Sunday, May 30, 2010

My Memorial Day - Just Like A Publix Commercial

For this year's Memorial Day celebration, Mom, Brother Steve, Lacy and I went to Philippe Park in Safety Harbor. Mom and Steve did a great job of planning, and making awesome food!

We had sun dried tomato brats, potato salad, roasted corn in the husk, watermelon, and Jim Jones Desert (a concoction invented by mom that's made out of angel food cake, lemon pudding, blueberries,and whipped topping...all mixed together, not made out of Kool-Aid, you sick people)

I launched the kayak during the incoming tide. The mangroves were packed with blennies and finger mullet, and crabs. I was working the mangroves in an area that has a nice drop off from a sand bar just inches from the tree line with lots of prop roots with a dark brown crab fly. My quiet drifting along this tree line spooked a few redfish. I watched one shoot into the mangroves. I cast the crab about a foot away from where it went into the bushes and he came out and hammered it while the fly was falling. Of course he turned right back into the trees and my 25 lb leader quickly broke on the barnacle encrusted prop roots as I tried to horse it out.

Lacy did some things I've never seen her do - like gallop in the water and try to bite the small baitfish that were circling around her legs. It was hilarious! She also dug up a dead horseshoe crab and proceeded to have a not so fresh crab dinner. Needless to say, she was pretty wiped out at the end of the day.

We got packed up in time to beat the impending thunderstorm bearing down on us...

I fell asleep on the couch, feeling super relaxed after a nice day and a nice shower. I'm recovering for tomorrow....Tarpon...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Gordons Stiff Worm

In honor of the Atlantic Palolo Worm Hatch going on in the Keys over Memorial Day weekend and I'm not there to be a part of it, I'll post this fly pattern I found on Saltwater Fly Fishing Magazine

HOOK: Gamakatsu SL12 1/0 (silver) or Owner Aki 1/0 (black)
THREAD: White, flat waxed
BODY: White fish hair
COLOR: "Clay Rose" #137 Prismacolor marker
FINISH: Silicone (Goop) and two-part epoxy

Step 1: Cover hook shank with thread base, and snell leader onto hook with approximately 8 to 12 wraps (depending on line diameter). This is more wraps than necessary for knot integrity, but a huge snell knot imitates well a worm's upper head. The rings of the knot are almost identical to the worm's bumps, with the same light, translucent look. Furthermore, the knotless appearance of snelling also helps tremendously with picky fish. I try to use silver hooks on light bottom situations and a black Owner hook over grass.

Step 2: Layer on white fish hair. I don't think brand is important, but different types absorb the color from the marker differently. Layering the fish hair rather than clumping it all on at once simply adds to the fly's durability.

Step 3: Color the upper layers only, as the worms have light bellies.

Step 4: Silicone the material into a straight form and allow to dry (at least one hour).

Step 5: Epoxy over the hardened silicone body, including a light coat over the back of the knot. I have tried using only silicone, and I have tried using only epoxy. Silicone alone gets mushy, and epoxy alone is too heavy and hard to work with, and it distorts the color. The combination has served me well and adds to the translucent look.

I wish I could be there for this, but you can just bet that you could cross 7 Mile Channel stepping boat to boat and never get your feet wet....

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Memorial Day Means Start Of Summer

...or at least it means the start of summer to me. Cookouts with the family, cold sweet tea, Mexican style beer, 4:00 thunderstorms, camping trips to the springs, Rays and Threshers baseball, ice cream on sale and sleeveless skull shirts just to mention a few summer things that I love....

But it also means tarpon, snook on the beach, more daylight to allow for fishing after work, snook in the lights at night and tailing reds early in the morning.

This weekend, the fam and I will be doing our cookout shindig Saturday at the always illustrious Philippe Park in Safety Harbor. Yes, I'll be spending the day searching the flats of Old Tampa Bay for reds....again....and Monday, will be plying the flats at Belleair Causeway. The Bay has been a bust the last few weeks, so I'm getting back to the Gulf.

I'm also formulating a few plans to go out with the yak after work if the weather and tides permit...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ass Not In The Grass

Saturday, my buddy Keith and I launched our kayaks in a section of old Tampa Bay near the Christian College. We were on the hunt for the elusive redfish. The weather was beautiful, but a bit on the humid side. There was no wind and the water temperature was in the mid 80's.

My gut feeling about this particular area and the time of year was the absence of grass. I was reassured by another buddy that there is indeed grass there. He said the map I was looking at must have been shot in the wintertime and that he had waded there many times and it's very grassy.

We arrived at the launch site and put in. Water clarity was murky at best. There is a spot where two channels form a cross between 2 mangrove islands that I thought would be a perfect spot to find redfish with the incoming tide.

I plied the water with a dark crab pattern for a while, then a black and purple weighted bendback, then a chartreuse and white clouser. No dice.

We paddled over to some large oyster bars dotting the shore and spooked either a school of 30 inch mullet, or redfish, couldn't tell which...they kept coming back....until the dolphin showed up.

This time, I decided to stand my ground with the was very brazen and came within about 10 feet of me in the kayak, but decided to move on to other feeding grounds.

The oysters were really taking a toll on my leaders. Had to change them twice as they would get frayed pulling them through the oysters. I was concentrating on the outsides of the beds where the water was a bit deeper and the current would wash prey items near these ambush points, but no luck there either.

I spent the rest of the day sneaking around the mangroves, looking for tails or maybe one point, I paddled full speed about 200 feet to where I kept seeing tails sticking out of the water. These "tails" turned out to be a stingray.

Still, it was nice to get out on the water on a nice, calm day even though we got skunked.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Margin Of Safety

A late post about my trip on Sunday....Busy working on my Florida Sport Fishing Magazine article.

I took the kayak out Sunday with my Mom and Lacy to Philippe Park in Safety Harbor. The weather was very warm, very little wind and an all day incoming tide.

Located in the northern part of Tampa Bay, referred to as "Old Tampa Bay", the waters surrounding Philippe Park are quite shallow, but if you follow the power line towers, you'll soon find a drop off from 3 feet to 10 feet.

My crab fly was getting some interest from something as I felt a few hits, but no real takers. Was hit and miss as I drifted along the edge...until the dolphins showed up. When a dolphin or manatee surfaces within 10 or 15 feet of the yak, it tends to startle me. When they take a breath, the sound gets your attention in the quiet serenity, and when you look over to see a large dark know.

The dolphins wouldn't stop following me and I would see them close by when I would paddle to a different after an hour, I went in and had lunch with Mom and Lacy.

As I said, It was very warm and Lacy kept digging holes to lay in to keep cool. She even found a bird or fish carcass to chew on that she didn't want to give up.

We headed home....and just in time to avoid a thunderstorm bearing down on the area....better luck next time.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

More Inane Randomness

Hitting the Northern part of Tampa Bay in the yak today. Bing Maps has revealed a few nice spots that I think are worth checking out. Mom is tagging along too, but not in the kayak.

My good buddy and fellow blogger Mrs Oh To Be Was kind enough to give me 2 kayak paddles that she didn't need anymore (apparently, they sold the canoe that couldn't stay upright)I'm happy to have them and she can be assured that they'll get plenty of use. Now I have an extra paddle in case I decide to drive off without it again. Here is me right after the canoe sinking incident with the most underfed raccoon in the world.

Rebecca at Outdooress has gone over to the dark side of fishing; bass fishing. I'm happy about this. Being introduced to "other" fishing is great for a world class angler like her. Nothing like getting out of your comfort zone....I can only hope that she doesn't buy a "NASCAR Boat" and start donning all of the sponsor related gear.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Inane Randomness

First off, I'd like to let you know that I've got a real writing gig with Florida Sport Fishing Magazine .I'll be in the July/August issue, so get your subscriptions now before they sell out. (joking of course) It's a great magazine that I enjoy reading and I'm really excited to be writing for them.

Fly Fish Chick and Team Paddlefish have the Texas Water Safari coming up soon. It's a brutal, 100 hour canoe trip from hell. Donate gear or money if you can. I just want to see pics of Fly Fish Chick all buff and jacked up after training....

This local kayak fishing story is awesome! I'd go fishing with that guy anytime.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Up A Creek - The Trade Off

Finally....FINALLY the wind laid down to a manageable 3-5 MPH. It was a beautiful day for kayak fishing Saturday, with an incoming tide and partly cloudy skies, it looked like a day to be remembered.

But, as often happens, a great day on the water can cost I soon found out. Is this trade off worth it? You decide.

When I came across Sand Key Bridge, I could see that my friend Keith was already there, with his kayak sail cruising him along. You have to understand that Keith likes to put a lot of stuff on his boat....Outriggers, a leaning platform, mast for the sail, crate, among other stuff. A lot of the gear he made himself, which I think is admirable, I just prefer to go basic with my rig, The "Bad Rebecca" - sort of like it's namesake.

He paddled in to meet me and I asked him if he had caught any fish yet. "Nope, nothing yet."

He was using shrimp. We paddled out to "the spot"...the flat between two drop offs. I started with the Brown Lures Black Cat Devil Eye to see of I could locate fish. Sure enough, first few casts I was getting hits and had the first fish within minutes. A 12 inch seatrout. Isn't this how it's supposed to be? Just like the fishing shows?

I switched up to the fly rod with an olive and green half and half. No dice. Changed up to a chartreuse and white Clouser. Nothing. I put the fly rod down and went back to the Devil Eye. Fish on. Another 12 inch trout. Furious action that you dream about. Cast, count one - one thousand, two - one thousand, pull the rod tip up 12 inches and there was a fish on. Repeat. Keith still didn't have any luck, so I gave him my last Black Cat. Of course, a few fish later, my lure got torn, so I changed to a Devil Eye in Amber. Nothing. Keith got a few fish with the Black Cat. I tossed a DOA Shrimp in chartreuse. Nothing.

Never in my life have I seen fish so dialed in on one color scheme. I put on a Brown Lures Flappin' Devil in Glow color. Got a few fish on it, the biggest being a 15 inch seatrout. It was crazy. Fish were still hitting when we paddled in three hours later. I totaled 15 trout and Keith totaled 3 (one being a lizard fish.)

Here's where the trade off happened - When I arrived home and was unloading my gear, I couldn't find my paddle (the one from a few posts back.) I went back out to where we were located and couldn't find it. I guess I was too busy jabbering with Keith and got distracted. I almost NEVER drive off without my gear.

Looks like I'm up a creek.....

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Book Review - The Flycaster Who Tried To Make Peace WithThe World

This is an interesting and therapeutic book showing how fly casting, fly fishing and long distance fly casting can assist in healing a person who has gone through traumatic events. This book also explores some of the history of long distance fly casting in the 1900's in a fictional sense. Randy Kadish has masterfully described locations that "take you there", and you can almost smell the surroundings. It's a delightful journey into a society that once was.

I am not big on novels and I couldn't see how someone could write a readable one about fly casting. However, once inside the book what I found was an engaging tale of a young man coming of age.... All the while dealing with his own tragedies and successes.

Overall, This book speaks to me and feels all too familiar after dealing with my own personal demons and using the outdoors as a life buoy. It has also inspired me to write a semi-fictional piece.

The Fly Caster Who Tried to Make Peace With The World is available from It is published by Saw Mill River Press, 255 pages, ISBN 1-879628-26-0. It is also available via

Friday, May 7, 2010

Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad

My last kayaking trip coincided with 90 degree F beginning of summer (Not officially, but by me. I can usually get into June before turning on the AC) One thing I can assure you of - my Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad will come in handy in the sweltering heat of Florida summer on the flats.

It works! As long as you keep it damp, it'll keep you cool.

This is made of some sort of "space age" material (that's what we call things that tend to be technologically advanced) that stays cooler than the surrounding air as long as it's wet. It doesn't feel like a damp cloth either. It sucks up sweat leaving you cool and is good for anyone outdoors in the summer. This will be a staple in the kayak for sure....

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Carlisle Day Tripper Paddle

The Carlisle Day Tripper kayak paddle is a fairly basic paddle in the world of kayak paddles. It's the most used paddle in rental fleets the world over, and most used by beginning kayakers.

I find it to be a good solid paddle all around and it works equally well if I'm "digging" (trying to go fast) or just lazily cruising along. It doesn't weigh a ton, but isn't made out of carbon fiber either. The adjustable, 2 piece paddle also can be allowed to be feathered up to 60 degrees if need be.

The fact that rental fleets use this paddle is a plus in my means it will hold up to just about any beating I can put on it. It's an affordable yet rugged option if you're in the market for a kayak paddle.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Weekend Wrap Up 5/2

Loaded up the kayak on Saturday morning to hit the incoming tide at Sand Key... but the weather had different ideas. When I arrived at Sand Key, the wind was at a gale (Looks like the forecast was right... 25-30 out of the SE and humid.)and kicking up the waves in the inter coastal. Had to go to Plan B, which was Belleair Causeway. Only a few folks were there as the heat kept everyone at home. As long as I stayed on the north side of the causeway, I was semi- protected from the wind. I tried to venture over to the other side, but there were rollers coming over the sandbar. Everything was ok if I didn't venture past the 100 yard mark or so. Water quality was very murky.
Used several crab patterns and a shrimp pattern with a rattle dice. Switched to spinning gear soft plastics. Nothing. Skunked.

The heat and humidity came in making the AC a necessity at home. My Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad will come in handy this summer. Will post a review soon....also used the Carlisle Day Tripper paddle which is a good piece of gear to review as well.....