Category Archives: Catch & Release

Skiff Dog Adventures

Lately; my English Lab, Cabo has been spending a good amount of time on the water.

As with most labs, he loves the water and often times finds the most inopportune time to quench his desire to get wet.  He’s a master at going total ham and plunging into the backyard lake when you need to be on the way out the door to an appointment in five minutes.

Over the Christmas and New Years holidays, Cabo spent a couple of weeks in Melbourne with Florida Fly Co. co-founder,  Ben Pickett.  While there he joined Ben on the water a lot and unlike when he was younger, seemed to be a bit better behaved / able to remain in the skiff.

I’m not sure whether Ben employed some “dog whisperer” charm on him or its simply that he has settled down now that he’s four years old.

Recently I had the opportunity to get out for an afternoon session on Mosquito Lagoon and figured it was time to see if he was ready to join me while I tried to fly fish.

We stopped on an island beach to get wet on my terms and in hopes that maybe Cabo would be more apt to chill out the rest of the day if he had just gone full tilt for a few minutes.

Our beach time was a blast.

Visit New Smyrna Fly Fishing Guide

Skiff Dog Mosquito Lagoon Charter

Once he started to slow down, I figured it was time to go look for a redfish.

Orlando Disney Fly Fishing Guide

A few minutes into the first flat, he was totally chilled out, simply posting up alongside me, content to watch the shoreline pass by as I hunted for a hungry fish.

Fly Fishing Space Coast

We spent the next couple of hours slowly poling over deserted flats, taking a few shots at the happier redfish we came across, even managing to feed one that was lost skiff -side when I bungled the landing.

Cabo still seemed proud of my effort, showing great interest in the fish as it spun and thrashed alongside the gunnel.

Occasionally, an osprey or pelican would attract his attention, but he remained calm and never left the boat, which was exactly what I was hoping for.

Mosquito Lagoon Fly Fishing

I believe that Cabo is going to be fishing a lot more in the future.  Maybe my solo trips are over for a while…

Guide’s Day Off: Tanner Severt – Fly Fishing Mosquito Lagoon

I’ve known Tanner for years.  He’s been in love with Mosquito Lagoon since before he was able to drive.  Years ago, his parents would drive him over to Oak Hill so that he could explore and fish the area from a Gheenoe.

There is no doubt he’s developed a vast knowledge of Mosquito Lagoon in that time, but what strikes me most about Tanner, is that he is always seeing more.

The last time we spent time on the water together was around Thanksgiving and as always, we had a great time and shared in the joy of giving a few redfish a quick ride in the skiff.

When planning to fish this time, our expectations for good weather was high.

Unfortunately, as is often the case, the weather guessers got it wrong.

The calm winds and clear skies we were expecting were actually a fresh breeze from the NNW coupled with thick clouds.

The first area we chose to fish had decent water clarity and a bit of visibility tight along the shoreline.  As we poled along we spent time catching up on the latest happenings.  Its times like these that I cherish the most about a day on the water with a good friend.  Life’s normal distractions fade to the background and the topics of the moment are of our choosing.  They are typically something fun, upbeat and positive.

A redfish appeared along the shoreline, hovering along, over the sand  as it silently searched for its morning meal.  Tanner was the first to see it  and with a calm and deliberate clock position and distance had me focused on the prize.  My first cast landed precisely where it should to set up a crossing pattern between fish and fly, but while in mid flight, the redfish’s attention had been peaked by something else and after it had turned to inspect the distraction, it had reversed course,

Before being able to adjust to the change, the distance between the fish and the skiff had shrunk to inside of 30 feet.

Sadly, my accuracy at that range was horrible and the open loopy cast I attempted smacked the redfish right on the head and it was over.

Shortly after that failed attempt, we made a decision to try another area in hopes of changing our luck.  One redfish per mile of shoreline wasn’t really cutting it…

Despite the fresh breeze, we elected to fish open water over a well known bar to take advantage of better water clarity.

Tanner had hopped up front to give it a go and off we went.

The overcast skies were beginning to break up a bit and blue sky was peeking through at times.  As one of the breaks in cloud cover streamed past, the sunlight illuminated the light sandy bottom as if stadium lights had been turned on.  It was all we needed to expose a lone redfish that was swimming parallel to the skiff 45 feet away.

Tanner let fly a back cast as soon as the fish was seen and a couple of twitches of the fly were met with a flaring of gills that signaled success.

As I staked-off the skiff, we saw flyline turn to backing as the fish tried to make the county line in an effort to escape.

It didn’t.

mosquito lagoon fly fishing guide

We spent the next hour or two meandering to the south exploring a large flat where we saw several tailing fish, but I was unable to coax any of them to eat my crabby offering.

Eventually, I relented and offered Tanner the bow again and resumed the role of pushing.

What was once a cloud covered sky had morphed into a nearly cloudless sky and the brightly lit result had given us hope for even more opportunity.

We transitioned back to shorelines and eventually found another unsuspecting redfish that became our focus.

Tanner worked through a couple of presentations and soon was tight again.

The entire stalk and resulting hook-up was accomplished with a simple low whistle and nod, as I was on the phone with a client when the fish appeared.

I wrapped up the call just in time to hop down and snap a couple of pictures to memorialize the event.

space coast fly fishing guide redfish mosquito lagoon

We wrapped up our day on the water a little while later and headed back in.

I’m always thankful to have spent time on the water with Tanner, he’s one of the nicest folks you’ll ever meet.

If you’re ever looking for a capable guided to lead you to a successful day on Mosquito Lagoon, you’ll do yourself a favor booking him for the trip.

 

– 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 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!

 

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.

 

IFTD 2015 – Playing Hookie on Day 3

After spending two days at the Flood Tide Company booth, I ducked out to film a little with Catch 1 Films on the home water; Mosquito Lagoon.

ONE: mosquito lagoon

Its always great to spend time on the water with friends.  Being able to relive the moments in film is priceless.

 

 

 

 

 

Lifestyle

When I hear people talk of fly fishing as a sport, I silently disagree and hope that they might someday evolve and recognize it in its purest form, a lifestyle.

While it may seem off-putting or elitist to say, its truly how I feel.  To me, its more than reaching for a different piece of equipment when I’m fishing.  Fly fishing is what bends my perception of this planet.  You know, the one that sports a surface made up primarily of water.  I see through that lens  when I view my day, week or future years.  When I talk with friends, it is always there, even if just below the surface.

Fly fishing wasn’t always that for me, but it has been now for so long, I have a hard time remembering it any other way.

As a kid, I travelled a lot on summer breaks from school.  Camping our way from Memorial Day to Labor Day, my family and I have explored all over the United States and Canada.  My memories from those adventures are cherished, yet more recent travels spurred by fly fishing have meant more to me.

The reason for the enhanced quality of the fly fishing travel is certainly due to the bonds that were made and kept with fellow anglers that accompanied me.

There  have been many fish caught and released along the way, yet its the camaraderie that my memory keeps vivid.

Sports have seasons, competition and champions.  The fly fishing lifestyle I’ve grown to love has none.

When I see companies that recognize that lifestyle matters more than SPF factor and how waterproof a bag might be, I’m more inclined to spend my money with them.

Howler Brothers is one such company.  If you don’t get the sense that these guys are living a lifestyle, you may not have a pulse or have given up on life.

Fly Fishing is calling, will you Heed the Call?

Howler Brothers