Category Archives: Lifestyle

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!

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Environment: Easy Little Things That Make A Big Difference

The overwhelming push on environmental issues that are far from clear like anthropologic climate change on social media sometimes results in easily understood and non controversial  ones to be overlooked.  For instance, water quality in our communities’ waterways has declined over the past decades, yet not a lot of people are aware of the issue and how easily they can change their behavior to improve it.

Whether inland or along the coast in Florida, decades of fertilization of yards has resulted in lush landscapes around most neighborhoods.  The unintended consequence is run-off of excess fertilizer into adjacent streams, ponds, lakes and rivers.  The resulting nutrient load in the water results in algae blooms and uncontrolled growth of various submerged and emergent grasses and plants.  In the worst of cases, oxygen levels plummet and living creatures throughout the water column die.

Even cutting grass and allowing it to get washed into storm water sewers has the same effect, as the clippings contain high amounts of nutrients that are easily released into the water, upsetting the natural balance.

In order to combat these problems, many communities have asked their residents to suspend fertilizer application through the rainy season, June – December.  Doing so will help to prevent the run-off from thunderstorms being so easily loaded with excess nutrients.

In addition, several counties and municipalities  are using placards and public information campaigns to educate the population on how to avoid sending clippings downstream into bodies of water by simply being mindful of where your mower sheds clippings.  Don’t blow them into the street, send them back across the yard where they can degrade and release the nutrients into the lawn, where you want them anyway.

Simple problems and simple solutions are easy to understand.  They don’t contain hidden agendas or the creation of “credits” made out of a nebulous idea that go to an equally mysterious bank.

If your neighborhood lacks a similar program, get involved and get one started.  The cost is low and the benefit to the environment is real.

Check out how its being done along the Indian River Lagoon in Brevard County, Florida.  Its a great example of how little ideas can have a big impact.

 

Salt Bum Environmental Issues
Protect Local Waterways
Salt Bum Environmental Issues
Mark Drains For Awareness

Old # 33 – A Term of Endearment

I searched for months for the skiff I have now owned for the past 9 years.  After missing a couple of similar models, I finally got the jump on everyone and got the first look at my 1998 Hells Bay Whipray – “Mosquito Lagoon” Edition, (the 33rd hull built) when my son was less than a day old.  I left the hospital a day later to see it for the first time.  I wrote a check that afternoon, knowing I had found my saltwater soulmate.

The near decade we’ve spent together has been epic.  She’s taken me on lots of adventures across the Sunshine State.

There is something special about that old skiff.  Today, I watched Flip Pallot opine, in the way only he can, the History of Hells Bay Boatworks.  It was fantastic.

In addition to hearing his thoughts on the journey that lead to the revolutionary skiffs we love, I’ve talked a lot with Chris Morejohn, the architect behind the design.  Having him remember my skiff and sharing details of its history was fulfilling and deepened my bond with it further.

A lot of people say there is no “perfect” skiff.  They’ve never been on mine.