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Women fighting over my pole!

Grouper fishing ban in Florida Keys is a hot-button issue

A temporary ban on grouper fishing in the Florida Keys goes into effect on Jan. 1, and commercial fishermen are worried it will decimate their business ventures.

The four-month ban is an effort to protect shallow-water grouper -- including black, gag, red and yellowfin -- during their primary spawning season.

Area charter fishing outfits contend the ban may all but kill their industry, already devastated by the economic downturn.

"This ban will put people out of business. It is draconian," Andy Griffiths, who owns a charter-boat company near Key West, told the Miami Herald.

"This couldn't come at a worse time," Griffiths added. "My business is already off 80% because of the economy."

Griffiths has had to downsize his fleet by half, and has lowered his prices to what he charged two decades ago, which is just enough to pay each boat's crew.

Ocean conservancy groups and fishery managers contend that the grouper has been overfished for decades and that the species cannot sustain itself unless something is done.

"We want to do the right thing, and hopefully the closure will speed up the recovery effort of the grouper," Rodney Barreto, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission chairman, said. "We want to remain the fishing capital of the world, but it's not going to be any fun to go out and not catch anything."

The ban will run annually until grouper stock has recovered, and is being instituted to conform to a federal grouper fishing ban.

"Despite some objections, if we were to oppose the feds, they actually could impose harder restrictions and more lengthy closures," Barreto said.

Fantastic Fishing

by: Capt. Ray Kelly

Summer is over here on Long Island. Anglers can still get in on the fall run of Striped Bass, bluefish and false albacore on Long Island. Fall fishing is great here on Long Island. But on this adventure, we will head down to Amelia Island, Florida. In August, my son, Christopher and myself, filmed an episode of our television show, ADVENTURES IN FISHING WITH CAPT. RAY KELLY, on Amelia, Island. I must say there is fantastic fishing off of Amelia Island, Florida. There is a large variety of fish in the inshore and offshore waters in that area of Florida, which is just south of Georgia.

I contacted Capt. Ben Evans of HOT TICKET CHARTERS on the Internet and made plans to film Capt. Ben and his crew fishing. Capt. Ben told me that barracuda and king mackerel would be
the main targets for our fishing trips. He said the barracuda are very large at that time of the year. He mentioned that sharks are always prevalent in those waters also.
We flew down to Jacksonville, Florida via Southwest airlines out of Islip going through a severe rain storm in which I thought the jet might go down. I thought that this may be my last fishing trip but the pilot managed to land the plane and before long we were check into our hotel, The Inn at Fernandina Beach in Fernandina Beach which is on Amelia Island.

The hotel was great. It was only 200 yards from the beach. I got up early the next morning and walked to the beach to see Dolphin playing in the surf as well a beautiful sunrise. I was excited about the fishing trip which was scheduled for the next day. 
Chris and myself wanted to check the location of the marina where we would meet Capt. Ben the next day and drove to it. It was a beautiful marina which is owned by the City of Fernandina Beach. I called Capt. Ben that night and he told the fish were biting and we should do well the next day.

The next day, Chris and I met Capt. Ben at his boat, a nice 26 foot Cobia walkaround and you could see it was a fish catching boat fully rigged with outriggers and rocket launchers. I knew we were going to have a great day. Chris filmed the beautiful sunrise as we pulled away from the dock. Capt. Ben explained about the fishing in the area as well as the ecology. I always learn so much on these fishing trips in other parts of the country. Capt. Ben headed offshore about 12 miles caught some live bait by some channel markers. The rods were hooked and baited and before long we were trolling.
It didn’t take long and the right rod was hit by a nice barracuda. Capt. Ben landed the fish with no problem. Shortly thereafter, Ben’s friend, Mark Hardrick, was hooked up and landed his fish also. It was another barracuda. Within an hour four fish were landed and then it was my turn on the rod. I was amazed at how easy it was to catch these barracuda.

The reason was simple, Capt. Ben found where the bait fish were and the barracuda were feeding on the baitfish. I must say, Capt. Ben knew exactly what to do. This was not luck this was an experienced captain at work. I might add Mark was an excellent angler himself. Chris filmed the action and I knew we had a fantastic show filmed.
Capt. Ben headed back to port and said we would try it again the next morning as now we would try to capture a giant barracuda on film. We met the next morning and Capt. Ben again headed out the inlet. As he did he saw some other boats fishing just outside the inlet and asked if we wanted to try for some red drum or sharks. I said that fine with me and in no time at all Capt. Ben was anchored up just outside the inlet and started chumming. Within 15 minutes, a small hammerhead shark was on the line. Mark landed the shark and release it. It should be noted that Capt. Ben practices Catch & Release with most of the fish his clients catch. If the client was to eat it, they can keep it. Another variety of fish hit the line next.
It was a guitar fish which is a cross between a shark and sting ray. It was about two and half feet long and also was released. Capt. Ben battled the next fish which was big. The fight lasted about twenty minutes before we saw that it was a big hammerhead shark of about 4 to 5 feet. The line was cut just above the hook and this amazing looking fish swam away to freedom. Chris was filming this action and I was hoping he would take a break and pick up a rod. I grabbed the rod on the next fish which was another guitar fish. Chris finally reeled in the next fish but unknown to him it was a monster and just pulled line from the reel. Chris was having a hard time getting line back and then thought the fish was caught on something on the bottom. Capt. Ben check his line and said it was big shark or a giant sting ray. Chris battled the fish for over a half hour only gaining a little line. It was at this moment, the other line took off. Capt. Ben picked up the rod and started battling his fish. I filmed the action. I thought for sure Chris would lose his fish but he kept getting line back a little at a time.
Capt. Ben reeled his fish in in about twenty minutes and you could see it was another big hammerhead shark. I was sorry I did not bring any shark tags with us as these hammerheads would have been nice sharks to tag and release. Again, Capt. Ben instructed Mark to cut the line and the shark was released.

Chris was still battling his fish and was getting the fish up off the bottom. Finally the fish was on top and you could see it was a giant sting ray of about 40-50 pounds. Chris was tired but
kept reeling. Mark was able to grab the leader and lift the fish into the boat. We were careful not to get stuck with it’s barb on the tail. Chris posed for pictures and the ray was quickly put back in the water and released. I knew this would be the highlight of the show. Chris and Capt. Ben were both congratulated by myself and Mark.
I told Ben that this was one of the most enjoyable and exciting filmings that we had produced to date. I could tell he was happy. For all you anglers that want to experience some fantastic fishing, head down toAmelia Island Florida and fish with Capt. Ben. You are sure to hook up and have a great time.

Capt. Ben can be reached at 904-321-1668 or call ADVENTURES IN FISHING at 516-744-5951 and we will make the arrangements for you. Don’t forget to check the ADVENTURES IN FISHING website at . AND REMEMBER- "Let’s get kids hooked on Fishing NOT drugs!" 

Florida Sport Fishing After the Hurricanes

by: Jim Dicken

Sitting in my comfortable computer chair typing away, I started to feel guilty. I am doing fine, but the guides, charters and fishing support businesses in Florida that I depend on for part my living had gone through a 6 week trauma that no State had ever seen in History. I decided it was time for a road trip to see just how bad the damage was, and to determine just what the state of the Sport Fishing Industry of Florida was after all of this.

4 Hurricanes in 6 weeks had damaged a wide area of the state. Charlie, Frances, Jeanne and Ivan had wreaked havoc on 3 different coasts. Charlie hit about 40 miles south of Tampa damaging seriously the coastal towns near Pine Island Sound. Orlando got hit 3 times by Charlie, Frances and Jeanne. The town seemed to be mostly recovered, but US 50 which runs through the town still had water on it on the West Side of Orlando. This was from 2 lakes on each side of the road.
Then Frances and Jeanne hit the East Coast, both hit within 6 miles of Fort Pierce one of the most popular Fishing Tournament Towns on the East Coast, and moving inland to hit Okeechobee City and the facilities on Lake Okeechobee. On the edge of that was the Stick Marsh and Farm 13 as well as Ansin Garcia lakes. I crossed the St. Johns River just outside of Orlando and thought I was crossing a large swamp. The river is at near record levels and is way outside its normal banks. I stopped and talked to Gator Bruce who operates A-Awesome Airboat Rides. Bruce told me that the river was up 9 feet over its normal levels in the area and that the fish were struggling due to the heavy winds which had dredged up dead material from the bottom of the river. This dead vegetation normally rests on the bottom decaying slowly. When it is lifted up and mixed in with the water is sucks oxygen out of the water to continue the decaying process, over the whole column of the water. Normally this is restricted to the lower water levels and is reduced by the packing of dead vegetation on the bottom.

I started my trip in Florida's Hurricane Alley with a trip down the coast Tuesday the 4th of October on Hwy 1, and on Hwy A1A. I visited with the folks at Whitey's Bait and Tackle near Titusville. The store was a bit worse for wear, but was open and operating. I talked to several guides at the store All said that fishing is good, but it is hard for folks to get in to them since the motels and hotels in the area are either damaged or full with Power Company workers from all over the country. Motels are available if you are willing to look for them. See Pictures of the Sebastian Inlet area.

I stayed in Boca with relatives for 2 days, who had been through both Hurricanes without too much damage. From Boca Raton South the damage is minimal, and the folks in the Keys were almost totally untouched bythe Hurricanes. Fishing there is good, and the motels and hotels are all open for business, as are the guides and charters, although suffering since tourism has dropped to nothing since the Hurricanes and reports of tough times getting motels in Florida. This is NOT the case in the Keys, and if your looking for some good fishing it is there.
I met Hugh Crumpler early Wednesday October 5, about 2 weeks after the last Hurricane, Jeanne had moved through the Stick Marsh - Ansin Garcia area. Fellsmere Farms and the town of Fellsmere where the 3 lakes are located was in the path of both Frances and Jeanne, and got plenty of rain from Charlie about 6 weeks before. The damage to the area was severe. Electricity was restored just 4 days before I got there from Jeanne. As I talked to Jeanne Middleton the electricity flickered, as it had done all day. Jeanne was on the phone with the Credit Card folks when I arrived. Jeanne is one of the owners of Middletons Stick Marsh Bait and Tackle and Middletons Fish Camp on Blue Cypress Lake. Seems the electricity flickering had damaged the machine and she was in danger of losing over $400.00 in charges for the day. No small sum for folks in this storm ravaged area. The tackle store is open for business as is the camp.

The good news is, they are battered, but not broken. The town has rebounded. Most businesses are open although the cosmetic work has not been started. Most gas stations I saw had damage to the awnings over the Gas Pumps, but Ice, Electricity and the basics were back to working order.

Fishing at Stick Marsh is almost back to normal, and Ansin Garcia is producing some great numbers of fish. Hugh Crumpler who helped me with this trip reported getting into one spot where the fish went crazy. 3 seperate schools of Bass hitting schools of bait fish on the surface. The 3 schools and a seperate group of fish working a current break produced over 100 fish in 4 hours. Not to mention that Hugh and his fishing partner invited some visitors to fish the same hole.
The most dramatic site was the difference in what 5 extra feet of water made to the scenery of the lake. Below are 2 pictures from the lake one from Hugh, and one I took while out with Hugh.

This picture was taken from approximately the same place as the picture above.
You can see the lake is way up. At least 4 feet above normal pool. And well above the stumps. The Twin Palms famous on the lake are gone.
The lake did take a huge hit as was evidenced by quite a few dead alligators on the lake. We say 4 and were told of several more. All died from the hurricane but no one seems to know what caused it.

The Safe House on the Wall seperating Stick Marsh from Farm 13 is gone. Hugh is not sure if the house blew away or if someone took it down before the Hurricane, so be careful if you fish the area near the house. It might be out in the lake waiting for your lower unit.

Wednesday afternoon I visited with Joe Ward in Fort Pierce. Joe owns a small tackle store on the water, or I should say did own one on the water, and owns Captain Joe's River Charters. Below is a picture of the where the front door of Joe's Tackle Store once stood.
I took a tour of the town of Fort Pierce and the docks and sport fising areas. Pictures of the devestation can be found at . Almost every single dock inFort Pierce was damaged or destroyed and those that were not may have to be reset according to Joe. The ramp next to the famous Black Pearl Pub off of Seaway Drive was open and clear, but the debris in the area was keeping all but the Coast Guard Cutter off the water. The Pub came through the Hurricane in one piece, but had a 3 story aluminum boat storage building blow over on it. The building had just been removed the day before I got there. There were boats in the harbor sunk in the Fishermans Warf area, and around most of the docks.The Coast Guard is making daily patrols looking for sunken boats in the main channels and in the Indian River area. Over 100 boats have been recovered and are sitting at a collection point near the Fisherman's Warf. Again the big problem with returning to Fort Pierce to fish is motel rooms. The Dockside Inn is almost back up and running. It lost a few rooms that will have to be rebuilt, and is somewhat worse for the wear afterthe hurricanes but the folks I talked too had a positive attitude and were looking forward to the Tournament Season that starts in January. Almost all of the businesses in the area sustained some damage, but most will be back up and running within weeks. Keep an eye out on for Joe Ward's Fishing Reports. Joe will update you weekly on the progress for theFort Pierce Area.

Lake Okeechobee is rising at rates that indicate it will reach the 18 foot level as of October 8. On the 8th it was at 17.85 inches and still rising. Only 4 times has the lake gone over the 18 foot level since the dike around the lake was built. The highest recorded level was 18.77 on Nov. 2 1947, 18.26 on March 1, 1983, 18.63 feet on Oct. 25 1995 and 18.46 feet on March 19, 1998. (Information is from the Palm Beach Post Newspaper Thursday October 7, 2004)

Okeechobee has not suffered from the same problems of other lakes. While the lake is a bit muddy in some areas and vegetation was stirred up, the inflows of large amounts of water has helped to keep the oxygen levels high enough for fish to want to feed.

The increased flows have shut down the Kissimmee River locks upriver from the lake, but also the locks seem to be the location of some of the best fishing. Current and wind driven current seem to be driving the fish. Bait fish have moved into areas that normally would not be open to fishing. Large areas of what is normally Marsh are now part of the lake and open to fishing. I went out with Butch Butler owner of and Eddie Perry of Okeechobee Adventures. We took a tour of the lake and found that there was a LOT of damage in the area, but that the lake itself is doing great. Fishermen are catching large numbers of fish, although not many lunkers. Butch told me that he and a client caught 30 fish in 4 hours the day after I left. We took a couple of dozen shiners the day we went out. Butch was looking for fish for his trip, and I was excited to get out on the lake. We caught 15 fish in just over 2 hours while moving quite a bit looking for pockets of fish.

The ramp at Okeetantee is open, but the docks are mostly up on the bank. One boat is sunk in the dock area out of the main channel
You can view pictures of the Okeetantie area and the Okeechobee Area here
Motels in the area seem to be OK, but rooms are tough to get with Power Workers there. However things looked to be getting back to normal and I did not see a lot of cars at the Flamingo Motel in town that I stayed at back in July so I am sure rooms are available.

The area Tackle Stores all seemed to be in good shape. I stopped in and talked to the folks at Garrard's Bait and Tackle. While the store did well during the hurricanes, the business over the last 6 weeks has been slower than normal. While the hurricane season comes in the hottest part of the year, when tourism is slowm it still comes during some of the best fishing of the year...See Article.

Basically the Sport Fishing Industry on the East Coast and Central Florida is back to working and all they need is customers. In the Keys there was almost no damage and fishing has returned to normal and the motels and hotels and resorts in South Florida are open for business.

I did not have time to visit the West Coast or the Pan Handle. In talking to some of the people there, the same problems exist. Guides and Charters are available but motel and hotel rooms are a tough find. My sincere recommendation is DONT STAY AWAY. These people need work. There is no insurance for guides and charters. If you want to fish an area where a hurricane hit, call the guide or charter and ask them for assistance in finding a room. What will hurt these people the most is not getting charters. Don't stop fishing your favorite area of Florida and if you have the time try to find a new guide or charter in an area hit hard by the hurricane.
Better yet, book a trip now for later in the year and make a deposit on the trip. The guides will appreciate it and so will I.

I was not paid in any way for this article nor were my expenses paid. I took this trip and wrote this article because I felt it was important for people in the Fishing Industry to know what was going on in Florida, and to see if maybe there was a way to help these folks out. There is a way.. as I said before, book a trip NOW. Make a deposit on the trip. Work out the dates, or leave them open. Most of these guides will work with you in these circumstances. If you normally fish with a guide on a regular basis, book a trip with an open date on it with the guide. He or She will appreciate it.

Biscayne Bay Bonefish

Miami area Black Drum and Redfish at Flamingo and Tailing Bones and Muttons in Biscayne Bay December 2009
by: Capt. Jim Hale

I really don’t like fishing in winds that are blowing 30 mph and it is raining sideways but there is no complaining for me when there are large schools of Bonefish tailing everywhere. We went to 3 flats and no further because the last one was full of fish, there must have been over 200 bones in different size schools in South Biscayne Bay. But in 5 hours we only managed to boat one in the mayhem because it was so had trying to get shrimp to them, it was difficult at best with the darn wind blowing so hard.

This morning we ran out in 20 kt winds in a sloppy Biscayne Bay to a great tide and find falling water temperatures which is a key to Mutton Snapper fishing, I found some nice Pilchards but not a lot with cloudy skies which makes it hard to see and we didn’t get as much as I would have liked. The fishing was not bad with 6 Muttons but the largest was only 5 pounds. But that should change in the finger channels and especially the patch reefs with the temperature of the water dropping this week.

At Flamingo in Florida Bay we hooked up on two Snook that were monsters on Thursday and unfortunately breaking both off, shortly after the bite slowed so we moved west and found a fairly good bite of small Redfish and Black Drum up to 6 or 7 pounds on jigs tipped with shrimp in some of the creek mouths and runoffs.

This week should be interesting and shake up the fishing a bunch with cold temperatures in the mornings and a nice warming trend through the week. The large Tarpon that have been in the Bays to the north should be back again this week but with a lot more fish this time, they will be laid up and floating on the surface on calm warm days in between fronts ready to eat a fly. Look for free jumping Poons and that will be a good area to start looking! Snook and Reds should come up on the flats to warm themselves and eat on low water when the sun is high.

In Biscayne Bay Muttons will be the story again in the finger channels and especially on the patch reefs with a mixed bag of different Snappers and some Mackerel and which is great…. I love fishing for them on light tackle! And Bonefish will be cruising the ocean side flats on low water looking for crabs and shrimp….I expect to see a lot of bones this next week.

Good luck Capt. Jim Hale

The Worst Ice Fishing Trip

by: Jon Hedin

I woke up to my wife given me a rib shot with her elbow, and the alarm clock was screaming. It was three o'clock in the morning and I knew I had to wake up. Rick and Bob would be over soon. We were going ice fishing up around Brainerd, Minnesota, and we wanted to get an early start. The temperature was 10 below zero and it was the third weekend in January.

No one talked much on the four hour drive. We all knew how much work was in store for us. First was the drive, dodging deer and trying to stay out of the ditch with all the icy roads. Second, when we got off the highway, we had to go about six miles on a logging road with at least a foot of new snow on it. After checking out every trail there was we finally found the right one. We unloaded the snowmobile and loaded up the sled then started down another three mile trail.

Everything was going great until we could see the lake. Then we started getting stuck, and as soon as we freed ourselves, we'd go another ten feet and get stuck again. This was getting real old, but finally we reached the edge of the lake. I got on the snowmobile and cruised, went about 50 feet and sank through the ice! I thought about jumping off but I guess I was so shocked that I just stayed on for the ride. The snowmobile settled in six feet of water and mud. I turned around and Bob was running toward me yelling something about his sled. He just about made it to me but he crashed through the ice. Rick, who doesn't swim, slowly backed away from us.

So here we are, Bob and I, wet up to our chests and freezing quick. The snowmobile under six feet of water, and a long way to go to get back to the Jeep. I guess if we were going to panic, now would have been a good time. Thank God for things that come in pint-sized bottles.

It was either set-up the shack and try to dry off or get the sled out and get back to the truck before we froze. We chose the latter. We got a rope around the front skis and managed to get the snowmobile out of the water. Bob pulled the spark plugs out and dried them off. About 50 pulls later the motor fired and we were on the way back out. By the time we got back both Bob and I were froze up solid. We kind of rolled off the sled and into the jeep and headed straight for the local laundry so we could dry our snowmobile suits and hopefully get a line wet yet today. We spent the rest of the day fishing right off the main highway. I think we ended up catching two perch all day.

On the way back the next day we tried to think of something good about our weekend, but no one could. We actually talked about never leaving the comforts of home again, especially in the winter. But as they were dropping me off we were already talking about another hidden lake in northern Wisconsin. So I guess you have to shake the dice now and then, sometimes you win and sometimes you should have fished somewhere else.

Red Fishing in Pensacola Pass

by: Mark Clabaugh

WE had a charter the other evening leaving around 4pm. The weather was nice and getting a little cool with the wind steady from the North.

Our Charter was wanting to catch some Red Fish and we had promised a catch. Now, that is not something you want to do all the time fishing for Red Fish in the bay. Anyone who fishes Red Fish knows, that you can be skunked.

Well, we anchored up off the west jetty by Ft McCrae and fished with Menhadden and mullet with no luck, moved over to the east side of the pass and the same. All we were catching was a cold and our charter was catching a buzz.

We then decided that this is not working and we were about to eat a trip because I promised fish! Well, we then decided to break out BIG RED. That is the name we gave the Mann's Stretch 25.

After trolling a few moments we got our first hook up, 41lbs! Nice fish and an excellent fight. Within 1hr we had 5 Redfish all over 35lbs.

Before we knew it we had landed 11 fish and lost 1. We agreed on one more pass through the edge of the channel and all of a sudden, wham!

We hooked up the fish and it was taking line, we then backup up the boat to control the loss of the line since we were getting close to the bale. Fortunatly the fish turned. We fought the fish for another 15 minutes (we are talking only 50ft of water here) and landed a 62lb Grouper.

We then circled around to see if we could find what the fish was on and no luck.

It was a nice evening!!!

New Saltwater Flies

New Saltwater Flies
By Captain Doug Sinclair

Anyone making a living on the water fly-fishing will tell you they tie flies out of necessity. It’s true. Purchasing flies in the large quantities used by guides would be very expensive. In the process of tying, I think it is only natural to modify designs that, even though they work well, get over used. Plus it gets boring tying the same flies over and over again. The objective in changing a known design is to make the fly just a little better for the conditions that you fish. A lot of tweaking can sometimes alter the appearance of a fly; hence a new fly is born. Sometimes we make minor alterations by adding some tan marabou or find ways to eliminate dumbell eyes and still have the fly sink. Dumbell eyes tend to hang up in the grass. Their purpose is to get the fly down on the bottom and come to rest inverted (hook up).

It isn’t simple just making a new design. It must be tested. So multiple copies are made so that friends and fellow guides can try them. The fly must be durable and hold up in many situations. They are tested for casting characteristics, sink rate, activity in the water and most important will they catch fish. Here are three such modifications which I have tied, tested and guarantee will work under the conditions discussed.

Redfish Diver

This fly looks similar to a deceiver and has some of the same characteristics of Liz Steele’s Purple Passion (one of my favorite flies). The Redfish Diver has a fast sink rate, the same as if it were tied with a 1/50 oz dumbell. Here are the details.

Hook: Mustad #34007 (#1)
Head: No. 25 Lead Wire

Tail: Red Buck Tail (1 ½ inches), Orange and Tan marabou (2 x the hook length) Tie in six strands of gold Krystal flash.

Body: Tan Ultra Chenille

This fly is tied using Orvis G Smoke monocore thread (02RR-6207). Tie off a small section of thread, then place a 1-inch piece of No. 25 lead wire folded and crimped and tied 1/8 inch behind the eye. Tie to the back of the lead wire; wrap once behind and over to secure the lead wire (you can also super glue the wire to the shank). Next run the thread to the curve of the shank and tie in the red buck tail (about ½ a pencil thickness). Next tie six strands of gold Krystal flash and then the tan ultra chenille (cut about 7 inches of chenille). Wind the mono thread to the front just behind the eye. Wrap the chenille forward tightly and bring to just behind the eye. Tie a uni-knot over the eye with the chenille. Braid the Krystal flash by twisting or twirling the strands together and wrap them over the chenille leaving about 1/32 inch between as you spiral the wraps forward and tie off behind the eye.
Turn the hook over so that the shank is down and the hook is on the topside. About ¼ inch behind the eye, tie in a small clump of orange marabou, then tan marabou. The marabou should just cover the hook point, making the fly weedless. Now tie off and whip finish the fly.

This fly is very effective in clear water or in cloudy water (not murky). The fly sinks fast and will be in on the bottom in about 6 seconds (18 inches deep). The retrieve is a slow constant retrieve. Only strip about 3 inches at a time. Because the weight is forward and there are no dumbbells the fly will not hang up in the grass. Redfish really like this fly. I’ve lost a number because they inhale it into their throat crushers, if this happens just cut the line. The hook will dissolve in about 4 hours.

Redfish Bugger

This fly is similar to a fly pattern designed by Dana Griffin of Gainesville, Florida, except without dumbell eyes. This fly uses lead wire as a head weight

Hook: Mustad #34011 (1/0)
Head: #25 Lead Wire Wrapped to Bend

Tail: Orange and Tan marabou (2 x the hook length), tie in six strands of gold Krystal flash.

Body: Tan Ultra Chenille with orange dyed grizzly hackle palmered.

Tie in #25 lead wire 1/8 inch behind the hook eye using Rust colored 6/0 mono thread.

Lead wire is wound around the shank leaving about 1/8 inch to the hook eye. Thread is wrapped forming a collar in front of the wire and behind the wire before the shank bend. Do some wraps along the shank aft of the wire to secure the marabou.

Select marabou feathers of orange and tan and tie in at rear of hook bend, tan above and orange underneath. On each side of the wing, tie in 6 strands of gold Krystal flash and leave hanging. Tie in a 6-inch segment of tan chenille and at the same point at the rear of the hook tie in the orange grizzly hackle at angle suitable for palmering. Run your thread up to the hook eye and leave hanging. Wrap the chenille forward in tight winds to just behind the hook eye and tie off. Take the 6 strands of flash and twist to make a kind of rope and pull straight forward so that the strand runs along the side of the shank and tie behind the eyes. Do the same thing for the other side of the shank. The final step is palmering the feather, making space on the turns so that the gold flash will show through. Now tie off and whip finish.

This fly is very effective in grass flats in windy conditions, and in situations where there is sand (white holes) scattered through out the flat. This fly will sink fast and a slow retrieve is recommended.

You’ll notice that this fly resembles a Wooly Bugger (one of my favorite flies). I tie it in a number of ways including my Tarpon Bugger below.

The Tarpon Bugger is tied in the same manner but uses Purple and Blue marabou, purple chenille, chartreuse super hair and Purple Grizzly Hackle. The Tarpon Bugger is really effective at night and daytime in brackish backwaters and creeks. I’ve had redfish hit this fly at night.

Redfish Assassin

I got the idea for this fly after watching a guide using a Bass Assassin. I didn’t have a trip and was actually about 150 yards away from a guide working a mangrove line. I was intrigued by his work and watched intently with my binoculars from a distance. I had used Crazy Charles type jerk worm before but it hadn’t occurred to me to try tying a fly to emulate it. Jerk worms work best in cloudy, murky or dark water, or on a cloudy day. The action is similar to a shrimp, but more than likely imitates a sand worm or eel.

I’ve tried many different renditions of this fly and these three work best. You’ll find a similar fly imitating a needlefish. This fly has been effective with redfish, black drum, jacks, catfish, and snook. I’ve caught a flounder on a fly made of white super hair. So there are many ways to tie this – but here is the simplest.

Hook: Mustad #34007 (#1)
Head: 1/50 oz yellow/black eye dumbell

Tail: Orange super hair tail (1 ½ inches), Black buck tail 2 ½ inches long.

Body: Black Ultra Chenille

Guard: 80 # mono or gold Mylar weed guard is optional

Tie in barbell eyes behind the hook eye. Select orange super hair and tie in at rear of hook bend. Tie in a 5-inch segment of black chenille and at the same point at the rear of the hook tie in silver Mylar. Run your thread up to the hook eye and leave hanging. Wrap the chenille forward in tight winds to just behind the hook eye and tie off. Take the Mylar and pull it straight forward so that the strand runs along the belly of the shank and tie behind the eyes. The final step is tying black buck tail in over the eyes to just behind the hook eye. Now tie off and whip finish.

This fly is a killer in dark or brackish water. Reds attach this fly with fury. Most hits are made on the second or third strip. Strip is slow, pause, and slow. The fly will sink pretty fast, so you want to keep it off the bottom and just hopping. The strip action will pick it up and allow it to sink again. After the cast count to five and then start the strip. This is a deadly fly at dusk. I’m sure it would work in freshwater, even though I haven’t tried it there.

Most flies are modifications of old designs that still work well. Try some of your own. Make the same ones or modify the ones here. Experiment, have fun, and go out and fool some big fish.

Doug is a USCG Licensed Captain and fly-fishing guide from New Smyrna Beach, a member of CCA, FFF, AFF, APCA, and FOWA. He can be reached at 877-969-4242


I Feel Like a Million Bucks

by: Dan Haas

I had been working the mid shift for some time now and I was still struggling to get used to the 11:00pm to 7:00am schedule. I had continued seeing things on the road to work that didn't exsist and I was sleeping about every other day. The weekend was coming on quick and I was long overdue for an outdoor adventure. I called my best friend Joe and discussed the idea of going to Lacamas Lake for the weekend and we decided it was a good plan. So with the plan, schedule and the idea set in motion it was time to ready myself for the escapade.

Thursday morning rolled around, that would be about 9:30pm for a guy on mid shift, and it was the last day of the work week. I had suspended my usual bass fishing trip the day before in an ill-fated effort to get the extra sleep I needed for the long drive awaiting me after work. At 7:00am Friday I was released from prison, I mean work, and it was time to ready for the trip. I knew I had just enough time to load the truck, pack the boat, cram some clothes into a bag, and hit the trail. If I hurried I could be on my way just in time to make it to Joe's house as he was returning home after a grueling day at work. Everything went just as expected. I couldn't heap all that I needed into the truck, I wasn't able to stuff all my required fishing gear into the boat, and I had no clean clothes to shove into a bag. How does this always happen I wondered. I must need a bigger truck, who couldn't use a larger boat, and I don't have time to do laundry when there are bass to be caught. I carefully weighed my options and decided not to bring all the camping equipment which would be useful on a trip like this. All in order to save room in the truck for more impartant things such as beer and guns; guns are an important part of any outing. I figured I might get by without all of my trout tackle, but you can never be too sure. It's inconceivable to believe that one can have too much fishing parphenalia, however I did need to make space in the boat for Joe's must-have equipment. With the truck and boat all set and ready to go it was time to pack some clothes. Is there anything clean? What's been worn the least? Does this go with that? How many days will I be gone? After answering all the questions posed, the answer was simple. Who cares, grab a handful of stuff, shove it into a grocery store shopping bag and jam it in the truck. I'm running late! Everythings ready to go an hour later than planned. Now I really need to hurry!

With everything carefully stuffed into place it was time to back the truck to the boat trailer. If I wasn't in a hurry this could be accomplished in one attempt. Six tries later the boat was secured to the truck and I was leaving the driveway. Finally! The truck needs gas! What next? I might as well fill up the boat while I'm gassing the truck. That means two more stops. One to get the oil required for the boat and another at the gas station. A person of average intelligence could probably accomplish both of these tasks in one stop, but I'm in a rush and I don't have time to stop and think. The truck's gas tank is full and so is the boat. My, I am hungry. I could have grabbed something to eat at the gas station if only I had relized five minutes ago that I was hungry. Well I am never going to make it to Joe's in time to head to Lacamas Lake today as it is, why didn't I just hurry. I suppose one more stop isn't going to hurt.

Stomach happy, full tanks of gas and I am finally enroute to Joe's. If only I can drive 90 mph the whole way there without getting stopped we might have a chance of reaching the lake before sundown. 140 miles and two hours later I arrived at Joe's house, but he wasn't home from work yet. It sure is a good thing I hurried.

Joe got home and it was time to shove his things in the truck and boat. More essential camping gear was removed for even more beer and we carefully weighed the decision of which fishing tackle to leave behind. With both of our beer, equipment, and clothing packed up we were ready to roll. I had been awake for too many hours and I don't think the pink elephant I passed on my way to Joe's really exsisted so maybe it would be best if Joe drove for a while. I figured no need to tell him to travel at excessive speeds we have been through this drill over and over and we had the same objectives in mind.

A couple of hours later and we had finally arrived at Lacamas Lake. First and foremost we must get the boat in the water and our lines wet. We can set up camp in the dark, come to think of it could we do it in the day light? We had never tried before. Joe and I have mastered the technique of launching a boat and no time would be lost here. The fishing hadn't been great when we returned to the launch and we needed to find a place to camp. After some discussion it was discovered that neither of us had seen a spot to camp anywhere near the lake, but we probably wouldn't have noticed being in such a hurry. We found a gas station, filled the truck and boat again and thought to ask the clerk if there was camping near the lake. We couldn't have been more than three miles from the lake and the clerk had no idea what we were talking about. How could this man live and work so close to the lake and have no clue that it even exsisted? Just then a customer helped out by correctly pronouncing the lakes name and suddenly the clerk knew exactly what we were inquiring about. Be very careful with your pronounciation around these parts. I would have thought that our pronounciation was close enough to get our point across but obviously I was mistaken. Once it was said and done and we realized there was no camping anywhere near, we had to come to a conclusion. We drove and drove and there was no campsite to be found. The sign at the boat launch had clearly stated "No Camping" and "No Overnight Parking" but surely certain rules and laws don't apply to us. These rule are intended for people who are well organized and sufficiently prepared. We were neither. Besides it would only be one night and tommorow we would find a place to camp if we could squeeze it into the busy fishing regiment.

We awoke the next morning in the back of my truck stiff, sore, and drousy from the lack of a decent nights rest at the boat launch. Nothing was going to keep us off the lake. We launched the boat with the speed and grace of which dreams are made. Again the fishing was not overly satisfying and our thoughts shifted to the sleep we were afforded the night before. Finding a place to camp was a must. We explored the area near the lake until we succomed to the fact that there was no camping in the vacinity.

Silver Lake is only a couple of hours away and we were positive that we would find camping there. We could still make it to Silver Lake in time to launch the boat, fish for several hours and then set up camp in the dark. On the journey to Silver Lake I had begun to feel a little under the weather and decided it was due to my sleeping pattern over the last couple of days. I knew I wasn't getting sick because I don't get sick. We arrived at Silver Lake and to our astonishment the lake was nearly gone! We asked around to find out that the damn had broken and no one had been able to launch a boat. Several had tried and you could see the result of their efforts. Trucks of all kinds lined the shore with boats and trailers still attached stuck in the slick mud and I thought it best to not add my truck to the graveyard. If we hurried we could make it to Duck Lake in time to get some fishing in before nightfall and we needed to set up camp.

70... 80... 90mph... We need to hurry! Duck lake is a ways from here, thier are bass to be caught and daylight won't last forever! My condition had continued to decline since leaving Lacamas Lake and I told Joe that I felt like about twenty-dollars instead of a million bucks.

Time to fill the gas tank, stomach and release some fluids. This all has to be acomplished in one stop or we'll never make it to the lake in time to wet our lines. I was pumping gas when Joe returned from inside the store with food to consume. "Did you know he is a liar!!!" hollars some crazy hippie chick while pointing at me. Joe looks confused at me as if I am suppose to know this girl with the funny colored hair and the outrageous make up. Like I'm supposed to know why she's calling me a liar. I returned his puzzled look with one of complete disarray. She continued on about how I was a liar, a thief of love and this and that but we couldn't wait around to hear the rest as amusing as it was, we were in a race against time.

We passed at least two places to camp right close by Duck Lake so with that settled we rushed onward to get the boat in the lake. We can set up camp in the dark. We launched the boat again with speed and grace and we were fishing in no time. Not much time though so we better make the most of it. It was our first time to this lake and we knew little to nothing about it. So we decided to do some exploring of the lake's shoreline so that when we woke tommorow we would know exactly were to head first. In the morning it will be Sunday and we will only be able to fish for a few hours so it is paramount we explore the lake now. We found mile apon mile of channels running everywhere. This lake with its endless abundance of shoreline seemed like a bass anglers paradise. We had been concentrating more on exploration than we did fishing so we hadn't had a lot of success but this didn't discourage us any. We had been fishing together too many times without fruition to be easily discouraged. The lake and all its fishable waters had us spell-bound when we made the startling discovery that sundown had arrived and it wouldn't be long before darkness filled the air.

Back to the boat launch we headed careful to observe all the "No Wake" signs posted all through the channels. It wasn't long before it was apperent that we hadn't paid close attention and had absolutely no clue where the boat launch was. This is when panic started to set in. I eased the throttle on my Pro Craft boat a little more forward and the boat responded with a little increased speed, cautious to still observe the "No Wake" signs. Daylight fading fast terror of being lost on the lake filling in as quickly. It was then I decided to slide the throttle forward just a touch more. The faster I can get the boat the quicker we can find the boat ramp before blackness makes it impossible to find.

Faster and faster darkness aproached and further and further I pushed the throttle. Once again I was in a race against time and I was afraid time would win this race. Joe brought to my attention that we were no longer exactly complying with the "No Wake" signs. In my mind I had updated my condition from feeling like twenty dollars to about five. In order to defeat father time and make a safe return to the boat ramp I looked over at Joe and exclaimed, "If you're going to break the law you might as well break it!" and I slammed the throttle forward bringing the boat up on full plane. Besides, like the "No camping" and "No Overnight Parking" these laws didn't apply to people like us anyway. Ripping through the narrow channels leaving only our wake behind we found one of the lake's main bodies. To our gratitude it was this main body that was home to the boat ramp that had my truck waiting. I pulled the boat to the shore so Joe could jump to dry land and back the trailer into the water. Seconds later I had the boat secured to the trailer, Joe and I had became so good at this that we amazed even ourselves. Joe began to pull me, the truck, the boat and the trailer out of the water when a crazed lunatic raced into the boat ramp and parked his truck imediatley in front of Joe disabling him from moving any further.

This very large man jumped out of his truck and went running to the drivers side window of my truck where Joe un-rolled the window. He began shouting all sorts of obscenities at Joe, complaining of a black boat that just went ripping by his house on the lake and I was sure Joe's life was about to come to an end. It was probably a little more than coincidence that the boat he had seen was black and my boat was black. Joe is my best friend and decided it wouldn't be fair to let this man kill him when I was the one responsible for the man's rage. So I told him that I was the one driving the boat and apologized and he seemed a little less likely to kill someone now. He continued to chew on our asses for a while. We tried explaining that we were lost and just wanted to get to the boat launch before dark but he kept chewing. We decided not to explain to him that those kinds of laws don't apply to us figuring that he wouldn't understand. After several exchanges of lecture from him and apologies from us he asked if we caught any bass. We were stunned! This large man who had me afraid for my own life as well as Joe's was now asking how the fishing went. We told him that we didn't have alot of success and he responded by telling us that we were leaving to early. I wanted to tell him that we were leaving and that we were in a hurry in case he hadn't noticed. I thought better of it and kept quiet.

Having been allowed to leave by the burly man it was time to go set up camp, and yes it was now dark. We hit a fast food resturant for dinner and I discovered with all the fear, anxiety, and excitement the last hour had brought my condition had been downgraded to about a buck and a half. I had escaped death from the insanely angered man but I was sure that I was dying now. I don't get sick so death must be the cause of the way I feel. I made funeral arrangements with Joe over dinner and let him know that when I died he should use my boat and continue this adventure we had started on. He agreed that he would if I died but in the mean time maybe we should just head back to his house because someone had stolen all of our camping gear and replaced it with beer.

He drove us to his house and when we arrived he offered four different cold medicine alternatives. I told him that I felt like 50 cents and maybe I should just take two of each, just to be sure. Moments later I could hardly stand from the effects of the medicine as well as the complete lack of any real rest. I slept like a baby for the first time in weeks and when I woke up I exclaimed "I FEEL LIKE A MILLION BUCKS!!! Lets go fishing!" Joe and I agreed that we wouldn't go far and headed for Long Lake, five minutes from Joe's house, we would be fishing in less than ten. We hadn't been on the lake for fifteen minutes when I landed a three and a half pound largemouth and we had to ask ouselves why we ever left for our journey in the first place.


by: Doug Sinclair

Hmm! Should I to go straight, or just pull along the curb? I mean who besides me would be coming in at this hour. Undecided, I just pulled up to Getta’s Red & White Deli & Market.

I looked inside. The lights were all out except for some neon trim above the coke machine and a light inside the freezer. I thought that maybe Getta was inside but hadn’t turned on the lights. Nope, she wasn’t there. I was feeling hungry just looking at all the food on those shelves. I should have eaten breakfast, but was too excited about today’s trip that I skipped it. The weather forecast was favorable with light winds in the morning and bright sunny day. The door was locked, as was the lock on the ice machine. I was real early. I usually get there a little after six, which gives me plenty of time to get to Kelly’s and launch at River Breeze.

Park Avenue and Riverside Drive were dark and quiet. A few cars and trucks passed by. Some guy towing a trailer with a flat tire made a loud flapping noise on the pavement. He seemed to be in a trance. There was a huge white cabin boat on a trailer across the street. The shadows from a streetlight bounced off its torn flag and flashed small reflections on the store windows. Otherwise everything seemed silent and sleepy.

Then an old man crossed the street and came over to where I stood. He walked passed me to put a quarter in the machine and took out the morning’s paper. We exchanged nodes and he left without saying a word. I thought that I should have said something like, “good morning.” But didn’t.

I was standing outside next to my boat, patiently waiting for Getta to arrive. She makes the best subs in town. She’s been making these for more than 15 years. Two years ago she had to raise her prices and apologized to everyone for it. Where can you get a 12” sub for $2.50? My friend has a sandwich named after him. He has probably bought more than a thousand from her. So we just ask for a “Kent Special”. The thought of that sandwich was making me hungry again.

Getta arrived about five after six. She was surprised to see me. “Going to be a good day for fishing”, she remarked. “Yes, it does”. She let me in, turned on the lights, and then asked me to unlock the icebox and bring her back the key and lock together. I could see her turn on the meat-cutting machine, then reach into the deli counter and get a package of meat, lettuce and tomato. I could already taste that sandwich. Mean while, I got the icebox opened and returned the key and lock. When I returned, Getta had the sandwiches ready. So I paid her and left, taking a bag of ice and the sandwiches to put in the cooler on the boat. It was time to get moving.

Two motor-cross racing guys were meeting me for some fishing fun. I enjoy meeting the racing people around Daytona and Smyrna. They have unique stories about growing up around a tracks and racing for their living. A number lot of them love to fly fish. Naturally we exchange stories about fishing adventures. Jay Springer is ranked 9th on the Motor-Cross circuit. He and his buddy Kirk are avid fisherman and fish on their days off. They are both from Michigan and told me about huge Brown Trout and Salmon that they catch up north.

When touring they always hire a guide to take them to remote fishing places. Today was no different for them. They had seen TNN’s Suzuki Great Outdoors and American Expedition, and read about our big inshore game fish. Mosquito Lagoon had them very excited. They were eager to catch some redfish, trout, or any other fish, but mostly this was a way for them to relax and enjoy the scenery and boating experience.

The boat loaded, everyone on board, we pushed off from the ramp at seven. I headed south. The sun was just starting to rise and from our vantage point the lagoon was just coming into view. The sun was just lifting slowly above the Canaveral Seashore and was making a spectacular entry above the trees. You could see the islands on the east towards Bisset Bay and the sea wall on the west near Ed Tindell’s house. This is a large white house that had its roof blown off during Hurricane Irene last year. The house is really exposed because it sits right out by the ICW. But it makes a good landmark when visibility is poor in the north lagoon.

We passed Markers 17, 19 and 21. Brian Clancy waved from his poling platform as we motored by. He was fishing a fly angler inside the Clinkers. He is a staunch believer in catch and release practices and a terrific guide as well. Moving farther south you could just make out the tower at Kennedy Space Center. Jay and Kirk thought this was really great and took pictures even though the center was just a box outline on the horizon, some 20 miles away.

I started my turn at Marker 24 and headed east to the north end of Tiger Shoals. This is a huge flat about 3 miles across. The best fishing is near an old plane wreck. The wheels still point skyward at low tide. There is also a trench that runs parallel to a bar running southeast by northwest. When the wind is light this is a good place to find a school of reds.

I shut down just northeast of the shoals. I got everyone rigged and ready for casting. The important thing to remember when fishing in the flats is to look and try and sight the fish. False casts are great for getting the muscles primed, but you need to be ready to cast when a fish is spotted. So often when guys are just blind casting you don’t have enough time to retrieve and recast, spoiling an opportunity to cast to a fish. I was surprised by the way that these two men handled the fly rods. One had a 9wt Redfly and the other used a 10wt DFR. Both large arbor reels were dressed with almost 250 yards of backing and monocore sly line. This is great fly line for stealth fishing and it casts well in the wind.

I poled down to the plane wreck and then south a few hundred yards. Kirk felt a bump and a push on a white/tan half & half. Funny thing was I didn’t see the fish. It could have been a red or more likely a trout. He had cast the fly just past a white hole and then pulled it to the edge to sink. I bet a trout was lying off the grass and made his move on the fly. Sometimes fly anglers are really anxious and strip to early and pull the fly out. This could have happened since the line went slack as soon as he picked up the rod tip.

But this was a real good start to get everyone’s adrenalin going and now sharpening the senses as well. The important thing is that we were all in the “zone”. Now the interesting part would start. I poled us up next to the shoal flat and waited a few minutes. I wanted to look around at the surface. I studied the ripples and how the wind was pushing the water. I looked for any irregularities that would signal a school working beneath the water. Over there at 2 O’clock. It looked like a large v-shaped dark water spot – a school of reds. Sometimes you just have this feeling – like a sixth sense or something. The school was moving too fast to catch. They would probably be back. So I worked around the south side of the shoal.

Three other boats were already getting too close in an area to just be chummy. I was sure they were on to another school. So I wanted to ease over there without getting anyone’s hair up. I told my guys to watch the boats every once in awhile. Meantime I picked up a small pod as we worked southeast along the back of this flat. We would eventually find ourselves down in the vicinity of the other boats, but do it in a non-invasive way.

We rounded the east point close to Van’s Island then worked our way back to the southwest. It was a really great day. Picture perfect sky – sky blue with a few high clouds and a light breeze. The water was really clear and Jay and Kirk were really amazed at how shallow the water was. About 300 yards from the crab traps I spotted some copper forms in the water. I stopped poling. I whispered to Jay and Kirk, “get ready – relax”. I could feel their excitement. Jay had a big smile showing off his front teeth. I motioned to Kirk with two-fingers raised and pointed. He cast and as the fly hit the water I said, “let it sink”. Then to Jay almost opposite I motioned that he should cast to 10 O’clock and he did. They both waited and then Kirk yelled, “FISH ON”. “Keep the rod tip up – give him some line. Let him take line.” I said. As Jay started to reel-in, his line went tight. Double hook-up. Wow!

Man this was going to be really interesting. Quickly I thought which fish is pulling harder – which spool has the stronger backing. Jay had the 10-wt so we could wait on his fish a while. The only thing was the fish took off in different directions. There wasn’t time for messing around. I quickly tied the pole to the platform and jumped down to the deck and bow. I engaged the trolling motor and started following Kirk’s fish. I motored as fast as we could. I don’t like to push these fish into exhaustion. Catch them, get the photo and release them quickly. The fight was on.

After thirty minutes of covering a big circle we came up to Kirk’s BIG red. As I closed in on it, I could see that it was lying on the bottom in about 3 feet of water. I had Kirk lean over the gunnel to look at his fish. He was the deepest copper color and about 36 plus inches – I figured about twenty pounds. I wanted to grab the line and plane him to the surface. That puts less pressure on a fish. When Kirk felt the slack in the tip, he instinctively pulled it straight up slicing my hand and breaking the tippet. His fish was gone. I had an awful feeling.

Now I turned my attention to Jay’s fish and we started moving towards it. The line was really tight and the rod was bent over right down to the butt. This was a bigger fish than Kirk’s. I could tell that his arms were tiring. He had been holding this fish for more than 45 minutes. As we approached this red, it made a big push off the port bow and shook the hook. Jay was a little disappointed but this only lasted a minute. He and Kirk were doing high-fives in the boat and shaking my hand. All smiles they wanted to try another area. This was one awesome experience for them.

I ran them over to George’s Bank and we worked the oyster bar to the east. Kirk hooked up a small rat red and he was thrilled when it was brought to the boat. We all marveled at this beautiful fish and then released in the water. Jay caught a trout and then a 6-pound ray. They both had a great time and especially enjoyed our lagoon area and are looking forward to doing this again next year.

A Division of Say You, Say Me, Inc.