Archive for December, 2008

Going solo

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Had a chance to sneak in a quick solo trip to a favorite bay this morning. A seriously low tide exposed many areas that are normally under water, forcing fish into narrow channels. I found two nice snook, scores of chunky speckled trout and a lone bluefish along channel edges, all of which were released in good shape. By mid-morning it was dead still and hot, and boat traffic had tripled…my cue to head for home. Alas, the quiet little bay I’ve fished for so long now sustains a crush of people at this time of year. Despite the mounting pressure, it still yields healthy fish…and moments of fragile beauty.


Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Slow day down south

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

Headed way down south below Chokoloskee on Saturday with MoJoe, hoping that a recent bout of warm weather would kick some life into chilly fishies. Alas, the tides were much weaker than anticipated, and we saw sparse action. (Note to self: focus on tides above all else). But no complaints here. The sky was a glorious blue, birds were about in great numbers, things warmed up nicely by mid-morning and – between laughs about rigging a weedless pickle – we managed to scare up a dozen snook or so on flies and small plugs in God’s Country. With friends freezing their keesters off up north, I’ll take a warm day among the mangroves and run.

Steel dreams

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008
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I’ve been lucky enough to chase a wide variety of fishies in other parts of the world. One of those targets was feisty steelhead in rivers and small streams up Canada way. And I learned, in short order, that these fish – basically big, mean-spirited rainbow trout – are bona fide bad-asses. This great video captures big steelies eagerly sipping dry flies (dry flies!) in a remote British Columbia river…which is sorta like watching elephants play fetch. Enjoy.

Fishing Tip: remove an imbedded hook

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008
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This unlucky soul was impaled by a ridiculously large treble hook, though the way he’s sloshing back the Maker’s Mark, he likely doesn’t care. I’m not posting this video for shock value – I’m adding it because the gentleman who gets the hook out does a good job using a technique that might prove very useful to one of our readers down the line. Press down on the hook shank, wrap heavy line around the bend of the hook, clear the path the dislodged hook will follow and give it a quick and forceful yank. Of course, barbless hooks aren’t just fish friendly – they also make this gut-churning process far less painful.

“What mistake do novice anglers make?”

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

Each month I field a question from a reader and answer it as best I can, focusing on those inquiries and responses that I believe will be of general benefit or interest. I recently received this email from Mark in Texas, who asks: “I’m just getting started in fishing shallow saltwater. What’s the biggest mistake you see novice anglers make?”

There are quite a few mistakes made by novice anglers – and I made most of them myself when I was getting started. The single biggest? Tough to choose, but I’d say the tendency to use tackle that’s too heavy for the job. I believe this stems from uninitiated anglers (many of them with freshwater pedigrees) assuming that saltwater species are bigger and tougher than their sweetwater counterparts, so it’s natural that beefy tackle should be used. While that logic holds up well when pursuing offshore species, heavy-duty rods and reels and big clunky lures make for short and inaccurate casts and loud presentations in the shallows. Saltwater game fish are nothing if not wary, so subtle, accurate and lifelike presentations are critical. And with so many well-crafted rods on the market and the advent of ultra-strong, super-thin braided line, subduing big saltwater fish on modest-sized tackle is not just possible, it’s preferable. Keep your line and tackle on the lighter side, and you’ll fool more fish and have far more fun catching them.

First snook on fly

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

I took the missus out last night on the skiff with the goal of her landing a snook on a fly rod. We ran to a little waterfront bar for a drink and a bite of fish, and afterward hit some dock lights in the bay. At this time of year snook stack up under the lights to warm up and pick off bait fish, and they can be relatively easy pickings. We used light 4 and 6-weight fly rods which allowed the smallish “snuke” to really show their stuff – in fact, we lost a couple to the pilings. Emphasis was on relaxing, not on numbers. She landed several – she has a natural feel for hooking and fighting fish – and the cool weather and star-filled sky will bring us back again soon.

Gooooooooooooooo Gators!

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

We do our best to stick to angling-related banter around here, but it’s not every day that our college team makes it to the championship game…for the second time in three years. The Gators outlasted Alabama in a classic ballgame to win the SEC crown and clinch a spot in the title game. Tebow has a good chance of winning a second Heisman trophy, and the defense is a talent-laden unit that matches up well against Bob Stoops’ offensive juggernaut. It’s great to be a Gator fan right about now. Go Gators…whip those Sooners!

Fishing Tip: keep your skiff tracking straight

Sunday, December 7th, 2008

When using a trolling motor or (especially) when poling a shallow-water skiff, trim up your main motor but leave the skeg in the water. By getting most of the motor’s lower unit above the waterline, you’ll greatly reduce drag, making the skiff much easier to push along. In addition, the skeg will act as a rudder, and will keep the boat tracking relatively straight.

Bad pants off Montauk

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

My buddy Pete sent me these pics of himself and a couple of friends tossing flies at stripers and blues off of Montauk. The images hearken back to trips past in which Pete and I braved the nasty Atlantic off of Chatham, Cape Cod. The rolling swells, the bass and blues thrashing on top, the picturesque dunes and lighthouses – they’re all still imprinted in the mind’s eye. Pete was fishing with Captain Paul “Koop” Koopmann (, whom I’m told is a good dude and capable guide. In fact, Paul says his name ends with two “n’s” because he’s “super nice.” Look him up if you plan on sampling the Long Island Sound fishery in CT, NY and RI. Anyhoo, very solid work by this crew. Oh, and Pete, the Fire Chief called. He wants his orange pants back.