Here’s a video from Fly Fishing America — an ESPN outdoors show that was popular in the 1990s. In this segment, host Chad Foster fishes with Vaughn Cochran in the Keys. Vaughn, a renowned artist and a former member of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer band, now lives in St. Augustine where he owns a restaurant and fly shop. Both are called the Black Fly, a tribute to Vaughn’s famous logo. I’ve visited both many times. It’s worth the trip.
Back at it with Steve Gibson this morning. Since the west winds are forecast for the next week or so, I made the trip to Sarasota. The fish weren’t as aggressive as earlier in the week, but we both got lot’s of walking (6 miles) and shots at cruising snook — and NO fly rods were broken. Thanks to Steve for the photos and the company.
I fished for nearly 25 years and NEVER broke a fly rod. Ever. Until now.
For the record, I’ve broken two in less than two months. The first was on a drift boat in Western North Carolina; the second was on the beach in Sarasota. Different states. Different types of water. Different fish. Same result.
The one common denominator: I was high sticking. For the uninitiated, high sticking means you lift the rod straight up, toward the heavens, either while hooking the fish, landing the fish or pulling line from the reel. I pulled off a combination of all three feats.
The first break came about when I tried to pull the leader through the guides in a drift boat. Space was limited, so I reached up and pulled the leader straight down.
Snap. The tip broke.
The second snap-crackle-pop happened while beach snook fishing. I hooked a snook in the foam and tried to make sure I released the fish in the water. I reached up to grab the line, and a wave pushed my quarry toward me simultaneously, forcing the rod to bow. The tip could only take so much.
Snap. So much for that rod. Note: I still was able to land the fish.
Both breaks could have been avoided. In the drift boat, I should have laid the rod down flat and then eased the line through the guides. On the beach, I should have applied side pressure and let the surf push the fish up on the sand. Rods can take side pressure. Vertical pressure applies too much force to the tip. With freshwater trout, the fish are small enough that high sticking is doable, but not advisable.
The good thing is most rods have a warranty. Temple Fork Outfitters has a no-questions-asked guarantee. I paid $25 to cover TFO’s shipping and handling and about 10 bucks for my shipping. It could have been worse, much worse. It was a worthwhile lesson learned, but, fortunately, not a costly one.
If at first you don’t succeed. …. That, in essence, is the moral of today’s fishing story. Steve Gibson and I tried one spot for beach snook, but the surf was a bit too rough. An offshore storm was to blame. Of course, I would have shut it down and headed for the closest breakfast joint for another cup of coffee. However, Steve persevered.
Our second spot was a bit calmer and the snook cooperated most of the morning. We combined for 12 fish, all on fly, all sight fished with either a D.T. Variation or a Schminnow.
I broke my rod on my last fish. Angler error, but still landed the quarry. Steve was nice enough to share his rod and I had a chance to land a big girl that weighed close to 14 pounds or so, but I snapped the leader with a vicious hookset, a move that no doubt came about because of missed fish earlier in the morning. Helplessness followed heartache after a rush of adrenalin that no drug — legal or illegal — has ever provided.
I’ll be back to the beach soon — as soon as I can get another fly rod. FedEx anyone?
The fish that broke my rod.
Steve with a nice snook.
Not sure I could stand up on a paddleboard. Land a tarpon from one? No way. But this guy did. Very impressive.
Met with Steve Rajeff at ICast for a few minutes. The world-champion fly caster stressed the importance of a high back cast. I throw mine way too low and therefore have to rely on timing to make longer casts. A higher stroke on the back cast, Steve said, gives you more margin for error because the line has more room to unfold before hitting the ground. I, on the other hand, have no margin for error, not good in front of rolling tarpon or tailing redfish when the pressure mounts and the excitement builds.
Watching Steve, his stroke on the back cast resembles the takeoff of an airplane, a gentle slope that starts well below his shoulder before cresting well above his ear. The line, predictably, shoots skyward, which is why he has thrown a fly more than 240 feet. I’d settle for half that.
Steve Rajeff shows how it’s done
A nice way to start the morning.
As some of my fishing friends know, I spent much of the weekend wondering why the beach snook were not pushing up close toward the sand. The past few times I’ve been out, they’ve been deeper, in the second trough and beyond — tough to see, tougher to fish for.
Logan Valeri and I first thought it was terrain and beach topography. Spencer Goodwin’s response: “They have tails. It’s a big ocean.”
Ken Taylor believed it could be the full moon.
My conclusion: It’s tide driven. We had a fairly strong incoming early this morning, which ignited scads of glass minnows. Sure enough, the snook followed. My previous couple trips, however, the morning tide was sluggish and the fish merely lounged beyond the breakers.
So the upshot: Moving water, means moving fish, even if the distance traveled is fairly small. One note of caution: The tighter to the shore the fish are the tougher they are to catch. Awfully skittish. But this one girl did eat. Made my morning.
Another seminar from Lefty Kreh. So simple. So effective. Easy to understand. Easy to execute.
The summer issue of The Drake Magazine is out. I’ve got a story on Gainesville native Shaw Grigsby, Jr. For those of you who don’t know, Grigsby is one of the world’s premier bass fishermen, who happens to be pretty proficient with a fly rod. In fact, he loves to chase Homosassa tarpon on fly — in between turkey hunting stints, of course.
Grigsby has caught more than his fair share of bass.
I like John Travolta the actor; not sure I care for him as a person. His need for excess will not be good for Belize. Check out the story below.