Played tennis Sunday over at Davis Islands. Thought I had a good spot pinpointed for snook and baby tarpon at the local marina. The plan was to scout around Monday and make a cast or two before coming back with the Native Ultimate. The first part of that plan went well. I scouted, found fish (plenty of snook), but discovered that the marina was off limits to fishing on foot.
Of course, I could have seen this warning earlier, but the no-fishing warnings were painted on the sidewalk that circles the area. Whatever happened to the good ole square signage with a stake in the ground and a square piece of plywood? Guess that would be too obtrusive for the genteel residents of Davis Islands.
I scouted a couple places to launch near the airport. It’s pretty good access and safe, but my gut feeling is that the DI area is a winter fishery. I’m not absolutely sure about that, but the geographic position on the Bay gives me pause.
The key to summer sight fishing is wind direction. The best bets are snook and tarpon off the beach. West winds muck everything up and that’s why everything’s been out of balance of late. The winds generally blow from the east in the summer. Hopefully, the stars align and the weather patterns return to normal — soon.
Not good news.
Davis Islands Marina.
A snook saved the day early on yesterday with Logan Valeri and his father, Rick. Headed back out this afternoon to a different spot where I hope to run into a tailing redfish or two.
A Tampa Bay snook.
Procrastinated part of the day away recently, but I did manage a flurry of productivity when I reached out to Terry Gibson, a Facebook friend of mine and a former editor at Florida Sportsman. Terry and I have several mutual friends, including Terry Tomalin of the Tampa Bay Times and Brett Fitzgerald of the Snook Foundation.
But enough rambling: Terry is senior editor of Fly& Light Tackle Angler, a fabulous digital, interactive magazine that offers great photography, writing and insight. In the world web-based journalism drivel, one of those attributes is rare. FLTA offers all three. Check it out.
Russ with a tarpon
Interviewed Russ Caipen for my second book, Friends Forever, which is a series of profiles of folks I’ve met while fly fishing. I met Russ when I first moved to Tampa and hung out with the Hardcore Kayak Anglers club on one of their tarpon trips to Indian Rocks Beach. The HKAC is as good a group as you’d want to be around — engaging and helpful. They don’t hoard information; they share it, which is rare in today’s cyberspace world.
A bit of background: Russ started a blog, The Lime Cider Chronicles, which takes the reader through a journey of kayak fishing Florida. Five, six years ago, Russ found himself unemployed after the maintenance company he worked for was sold. Most people in that situation would have panicked — I know I did when I was laid off — but Russ didn’t. In fact, he set out on a two-month trip from Jacksonville to the Keys and back to St. Pete. And he wrote about it every day. It’s a great read. Enjoy.
I spent last week with family in Western N.C. and fished almost every day, sampling local ponds, creeks and rivers. Day one was on the Tuckaseegee River, where my father and I caught more than 30 trout on a day-long float trip near Sylva in the delayed-harvest section. Our trip was scheduled the day before the delayed-harvest season was set to expire. By now, the fish are under siege.
I piddled for a day or two in a few ponds, and amazingly enough, was shut out. Humbling to say the least. As a young boy and inexperienced angler, pond fishing served as a comforting refuge. I always seemed to catch fish. As an adult, I was skunked. And it wasn’t for lack of effort. I threw topwater (gurglers) and subsurface (wooly buggers). I fished shallow and deep. Nothing. I had two strikes. Total.
On the last day, I fished Norton Creek, a sidewalk-size stream near Lake Glenvillle and landed this native brown in a matter of minutes before heading back home for lunch. At first, I assumed the vibrant fish was a brookie. It wasn’t. A Facebook friend of mine corrected me. Most of my browns have been darker, richer in color. This one was lighter. Regardless of the species, it made my stay worthwhile. I’ll be back in August.
A pretty native brown.
Editor’s Note: I got this from Walt Ruda. Well done.
Walt with the big fish.
Well, I got lucky and am blessed to catch such a beautiful fish on a gorgeous morning. I have been testing out the new Old Town Predator MX, which I purchased to stand up in and it has a comfy seat. Wanted a basic kayak with no hatches and open cockpit – perfect for fly-fishing. We were seeing fish roll here and there so I let myself drift as I blind casted to get more comfortable standing and casting. Then about a 150 feet from me, 3-4 poons roll and are heading straight for me. I am thinking if they stay on course, I might have a chance. Still casting, they surface again about 75 feet out and still on course. I have a cast out there and retrieving when I think – do I pull in and cast again or hope I am in the zone. I chose to be patient and leave the cast out there and strip slower. I had about half the line stripped in and my fly was probably about 10-12 feet down with my sinking tip. Then it happened – STRIP, STRIP, STRIP – BAM!!! GAME ON! I set the hook while still standing, and I don’t know when but I am sure I sat my butt down real fast as she headed west. I remember just trying to make sure the 30 foot or so of line in the kayak did not get tangled in my feet and hands as it shot out through the guides like a bat out of hell. I was into my backing in a heartbeat. Got about 4 or 5 beautiful jumps from her, and after 19 minutes she was boat side and lipped. After a quick pic and a little reviving, she shook from my hand and was off. She surfaced about 30 seconds later for some air and seemed to wave good bye with her tail as she swam off. So glad to see that.
Broke my Sage rod again for the second time, but the experience was priceless!
Want to thank UT and Mark for the assistance and pics….
Former Tampa Bay Fly Fishing club president Nanette Holland O’Hara talks about the need to use fertilizer judiciously. Tampa Bay is a valuable resource. Let’s preserve it.
I don’t know about you, but I take public land and public access for granted. I need to wake up. So says Chris Wood of Trout Unlimited.
I don’t clean my line enough. Check out this video from Lost Angler on YouTube. Very thorough. I feel lazy with the way I cleaned my line before. Time to be more diligent.