– Ben Sittig Is A Huge Fly Fisherman – I’m A Huge Fly Fisherman Too

Recently, I had the good fortune to spend a few days on the water with my good friend, Ben.  As always, I picked him up at the Orlando International Airport and within an hour or two, he was tight on a redfish. Its become quite the tradition for us.

Ben is working on a new YouTube project and it was a “work trip” for him, so it seemed fitting to put him on the back of the skiff.

Here’s the result of that effort to get him up to speed with a push pole.

I’d say he’s well on his way to becoming a regular Pusherman.

In addition to stabbing a few fish in the face, we spent time talking about more technical issues like the following:

Make sure to follow Ben on his new YouTube channel, Huge Fly Fisherman, more content is on the way, including conservation issues facing Mosquito Lagoon.

Ben will also have his writings about the state of conservation efforts in Mosquito Lagoon featured in This Is Fly magazine very soon, check it out.

Stay Huge!

 

Why Firsts Are The Best:

Recently, the family and i loaded up and headed north to Charleston to meet up with other friends and attend an annual social event hosted by Flood Tide Co.

I’ve been friends with the founders of the lifestyle brand for years and it makes going to the event more like a family reunion.

While in Charleston there are a multitude of amazing places to eat, drink and generally enjoy yourself.  We made sure to take full advantage.

The first that is referred to in the title came for my friend Marc.  He had never fished a flooded spartina grass meadow for tailing redfish, so it was a priority to give him a shot to cross off a bucket list item.

Despite being windier than most would like, we found a couple of kindred souls willing to brave the gale and swell on the Wando River on Friday morning.

We powered through sporty conditions as the wind and tide worked against each other, stacking up chop that at times made me wonder why we had ignored the small craft advisory.

Once we made our way far enough up the river, leeward shorelines welcomed us.

Marc took the bow of my skiff and we started our search.

His wonder and excitement was palpable.  It was truly special to see his wonder and amazement as we pushed along over a meadow that had only hours before been high and dry.

We finally spotted a redfish tailing and maneuvered into position for a cast.  The ending was less than favorable thanks to a “trout set”.

With a mistake behind us, we found another fish and began what would turn into a 8- 10 minute game of cat and mouse as the fish would appear and disappear in the grass, moving along in search of prey with zero clue as to our presence.

The pace got a bit frenetic as the wayward redfish moved steadily towards us.  Casts were going long, wide, short; pretty much everywhere they could without being in the “spa” they needed to be.

In response to my suggestion; “hit it on the head…” Marc’s fly dropped by the fish’s left eye, maybe 3 inches away.  The response by the redfish was a definitive surge to inhale the crab.

And, just like that, Marc had his first Lowcountry redfish on the fly.

We had a hard time wiping the smiles off our face the rest of the day.

Firsts do that to a man.

 

 

Tailer Trash Fly Fishing Podcast

I’ve been maintaining a weekend retreat along the shores of Mosquito Lagoon now for going on 14 years.  Its where I retreat to unwind and spend my days on the water searching for fish.

Its from that little slice of heaven where friends and I hang out and record our experiences and thoughts about life,  fly fishing, drink beer and smoke meats.

If you’re inclined to enjoy shooting the shit at a fly shop or on the water with like mined folks, you may enjoy our podcast, Tailer Trash Fly Fishing.

 

Its hosted on Soundcloud and is available via iTunes or your favorite podcast app.

Find it here:  Tailer Trash Fly Fishing Podcast 

Between episodes you can keep up with us on Instagram.

@tailertrashflyfishing 

 

Tailer Park Turtle Patrol

I recently had the pleasure of getting on the water with Michael Marco to chase redfish in Mosquito Lagoon. It had been quite some time since we had last fished together, so we were overdue to spend some time on the skiff.

 

Like me, Michael spends a good bit of time on the road logging what we like to call “windshield time”. I was cruising northbound on Interstate 95 and had decided to call and check in to see how his new Skimmer Skiff was coming along and found out he was actually in the area for a day or two, so we quickly hatched a plan to capitalize on the opportunity to get on the water.

 

When he arrived in the early evening a good number of thunderstorms were just beginning to fire off and drift through the area. After watching the radar for a while, we accepted the reality of having to cancel our evening patrol plans, but quickly pivoted to dinner plans at the local, Goodrich Seafood.

 

There is no doubt when you roll through Goodrich that the food will be fresh and the beers cold, so we made the short drive there and had a feast.

 

After returning home, we put out a call to fellow Fly Fishing After Dark Podcast members Avery and Cameron to join us for some beers. Once they arrived we spent a few hours catching up and telling lies.

 

Michael was freshly back in town from a trip to the former Soviet Union where he and his father had spent a week fly fishing for taimen. Other than a very scant few details to peak our interest, he kept stories of the adventure to himself so that we can bring him on a future episode of the podcast to reveal them for the first time. Based on the couple of nuggets he did share, I can’t wait!

 

The next morning we made the two-minute trip to the landing to launch the skiff as the sun was breaking the horizon over the eastern horizon. Surprisingly, we ended up finding redfish sparse, despite the cooling rains the evening prior. The handful we saw while Michael was up, were of the prissy variety for which our home waters are known.

 

As we prepared to pole off of a flat to fire up the engine and scoot across the channel, we spotted what we at first thought was a hawksbill terrapin. As we poled over to take a closer look, we were both shocked to see it was actually a Florida Box Turtle that was swimming, albeit slowly, across the skinny flat separating two islands. We scooped the obviously tired dude up and gave him a skiff ride with the plan to release him later.

Michael insisted on poling the next flat, so I got the chance to fish for a bit, which was great.

 

We eventually found some more agreeable fish and I was rewarded with a nice redfish that ate a well placed fly before it could even be stripped. The redfish literally made a hard U-turn and inhaled the fly that had dropped six inches away along its right side. It was the kind of eat you don’t forget.

fly fishing saltwater

We exchanged ends of the skiff and worked for a while to get Michael a fish, but despite some epic casts and even a follow that we both expected to end in a hook-up, we had to end the day before we tallied a second fish.

 

Work was calling for us both and more importantly, Michael had an appointment he needed to keep, the delivery of his shiny new Skimmer Skiff.

 

As we idled towards deeper water preparing to run back to put the skiff on the trailer, I saw what I thought was a crab trap buoy. Moments after looking at it, I saw a head pop up and realized it was a turtle of some kind.   Turns out, it was another Florida Box Turtle! We scooped him up too and gave him a lift back to the Tailer Park along with his smaller cousin who had already been chilling with us.

male box turtles

Both of the box turtles were set free to roam the neighborhood shortly after getting back to the house.

It was great spending time with Michael, and without a doubt it will be a trip I wont forget, not just because of the great redfish moment, but also for the unique opportunity to encounter two box turtles swimming in a saltwater estuary.

 

Fly-fishing never fails to deliver great friendships and amazing experiences. I’m looking forward to hearing the full taimen story, getting out on Michael’s new skiff or some other adventure that leads us to amazing places.

 

Summer Solstice

How did you celebrate the longest day of the year?

While in the midst of a 10 day road trip across portions of Pennsylvania & New York, I spent the evening on Chautauqua Lake near Bemus Point catching up with a great friend.

Eric Peterson grew up along the shores of the glacier formed lake and knows it well. He’s been guiding in the area for years.  When I called to let him know that I’d be in the area, he insisted we hook up and fish.  Who am I to refuse?

Eric has always been a generous soul.  He is responsible for putting  me on my first Lake Erie steelhead and smallmouth bass.  He’s also an incredible fly tier.  He helps me keep my fly box stocked with flies that are so beautiful, I feel guilty fishing them.

The plan was to hunt for my first muskie.  I’m a realist and had a measured, pessimistic outlook, fully expecting to cast a lot and catch nothing.

A mere twenty minutes after launching, that changed.

fly fishing guide NY

The cast was about 50 feet, hucking a 400 grain, sinking line out and stripping it back after giving the fly a 10-count to sink along the edge of a weed line.

At around 40 feet the violent take thumped in my stripping hand and I strip set hard – a few times.

Once the fish was safely in the net and boat, we couldn’t contain ourselves, we had done the impossible, cheating the fish of 10,000 casts by significant digits.

musky fly fishing

We celebrated with cold beers, continued casting and occasionally simply laughed again at the absurdity of my success.

We watched the sun sink low to the horizon, knowing the days were again going to begin to grow shorter, but we had seized the moment and etched it into our memories for life.

Thanks fly fishing!

 

MINWR Shiloh Commercial Space Launch Environmental Impact Could Be Epic

Yesterday, as Tropical Storm Hermine brought wind and rain to the Space Coast; very few, if any, skiffs were on the water enjoying the mostly pristine beauty of Mosquito Lagoon.

The serenity of the quiet moment was interrupted when a thunderous series of booms shook the house again and again.

I immediately  went outside to investigate, knowing it wasn’t thunder from a storm band rain shower approaching.

Moments later, social media began to break the story of an “anomaly ” that had just occurred when SpaceX was testing a rocket motor in preparation for an early morning launch on Saturday.

I went to a nearby dock and immediately saw the smoke plume rising to the south, nearly 17 miles away.

Thanks to safety protocols, no human life was lost, nor were there any injuries.  The question that remains is: how much environmental damage might be done by the remnants of rocket fuel that were surely washed into the surrounding marshland when a deluge of water was applied to extinguish the massive fire.

Currently, Space Florida is awaiting an environmental impact study’s completion in an effort to bring just such a launch site to the MINWR, just 5-7 miles south of my home along the shores of Mosquito Lagoon.  I hope that a fully transparent and objective study includes the aftermath of this incident in the study.  The area being considered is home to many endangered and threatened species and is opposed by US Fish & Wildlife staff that run the Refuge.

Environmental Impact Study Pending
Environmental Impact Study Pending

Yesterday was a wake-up call.  Space flight remains a risky business and with that in mind, I remain opposed to the Commercial Launch Facility that is proposed.

Shiloh Commercial Spaceport

In 2012, the State of Florida requested 150 acres of NASA land located at the north end of the Kennedy Space Center, near Daytona. The site – known as “Shiloh,” which is largely unpopulated at this time, would be developed into a dedicated commercial spaceport. Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana communicated his support to the Federal Aviation Administration in April 2013 for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Study of the site. Today, the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation is working with the State of Florida to complete the Environmental Impact Study, which is anticipated to be complete by late 2015. Following the successful completion of that study, Space Florida will submit a formal application to the FAA for consideration of a Spaceport Operators License at the site.

I support the creation of a new launch facility on the current NASA campus where infrastructure already exists to respond to and manage the next inevitable “anomaly” when it occurs.

Continue to stay engaged on this issue and have your voice heard saying No Shiloh Launch Complex.  The MINWR needs to remain pristine and clean.

 

Failure Is Not An Option

In fly fishing, I believe that failure is not an institution we believe in.  At least not like most of the “normal” populace.

Who in the world would chase permit, for example, if they believed in failure?  Really, its a low percentage game of tides, winds, fly design, fly placement and fly movement; and thats before we even consider the fish as part of the equation.  I know plenty of people that have tried, yet have never hoisted a permit above the water for a quick photo before loosing it to have it swim away to fight another day.  I’m in that category.  Still yet, I have friends who have caught one, a year or two ago and they still pour money, time and frustration at the next one.  Surely this behavior supports the theory, failure is not an option.

For sure, there are plenty of species other than permit swimming in water, all across this globe, that are targeted by fly anglers that often serve up these micro defeats on a daily basis.

Turns out, its what we love.  How many times have you heard; “If catching them was easy, everyone would do it.”.

To a fly fisher the experience is paramount.  The preparation, from the rigging of gear, selection of a “spot” and other environmental considerations are a big part of it.  We study the angles.

Each experience we have on the water is a step forward to achieve a goal.  Once it is attained, we reset the board and begin again.  The reset can be triggered by capturing a fish or simply the lack of it.

Even when you’ve been wearing a skunk for weeks, it happens; you’ll still get up and get gear together and go tackle the day, in search of a little taste of victory.

I’m seeing that happen now with my son.  He’s a skateboarder.  He and his friends are cut from the same cloth that we are.  To them failure doesn’t exist either.  No matter the amount of pain, agony or otherwise, when they choose to skate an obstacle or learn a new trick, they are committed.  They will try over and over again, until they achieve the success they’re aiming for.

As I’ve been spending more and more time with them, going to a skatepark or pulling into a random alley so they can flagrantly skate a ledge behind some business in the shadow of a “No Skateboarding” sign, I’m inspired by their dedication to the principle – Failure Is Not An Option.

A couple of his friends have recently picked up a fly rod and started using it more and more to chase backyard bass and even redfish when they can hitch a ride on a skiff.  I know they’re well suited for it and hearing their outlandish stories confirms it.

Skaters are much like fly fishermen when it comes to documenting their adventures, if not even better.  Perhaps its generational, but their affinity for video is second to none and they’re good at it.

My son worked for a couple of months to amass  enough “footie” to put together this short video.

I can’t wait for him to get bitten by the fly fishing bug so I’ll have my very own “filmer” to chronicle our time on the water.

For now, I’ll wrap myself in the comfort of knowing that he has no fear of failure, actually he laughs in its face, and wait for him to join me on the skiff.

Talking It Out – Fly Fishing After Dark Podcast

If you haven’t taken the time to drop by the Fly Fishing After Dark Blog, please do, you’ll find some words along with links to our podcast.

We’re still not sure what we’re doing or trying to accomplish, but we are having a blast doing it.

Along the way we hope you’ll join us at your convenience to laugh along.

The second installment of our nonsense is available if you’re so inclined.  iTunes has it too if thats your thing.

 

Casting Call: Skiff Dogs – Dock Dogs – Fishing Dogs

We’ve had the benefit of pure joy gracing our lives for over a year and a half now in the form of an English Labrador Retriever we affectionately call, Cabo.

His namesake is none other than the infamous coastal town in Baja California Sur.

He’s a swag hound and as such, he took a shot at winning an awesome collar & leash combo from Wingo Belts on Instagram.  He just found out he’ll be cashing in and getting his very own redfish pattern leash and collar by being selected from their monthly give-away that just wrapped up in July.

Instagram: daily_dose_of_cabo
Instagram: daily_dose_of_cabo

 

If your best friend is half as cute as mine, get over to Instagram and check out Wingo Belts to get squared away on how to enter their monthly give away.

Check out their pawesome leashes here: Wingo Artisan Fish Skin Leashes

 

What Happens After Dark?

Fly Anglers are typically found outdoors when the sun is shining or about to be.

The exploits that happen before and after the sun makes its trek from east to west are the stuff that brings it full circle and creates the basis of the lifestyle.

You know you’ve shot beer out both nose holes at the campfire, thats what I’m talking about.  Unedited, raw and no volume button in sight.

You can find that fly fishing vibe here:  Fly Fishing After Dark

From stories being recount from a day on the water, to analysis of the latest fad sweeping Instagram, you’ll get a fresh new perspective that hasn’t seen the desk of an industry insider before the publish button is clicked.

 

Fly Fishing & Adventure Travel