Tag Archives: catch and release

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

One Love – Learn To Cast Easy

It would be a difficult task to find a more personable and entertaining guide in the Bahamas than Tory Bevins.

Aside from his casting prowess, he’s a Raconteur of the first order.

If you find yourself on South Andros, look him up.  He works at Andros South.  If you’re fishing DIY or at another lodge, you can find him after quitting time at the small bar by Little Creek or up island at the Rust Barge.

His casting style is simple to understand and works incredibly well.  Take a few minutes to get in the groove and you’ll be slinging string like a pro.

Christmas Cheer, A Redfish & Beer

As jolly St. Nick prepares his sleigh and team of tiny reindeer, my thoughts move to the weather.  Just like Santa, I too plan to be active on Christmas Eve.  Now going on nine years, my tradition of spending the day outdoors on the water looks to be a tough one.

The forecast is filled with a stiff breeze and showers, but my hopes are not dashed.  I’ll be out there despite the weather.  Its going to be my last salty outing of the year, and I’m not about to pass just because its a little less than ideal in the weather department.

My Christmas Eve tradition is a day of reflection on the year past, its successes and failures (plenty of those), as well as a time to look forward to the coming year and what it might bring.

The cleansing I receive at the hands of the great outdoors and its beauty is why I fly fish, it is who I’ve become.  Just like the gifts brought by three wise men, the water delivers me a bounty that is hard to measure.

Less than a week ago, I spent the afternoon with my young son, chasing redfish in small creeks and ponds hoping to sow the same seed in him that my father nurtured in me.

On Christmas Eve I’ll be thankful for all that I’ve been able to do in the year past and look forward to more good times that will surely come.

 

Its More Than A Feeling

“Then we got into a labyrinth, and, when we thought we were at the end,
came out again at the beginning, having still to see as much as ever.” 
― Plato

 

I try to take something away from every outing on the water.  A little moment or big, it doesn’t matter; just a piece of the puzzle that fits into the ever sprawling mosaic of experience that builds my bigger picture of fly fishing.

As the sun sank to my west, I stood in the cockpit of my skiff and chased it towards the horizon.  Lying before me was the gear I had needed to be self reliant for a couple of nights in Everglades National Park.

salt bum fly fishing expedition
At peace running through Florida Bay.

The feeling I had was one of achievement.  I had arrived with a few goals in mind and I had checked them off the list along with a couple more that were simply icing on the cake.

The trip was made in the company of a great friend and fellow fly angler.

The great feelings aside, we learned a lot and more importantly, nourished the desire to return and build upon it.

Capture A Memory – Summon Your Inner Photographer

Every fish that comes aboard my skiff  or comes to hand doesn’t get its mugshot taken, but when it happens, the subject most likely swims away muttering unspeakable things about the paparazzi.

I’m a catch and release angler at heart, so photos are the hallmark of my experience.  My number one maxim: The most memorable  fish is the one you release.

I really focus on the fish when capturing images to document my time on the water.  Sure, I include human subjects at times, but for the most part the focus is on the prize.

I’ve been taking pictures for decades.  I used to burn lots of images on film back when 35 mm was king.  I sent rolls upon rolls away to a mail order processor in hopes of seeing an image that was worthy of a matte and frame.

Digital changed that.  What it didn’t change was the basics of photography.

My father has thousands upon thousands of 35 mm slides from travels across the world, his understanding of photography was from experience as well as formal training and I was lucky enough to have him as a coach and mentor.

His guidance built my photographic foundation and shaped how I view the world and subjects through a lens.

The Gallery above is just a random selection from a photo dump from my iPhone.  It demonstrates a couple of the principles that I believe could be helpful in improving your photography skills.

Composition is King

When you frame an image, pull the subject in closer.  The idea of everything in view is often the enemy of a great image.  Just like having a clear focus, the composition of the entire image is better tight.  Have a subject and commit to it.  Put the subject in view, not just in the center, but make it dominate the frame.

More is Better

Don’t get hung up on the composition so much so that you miss the shot, you can fine tune it later with a small amount of editing.  Pull in the image and start firing.  I hammer down the shutter and get a handful of images.  Its within the affray where I find the gems.  Action begets success.

Sort it Out

Take a few moments when you get off the water to do a cursory, quick edit to discard the horrible and unusable, but be careful not to be quick to discard.  Soft or slightly out of focus can often be fixed with editing and a detail within an otherwise uninteresting image may be mined out with cropping.  After the initial weeding, walk away.  When you come back to the images later, you’ll likely see them with a more creative eye.

Get To Know Your Camera

I shoot a lot with the camera on my phone simply because its there and easily accessible.  I have a whole stable of Nikons ranging from DSLR to a basic AA battery powered point and shoot model I take on expeditions where charging batteries will be difficult.  Each camera gives differing results and I know like reflex how the shot needs to look on the LCD screen to be ideal for usefulness.  I only got to that point by experience with each camera.  Experience came at the expense of a lot of crappy images.  Now that I know them well, its become very easy and quick to compose images and capture them.  A bump to get depth of field and I’m ready to roll.

Lastly, but most importantly, keep our friend’s health in mind when setting up shots.  In the water, breathing, until the moment you’re ready to pull the trigger and capture your best fish.

Restraint

Its on.  There is plenty of social media chatter regarding the onslaught of shoreline cruisers along the Space Coast.  The buzz is confirmed, get out there.  Light flies, natural colors; you’re welcome.

 

I’ve been putting in a good bit of time plying the Mosquito Lagoon over the past couple of weeks.  When the opportunity presented, I took a few moments to simply enjoy the view.

 

 

On one of those recent afternoons I had the pleasure of spending part of my day with T.J. Saunders doing work from the front of the skiff.  If you ever find yourself visiting Tampa and need a guide, look him up:

Lucky Fly Charters

He is a masterful fly tier, if you need some tasty crustaceans or baitfish patterns, he’s your man.

Bahamas Style: Redfish On Fly

Until this week, I’ve always thought there was only one place to go to enjoy wading for redfish in a place that evokes the feeling of bonefishing a Bahamas flat.  A few years ago it was the Lower Laguna Madre of Southwest Texas where I had experienced it for the first time.

The Gulf Islands National Seashore is also just such a place.  Recently I spent the better part of 3.5 hours walking the shoreline there looking for redfish in gin clear water over hard sand bottom.  The set-up is identical to what you normally see reserved for bonefish.  My timing was off, I was there on an extremely high tide, so I passed on wading and remained on the narrow ribbon of beach along the water’s edge.  Nonetheless, I saw a handful of redfish, all solitary hunters, that were plying the same shoreline.  This time they were a bit too wary of my offerings and all of the shots I took ended without a hook-up, despite a couple of promising follows.

There are literally miles of flats available.  Hard sand bottom with sparse sea grasses stretch on from horizon to horizon.

The idea of spending time on the Redneck Riviera has grown in appeal by significant digits.

For now, I’ll carry the panhandle skunk back home with me, but rest assured, I’ll return again with a sharper plan and better timing.  I love bonefishing, I love it even more when the expected gray ghost is actually a copper rocket.