Tag Archives: Jupiter

The Indian River Lagoon Paddle

It’s official. I’ve signed up for the IRL Paddle Adventure, a one-day event in early November to raise awareness for the environmental issues plaguing the Indian River Lagoon. I wrote a story about this fund-raiser last year for the Tampa Bay Fly Fishing club newsletter. Back then, a group of paddlers made the 156-mile trek from New Smyrna to Palm Beach County. I admired their perseverance and vowed I would join them. Now I have. However, this year’s IRL lasts just one day and breaks the trip into a series of short paddles.  I’m making the trip from Hobe Sound to Jupiter Inlet on Nov. 14.

Here’s some info.


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More Fly Casting

Below is a video of Ron Doerr, a guide from Jupiter.  Notice how he keeps everything LEVEL. The entire stroke stays on the same plane. This is VERY difficult to do.  When my stroke gets long, I tend not to stay on plane.  Ron, like Lefty Kreh, recommends pretending as if your casting elbow is on a shelf, so that the butt of the rod — and the tip — stay on a straight path.

Also, notice how Ron keeps his hauling hand in line with his rod hand to maintain constant tension during the haul. I tend to pull downward as opposed to outward, which means less tension and a shorter haul. Needless to say, there’s always something to work on in fly casting. Everything is a work in progress. Enjoy.

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The Life and Times of Trapper Nelson


The entrance to Trapper Nelson’s camp.


HOBE SOUND — On a blustery winter Monday two dozen or so volunteers and staff from the Florida Oceanographic Society took a half-day trip on the Loxahatchee River to visit Trapper Nelson’s camp.

Nelson, known as the Wildman of the Loxahatchee, lived off the fruits of the meandering river for nearly 40 years by trapping, hunting and fishing. After several years of that rugged way of life, Nelson, known formally as Natulkiewicz, started a much-visited wildlife zoo that lured wealthy South Florida socialites to the cypress-lined banks of the Loxahatchee in the late 1930s. Among those who stopped by were boxer Gene Tunney and actor Gary Cooper.

A bit downstream from Trapper's place.

A bit downstream from Trapper’s place.

Although Nelson had limited formal education, he was a natural promoter, who draped his chiseled, 6-foot-4, 240-pound frame with Indigo snakes to create a Tarzan-like persona, entertaining guests with yarns about his time in the wilderness. In between stories, Nelson sold everything from tortoise shells to baby alligators.

For years Trapper Nelson’s Zoo and Jungle Garden thrived, so much so that he added guest cabins, a boathouse and a chickee hut that served as picnic area and a place of respite from Florida’s suffocating summer heat. Also on site were a hand-pumped water tower and a multi-bay garage for a U.S. Army Jeep.

Although Nelson embraced progress enough to make a pretty good living, Florida’s population growth in the 1960s led to more scrutiny of his compound. Health inspectors declared the operation unhygienic and shut down the business. Nelson, in turn, became more reclusive, presumably because of his distrust of the government. He died in 1968 due to a gun-shot to the stomach. Local authorities ruled it a suicide, but a few who knew Nelson have speculated otherwise.

Nevertheless, his legend lives on, decades later.


Below are a couple of other facts about Nelson, who. …


  • reluctantly served in the military during World War II, first in Texas, then at Camp Murphy, which was located close to his Loxahatchee River homestead.


  • was born in Trenton, N.J. and later spent time in Colorado and Mexico before making his way back East and settling in the Jupiter area.


  • was the son of polish immigrants.


  • was an avid card player and an occasional boxer.


  • was known for his voracious appetite and was said to have gobbled up an entire pie in one sitting.




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Filed under Education, Entertainment

Back in the Boat

One of the great life lessons of fly fishing is it forces you to adapt. New water or a different species often demands a different skill. For me, the transition involved a canoe.

A move from Gainesville to Tampa a few years ago yielded the purchase of a Native Ultimate 14.5, then considered the premier fly-fishing paddlecraft.  I had to have one.

At first I used it quite a bit as I learned the Tampa Bay flats. But, it didn’t take long before frustration set in.  Managing a canoe solo while fly fishing is difficult simply because it’s darn near impossible to do two things at once — managing the drift and fishing.  You have to stalk the fish, stop the drift, put down your paddle, grab your rod and make the cast — all in a matter of seconds.

I spent much of the spring and summer trying to master these skills. Limited success resulted and eventually winter arrived and I started wading. The Ultimate sat in the garage for months. In fact, I wondered why I even bought it.

Fast forward to this summer when I moved to the Jupiter area. Flats fishing is non existent. It’s intracoastal and rivers. Paddle or perish. So I learned how to paddle and fish at the same time. To do that, you have to know how to paddle —- well.  Once I committed to that skill, I was able to fish more effectively, even with a fly rod.

Wading has its benefits. It’s quick and it’s easy. The Ultimate is a bit of a chore. There’s loading and unloading. And it’s more fun to cast wading than it is sitting down or standing in a moving object.  But the Ultimate allows you to cover more ground and you get a workout if you’re willing to paddle a few miles.

Honestly, I’d rather walk the beach or wade, but I’m glad I finally mastered enough skill to become confident with the Ultimate. I’m certainly more versatile.

Below is a video from Orvis.  It looks easy, but it’s not. Trust me.

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Bigger Is Better

I haven’t fished much since moving. But there is one thing I’ve noticed about East Coast fishing, particularly in South Florida. The fish are bigger. Bigger snook. Bigger jacks. The tarpon, they’re about the same as their West Coast brethren. But everything else, it’s bigger.

The snook, there’s no comparison. If you want big line-siders, come to Jupiter. They’re in the rivers, the  intercoastal and the beach. And they’re ALL big.

Why? I don’t think it’s the forage. There’s plenty of food on the West Coast and in the Tampa Bay area.  The difference is geography.  The southern part of the Sunshine state offers a longer growing season.  The water is consistently warmer, which means a longer feeding/growing season for the fish. Part of it’s the warmth of the gulfstream.

Deeper water, helps, too. The fish can find shelter from excessive heat or cold. Not necessarily so in Tampa Bay and its surrounding waters.

The one thing about bigger fish is they’re harder to catch. I have access to them, but can I catch them? Stay tuned.

stuart florida24

Photo courtesy of Stuartfishing.com

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