Tag Archives: Mike Hodge

How to Catch Redfish in the Surf on Fly

James Ferguson battles a beach red. (Photo: Andrew Mizell)

I admit it. I love redfish. Pictures of them adorn my living room wall and kitchen. It doesn’t matter where or when, I will try to find them.

I’ve caught them on the flats and in the river; on high tide and low tide; in spartina grass and turtle grass. Last summer, the surf became my focus.

I heard rumors of reds in the Northeast Florida surf for years, but most of my buddies scoffed at the notion of fishing for reds on the beach. But as it turns out, redfish do indeed make their way to the surf and yes you can catch them on fly.

It’s not easy, but, if the conditions are right and the stars align, it’s very doable. Here’s how:

 What You Need for Redfish in the Surf

Break out your heavier fly rod, at least an 8-weight; a 9 or 10-weight is better. You will have to throw heavier flies, and the redfish in the surf can be bruisers. Given that the current can be swift, landing one is not as easy as on the flats. Even though reds are the primary target, big jacks can show up and take you into your backing in the blink of an eye.

For more go to http://www.hatchmag.com/articles/redfish-surf/7714387

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Grand Slam Wins Custom Shootout

Grand Slam was on the move during the 2017 Shootout last weekend.

My story for FishTrack.com on Skip’s Custom Shootout.

A shade of irony passed over the Bahamas last weekend.

The winning boat in the Custom Shootout pulled ahead of the field by releasing a grand slam. And the name of the winning boat?

Grand Slam.

Buoyed by a strong second day, the captain and crew aboard the New Smyrna Beach, Florida, vessel won the Custom Shootout, amassing 1,800 points in the three-day event, edging out Gina Lisa in a tiebreaker based on time.

The event, part of the Abaco Diamond Series, was restricted to 61 custom boats in an all-release billfish affair at the Abaco Beach Resort and Boat Harbour Marina.

It was Grand Slam’s second big win of the year. In January, Grand Slam owner Wallis Higginbotham and crew earned top honors in the Pelican Yacht Club Invitational in Fort Pierce, Florida.

“This one’s special when you consider the caliber of the teams and boats in this tournament,” Higginbotham said. “You had some of the best fishermen on the planet. It was a great group of fishermen to fish against. We were fortunate enough to come out on top and we’re extremely happy and pretty thrilled.”

Grand Slam was built by Forbes Boat Works based in Wanchese, North Carolina, a small town that is home to several of the world’s primere custom boat builders. The boat strung together back-to-back quality days in the Shootout, totaling five billfish releases, including three blues, one white and one sail. That output was enough offset a fishless effort on day three. The Gina Lisa logged more fish with a total of seven releases and tied for the top spot in points, but Grand Slam ultimately prevailed because it amassed its points first.Grand Slam’s grand slam proved to be the pivotal point in the tournament. The combo of the sailfish, white marlin and blue marlin generated 400 additional points, the equivalent of one blue marlin in the Custom Shootout’s scoring system.

Higginbotham caught the sailfish and the blue. Larry Gross caught the white. There were only three one-day grand slams generated among the 224 anglers.

For more go to http://www.fishtrack.com/features/grand-slam-shines-in-custom-shootout_147314


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Hobe Sound Success

I’ve got a story on Hobe Sound in the July issue of Florida Sportsman. Thanks to all who helped me out with the content. Here’s a link to the table of contents and the Florida Sportsman website.


IMG_0698 IMG_0697

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Filed under Conservation, Fly fishing

A Little News

The print version of my book, On the Fly in the Bay, is now available on Amazon. Thanks to all of my fly-fishing friends for helping make this happen. … Already working a second edition — beach snook and baby tarpon.
That’s assuming I can actually find a few of the little guys 🙂

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Filed under Education, Fly casting, Fly fishing

The Book

Just finished On the Fly in the Bay, a beginner’s guide to fly fishing Tampa Bay. It’s available via Kindle on Amazon. The print version should be out soon.



An excerpt:

Every story should have a point —a theme, a message, a purpose. I suppose it’s the same with a book. The point of this book is to educate those who fly fish Tampa Bay.

It’s not for the expert. If you’re an expert, you probably know —- or should know —- most of this information. What you’re about to read is for the beginner or intermediate fly fisherman. A more seasoned angler can pick up a few tidbits, but might find most of the information redundant.

When I moved to Tampa in 2011, I was primarily a freshwater fly fisherman. I started chasing trout in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia nearly 30 years ago, but shelved the fly rod when I moved to Florida. Mainly the issue was access. Before Tampa, I lived inland, two hours away from viable saltwater.

Back then, I dabbled, making the occasional trip to Jacksonville or St. Augustine. Success, as expected, was limited and I gradually moved on to other more accessible hobbies – retriever field trials and bird hunting.

My wife’s career led to a family move to Tampa. Only minutes from the salt, my passion for fly fishing surged. I sold my dog training equipment and bought a nice kayak, a Native Ultimate, the one of the first premier stand-up yaks along with the $300 push pole.

I thought I was set. I thought it would be easy. It wasn’t. In fact, the learning curve was extraordinarily frustrating as I stumbled and bumbled around the Bay. I didn’t know when, why or how to fish.

Catching a redfish? Just finding one was a moral victory. I used to scuttle along the shore, barely above ankle deep water in search of backs and tails day after day wondering what I was doing wrong. It looked so easy while watching those Saturday morning outdoors shows where they boated a dozen tailers in a matter of minutes.

So what was I doing wrong? A lot, actually.

I knew, to progress, that I needed knowledge. So I started reading. Every book, every website was on my radar. Very few of them helped. That void served as the purpose of this book, which is to help shorten learning curve and alleviate the frustration that I endured. I suffered. You shouldn’t have to.

This is not to say that this book will ensure angling bliss. Only time on the water does that. I don’t have all the answers. No one does.

I focus primarily on sight fishing. It’s the most rewarding style of angling; it’s also the most difficult. But the potential sense of accomplishment surpasses the challenges along the way. Sight fishing with a fly rod is like golf. Perfection is not possible. Some days birdies flow as spotted tails pierce the gin-clear water; other days, you simply try to scratch out par with a fish or two before the clouds roll in.

A number of folks helped make this endeavor possible. Flip Pallot gave me inspiration after suggesting that I write a book. I thought he was kidding. He wasn’t, so I quit making excuses and got with the program.

Others who helped along the way: Tim Boothe, Chris Camuto, Vaughn Cochran, Bob Cramer, Walt Durkin, Spencer Goodwin, Ted Hagaman, Chris Hargiss, Enver Hysni, Evan Jones, Ethan Kiburz, Billy Kingsley, Dayle Mazzarella, Jess McGlothin, Ryan McGue, Parker Rabow, Sam Root, Walt Ruda, Keith Sawyer, Jared Simonetti, Joe Sefchick, Beaver Shriver, Phil Thompson, Joe Welbourn and Leigh West.

I may have forgotten someone. If I have, I apologize. So many people have helped me appreciate fly fishing and all of its life lessons. For that, I’m grateful.


Winter, 2014

Tampa, Fla.


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