Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kayaking Hangover And The Silver Kings

After fishing all day Friday and Saturday, by the time I was crawling up the beach with kayak in hand Saturday afternoon and sleeping the rest of the weekend away, on Monday, I was suffering the kayaking hangover.

Not like a drinking hangover where you're swearing you'll never drink again. The refreshing, relaxed, my hand feels like it weighs 300 lbs, I'm too tired to write sort of tiredness.

Friday Morning, I met Keith at Sand Key at first light. The tide was dead low and just starting to turn. We headed out of the Pass and worked along the rock jetty. When we go to the end of the jetty, there was a HUGE school of threadfin shad. The next thing I saw was a pod of tarpon about 60 yards away, headed in our direction. My plan was to hold within casting range of the threadfins (which were holding roughly in the same place) and wait for the tarpon to start feeding on them.

The tarpon approached the school....and kept going. I pulled my anchor and started paddling after them as fast as I could. They must have had other things on their minds....and managed to keep just out of range.

A while later, we got on a school of black sea bass. They were undersized but fun to catch.

Saturday morning, met up with Keith and Pettay. Same spot, but we paddled over to W island. Caught a few trout with Keith getting a really nice 20 inch specimen.

The was a school of bait right where we were fishing and a boat full of less than scrupulous folks decided to kick us off our spot in order to catch said bait....why do people have to be such douche bags?

It was a beautiful few days of fishing.....

Friday, June 25, 2010

Photo Essay

HUGE school of threadfin shad
Black Sea Bass

Crabs To Yield Bigness

I'll be on the water by the time you're reading this, but thought I'd share.

Every full moon during the summer, tarpon swim out hundreds of miles offshore to spawn. Right before the full moon, they like to eat a lot for their journey...to fuel up, as it were. This time of year, large numbers of swimming crabs are sucked out of the passes on the outgoing tide. Crabs happen to be one of the tarpons favorite things to chow down on....

I hope these crabs will help me on my quest....

2 inch Gulp Peeler Crab

Location X and Keys Style Flies

Big Eye Hommassasa Deceiver

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tarpon Killer X 2 - Ego Vs Common Sense

This sickening story came across Twitter today via Skate The Fly blog. Apparently, this guy likes to kill huge adult tarpon and try to get his name in the IGFA.

Anyone who knows the odds of a larvae far out at sea growing into adults like these wouldn't even think about killing one.

Disgusting. You should be ashamed Tom Evans and Capt. Al Dopirak....

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Inane Randomness

This is the time of year for Spanish Mackerel. I love catching these toothy fish because they usually cooperate with fishermen and are the main ingredient for my smoked fish spread. They're very speedy and have razor sharp teeth. Good times to fish for them are early in the morning during a rising tide. Per the FWC, bag limit is 15 a day per harvester and they need to be 12 inches long at the fork in order to keep.

Mark and Adam from yakangler.com will be in town for a week next month. I plan on taking them to a few favorite spots, but we're a few boats short. Can anyone help us with this? Wanna lend us a yak or 2? We'll make sure you get a lot of press for it I can promise you. Check out this cool story about Kayak Kevin's trip kayaking Chesapeake Bay

Yours Truly is headed out ugly early Friday Morning to get after tarpon and Saturday, ugly early again to get after some redfish....again. I have every Friday off in July and am ready to go on a camping/fishing/kayaking excursion....

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Fathers Day

Sunday Morning... Nag Champa burning....French press coffee....the delicate sounds of a Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd play list....Lacy snoring gently.

Even though I don't have any human children, I like to be the best dad I can be to Lacy.

We went to her doctor yesterday for her annual check up and shots and was given a clean bill of health. She's in much better shape than she was last year. She weighed in at 57.2 lbs where last year, she was 68 lbs. Instead of her laying around by the pool, I've been running her around.

Today, I'll be getting my gear in order, changing the backing on the 12 weight from 20 lb gel spun to 30 lb Power Pro since those silver beasts made short work of it last time, repairing the kayak where the seat cleat was pulled clean out.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Rob's Smoked Fish Spread

Here is one of my most kept secrets for smoked fish spread. With the impending Spanish Mackerel invasion, I thought it proper to share this. One of my all time favorite fish for this dish is smoked Spanish Mackerel.

The best way to catch macks during the summer run is early in the morning. I like using a silver Gummy Minnow or silver spoon fly worked fast. Spots near Fort Desoto or the mouth of the Bay are good. Make sure you use a strong wire leader for these toothy torpedoes.

Here's my strange way of writing a recipe.....Ya'all pay 'tention nah...

Smoke 2 average sized mackerel filet's. I put them on a low heat charcoal with Jack Daniels chips for around an hour and a half.

Crumble warm mackerel filet's into a bowl. Not too fine...we want it to be a bit chunky.

Add a container of Philly Cream Cheese (one of the ONLY things from Philly allowed in my house) and a cup of your favorite mayo. A bit of horseradish will work too.

As much as I hate celery, a little won't hurt.

A bit of fresh cilantro.

A squeezed lemon.

Some paprika for garnish.

Serve still warm with crackers or soft bread.

Mmmmm...c'mon macks c'mon....

This is perfect for your summer get togethers or birthdays. A good Belgian White Ale compliments this nicely.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Appology To You From Me

I'd like to take this time to apologize to my readers for blathering on about BP and the oil spill in the Gulf. One thing that I personally don't like is when I go to read a good fishing blog and it's chock full of environmental issues. I'm not trying to disguise the blog as a fishing site only to cover the oil spill. Even though the area that I primarily fish (Tampa Bay Region) is not supposed to be affected like the areas in Louisiana and Mississippi, the spill still disrupts the ecological balance. I've added a spill tracker gadget to the blog. Feel free to post it on yours.

This issue is very important to me, But I promise not to bore you with the details any longer.

I'm tired of being accustomed to losing everything I love.

Please forgive me.

I promise to return to our regularly scheduled programming....already in progress.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

BP Spills The Coffee

I found this pretty funny considering the fact that the oil spill isn't funny at all.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Belleair Causeway

Friday after work, I went to the always popular Belleair Causeway to hit the dead low tide and incoming tide at sundown.

It was a textbook situation; the incoming tide started covering the almost dry grass flats and the redfish were close behind. This was a magical time on the flats. You could see all of the fishy activity in the pot holes and deep edges. I spotted tails waving and saw humps moving and baitfish spraying. At one point, I got out of the yak to chase them on foot and to be able to cast better. All I managed to do was spook them in the fading light with unweighted flies.

Sunday, I met Keith at the same spot at first light. The tide was incoming. There was quite a bit of fishy activity going on around the mangrove edges.

Keith was working an edge and I was on the other side of the channel working the docks when he hooked up with an 18 inch red on a Brown Lures Flappin' Devil...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

French Connection

This blog is read in 19 different languages, from every conceivable OS, iPhone, iPad and ISP.

Looking through stats, I often wonder why people read the blog. (I'm glad that you do) It's a predominately saltwater fishing based blog yet, I get a lot of traffic from fly fishing meccas like Colorado, Montana, Nebraska and Idaho....but no saltwater there. Before I start sounding like Howard Dean, my question is this....

Who is my reader in France? There is a hit from French Wine Country at least once a day, which is cool, my ancestors come from there. I'm just wondering why...what's the deal?

So send me an e-mail and say hello....

Bring On The Night


My last few fishing trips have been skunktastic.

Of all the research I do pertaining to finding good fishing spots that should hold fish and actually plying the brine and catching water or spotting dolphins leaving me scratching my head....then, it finally hit me.

Like a bolt out of the blue.

It's summer stupid! (Not officially until June 21st, but in Bad Backcastland it's after Memorial Day...wonder if your birthday falls on this day if that makes you extra hot?) Fish are pretty much inactive during the heat of the day. Things start turning on during low light. Crabs, shrimp and other prey items get active as the sun goes down....or comes up. The water temperature drops a bit. Fish notice these things and will start looking for prey.

The spots I've been hitting are too good not to hold fish....with nice grass, oyster bars, current breaks and mangroves, you'd think I'd be on them.

This week, dead low tide is around 6:30 - 7:30 pm with sunset at 8:30 pm.

This also gives me the option of fishing the docks at night for snook.


On the tarpon front, I'm going out Sunday morning looking for them around Clearwater Pass/Sand Key. I haven't abandoned them - I just haven't been writing about it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

BP And The Oil Spill

Far be it from me to have an opinion on the Gulf Oil Spill Disaster. I know that I don't have to show photos and write about how horrible this is and how important the Northern Gulf Region is to the ENTIRE Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. Even if we don't have oil washing up on the shores of the Tampa Bay area, this does affect it on a grand scale.

At the risk of sounding like Andy Rooney with my opinion, am I the only one who, while watching the evening news, is screaming at the TV to "stop trying to save the well!"?? If BP could forget about profits for a few days, chalk this up to an expensive learning experience and CLOSE THE WELL with explosives, then we won't have thousands of gallons of crude drifting about destroying everything....

This is my opinion. I'm not sorry for having it. I'm tired of becoming accustomed to losing everything that I love....

An Andy Rooney Rant....

**UPDATE** This evening the Times website contains models that would suggest that oil could be headed in the direction of Pinellas County. It suggests that there is some quantity of oil in the FL Straits.
After further review and discussion with the CO of the St. Pete Coast Guard Station, the CG concludes that while these models are based on the theoretical movement of oil driven by currents, the present situation is affected by wind direction. Thus, we continue to work under the assumption that any oil in the loop current would stay 80-100 miles off of our coast. That does not rule out the presence of tar balls/patties that could affect our area. In other words, no change from current assumptions for Pinellas County.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Kayak Ditch Bag

Fishing the inshore saltwater grass flats and passes of the Tampa Bay area may seem easy and harmless, which it can be. Of course I've never been one to just settle for the easy things so I sometimes find myself at the mouth of the Bay grouper fishing in deep water, around Johns Pass or Clearwater Pass, or the always popular Fort Desoto...all of which offers the opportunity to find yourself swept out to sea by an outgoing tide, storm or wind.

As evidenced by my close call at Sand Key I thought I'd share a simple yet important piece of gear that I take with me on every trip out with the kayak.

I made mine out of a water tight stuff sack and attached it to my PFD.

Inside, I keep a lightweight First Aid kit, a 20 oz sealed bottle of water, a small survival kit, (small rope, signal mirror, plastic shelter, small headlamp, small muti-tool)and super loud high pitched whistle.

Keep this with you while out on the water. It'll help ease your mind and might even save your life one day.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Advancements In Dolphin Eco-Tourism - St Joseph Sound

I've been thinking recently that maybe instead of fishing, I should turn the blog into a dolphin sight seeing tourism cash grab. 8 out of the last 10 fishing trips, I've seen dolphin up close - so close in fact that I could see the famous toothy grin. I've seen dolphin more than caught fish recently.

Yesterday morning was no different.

I left the house at 5:30 AM to meet Keith at St Joseph Sound and to launch at first light in the hopes of finding early morning redfish on the feed on the lush grass flats. The water was glassy calm as I drove along Edgewater Drive, but as soon as I arrived at the launch site, the wind picked up and I could see flashes of lightning in the distance and hear thunder booms a few miles away to the north and south. The gray dawn revealed rain clouds everywhere.

This large expanse of grass flats between Anclote Key and the Tarpon Springs shoreline are some of the best I've ever seen and have a unique feature; 10 feet deep holes amid 3-4 feet depths with decent moving water. The plan was to cast to the edges of the holes on the up current side and let the fly drift and bounce down the slope...this didn't produce any fish so we drifted across the flat.

The wind pushed us fairly hard. Cold down drafts from the thunderstorm cell to the southeast. The thing I kept thinking about was "We're going to have to paddle back into this wind to get back to the car" but, by some small miracle, the wind slowed...and we were able to paddle back the way we came with ease.

That's when the dolphin showed up. You could see and hear the furious splashing along the shallow mangrove shoreline as the dolphin herded the fish against the bank. Again, only a single dolphin. As we drew closer, I could see that it was around 6 feet in length, and was "fluking"...where it swims on its side and the fluke sticks out of the water. It wasn't shy or afraid of us and I paddled right up to it to snap a few photos.

On the paddle back to the car, the rain started....a free rinse job for the drive home.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Stinky Birds And Sheeps...head

The other day, Keith and I hit a nice area near Belleair Causeway that had all of the necessary ingredients conducive to holding fish - an incoming tide, deep water near shallow grass beds, a confluence of currents intersecting at a large oyster bed, residential docks, mangrove spoil islands surrounded by oysters bordering deep water, baitfish, and the always popular bridge pilings....the only thing missing was the fish.

The two state bird sanctuaries on either side of the confluence smell really bad, but you'll have that when there are flocks of pelicans and fleets of diving birds. It's obvious that these birds aren't underfed, that's for sure.

Keith did something that I wouldn't have believed had I not been there - caught a sheepshead around the bridge pilings on a soft plastic jerkbait. The sheepshead were hitting my crab flies as they drifted down the pilings, but I couldn't hook up. All I ended up with were ripped up flies and a better tan.

The only reason I believe we couldn't find fish holding there is water temperature. The temp in the Gulf at the moment is 86 degrees F. I think the best time to fish this time of year would be dawn and dusk. That's why I'm going out tomorrow at ugly early 5:30 AM. Will be checking out a new spot in St Joseph Sound.

This is quite a large area of shallow grass flats with large and deep holes, from 1 foot to 10 feet in depth. I'm thinking that fishing the holes at dawn with an incoming tide just might work.

I need a slump buster....