Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Update 4/28

No no no...I haven't forgotten to post anything here. In fact, I've been up to my ass in stuff to write about, I've got a few gear reviews, a book review, (yes Randy. I finished it and I love it) among other things going on with the blog. As my friends in the UK would say "Get on with it!"

Truth be told, I've been writing a semi-fictional piece loosely based on my obsession with tarpon fishing and the healing properties of said obsession (Yes Randy, you've inspired me)....Check it out if you want....just keep in mind, I've never written fiction before. This is my first attempt at such a thing.

Part 1

Part 2

In the meantime, listen to a cool song that I've been digging on while I write.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

"...A Three Hour Tour..."

I'm tired of looking at the weather and seeing "Winds 20-30 kts, small craft exercise caution", so I loaded up the kayak (much to Lacy's chagrin) on Saturday morning and drove out to Sand Key....bugger the weather. After spending a weeks worth of vacation and only getting to go fishing twice, both times minus the kayak, I'm over it.

It was a bit breezy when I arrived.

After unloading the kayak and rigging up, I tied on a black and purple bendback and a few Black Cat Brown Lures Devil Eyes to my spinning rig. As I'm putting the boat in the water, a fellow fisherman decides that this is the right time to get a clinic about all things kayak fishing and fly fishing. I'm standing in the surf, kayak in hand, being buffeted by waves and he wants to chat....

It wasn't too bad after I got past the surf line. Just 4 foot swells to navigate. The bow smashed through them fairly easily, but it reminded me of those old WWII Victory at Sea clips where the huge battleships were crashing through the rough seas, sending a deluge of spray over the deck...just on a much smaller scale.

I paddled out about 300 yards off the beach to a spot that had sparse grass about 3 feet deep and dropped off into a channel. This was the spot. I started using the flyrod, but the wind was making a mess of everything so, after about 5 casts with that, I decided to switch to the spinning gear. Third cast and it felt like I had a fish on. I reel it to within sight in the clear water and it's a snook! This is when it decides to start pulling back and after fighting for a few minutes, I brought to hand a 20 incher (sorry, was too wavy to attempt to get the camera out of the dry box and snap photos, no matter what Micheal Gracie says about it) I was getting hits on almost every cast and could see fish chasing my jig bouncing across the bottom. Caught a few 15 inch ladyfish too as well as another snook about the same size as the first.

Then, I felt a "thunk" on the end of the line, set the hook and started reeling. Dead weight. I thought I was snagged on a rock.... then the rod doubled over, line coming off the reel with that "zzzzzzzzz" sound that we all love. With 10 lb braided line and a 30 lb leader, I decided to play it safe. Drag was set perfectly, giving the fish the ability to pull some line, but having to work at it. After about 20 seconds of this with a potentially huge black drum...slack line....nothing....I reeled in a broken leader....frayed....whatever it was, it was pretty large to pull like that.

I'm trying to re-rig as my other spinning set up was safe and sound at home. I noticed that the seas had picked up quite a bit and whitecaps were slamming into me sideways. Trying to re-rig like this was like threading a needle while jogging. There was a spoil island about 300 yards away and the shoreline was about the same distance in the opposite direction. I decided to go for the shoreline. After 20 minutes of paddling into the wind with everything I had, it felt like the kayak was reacting slowly and that having to paddle 4 times on one side to turn was strange. Waves were pounding me every few seconds now but my kayak is super stable....right? I arrived at the beach winded and had to drag the boat down the shoreline to get to the car. It felt about 3 times heavier than normal. After dragging it up the beach to the car, I opened up the hatches to find that the entire boat was close to half full! No wonder it was so sluggish and heavy.

I'm lucky that I went in when I did. Otherwise, I'm sure I would have eventually foundered and sank with the tide turning a short time later, I would have been sucked out of the pass and into the Gulf....

Don't tell me that I need to invest in an EPERB now.....

Monday, April 19, 2010

Kayak Fishing for Tarpon Tampa Bay Area

Kayak fishing for tarpon. This is what I'm looking forward to in the next few weeks....except with a fly rod!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bjorn From Bonefish On The Brain Interview

I'd like to introduce you to fellow blogger and bonefish brother Bjorn Stromsness. He's a West Coaster who writes Bonefish On The Brain which is a blog dedicated to fly fishing for the elusive Grey Ghost. Bjorn finds something to post about bones EVERYDAY, and is a member of the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust. Bjorn and I both appreciate Aaron Adams, fly tying, and of course....bonefish. I'm sure that if Bjorn lived in Florida, we'd be going to the Keys as often as possible. Without further ado....

Rob - How did you get into bonefish being in California? I always thought they were located in the Caribbean in places I'd never go to.

Bjorn - My love of bonefish all started because my parents decided to celebrate their 40th Anniversary in Kauai. I had heard there were bonefish there and I had read an article in This is Fly that had said something like “Bonefish show up on more people’s “To Do” lists than obituaries” and I decided that I’d try to make it happen when we went. Turns out, totally accidentally, that the house they rented was on the one real flat in Kauai and the one place known to have bones. My dad and I went out with a guide one day and caught a couple of Bluefin Trevally, which was really my first saltwater fly-caught fish. We didn’t even see a bone that day. A few days later I was out wading by myself and I had been walking this one little section of the massive ruble flat for about 3 hours and I was figuring that I just wasn’t going to even see a bone on the whole trip. After I strung up my rod and was walking in I saw a gray shape at 12:00 coming right at me. I fumbled to get the fly off the guides and totally flubbed the cast. In short order I saw 7 fish, cast to 5, hooked none of them. They were all massive fish… I had one swim right by me and coming from more of a steelhead background I would have thought it a 20 pound fish, although now I know how silly that sounds… I figure it was big… really big… maybe 14-15 pounds, but probably not a world record fish. Basically, after that, I was fixated.

Bonefishing was so different from the trout fishing I do, which is mostly short-line/tight-line nymphing in pocket water and short runs. I may cast 1,000 times in a given day. I never see the fish before I hook it. I’m casting to fishy water, trying to get the drift right, but it is always a guess. Bonefishing… the stalking, the visual aspect of it… only casting when you have something to cast to, watching the take… it was a revelation. The power of the first fish I caught (a year after the Kauai trip) also just blew me away. I’ve caught lots of 20” trout and even an 18 pound steelhead, but the power:weight of bonefish was incredible.

I don’t get to fish for them very often, but I think of them every day and I started my blog because I was looking for something to read, a blog focused on bonefish. I tell people that my interest level far outstrips my experience level when it comes to bonefish. I’m not an expert by any definition, but I am really, really interested. I’m never going to be a guy that gets 20 days on the water casting to bonefish… that’s not the life I live.

Rob - How bad were the first flies that you tied?

Bjorn - Not too bad… but it started simple. I also had the opportunity to learn bits and pieces from some really great tiers. I was living in San Francisco when I started tying and would go down to the Golden Gate Casting and Angling Club for lunch sometimes and tie/listen to the actual war stories of the old timers there. I also worked as a short time as a trout guide up in Northern California and when you guide and use a lot of your own flies, you get pretty good at tying certain patterns and you pick up a lot from other guides. I can still tie some crappy flies, but the ones that are really crappy never make it very far from the vice and certainly not in any of my fly boxes. I tend to tie what I tie well and I tend to avoid patterns that I don’t tie well… I wish I could get away from that, but that’s how I end up tying. Means I don’t branch out as much as I should.

Rob - What's your favorite fly to tie?

Bjorn - “Tie” is maybe not the right word, but the Velcro Crab is just such a cool looking fly. It is more assembling than tying, and its use for bonefish is an open question, but when you put a Velcro Crab together it just looks so frigging… crabby! I also had to figure out a lot to get that fly right… like how best to get it to land hook up, how to add weight, how to get the thing to stay closed. It is probably the fly I’ve tinkered with the most. A Merkin would probably be a lot better bonefish option, but my Merkins still look like crap.

Rob - When you do get out onto a flat, what's the first fly that you like to go with?

Bjorn - Pink winged gotcha, maybe with a barred wing.

Rob - What's your current favorite bonefish rod and reel set up to use?

Bjorn - The last trip I used a TFO Clouser 8 wt. and I really liked it. I paired that with a TFO Large Arbor 375 Reel that I was really impressed by. I didn’t even know TFO made reels, but they do, and the LA is awesome. I’m a value-for-money guy and so I like cheap rods and moderate reels. You are not likely to see me casting a lot of Sages or Ables… they are probably great, but I have a real suspicion about how much brand reputation mark-up is in there. I’d rather spend my money on airfare.

Rob - Do you make your own leaders or do you buy tapered?

Bjorn - I buy from the store… maybe at some point I’ll look at making my own leaders, but at this point, I’ll leave that up to the leader makers.

Rob - Any favorite "go to" beer for after the fishing excursion?

Bjorn - Well, you can’t go wrong with a Kalik, because it means you are in the Bahamas. If I’m fishing one of my home waters (the Upper Sacramento and McCloud Rivers) for trout, I’m more likely to have a Newcastle or Downtown Brown. Love a good nut brown ale, although that feels a little heavy for the tropics.

Friday, April 16, 2010


There seems to be crabs on the grass flats in droves. All sorts of crabs. In fact, crabs are probably the most found food in redfish and trout stomachs.

I'm having issues making some of these - First is an EP Crab. The bottom fly is a small crab fly I bought in the Keys. I can tie Merkins, but I want to use the crab coins.

Location X Floaty Fly

Here a video from Fishbuzz TV on how to tie a Location X Floaty of my favorites. I make a smaller #1 variation of it in tan and brown and black and tan for redfish. This is an awesome fly for tarpon in the morning...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Of Wind Knots and Tides

Clearwater Pass can be an excellent place to fish, with it's swift current and close proximity to lush grass flats. That's why I took my buddy Frankie and his 18 year old son Vinny there for a few hours fishing. Vinny is in the Navy and is on leave for a week before starting Basic Warrior Training with the Marines. I've known him since he was a kid, so it was really cool for me that I was able to be there for his first time fishing.

The conversation beforehand went something like this;

Frankie - "Man...I haven't been fishing in years"
Me - "That's ok dude, it's like riding a bike....I have all the gear you guys will need"
Frankie - "Oh no...I'm bringing MY pole...and I have a lot of stuff in my tackle box"
Me - "What kind of 'stuff'?
Frankie - "Oh you know...hooks, weights, leaders..."


I'm sure that anyone out there who reads this and has been into fishing for any length of time will understand what the Florida elements will do to fishing gear that has been stowed in the garage. Add in factors of salt water corrosion and you have a potential recipe for disaster on a fishing trip if left unchecked.

This isn't some sort of "I'm better than you" rant or in any way shape or form a way for me to cut down my buddy. Bottom line is I fish a lot and he doesn't. I use my gear know.

I brought 3 spinning outfits and my fly rod.

We arrived at Sand Key to a howling 20 knot wind out of the east. Not a good day for fly least not for me. I wasn't worried about it though. I was planning on playing the role of captain, guide and instructor and just enjoying the time with my friends. I can fish anytime, but I don't get to hang with my buddies very much.

Frankie started rigging up his rod and I took a section of his mono line and tugged. It snapped right away. A true sign of old and rotten monofiliment. So after I get them set up with sliding sinker rigs with shrimp, I rigged up my fly rod with a white bendback. Vinnie had a fish on right off the bat. A nice 10 inch flounder that got off the hook as he pulled it in. I gave him a quick crash course on setting the hook...a quick learner, he had another fish on in minutes...looked like the same fish.

Now, we can debate the pros and cons of braided super line all day long. One of the cons is the potential to develop wind knots. This potential grows worse in inexperienced hands. All it takes is for you to not be paying attention to a reeled loop, cast and WHAM!...birds nest from hell. Trust me, I've bird nested reels so bad, you're better off with a pair of scissors and a new spool of line. Vinny had a mess there that I was unable to fix at that moment, so I gave him my spinning rig. Kids who just get out of boot camp seem to listen up really well. He kept responding to what I was showing him with "ok" and "yes"....After picking out a few wind knots with the awl on my multi-tool, we had totaled 4 flounder, 3 pinfish and 2 lizardfish.

When we left, we almost got the truck stuck in the sand....but we managed to avoid that by Vinnie and I jumping up and down on the back bumper.....

It was a good day! Beautiful weather and good friends outside.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

Required Reading

Some of you know that I can be a voracious reader at times. Instead of getting all of my reading from online sources, I like to sit with god old fashioned know. Paper with words printed on them? I often read several books at the same time. Most of varying WWII history, Clan Of The Cave Bear series, and fly fishing....don't call me weird, I'm 40 so I prefer the term eccentric.

These are a few that I'm reading at the moment:

Fisherman's Coast By Aaron Adams - A book about warm water fish habitat, science behind why, where and when for fly fishing....a book I keep returning to. A great reference for saltwater fly fishing.

The Fly Caster Who Tried To make Peace With The World By Randy Kadish - A deep and therapeutic book about the history of long distance fly casting. I'm not done with it yet but I REALLY like it so far.

Fly Fisherman's Guide To Saltwater Prey By Aaron Adams - Yes! Another book by "The Ninja". Nothing quite like a marine biologist who fly fishes and writes about it. This is a book that I go back to often. Shows what saltwater game fish eat and lots of fly patterns to imitate them.

So if you haven't done so, check them out!

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Hiking the mangrove swamp at Weedon Island can be truly surreal.......

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Advancements In Sun Protection

This is a public service announcement from the kind folks at Did It So You Don't Have To and Sunburn Hurts.

A few weeks ago while on the maiden voyage with the kayak, My legs received a majorly bad, keep you up all night, take a bath in After Sun Gel sunburn. I had on a long sleeved skull shirt, wide hat and Buff...but what I didn't realize was just how exposed your legs can be to the sun while sitting on the kayak...hence my journey as Red Lobster poster boy began.

Now, this hasn't been part of my quest to be unattractive to the opposite sex, even though the itchiness and the peeling skin coming off in sheets is sure to help in this matter.

So remember - The sun is not your friend. Wear your long sleeves, hats, Buffs and don't forget the sunscreen.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Inane Randomness

As usual,when I find entertaining and thought provoking bits around the blogosphere, I like to share them.
A humorous post over at Lunker Hunt about How Do You Know If You Caught A Fish is very humorous and entertaining. How many of you make up rules like that? Do you count "Drive by's" and "Leans"? ( A Lean is when you cast to a sighted fish, and it swims toward your offering only to turn away before taking the bait. A Drive By is when you cast to a sighted fish and it just swims right by your offering - essentially, a Lean without the "leaning" action). In my neck of the woods, If you get the leader to the tip and the fish comes off, we call that a "quick release".....

I'm on vacation next week. Was supposed to be in the Keys but, unforeseen circumstances have intervened making it impossible for me to make it to Long Key. I'm pretty bummed because that is one of my favorite places in the world to camp and fish....., I've been looking at some maps of my area and some of the "spoil islands" in and around the inter coastal waterway. I'm going to reconnoiter several of them and I might camp out there for a night if it's suitable. I'll make it "My Private Island" as it were. Solitude, fishing, swimming and being out in this beautiful weather is anticipated indeed.

I've been into Mexican style beer lately. If It's Corona or Landshark, I like it...which is weird. I generally go for wheat ales or brews that you can use for hair gel. Must be the weather or time of year. My brother gave me a Bud Light Lime the other day. Tasted like watered down Kool Aid.....

Randy Kadish sent me a copy of his book "The FlyCaster Who Tried To Make Peace With The World" to read and review....looks interesting so far.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Fort Desoto 4/3/10

Brother Steve and I loaded up early yesterday and headed out to Fort Desoto to do some kayaking and fishing. He rented a Ocean Prowler 13 and we headed out. He'd never been kayaking before but, picked it up quickly. It was a beautiful day for it. I had to cover my legs with a towel due to last weeks sunburn. My blistered skin didn't care for being exposed to the sun, even though I had sunscreen on.

The water was a bit dirty so I started out drifting a grass flat with shrimp on an idiot rig. Nothing. We paddled out to the bomb hole, ever watchful for fishy activity. Mullet were quite active on the flat east of the road, but still no takes on the shrimp. I kept seeing tailing action and after chasing it down, it would turn out to be mullet. I think the redfish somehow pay the mullet to imitate them and misdirect unwary fishermen.

Along the eastern side of the park,there's a mangrove shoreline with oyster bars along with a steep drop off. I could see a few nice redfish cruising along. I cast a Bang Bang Shrimp pattern about 5 feet in front of them and they bolted as soon as the fly softly landed on the water. Spooky, spooky to say the least. This happened several times and couldn't even get them interested in real shrimp.


We headed back to load up the boat and head home.

At least I was able to locate some fish in the giant expanse of Fort Desoto Park.