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Take It Easy & Cast Better

When you’re alone on the dance floor its not uncommon to feel a bit self-conscious and imagine the spotlight shining down on you exposing all of your flaws.

Performance anxiety can ruin the moment if you let it. To date, there is no little blue pill that you can take before you head out the door to ensure you’ll be ready when that sexy [insert species] shows up looking to tussle.

Many times I’ve stood on the poling platform methodically pushing across a flat and I’ve quietly admired the smooth tight loops being formed by the angler up front who has lofted the fly for a momentary break from the monotony of the stalk.

That admiration quickly erodes as their cast crumbles when a fish appears, ready to be fed fur and feathers.

These failures are more often than not simply a by product of rushing and loosing focus on the casting stroke.

I’ve adopted a new policy for my skiff that focuses on providing positive feedback on those perfect, yet lonely false casts that will never find a target. I ALWAYS make sure to point out the results of the relaxed cast. Its beauty, grace and distance are all noted. Its followed by the reminder: Keep that cast, and take it easy when the fish shows up. Time is on our side. Don’t rush it, take it easy.

I’m no original thinker, so don’t take my word for it, listen to Andros South’s very own raconteur:

If you need to, hum the lyrics from this Eagles tune to yourself:

Lighten up while you still can
don’t even try to understand
Just find a place to make your stand
and take it easy…

Flood Tide – Mosquito Lagoon Edition

The lunar influence on the tides around Mosquito Lagoon are measurable, but unlike the tides of the spartina flats to the north it is a sustained level that impacts the estuary more so than the periodic incoming and outgoing tide cycle.

Fishing the flooded spartina in St. Augustine and Jacksonville is no doubt a worthwhile experience, but there are “flood” opportunities in Mosquito Lagoon. One of the most readily accessible of these atypical high water season fishing areas is manmade.

Over past decades the quest for control of salt marsh mosquitoes lead to the digging of many ditches across the entire lagoon to reduce breeding habitat. More recently, there has been an ongoing effort to remove the unintended consequence of this work, artificial upland areas created by piling spoil adjacent to the cuts.

Use Google Maps to locate remediated ditch lines where water is now allowed to sheet along the marsh and on high tides you will find redfish meandering along in the mangrove shoots looking for an unsuspecting crab or mosquito fish.

A Differing Approach

Tailing redfish are extremely fun to target when sight fishing. Depending on the type of bottom they are feeding over, they can also be frustrating beyond belief to feed successfully.

One of the reasons for it in thick grass is the fact that their vision is impaired by the grass itself.

The next time you’re experiencing apparent refusals, keep in mind it may simply be that the fly is not being seen.

Switching to a top water fly may be contrary to conventional wisdom, but it works.

Cast a foot or two ahead of the direction the fish is feeding and wait for it to move. A couple of subtle strips is usually all it takes to get their immediate attention and you find yourself clearing line and getting on the reel.

The fall lunar cycle is piling water up inshore, now more than ever, you might consider this different approach to tailers. It could spell the difference between success and failure.

Slow Down & Pole

I’m astonished nearly ever time I spend time on the water in Mosquito Lagoon at the pace other anglers move through an area. Their arrival under power to a flat disrupts the natural flow of its inhabitants and rarely do they stick around long enough to see the true personality of the place before firing up the outboard and departing for the next stop on the milk run.

I’m certainly not complaining, this frenetic pace often leaves the best areas I frequent a veritable ghost town. The less human impact on the areas the better for my experience.

I was sitting at the end of a long dock alongside the intracoastal waterway a few weeks ago waiting on friend to arrive in his skiff when I had the chance to talk to a neighbor who was lamenting on his lack of success on the water. He was frustrated and seemed surprised when I said that there were lots of redfish in the areas he was getting skunked. As we talked more it became apparent to me that he was taking a random run and gun approach to his fishing and the lack of success was self imposed.


I’m no expert, but I do spend a good bit of time on the water, so I shared with him what I felt were keys to my success.

1. Fish only three places that are in close proximity until you are confident that you understand when they are productive and why and have the track record to prove it.

2. Become intimate with the area, pole it, go slow and learn the nooks and crannies and what you should expect to find on low or high water. Dedicate time to simply sit back and observe, leave the rods stowed and observe the fish and their movements without pressure.

3. Write it down. Make note of conditions and what you found worked in those situations. I often refer to data from years past when I want a change of venue. I’m always surprised at how well I do when I go somewhere based on past notes vs. flying by the seat of my pants and hoping.

Time on the water is meant to be enjoyed. Slow down your roll and soak it all in, just don’t soak bait.

Nomadic Drum

The Kennedy Space Center occupies only a small part of NASA’s property along the Space Coast in East Central Florida.  Much of the land is also managed as a National Seashore and Wildlife Refuge.  There are areas of the Mosquito Lagoon estuary that are widely considered the oldest marine preserve in the nation due to having been included within the security buffer zone that has protected America’s space program for decades.

A unique by product of the space mission has been the opportunity to study relatively unchanged habitat that rarely sees influence from man made craft or pressure.  The results of one of the programs, a tagging study, was recently included in an article in Spaceport Magazine , a NASA publication.

Take a look at the article on pages 32 – 35  in the June 2014 Volume 1 No. 3 issue by clicking here.


Clock Management

The reflection of sunlight glimmers like a star on the evening horizon as a tail rises above the surface, distributing the light in a beacon like flash.  Roseate spoonbills and wood storks line the shoreline in search of a piscatorial breakfast.  As you glide towards the point where the tail has disappeared beneath the surface, not so much as a breeze stirs the heavy moist morning air.

The anticipation of seeing that tail emerge again is building.  Your focus is laser-like as you try to discern even the slightest ripple or wake that might alert you to the redfish that is starting to seem like it vanished completely.

The scenario plays out several more times over the next hour while the storks and spoonbills have all but stood still, save the occasional movement that was required to capture a crustacean or fish at its feet.

By now, the sun has climbed a bit higher and the sight lines into the water have grown longer.  The occasional sign of a fish still appears, but its merely a tease, as they continue to cruise silently back into oblivion, blending into the mottled bottom.

Rather than succumbing to the urge to leave these redfish behind in search of “happier” fish, a better option is to simply put time on your side.

The birds along the shore are masters of time and use it wisely to ensure they remain well fed each and every day.  Emulating their tactics can lead to success where before it had remained elusive.

Sight fishing is often referred to as being akin to hunting .  Most often it is a spot and stalk game, but occasionally still hunting will deliver the best results.

When the fish are playing hide and go seek, hunker down and put time on your side.  They’ll eventually make the mistake of showing themselves within your range.  Then, just like our feathered friends have learned, they’ll be easy pickings.



That Guy Can Cast

You’ve been there and seen it with your own eyes, That Guy, the one who saunters out to the casting pond at the fly fishing show in full on “tactical”  gear and starts sending a little piece of yarn down range at distances over 60 – 70 feet.  Its impressive, he thinks and if you remain engaged and don’t avert your eyes away from his greatness you’ll see him survey the fringes looking for approval.

That Guy is the last dude I want on the dance floor on the pointy end of my skiff.  If I’m going to expend energy poling around the flats in search of fish to target, I want someone who’s capable and fishy, not That Guy.

I’m sure That Guy has the best intentions and wants to catch fish, but the mentality that accompanies the and enables the public display of casting hero isn’t a good fit in the real world.  Perhaps I’m being too quick to judge, but based on my experience its nearly always true.

distance casting flyfishing hero
Fly Casting Ain’t Fly Fishing

My experience on the water has taught me that the unexpected close range shot is more likely the one that results in feeding a fish than the 60+ foot cast.

The wind and short window of opportunity that exists in the real world makes that longer shot, a long shot.

Angles change quickly in the salt world and with more line out, the less likely an angler is going to be successful in picking up from a bad cast to adjust to a fish’s movement.  Angles are very important.  Its  called angling and on a shallow saltwater flat, its a killer.

When a fly makes an unnatural move towards the would be hunter, the reaction is abrupt and typically unforgiving.  Opportunities are lost in the blink of an eye.

The sheltered and static calm of the casting pond is a thing of the past when a fish and the skiff is moving as well as the nearly ever-present breeze.

Don’t be That Guy. Stay frosty and study the angles, make a decision and cast.  You’ll have about a second to do it.

The next time you’re at a show, enjoy time with the guys that avoid the pond, you’ll likely be rubbing elbows with the fishiest dudes there.


Humble Pie & An Eye To The Sky

As Spring Break drew to a close, time on the water increased and a great friend and kindred spirit from Texas joined me for a day on Mosquito Lagoon in hopes of feeding a few redfish some buck tail and feathers.  The full moon was ever present in the back of my mind as we struggled the first half of the day, literally watching fish swim past well presented flies without the first hint of interest in them.  It wasn’t a matter of fly choice or tactics in getting them to eat, it was just the funky psyche of the locals that had us resigned to laughing at the snubs one after another.  One fly literally passed over the fish’s nose and brushed across his eye without so much as a flinch.

The days that followed saw a bit more of an agreeable personality emerge in the fish, perhaps due to the lunar phase moving further past the full moon.

Despite the improved attitude being offered, a handful of feeds resulted in no fish to hand as missed hook sets pushed their way to the forefront, stymieing the goal of giving short skiff rides to a select few reds.

You know its getting hopeless when you feed a fish twice, only to pull the fly from the jaws of success both times.

Its times like these where you chuckle at the notion of bonefish being spooky devils.  Bones are a joy.  Pure unadulterated bliss.

In just over a month and a half my next DIY bonefish adventure will go wheels up.  In the meantime, I’ll keep shoveling more humble pie into my beer hole.


The last time we were dropping dimes:



Break Time

Spring Break, synonymous with time at the beach…

That time has arrived, but first a little bit of time has to be spent at the ballpark checking up on my favorite springtime caster.  Baseball is in full swing in the Citrus League, which can only mean one thing – the west coast will see some silver soon.

Its already starting to happen in the Keys, so its now just a matter of time and a few more warm days away.

For now, its dogs at the ballpark…