Friday, December 12, 2014

Tips for Catching your 1st Redfish

 I wanted share something here that might help out a fly fisher that's planning to fish the Jax or St. Augustine salt marshes for there first time or a local beginner just trying to figure out how to go about catching a Redfish on fly. When ready you will most likely be quietly poled around in a flats skiff hunting and sight fishing for the Reds in the skinniest waters around low tide. I recall my experiences from doing many guide trips over the years with newbies turned out to be an interesting challenge for most and ending with a great new learning experience that they well remember. So this may be somewhat of a big learning curve to consider for some of you if you don't know what to expect! 

So here's something to think about when your getting ready to sight fish and catch your first Redfish on fly...

Tip 1:Being able to see and identify a Redfish moving in the shallow water either by tailing, backing,
          belly crawling, pushing wakes and spraying bait up. This could be the slightest movement to big
          obvious hints.
Tip 2:Dropping the fly close to the fish without lining over its back and spooking the fish.
Tip 3:Casting with accuracy and knowing the direction the fish is working and knowing where your
          fly is at all times keeping it in front of the fish.
Tip 4:Having your line ready and getting the cast off quickly before the fish disappears in the stained
Tip 5:Making short quick casts of 20-50 feet. At times they just appear very close to you.
Tip 6:Being able to shoot a cast at different angles, meaning 360 degrees of the position that you are
          standing in. This of course depends on where the fish comes up.
Tip 7: Being stealthy by not creating a wake on the water, remaining cool and calm and not being

What I'd like to also recommend is practicing casting in your backyard, etc. by placing some halu-hoops around at different lengths and trying to drop your fly in them. The short cast can be more challenging than the long casts. Good luck!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fly Fishing NE Florida-Wintertime Forecast

As wintertime approaches here in NE Florida I'm very happy to say that the fishing opportunities continue with a welcomed change to our fishing scenario that I really look forward to! Being a former Yankee from NY who appreciates this, let me tell you it's a privilege just to be able to fish during the winter compared to the rest of our country. What comes into mind now is big Sea Trout, schooling Redfish in the marsh and American Shad in the lower St. John's River freshwater's.

As our water temperatures drop it becomes more clear creating  comfortable conditions for Sea
Trout to show up. Best times to fish is in middle of the moving tides around structure casting into deeper holes. There is no doubt that this is the best time of year to get a Gator Sea Trout on fly and I have the perfect fly for it! 
On the other hand you can find large schools of active Redfish looking for a meal mainly in the
 afternoon as the water temperatures have risen through the day primarily around the low tide period. This especially happens a couple days after the cold fronts come through and right before the next front during the warming period. It happens to be that there really isn't much bait around during the winter so a well placed fly put in front of a backing Redfish is welcomed treat!
                                                                Backing School of Redfish                                                   

Finally the American Shad run is something really special that takes place in NE Central Florida starting about mid December through February around the upper headwaters of the St. Johns River. Prime time is January 15th - Feb. 23rd and recommend booking a trip early to reserve the best times. If you have not experienced this fishery you can expect to catch over 10-15 Shad during the prime time running up to 20" long and 4 lbs. on 5 and 6 weight fly rods. These fish are relatives of the Tarpon and will trill you to no end with a great battle and are less than a 2 hours drive away. Be sure to check out the video.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fly Fishing Essentials

                                           Set-up for fly fishing Northeast Florida
                         Here's some technical rigging information mostly for new 
                                               fly fishers wanting to know how to set up a fly rod.

                                                          Standard Marsh Fly Fishing Set-up
                                                                  (fly lines, tippet and Flies)

                                                        Flood Tide Grass Fly Fishing Set-up
                                                                        (fly lines, tippet and flies)

                                       For the complete leader construction check out this video:

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Fast and Furious Little Tunny on Fly

There called Albies in New York. There also known as Little Tuna, False Albacore and in Florida most call them a Bonito(not to confused with the Northern Bonito). All these fish names happen to be the same fish. One thing that we can all agree on is that these torpedo shaped speedsters have the endurance of a marathon runner and will take you deep into your backing with several bursts of speed! This fish can pull! They will stretch your fly line and bend your rod testing your gear and knots to the maximum! I recommend a minimum 10wt. fly rod set up with 200-250 yards of backing to muscle them in.

Fly selection should be made depending on what there feeding on. As they say you will need to "match the hatch" as these fish are known to be finicky. In most cases a glass minnow pattern works best with a full intermediate sinking fly line and minimum 20 lb. tippet. 25 lb. is better.

They are pelagic fish that are constantly on the move looking for food and never stop swimming. So you can image the calorie intake they might need. They are mostly late spring and summer time visitors to our near shore waters here in NE Florida but have also been occasionally caught in the other months. You can find them in a feeding frenzy attacking large bait pods by looking for diving birds over erupting water. They generally run 8-12lbs. (recorded 36.5 lbs). My largest ever caught came in at 16 lbs. This fish deserves to be on a fly rodders bucket-list! Be sure to check out the video located on my websites home page.  

Click on images to enlarge

                   St. Augustine Fly Fishing 10 Lb. Little Tunny 
                   (caught on a Temple Fork Outfitters BVK Rod/Natilus NV 10/11 Fly Reel)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Jacksonville's very own Salt Marsh

Did you know that the Timucuan(Timucua:early American Indian)preserve is the only natural preserve that exsists within the boundaries of a city limit in the whole county? You bet! Well I must say that it's certainly a nice back yard to have indeed and only a few minutes drive away! While I once lived some long time ago in south Florida we always had a minimum 2 hour drive to get ourselves into the wilds of saltwater fishing. Now life is easier! 20 minutes away nestled in the northeast corner of Jacksonville just inside off the Atlantic Ocean and up into the St. Johns River is this huge back water estuary that's loaded with a wide variety of fish, birds, mammals and some reptiles that will make you feel like your deep into the wilderness. When I first saw the waters of the Timucuan  preserve I asked myself which way do I go and how do I not get lost?

    It  is approx. 65 square miles of salt marsh measuring approx. 7 x 9 miles big! That equals
   46,000-acre area of tidal creeks, mud flats and spartina grass and wide variety of wildlife.

Fishing the backwater maze of creeks in the saltwater tidal marshes Timucuan Preserve. This photo was taken at low tide in NE Jacksonville. The area happens to have to biggest tides in the whole state of Florida averaging approx. 5-6 ft. of water, moving in the 6-hour tide swing which really concentrates the fish for better fish catching.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dock Light Fly Fishing

Want to beat the summertime heat? With day time temperatures getting up in the 90s and likely afternoon thunderstorms do you sometimes wish you could go somewhere else to fish? Well luckily we have a much more comfortable alternative right here in our own backyard! Next question.. so have you ever heard of fly fishing at night? Sounds crazy right? That's a given if go dock light fly fishing! With perfect nightime air temps. running in the 70s, no boat traffic and the serenity of the night might sound like a more relaxing and interesting way for you to fish during the hottest time of year.

Another question you might ask is... isn’t it to dark to fish? The answer is no... thanks to a line up of million dollar waterfront homes. You’re casting into a shoreline with big backyards and sophisticated boat docks and piling that have plenty of structure surrounded by either green underwater lights or your typical hanging lights that attract and hold baitfish. Well you might already know that baitfish yields predators!

Fish swimming over green underwater lights

You ever heard of sight fishing at night? Well now you have! Casting a 5 or 6 weight fly rod rigged with a floating line at lights that have swimming fish around them that you can actually see! This is like casting into a fish tank! There's no doubt that your casting skills will be put to the test for accuracy around the docks and really learning the feel of what a fly rod does. It's a fun challenge and experience for all!

Casting to a pair of hanging dock lights at dawn

Our trips generally begin either starting at dusk into the night time or starting in the middle of the  night going into the dawn hours depending on fishing the right tide conditions. The added bonus here is that the dawn and dusk periods have some of the best opportunities for a top water fly bite that will really get your adrenaline pumping! The primary targeted species are Spotted Sea Trout and Snook. Other species occasionally include Mangrove Snapper, Jack Cravelle, Bluefish, Ladyfish and Redfish.

You can bet that this kind of fishing is one of the most certain ways of catching your 1st salty fish on fly with the smallest fly rod! It's just another way to get out fly fishing on our extensive menu of fly fishing opportunities here in NE Florida!

 Happy client with 1st fish in fly

 Happy fishing faces with 1st fish on fly

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Tailing Redfish Time...

 That magical time of year is here again known as the “Tailing Reds in the Flooded Grass Flats”. That means stalking for hungry feeding Redfish that wave at you on the flats. The hunt is on! It can be fished either by Boat, Kayak or walking in and wade fishing. It’s the only kind of fishing we do here by means of only sight fishing. The season runs approx. 5-6 months from about May through early November. Best time being August to mid-October. My earliest tailer I ever caught was on April 26th. Did you know that there are approx. 70-80 flood tides per year? I’d say probably about half of those happen when it wasn’t expected and or during the nighttime. You can look for the flood tides around the new and full moon periods. The magic high tide mark to look for is 5.4 ft. at Mayport Bar Pilot. But!...  if you have a strong east to NE wind for a couple day before it supposed to flood than you can get one of those unexpected floods. We can also have the opposite effect if we have a west wind. Atmospheric pressure and rain fall also have an effect on the tide. So the best thing to do is check your local forecast and NOAA tide predictions and observation charts. The flood tide can last anywhere from 2 to 5 hours depending on were you go. We opt to use a 6 to 8 weight fly rods in most cases with a typical 30-35 ft. cast at the tailer with a fiddler Crab fly imitation on the end of you leader.  This kind of sight fishing is know to get your adrenaline and heart rate pumping and is highly recommended for a fun time!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Spring 2014 Fly Fishing Report…

...has been a different and strange one for sure! The truth is that it was nothing like the previous couple years. The Sea Trout bite is generally the best during the Winter and Spring in clear cool waters. It was way off this year compared to past. We did at times consistently catch some smaller Sea Trout in the 14”to 17” range and sometimes those were even tough to find.  It was nothing like the 25”er we had in previous years. The Redfish were on the small side too. I believe the lack of fish and quality of fish was due to the unusually low salinity level and stained water that we had in the marsh. We had higher than normal rain amounts and run off during this spring. What really threw me for a BIG surprise was seeing a huge Garfish that looked to be over 10lbs. and approx. 30-35” long in early May swim ever so slowly past my boat in 3 ft. of water! That’s a first for me to ever see a fresh water fish in the salt marsh! Needless to say that water and weather conditions play a big roll in fishing. On the more positive side we did get a strong run of spring-run Ladyfish, Bluefish and Jack Crevalle in April and early May to save the days. The sight fishing for backing Reds was fair and ran mostly into laid up Redfish on the mud flats with lock jaw. I saw my first Roseate Spoonbill wading in the shallows on May 5th which tells me that the shrimp are on their way back which activates the Reds more for sight fishing and catching on fly. As we enter June we can begin to look for tailing Redfish in flooded grass flats which generally lasts into early November and  fly fishing the ocean surf in May-June for a mix of different fish. Tight loops and lines all!
                                                  Tom S. from Jacksonville with a Ladyfish

Joe N. from Germany with a Spotted Sea Trout

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Florida Shad Run

Fly fishing the St. Johns River upper headwaters during the Shad run is just another great fishery that our  area has to offer! Did you know that these Shad happen to be relatives of the mighty Tarpon? The Shad are close members of the Herring family. This could only mean one thing! You can plan on getting an acrobatic aerial show when there hooked and experience a pretty hard pull for there size on a 5 weight fly rod! The Shad spend most of their lives mingling with deep sea creatures in the salty ocean. They happen to be a schooling and highly migratory species that come as far as the Bay of Fundy, Canada and amazingly return to spawn in the headwaters of the St. Johns River freshwater environment every winter where they can be caught standing on the edge of central Florida cow pastures.
                                                                             January 26, 2014

Guide Trip February 16, 2014