Monthly Archives: September 2013

Key West Dredging

Big showdown in Key West as voters will decide whether to widen the Key West harbor. Conservationists and many anglers disagree. Altering the channel, they say, will hurt the flats fishing, particularly tarpon, who use the water as a migratory route.
Key West Vote

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Filed under Conservation

Only in San Francisco

An outdoors writer busted for pot sues a blogger, who actually had the gall to write that said outdoors writer was arrested. At the center of the legal battle is Tom Chandler of Trout Underground. On the other side Tom Stienstra of the San Francisco Chronicle, who filed a defamation suit in small claims court for $10,000.
The dispute seems rather petty. What’s startling is that the Chronicle apparently has not disciplined Stienstra. I was in the newspaper business for nearly 30 years. I remember folks were shown the door for much less.
I have no idea what Stienstra’s motivation is. Chandler reported the arrest just as a number of other media outlets did. My guess is he’s irked that Chandler took a few jabs here and there. Apparently Stienstra felt he deserved more respect. Who knows?
Trout Underground goes to court

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Filed under Entertainment, Misc.

Phone Issues

Apologies to anyone who follows this blog. I had a few phone issues that created a bit of a crisis last week. Long story short, I wade fished Picnic Island flats. Used a backpack to store the phone and car keys. I didn’t use any sort of case or protection for the I-Phone. Figured I would wade shallow enough that as long everything was in the backpack, I’d be fine.
Wrong.
Of course, I started out skinny and fished knee-deep water. But the reds are deeper, at least in this part of the Bay, where the water is a tad warm because we’re still in a summer pattern. So I forged a little deeper, maybe up to my thighs. Big mistake. Water seeped into the bottom of my backpack.
I didn’t realize it until after I got done and was unpacking at home. My wallet was damp, but I didn’t think anything of it — until I tried to turn on my cell phone. That’s when I knew I had problems.
Got on the internet and looked for info on how to combat water damage with an I-Phone. The best solution by far is Damp Rid, a powder that removes moisture.
In the meantime, I sucked my pride and went to the Verizon store and picked up a cheap flip phone while I tried to rescue my beloved I-Phone. After nearly four days in Damp Rid, I took the I-Phone to a local cell phone repair place, which said it could give me an evaluation in 10-12 minutes. As the time passed, I started to calculate the cost of bad news. $300, $400 or more. So much for a new fly rod or reel. And how long could I use a Flip phone? Turns out, the news was better than I thought: 170 bucks for a cleaning. All in all, not bad. Could have been worse, much worse, given saltwater’s power to corrode.
Moral of the story: If I wade, I’ll use a zip-lock bag in the backpack or leave the I-Phone in the car. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Remember these?

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Filed under Education, Misc.

Redfish in the Bay

I met Jon Brett (FishBuzz TV) at the Florida Sportsman Show last weekend. We talked fishing, sight fishing in particular, for more than a half an hour. Jon shows how it’s done in this video.
Sight fishing reds

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Filed under Education, Fly fishing

Florida Sportsman Show

Dropped by the Florida Sportsman show in Riverview and met some nice folks — Tampa guide Jim Lemke as well as Jon Brett and Brett Fitzgerald from the Snook and Gamefish Foundation. Jim gave a seminar on sight fishing for Bull Reds. Very informative. Afterwards, we talked about sight fishing in Tampa and how to approach each season. I’ve always thought summer was the toughest time to sight fish simply because of the higher morning tides and the warmer water. He agreed. Increasing fishing pressure is a factor as well. Right now, I’m focusing on fishing in South Tampa close to my house. Jim says the problem now is the water’s too warm for the reds to consistently move on to the shallowest parts of the flats. Bottom line: They’re staying deeper in the cooler water, which makes sight fishing a bit problematic. We’re both waiting for the first cold front to cool things off.
Below is a photo of Jim at the seminar. Apologies for the quality. The lighting wasn’t real good and I was using an I-Phone, which limits distance.

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Filed under Education, Fly fishing

Giving Credit

Forgot to post this a while ago. The omission is glaring. A few months ago, I did a story for The Drake on Spencer Goodwin. Not sure if I ever posted it or not. It was a neat storyline, and Spencer has served as a wealth of information when it comes to sight fishing reds in Tampa Bay. I wouldn’t have made as many strides in my angling quest without him. He is truly gifted.

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Filed under Education, Entertainment, Fly fishing, Misc.

High Tide Morning

Fished high tide at Legion Flats in South Tampa. Hit the water before sunrise and worked the oyster bars for about three hours before calling it quits. The mullet were active, but there was too much water to effectively sight fish. In another month or so the tides will dip a bit lower and the water should clear, which will help. Even though the morning wasn’t productive fishing wise, strategically, it was helpful, because I now have a better idea of fish movement on this particularly flat in relation to water depth.

Sunrise at Legion flats
A heron checks out the view.

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Filed under Education, Fly fishing

A Look at Boca Grande


 My story for The Drake on jigging in Boca Grande. A condensed version ran on the website.
After months of discussion and debate, bickering and banter, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission delivered a firm message: No more jigging in Boca Grande Pass.
Last week, the FWC voted 7-0 to ban bottom-weighted jigs. The new rule, which goes into effect Nov. 1, was celebrated by a handful of conservation groups following the Sept. 5 meeting in Pensacola, Fla.
“There’s not going to be a huge impact from this one ruling,” Save the Tarpon spokesman Tom McLaughlin said. “It is kind of groundbreaking for the FWC. It paves the way for more appropriate management of the tarpon fishery with a focus on pressure that comes not just from attempting to catch the fish, but how we attempt to catch the fish.”
Last week’s ruling provided closure to an issue that has divided Boca Grande residents and those who visit the water referred to as the tarpon capital of the world.
“The actions taken today by the commission represent a historic move to further protect this iconic fish,” FWC Commissioner Kenneth Wright said in a statement. “One day, there will be a chapter on these conservation measures in a book on proactive fishery protection.”
Conservationists hope that the no-snagging rule will allow tarpon to resume their pre-spawn ritual, which may have been in disrupted by jigging and excessive pressure on the popular fish.
“During the last 10 years the Boca Grande jig became popular and extensively used, the behavior of the tarpon in the Boca Grande/Charlotte Harbor area definitely changed,” said Aaron Adams, director of operations for Bonefish & Tarpon Trust. “Fishing, more importantly catching, wasn’t as good with each passing year. The thought was the way the jig was fished vertically and using fish finders to stay over the fish didn’t really give them any down time and that affects their behavior.”
Still unclear is the fate of the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series, which has held its big-money event in Boca Grande the past 10 seasons. Many of the PTTS competitors use weighted jigs to hook tarpon, but since the FWC has implemented gear restrictions and re-defined snagging, will the PTTS continue? Apparently so.
PTTS spokesman Joe Mercurio said tournament anglers will merely adapt their rules to conform to state guidelines.
“Our 2014 schedule is set, and our events and (the PTTS) television show will continue,” Mercurio wrote in an email. “In anticipation that the rule would be passed, many of our world-class anglers began developing new lures and techniques that would be effective vertical presentation baits. Many have created new designs.  Others have used current lures and techniques such as butterfly jigs, traditional jigs, drop-shot rigs, and carolina rigged soft plastics. All have proven to be effective. I’m confident as time passes and we enter next year’s season more designs will be unveiled.”
Mercurio disagrees with the FWC’s decision and believes “political positioning” and “propaganda” dictated its thinking, not scientific proof.
“This regulation will do little to solve the user-group conflict that exists in Boca Grande and even less to preserve tarpon,” Mercurio said. “It is a widely held belief the greatest impact on the sustainability of tarpon has little or nothing to do with fishing methods and rather hinges on water quality and stemming the further loss of habitat.
The no-jig rule is the second tarpon ruling the FWC has implemented since last spring.  In April, the FWC proposed that tarpon be catch and release, eliminating all harvest except in pursuit of an IGFA world record. The proposal was formally approved in June, the first of several recent victories for BTT and its supporters.
“It’s definitely been an improvement in conservation,” Adams said. “Even though they’re primarily catch-and-release species, there are impacts that we as anglers can have on them. As long as we address those impacts, we should have a healthy fishery for quite some time.”

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Filed under Conservation, Education

Remembering One of the Best

Legendary Keys guide George Hommell, Jr. passed away. Here’s a tribute to the angler, who fished with Ted Williams and guided presidents.
Obit

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Filed under Education, Misc.

Close To Home

I’ve made a change to my strategy to streamline my quest for sight fishing redfish. No more Caladesi Island. No more Fort Desoto. No more traveling an hour for the best turtle grass and tides.
I’m staying close to home. Legion Flats and Picnic Island are less than 20 minutes from my house. It makes sense that I fish those places. And if I want to cross the Gandy Bridge, Weedon Island is just about as close as Picnic or Legion. After fishing consistently for the past year and a half or so, I’ve realized one thing: Find water close by, and you’ll get out more and if you get out more,  you’ll become a better fishermen, because you’ll eventually pattern the fish — where they move and why. And you can’t do that in the car.
Put it this way: If I got to Caladesi, it’s an hour drive (each way) and a 30-minute paddle. That means I’ve invested three hours driving or paddling without so much as a roll cast. Trips to Picnic and Legion involve far less time in the car, which means more time on the water. And time on the water is what matters. I don’t care how good the habitat is.
I hit Legion hard Saturday and Sunday. The first day I fished the last of the outgoing in the early a.m. The second day, I hit the incoming in the early afternoon. All told, I put in roughly 7, 8 hours on the water. My conclusion: It’s still to damn hot and because of that, the fish are holding deeper. Can you catch them with a fly rod? Yes. Is it ideal? No.
For a few more weeks, it’s a early morning/late afternoon gig. The windows for sight fishin’ success are tight, maybe an hour or so. Schedule accordingly.

One of my favorite early-morning oyster bars at Legion.
Birds get ready for breakfast.

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Filed under Education, Fly fishing