Tripletail offer a curious challenge to the fly angler, and they are available around the state. Days and nights of stiff northeasterly winds had hampered our attempts to venture into the windblown Atlantic for more than a week. But now the long wait had ended with the arrival of calm winds and moderate ground swells.
Sketchy low tides and a minefield of oyster shell? No problem for these Northeast Florida kayakers. Edward Abbey once said if you want to see the desert, get down on your knees and start crawling. Kayaking is the boating equivalent, with fish and other wildlife only inches away.
Get out of the way and into the fish on the Indian River. I had known that there were schools of redfish on the shallow flats at the southern end of Mosquito Lagoon. Until now, however, I had been unable to catch more than one or two fish a day, no matter what I seemed to do. I was about ready to give up.
Spoil the reed and spare the fish. Let’s face it. Dropping even the smallest anchor in a tidal creek or wilderness canal can turn off the fish. Whether it’s the splash, or simply because fish sense your presence, they can be frightened by anchors, particularly in tight quarters.
How would you handle fishing for one particular kind of fish, hundreds of miles from home, on a random calendar date? What would be your strategy? What resources might you use? What tackle would you bring?These are the kinds of questions tournament fishermen routinely answer.
Redfish and seatrout, solitude and scenery along the Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail. A 5-pound redfish towing a 45-pound kayak, burdened further by angler and gear, harnessed by a wisp of 10-pound-test thread. This surely mocks some obscure law of physics.
Find a dark, stagnant pool or stream tucked way back in a mangrove swamp and there’s a good chance you’ll spot little silver fish rolling at the surface. Odds are they are tarpon, very small ones, only 1 to 3 feet long, and they are gulping air—a survival tactic that enables these fish to survive in habitats that repel most others.
Besides their willingness to bite when other fish won’t, catfish are crowd favorites at fish fries. The farm-raised channel cats, in fact, are among the few seafood offerings I find consistently satisfying at restaurants. Shrimp, salmon, lobster, and saltwater catches of the day such as mahi and grouper seem to arrive at my table in varying and unpredictable degrees of freshness and doneness—usually over-doneness.
Florida anglers know it’s not always a fish-eatfish world out there. Vegetarian fish lack innate regard for the ingenuity lavished on modern sportfishing tackle and artificial lures. Florida’s fresh water hosts a few such ingrates, whose office it is to torture young anglers, frustrate them with their large bodies and small, declining mouths.
Any way you slice it, golf course ponds can be prime sites for hooking largemouths. I learned to enjoy the best of both worlds long ago as a caddy at the Doral Open in Miami. After lugging around the bag for Julius Boros during a practice round, we small-talked a bit until the conversation swung to our mutual fondness for fishing.
No fish in the sea is immune to the lure of fresh menhaden. If menhaden ranged throughout Florida, I’m convinced they would top every angler’s list of best baits. These fish are oily, reflective and loaded with energy. From the backwaters to the beaches, they’re a top menu item for a huge variety of gamefish, from seatrout to sailfish.
A mini fishing vacation that offers a little bit of everything, all the time. No boat required. One lazy night a few friends and I made a spontaneous decision to drive to the Florida Keys. Our quest to cure boredom has since turned into frequent trips in search of tarpon, snapper, grouper and other great fish.
Located in the eastern middle of the state, Lake Okeechobee is truly a huge body of water. Miles of shoreline, bays, airboat trails, grass edges, floating hyacinth islands and a host of other bass habitat await anglers. It seems that every foot of it is prime bass water. The lake also holds stable populations of black crappie, shellcrackers, bluegill, channel catfish, gar and a host of other freshwater fishes.
Tricks to take big bream on fly. Several years ago, I caught a mixed bag of four dozen bluegills and shellcrackers during a single, glorious afternoon. While that was practically all the law allowed, the real kicker is that these fish weighed close to a pound apiece.