ever seen them. Chumming them
right to the suface, kings in the ten to twenty five pound range lauching out of the water like silver missles. Some of these fish
were reaching twenty feet in the air. In the middle of one melee', I heard a thump and a slash that I couldn't really identify. After
looking around to make sure that both my anglers were still holding their rods, and a quick inspection of the boat to see if
something important hadn't gone swimming, I went back to work and forgot about the unidentified sound. Then,standing on the
front deck while hosing the boat off at the end of the day, I could see the long streak of kingfish slime and scales where one
of the high jumpers had come down on the t-top canvas before falling back in the water. Mystery solved.
In addition to the king mackerel fishing, snook in the inlets and around bait schools close to the beach have been very good.
Wreck and reef fishing with the sinking lines has also been darn entertaining with jack crevalle, amberjack, almaco jacks,
assorted snapper and a few grouper as well.
Dolphin fishing has been a disappointment this summer, I don't think we've caught a keeper sized dolphin since early June.
But in the past week or so, a number of fish have been reported, so I'm hoping for a repeat of last fall when we just got tired of
catching them. The skip jack tuna should also be around for the fall.
The mullet run/fall bait migration is right around the corner, and all the madnees that involes. With mullet schools being
hammered by everything that swims from sharks and tarpon to jacks and bluefish. I've even seen sailfish in ten feet of water
chasing bait around on a regular basis. We should get a little flurry of action with the spinner sharks too this fall if history repeats itself.
Mid June and the Albie assault is in full force. This is quickly becoming the "Year of the Beast", with the average sized albie coming over the side right around twelve to fourteen pounds. Sixteen to eighteen pound fish are a daily event, as are phrases like "Man, these are tough", "I need a break" and "I'm done". The weather has been great with calm winds and flat seas, and nicely the sharks have not proven to be too much of a problem as of yet,( unlike last year when they were a serious PITA, absconding with two out of every five fish hooked) with only the odd fish being taken here and there. With a minimum of six more weeks to go in the season, (too much to hope for that they'll remain into September as in the past two years), there is still plenty of time and openings in my schedule to get in on the action.
Blackfin tuna have been putting in appearances this week, we've managed some of the smaller ones, but the twenty to thirty pound and up fish have eluded capture so far.
There was a spectacular king mackerel bite going on right up until the most recent full moon. Some of the most consistent fishing for some of the largest kings I've seen in quite a few years. The speed at which a thirty pound plus king first hits the fly and then dumps several hundred yards of backing off the reel is truly shocking. Short of a sailfish or wahoo, they are the fastest thing we get to play with. The action of the kings is projected to heat back up around the end of this month according to those that fish for them on a more regular basis than I.
Beach fishing has also been darn good. The big schools of big tarpon are migrating north, the bait schools along the beaches have snook and jacks patrolling them, cobia following common southern and manta rays have been in good supply, and yellowtail and mutton snappers have been eating flies drifted deep over area reefs.
There seems to be a shortage of dolphin the past couple of weeks, not sure why. And the Skip jack tuna that we enjoyed most of the winter has also tapered off. We've been catching a few of both species, just not as many as I'd like to see.
This should all continue for the near future, with the only addition being the big schools of snook showing up at the inlets sometime in July.
Long over due I know, but remember, a lack of reports mean an excess of fishing action that will always take priority over sitting in front of a box typing on a keyboard. At least for me it will, and I'm kinda proud of those priorities. Anyhow, the most amazing thing, here it is the 25th of April and the Spinner Sharks are still here. Ten days later than I have ever seen them before. And I don't mean just a few, tons of them. Really is a nice treat after all the poor weather that didn't allow fishing for them in January and February to have some great conditions and great action late in the season. More than likely the excess shark food, ie; Bluefish of all sizes,(some stud Blues have been in the area the past month, pushing fifteen lbs) Jacks, Pompano, Ladyfish, Spanish Mackerel, juvenile King Mackerel and hordes of Blue Runners still in the area along the beaches has kept them interested in staying. This winter season was also the best action on Skipjack Tuna I have ever seen, with very consistent action well into March. But it's bound to end sometime and at the moment we have some wind and weather going on that just might send them on their way. As always, it's sad to see them go, but the sadness will have to take a back seat to the excitement of False Albacore, Dolphin, monster Jack Crevalle, King Mackerel, Amberjacks all moving in to take the Spinners place. And another month down the road will have the big Tarpon and trophy Snook getting in on it.
I'd love to go into detail of the action we've seen over the past couple of months, some of the stories are truly entertaining of fish caught and fish lost. One client that spent almost an hour on either a large Amberjack or Cobia,(don't know which because we never saw it and never had any control over it with a twelve weight!) only to have it included in the food chain. A twelve foot plus Hammerhead sharks charging around the boat hot on the heels of the Spinner Shark we had hooked up,( pretty interesting when six foot sharks are part of the food chain, huh?) A wall of two hundred, twenty pound and larger Jack Crevalle charging the boat chasing my teaser plug that looked so intimidating I saw my client backing up out of the corner of my eye. One clients gear maintenance practices coming into question when a very hot, very large king mackerel literally had smoke coming out of his reel,(wish I had gotten That on film)The stories are numerous and the stuff memories are made of, but they will have to wait for a later time. The first non-fishing day in a pretty good while is always hectic and filled with things that need doing.
I have loads of open dates over the next three months, May, June and July. The best weather and some of the best fishing of the year.
Big news first.....The Spinners are Here, The Spinners are Here!!!! But more of that later....
Finally had some business come in over the holidays, and fishing over all was very entertaining. Still catching skipjack tuna when they present themselves. Which has been remarkably consistent for them. Quite often, I'll find them one day and then they're gone for several weeks. But they've been present almost everyday the weather has cooperated enough to let us offshore. In the process of skippy hunting, (and catching) this past weekend, we also caught some respectable dolphin in the five to ten pound range. Though I haven't been targeting dolphin much recently,( we get plenty of dolphin through out the year, I'm concentrating on the skippies while they can be targeted) there have been quite a few being caught by other boats. Another offshore oddity have been a good number of false albacore, (Florida bonitos), I hear the guys trying to catch sailfish complaining about their five dollar apiece baits getting eaten by albies. The beaches have continued to increase in action and variety, the spanish mackerel schools have been joined by some truly massive schools of jack crevalle. One such school last weekend was over a half mile long, literally thousands of five to ten pound jacks blasting minnow schools. They were on the rampage for several hours, would eat anything we threw at them, and best of all we had them all to ourselves with not another boat anywhere near.
The near shore rock piles have been holding an assortment of species like king mackerel, juvenile amberjack, almaco jacks, grouper and other stuff as well. We actually had a triple header of grouper a few days ago, a first for me. Nothing huge, but a grouper on fly is just so cool and three at once is very special.
So I guess between the recent push of cool,(soon to be cold, forecast is for temps in the mid to low thirties the next two mornings) and all the food showing up, the spinner sharks decide to finally get their act together and come on in. Good numbers of sharks almost everywhere I went yesterday, strung out along all the beaches. We did take a few minutes and play with some, but didn't manage to get a hook into any. Still, was great seeing them and I'm very excited at the prospect of the next two months of entertainment they are going to provide.
The recent cool weather, and the approaching cold weather is going to make the fishing bust loose. I have reports from north of here of massive amount of bait moving south with the predators in hot pursuit. This is shaping up to be some of the very best action in the past several years.
I do have plenty of open dates for any parties interested in stepping up to a big ol' plate of whoop-ass.....
And so it continues. Very little business, and really entertaining fishing. The latter part of October and all of November had much cooler weather than is typical with many overnight lows dipping into the low fifties and upper forties. This had the effect of kicking off the winter fishing much earlier than is normal. The big schools of jacks arrived, spanish mackerel and bluefish, pompano, ladyfish all in attendance, big numbers of sailfish being posted by the bait guys, and we posted the earliest spinner shark release last week that I can remember. I'm hoping the spinner sharks are going to make up in a small part for arriving late the past two years by showing up a month early this year.
I have only managed about a dozen trips, both paying and not, since my last post, and not two days were similar due to the huge variety of things to do. One day was jacks charging teaser plugs inside the ICW and around the inlet. Next day was spanish mackerel, pompano, bluefish and spinner sharks. On days with a calm enough offshore, dolphin fishing has stayed very consistent. Deep drifting the reefs and wrecks also red hot. Had one very funny day on the beach that the pompano were so thick, they were skipping,(when spooked by a boat driving near them, pompano will launch out of the water, then skip on their sides like a stone) ten at a time as I drove through the schools. We had several actually jump straight into the boat, and I managed several more with the landing net. Lost a big permit that day also.
On one solo trip in search of just some fish to take home for dinner,( snapper/grouper were the intended targets) I was waylaid by amberjacks. Not sure why, but they took a keen interest in a small Clouser, not the typical fly for fish up to forty pounds! Ended up with six, including a double header that must have been pretty hilarious to watch, but in retrospect was a little silly. I was bringing in a smallish AJ of about ten pounds and he had a buddy of around twenty lbs following him. Managed to get another fly rod out and hook up the follower, then found my hands to be literally full. Ended up having to pop the leader on the first fish in order to fight the second. Fun stuff.
Yesterday was as epic as it gets. Huge schools of small sardines were getting balled up and hammered by everything under the sun. Big albies flying out of the water, monster packs of good sized jacks charging around like lawnmowers from hell, spanish and king mackerel launching skyward. There were even sailfish in water less than ten feet deep getting their share. I ran seven miles of beach and could not find the end of it.
I'm going to need a therapist if I have to watch all this good fishing going untouched.....
As it usually does this time of year, calls for trips have dropped off considerably. It's always been like this, for unclear reasons. Probably people just finishing summer vacations, getting kids back to school, preparing for the holidays. Not sure why, but that's the way it is. It wouldn't be as maddening if it were not for the fact that the fishing is nothing short of stellar this time of year. The variety of fish is crazy, from the mullet run/bait migration in progress inshore, to fabulous bottom fishing, to offshore action. Really entertaining stuff, and no one to go do it with. Since I can't stand it all going to waste, I have managed to get out solo once or twice a week.
Dolphin action following the tropical storms in late August was, and continues to be very good. Average size has been less than ten lbs, but there has been no shortage of them, and a decent amount of bigger fish in the mid teens to thirty pound range have been around. The offshore tuna action has really heated up in the past couple of weeks with small blackfin tuna just about everywhere outside the reef edge. I spanked them pretty good one day last week, releasing over twenty of the two to five pounders, with a couple of the larger ones invited home for dinner.
Larger pieces of debris have also been holding wahoo, and much to my surprise while sinking a large streamer deep under a bamboo tree a week ago in search of a wahoo, a sixty some odd pound sailfish ate my fly over a hundred feet down. This was a first for me. I've gotten sailfish for customers doing the bait and switch thing, but I've never personally caught one. And this was only the second sailfish in twenty years to be hooked up on a deep fly. He gave me quite a show, clearing the stern of the boat on the first jump and proceeding to tear up the ocean for about thirty minutes when I released him. I tried to take some video, and of course the camera case is in the deepest reaches of the console. Must have looked pretty comical, sailfish going ballistic, and only the fly rod visable as I dove into the console to get the camera. I got a couple jumping shots, but it was pretty tough to pull of decent filming while fighting the fish.
The mullet run/bait migration started very early, late August, and has been going on ever since. Tarpon, snook, spinner sharks, big jack crevalle and other assorted predators all crashing the bait schools. The first waves of our winter players showed up, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish and spanish mackerel going crazy on all the easy prey. Add in the reef action consisting of snapper, grouper, assorted runners, juvenile amberjacks and king mackerel, and I just may go crazy with no one to go do all this with....
And the albie train keeps chugging along. Not sure how many releases so far this season, but 3K sounds about right. Talk about a cooperative fish. Not a single trip in the past two months were they absent or uncooperative. Two things stand out as out of the ordinary this year; 1) A huge size range in the albies. One fish coming over the side could weight as little as five pounds, the next could be fifteen. Ten lbs was the average. And 2) The sharks were out of control. Very annoying to lose the largest fish to the toothy critters. Early on the monster bull sharks were the bad boys, eight to twelve feet long. And nothing that you couldn't get back to the boat in short order survived. A few of the harder fighters I suspect were blackfin tuna, a serious dissapointment to lose. More recently, smaller spinner, dusky and other assorted sharks have moved in and are small enough to provide some excellent entertainment of their own.
We had some incredible king mackerel fishing in the past couple of months also, with several late afternoon/evening trips rivaling anything in my memory. One evening in particular, we were hooking kings on every drop that we couldn't do anything with. After the bone jarring strike, they would slowly wind up like a turbine engine, finishing their run several hundred yards out with the reel screaming like skidding tires. The largest we landed that evening was over thirty pounds, but I know several of the others we hooked that didn't make it to the boat were considerably larger.
Besides a smattering of cobia, tarpon, snook and dolphin, that is about it. Which brings us into the late summer/early fall outlook. The albies will remain into mid September,( thier numbers will start to drop in mid August) which works, because the sailfish and wahoo run that happens in August will be much easier if there aren't a gazillion albies all trying to eat the flies. The back bays in the ICW around the area have filled up nicely with juvenile tarpon and it's about time to play with them. And the monster snook that are in the inlets also deserve some attention. That should get us through till early fall when there should be offshore dolphin and skipjack tuna action to be had.
I'm off to Maine for a much needed vacation for a week, but I'll be back and ready to go the end of the first week of August.
Hard to believe it's been three months since my last report...busy fishing I guess.
I'd like to report that spinner shark season was it's usually insanity with wrecked leaders, lines, flies and anglers, but such was not the case. After their later than usual arrival,(five weeks late) the weather was impossible with hard east winds. We did end up with almost a month of fishable conditions,(instead of three months...aaaarrrrgggghhhh), and had some action that was truly epic. Some days the sharks were schooled up so thick and in such a voracious mood that chumming was unnecessary. Just get in position, throw the fly and hang on.
And for the first time that I can remember, the false albacore arrived before the sharks departed. We caught the first ten pound plus albie on March 24th, a fourteen pounder. Hence the reason for the lack of reports, out of the spinner shark frying pan, into the albie fire. As of this writing, my rough estimate on releases for false albacore tops four hundred, a great start to a record release season. Topping last years estimate of 3500 releases is likely, knock on wood.
Dolphin fishing has heated up, we have boated fish in excess of thirty pounds and lost some much larger fish. I am looking forward to having the dolphin fishing remain good for the next several months. King mackerel are also in attendence, good sized fish in the ten to thirty pound and up range, and will dump line off a fly reel very, Very fast. Some magnum sized blackfin tuna have put in an appearance, but so far, none have stayed long enough to visit the icebox.
Throw in a scattering of skipjack tuna, cobia, wahoo and sailfish,(one customer this week had a chance at a sailfish in fifteen feet of water close to the beach, something that will send the heart rate into triple digit timing unless you're dead) and our "target rich environment" is complete. The only missing players are the big tarpon that should start moving through the area in early June and remain into mid July. This is shaping up to be a very entertaining spring and summer.
This will be about the shortest report I've ever posted.
They took their time but, THE SPINNER SHARKS HAVE ARRIVED!!!!
Gotta go...flies to tie, sharks to annoy!!!
Winter fishing has been pretty interesting as of late. Jacks have poured into the area and have provided some good entertainment. Especially during the post front periods with high winds and cold temps. With waves of ballyhoo pouring through, ten thousand jacks rise to the surface and crash everything in sight. Easily a good reason to brave twenty mile an hour winds. And employing a teaser plug on a spinning rod can bring a hundred jacks charging the boat, an easy cast for most everyone that isn't so intimidated by the sight that they aren't backing up in the boat.
Bluefish and Spanish mackerel schools are along the beaches, both of which are in a slightly higher weight range than typical. Some of the bigger blues have been upwards of ten pounds and the Spanish mackerel have been very nice in the five pounds and slightly larger range.
In recent weeks some truly huge king mackerel have taken to cruising the outer edges of the Spanish mackerel schools, weights over fifty pounds have been recorded, though we haven't gotten tangled up with one like that on fly, some twenty pounders have been caught. We have been encountering more cobia here and there during good visibility, we boated another forty pounder a week ago.
During good weather windows we have managed some dolphin offshore. Last Thursday Darren Selznick, owner of the Old Florida Fly Shop in Boca and I managed to catch six or seven, keeping just two for dinner. I hear reports of false albacore and medium sized blackfin tuna putting in sporadic appearances, but I always seem to be elsewhere doing other things when that occurs.
One of the more interesting pass times of late has been using fast sinking fly lines on rock piles, reefs and wrecks. Some of the more exotic species coming over the side have been various snapper,(mutton, yellowtail, lane and even a few vermillion snapper, a truly special catch since they are more often found in very deep water out of the range of any sinking fly line) horse-eye jacks, juvenile amberjacks and even a few grouper. The depths we've been working have been as deep as eighty feet and on days when surface/sight casting opportunities have been nil, the fast sinkers have been a real day saver.
The back bays have had good number of ladyfish, pompano, barracuda, smaller jacks and other assorted light tackle fare such as croaker and seatrout.
Twenty possible species is nice, (my best one day total is fifteen), all in all, pretty decent fishing. Though the spinner sharks have been MIA and the sailfish bite has been less than stellar, both of those situations I hope will change shortly. We have had a succession of cold fronts moving through, (the same frontal systems that have caused all the crappy weather throughout the rest of the country) and that is just the kind of weather change to stir the pot and get things really popping.
Most often when there is a large gap between fishing reports it is due to fishing way too good to take time out from to write said report. Sadly, this is not the case with this lengthy hiatus. While the fishing has been good, I have had very few clients recently to come take advantage of the fishing, and between some rather crummy weather and pressing projects at home fun fishing time has been limited. I have found some time to get out there to find dolphin fishing has been good, some occasional skip jack tuna action present itself, small blackfin tuna in good numbers, and the winter visitors, (fish, not snowbirds) are beginning to arrive. Schools of bluefish, mackerel, and jacks are all making appearances, and numbers of sailfish continue to rise. I plan on spending as much time as possible this fall and early winter out dragging teasers and hooking sailfish, at least until the spinner sharks arrive sometime in January.
As I write this, tropical storm Noel is passing off to the east and the winds have been strong and constant out of that direction for almost a week. I hope to find the fishing on fire when the ocean gets back to normal, because I have just about run out of things to do
Yes, it has been quite a while since the last report. Weather has been perfect fishing weather, bait has been in good supply and the species list has been nice. False albacore have been the mainstay and continue to be at numbers that that force you to admit that enough is enough and go off in search of other species. And since the middle of July, some world record class fish have been in good supply, with albies in the fifteen pound and up range a daily occurrence. One of my clients had several in the sixteen to seventeen pound range and two eighteen pounders on the same day. I think the Motrin flowed heavily that night.
Dolphin fishing is also very consistent, though the distance one must travel to find them changes daily. In early July eight to ten miles was a good distance to run to find them,with quite a few showing up while chumming the albies just a mile or two off the beach. But lately, most of the better action requires a twelve to fifteen mile jaunt. And that's ok because the new boat makes that kind of a run in no time at all and generally we have no interference from other boats out that distance. The same area has produced some nice tripletail hanging on decent debris. I keep hearing about roving schools of skipjack tuna, though I have yet to see them. Not to worry, the fall usually has plenty of encounters with those purple speedsters.
King mackerel have been around in fishable numbers and in the perfect size range for fly. Those eight to fifteen pound kings just love to eat flies. And a few in the twenty-pound range have cooperated lately also.
In the past couple of weeks, the snook have started cooperating very well and some dandy fish have come over the side.
Some odds and ends of barracuda, big jacks, rainbow and blue runners round out the action we have been seeing.
I'll be adding a bunch of new pictures to the gallery, I have a new camera that takes great pictures. Check it out.
The fishing has continued to be exceptional, even if the weather has been less so. Normally, our winter winds have died down for the most part by early May. But here it is the fourth week of the month and the wind is making the ocean pretty uncomfortable. Oh, well. Not to worry. Jacks, snook and barracuda have been cooperating well in the calm waters of the ICW, and the tarpon are warming up nicely.The bait schools are getting thicker on the inside and that will help getting things even more reved up.
In between the wind blowing, offshore has been great. The albies keep getting more in numbers and size. Hordes of medium sized fish in the three to eight pound range are to be had at will. And in the last week, their big brother have arrived in force. Fish in the ten pound and up range have started making more regular appearances. And black fin tuna are mixing in. They run in the twenty to thirty five pound range, and though it takes some real skill with a heavy dose of luck to pick a blackfin out of a mass of rampaging albies, getting them past the bull sharks takes even more.
Dolphin, as everyone who knows me is aware, are my favorite fish to play with and what a show they have been putting on. We may end up catching more dolphin and more big dolphin than even last fall which was world class. Large numbers of smaller schoolie sized dolphin and plenty of quality fifteen to "Oh, my god" sized dolphin have been in the area. There have been alot of dolphin in the fifty pound range caught, and at least one seventy pound fish caught off our coast this spring. And I heard rumor of a 93 pounder caught right over in the Bahamas a week or so ago. I think I would have a heart attack if one like that swam up to the boat!
This spring will go down as the best cobia run I can remember. For several months now, large numbers of cobia have been, and continue to be, in the area. Thats one of the things that has been making chumming the albies so crazy. The typical scenario is I get the boat on the reef edge and start marking albie schools on the depth finder. Start the chumming and up come the albies with the following groups of blue runners, rainbow runners and other assorted critters. You know the bull sharks are getting close when the remoras show up, little frickin vacuum cleaners that they are, eat everything in sight. And up come the packs of three to eight monster bull sharks, all of them between eight and ten foot plus. Which though a little tough to get the albies through, the accompanying cobia come to investigate what the activity at the boat is all about and there is a mad dash to get a fly in front of one.
Loads of fun.
All that has kept me so busy, I haven't even had time to go try the king mackerel out that have been chewing up a storm. I'll get around to them shortly at the very least to keep things varied. I'm hoping the winds lay down by Memorial Day, because that is the time I generally start looking for the tarpon, (the big migratory adults, not our resident juveniles) to start moving through the area. After the stellar action we had on the big guys last fall, I'm actually looking forward to sending some silver slobs skyward.
So, that's pretty much what has been keeping me occupied. For what it is worth, I still have plenty of open days between now and the end of August when this melee' usually slows down, though the albie/dolphin/king mackerel fishing action continued last year right through September. Here's hoping that repeats. That will take us right to the start of the bait migration and all the craziness that involves.
While fishing has been entertaining enough, this winters weather has been a real hindrance. Lots of wind, something that doesn't normally bother me or the fish, but from directions and at speeds that made fishing extremely difficult. We had three weeks right in the middle of spinner shark season that the winds were screaming and the ocean was just plain ugly. And not only did the sharks show up late, the exit date for them turned out to be April 1st. So the shortest season I can remember for them with the worst weather I can remember. And the sailfish action never really amounted to much, at least not enough numbers or action that would have made trying for them on fly worthwhile.
The other stuff was fairly routine, inshore ladyfish, jacks, snook and barracuda and when the weather cooperated well enough to get out on the ocean, the spanish mackerel, bluefish and king mackerel were very consistent. Some of the encounters with monster jack crevalle were very entertaining. And I had several days on skipjack tuna in a size range approaching the biggest I've ever seen. Lots of wahoo reports from the trollers
Now most of that is over or very shortly to end and it'll be on to the spring and summer menu. The dolphin fishing was surprisingly consistent through the winter, and even a few false albacore remained in the area. I'm also hearing rumors of schools of king mackerel heading this direction. I'm going to take that as a sign that, like last year, the spring action will begin by the middle or end of April if not sooner.
Can't really say we've been rocking the world here. Consistent jacks, spanish and king mackerel, ladyfish and barracuda, but the sailfish action has been less than stellar. I had hoped for a repeat of the past several years of sailfish action, but it has not happened as of yet. Though as writing this, the temperature outside is about 42 degrees with the wind chill and that holds promise of getting the spindlebeaks going. Up until now, our weather and water temps have been very high, running about seven degrees above normal. While that has held some of the winter species at bay, we actually have had decent fishing for tarpon, dolphin and even some false albacore have remained in the area,(though after almost five thousand releases on the albies last season, I really don't need to see another one of those till next May). And I guess the spinner sharks were not in a hurry to get here either. I normally see the first groups of spinners right around Xmas, and here it is late January and they are just now starting to show up. Maybe that will mean they will have a late departure. One can only hope, I never get tired of the spinners.
I'll try to get a few more reports up in the next couple of weeks to make up for the hiatus I've been on.
Well, I guess it's time for a report of what has been going on. We had a great fall bait migration/mullet run. Tarpon fishing was good, and there was some exceptional dolphin fishing for this time of year. But here it is the end of November and the winter visitors are showing up in impressive numbers already. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks galore, ladyfish and pompano are all "in" and chewing. The jack schools are truly huge, numbering in the thousands, and of all sizes from scrappy five to ten pounders up to "break out the big stick" thirty pounders and beyond.
The sailfish are starting to show, not in huge numbers yet, but enough to get out and try for them. We've had two shots at teased up fish, that for technical problems beyond our control, didn't happen. But I've made a vow to get at least ten sails on fly in the next month and a half, so this won't be the last time you'll be hearing about sailfish. Considering that every winter during the December through January time frame, there is a week or two of sailfish action that rivals anything anywhere in the world. Being in on one of those bites could very well account for ten sails on fly in a single day. I'm rigged, ready and hoping to see something like that.
There has been a decent amount of dolphin being caught and some king mackerel also in the area. And that will be the "menu" for the foreseeable future. The only player still not in the game are the spinner sharks and they should be along shortly
Here it is the middle of September already. The summer went flying by once again with a steady stream of false albacore, king mackerel, spanish mackerel and a decent amount of dolphin. The action on the reef edge was spectacular with albies, rainbow and blue runners chewing up a storm. June was once again "shark month" with huge bull sharks peeling off our albies at every opportunity. While each daily customer got a big kick out of that, it was getting pretty old for me, especially with each fish eaten went the fly, translating into even more fly tying than what I was already doing. To take my frustration out at this, I would take one of the mangled albies, (most were eaten whole, but a few decapitated carcasses made it back to the boat), and hang it by a rope off the side of the boat. When a bull shark went after it, I would "tease" it up to the side of the boat. Some of these guys were so aggressive, they would latch a hold on the albie and refuse to let go. I could pull their entire head and shoulders up out of the water, jaws snapping, tail throwing water over the entire boat. If I had time, I would grab the gaff that was laying within reach and bring the handle down on the things head with as much force as I could muster. Put a pretty decent bend in the gaff handle and didn't phase the shark in the least. Fruitless I know, but satisfying nonetheless.
The numbers of albies coming over the side really hit a peak from about the middle of June through the end of August. You could go out and just throw a fly around with no chum and easily catch a dozen fish in a couple hours. With two or three anglers onboard and a load of chum, fifty fish days were pretty common. And here it is the middle of September and the albies are still here. That is officially the longest they've ever been here with a solid five month season!
Some of the other stuff I've been doing has been using fast sink lines for the king mackerel. As with the albies, large schools have been here most of the summer and they also show no signs of leaving. Fairly easy stuff, get the fly deep into the school and just twitch it along. The strike for a king moving twenty mph + when it crashes the fly is truly an impressive strike. And when he feels the hook, the turbo activates and off they go at close to fifty. A very cool thing if you like watching line melt off the reel.
And we had the ultimate in line melting one day in July when a fifty pound plus wahoo hung around the boat for fifteen minutes eating dead pilchards one at a time. I tried every trick I know to get him to eat a fly. He wouldn't eat one with wire on it. He did clip two flies off with just a mono leader, and then he wouldn't go near a fly, but he did keep right on eating the dead pilchards. I finally had to resort to feeding him a bait with a hook in it, something I've only done about five times in my career, but no one is going to quibble about how to get a fifty pound 'hoo in the boat, right? I actually had to cut a fly apart to get a hook to put the bait on, not a single bare hook in the boat.
So, he ate the bait, I set the hook and handed the rod off to the first of my three anglers. Well, the wahoo was obviously unsure of what was going on because it did a very lazy one hundred yard run straight out in front of the boat. Now it's rare, but some of these things don't ever get warmed up for a real run, so thinking this was the case I started motoring after the fish. Just about then the line goes slack, and I immediately think he's shaken the hook, but I hit reverse attempting to keep the line tight just in case he is still connected. And out of the corner of my eye I see this flash that looked exactly like a bolt of lightning underwater. I even glanced up at the sky looking for the thunderhead from where a bolt may have been reflected in the water. It actually was wahoo coming back past the boat at a speed I can't even begin to guess at. They say these things top out at over sixty mph in the water, and I believe this one was traveling every bit of that. It came from a hundred yards in front of the boat and finished its run over three hundred yards in the other direction. And it took about twenty seconds to do it. All three of my clients took turns on the fish trying to get it close, but it was not meant to be, the hook pulling free at the end of thirty minutes.
So, here it is, the middle of September and the fall bait migration is in full swing. Mullet, sardines, menhaden and pilchards all moving south and every conceivable predator blasting away at them. Snook, tarpon, jacks, mackerel, bluefish,ladyfish, sharks....everyone getting in on the last big feed of the summer. The dolphin fishing has picked up considerably in the last week, and even some small blackfin tuna are showing up, which usually heralds skipjack tuna moving through the area. So basically, seeing over fifteen species on any given day right now is pretty typical.
It makes me semi crazy that this time of year has spectacular fishing, but business is pretty quiet. All this fishing to be done and I'm out by myself doing it. Everyone is probably getting kids back in school and getting ready for the upcoming holidays. I'll try to keep the reports and stories coming for those of you forced to live vicariously...but I can't promise that I don't get so distracted by the fishing that you don't hear from me again till the spinner sharks show up in January...
Busy, busy, busy. Summer fishing in high gear. Albies, snook, tarpon, dolphin, tuna and too many bull sharks chasing,(and catching) hooked fish. Things were darn near spectacular since the middle of April, and with very little in the way of interference from poor weather thankfully. Too busy to keep track of the numbers of fish caught, flies tied, etc. I'd hazard a guess we crossed the 1K number of albies landed about the end of May, which is pretty wild since that's just about the time the albies normally arrive!
A wrench has been thrown into everything this week however, we have a cold water up welling in progress. A normal occurrence during the summer here, strong currents flowing up against the shelf push deep water up to the surface and then in along the beaches and reefs. Divers have been reporting water temps of almost twenty degrees departure from normal on the bottom, and surface temps are cold also. But these things happen fast, and usually go away fast, so it should be short lived....hopefully.
One of the more entertaining things in the past month was a quick over and back one day trip to the western Bahamas with some buddies on their new 25 foot Bluewater. We went in search of skipjack and yellowfin tuna, which we never found in over a hundred and forty miles of searching. We did get a couple of dolphin and a tripletail or two off of floating debris, but not the stuff we were looking for. So when we found an eleven foot, six hundred pound tiger shark cruising on the surface, of course we couldn't just leave it alone. Sacrificing one of the caught dolphin to the idea, we slashed the dolphin and hung it over the side ala spinner shark technique, and dragged it a short distance to create a scent trail. The tiger hit that trail and came right to the boat. But we just couldn't get the thing fired up enough to hit the shark fly I kept presenting to it on my fifteen weight. Even after letting it bite the dolphin in half, it just wouldn't play. So after it slapped the side of the boat with it's tail and took a couple of exploratory bites at the propeller , I decided to cheat a bit and teach the thing boats weren't such a good thing to hand around. I brought the fly up to a couple inches of the rod tip, and next time he came close, I reached out and stuck the fly in his nose. And that was the last time we saw it. It headed for the bottom at warp two like a broken elevator cable in four thousand feet of water. And I'm not stupid, or young anymore, so while still on the flyline I popped him off. Even with a fifteen weight, I'm sure Mr. Tiger would have kicked my butt all over the ocean for the rest of the week. A guy has to know his limitations....
Yes, it was. Madness that is. The sharks put up one of their best, non-stop, no days in a pissy mood shows I can remember. Consistent cooperation for almost ten weeks. Action fast enough for me to have no hope of keeping up with numbers. I'd hazard a guess we released about three hundred. and went through about four hundred flies, two hundred yards of leader material and several hundred feet of wire leaders. I must be doing something right because my guys only broke one rod,(not counting the one I blew up earlier in the season, log entry 1/13/06) and that story is worth telling.
A customer who had just a week earlier had been out for the sharks was out with me for a second go around. First shark of the day flies up to the boat, pounces on the fly and goes off on it's initial run. I say to the gentleman,(we'll call him Frank), "OK, jab him a couple times to set the hook" and Frank loses his mind and rears back on the rod like he's winding up to hit a ball over Yankee stadiums center field wall. Not a nice thing to do to a rod. It breaks with a sound like a pistol shot inside the fighting grip of his twelve weight, and there goes the entire top section of the rod over the side and down the line. When this all started I had just finished stringing up my fifteen weight, so while I drive the boat following the line waiting for the water pressure to push the broken rod back up where we can grab it, I pull all the line on the fifteen up and out the rod tip until I have about ten feet of backing out. Just about the time Frank is able to save the broken rod, I cut the fly line off the fifteen and switch places with Frank, having him drive. And just through the luck of creating enough slack to the shark so it doesn't feel any pressure and go off on another run, I cut the line going to what is left of Franks rod, and retie his backing to the backing on the fifteen weight. And we finish the fight and land the shark. I had done the retie thing on big jacks and albies, never before with a shark. It was a pretty wild couple of minutes.
Anyhow, the sharks all left the premises on April 8 this year, sad to see them go, see-you all in nine months. And on April 13, we caught our first albie of the 2006 season. So, out of the frying pan, into the fire. As of this writing, we've already landed about seventy five albies, in ten days, fairly slow for albie fishing by our standards, but since they don't usually even show up for another month, this is looking like another banner year to come on them. Dolphin fishing has been good, monster jacks and big king mackerel are rounding out the show.
Man, I love fishing Palm Beach.
Well, here we go. Ten weeks of madness. Ten weeks of bleeding knuckles, busted lines, broken rods, and tying flies just as fast as my little fingers can go. Ten weeks of brown missiles flying up to the boat so fast as to make you want to back up. Pouncing on flies, jumping, spinning and a whole lot of running. Ten weeks of wrapping medical tape around fingers, directing anglers like a square dance caller, wrestling with leaders attached to big, toothy critters. Easily some of the toughest, most exciting action fly fishing has to offer anywhere in the world.
Let the games begin.
Besides the flood of spinner sharks that have just arrived in the area, the spanish mackerel, king mackerel, bluefish, jacks, pompano,ladyfish and barracuda,(our normal winter menu) is still going strong, and though the incredible sailfish bite that happened in January has tapered off, the dolphin fishing has picked up considerably with quite a good bit of action on cobia thrown in for good measure.
And besides some up and down swings in mood caused by passing weather, I expect this action to go through into early to mid April. And I still have plenty of open dates for those interested in an ass-whooping.
The baitfish massacre of last month has ended, as it was bound to do. It was spectacular while it lasted, I'd love to see that become a regular event of the November and December time frame, I could call it the "winter warm up". But we've moved on now to more typical and also very entertaining fishing for January. Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, (some of the Spanish have been huge, seven or eight pounds and fight more like kingfish), king mackerel pompano, barracuda, ladyfish and the first encounters with spinner sharks. There are also some spots literally choked with nice jacks in the ten to twenty pound range. One spot especially has been very cool. The jacks are in a massive school on the bottom in about forty feet of clear water. Using a ten or twelve-weight rod, you drop a large surface popper out on a long cast over the school. The first loud "Chug" of the popper causes the water to turn white as the entire school comes up off the bottom to investigate. At the second "chug" a dozen jacks all pile on the popper. Loads of fun.
There has been another spot where just about all of the above-mentioned species are all in attendance in five to twenty feet of water in close along the beach. Several times we've managed four different species on four consecutive casts.
I managed to explode a twelve weight in this spot a few days ago. The spinner sharks were there, but with so much food in the area, they wouldn't come up a scent trail to throw a fly at. But if I threw around a teaser plug for the bluefish, a dozen bluefish would pile on the plug and this would get the attention of the spinners. The shark would come up behind the pack of bluefish, the bluefish would peel off and the shark would continue after the teaser plug, giving about a three second window where one might get a fly where it needed to be. Well, it was a little beyond what my guy could muster, understandably so, since he had just had his first casting lesson and had never even seen a twelve weight fly rod, so he was doing teaser duty and I was attempting to pick off the shark on the way in. Just as I let go on a long cast, the shark changed direction. The fly landed in the water, I took up the slack and heaved back to pick up the fly and re-direct the cast and just as I reached the apex of the pick-up, a ten pound jack hit the shark fly going the other direction. And Ka Pow!!!!! I've heard a lot of rods break, and this one let go with a sound like a 22 cal. pistol shot. Four extra pieces of the rod lying on the deck. Totally my fault, I'm sure no rod on the market would have survived this experience. And to add insult to injury, the jack is still hooked up, and in the process of hand lining him to the boat, the shark comes back and eats him. Now I'm hand lining, bare handed I might add, a spinner shark. Obviously, and thankfully, this doesn't last long, which is good that I manage to break him off because what was left of the shattered rod, including the reel, were in very real danger of going over the side in a hurry. From rod breaking to the aftermath of the shark-tug-o-war all happened in about twenty seconds, at the end of which my customer looks at me and asks if that was what was supposed to happen. I almost fell over laughing.
"Absolutely the wildest stuff I've ever seen". I've heard that phrase a bunch of times in the past month. I can't do justice with written words to describe the melee' that has been happening in the area around Palm Beach, and even video would only scratch the surface.
Huge schools of bait have been everywhere, small sardines mostly with small pilchards and glass minnows mixed in. And everything under the sun just hammering away at them. Sailfish, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, jacks, bluefish, ladyfish, tuna, false albacore, sharks and barracuda. And when I say the bait has been everywhere, I mean from horizon to horizon, tens of thousands of birds diving and chasing bait fish that have been pushed to the surface by an equal or greater number of predators. Bait fish showering across the surface, explosions as far as the eye can see.
The bad news is I've been in the process of moving into a new house in Jupiter Fl. and have had almost no time to enjoy this spectacular show. And the few times that I have been in the middle of this insanity, the video camera was not in attendance. This past Tuesday was the most recent. With my customers onboard, we saw schools of sardines so tightly packed by rampaging Spanish mackerel, the top of the school of bait was being lifted out of the water and the uppermost bait fish was suffocating. Drifting past, I was able to reach out with just the dip net for my live well and scoop up a full net of sardines. I'd turn around and throw the whole thing as far as I could and instantly there would be a hundred mackerel in the air. The few remaining baits would cluster around the boat trying to hide, and as the wind pushed us away from the main school, the mackerel would follow the boat until they had picked off every last straggler. Then, after I had dropped my guys off, I went back out to watch the show some more before heading home and was drifting along when a huge pod of bait tried to use the boat for shelter from a school of about two thousand jack Crevalle in the eight to fifteen pound range. The attack went of for half an hour, with the boat centered in an acre patch of foaming white water, jacks crashing, minnows flying. The sound was deafening. Like standing next to Niagra Falls. The deck of the boat was covered with hundreds of minnows that had jumped in attempting to escape. And I am just kicking myself for not having the video camera.
Here we go again. Another storm came through, and Wilma was quite a storm. Easily stronger and more destructive than last years storms. The hundred mile an hour plus winds at my house were quite impressive and a little disturbing. Trees shredded, roofs wrecked, yada,, yada, yada. I stood in the lee of the house and took video of tree limbs flying past, and trees splintering in my neighbors yard. The video is pretty cool, but the actual feeling that one gets from being in a storm like that just doesn't come through on the film.
The boat is fine however and I even fished the two days following the storm finding massive schools of jacks just off the beach. We even made it out to dolphin country and caught a couple of those. Since then, schools of Spanish mackerel, jacks, bluefish, ladyfish and even a few spinner sharks have been moving into the area. So, it looks like winter fishing may start a bit early this year, and that'll be a great thing if we can just finish the hurricane season without another visiting south Florida.
September? No way!! Holy crap!! Where did this summer go?!? Oh, yeah, I remember now. It went blazing by with an estimated 4500 albie releases. It got to the point I was soaking my hands in ice water every night, due to the line cuts and sores from grabbing too many fish. Twelve broken rods, nine lines lost and over a thousand flies tied by yours truly. Some of the best midsummer dolphin fishing in the past several summers with a lot of big dolphin around early and then late in the summer. We boated one just this past week that was close to thirty lbs. This bodes well for the fall fishing as it is generally a more typical time for dolphin to come through. Kingfish, assorted runners,(probably another 2500 blue, bar and rainbow runner releases) providing light tackle options when needing a break from the ablie onslaught. Blackfin tuna were a little scarce, and the few big ones we did manage to hook were all blasted by bull sharks. Oh, yeah, the bull sharks were relentless in June, packs of them coming to the boat before we even started chumming. I need to figure out a way to dissuade them from bothering me next year.
We had great weather over all, didn't cancel a single trip and only had a couple days inside the ICW due to rough water on the ocean. Snook were good in August, tarpon are just getting back into the area on their southward migration. The normal tarpon fishing in June and early July was lackluster with bad water quality for sight casting and fewer than normal tarpon from what everyone was saying. There are some very good guides in the area that spend considerably more time on the silver kings than I do and when hearing how tough it was to get results, I opted for more reliable results with the reef chumming.
There quite a few memorable events, an enormous cobia lost after an epic hour long fight, a weeks time where from horizon to horizon albies crashing flying fish, a seventy fish day on albies in only thirty feet of water, a six foot long barracuda ripping an albie out of my hands just as I was picking it up out of the water,(that one was a little scary, the cuda was going about fifty when he hit)) just too many stories to relate.
And this brings me back to the start of the fall bait migration/mullet run kicking off. The first schools of mullet, ladyfish, bluefish and jacks showed up this week, crashing in schools of bait so large as to be mind boggling. I threw the net on just such a school pilchards and sardines last week, and the net could not close, over a thousand pounds of bait in one shot.
I hope the hurricane season finishes without us wearing one, I'm looking forward to a fall season of inshore and offshore fun with snook, tarpon, jacks, dolphin, skipjack tuna and what ever else we find. Spinner sharks should be along shortly.
This is easily my favorite months of the year with a great species list and usually very dependable weather. The weather has thrown us some curves though, a tropical storm has already made a drive by, dousing us pretty well. But I can put up with less than normal South Florida weather when the snook are heating up, tarpon traveling through, albies on the war path,(the albies showed up in mid may in good numbers, almost a month early from last year) big dolphin making appearances, king mackerel here and there, rainbow and blue runners, bull sharks mugging the hooked fish, blackfin tuna, wahoo and sailfish in the area. About as "target rich" an environment as anyone could want. We've boated dolphin up to about twenty pounds, and missed some real bruisers in the thirty and forty pound range. Albie size range has been all over the place with two to eighteen pounds coming over the side. We haven't boated/released any of the tarpon yet, but have launched some skyward that were well over the hunderd pound mark, including one about a hundred thirty pounds that was so close to coming in the boat on one jump, she soaked us with spray. Nothing quite like looking up at a fish six foot long, gills rattling, head thrashing. Now if we can only get through hurricane season without getting smacked....
With daylight savings leaving plenty of light to fish with past eight PM, this time of year is like being a kid in a candy shop...I just can't stop myself from fishing. So, if I'm not regular with the reports, you'll know I'm just fishing my brains out....
This will be the main fish menu for the next six weeks at least.
Busy, busy, busy....places to be, fish to annoy. Things have been good, very good in fact. The sharks are chewing up a storm, so we're trying to make up for lost time. Poor weather and abnormal movements of the shark schools made early season fishing for them tricky or nonexistent. But in the last month they have really turned around and the party has been incredible. To the point I even have my wife Julie tying flies! Other targets have been huge schools of bluefish, monster jacks up well into the thirty pound range. We've been having fun with small king mackerel on shallow water patch reefs, as well as juvenile amberjacks in the same areas. On days when the seas would allow a bit of a run, I've been making the trek up north of Jupiter for the massive schools of spanish mackerel. It is mind boggling the amount of fish in that area year after year, even with all the commercial boats and recreational fishermen taking tons, (literally) of fish each day. and the spanish that we caught were of a good size, fish upwards of six or seven pounds were not a surprise.
Bigger king mackerel have started showing up, fish over fifty pounds have been caught in the past couple of weeks. And it looks like the dolphin run is about to get under way, some big schools of peanut dolphin and a decent amount of bigger "phins" are moving in. The cobia fishing has also been good, I heard of a seventy pounder caught last weekend. Thats big for our area, most of those oh, so tasty critters average twenty to forty pounds here.
I'm not sure just how long the shark show will continue, with their uncharacteristic patterns this winter, I'm not going to be surprised whatever they do. But I hope to get a few more days, hopefully a week and in my dreams we'll still be banging them in May. But it looks like we'll have dolphin and kings and, very shortly, albies to play with when the sharks move on their way.
A couple of side stories. Speaking of albies. In February, we were treated to a mini run of summer time sized albies up to about fifteen pounds. Was quite a cool thing, especially considering they were blasting bait on the surface in water less than forty feet of water right outside the inlets. Great fun and a serious eye opener for my guys that don't normally get to see the boneheads.
Those little kings I was speaking of put on a serious airial display a couple of times. For those of you who don't know, when kings feed on the surface, they have the tendency to overshoot their target. This results in the king launching itself a decent distance in the air. The bigger the king, the higher they go. We call this a "skyrocket." These little kings were so voracious a couple of days, multiple kings would line up on the fly and there would be two foot long grey missiles coming out of the water all around the fly during the retrieve. On every retrieve, the kings would connect, and you would be looking UP at a king eight to ten feet in the air with your fly crossways in their jaws.
There has been too many really cool things over the past couple of months, (I know I haven't been keeping up with the reports, but as I've said many times before, if there are no reports, you can be certain the fishing is very good) to tell all of them. Shots at some of the biggest tripletails I've ever seen, encounters with sailfish, and a beautiful wahoo we boated. But the coolest thing I've seen happened just last week.
I was watching what I think was a spinner shark about eighty pounds chasing a bluefish around on the surface about eighty feet from the boat. Just about the time I'm wondering if he would eat a fly if I dropped one on him from that distance, all hell broke loose. Apparently, Mr. Spinner screwed up and wasn't paying attention. Because a massive, fifteen foot long and every bit of a six to eight hundred pound hammerhead shark sneaks up and blasts the spinner. The first strike, Mr. T-head comes completely out of the water with the spinner in his mouth. The spinner manages to escape, but only temporarily. The T-head is charging around in hot pursuit of the spinner which is leaving a plume of blood behind it in the water. I would never have believed that a shark of this size could get moving that fast. The spinner never had a chance. The hammerheads nails it twice more and the spinner is toast. The last sight of the spinner I got it was crossways in the hammerheads jaws, the beast swimming on the surface looked just like a monster dog carrying a bone. This all happens in about twenty seconds, with my customers freaking, and I admittedly gawking, and the video camera laying there, I missed the whole thing.
It was really a reminder that Everything is in the food chain.
I'm going to start calling this time of year the "Season of teeth". Seems like toothy critters outnumber everything else by three to one right now. Baracuda, bluefish, sharks, spanish and king mackerel. There are other non-toothy fish playing as well, jacks, pompano, ladyfish.
I am getting a little tired of the unusually poor weather we've been getting this winter though, nice fishing weather for a few days, then five days of screaming winds. At the time of this writing, the wind is again blowing hard. We managed a very respctable day yesterday despite the wind(20 knots sustained, gusts over 30) with six cudas up to three feet long, eight jacks up to about six lbs and a couple of small snook, which were a big surprise with the cold water. Maybe we'll get all the wind out of the way and the spring fishing will be nice with calm seas. Last spring we had incredibly windy weather and April and May passed with alot of the years best dolphin fishing being unreachable.
My main target this time of year is the spinner sharks, those rabid-tarpon, whirling dervishes, "I'm getting my butt kicked" fish that I love so much. Perhaps it's the unusual weather, but they are late. Normally very punctual in arriving the first week of January, here it is the end of the month and I just saw the first good group showup a few days ago. Thank god, I thought I would need to find a threapist if the sharks didn't show soon. I'm hoping the late arrival will mean a late departure. The historic date the spinners leave is the first week of April.
Some other very odd occurances are also worthy of note for the winter season. There has been a very good showing of blue marlin and yellowfin tuna recently. The first are typically way too big,(averaging 250 lbs to start) to even attempt on fly, the later is a species we never see here. The yellowfins prefer the east side of the gulf stream, and it would please me to no end if we would continue to have some in the area. They are a spectacular fighting fish, easily one of the fastest and toughest of the tuna species.
That is all the news from my corner of the pond.
I had no idea it had been almost three months since I posted a fishing report. There has been a lot going on, unfortunately not enough of it has been fishing. Right after my last update, Hurricane Jeanne came through our area on a carbon copy of the track Hurricane Frances followed. Same amount of wind and rain, only difference was Jeanne moved considerably faster and damaged was minimal. I really feel for the homes left with roof damage from Frances. The rain from Jeanne was what really wrecked everything left exposed from the first storm. And shortly after Jeanne, the remnants of Hurricane Ivan moved back over the area with more rain, though little wind. In August no one would have believed we would get three hurricanes in the same month. Most would count it all as a really rude wakeup call living in the tropics can mean. Call it good timing if you will, in the middle of all this, in early October, I had surgery on my left shoulder to correct what thirty plus years of stripping fly line caused. A bone spur removed, slight tear in the rotator cuff attended to, and the removal of, in my Dr.'s words "a surprising amount of Bursitis." My own form of Fly fishing Carpal Tunnel syndrome I guess. I'll call it good timing on the surgery because we couldn't really fish during the storms obviously and the calls for trips pretty much ceased immediately after. I got the green light from the Dr. to go back to work around the 15th of Nov, and I was out the door like a shot. I don't suffer convalescence gracefully to put it mildly. To tell the truth, only twelve days after the surgery I was wading streams in the Texas hill country fishing for Guadalupe bass. Good thing they max out in size at about ten inches, right up my ally considering my condition. But home is where the heart is and I was drooling to get back out on the water here in Florida. In the interim of the storms coming through and my recovery, winter fishing patterns have come on strong. In the dozen or so trips I've done since getting back to work, southward migrating tarpon, winter schools of jack crevalle of all sizes, small tuna and dolphin offshore, spanish mackerel, ladyfish and bluefish have all been encountered. Probably the coolest thing going on this past week was the first wave of sailfish showing up. While a decent number were moving through the normal travel route along the reef about a mile offshore, a good amount were in very close to shore chasing large schools of ballyhoo. Water depths as little as ten feet of water, the sails could be plainly visible cutting through the baitfish, bills slashing. We haven't been able to get one to commit to eating a fly yet, but on several occasions one would chase the fly eighty feet back to the boat, whacking it all the way before turning off at the last minute. Enough to get anyone with a pulse weak kneed. In just the past day or so, some much bigger dolphin up into the thirty pound range have started moving through, and I saw my first spinner sharks of the winter free jumping. I plan on catching up on the fishing I've missed this fall in a hurry and will have more to write about shortly
As I've been saying for a couple years, we're long overdue here for a hurricane, and when one does come through, it'll be a hell of a mess. Well, it's a hell of a mess here. Hurricane Frances came through, taking her time and pretty much wrecked everything except the fishing. I'm sure you've all seen the damage it wrought, trees splintered, roofs gone. We were without power for about nine days. That's a long time without A/C in September. The house, cars and best of all, the boat came through without any damage luckily. While almost everyone has power back, the cleanup will be in progress for a long time.
Obviously I haven't been doing much fishing with this going on, my last charter trip was the week before the storm came through. I made a foray out immediately after the storm to observe the damage. Lots of sailboats now lawn ornaments, lots of docks and yachts now artificial reefs.
But the storm didn't affect the fall mullet run/bait migration in the least. It's is well underway, lots of action on snook, tarpon, sharks, jacks and other assorted predators harassing the schools of hapless mullet. We even caught bonito in close to the beach yesterday. And so begins the transition from summer to fall fishing, leading soon to winter.
Albies are winding down. There are still a few small ones around, an occaisional big guy, but most have moved on. I didn't keep good records of numbers from this season, but a total of around 2000 seems about right. Biggest fish were in the eighteen pound range. And judging from the hordes of "small" six to eight pound fish, next year is going to have large numbers of big fish.
Now we come into the mixed-bag time of year when the species list gets pretty cool. We had a ten species day this past monday with dolphin, albies, rainbow and blue runners, king and spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, cudas, snook and snapper. About thirty fish plus came over the side. More of the same yesterday, including a dolphin jaunt offshore where we finally found a decent number of dolphin. Small fish in the two to five pound range, we scaled down to six weights to make them a bit more fun.
This should be the norm for the next month or so when the fall mullet/bait run gets underway and things should get really nuts with huge schools of bait moving around with an entire entorage of predators following.
We have been having a pretty typical, Albies-out-of-control June and July here in Southeast Florida. Hordes of fish, averaging around
ten pounds, fish into the upper teens on a fairly regular basis. My hands look like I've been clumsy sharpening my fillet knife from
all the line cuts. It's a wonderful thing. We must be getting good at this thing judging from the lack of broken rods. Only four this
year so far. And two reels that had melt downs. We also had some very good tarpon fishing in the area this year. I didn't get to take
advantage of the action as much as I'd like since most of my customers this time of year are "Albie-junkies", but an excellent guide
I know in the area that did concentrate on the silver kings is closing in on his two hundredth of the year. We had a couple days on
king mackerel that was a nuts as it gets, with fifteen to forty pound fish blasting chum baits, tearing holes in the water and
skyrocketing fifteen feet in the air all around the boat. Dolphin fishing has been lack luster for the most part, few fish and long
distances to run to find them, though I think that will be changing next month. Snook at area inlets have been grouping up and we
had several this week in the twenty pound range. Things to look forward to next month should be more snook at the inlets, juvenile
tarpon in the ICW, sailfish showing in good numbers as in the past four or five Augusts, some of the best chances to get a wahoo of
the year, hopefully some dolphin and the albies starting to thin out. This is just a quick report to try to stay up to date with the action
here. I'm off on a much deserved break for the next couple of weeks.
I will try to remember everything that has gone on in the past month or so, some of the entertainment has been right off the scale.
We'll start with Scott and Lanette Singletons trip back in the first week of May. A while back I know, but one thirty minute segment was about as nutty as it gets, left us all laughing until our sides hurt. The Singletons weather was marginal for the four days that we fished, with the seas being a sloppy three to four foot, but with little going on inshore, we buckled down and headed offshore anyhow. The first day was spent warming up on runners and other assorted little stuff, Scott managed a twelve pound dolphin on his eight weight the second day, but the third day was where things got crazy.
I managed to get a few albies coming up on dead glass minnows, fish in the six to eight pound range. Both of the Singleton's were holding their eight weights, and I figured the eights would be fine on that size albie. I gave Lanette the go ahead, she dropped a cast in and sure enough, a twelve pounder came in from nowhere and pounds her fly. Just as the albie goes off on it's run, here come two dolphin in the
twenty pound plus range. I told Scott to lose the eight and grab a big rod. Well, Scott just drops the eight on the deck, line still stripped off of it and gets his twelve weight. He makes a nice cast right in front of the larger dolphin, only to have another big albie pick the fly off right from under the chin of the dolphin. So, I grab the only other big rod, a ten weight, and get a hook into the big dolphin. I hand the dolphin rod over to Scott and take the albie on the twelve weight off his hands. Now, that albie has headed to the front of the boat, taking me with it. Scott has followed the dolphin to the back of the boat where Lanette is fighting her albie. The chum is all in the back of the boat where I can't get to it, and the second dolphin is still swimming around the boat. I figure I better do something about this or he'll be leaving, and looking down, there's the eight weight laying on the deck ready to cast and in a fit of temporary insanity, I pick it up one handed and make a cast at the second dolphin. Sure enough, I get a hook stuck in the fish and it goes off on a running, leaping sprint. For those of you not keeping count, this is now four fly rods, four fish, and three sets of hands doing the work. Lord I wish I had someone there in another boat filming this circus.
Anyhow, in an effort to keep up with the dolphin that is just putting on a spectacular jumping show, I put the twelve wieght in my mouth,(along with all the glass minnow scales I had covered it with). The albie on it, up until that point, was being somewhat passive. Of course, when I brought my teeth into play, it decides it's time to do a scorching run well into the two hundred yard range. I'm doing my best to stay focused on the dolphin, but my teeth being pulled out of my head is making this difficult. Anyhow, my dolphin jumps off right about this time, and about twenty seconds later, something eats the albie, (shark), whole. We can now get back to the other end of the boat with the Singleton's,(remeber the Singleton's?). Scott has done a fine job of keeping his dolphin fairly close, and Lanette is just putting the finishing touches on her albie. We get the albie in the boat and released, and just as I turn my attention to Scott's dolphin, well, here come's another dolphin about the same size. Another round of frantic activity ensues as I try to chum this new player into the mood to eat a fly, but he's having none of it. More than likely, it's the dolphin I jumped off. Anyhow, I spend enough time messing with this fish before I give up on it, that when it comes time to land Scott's dolphin, as I'm trying to lead it into a net, the hook basically falls out and he swims off. I straighten up and look at the other two and we all just burst into hysterical laughter. It would have been nice to get the dolphin, but that would have just been frosting on a very tasty cake.
Then the weather took a serious turn for the worse, almost three weeks of the windiest weather south Florida has seen in May. Winds stayed above twenty knots with gusts over thirty, making seas well into the "fugly" range. Almost noone was able to make it offshore, and the few that did found marginal fishing for their troubles.
But the weather improved drastically last week, and the albie fishing has built into series of all out battles everyday. We had one day last week when the albies moved much further inshore than is normal for them, only a couple hundred yards off the beach in water depths of twenty to thirty feet. The nice thing about hooking albies in water that shallow, when they go off on thier run, there's nowhere to go but out. And out, and out.
I must have made some kind of impression on the Singletons though,(I'm not sure what kind of impression I could have made other than being some kind of nut) because they extended an invitation to join them in the Bahamas for a few days. Julie, my wife, had never been to the islands. And since stage one of the permanent move to "The islands, mon.." , is getting her over there, I was able to employ some of my guide buddies to cover my trip for a few days and off we went.
Treasure Cay is about one third of the way from the north tip of Abaco, one of the world's great Edens. Turquoise water, really neat limestone formations carved by the surf, palm trees, sunsets that explode in the western sky. Just drop dead georgeous.
Scott and I went with a guide named Pedro on day one, into a labyrinth of cays and islands with beautiful water to the north of Abaco. An area that looked like you could fish it everyday for a year and not fish the same water twice. Conditions were tough, windy and cloudy,(the same horrible weather back home was experiencing) I managed one bonefish, and a monster mutton snapper,(a much more notable catch in my opinion) for the day. As Pedro was tying up the boat at the end of the day however, he tweaked his back( a pain I'm more than familiar with) so needed the next day to recoup. The day after that, Scott opted for the golf course and a friend of his Bill, an attourney from D.C. and I headed back to the flats with Pedro. Bill had never fished salt, much less bones, and to say he was pumped would be an understatement.
Conditons were a little better this day, more sunshine for better visability and a little less wind.
This is where I join the "Stupid Peoples Club".
We get into a spot that is just loaded with bonefish, probably a hundred fish milling around in a space the size of a football field. We bailed out of the boat and go wading after the bonefish. Now we did notice several small sharks in the area, but I paid them no mind. While casting at a group of bones, I see a bone coming after my fly, there is a big swirl, I come tight and off goes a good run well into my backing. I try pulling my fish away from the school of bones in an attempt to keep from spooking them at Bill's expence and succeed to some degree despite the fact I'm only using a eight weight rod with a ten pound tippet. Well, I get close enough to have the monster bonefish I'm so sure I'm attached to turn into a blacktip shark, just shy of three feet long, that is foul hooked in the tip of the pectoral fin. The only thing I can figure is the shark was after the bonefish I saw coming in on my fly, and was in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up foul hooked. Well, I play the shark out till it's exausted, just laying on the surface. Keep in mind I handle several hundred spinner sharks five times this thing's size back home every winter. I see no reason I shouldn't be able to get the hook out of the thing and send it on it's way. With my long nosed locking forceps, I get a good hold on the bend of the tiny size six hook, and give a hard yank up and away from me. Now this tiny hook that I'm expecting to let go, straighten out or break does a fourth option that I didn't expect....it holds. I now have snatched this shark completely up and out of the water, it's at shoulder level and at arms length, and it shows me why I was needlessly worried about it's well being. It comes around with speed you wouldn't believe and makes absolute hamburger out of the index finger on my right hand. Luckily it didn't get a good hold, as I'm sure it would have clamped and held if it could. From the moment I yanked on the hook, to the shark falling back in the water covered a total time of about half a second. I look at my hand and think "hmmmm, that's not good...." I throw the rod, complete with shark at Pedro and head for the boat. Somehow Pedro releases the shark and meets me at the boat. Well, there's no first aid kit, but I have one sheet of a paper towel. I wrap it around the finger and Pedro comes up with a t-shirt he cuts a strip off and we wrap that around the finger. You may be wondering where Bill is...he's off chasing bonefish frantically, I think he's assuming the trip is about to be cut dramatically shorter. Pedro sure is, saying..." We go to cleenic,Mon...we go Now, Mon..." "Screw it Pedro...I can still move it and there's no arteries cut, keep on fishing with Bill..." Pedro looks at me like " Freekin crazy american..." and trudges off after Bill figuring to have only one customer alive at the end of the day.
Well, I sit there in the boat contemplating my finger's plight, and the bleeding amazingly stops, and the cold water I'm pouring on it is making it pretty tolerable. I stand up and look to see that most of the bonefish have by-passed Bill and Pedro and have encircled the boat. Us Florida guides may not be bright individuals, but we're tough SOB's. A left handed casting we go and actually manage to hook one of the bonefish! This is where it becomes painfully obvious that two hands are really a requirement and not an option. After deciding that there's really no way around it, I break the bone off and sit there disgusted with myself until Bill finally,(like an hour plus after I get tagged) gets his bonefish, I snap a couple shots of him and we haul butt back to the dock.
This report has gotten quite long and my finger hurts so I'll shorten the remainder considerably. Forty minute boat ride back to the dock, forty minute car ride back to the hotel, twenty minute visit to the islands medical clinic, just enough time to get back to the hotel, pack and get to the airport for our scheduled flight back to Florida. Through the ER doors at 7:30 PM and am finally seen and stitched up by a Dr. at midnight, twelve hours after the shark buried it's teeth in my finger. And twenty one stitches is what is needed to piece it all back together again.
Ahhhhh.....Spring fishing, some of my favorite action of the year. It's a good thing the fishing gets good this time of year, because when the sharks
leave, if I didn't have something to keep my mind off it, I'd just go into a deep state of depression. And the sharks are gone, the bluefish went
bye-bye, pompano have headed out, and spanish mackerel immigrated elsewhere. We had just great action on the sharks right up to April 15th.
That's the latest date I have ever seen them in the area, March 28th to April 2nd are more typical exit dates for the spinners. I did not keep as
good a record on totals as I did last year,( See log entry 5/20/03) but the entertainment value was extreme. A rough estimate of numbers were
probably around 350 hooked and about two hundred sharks landed and released. Not bad considering the havoc wrought by the damn gillnetters.
The bluefish were one of those anytime, any day, any weather things we could do. An acre of the smaller ones in the two to five pound range
were planted in the same spot for months, and towards the end of March some of their much larger brethren started mixing in. We landed
several in the mid teens weight range, with eight to ten pounders common. But the variety pack has really ensued in the past couple of weeks,
almost everyday has presented different species to throw at. Cobia over fifty lbs have been hooked, though the largest that has made it to the
boat was in the thirty pound range. Dolphin have been slowly moving in and we had a double header on fish in the mid twenty pound range
last week. One was boated easily and the other was one of those dolphin that just says "Screw you, I'm not coming in..." and didn't. At the end
of almost an hour fight, the leader parted and the fish won. Very epic battle. We have boated quite a few monster jacks in the past month, the
biggest to date was just over forty lbs that my brother Dean boated. Albies have been showing up sporadically, looks like another early apearance
for them. Though I haven't personally seen them over eight pounds, we did have some good action on skipjack tuna this week, we boated several
in the eight to ten pound range. A few blackfins have been reported also recently King mackerel are also into their spring run, some very nice
fish from what I have heard. Twenty pounds seems to be the average and fish into the fifty pound range are being reported. Spring fishing is
Two months have pretty much just flown by here. Over all, the entertainment value has been good, weather has been pretty good and the people I've been fishing with first rate. Jacks, ladyfish, pompano, bluefish, ( some very large for us, up to ten lbs ) , spanish mackerel, ( some huge, we boated one that was 9.5lbs ), and some very good king mackerel fishing, ( including one I caught on a nine weight that went into the twenty pound range ). A veritable pot pourri of activities has kept us entertained though January and February.
There were a couple of days I wish I had gone out for sailfish, the bite that went off was truly astounding. During the Silver Sailfish Derby that the West Palm Beach Fishing Club puts on every January was one of those bites. This years tourney shattered old records with numbers of sailfish being released that would rival anywhere in the world. First day of the tourney, sixty boats released somewhere around a hundred eighty sailfish. As if that was just a warm-up, day two totals were close to four hundred sailfish being released! And day three was another very good day with another almost two hundred sailfish releases. Those are the kind of numbers I wish I was on the spot for with a fly rod, but we were in on the beaches doing battle with the spinner sharks.
The sharks that were here in the early part of the season were CK fish, "customer killers" . Huge sharks, the biggest I've ever seen grouped up in the area. We weren't finding any under eighty pounds, and hundred pound sharks were the average size. Biggest boated/released was right around a hundred twenty pounds. These were really too big for fun, the fight would last an hour and leave you pretty much spent. I and most others prefer the fifty to seventy pounders that still put on an awesome fight, but quit before the coronary kicks in.
January was a little disconcerting though as numbers of spinner sharks were way down from previous years. I wasn't seeing the days with groups of hundreds of sharks moving through the area. And the mass "jumpoffs", ( this is when dozens of sharks all start free jumping at once, a trait I believe to be mating behavior related ), were nonexistent. I was then informed to some rather disturbing news. As the sharks move into the area, they come in from deep water on a course that brings them into an area far enough from the shore that commercial gillnetters can legally target/net them. The numbers just make me sick. Two large gill net boats were intercepting the main groups of sharks and were taking four thousand pounds, per boat, per day. This went on for about forty-five days until the commercial quota was met and the season closed on the sharks. To save you the trouble of getting out the calculator, that adds up to three hundred and sixty-thousand pounds of sharks, almost ten-thousand individual fish.That is assuming that there was no over the limit harvesting going on. The source I have believes that as much as twenty-thousand pounds a day could have been getting netted on occasions that they believed the law enforcement wouldn't catch them. And what is it all being used for? No one knows for certain, but the fins are probably going to the orient and the rest of the shark meat is going to cat food or fertilizer. I think I have as realistic an estimate of the population as anyone, and I think the total number of adult spinner sharks that move through here are around forty thousand. Since the sharks don't reproduce fast, the number being harvested are scary. It won't take much of this before they go away for good. Very sad state of affairs...I'll keep you posted on what will now be my mission in life to get this incredible crap stopped.
It was literally the day after the season closed that I saw my first big school of sharks move into the area, and since then it has almost been like normal. Numbers are still just a shadow of former years, but the action on them has been good. I hope to see them stay in the area until their normal exit date somewhere at the end of the month.
As of this writing, all the previously mentioned fish species are still in the area and the only addition to the list of fish has been dolphin moving into the area in decent numbers. If we are lucky, it'll repeat like last year when the sharks moved out and good schools of dolphin, king mackerel and skipjack tuna all moved in to replace them.
You have got to love a punctual fish. Just like clockwork, and just like the past five or six years that I've really been paying attention, the spinner sharks arrived in between Christmas and New Years. The first group of the "Brown Bombers" were spotted just up the coast only last Sunday, and two days later, many dark shapes were zipping out of the path of the boat as I ran down the beach. I could have just about done handsprings.
However, a relentless procession watercraft of all makes and sizes, some I'm sure haven't been wet in oh, say twelve months to the day, made the opening season action, well, not so good. The fact that the offshore action on sailfish, ( some of which in the recent couple of weeks had been spectacular ), dolphin and kings was just about nil, left many more anglers than usual working the inshore waters.
We did manage one spinner to the boat on New Year's Eve, and though we had several lookers today, none would commit to a dance. I'm sure that will change shortly.
Other than that, the normal menu of bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, pompano and runners have been providing fairly reliable action. The original school of jacks that had moved into the inlet some weeks backs,( a mass I'd guess to be several thousand strong) must have gotten tired of the bull sharks, bottlenose porpoise, cudas, commercial fishermen and everyone else harassing them. They moved out to parts, ( somewhat ) , unknown. There will probably be a replacement school along shortly, hopefully fish too big for any of the aforementioned, ( except for masocistic fly anglers ), to mess with.
So, now that everyone that is supposed to be here has arrived, let the beatings begin, (and not necessarily only that of fish). All that remains is some cooperative weather to let us get some damage done
Most of us are pretty tired of the wind that has spent quite a bit of time in Fl. recently. November was about as windy a month as I can remember here. Twenty to thirty knots most of the month, I think I made it out the inlet twice. It has abated already to some degree here in Demeber, with as many days of decent weather as not. As for the fishing, the inshore scene has taken center stage over the bluewater action, both due to the uncooperative weather and a lack of targets out deep. Jacks, bluefish, pompano have been in good supply if not good attitude. Lots of fish, but not crashing into the boat like we like to see them doing. A couple of spinner sharks have been encountered, though they're not due for a few more weeks.
Some of the ultralight stuff we've been doing has stepped "out of the box" if you will...small blackfin and skipjack tuna,("pocketrockets") in the two to four pound range were popping surface flies on four and five weight rods in two hundred plus feet of water. The little guys would dump quite a bit of backing for their size.
We also had the chance to use the same rods on so-called baby AJ's, (amberjack, arguably one of the toughest fighting of the jacks) in the four to eight pound range. They were in relatively shallow water for AJ's, fifteen to twenty feet, but they would rocket to the surface after teaser plugs, and dropping a fly would bring great surface strikes.
This is basically our winter menu, which should be the main entertainment for the next several months. Only thing missing are the sailfish and spinner sharks. Should be any day now.
No rest for the weary. The mullet run/bait migration went off in fine shape with lots of action on many different species of fish. Great action on massive ladyfish in along the beaches and some fine dolphin action out offshore during September and October. It is winding down now, but the winter species list is already knocking, or rather banging on the door. Here it is just November and the bluefish, spanish mackerel and jack crevalle action is typically what I usually find going on in January. The spanish mackerel blitz that went off last week outside of Palm Beach was one of the best I had ever seen anywhere. As many as you could stand and some very nice fish up into the five and six pound range. Bluefish and jacks mixed in, some of the jacks were in the "Don't hook that thing!!!" range.
We also had a special early season encounter with some spinner sharks the end of October. A buddy and I went one for five in about an hour one afternoon. I believe it was just some incidental sharks that were following the bait schools since I haven't seen them again, but it was a nice warm up to the action due to start in the next month or so.
A special treat last week was a veritable pot pourri of species offshore. Several days we had five species while working the blue water. Dolphin, skipjack and blackfin tuna, false albacore and rainbow runners. Though the blkfins were on the small side, a few of the skippies and the dolphin came home for dinner.
Action on sailfish has been such that I think I may try dragging some teasers next chance I get, some of the bait boats have been getting a good number of shots each fishable day. The weather hasn't been very cooperative in the past couple of weeks, a bit on the windy side. But thats ok, a bit of a blow usually keeps things stirred up and after it's done the fishing undoubtably improves. And hopefully the wind will get it out of it's system for the remainder of the winter.
Dolphin fishing has been good the past couple of weeks. Though nothing huge, decent numbers of four to ten pound fish with a few larger have been playing nice.
They showed up just about the time the last remaining false albacore moved on to where ever it is they go. Got to watch the food chain at work while on a trip last thursday.
A five pound dolphin tried to use the boat as cover from a maurading marlin of about four hunderd pounds. The marlin was taking laps around the boat at warp speed while the
dolphin coward under us. Very cool to see. The king mackerel, though reduced in numbers, are still in the area. Some of the kings are of very nice size, some over thirty lbs
being reported. A few wahoo in the area that I haven't gotten around to fishing for just yet. And right on cue, the mullet run/bait migration has gotten underway. Bait schools
being harrased by everything from bluefish to tarpon are moving along the area beaches. Great fun watching the melee', sharks slashing, tarpon crashing, snook popping.
Can be tough competing with so much food in the water, but spectacular to see. The weather dictates just how long that will be going on, but mid October should see the bait
schools starting to thin out. Saw my first spinner shark jumping the other day, as well as the first school of skipjack tuna. Looks like we'll go right from the summer menu of
fishing opportunities into the winters target rich environment.
As you can tell from the lack of reports over the past couple months, business has been brisk and fishing has been
out of control. We're finishing up one of the best seasons of false albacore/bonito fishing I have ever seen. Huge
numbers of albies in x-large sizes have been in the area for the past four months plus and the action has been nonstop.
The biggest albie of the season was a 19.5 pounder and the "smaller" twelve to sixteen pound fish were as thick as
anyone had ever seen. I had the honor of getting Chico Fernandez his biggest albie ever, a fat seventeen pounder.
The past several weeks has had big numbers of the small six to ten pound fish, hinting at another banner year on big
fish for next season. A single angler was averaging about twenty fish a day, ( if they could stand it that long ) so
with a couple of guys onboard ( in good shape with no heart problems ) the numbers were really adding up. I should
have kept accurate count when the things showed up in early april, ( two months early ), but as a guess, counting
nothing under five pounds, I think a seasons total of close to five thousand fish is pretty realistic. Man, what a
season. It's going to take my hands several weeks to heal up from all the line cuts caused by leadering fish at the
boat. With so much time spent on the albies, the other fish in the area haven't been getting much attention until
recently, but the king mackerel fishing has also been nonstop for the most part, we boated several nice ones last
week with Jim Gray getting a dandy twenty pounder. I also managed to beat up on a thirty pound jack last week,
( picture on front page ) and there has been some snook fishing going on. Dolphin were at best sporadic up until
recently, but there's been some good numbers showing up the past couple of weeks.
I can't believe it's already moving into September, where did this year go? The mullet run/bait migration is just
around the corner and all the fireworks that creates. The inshore snook and tarpon and the offshore dolphin, skipjack
tuna and if we're lucky a wahoo or two to keep us occupied through until the winter cold fronts bring in the jacks,
ladyfish, bluefish and my best buddies the spinner sharks sometime in December. 2003 is going to be a year to remember
and a hard one to beat.
Things were pretty wild last week. The annual Gilmore Guys trip went off pretty much without a hitch. Tom Gilmore is a
customer who has been fishing with me some six or seven years now. He is from NJ and is so much of an albie junkie that
he wrote a very nice and informative book on the subject, (False Albacore, by Tom Gilmore, Countryman Press), pretty
much required reading for anyone looking for info on albies. Anyhow, since Tom found out about the massive numbers and
sizes of the albies,(not to mention the long season and great weather while they're here), he's been bringing groups
of anywhere between three and eight northeast fly flingers down in June or July to do extended battle. This year we had
seven, including a photographer and a videographer to chronicle the event.
I didn't even bother to count the fish that came into the two boats, but Tom who seems to have a realistic counting
method, had a four day total of close to, if not exceeding, four hundred albies. My hand look like I was in a knife
fight from leadering fish. Up north, a ten pound albie is considered nice and a twelve pounder a trophy. It got to the
point we weren't even taking pictures of the twelve pounders. Fourteen and sixteen pounders were coming over the side
with good regularity, and several seventeen and eighteen pound fish were also accounted for. The one time I picked up
a rod,(only at the invitation of my anglers who were all busy with their own fish), I think I managed the biggest albie
of the trip at nineteen point five pounds. I was certain it was a blackfin tuna when it hit, one of my favorite eating
fish. So, with that incentive, I kicked it's butt in about ten minutes. It'll stand probably in my top five biggest
albies to date.
There were probably a couple hundred blue runners and rainbow runners that were boated as well as several nice dolphin
that uncharacteristically were inside the reef mixed in with the albies. A wahoo was lost, I believe several blackfins
also and a blue marlin came by the boats once just to give everyone a heart attack. And that is what been coming over
the sides of my boat for the past week or so. Other things I haven't gotten around to are good action on snook,
dolphin moving in in bigger numbers, if not bigger sizes, some monster jacks cruising the bait school along the beach
and the tarpon continue to chew pretty well from what I've been hearing.
Things just keep rolling along here in S. Florida. We finished up a spectacular season on the spinner
sharks with over five hundred hook-ups and almost three hundred released. Some other stats
that may be interesting/humorous for your reading pleasure are as follows:
1)Seventeen broken rods,(this includes everything from smashed rods to ripped off guides to reel seats
un-seated), seven reels with drags that were either locked up or in complete free-spool.
2)At least ten fly lines lost,(most of these were lost to either sharks other than the one hooked
running into the line, or bluefish snapping at the line while a shark was going off on it's run).
3)Three hundred and fifty yards of leader material.
4)Almost six hundred shark flies, and my personal favorite.....
5)Three spools of thirty yards each of waterproof medical tape used for busted knuckles,
line burns and wearing grooves with the backing while reeling in several hundred yards of line.
I spent as much time as possible with a digital video camera in my hand during shark season, some of
the footage I got is incredible stuff. At some point in the future I'll be putting together a DVD for
interested parties. Luckily, †upon the sharks departure, a good run of nice sized dolphin in the ten
to thirty pound range moved into the area to keep me from going into "shark withdrawl". About the same
time, nice smoker sized,(ten to forty lb plus)king mackerel moved into the area. And not long after
that, the false albacore,(florida bonito) moved in almost a month early from their usual arrival date.
While the dolphin have thinned out as of this writing, the kings and albies have been very consistent,
and due to cold water to the north, migrating tarpon have holed up along the area beaches and big
silver kings have been giving good early morning and late evening action. Combine that with snook
starting to arrive in their usual places, blackfin tuna mixing with the albies, rainbow runners,
tripletail, and cobia here and there and we have a full plate and a target rich environment going
on for the next several months.
Well, the spinner sharks are still in the area, much to my delight. It was 3/26/02 when they pulled
their mass evacuation last year and every one of about ten thousand sharks disappeared in twenty-four
hours. A very impressive coordinated effort that hasn't happened just yet. I don't have a clue what
the trigger is that causes them to high tail it out of here, and I don't think I want to know. It'll
just depress me that the spectacular sport these things provide is coming to an end for the year.
The cold front that is currently blasting through my neighborhood,(winds are over 20 knots sustained
with gusts over thirty) may just find the spinners gone when it is done later this week. We'll see.
Our weather has been so good from a fishing standpoint this winter, that a good wind storm was
inevitable, and probably needed, in coming. And there's still hordes of bluefish around, this will
easily be the best bluefish winter ever here in Palm Beach. I'm sure we crossed the fifteen hundred
mark on landed fish for the blue chompers. And the pods of big jack crevalle are making their
appearance right on que. The next month or two will give us shots at jacks in the fifteen to forty
pound range. But the consolation is that it looks like we might be having an "overlap year" on species
arrival. Generally, it's not a surprise to find the winter fish leave and there be a slight lull in
the action for a week or two be fore water temps and whatever it is that causes the arrival of the
kings, dolphin, false albacore and the tarpon and snook to wake up enough to start feeding,(same thing
happens in the fall). But with the exception of snook, we have caught all of those species in the last
week or two. One really neat thing was finding albies running around in the surf, from seven feet of
water out to about twenty. Not huge fish, they were about four to seven pounds, but there was no
shortage of them. We were able to target them on ridiculously small gear, getting all the way down to
five weights. And a six or seven pound albie on a five weight is pretty much out of control. Great fun.
Also had some running around weather last week to get out and find some dolphin, and though the ones we
found were not large at all, again fine light tackle fare with fish in the three to five pound range.
Well, with what looks like a "wind delay" for at least a day or two, I think I'll take advantage and
start pumping out albie and dolphin flies as fast as I can...
Pretty much the same report with a few additions. The sharks, jacks, bluefish and spanish mackerel have
continued to put on a very entertaining show. The pompano have moved on for the most part, but quite
a few false albacore and huge school of king mackerel have taken their place. The kings can be very
good fun, even for those somewhat "fly challenged" due to there being very little need for distance
casting. Deep drifted flies get smacked about as fast as they sink deeper than twenty five feet. You
basically just feed out enough of the fast sinking line to get it down to where the kings are and start
twitching the fly. Hang on tight though, I think a king hits the fly going about twenty miles an hour,
and then hits the afterburners when it feels the hook. About the fastest thing you can hook around
here short of a sailfish or wahoo, the kings top out at over fifty MPH. Most of the kings are running
less than fifteen lbs, but there are a few "smokers"(not sure if they're called that because people
like big kings to smoke, or because big kings "smoke" your reel) over twenty lbs. Many a drag has been
in need of a re-building after a couple encounters with the big kings. The albies have been in good
enough supply to chum a few up and we boated several last week in the ten to twelve pound range. A
nice treat since they're usually not even around this time of year. Dolphin have also started to show
up, a prelude to my favorite months of the year for big slammer dolphin. We have dolphin in the area
for the most part year round, but April and May have the majority of big mahi mahi over fifteen lbs.
Dolphin on fly is easily one of my favorite things to do. While there are a few fish that run faster,
pull harder, not too many fish jump better or more frequently than dolphin. And nothing does all that
and tastes great to boot. Cobia are also passing through the area, though we haven't had any encounters
with them, fish of over fifty lbs have been hitting the dock on a fairly regular basis. About the only
thing missing are the blackfin and skipjack tuna, and I'm expecting to start seeing them this coming
month also. Looks like spring fishing is about ready to bust loose here in south Florida.
I don't have much of anything new to report. The bluefish, jacks, spanish mackerel have, for the most
part, continued chewing up a storm. Ladyfish have also shown up in the same area, nice fish in the two
to four pound range. And the sharks have continued to put a spectacular show most days. The recent
weather changes has made everything a little moody, but hasn't shut the whole show down by any means.
One special treat of late has been some of the best pompano fishing in years. These mini-permit have
been right in the middle of all the action, so getting past the other, more voracious critters has been
the main trick. The pompano like flies dragged right across the bottom, and won't tolerate a heavy
leader. So on the way down and on the way back up, many flies have been neatly clipped off by the blues
and spanish mackerel. But the pompano hit a fly like a knock out punch, one of the hardest strikes of
anything their size. And of course they are some of the best table fare going. That's about all for now.
Time is just flying by here in south Florida, a byproduct of very entertaining fishing. The bluefish
and jacks are still chewing up a storm, teaser plugs tossed into the schools and ripped back to the
boat at warp speed brings a foaming, frothing wave of fish charging. And a fly dropped into the melee
is just a forgone conclusion, perfect six and eight weight action. Occasionally, one of the spinner
sharks will zero in on the action and relieve us of one of the jacks or blues. Since we're running
wire traces for the blues, (and the jacks don't care) several times we've ended up with a spinner on
a rod never meant to endure such an encounter. The trick has been to pop him off before all the line
on those tiny reels disappears. Schools of bigger jacks in the ten to twenty pound range have also
started appearing and the teaser plugs bring the same result, only in a faster, more explosive version
for the larger nine and ten weights. The afternoons have been spent battling the sharks deliberately,
with their cooperation level being fairly consistent with a few days they just were not in the mood
to play. I haven't been keeping close track of numbers, but close to a hundred released and two
hundred hooked is about right. And we still have six weeks or so before they leave for the year. Dolphin
and king mackerel have also been OK on the days the offshore scene is comfortable. Nothing of any
size, the kings have been seven to fifteen lbs, (although some serious kings over thirty pounds have
been reported) and the dolphin all under ten. But matching the appropriate gear and you can still have
your hands full. Other incidental catches include a nice ten pound grouper Kyle Shannon caught out
of the middle of a school of jacks, still not sure what he was doing there. Dave Ulmer also had a treat
this week with some out of season albies showing up. Caught about half a dozen up to ten lbs. Been
having large groups of monster permit giving me fits. They show up right at the boat while the motor
is running as if to say " Hi, how ya doin? We know you don't have any crab flies for us to eat, so
we'll see ya later ". I don't think there is a crab fly out there big enough to get these guys
attention, some of which are well in excess of forty pounds. And that is life in south Florida.
Well, the boys are back in town. The spinner sharks started showing up at the end of last week.
First day out was a solo trip on thursday, and I hooked five and got three to the boat. Releasing one
of those bad boys is quite a trick solo. Anyhow, friday morning we managed zero to the boat out of
four hooked. And sunday only three to the boat out of twelve hooked. This is hands down my favorite
thing to do during the winter and I'm looking forward to playing with the "brown bombers" for the next
couple of months. If the timing happens like it did last year, we can look forward to the sharks being
around into late march. Other than that, bluefish, jacks of all sizes, assorted runners, king mackerel
and dolphin have been rounding out the action. The sailfish have been in the area, and we've tried a
few times for them, but have yet to get any interested in a fly. Seems like the best bite on the
sails is during really snotty weather that neither I nor my customers want to screw with. But, other
than that, winter fishing is in full swing.
The weather has been changing †rapidly, and that has been keeping the fishing running hot and cold.
The fishing for jack crevalle has been the exception, huge numbers of fish providing great action most
all of the time. The jacks have been running five to fifteen pounds and hitting poppers on top very
nicely. Just before the jacks showed up there was a very good permit bite going on. Not flats fishing,
these permit were holding in the inlet and the guys bouncing jig and shrimp combo's on the bottom were
scoring big. About the time I got around to giving them a try, a massive school of jacks moved into
the area and it was impossible to get anything past them to get to the permit. There has been more
and more tarpon moving into the area. It's that time of year when they come south running from
colder water temps. We launched on nice tarpon in the seventy pound range last week right in the
middle of the day. I've not seen a big push of sailfish into the area just yet, a couple more cold
fronts should change that. Most of the action on sails is still north of here. I did get a chance
to try out a new teaser rig consisting of a high-speed spreader bar with five daisy chains of ballyhoo
rigged on it. The thing looks great in the water, and when the sails show up, I intend to annoy the
crap out of a bunch of them. Spotty action on dolphin and king mackerel is more of an indication of
less than favorable weather and not a lack of fish. If the weather moderates, there should be some
of both going on. I hear the ladyfish and Spanish mackerel have moved into their normal winter spots
north of here, something I'll keep in mind when I need a change of pace. The only thing really missing
is the spinner sharks. They should be moving in over the next three weeks or so.
The first couple of cold fronts passing through the area has sparked the arrival of our winter menu.
Jacks, ladyfish, spanish and king mackerel, spinner sharks and sailfish have all shown up. Some big dolphin
also have been around. And a nice treat for us, a bunch of big bluefish, (big for us, four to eight pounds),
have also been in the area. The weather has been leaving a bit to be desired though being a bit on the windy
side. Directly after the first cold front of the season a week or so ago, quite a few white marlin and a
couple of blue marlin were being caught. One spot in along the beach has had clear water and a varitable
smorgasbord of targets. We had two-thirds of a slam one day last week with an eight pound permit and a
sixty pound tarpon. I wish the bonefish here were a little easier to locate. There were schools of pompano,
spanish mackerel, hordes of blue runners and small jacks, the biggest school of bluefish I've ever seen,
and for some reason, the tarpon were just fascinated with the boat, grouping up under the boat and
following it as we drifted. Not small guys either, these 'poons were all fifty lbs to well over a hundred.
Throwing the teaser plugs into the schools of bluefish was a riot. The swarm of blues would come tearing
the surface to foam as they chased the teaser back to the boat. This activity would immediately draw the
attention of the few spinner sharks, who would charge the blues chasing the teaser. This would
understandable bother the blues who would decide they really didn't need to catch the thing skipping
accrossed the water and would scatter in the wink of an eye. But the spinner shark would continue after
the teaser plug, throwing a headwake like a nuclear submarine. I very gladly lost several teaser plugs
to the sharks that particular day. I have to remember to get the video camera out for stuff like this,
but it's very easy to just grin like an idiot and watch it all happening.
Dolphin fishing has been pretty good the past couple of weeks, though the unseasonably warm weather
and a stalled front to our north has left them in a less than favorable mood. When this front finally
passes through they should become more cooperative. The skipjack tuna also have not been liking the
weather and have been laying low. The tarpon are still on the beach chasing mullet schools, we were
treated to a spectacular show by some very big 'poons hammering one school of mullet. Not one of the
dozen or so tarpon were less than a hundred pounds. But they were pretty single minded in their eating,
we couldn't get any to even look at a fly. Ladyfish, jacks and some bluefish have been rounding out
the action for us. Though not red hot, still decent entertainment. We did have a brief encounter with
a spinner shark this past week. About a month early from their usual arrival date, I was very glad to
see a few jumping around. After this front passes through, I expect the jacks, spanish mackerel,
tuna, dolphin and hopefully sailfish to get really chewing. I can't blame them for being out of sorts,
here it is the end of October and we still have light winds and high eighty degree days. Very
Some of the very best fishing for ladyfish I have ever seen in the past couple of weeks. This is the
time of year the ladies pass through the area as the bait migration is happening, and this year fishing
for them has been spectacular. Huge schools of very large ladies in the two to five pounds plus range
are out along the beaches and the weather has been just perfect. Calm seas and clear water. Numbers
over fifty fish in a half day trip, pretty much out of control action with a dozen or more fish
fighting over who gets to eat the fly. I had been chumming them, but decided that was needless.
If you could just get a fly in the area, they would pound it. Also had some good dolphin action the
end of last week. Out by myself on Thursday, I managed three in the box,( had finished off all my
dolphin filets long ago) two twenty pounders and a twelve pounder, and released four more in the
ten pound range. My customer on Friday also released about a half dz. It was nice to see some
starting to show back up after the dolphin drought we experienced all summer. I also heard of some
skipjack tuna action going on, but didn't see any of that personally. Tarpon rounded out the menu
over the past couple of weeks. Though not red hot, they have been quality fish in the thirty to
sixty pound range. One forty five pounder was landed on an eight weight, not the typical tackle
you'd like to fight one on, so it took awhile and put on a great jumping show. This is my favorite
time of year for the tarpon, with the silver kings all headed south following the bait schools and
feeding as they go. A bit of a change from their attitude in spring when they're headed north with
traveling and sex being the only things on their minds. We get our first cold front of the fall/winter
season coming through this week. That heralds the winter menu's imminent arrival. The ladyfish will
move into their usual haunts, but the jacks, spanish mackerel, sailfish and my best buds, the spinner
sharks are just around the corner. It should also get the skipjack tuna really chewing.
I don't have a whole lot of fishing to report over the last month. Mainly due to a major boat renovation
on the "Time To Fly". It's been twelve years since I bought the boat, and beating the hell out of it has
taken it's toll. The fact that it's been driven like a jet ski for that amount of time and it hasn't split
in half and gone to the bottom is somewhat amazing. And though nothing had reach structural failure,
the transom was on it's way out, the gas tank needed attention and all the wiring and plumbing needed
replacing. It took two days to dismantle the boat( removed console, motor, control cables and about
three hundred screws and rivets) far enough to lift the deck off with the help of a forklift, prybars
and chisels. Another two days to get the gas tank out, buffed down to clean metal and encased in fiberglass.
Two days of tearing, cutting, grinding and scraping to get the old transom out. Three days to shape the
replacement pieces for the transom,( the transom was in a total of three, 2pc interlocking sections,
plus four integrated stringers) and two more days to fiberglass the whole thing together. A couple of
days to replace the wires and plumbing. A day to repair the joint where the deck and hull were joined
and do various other little things to have it ready to go back together. We lifted the deck back onto the
hull thirteen days after pulling it apart. Quite a little backyard project. About five days into it I was
wondering if I had bitten off more than I knew how to chew. I had never attempted anything quite this
extreme in a rebuild and needless to say, my learning curve was just about vertical. But everything went
back together fine and the maiden voyage came off without anything falling off and going to the bottom.
And the next trip was a offshore run through about four foot waves which confirmed nothing was going
to fail anytime soon. I think this will take me another twelve years down the line. Maybe by then there
will be a boat on the market that can compare to the Wahoo, otherwise, I'll be doing it all over again.
Now, to the fishing. The mullet run/ bait migration has started. Pods of finger mullet,(little guys,
they're the first to come through) have appeared in the intracoastal and just like clockwork, jacks, snook,
tarpon, sharks, cudas and ladyfish are blasting the crap out of them. My customers on Saturday afternoon,
(probably the only worse time to fish inside here being Sunday afternoon due to boat traffic) boated
probably thirty ladyfish, missed at least twice that, several nice jacks and one shark. Also missed several
snook and I think at least one tarpon. I haven't been offshore, but I've gotten reports of dolphin, wahoo
and tuna being caught. I don't have a lot of trips on the books for the next month or so, a typically slow
time of year despite the good fishing. But after the boat project and the busy winter, spring and summer,
I plan on treating myself to some fishing. I'll keep you all posted on the results.
The past two months have just flown by. Alot of fish have come and gone. Encounters with sailfish, wahoo
and more blackfin tuna than I have ever seen here. I would like to say we boated all three of those species,
but I can't. Saw, hooked, played, yes. Boated, no. Even I had Murphy chewing on my ass, I blew shots at
three sailfish all in the space of about thirty seconds. Lost blackfin tuna, world record skipjack tuna,
had fifty pound wahoo swimming around the boat that wouldn't eat. It certainly has been entertaining.
I was very worried about the false albacore this year. They showed up late and the numbers seemed way down.
The first wave of fish really started chewing,(they had been here for several weeks, but had been very
uncooperative) about the middle of june. There were days that if you didn't want to be fighting an albie,
you didn't dare put your fly in the water. Other days, the depthfinder would be just black with fish, but
they wouldn't come up and play, or eat a deep drifted fly. Very annoying. But, they finally got with the
normal program and we're still banging the crap out of them here in the middle of august. And judging from
the huge schools of medium sized fish, next year should be a very good year for trophy sized, fifteen pound
and up fish. Unless things change and we get another round with the big guys this year, we'll finish out
the season with about twenty some odd albies over fifteen lbs, at least a dz. over seventeen lbs and four
twenty pound monsters. That's just what we were able to get to the boat without coming off the hook or
getting eaten on the way up by something larger. I hope to get a few more shots at the blackfin tuna that
were in good supply in july, there were times
that twenty five to forty pounders were crashing around the boat just like jumbo albies. We usually get
another run in the fall when they all come back past heading south. What seems to be a typical August
run of sailfish and wahoo is going on now, as well as some good tarpon and trophy snook fishing. That will
be the main items on the menu until the fall bait migration kicks in towards the end of September. If you
haven't seen the mullet run,(thats just what we call it here, there are also glass minnows, sardines,
herring and pilchards all running south along the beaches) it is truly a spectacular sight to behold.
Huge schools of baitfish with every imaginable predator species following. Huge jacks, tarpon, snook,
sharks and even sailfish and king mackerel in shallow water along the beaches chasing bait. The timing
on this event changes every year depending on the weather, but mid september through october is about
Tarpon in assorted sizes have been in the area in fairly large numbers. We haven't been getting much
cooperation out of the larger fish that are in good sized groups out along the beach, have only gotten
a handful of strikes and put a couple in the air, but that's tarpon fishing. But anytime you have a six
foot long fish in your sights, the adrenaline gets pumping pretty good. The little guys inside the ICW
have been consistently eating though for anyone who really wants to get one. Been able to get some snook
chummed up, but like everything else, they're really not chewing well yet. A few king mackerel are being
caught, and there are some truly huge jack crevalle cruising the bait schools out along the beach. The only
really hot action recently has been provided by the false albacore. This past Sunday they put on a
spectacular show, there were albies crashing the surface as far as the eye could see. It looked like a hail
storm with ten pound hail stones hitting the surface! Flying fish running for their lives, big head wakes
right under them. And when the flyer touched down, boom! I had a couple of really die hard anglers out,
Andy and Carlos from Pittsburgh, Pa. for four days. And after some less than cooperative weather and
lackluster fishing, these guys really made up for it on Sunday. We fished until the t-storms really got
going late in the afternoon. I think they boated better than forty albies between the two of them, with
nothing under ten pounds and the big fish of the day being a massive seventeen pounder. That's only a
pound off the world record. Yesterday, the albies weren't quite as wild, but it was still fish at will.
And we boated an even larger albie which I didn't weight. I was getting worried that the albies weren't
going to put in an appearance like normal this year. They are only about a month late showing up in numbers.
Hopefully this means they'll be a month late leaving.
We're still getting less than desirable weather, some days I get off the boat, I just want to go find
a weatherman and kick his.... "Weather forecasting" is getting to be as big an oxymoron as "jumbo
shrimp"... But we've been doing OK, some big dolphin, some very nice albies, a good number of shots at
very large tarpon, some very big snook. Have done a few night trips, saw literally a hundred snook each
night. Did not get much cooperation at that time, there was very little current and they were not on the
feed. The large snook have congregated at area inlets very well, and we boated several nice ones last
week. There are more jumbo sized tarpon in the area than I can remember seeing in years. Offshore has
been a little lack luster, big dolphin have been the mainstay, kings and albies there also, but not quite
in numbers we should have...yet. Had a truly epic battle with a fifteen lb dolphin last Friday. Customer
Tim Larkin hooked it up on an eight weight and had quite a fight on his hands for almost an hour. I've
rarely seen a dolphin more hell bent on getting away. This one did some nice jumps and couple of short
little runs and then sounded and spiraled eighty feet down. Tim stuck with him and eventually got him to
the boat. We also had a huge surprise last Thursday with Hunter Johnson, he caught a five pound dolphin.
That wasn't the surprise, where he caught it was. Right at the mouth of Palm Beach Inlet!! Swimming right
along with the snook and tarpon. I saw several there, so I don't think they were lost.There is still a few
blackfin and skipjack tuna around...one evening, I lost a skippie probably the largest I've ever had hooked.
Over twenty pounds, I f! ought him about twenty minutes, and lost him to something with teeth. Not sure what
ate him, the next one I hooked got chopped in half next to the boat by a monster wahoo. The remains weighed
about ten lbs. I'm still seeing sailfish almost everyday, but still haven't made the time to drag teasers
for them. That's it in a nutshell.
If we †can just get away from this wind, everything would be great. On the few days the seas layed down
enough to get offshore, there has been rapidly increasing false albacore action, big dolphin, a few
blackfin and skipjack tuna, sailfish and cobia.... quite a full plate. But, with the passage of not one,
but two cold fronts this month,(we normally don't get cold fronts in south FL. during May), the wind has
been a-blowin. All these fish have been very close to the inlets, less than a couple miles. But thats
a very long couple of miles when the seas are running six to ten feet high. We made it offshore two
days last week. On the first day, we found decent numbers of false albacore and did ok, boating approx.
six fish in the ten to fourteen pound range. The second day, we started off with an epic battle with
some large denizen, probably a tuna, possilbly a amberjack, that the sharks tracked down and killed
thirty minutes into the fight. Very annoying. But we almost immediately got into some nice, big dolphin
in the twenty pound range, which took away the sting of losing the first fight. Then the wind blew us
off the water. That was last tuesday and haven't been offshore since. Tarpon, jacks, cudas and a few
snook have been keeping us entertained since. The weather is supposed to moderate this week and we can
get back out there. Places to go, fish to annoy...
Don't have alot to tell over the past week or so. At the beginning of the month we had good action on
skipjack tuna, nice fish in the five to ten pound range with a few larger fish mixed in. Skippies, as we
call them, are great fish. Very fast, I think they're considerably faster than a false albacore, even the
little five pounders will dump about a hundred yards on the first run. But they can be very challenging
even for accomplished anglers. They are very boat shy, unless you have a ton of chum, they usually insist on
a long cast. And they can be very selective, if your fly isn't a dead-on match, they will probably just
ignore you. But about a week ago, the wind started in and we've been looking at a very angry ocean. Wave
heights were running between five and ten foot, pretty ugly fly fishing conditions. Fishing inside the
intracoastal waterway has been a bit slow, but we've managed a few tarpon,(twenty to forty lbs.) and a
few jacks,(five to ten lbs.). Today we had five inches of rain fall in just twelve hours, a good bit of
rain even for here. The weather is forcasted to moderate somewhat, and we'll be able to get back to work.
Well, looks like the wind has decided to blow for a few days here in S. Fl. As I write this, the wind is
a steady twenty two knots with gust over thirty. It had been such a calm winter by our standards, we were
overdue for some wind. In the long run, this sort of thing is good. Turns up the water, moves the fish
around, and when it finally stops blowing there should be some entertaining stuff to do. Before the weather
took a dive at the end of last week, we had been treated to some of the most prolonged skipjack tuna action
I had seen in a long time. These speedsters do not usually hang around for more than a day or two. But we
had about six days in a row with consistent action on them. A very fast, and boat shy fish, the skippies
were crashing piles of sargasso weed, feeding on very small baitfish less than an inch long. Needless to say,
flies were the only way to get hooked up. I luckily had a couple of decent casters capable of get a long,
fast cast where it needed to be and we managed fish everyday. Average size was six to ten lbs. though I did
manage a twelve pounder on an eight weight rod. That particular fish dumped almost two hundred yards of line
on the first run...did I mention they were fast? Towards the end of the time the weather would allow us
out after them, the skippies became very spooky and even with good casts and dead-on match flies, stopped
cooperating. On the last day with them, I saw at least three individual blue marlin harrasing them, and
other big boats in the area managed to hook a couple of the marlin. I guess I'd be in a bad mood too if there
was ten feet of marlin chasing me around.
How very annoying....I went and dumped a bunch of money on a really nice digital video camera to film the
spinner sharks with, and of course, they move out the very next day. And by move out, I mean a mass evacuation.
Not a shark left within twenty miles as far as I can tell. Oh well....it was great while it lasted. Can't wait
till next year. So, it's on to the other springtime menu of first king mackerel, then dolphin and then the
albies. We already have had several good days fishing the kings over the past month, and a couple of dolphin
encounters. Both of these should continue to get better over the next month or two, and by mid May the albies
should be on the rampage. With water temps already in the high seventies, it'll be interesting to see just how
early all this happens. We typically have low seventy degree water at this time, but it's been a warm winter.
This, hopefully, will also get the tarpon in a cooperative mood early. So, I guess it's time to start pumping
out a bunch of Eatme flies, over the course of the next six months I'll tie over a thousand of them. For anyone
interested, the March/April issue of Flyfishing in Saltwater has a very flattering article written about yours
truly by Capt. Adam Redford. Also for any local Floridians, or anyone finding themselves in the Ft. Lauderdale
area in late April, I'll be one of the guest speakers at the Shallow Water Expo held at the Broward Co.
Convention center April 20th and 21st. This is usually a great show with a bunch of good speakers like Lefty
Kreh, Flip Pallot, Jose Wejebe, ect. I think I'll have an "End of the Shark Party" party with the other guys
who played with them over the past three months....we'll drink a toast and reminisce about the bloody knuckles,
cramped up arms, and broken/abused tackle. I think my final totals on the sharks were over five hundred hooked,
and over two hundred released...two rods with the stripping guides ripped off them...three broken rods,(none
of them mine...anyone looking for an indestructible twelve weight should get one of the 8'6" Redingtons model
BWF 86122...if these sharks couldn't break them, nothing can)...five reels in need of the drags being
rebuilt...and four fly lines sent off into the deep. Quite a party. PLEASE....anyone who did this with me
this year, send any pictures you have of the sharks.
Some very crummy weather last week kept us mostly inside catching jacks and cudas. The jacks for one
of the few times this winter were crashing poppers on the surface, and there are few things that'll
wallop a popper like a ten to fifteen pound jack. The cudas were mostly small ones less than three
feet long, but they can still scoot pretty good. Then on tuesday, some much nicer weather moved in
and the jacks moved out to places unknown. †So, Wednesdays trip involved some running around to find
something to tug on. We found some very hot king mackerel action, nice sized fish in the ten to twenty
pound range. Reminisent of the hot bite in january, we had several hook-ups per drift for several hours.
But that afternoon, the sharks warmed up to a decent frenzy, hooking about a dozen. †I thought that
was good, but it didn't come close to what happened yesterday. †Every shark fly, and everything that looked
like a shark fly was destroyed in a matter of hours. I don't know how many sharks we hooked, but it was one
of the top five days on the spinners I've ever had. We were being engulfed by massive clouds of them,
schools of sharks over a hundred strong. †With almost flat calm conditions and crystal clear water, I would
have given anything for a video camera. †The show was incredible. Beat the customer to such a frazzle, he
had to back out of his second day...."my arms couldn't take another day like this....".
Some very entertaining stuff happening over the past month. Fishing has been pretty damn good,
with just enough slow days to make the good days oh, so sweet. And I've been lucky to have had
some great people to do it all with. Had Andy Bayne and his fishing buddy Carlos from
Pittsburgh, Pa. out in the middle of January during some very un-seasonal warm/calm summer-like
weather. The jacks were good, fish in the five to twelve pound range cooperating well almost anytime
we wanted. But the majority of the four days we fished were spent on the spinner sharks. I didn't
keep accurate totals, but I think they hooked upwards of thirty sharks, boating nine. The sharks had
chosen a particular stretch of beach near a good number of condo's to hang out, and they restricted
their patrol routes to less than fifty feet off the beach. Needless to say, there were very few bathers
in the water. I'm sure anyone living in those condo's were well aware of the "big, brown fish" in close
to the beach. We saw several sharks passing between bathers and dry sand less than twenty feet away. †
So, we set up and brought the sharks in on the chum trail and proceded to hook them up, sending them
jumping and running in all directions. This would immediately draw quite a crowd. †And when we released
a shark, we would get a resounding cheer from the "gallery". It still amazes me the number of times
someone from the beach would yell out" What kind of fish is that?" Yelling back "Shark!" would get some
pretty funny looks. Also during that time we were treated to a very early season king mackerel blitz.
Late February through April is the typical time for kings here, I can't remember a January run of the
line- dumpers, and we hooked fish on almost every drift through the fleet. And a serious fleet of boats
it was sitting on top of this large school of king mackerel. Close to a hundred boats were in on this party,
commercial king boats, charter boats, and with it being a weekend, huge numbers of "weekend warriors".
And the sweetest thing of all was having the other boats just drop-jawed shocked to see fly rods doubled
over with one, two and once a triple header at almost all times while their livebaits were going untouched.
I think they're still scratching their heads over that one. The kings moved on pretty soon after that,
but the jacks and sharks have stayed and intersperced with some tarpon, some night-time snook, a few magnum
sized cudas, continue to be the menu for the forseeable future. †We've crossed the thousand fish mark on
jacks this winter, and I'm not certain on the number of sharks hooked, but judging from the number of shark
flies I've tied, it must be close to two hundred and fifty, boating less than thirty pecent of those.
False albacore have already started to make an appearance, about as early as I've ever heard of. I hear
the dolphin in the keys have started to pick up, which means their imminent arrival here. And an impressive
number of wahoo have been reported offshore. Just a few things to look forward to.
A rapid procession of cold fronts have really heated up the fishing here. Some very entertaining
stuff, if I do say so myself. The tarpon played nicely this week, we boated several, the largest
being just short of fifty pounds. Baracuda also put on quite a showing, they've started hanging
in warm water areas, and sight casting to pods of as many as twenty, three to five foot long
cudas has produced some great sport. The schools of jack crevalle just keep getting bigger and
bigger. Most of the jacks are running four to ten pounds and are great nine weight fare, though
there are occaisional encounters with jacks over twenty pounds. A deep drifted "eatme" streamer
fly gets smacked pretty fast, but they've been shy of hitting anything on the surface for some
reason. Normally, poppers and surface flies like sliders, crease flies and fur-head mullet
imitations get a good deal of attention, and the resulting surface strikes are spectacular.
I'm sure they'll get around to it sometime soon. The ladyfish are also enjoying the cooler
water temps and are cooperating pretty well. Running two to four pounds, they are perfect six
weight stuff. And finally, the sharks have come back to town. Though the surf and seas haven't
allowed me to really get out there and play with the sharks, I'm hoping their late arrival will
mean a late departure and they'll be here for the rest of the winter. Truly the most out of
control animal you can hook on fly in florida, these "whirling dervishes" can thrill even a
Even though it's been more than a little windy here, the fishing has been OK. The jack
crevalle are showing up in large schools now, and conveniently have taken up residence inside
the ICW in their normal spots. The size range is nice also, averaging about seven to fifteen
pounds. Truly a good tug on a nine weight. The crevalle's arrival usually heralds the arrival
of the spinner sharks in force. A few have been caught recently, so they are on the way just
in time for the holidays. Ladyfish have been giving some cooperation, and a few obscure catches
such as mutton snapper, small redfish, Spanish mackerel, and lookdowns,(a member of the jack family,
a truly exotic looking fish that love small streamers and shrimp flies) have been rounding out
the action in the calmer waters of the ICW. The few boats hardy enough to brave the high winds
and heavy seas have been reporting sailfish action heating up, dolphin catches still consistent
and a few wahoo and tuna showing up. I was able to pop out the inlet last Monday after my morning
trip just for a look around,(I wasn't going to subject my customer to the sloppy four to six foot waves)
and found the most beautiful midnight blue water I've seen yet this year. It was practically screaming
"Sailfish!" Here's hoping the weather lets us out after them soon.
Fortunately, the fish don't know about bombs and war and biological viruses. Despite
all the crap thats going on in the world, fishing has been doing wonders keeping
our minds off it all. The winter fishing is getting started early it would seem.
Sailfish have started showing up, the spinner sharks have started moving into the
area and the ladyfish, jack crevalle, bluefish, spanish mackerel and tarpon have all
been putting on a good show. Sundays trip had beautiful weather, and some of the
biggest schools of ladyfish I've seen in many a year. Armed with a livewell full
of baitfish to throw, the fireworks the acre sized schools of ladyfish put on were
truly spectacular. And nice fish too, averaging two to four pounds, great light tackle
fare. Lots of small jacks also took part in the chum-fest, and the occasional barracuda
put in an appearance long enough to decapitate some poor, hooked fish. Very entertaining.
Monday, however, brought in our first "wind event" of the winter season. Winds have been
averaging over twenty knots with gusts up into the thirty five knot range. That translates
into seas running huge, like eleven to fourteen foot waves crashing the beach, and even
larger waves in the Gulf Stream. Inside fishing is still ok, there's always someplace out
of the wind to catch some fish. It already shows signs of slacking off, things should be back
to fishable by the weekend. In the long run, a little bit of a blow is good. First, it gives
the fish a rest from the fishing pressure, mixes up the water and blows in new groups of fish.
I'm sure there will be skipjack and probably blackfin tuna around when things calm down and
more dolphin should also push in. The tarpon should remain in the area into december when
we start getting noticeably cooler water temps. About the time they get too cold to play,
we should have plenty of spinner sharks to throw at, easily as tough or tougher a fighter
as tarpon, they just eat flies soooooo much better.
Our winter weather patterns are getting started, and the winter fishing is
getting started as well. Temperatures are cooling off and the wind is picking up.
Ladyfish, jacks, tarpon and dolphin have been the mainstay. At the time of the
last writting, there was a good wahoo bite going on. Well, I never had a chance
to go play with them at all. My trusty Yamaha that had served above and beyond the
call of duty,(hell, I'd been driving the thing like a jetski for the past five years)
decided to give up the ghost. So, it took a week or two to get the new Yami bolted
on and adjusted right, and by that time the 'hoos had moved on, or out, or where ever
it is that they go. But, as I sit here watching the north wind blow, the cold front
that plowed through just brings to mind that the sailfish should be along shortly to
take the wahoo's place. And a sailfish is considerably easier to get on fly than a
wahoo. And just about the same time, my new best friends from last year, the spinner
sharks will arrive also. A couple of notes. First, after the WTC attacks, everyone
is going to find traveling with fly rods a challenge at best. I'm sure all you other
fly flingers enjoy watching your rod case dissapear into the belly of a plane about
as much as getting a root canal. Keep in mind, I have all the rods, and both right
and left handed reels anyone could hope for. Thats what they are here for, so please,
feel free to use them. Secondly, if the reservations coming in are any indication,
Florida is going to be a prefered fishing destination over going abroad until we get
the semblance of sanity in the world again. Reserve your dates asap. For those of you
who are not aware, I'm personally living vicariously through my customers. My right arm
is out of the game until further notice. I have a serious affliction that affects fly
fishing guides in a very localized area of southeast florida. This insidious ailment
is caused by trying to throw small baitfish as far as you can, and after months of
continued abuse, I've come down with a serious case of chummers elbow. A close relative
of tennis elbow. Very annoying, very slow to heal,(this has been going on for about six
weeks now) and incredibly easy to re-injure. But not only is chumming season just about
over and the damn thing should get a rest, but I'm hitting about sixty to seventy feet
casting lefty. It's almost like starting my fly career all over. Very inept feeling,
I've gotten to catch my first left handed dolphin, ladyfish, snook, and jacks. Haven't
been able to get a left handed tarpon just yet, but that'll happen shortly.
Some of our winter residents have decided to arrive somewhat early.
The past week has seen good action on jacks and some nice, big ladyfish.
The change of pace is very welcomed, and though I love the albies,
it gets to this time of year and I'm deffinately ready to catch other
fish. The chum bait supply remains good, and chumming the flats where
the ladies and jacks are hanging out gets them tearing around chasing
everything that moves. And last friday, all the commotion attracted
the attention of a few blacktip and spinner sharks. It's not often
I see these guys inside the intracoastal waterway, and I had not tried
getting them to eat a fly before simply because their eyesight is
pretty poor to begin with. With the water being tanic and brown, I
didn't have much hope of them being able to find a fly, even if it
was a huge,bright orange thing. But, with them hanging around the
boat chasing the hooked ladyfish around, it was worth a shot. My customer,
Ken O'brien did very well hooking four and getting one shark to the
boat that was about six feet and fifty pounds. Great fun in four feet
of water. With most of the albies gone, the other stuff going on has
been a very good wahoo bite going on outside of the reef. I haven't
made an attempt on them, I usually don't ask my customers to try them
since it is very much a luck thing getting one on fly. With so few
numbers to work with, I think getting a wahoo on fly is about the
toughest thing to do in florida. It usually involves deep drifting
flies around floating debris and that takes some extreme patience.
The reward is the incredible run these things make when hooked, there
isn't anything faster. If you just like watching line melt off the
reel, these are the guys. Sixty-five mph is believed to be their top
speed, and the few that I've hooked, I beleive it. One I timed dumped
two hundred and fifty yards of line in about twelve seconds. If you
make the mistake of touching the backing coming off the reel while
the 'hoo is making a fast run, you will bleed. The dacron backing
will cut like a knife. I intend to work the wahoo over the next couple
of weeks and will post the results.
Things are still trucking along here in south florida. The main
schools of big false albacore have moved on to where ever it is they
go, but the "juniors" are providing some fun ultra light action. Albies
in the three to eight pound range are bending six and nine weight
rods, and hefty blue runners up to five pounds are mixed in with them.
And having a magnum sized barracuda decapitate one on the way in is
almost an hourly occurance. The past couple of weeks have seen quite
a few dolphin coming through, we've boated three over twenty-five
pounds and a bunch of schoolies in the three to ten pound range. The
king mackerel are around also, a couple have made it to the boat despite
the absence of wire leader. Deep drifting flies over the reef for
other stuff like albies and runners have produced several lip hooked
kings in the ten to fifteen pound range. I personally lost easily
the biggest king I've had hooked on fly last week, probably into the
forty pound range. Got a tooth on the leader right at boatside....arrrrrrgh.
Unfortunately, the offshore water has been gin-clear, visabilities
of over a hundred feet have made getting strikes on wire leaders a
little tough. So we've been going with mono shock tippets and hoping
for the best. And to round out the Palm Beach menu....the big snook
are cooperating well at area inlets. With either an outgoing or incoming
tide, fish starting at ten pounds and getting up to thirty are on
the bottom under huge schools of baitfish. A fast sinking line dragged
under the bait has been producing with large streamers....the "eatme"
in white/olive out-doing everything else. There are other things going
on like tarpon along the beaches and a decent number of sailfish running
the reef, but I haven't gotten to them just yet. Maybe this week....
The highlight of my month was having one of the masters out last wednesday.
Chico Fernandez and son Steven were quite fun to fish with, especially
since I was serving up fare that they didn't usually get to play with.
Five or six double headers on albies, several magnum sized blue runners,
a couple of rainbow runners, a half dozen schoolie dolphin, including
one ten pounder and three snook, one fifteen pounder and two over
twenty was a pretty decent day of fun. We also had a king skyrocket
next to the boat and a twenty pound plus dolphin come free jumping
past us while catching schoolies. I think the fact that we were never
further than six miles from the boat ramp was what really impressed
Chico the most. And since one of the few times I threw the rod recieve
a "wow....nice cast", my day was more than complete.
The action on false albacore has been non-stop and very entertaining.The
past couple of weeks have been mostly medium sized fish in the eight
to twelve pound range, with an occasional bigger fish . Earlier in
the month, there were many more large fish in the fourteen and up
to eighteen lb size. We lost many huge albies to sharks, which have
been relentless. Some days, we were only getting one in four to the
boat through the "brown bombers" Blackfin tuna were also putting in
an appearance, mixing in with the schools of albies. We were only
able to manage two, one around twenty two lbs and another around thirty
lbs. Picking a fish out of a school of rampaging albies is very tricky,
and a huge dose of luck is needed also to get it done. Been a few
encounters with wahoo, but haven't been able to close the deal on
one of those. They always seem to get a fly without wire on it. When
the albies move on, I'll start working on the wahoo, and the snook
and tarpon are really heating up also. The sailfish seem like they're
going to make their august run like they have the past couple of years.
So, it's time to drag some teasers. That'll take me into september
when the mullet run goes off, the dolphin and skipjack tuna show up
in force and the first waves of migrating jacks, spanish mackerel,
ladyfish and tarpon get going.
And away we go!!!! The false
albacore are here. We had a flood of little guys in the three to six
pound range start up about two weeks ago, with a decent number of
bigger fish making sporadic appearances. But four days ago, the big
brothers really started in. I boated a solid fifteen pounder on wednesday
and my guys on thursday did very well on fish averaging right around
ten pounds. At least the ones they managed to get past the sharks.
Lost several much bigger albies to the "man in the brown suit". They
seem to be arriving a little later than years past, but since it was
only a week or two ago that the wind and waves started laying down,
it wouldn't have mattered anyhow. Dolphin are also around in very
good numbers, hordes of small schoolie dolphin in the three to seven
pound range. And more monster dolphin,(forty pounds and up into the
sixties) than I've heard of in many a year. I think all the wind that
kept the boats south of me in port the past month let a bunch of fish
slip past into my area. We also had some pretty good king mackerel
fishing last week. Wednesdays trip boated three fish in the ten to
fifteen pound range. And last but not least, the first waves of the
really big tarpon have showed up. Pods moving up the beach will provide
some exciting sight casting opportunities for the next month. These
fish have been typically uncooperative, but throwing flies at a hundred
tarpon all over a hundred pounds is enough to make you question your
heart condition. And this will be the menu for the next eight to twelve
weeks. My favorite time of year to really test your tackle, your body
and your psyche.
Fishing has started to really pick
up in the last couple of weeks, even if the weather hasn't been cooperative.
Water temperatures have crossed that magical seventy-five degree mark,
and just like clockwork, the tarpon, snook, dolphin and bonito,(false
albacore), have begun the spring feed. The main targets being snook
and tarpon inside the inland waterways until the wind and seas get
back to a more comfortable level, tarpon in the twenty to sixty pound
range have been cooperating nicely. Night trips for snook have been
decent, though the inclement weather has made them a little less than
cooperative. Area docks have good supplies of snook in the twenty
four to thirty inch range. Another month and hotter water temps will
bring in the big fifteen pound and up snook. Both the tarpon and snook
have been hitting small to medium streamer flies due to large schools
of glass minnows and pilchards/sardines moving in. At times shrimp
flies get good attention, spring is shrimp-run time. The dolphin have
been building in numbers and size. A very good number of twenty pound
and up dolphin were caught last week, and the past five days of wind
and rain should ensure a good number of un-molested fish coming up
the coast. The first couple of bonito,(false albacore) were caught
last week, a prelude to the up-coming flood of the tackle busters.
Last year the assault started the second week in may and stayed at
a break-neck pace right through july. There has also been blackfin
tuna, cobia, a few sailfish, monster jack crevalle, african pompano,
king mackerel and some wahoo around. Now thats what I call a full
plate! This should continue to get better and better over the next
couple of weeks and then remain good through June and into July.
Weather and seas have cooperated nicely for doing some serious
damage,(or is it the other way around...?) to spinner sharks. I'm
not really sure how many have been hooked and fought over the past
several weeks, but the box of 100 hooks I've been making the flies
I use on them is just about empty. Two twelve weight rods broken,
(most definately angler error, one of them was the new Nano-titanium
the guys at Redington gave me, without a doubt, the most incredible
casting rod I've ever touched, hearing it SNAP just about made me
cry) the drag burned out of four reels, and about a half dozen lines
lost. I've said it before, these sharks are the most out of control
things I think you can get tangled up with. Also have had several
slugfests with BIG jack crevalle. It's that time of year and pods
of the big guys are moving north along the beach.
My customer last friday landed three for a total weight
of seventy pounds...two twenty pounders and one thirty. Thats alot
of tugging on a half-day trip. A quick word about fighting big fish
on a fly rod....a forty-five degree angle is the HIGHEST you should
EVER have a rod on a big fish. Come up higher than that and you're
in the danger zone of breaking the rod. And that angle is subjective
to where the fish is. If he's on the surface, level with you, the
rod shouldn't come up past the ten o'clock position. If he's down
deep, straight below you, the eight o'clock position is the highest
the rod comes up. You literally have the rod tip in the water just
about all the time in that position. Hopefully this tip will help
prevent rods,(yours and mine), from making that sickening sound we
Other stuff going on for the less masocistic are spanish
mackerel and bluefish. They have been everywhere lately, great fun
on six and eight weight rods. The big baracuda are still around, we
hooked three yesterday that were three to four footers. The young
lady along with her father was treated,(or maybe subjected) to her
first fish she ever hooked on a fly being a VERY hot three footer
that was a hundred yards away in a heartbeat. The strike was spectaculer,
less than twenty feet from the boat, she muttering something about
"....scared the crap out of me..." The dolphin lately have been pretty
good, a sign of things to come I hope. Though we have them year round
more or less, april, may and june are easily the best months for dolphin
The king mackerel still haven't gotten any of my attention
yet, but judging from how the commercial boats have been coming in
and going right back out again, they must be pretty thick. I'll get
around to them in a couple of weeks when the sharks go away. And I
know spring false albacore season is right around the corner, we boated
a couple of the first ones last week. I better get these 12# rods
and reels fixed before they show up in force....I'm going to need
them. I'll be at the Shallow Water Fishing Expo show in Ft. Lauderdale
this weekend, stop by my booth and say hi.
Well, welcome to warm, sunny Florida. Yeah, right....the past
month has felt more like fishing in New England during the late fall.
Cold, I mean really cold for here. Several mornings I put on the water
with air temps in the upper thirties and wind chills in the twenties.
Windy, most of the time the wind has been cranking up over twenty
knots. And last Monday we had both of those conditions plus steady
rain. In a word, Yuck!! But the fishing has been good throughout,
with large jacks, magnum sized barracudas, out of control spinner
sharks and ladyfish. And a decent number of dolphin offshore when
the winds calmed down enough to get out there.
Great fun with the jacks, they've been chasing teaser
plugs like pitbulls chasing cats. And just getting a big popper in
their vicinity and popping it good and loud results in spectacular
surface strikes. During the several weeks around Christmas about three
hundred jacks were landed. Lately ladyfish have been giving me a change
of pace, and while I love jacks, the variety is good for my attitude.
The spinner sharks have cooperated well, we have boated several and
lost a bunch. And it's early for them, mid February through March
is the usual time for them to be here. We should get many more opportunities
to play with them over the next eight weeks.
King mackerel are also moving in early. I've gotten
reports from north of here about huge schools of kings moving south.
I get a big kick out of these things when they're around. Unless you
can get a wahoo hooked up, there isn't much better for melting line
off your reel than a king mackerel. When they decide to leave with
your fly, they do it at better than fifty mph. As for numbers, this
year has far surpassed the recent couple of years for sailfish, though
the weather to date has not allowed us out there after them. I'm hoping
they stick around when we get some better weather for them. Ten foot
seas just aren't workable to do them on fly. Just this past weekend,
boats that braved the big seas were treated to double digit sails
with a couple of boats getting upwards of twenty fish in a day. That's
just the kind of numbers I need to get them chasing the teasers. Here's
hoping it warms up soon.
OK, so itís been a while since the last entry to the logÖ.What am
I, some kind of journalist? Apparently notÖ.But I hope to get a more
consistent stream of stories and updates going. Anyhow, lets get to
what's been going on.
Winter fishing is heating up. Weíve had several good
cold fronts drop the water temperatures considerably, bringing in
all the winter time players. Jacks in all sizes are schooling up at
area inlets and out along the beaches. Weíve had several bouts with
good sized, fifteen pound and up fish. However, the main trick was
getting the jacks to the boat in one piece. The bottlenose porpoise
and big bull sharks were relentless in taking hooked fish off the
line for us. Kinda neat the first time you see it, but quickly gets
rather annoying. But best of all, the sailfish are showing up in very
good numbers. I had several shots at sails balling-up bait pods less
than a half mile from the inlet in only forty feet of water on Sunday
of this week. I didnít have the equipment I like for doing the sails,
and just throwing flies at working fish doesnít really work, but we
tried anyway. Got one to follow a fly, then got one to crash a rubber
squid teaser, but didnít get hooked up to any. Still very neat to
watch them chasing bait right next to the boat. The dolphin fishing
has continued to be good anytime the offshore ocean is calm enough
to get out there. The wind has hampered those efforts to some degree.
But for this time of year, thatís to be expected.
One of the more recent trips offshore produced, without
a doubt, the strangest catch yet. I was moving along a weedline about
five miles off the beach on the morning of the 10th with customer
Bill Cotter. We had already put several dolphin in the boat, and I
was scanning the weedline ahead for more likely areas to find additional
fish. The weedline was very uniform in itís content, bright yellow
Sargasso weed and very little of anything else. So this object I spotted
really stood out with itís spiky outline and black and orange bars.
You do any amount of this sort of fishing offshore and you get very
good at identifying foreign objects floating a considerable distance
away, but this thing was totally alien to me. And then it moved. Finally,
a full grown, four and a half foot long iguana materialized out of
the pile of weeds it was floating along in. I figured he wasnít intending
to be where he was, so I boated him with my landing net and deposited
him in the forward section of the boat. About this time Iím sure my
customers thought I had lost my mind, scrambling for cover in the
stern. Despite a few cracks with his tail to keep us back in our end
of the boat, (he connected with my bare leg once, and he was more
than welcome to the front of the boat) he genuinely looked happy to
be out of the water. And thatís where he stayed for the remainder
of the morning. He stayed there for the ride back in, perked right
up when I washed him down with fresh water while cleaning the dolphin,
and rode most of the way back to the boat ramp perched up on the bow
in full view of several party boats and bridge anglers, which brought
more than one incredulous stare. And when I tied up at the dock, Iggy,
which I had come to call him, climbed out. He did need a little help
from the landing net, but you could almost hear him saying "thank-you"Ö