Category Archives: Stories

Flying Below The Radar

For a couple of years, I would get a call from time to time to fly right seat over to the Bahamas with a good friend who was working in South Florida as a charter pilot.

We would take folks over for the day and while they did whatever they were there to do, we would harass the local bonefish on the “airport flat”.

Getting there and back was also a lot of fun.

Get out there and seek adventure, even if its just for a day, or a few hours!

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 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 

 

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.

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.