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Southern Saltwater

Fly Fishing Magazine Edition 7 September 2018

www.southernsaltwaterflyfishing.com


From the Editor Editor Jimmy Jacobs jimmyjacobs@mindspring.com Publisher Don Kirk don@southerntrout.com Associate Publisher Claude Preston, III claude@southerntrout.com Managing Editor Leah Kirk leah@southerntrout.com

I

t is always good to hear from our readers and, when possible, we like to share those conversations Assoc. Managing Editor Loryn Lathem with all our subscribers. Here’s loryn@southerntrout.com one of those recent exchanges. Field Editor

Polly Dean pollydean22@gmail.com

Contributors Contributors

Polly Dean Mike Marsh Bob McNally Capt. Sonny Schindler Southern Saltwater Fly Fishing is a publication of Southern Unlimited, LLC. It is produced in conjunction with Southern Trout Magazine and Southerntrout.com. Copyright 2018 Southern Unlimited, LLC All rights reserved.

www.sosaltwaterflyfishing.com l November 2 lZZZVRVDOWZDWHUÀ\¿VKLQJFRP September2018 2018

I thoroughly enjoy the articles in SSFF. One comment on the recent article on St. Simons ,VODQGÀ\¿VKLQJ 6W6LPRQV&DVW & Blast, Spring 2017) that would have been nice and hopefully will be in future articles. It would really help to provide any info on any of the locations on whether wade ¿VKLQJLVSRVVLEOHRULILW VDOOYLDD ERDWVNL௺ All the best Manny Gerpe


Turning attention to our present issue, our Close Look Section focuses on northeast Florida’s First Coast region. In keeping with that theme, we introduce yet another new voice to the magazine, as veteran writer and angler Bob McNally pro¿OHVWKHVHDWURXWDFWLRQRQ DÀ\LQWKDWYLFLQLW\'RZQ on the Gulf Coast, Capt. Sonny Schindler makes his debut in our pages with a look at chasing red¿VK LQ 0LVVLVVLSSL¶V %LOR[L Marsh, while Field Editor 3ROO\ 'HDQ KHDGV RXW WR Louisiana’s Chandeleur Islands on an angling adventure. Another new face to our publication appears as Mike Marsh of Wilmington, North Carolina introduces the action for big bull reds on Pamlico Sound and the Neuse River in that state. You’ll also ¿QGFRYHUDJHRIVODPPLQJ in Apalachicola, Florida and a look at the adventures awaiting anglers on the mainland of Belize in Central America.

Here’s hoping you enjoy this edition and let us know if that is the case. Jimmy Jacobs Editor

JOURNEYS OF SGI St. George Island, Florida

Manny, Thanks for your comments. Like you, I EHVW HQMR\ À\ FDVWLQJ LQ the salt in areas where I can wade, and we are constantly on the lookout for such opportunities. Unfortunately, in the case of the marshes around St. Simons, such situations are extremely rare. The area around Goulds Inlet, between St. Simons and Sea Islands at the mouth of the Blackbank River, has a limited amount of wadable sand at various tide levels. There is also the option of working along the western shore of Lanier Island to the south of the boat ramp at the end of Marina Road. This is WKH ¿UVW LVODQG XQGHU WKH 7RUUDV &DXVHZD\ DV \RX leave St. Simons headed to the mainland. It is possible to occasionally pick up some trout, reds or ÀRXQGHU DURXQG WKH VKHOO beds on that side of Fancy %OX௺&UHHN Jimmy Jacobs Editor

40 E 3rd Street, St. George Island (850)927-3259 www.sgislandjourneys.com info@sgislandjourneys.com

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This Issue Editor’s Letter

2

SOLAREZ Contest

6

Discovering Mainland Belize

8

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6

8



Jacked up in the Chandeleurs

46

Slamming in Appalachicola

60

CLOSE LOOK Jacksonville Florida to St. Augustine )O\5RGGLQJIRU)LUVW&ODVV Seatrout Vaughn Cochran  $0DQRI0DQ\+DWV  Featured Guide Capt. Andrew Mizell

98

28

)O\6KRS3UR¿OH    2\VWHU&UHHN2XW¿WWHUV 5HDFKLQJWRWKH6N\  Rod Designer Ron Contaoi 3RSSLQJXS3DPOLFR  Sound's Red Giants



%UXLVHU5HGVLQWKH  Biloxi Marsh



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7KH%LJ%DLWV 











(QGRIWKH/LQH  The Blind Tiger



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On September 30, 2018, Solarez, in partnership with Southern Trout and Southern Saltwater Fly Fishing Magazines, Dr. Slick Fly Tying Tools and FlyTyer Magazine launched The Solarez UV Revolution World Tour. Rock Concerts? NO. Instead, an awareness program exploring all of the different types of flies that can be tied with Solarez UV Resins. So, just what is this Solarez UV Revolution World Tour? It is a contest and social media tour directed at the fly tying and fly fishing world that will generate awareness and the unique application value of using Solarez in constructing flies. This program is running from September 30, 2018, through April 1, 2019, and will create an opportunity for fly ters from all over the world to showcase their fly tying abilities. REQUIREMENTS: Tyers will be required to post a photo of their fly with an accompanying Solarez UV Product and pattern ingredients for the fly on one of the four Solarez Facebook pages: North America, Europe, Australia or New Zealand. Entrants should select the Facebook page that geographically represents them. Posts that do not include the Solarez product with fly and pattern will be deleted immediately. Only those posts meeting the requirements will remain.

So, what happens next?

The top 5 contributors with the most Facebook ‘likes’ at the end of each month will receive a t-shirt and an additional 5 t-shirts will be awarded via a random drawing from those who posted likes. Drawings will be held on last day of each month and winners will be announced

SOLA

UV Rev World Tou


AREZ

volution ur Contest

during the first week of the following month. (All t-shirts will be size XL to manage inventory) On October 1, the first drawing wasfrom individuals who “likeed” the Solarez Page from September 19 - September 30. This contest will be announced “softly” via Solarez Facebook pages, shares, Pro Team Members, and partner posts. For the final drawing in April, we will start the whole process over again. October will set the stage for November, December, January, February, and the last on in March, for a total of 7 months in each geographical area. TWO (2) GRAND PRIZES, will be randomly drawn from tyers who have submitted flies for the World Tour and all those who have provided likes. Votes will only be collected for flies posted on Solarez Facebook pages. Contributor flies will be shared with Partner Facebook pages. Partners will also be encouraged to offer monthly prizes from random drawings from monthly ‘likers’ of their own individual Facebook pages. Winners will be shared/posted on all Solarez Facebook pages. Southern Trout and Southern Saltwater Fly Fishing magazines will be featuring some Pro Team and consumer flies in each issue over the next 6 months. Of course, they will be respective of either trout or saltwater patterns. Dr. Slick will provide fly-tying tools monthly. Flytyer Magazine will be supporting this tour program by highlighting flies.


Discovering O

QHWKLQJDORWRIZRUOGFODVV¿VKLQJGHVWLQDWLRQVKDYHLQFRPPRQLVWKHLUUHPRWHORFDWLRQV7KH¿VKLQJUHPDLQVJRRGWKHUH EHFDXVHWKHGLႈFXOW\RIUHDFKLQJWKHPWUDQVODWHVWROHVV¿VKing pressure. Often going hand in hand with that situation is the probDELOLW\WKDWRQFHWKHUHWKHUH¶VQRWPXFKWRGRRUVHHH[FHSW¿VK

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Mainland Fishing is from the lodge’s panga-style boats. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

Belize

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 )RUVHULRXVÀ\FDVWHUVWKDW¶VMXVW¿QH%XWZKHQ\RX¿VKWKHFRDVWDOUHgions of Belize, the surrounding tropical jungle of mahogany and malady trees, wildlife ranging from crocodiles to howler monkeys, long abandoned Mayan sites and vistas of mountains framing a remote lagoon threaten to overwhelm the senses and distract you from the angling.  7KDW¶VQRWWRVD\WKH¿VKLQJLVQ¶WH[FLWLQJHQRXJKWRKROG\RXUDWWHQWLRQ After running at high speed through the jungle on a narrow canal dating from colonial days when the country was called British Honduras, then popping out into a remote lagoon beneath the towering Maya Mountains, the wild aerial antics of hooked baby tarpon quickly can supplant any other thoughts.

7KHERQH¿VKDUHIRXQGPRVWO\ RQWKHPDQJURYHÀDWV Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

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 7KHVPDOOHUWDUSRQ XSWRDERXWSRXQGV DUHQRWWKHRQO\¿VKUHDGily available. In the larger rivers or channels around the near shore cayes, their giant cousins cruise, often topping the 100-pound mark. Along the mangrove-fringed shores, the shadows harbor hungry snook, while the shallow ÀDWVDUHSDWUROOHGE\MDFNFUHYDOOHEDUUDFXGDERQH¿VKDQGSHUPLW  $UHFHQWYLVLWWRWKH%HOL]H5LYHU/RGJHRႇHUHGVKRWVDWDOORIWKHVH¿VK 7KHORGJHLVVLWXDWHGRQWKHÀRZWKDWLVRIWHQUHIHUUHGWRDV%HOL]H2OGH5LYer or just Old River. That’s 10 miles northwest of downtown Belize City and about 7 miles from the mouth of the stream and the fringe of the Caribbean Sea. Our guide for the week was John Moore, who began as a commercial ¿VKHUPDQVWDUWHGWDNLQJVSLQQLQJDQJOHUVRXWIRUWKHORGJHDQGWKHQEHFDPH DSUR¿FLHQWÀ\¿VKLQJJXLGH+DYLQJJURZQXSLQDQGVWLOODUHVLGHQWRI*DOHV Point - a village roughly 90 minutes south of Belize City by road, but closer by ERDW±KHNQRZVWKHLQVKRUHZDWHUVDQGWKH¿VKWKDWOLYHWKHUHZHOO

Strip setting the hook on a baby tarpon on the Southern Lagoon. Photo by Polly Dean.

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 2XU¿UVWHYHQLQJDW%HOL]H5LYHU/RGJHVHWWKHWRQHIRUWKLVWURSLFDODGYHQture. Green iguanas fed leisurely on the manicured lawn, while dusk brought the booming roar of howler monkeys calling at last light. Locally referred to as “baboons,” these critters are the second loudest creatures on Earth, but, thankfully, keep quiet during the night.

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Hooked tarpon quickly take to the air when they feel the hook. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

Each day began by meeting John at the dock to load up his panga-style ERDWZLWKJHDU7KDWYHVVHOZDVLGHDOIRUERWKWKHÀDWVDQGULYHU¿VKLQJKDYing a shallow draft and plenty of room for casting. A poling platform had been added to the back, along with a leaning bar in the front. As we ran down the river, John was alert for the tell-tale rolling of big tarpon in the deeper holes. When those did not appear, we’d head for the open waters around the near VKRUHFD\HV2XU¿UVWVWRSZRXOGEHWKHHDVWHUQVKRUHRI0RKR&D\HMXVW RႇVKRUHRIWKHPXQLFLSDODLUSRUWLQ%HOL]H&LW\+HUHZHHQFRXQWHUHGVQRRN EDE\WDUSRQDQGMDFNFUDYDOOHRQHDFKYLVLW'XHWRLWVORFDWLRQIDFLQJWKHRSHQ VHDWKHZDWHUXVXDOO\ZDVTXLWHFKRSS\DQGHYHQWXUELG\HWWKH¿VKZHUH SUHVHQWDQGUHDG\WRWDNHRXUÀLHV7KHFDVWLQJFRQGLWLRQVPDGHWKHOHDQLQJ bar a welcome addition at this location. September 2018 lZZZVRVDOWZDWHUÀ\¿VKLQJFRPl 15


Another option was to head a bit north into the maze of islands from Hick’s Caye south to Spanish Lookout Caye. Here the search was for snook DORQJ WKH VKRUH RU ERQH¿VK DQG SHUPLW RQ WKH RSHQ ÀDWV DOO RI ZKLFK ZH IRXQGDWGLႇHUHQWWLPHVGXULQJRXUVWD\7KHSHUPLWKRZHYHUFRQ¿UPHGWKHLU reputation as easier to locate than catch. Fortunately the other two species did give us some action.

Guide John Moore is hoisting a baby tarpon taken by SSFF Field Editor Polly Dean. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

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 8QIRUWXQDWHO\0RWKHU1DWXUHZDVWKURZLQJD¿WWRRXUQRUWKRႇWKH Yucatan Peninsula, with a tropical storm battering that region. Its fringe HႇHFWRQRXUDUHDUHVXOWHGLQPRUHVHDUFKLQJWKDQZDVQRUPDOWR¿QGWKH ¿VK7KDWZDVSDUWLFXODUO\WUXHLQWKHDUHDNQRZQDV³0LDPL%HDFK´D ZKLWHVDQGÀDWLQWRIHHWRIZDWHUMXVWVRXWKRI/RQJ&D\H+HUHWKH UHDOO\ELJWDUSRQFURVVWKHÀDWKHDGHGLQVKRUHRUGLQDULO\RႇHULQJVLJKW FDVWLQJRSWLRQVIRUKXJH¿VK7KRVHWDUSRQVLPSO\UHIXVHGWRVKRZXS every day.

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Eventually that led to our run through the colonial era canal down to the ODJRRQVDURXQG*DOHV3RLQW:H¿UVWWULHGWKHGHHSEHQGVRIWKH0DQDWHH 5LYHUIRUELJWDUSRQ7KRXJKWKRVH¿VKUHYHDOHGWKHLUSUHVHQFHE\UROOLQJRQ the surface, they apparently were in no mood to fool with us. Then we ran closer to Gales Point and the Maya Mountain range for more accommodating EDE\ WDUSRQ 7KRVH ¿VK ZHUH KDQJLQJ DURXQG GHSUHVVLRQV LQ WKH ERWtom of the Southern Lagoon. They were plentiful, accommodating and UHDG\IRUD¿JKW

Polly Dean took this snook from WKHVKRUHOLQHRI0RKR&D\H Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

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For a video look at that boat ride and angling action, check out the Southern Saltwater Fly Fishing Facebook page.  %\ %HOL]H VWDQGDUGV RXU ÂżVKLQJ UHVXOWV PD\ have been less than spectacular due to the weather. On the other hand, the action we experienced would be above standard at most any other location. Throw in the scenery and adventure of the area and a trip to mainland Belize is a sure winner. 20 lZZZVRVDOWZDWHUĂ€\ÂżVKLQJFRPl September 2018


7KH ERQH¿VK DUH QRW JLDQWV EXW generally are plentiful and ready IRUD¿JKWRQWKHÀDWV Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

Another Day in Paradise…

888.512.8812

September 2018 lZZZVRVDOWZDWHUÀ\¿VKLQJFRP www.tflats.com reservations@tflats.com l 21


Guest quarters at the Belize River Lodge. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs

Where to Stay

The Belize RivHU /RGJH RႇHUV D JUHDW blending of traditional and modern Belize. First constructed during the colonial period on the shore of the Belize Olde River, it has been continuously serving anglers since 1960. Originally opened as Barothy’s Caribbean Lodge and then Keller Caribbean Sports, pres-

ent owners Margurite Jones Miles and Mike Heusner took over management in 1980 and gave the lodge its present name. Both have deep family roots in Belize – especially in the case of Mike, who is a fourth generation Belizean. The lodge consists of three buildings with air conditioned guest

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rooms, as well as the main building housing WKH RႈFH GLQLQJ URRP and screened veranda, which serves as the bar, Ă€\W\LQJVWDWLRQDQGHYHning hospitality area... The lodge accommodates up to 16 guests. All meals of Belizean cuisine are included, with breakfast and dinner served family style in the dining room.


The main lodge building at the Belize River Lodge. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs There is no access to the lodge via roads. Guests are transported across the Belize River in boats, and a shuttle van connects to the Philip Goldson International Airport. More recently the lodge has opened their Long Caye Outpost Lodge. Situated on a remote island facing the Caribbean Sea, the

lodge has no Internet or telephone service, is reached by boat and powered by a generator, ZKLOHORGJHVWDႇSURYLGH all meals and other services. The Long Caye Outpost can accommodate parties of up to six anglers. In addition to a QXPEHU RI ¿VKLQJ SDFNDJHV WKH ORGJH RႇHUV eco- and adventure tours

for non-anglers. Fishermen can bring their own equipment or use the lodge’s quality rental gear. Mike’s Closet is the onVLWH WDFNOH VKRS RႇHULQJ a limited amount of basic JHDUDQGÀLHV$À\W\LQJ bench also is available WRJXHVWV:L¿LVSURYLGed on the veranda of the main lodge building For more details visit belizeriverlodge.com.

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While You Are There

To get a real feel for central Belize, several spots that are covered E\%HOL]H5LYHU/RGJHWRXUVFDQVDWLVI\WKDWLWFK7KHVWDႇFDQDUUDQJH such a van excursion with a knowledgeable guide for the day. Community Baboon Sanctuary As mentioned, local folks refer to black howler monkeys as baboons. 7KH&RPPXQLW\%DERRQ6DQFWXDU\LVDFRRSHUDWLYHHႇRUWRIODQGowners to protect 20 square miles of habitat for the animals. Begun in WKHDUHDQRZKRVWVDSRSXODWLRQRIRIWKHKRZOHUV6WDႇJXLGHV RႇHUZDONLQJWRXUVLQ the jungle along the Belize River, where sightings of the creatures are common. These tours often provide opportunities for interaction with the monkeys. For more information, visit belizehowlermonkeys.com. Altun Ha Mayan Site Altun Ha is the remains of an ancient Maya city, lying 45 minutes north of the Belize River Lodge. Be careful, though, to call it a Mayan site, not a ruin. The locals will quickly point out that the Maya did not build “ruins.â€? The site covers more than 3 square miles, but a short walking tour takes you through the main ceremonial area with its pyramids and central square. The top of the tallest pyramid at 52 feet provides impressive views of the surrounding jungle terrain. More information is available at altunha.com. 24 lZZZVRVDOWZDWHUĂ€\ÂżVKLQJFRPl September 2018


Belize Zoo A 45-minute drive to the southwest of Belize River Lodge takes you to the Belize Zoo. Established in 1983, it has 175 animals and birds from 45 species native to Belize. Those range from jaguars to crocodiles and harpy eagles to toucans, as well as the Baird’s tapir. Known locally as the mountain cow, the tapir is a relative of the rhinoceros and the Belize National Animal. 7KH]RRDOVRRSHUDWHVWKH+DUS\&DIpRႇHULQJJXHVWV%HOL]HDQFXLsine on site. For more details, go to belizezoo.com September 2018 lZZZVRVDOWZDWHUÀ\¿VKLQJFRPl 25


YO U R PL AC E TO CAST OFF O R K I C K B A C K.

The Hutchinson Island Marriott Beach Resort & Marina is the perfect place to enjoy Florida’s great outdoors. Spend the day at the beach surf fishing, jet skiing, kayaking and paddle boarding, visit our private marina or go on a fishing charter along the river or deep sea. Soak up the sun by one of our three sparkling pools, play a round on our challenging Ocean Club Golf Course, then catch up over light bites, frozen cocktails and American fare at Sandpiper and Latitudes tiki bars. Whatever your angle, you’ll find a relaxing haven on Hutchinson Island. F O R R AT E S A N D R E S E R V AT I O N S , C A LL 772 . 225. 370 0 O R V I SIT MARRIOT THUTCHINSONISL AND.COM.

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© 2018 Marriott International, Inc. All rights reserved.


DOGWOOD LODGE

HOPEDALE, LA

www.southernwaycharters.com

CALL (601) 466-0152 TO BOOK YOUR NEXT FISHING ADVENTURE SPORTSMANS LODGE VENICE, LA

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THE HOSSFLY TIER No, the HOSSFLY is not a fly pattern. Rather, it is one of the many facets of the angling career of Tom Herrington of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Over the last couple of decades, Herrington has become a pillar of the fly fishing community along the Gulf of Mexico, both as a fly tier and a founding member of the Historic Ocean Springs Saltwater Fly Fishing Club or HOSSFLY. Add to that his prowess in fishing his creations and you begin to get a sense of what sets him apart. All photos courtesy of Tom Herrington

T

om Herrington is a native of Jones County, Mississippi, which he refers to as the Free State of Jones. That’s a reference to a group of that county’s residents who rebelled against the Confederacy during the Civil War by setting up their own “free state.” He grew up fishing the fresh and saltwaters of the Gulf Coast region. Very early in that career his parents gave him a cheap bamboo fly rod, with the intent to keep him busy and out of their way while they fished with conventional tackle.

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A redfish that fell for a Chandeleur Special.

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The Pink Cactus Charlie

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“My mentors for fly fishing and tying were my dad and my uncle Hubert Davis,” he explained, but also noted another influence. “My first hard-bound ‘adult’ book was Joe Brooks’ Salt Water Fly Fishing.” It was 1968 when he caught his first saltwater fish on a Frankee-Belle pattern that had been developed by legendary Florida Keys guide Jimmie Albright. From that start, Herrington obviously developed into a competent fly angler. In 2003 he set the Mississippi State Record for cobia taken on a fly. That fish weighed 43 pounds, 13.6 ounces. “But, it’s not my biggest cobia,” Herrington said. “Two bigger were caught, one in Destin and one before they started keeping records in Mississippi. Oh, I’ve lost monsters. Rachycentron canadum is a tough fish on the fly.” September 2018

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Tom also developed an interest in fly tying while in junior high school. “Books, magazines like Field & Stream and a neighbor, Mr. Register,” Herrington pointed to in describing his early fly tying influences. The books were the Joe Brooks’ volume mentioned earlier and Joseph Bates’ Streamer Flyfishing. “I used suggested patterns using mostly bucktail from harvested deer, feathers from abandoned nests and material from my mom’s Singer sewing machine basket. Easy, simple patterns were always the most effective, such as the aforementioned Frankee-Belle, Shrimp Fly (now called a Seaducer) and Joe Brooks’ Blonde Series.” While Tom continues to gather materials for tying his flies, he also does use commercial products. “The new materials are incredible,” he stated. 32 l www.sosaltwaterflyfishing.com

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“I don’t claim to have been the originator of any fly pattern,” Herrington pointed out. “I can say that I have tied many flies, which I had not ever previously seen, only to find that ‘pattern’ in some magazine or online months or years later that someone claimed to have originated. Further, like the Brits, I really consider what I tie to be lures for a fly rod. I also tie flies for my friends, tweaking patterns that they had seen to fit our area or the area or species for which they fish. Do those flies with different colors or different materials constitute a new pattern? Only the older guys would say yes.” One example is the Chandeleur Special. “The Chandeleur Special is more of a color scheme than a particular fly – in essence, olive color with red flash.

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“Rod Fields, an old fishing buddy, was part owner of The Pelican, a floating fish camp in the Chandeleurs. When I lived in Atlanta (1972 to 1992), Rod would invite me down to go fishing in the Chandeleurs. Every time I’d ask if I could bring my fly rod, to which he would always say to we were going ‘meat fishing’ and to bring my casting rod and motor oil grubs. “My wife and I moved to Ocean Springs in 1992, I had reformed the Historic Ocean Springs Saltwater Fly Fishing Club and in 1999 planned a couples’ trip to the Pelican, taking fly rods. We out caught Rod badly and convinced him of the effectiveness of flies.

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“In 2000 four of us, including Rod, hit the Chandeleurs loaded with fly rods only and armed with Fireflies and the new Chandeleur Specials, which I had tied to emulate those old motor oil grubs. Rod’s first cast into one of Hurricane George’s tidal pools, he hooked and landed a beautiful slot redfish. Rod was hooked from then on. “I have since tied many patterns with that color scheme and, at times, it’s the only colors that fish of all species will take around the barrier islands, including the Chandeleurs.” Some of the traditional patterns that Herrington ties and fishes are variations of Muddler Minnows or Wooly Buggers. New designs are Cactus Charlies, Double Lepus and Rattle Rousers. He also describes half a dozen flies that are must-haves for fishing his area of the Gulf Coast.

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• Firefly – A deep minnow-style pattern in fluorescent red over fluorescent yellow, with pearl Krystal flash and gold eyes. • Chandeleur Special – A deep minnow pattern in all olive with red Krystal flash. • Pink Cactus Charlie – A Crazy Charlie pattern with long, pale pink calf tail and Dan Bailey long flash chenille body, finished off with pink barbell lead eyes. • East Coast Seatrout Special – Tied sparsely with white and chartreuse bucktail, pearl Krystal flash, pink chenille body and small lead barbell or bead chain eyes. • Popping Bug – Tied in a variety of colors on a No. 2 hook • Double Lepus – Tied in the sunset color scheme for targeting cobia. 40 l www.sosaltwaterflyfishing.com

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Tom Herrington with a cobia taken on the fly.

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Although, Tom does not tie commercially, he does occasionally do some custom tying, as well as teaching classes. He finished out with some advice for novice tiers. “Practice any pattern until you can tie six flies that look as close to identical as you can tie them,” he offered. “In fact, most any pattern or style of fly that I tie, I usually will tie six each in olive/red, pink/pearl, red/ yellow, pink/chartreuse, and black/purple. For me those are essential, excellent, effective saltwater fly color combinations. Then I try to match mass, motion and movement of the prey. “Tie several different patterns requiring different techniques,” Herrington added. And finally, “Always enjoy your work,” then get out there and fish with them.” For more information on the Historic Ocean Springs Saltwater Fly Fishing Club visit dwabrams. com/hossfly. September 2018

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CHECK OUT THE ACTION I FISH

OFFSHORE, INSHORE, FRESHWATER

HUNT

DUCKS, WATERFOWL & MORE


IN PLAQUEMINES PARISH SEE

TOURS, SIGHTS & ATTRACTIONS

STAY

LODGING AND DINING

ATTEND

PARISH EVENTS


Jacked Up in the Polly Dean

Chandeleur

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The Chandeleur chain of islands offers miles of wadeable flats for fly casting. Photo by Polly Dean.

F

ishing the Chandeleur Islands had been on my bucket list for a number of years – a couple of decades actually. When I read the invite to visit a new “lodge” and fish this chain of islands, it only took a second to reply “yes!” I didn't pay much attention to the term “jack-up barge” within the brief invitation. Instead, I zeroed in on the fact that I would soon be wading the flats of this legendary chain of islands off the Mississippi coast. The shallow sand and grass flats of the Chandeleur Islands are notorious for redfish, speckled trout and numerous other species that either reside or make their migration through the waters of the crescent-shaped chain.

rs

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Fishing in the Chandeleur Islands is good from spring through the end of the year. Though most anglers are targeting red drum and big seatrout, a myriad of other game fish are available as well. Herds of jack crevalle cruise these shallows during the summer months. Migrating cobia and tarpon make an appearance from May through July. Bluefish, Spanish mackerel and flounder will also bend a rod.

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Due to the Chandeleur Islands being 30 miles from the mainland, many anglers choose to stay aboard a “mother ship” at night to maximize fishing time. The Chandeleur Islander, our “home away from home” was a newly renovated jack-up barge designed to accommodate groups of anglers. The barge, repurposed from its earlier use at oil rigs proved to be a clever, yet comfortable and practical home base for our small group of anglers, along with another dozen or more who joined us onboard.

The jacked up barge is positioned within easy wading distance of the islands. Photo by Polly Dean. .

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Jon Malovich of Hardy Rods with the 4-foot bonnethead shark that took his fly in the Chandeleurs. Photo by Polly Dean.

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Fishing the Chain

In the first minutes of wading, my initial cast into a “blue hole� drew a strike. The strong-fighting fish that eagerly swallowed my fly, was a hardhead catfish. Turns out these opportunistic saltwater cats were quite common and easily spotted almost everywhere we waded. Depending on one's point of view, the hardheads were either somewhat of a nuisance or to one angler in the group, they provided a distraction - a target to cast to, when fishing was slow. Our group of five joined a fly angler from Texas who was traveling solo and, as luck would have it, happened to be testing out his brand new 24-foot Scout boat and graciously shared his boat with us. Louisiana fishing guide and Hardy Rods pro-staffer J.P. Morel provided some direction as we scooted around the islands looking for areas suitable for anchoring, and enough water to hop out and wade along the scrub and sand islands. Redfish Point, near the center of the chain, is a popular area - I say this loosely, as we were the only boat and anglers in the vicinity - and was our starting point. The water had a slight stain from the wind and waves, but was clear enough to see bottom at its shallowest in one to two feet deep. There was plenty of space for all of us to roam and the terrain ranged from white sand to a mix of sand and grass. We learned quickly that most of the bottom was firm, but dispersed throughout the hard bottom were soft areas (large or small), where one could sink up to the knees or more if not careful. It was best to navigate slowly. September 2018

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We all hooked fish, a lot of hardhead cats and a few speckled trout. I managed a small redfish with a blind cast to a grass edge. We saw mullet, pinfish and hardheads along with an occasional jack crevalle. A few sharks and stingrays shared the flats with us. This pattern continued as we explored the islands the following day, finding more trout, redfish and a 4-foot bonnethead shark that provided an impressive fight on a 10-weight rod.

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The almost deafening sound of birds could be heard as we approached some of the larger islands. We saw gulls, terns, pelicans and skimmers. It was a magical place with the abundance of wildlife and activity in and around this salty habitat.

Hardy Elite Pro J.P. Morel is holding the red landed by Jim Hamblin of Tyler, Texas. Photo by Polly Dean.

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Getting There

Though nearly due south of Biloxi, Mississippi, Louisiana lays claim to this crescent-shaped chain of uninhabited islands. Lore has it that in the 1800s a dispute arose between the two states as to the possession of the Chandeleur Islands. Ownership was established by drifting a barrel down the Pearl River that divides the states and allowing wind and current to determine which side of the islands the barrel would drift. The barrel traveled northeast of the main chain, thus Louisiana claimed ownership. We made the 38-mile run to the barge via a shuttle boat out of Pass Christian, Mississippi. Normally a little more than an hour trip, rough seas slowed our voyage to two hours – a new, but unwelcome, record for our shuttle crew. The crew stowed our gear, and bean bag chairs for our comfort filled the deck. Guests are welcome to bring their own boats to the Islander. The jacked up barge has a portable dock for access and boats can be safely anchored close by.

The author with a Chandeleur seatrout taken on a shrimp pattern fly. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

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Polly Dean is a field editor for Southern Saltwater Fly Fishing Magazine. She also is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer who fly fishes extensively in the magazine’s coverage area.

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The Chandeleur Islander Fishing Lodge

If you love to fish the Chandeleur Islands, but the trip wears you out, the new Chandeleur Islander is a stationary and stable jack-up fishing lodge. Located in the midst of the Chandeleur chain, the barge also has the ability to move to another location as the fish move. The barge is safe and secure above the water, so wind and waves are not an issue. There are four six-man bunk rooms with a sink area and private bathroom and shower. Guests have a personal locker and the individual curtained bunks are outfitted with a shelf, light and outlet for charging cameras and phones. Wifi is available in the galley for emergencies. The air-conditioned kitchen or galley seats 10. Tables on the deck allow guests to enjoy the ocean breeze. All meals and beverages are included, hearty and satisfying. Bring your own alcoholic beverages. Anglers can wade directly from the barge or a pontoon boat is available on board to shuttle guests to fishing grounds. For more information about planning your fishing trip to the Chandeleur Islands, visit Chandeleur-islander.com.

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The Islander is a jack-up rig, which is a barge with movable legs that can be lowered to the sea floor to support the platform as it is raised above the water's surface. The legs can be raised and the barge moved to another location. Photo by Polly Dean.

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Reel in the memories. Sitting on the most biodiverse estuary in the Northern Hemisphere, Martin County is a fisherman’s paradise. Ocean, lake and river ecosystems are home to more than 800 species of fish, from the ever-popular sailfish and snook to largemouth bass and perch. Forget your gear? Visit one of Martin’s many bait and tackle shops or outdoor retailers. Inshore, offshore, saltwater or fresh, head out for an adventure and reel in the memories.

DiscoverMartin.com


Slamming Apalachicola’s waterfront invites you to step back into Old Florida. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs

In

A

By Jimmy Jacob

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T

he town of Apalachicola, Florida tends to be synonymous with its world famous oysters. Lesser known, but equally important, it was the site of the invention of the first ice-making machine by Dr. John Gorrie. He patented his invention in 1851, a step that provided cold drinks, along with eventually aiding in the development of air conditioning and the opening of the Sunshine State.

Apalachicola

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A third item that should be known about this town at the mouth of its namesake river on the west coast is the outstanding angling available in the surrounding waters. That’s particularly true of Apalachicola Bay (sometimes referred to as West Bay) and the East Bay at the mouth of the river. While there is good fishing to be had year-round, the warmer months of June to August provide the opportunity for a most unusual slam in a single day. That’s when it is possible to catch tarpon, tripletail and redfish in fairly close proximity on these bays.

Tarpon that quickly gulp air on the surface during cloudy water conditions quickly head for the bottom. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

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A reliable source for finding these fish is Capt. Chris Robinson, who has been guiding on these waters for two decades. He and his brother Tommy opened an outfitters shop in the town in 1996, but both abandon day-to-day operations in favor of guiding after a couple of years. Other family members continued to run the store until 2012, when it closed. On the other hand, Robinson Brothers Guide Service continued to prosper. Capt. Chris plies the waters of the bays from May until Thanksgiving each year, while also guiding in the Florida Keys from February to April.

The first stop in getting this Apalachicola slam is likely to be inside the U.S. Highway 98 bridge on East Bay. According to Capt. Robinson, the early migratory tarpon show up when the water temperature reaches 75 degrees. But, he also noted that there are some resident, though smaller, tarpon here year-round. An important factor in catching these fish is moving water. 64 l www.sosaltwaterflyfishing.com

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“The best shots are when current is flowing into their face,” the captain emphasized. “When the fish are in the backwater areas up the bay, or when it’s overcast, using dark-colored flies works best. In clear water, opt for orange or chartreuse shades.”

Redfish are in the bays year-round, offering sight-casting options. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

During those clear-water periods, you often can see the tarpon, turning it into a sight-casting venture. If it is not clear, you then look for the rolling fish. “Slow-rollers are the happy fish,” Capt. Chris noted. “That’s what you want. If they just gulp air and go down, they head for the bottom.”

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The oyster lease markers jutting out of the water often attract tripletail. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

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Once you are casting to the fish, the captain had another piece of advice. “Strip the fly all the way back in,” he said. “The tarpon sometimes take it right at the boat.” The next leg of this slam likely will take you to the western side of Apalachicola Bay to the area where it transitions into St. Vincent Sound. Here you are looking for tripletail. “Tripletail look like hubcaps floating under the surface,” Capt. Robinson said. “You see a dark spot floating.” Any fly that imitates a shrimp is a good bet for these fish. Once the water temperature reaches the 70-degree range, these fish move into the bay and hang around until September.

Sometimes the tripletail can show up anywhere in the bay, but most often are found near some type of structure. The West Bay has plenty of this in the form of crab trap buoys, but also a lot of telephone-pole type posts stick up above the surface. These mark the boundaries of oyster leases and are abundant in this area. The final leg of this trilogy of fish is the most dependable, since redfish are abundant here year-round. In the months of October and November, it’s possible to catch big migratory bull reds off the barrier island beaches. Those bruiser redfish take popping bugs or big Clouser Minnows early in the morning. September 2018

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Tripletail like the one Justin Bolduc caught turn up regularly in the West Bay. Photo courtesy of Capt. Jeremy Davidson (southernsalinity.com).

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The rest of the year the entire bay system is infested with the smaller reds. One good place to target them is on the inside of Little St. George Island. Poling or drifting along this shore, which has a lot of white sand, can offer sight-casting action during the two-hour period on either side of the low tide. A second option is to head over to St. George Island to target any marsh grass edges you locate. Again, you want to hit these on lower tides, when the redfish are forced out of the grass by the falling water. Another bonus of fishing the Apalachicola area is getting to experience a slice of old Florida. Much of the waterfront has retained a patina of age, while featuring some fine eateries. Most of those are ready to serve up some local oysters.

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For a special treat at the end of the day, stop off in the bar at the Gibson Inn (gibsoninn.com) on Market Street for a cold libation. The inn has been catering to visitors to Apalachicola since 1907 and has retained its traditional southern ambiance. Jimmy Jacobs is the editor of Southern Saltwater Fly Fishing Magazine.

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The Gibson Inn has been serving visitors to Apalachicola since 1907. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

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Robinson Brothers Guide Service

Robinson Brothers Guide Service offers Inshore fishing trips from 18foot flats skiffs for fly fishing. These trips are considered sport fishing trips and are primarily catch-and-release ventures. The service has a total of 10 guides, of which five guide fly fishing.

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The service also can accommodate bait and spin fishing anglers for either bay or offshore angling. Those trips are aboard 21- or 25-foot center console boats. For additional information, rates, what to bring and captain’s bios, visit floridaredfish.com. September 2018

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Where

natural beauty is served daily.

In Mount Pleasant, it’s all about savoring the moment and letting the flavors of the Lowcountry do their thing. That’s why we serve up an array of restaurants and taverns suiting every taste and style. So grab a fork and come on over, y’all.

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For more information visit ExperienceMountPleasant.com


Southern Saltwater Fly Fishing

CLOSE LOOK Florida's First Coast Jacksonville to St. Augustine

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CLOSE LOOK Florida's First Coast, Jacksonville to St. Augustine

Fly-Rodding for Fir Spotted seatrout are suckers for streamers and poppers. By Bob McNally

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Florida's First Coast, Jacksonville to St. Augustine CLOSE LOOK

rst Coast Seatrout I

Seatrout hit best during low-light conditions, which gives a special "feel" to fly fishing for them in northeast Florida. Photo by Bob McNally.

call it a "seatrout sunrise," not so much that it looks any different than when fishing for bonefish or tarpon, redfish or mackerel. It's just the “feeling� about daybreak in a seatrout spot that makes it different than other fishing for other fish. In Northeast Florida it's mostly a small boat game, usually in shallow, clear water, and, if given half a chance in good weather on good water, you're sure to catch plenty of fish. Seatrout are like that. They're not fly snobs like snook or permit, and there are lots of trout compared to other sportfish. They don't jump and part leaders like ladyfish or bluefish. They don't have drag-working speed or stamina like mackerel or bonefish.

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CLOSE LOOK Florida's First Coast, Jacksonville to St. Augustine

But, aesthetically, there is something special about a seatrout sunrise. Normally the day is young and the temperature cool. It's a look and feel reminiscent of bonefishing, but not so serious, because trout aren't that way. You're not especially concerned about shock tippets and Bimini Twists, "class" tippets and razor-edge honed hooks. You can afford to be a little more relaxed, have more fun, when trout are the target. Trout are a more democratic fish, too, willing to share their water with more rugged thugs like redfish and flounder, and bottom brawlers like black drum and sheepshead. They prosper in more varied neighborhoods than some of the other fish hierarchy, choosing not to be snooty in where they roam and with whom they play "catch.� I like seatrout for all those reasons, and that's why a seatrout sunrise is such a special time. And now is the choice time for First Coast Florida trout, because some of the biggest fish of the year are caught in the northeast part of the state. Trout in the 2- to 4-pound range are available almost yearround, and in late summer and early autumn, as baitfish schools and shrimp pods work into lower estuaries and rivers, trout fishing can be spectacular. Spotted seatrout are one of the most abundant and sought-after gamefish along the South Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, and it's the most popular fish in Florida. And though the most common methods of taking trout are with jigs, plugs and 78 l www.sosaltwaterflyfishing.com

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Florida's First Coast, Jacksonville to St. Augustine CLOSE LOOK

Seatrout readily take flies, especially in shallow water settings. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

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CLOSE LOOK Florida's First Coast, Jacksonville to St. Augustine

live shrimp, fact is, seatrout readily take flyrod streamers and poppers. Fly-rodding makes seatrout fishing more sporting, and that's the primary reason for using the long rod. It's also another reason a seatrout sunrise is a cut-above some others. Frequently, catching trout is so easy that providing more sport is the key consideration for many anglers. Moreover, when trout are in water less than 6 feet deep (which is often), flies and poppers produce at least as many trout as other types of artificials. It shouldn't surprise savvy saltwater anglers that streamers and poppers are poison on trout. The fish feed primarily on shrimp and small baitfish, and no lure resembles such real fish food better than a streamer or popping bug. Streamers and poppers are versatile and can be tied so many different ways they can resemble any natural trout forage. Flies and bugs can be tied to look like shrimp, glass minnows, needlefish, mullet, or anything else trout prefer to dine on. Streamers are the usual best trout medicine for fly-rodders. Almost any 2- to 4-inch long marine streamer pattern will take some spotted seatrout. Ones made of bucktail, marabou, saddle-hackles and synthetic materials such as FisHair all produce, and it's a good idea to switch from one streamer type to another until the right one produces well for that particular day.

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Florida's First Coast, Jacksonville to St. Augustine CLOSE LOOK

A wide assortment of small streamers, poppers and other marine fly patterns are effective for Northeast Florida trout. Photo by Bob McNally.

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CLOSE LOOK Florida's First Coast, Jacksonville to St. Augustine

Trout have a well-known preference for shrimp, and almost any good saltwater pattern imitating brown or white shrimp scores well on trout. Lots of proven bonefish, redfish and permit patterns take trout. Weighted and unweighted flies should be carried by anglers, because sometimes a pattern must get down several feet in a hard-running tide to be in the "trout zone." Further, marine shrimp are bottom-huggers, and that's where seatrout are used to finding and feeding on the bugeyed crustaceans. When trout are in shallow water not whipped by wind, fly-rod poppers are an exciting and deadly lure. Most quality, saltwater popping bugs work well for trout, and some of the better-made freshwater bass bugs are serviceable. Experienced fishermen insist poppers be made on large, 3X-long, 1/0 to 3/0 hooks. Poppers painted all white, pink, yellow, red, or combinations of those colors, are preferred. Plenty of experienced saltwater anglers consider seatrout fishing pretty tame sport. And while trout never can be compared with bonefish, tarpon, snook, redfish, dolphin or cobia, they're great fun on fly tackle. Besides, any fish that takes flies and poppers as greedily as trout deserve special mention and appropriate attention from all saltwater fly-rodders. And don't forget that seatrout sunrise, which pretty much makes everything right with the world at the start of a day. 82 l www.sosaltwaterflyfishing.com

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Florida's First Coast, Jacksonville to St. Augustine CLOSE LOOK

Trout often are found along shell bars or other structure in the waters of northeast Florida. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

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Where to Catch Trout Around Jacksonville

The northeast region of the Sunshine State is a vast and fish-filled area full of spunky spotted seatrout, and arguably has some of the best fishing for the species anywhere in Florida. From the St. Marys River at the town of Fernandina Beach, along the coastal river and tidal stream areas at Nassau Sound, Fort George Inlet, the St. Johns River at Jacksonville, on south along the Intracoastal Waterway to St. Augustine and its myriad miles of tidal sloughs, rivers and streams, the area is a near endless watery habitat perfect for trout. Low-light fishing for trout typically is best, at dawn, dusk, in overcast weather and at night. Common places to catch trout on flies are near docks, bulkheads, pilings and old river debris (of which there is plenty thanks to back-to-back hurricanes in 2016 and 2017), around bridge pilings and abutments, and natural structures such as sand bars, shell bars and deep holes. Creek mouths and deeper spartina grass areas also hold fish, and hard-running tides in clear water is often best. Clear water is a relative term in the region, since area rivers, streams and marshes drain massive upland areas, staining the water dark. For this reason, clean water is not clear by bonefish or permit standards. But the clearest and saltiest water often is best for trout, which sometimes means the most productive trout fishing is found near inlets, sloughs, and along the beach. 84 l www.sosaltwaterflyfishing.com

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Florida's First Coast, Jacksonville to St. Augustine CLOSE LOOK

Bob McNally is a veteran outdoor writer living in Jacksonville, Florida. He also is a regular contributor to the Florida Times-Union newspaper in that city, as well as presenting weekly television fishing reports on Fox Sports Outdoors on the Fox Sports South Network.

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I

t’s possible that you’ve heard the name Vaughn Cochran in connection with a number of endeavors. After getting a degree from the Art and Printmaking Department at the University of South Florida, he headed down to Key West in 1972. There he became a respected fly fishing guide, while also finding time to be an original member of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band. Over the years he also has co-hosted or guided for television episodes of Fly Fishing America, Fly Fishing the World, North American Fisherman, Back Roads with Ron Shara and Spanish Fly with Jose Wejebe. Now retired from guiding, Cochran resides in Jacksonville and has become a renowned marine artist. “The talent for art chose me, I think,” Cochran mused. “I’ve always made art as long as I can remember. Even in grade school I was fascinated by what colors you can get by mixing primary colors. I majored in art in college, then taught at the college level for a short while. After college I built a studio to get my work done.” Cochran’s early exposure to the art world proved a valuable lesson. “You can either teach art or do art,” he explained. “I chose ‘doing art’ so that I could do what I wanted to do. I very rarely accept commissions for that reason.”

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Vaughn Cochran

A Man of Many Hats September 2018

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So how did that early exposure to the art world translate into becoming a top flight fly fishing guide? Growing up in St. Augustine and heading to Key West after college put him in settings with great saltwater fly fishing, and like any profession, art is not one where you start at the top of the pay scale. Thus, you might say he fell back on his musical talent and proficiency with a fly rod for moonlighting careers. “My hometown of St. Augustine was and always has been a Mecca for artists of all types,” Cochran said. “One of my first jobs was working in a Bohemian coffee shop where all the musicians, poets and artists would meet to talk about life and art. It was a little like the gathering places in Europe, where artists meet to discuss the new art movements and who was painting what.” 90 l www.sosaltwaterflyfishing.com

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Naturally, his love of angling played into the art equation too. “I guess I’d have to say fish have been my favorite subjects, but I’ve moved on to the lifestyle and landscape surrounding fishing,” he described. “Also, I’ve always approached my subjects with more contemporary flair or maybe even elements of the ‘pop’ style of the ‘60s and ‘70s. There was so much experimenting going on at that time in the art world, you didn’t have to paint classical themes. You weren’t tied down to what everybody else had done to be recognized.

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“Originally, I think my ‘Bright Series’ was the art that was best received and most associated with me,” he continued. “It was new and colorful, where most marine or ‘fishing art’ was pretty subdued and more in the realistic style. After I started using non-traditional colors, other artists followed suit and a whole new movement was created and continues to be the direction of a lot of the current groups.”

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In Cochran’s view, marine art does present some difficulties. “The most challenging for me is developing the concept,” he noted. “That’s not necessarily the subject, but how the overall painting is going to feel and what it is going to say to the viewer. Just because you’re a very good technical painter doesn’t mean it has something to say. It might just say, ‘hey, I’m a really good painter.’ I’ve done some of those just to prove to myself that I was capable of painting in a particular style of painting. Underwater fish paintings are like that – hard to do, but not artistic in the long run – just very technical.” That type of explorations has led Cochran to work in a variety of mediums. “I use whatever it takes to get from point A to point B,” he said. “The brighter paintings that need strong colors with no mixing need to be done in acrylics. The more traditional pieces are usually painted using oil paints. I like them both for the unique qualities that they offer in getting the job done. I also have worked in ceramics, wood carving, watercolor, pencil and may other mediums.” 92 l www.sosaltwaterflyfishing.com

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Florida's First Coast, Jacksonville to St. Augustine CLOSE LOOK

That work has translated into an average of around a dozen large painting, plus easily more than a hundred smaller drawings and painting annually. Those have won a number of Best of Show awards. “I don’t keep track of them,” Cochran offered. “The best awards are the clients who buy your work.” That is proven by his work being in many private and corporate collections here in the U.S. and in Europe. Still, as noted earlier, he doesn’t regularly take on commission work. “Not usually, but ask me,” the artist pointed out. “If it’s interesting and I have time, I would probably consider it. I just did a commission piece for the owner of The Alligator Farm in St. Augustine. He asked if I would paint a crocodile. I asked which one and he said he didn’t care, since he owns one of each of the 23 species that exist. I asked what he wanted it look like, and he said just do what you do! Well, in that case, I accepted the challenge, since I had never painted a crocodile before and it sounded like fun.” September 2018

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Vaughn Cochran finished out by offering some thoughts and advice for future artists in the making. “Don’t start with the Sistine Chapel,” he cautioned. “I would research the listing of Careers in Art to see if any of those jobs were something I was interested in doing for the rest of my life. If not, start painting and don’t ever stop for anything. Paint or draw every day and think as you go. I think it was Picasso who said, ‘make sure inspiration finds you working.’ “I’m very lucky to have been able to be an artist, but I’ve worked 94 l www.sosaltwaterflyfishing.com

hard at it. Try every angle, be prepared to fail and start over again, and again, and again. Networking is the secret to success and having good work to show when the time comes. Explore all avenues when you have an idea. Accept that being an artist is a full-time job! Everything in your life relates to your art. “I’ll quote the famous artist, Chuck Close, ‘Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just get up and go to work,’” Cochran concluded.

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764 Miami Circle, Atlanta, Georgia 30324| Phone: (404) 237-3473

www.thefishhawk.com


GALVAN FLY REELS

Simple, rugged, and classically styled. www.galvanflyreels.com


CLOSE LOOK Florida's First Coast, Jacksonville to St. Augustine

FEATURED GUIDE

A

native of Pensacola, Florida, Captain Andrew Mizell grew up as a “Navy brat,” living in a variety of locations around the country, as well as in Cuba. “I’m a fourth generation Floridian,” he explained, “so saltwater fishing has been a part of my life since I was three years old. I first picked up a fly rod when I was 14 years old when living on a Navy base in Cuba and have done it ever since.”

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Florida's First Coast, Jacksonville to St. Augustine CLOSE LOOK

Captain Andrew Mizell

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It was that background that led Capt. Mizell to his present situation. “I’ve had opportunities to fish in many incredible places, including Cuba, the Bahamas, the Everglades and many areas of the Gulf of Mexico,” he explained. “My home water is in Pensacola, but nothing beats the tidal marshes of North Florida. I found my way to Jacksonville in 2003 and have been fly fishing in northeast Florida for the past 15 years.” The discovery of the First Coast’s great angling options also led to his career choice. “I have been a fly guide for the past two years and have met some incredible people along the way.” Capt. Mizell pointed out. And, as with most career decisions, he had some help in making the move. “I’ve had many mentors,” he noted, “but specifically Capt. Gary Henderson has had more influence with me than anyone else. He has taught me a lot about the sport, but more importantly, he has taught me about what he calls ‘the essence’ of just being out there – being able to pick up the sights and sounds of the wildlife around you and allowing it to humble you. “He has taught me that I am responsible for passing knowledge to my clients,” the captain added, “so they get more than just catching fish from a charter. “Working at Blackfly Outfitters allows me to have a platform to teach both individuals and groups for casting. We offer classes within the shop that will help you get started with the sport.

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After taking the class and getting the basics, I always tell people that hiring a guide and fishing with an expert will shorten your learning curve immensely. I always ask my clients, ‘what are you looking to get out of the trip?’ and if the answer is to learn the sport or the fishery, I focus the charter to a learning experience. This allows them to take something away from the trip and apply it to their next trip.” The trips Capt. Mizell guides take place along the inshore regions of the entire First Coast from St. Augustine, north to Fernandina Beach. “I guide in the tidal marshes,” he described, “which includes backcountry low tide creeks around oyster mounds, and certain times of the year I focus my efforts


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on the higher stage of the tides where large spartina grass flats are filled in with the rising tide.” Those locations provide him with plenty of target species. Still, redfish are a huge part of the action. “Northeast Florida has an incredible year-round red fishery, but the time of the year will determine how you target them,” Capt. Mizell said. “Wintertime we notice the water clarity will improve, allowing us to spot redfish on mid to higher tides where oyster mounds are present. “Summer will bring migrating fish, such as tarpon, cobia, tripletail, jacks, sharks and other hard-pulling species,” he continued. “In spring I enjoy sight-fishing on lower tides, where redfish feeding on small shrimp have their backs and tails out of the water. “During the fall months, fiddler crabs come out of hibernation during the new and full moons that bring higher tides. This allows us to pole the spartina grass flats hunting redfish tails,” he concluded. So, based on that schedule, what kinds of fly patterns does he feel are essential to fishing this region? “I mostly target redfish,” he said, “and basically they eat shrimp, crabs and baitfish. I normally fish custom-tied flies in natural colors for the winter, and black and purple flies for the summer months. If you look in my box, you will find the following style flies: EP baitfish, Kwans, small gurglers, small dark crabs and always a number of Clousers.” To contact Capt. Andrew Mizell about rates and charters, check out his website at southernmarshcharters.com or give him a call at (850) 346-0060. September 2018

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SweetWater Brewing Company • Georgia • SweetWaterBrew.com


CLOSE LOOK Florida's First Coast, Jacksonville to St. Augustine

Fly Shop Profile A Historic City Fly Shop

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Florida's First Coast, Jacksonville to St. Augustine CLOSE LOOK

ot only is St. Augustine the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States, It also is a prime vacation destination in the Sunshine State. Throw in some great saltwater fishing and you have an area that begs for a full service fly shop. It is just that need that Oyster Creek Outfitters fills. “St. Augustine is the second most visited vacation destination in Florida,” explained Don Reed, the owner of Oyster Creek. “therefore, we see more potential fly fishers than the other shops. It is difficult to say how many new anglers we influence, but we are always promoting the sport.”

As a result, according to Reed, the nation’s oldest city is a hotbed of fly casting activity. “We have a dedicated group of young and seasoned fly fishers, who are very passionate and excited about the sport,” he said. “We are growing a great local following, as well as an ever expanding regional reputation, which is bringing in folks that consider St. Augustine a destination for great fishing. “Our store is located in St. Augustine, so we have great access to both near shore ocean fishing and also are really close to some of the best backcountry spartina grass flats in the southeast,” Reed emphasized. “We have giant tarpon, trophy redfish and seatrout as close as across U.S. Highway 1 from the store on the San Sebastian River.” While Oyster Creek Outfitters is a full-service fly shop, it came to its present configuration by a bit of a different route from most such retail outlets. “Eighteen years ago I began tying flies for local fly shops and guides,” Reed recounted. “The business grew into an online business. I actually learned HTML and coded the first iteration. Over a few years I burned out on commercial fly tying, but was left with a great collection of material sources, so I decided I would sell material, as well as flies and Saltwater Flytyers was born.” September 2018

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CLOSE LOOK Florida's First Coast, Jacksonville to St. Augustine

While Saltwater Flytyers continues to offer tying material and supplies online, the Oyster Creek retail shop soon added a new facet to the business. “We provide a community service to patrons who would otherwise travel long distances to find the materials, advice and equipment we offer,” Reed said. Oyster Creek Outfitters carries brands like Patagonia, Nautilus, Ross, Hardy, and Scientific Anglers, just to name a few. “Oyster Creek Outfitters offers first-class IFF instruction,” the owner continued. “We have instructors in the shop and we often have casting competition on the shore along Oyster Creek proximal to the store. We are always ready to go out back and help someone with casting or to demo a new rig.” Of course, offering such services requires having knowledgeable employees. “We are fortunate to have a staff that lives for fly fishing; that are experts in fresh, salt and brackish waters; and are glad to share their unique knowledge,” Reed said. “Our patrons are very loyal and, because of their loyalty, the shop is able to serve the community and grow the sport.” Although Oyster Creek doesn’t have in-house guides, there are plen108 l www.sosaltwaterflyfishing.com

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ty in the area. “We have a cadre of guides that are intimately tuned to our fishery,” Reed noted. “The local guides come in to resupply or to buy flies and materials. We provide them with connections to patrons looking for fishing in the area. We maintain a close symbiotic relationship and some of the guides work part time for the shop.” Another area of service revolves around destination fishing. “While we have always offered advice and connections for destinations globally, we are just getting started organizing our own trips,” Reed pointed out. While St. Augustine offers some great fishing venues, Don Reed feels that not everything is rosy regarding the resources. “While our business continues to grow, we are adversely affected by recent changes in weather patterns. We are constantly having to adapt to many statewide changes in the broader environment. People are very interested in the sport, but we face many challenges which we are fortunately in good position to meet.” When in the area, drop in at Oyster Creek Outfitters at 314 South Ponce de Leon Boulevard in St. Augustine. Or check out Saltwater Flytyers at saltwaterflytyers.com. September 2018

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21997 Highway 23

504.656.9990 800.231.1514

West Point a La Hache LA 70083

woodlandplantation.com


CLOSE LOOK Florida's First Coast, Jacksonville to St. Augustine

REACHING TO T ROD DESIGNER FRED CONTAOI

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Florida's First Coast, Jacksonville to St. Augustine CLOSE LOOK

THE SKY I

f you want to design a top of the line fishing rod, it stands to reason you want someone with plenty of angling experience putting together the plan. It was just such reasoning that led Douglas Outdoors to make Fred Contaoi their lead rod designer. “I’ve been in the fishing business all of my life,” Contaoi explained. “I went to work for Dick Posey at Lamiglas at the age of 19, working on rods and have been with it working at various companies ever since.”

September 2018

The angling career that Contaoi put together included a stint as a fishing guide in his native northern California, chasing game fish in more than 50 counties and spending 20 years on the competitive fishing circuits. Along the way he also designed rods for Hardy.

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“I was asked to come on board with Douglas Outdoors in the first year of David (Barclay) putting the company together,” Fred continued. “Since then we have designed and built over 200 unique models. We were able to place highly and win one of the famed Yellowstone Angler Shootouts (in 2016 for the best 6-foot, 9-weight). We pay close attention to building the best possible product in every series we produce.” It is just such attention to detail that led to the introduction of the Douglas SKY rod line. In fact, it was a SKY model that won that Yellowstone event. The SKY also comes in weights 7 to 12 that are rated for saltwater action. “The SKY series is the high-performance and top component line,” Contaoi noted, in comparing it to the other Douglas models. “We have carefully crafted each model to fit the best intended use for each line weight and length so the versatility of the series really shines. The series is not all wicked fast, rather tailored to get the best performance out of each rod. Faster in some rods and slower in others, makes a very fishable lineup.” September 2018

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CLOSE LOOK Florida's First Coast, Jacksonville to St. Augustine

An integral part of developing such a series of rods is getting the details right. “When a consumer goes for the best, we feel they deserve the best,” the rod designer said. “More than looks, hardware plays an important part in performance and feel. In the case of stripper guides, they are Fuji Torzite. The angled-forward guide allows for the best line clearing/no tangle guide in the business. The guide is incredible strong, lightweight and thin-ringed. The other guides are the single frame REC recoil guides that have long been proven in their use on fly rods.” But, there is more than guides to the making of a quality rod. “Premium cork finished with rubber cork at the end for longevity,” is another feature Contaoi pointed to, with regard to the handles. “We build a precise aluminum reel seat with holes in the upper hood to accommodate hook points. Lastly, an aluminum tube and fast-dry mish cloth sock for the rod is included.” Fred also provided an overview of the saltwater-weight rods in the SKY line up. “The 7-weight is really one of my favorite rods I have ever built,” he confided. “It is a bit softer than the other rods from 8 to 12 weight. It fishes streamers incredibly well, while cheating stiff breezes on the flat just the same. “The 8-weight rod is where we really start to stiffen the series,” he added. “Flies and lines play a huge part in how these rods cast. Often heavy flies with big eyes, bulky or leaded will really make a rod bog down on the cast. Couple the big flies with aggressive taper, front-loaded lines and it can make even the best caster blow shots at big wary fish. 116 l www.sosaltwaterflyfishing.com

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CLOSE LOOK Florida's First Coast, Jacksonville to St. Augustine

Designer Fred Cataoi

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Florida's First Coast, Jacksonville to St. Augustine CLOSE LOOK

“When it comes to fish-fighting abilities, these rods get it done with plenty of strength and lifting power, without being thick-walled and heavy in the hand.” So, does the design of these rods influence what type line goes on them? “In reality, fly lines are like wines,” Contaoi offered. “To each his own, fits the bill when it comes to lines. Rods that cast well tend to accommodate a wide range of tapers and even up or down at least half a weight difference. I tend to stick with ultra-premium lines with good coatings from the main manufacturers. There are so many good lines on the market that you really just have to go to your local shop and cast a few demo lines to see what feels best for you.” When it comes to Douglas Outdoors and their rod designs, it turns out that the SKY may not be the limit. “One can expect us to keep up with the latest material and designs with good casting and fishing rods at any price range. No matter what price range, we feel the rod should perform well and be backed up with our lifetime guarantee. “We are very active on social media, mostly Facebook and Instagram. Our staff is very active on the water and we really try to do our best to interact with our customers,” Fred Contaoi concluded. September 2018

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Popping Up Pamlico By Mike Marsh

Capt. Gary Dubiel caught this 40-poundclass red drum on a PopN Fly rig. Photo courtesy of Capt. Gary Dubiel.

C

ompared to crowded waters surrounding North Carolina's coastal urban centers of Wrightsville Beach and Morehead City, Pamlico Sound is a wilderness. Second only in size to Lake Superior in the lower 48 states, the sound is so expansive that a first-time fly-fisherman can be baffled just looking for the right spot to make that first cast. The sound and one of its major tributaries, the Neuse River, are the only interior waters of North Carolina where adult red drum spawn. The bite begins in June, when they arrive to spawn, the same time the sand gnat bite reaches its zenith. Both then last into October,

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o Sound's Red Giants

I swatted at the gnat's hot-needle bites at the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Oriental boat ramp, as we made last-second preparations to leave the dock. The other half of "we" was Captain Gary Dubiel, who operates Speck Fever Guide Service. While he built his reputation catching speckled trout, he was the first captain to crack the code for consistently catching the area's giant red drum on flies. September 2018

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"Tradition held that the best red drum fishing was at night," Dubiel said. "I think it was because that's when surf fishermen caught them using cut baits. I figured out how to catch them during the day. I followed them around the sound, learning where they fed on schools of menhaden." At first, he used various tried-and-true bait rigs to catch them. Eventually, he hit on the same popping float rigs he uses for speckled trout. He fooled the giant redfish, which can top 40 pounds, into striking larger soft-plastic lures dangling beneath big floats, casting them on spinning gear. Nevertheless, what he really wanted was still out of reach – the ability to catch the fish on a fly. "The adult drum don't strike on the top," he said. "But, they feed close enough to the top to be attracted to the float, which sounds just like a feeding red drum when you jerk the line to pop it." Anglers the world over know how to catch smaller "puppy drum" by poling the shallows, casting flies to fish they can see. However, these larger fish are something entirely different. So, Dubiel continued his pioneering meth-

The menhaden schools and reds can show up anywhere in deep water on the vast expanses of Pamilco Sound. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs. 124 l www.sosaltwaterflyfishing.com

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ods. By tuning his fly-fishing technique to the same general style he used with popping floats and spinning rigs, he was finally able to hook and land the enormous fish on fly tackle. We motored to an area that had some homes and docks along the shoreline. Using a 10-weight fly rod, he began casting a fly that had a float threaded 20 inches above it on the leader. "The float is a standard Fly Foam cylinder," he said. "The fly is a Lil'haden. I call it a PopN Fly rig. I retrieve it with short, hard strips so the float pops loudly and attracts the fish to the fly. I give it a pause to let the fly settle and that's when the fish strikes." Dubiel saw menhaden flipping on the surface. He circled the area in his 22-foot K2 Marine boat, using a trolling motor with an anchoring feature to hold the boat in one place when he found a likely casting location. He tried to keep the wind and sun at his back – the wind to make casting the heavy rig easier and the sun so he could see better what was going on at the surface and just below.

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Capt. Dubiel fished the area for an hour before deciding the redfish that were there the day before had left. Then we began searching for menhaden schools. "We have had some bad weather, which moves the menhaden around," he said. "If you can't find the menhaden, you won't find the red drum. I am looking for a large school, with the menhaden high in the water. If their backs are out of the water, that is a sure indication that red drum are feeding and chasing them to the top." We eventually found an area with lots of large menhaden schools. A few schools were churning the water, obviously agitated. He could see them and, once the engine shut down, hear them. Another key was seeing several slicks on the water, which were created when red drum crushed menhaden and the fish oil floated to the surface. At one point, he smelled redfish.

Capt. Gary Dubiel casting his PopN Fly rig on the Neuse River section of Pamlico Sound. Photo by Mike Marsh.

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"It's a sweet, fishy smell that only red drum have," he said. "If I smell that, I know they are here." Casting a fly with such a big float is not like casting a rig with a tiny strike indicator in a trout stream. The captain said it is a good idea to practice casting this supersized rig before arriving for a crack at a redfish. "Try not to make so many casts," he said. "Make fewer, longer, 40- to 60-foot casts and you will be more effective. Remember, it is a good day if you catch one fish. Four fish is an outstanding day." He casts into the schools of menhaden, with the strike often coming as the fly reaches the edges. He positions his boat 10 yards away to avoid spooking the baitfish. The other reason for taking the time to make long-distance casts is that it translates into more float pops per retrieve.

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Capt. Dubiel uses a floating line so it does not impair the float's action. A big fellow, he can cast a 10-weight rod all day. If you can execute a solid double haul and, with a minimum of false casts, land your PopN Fly rig down on the water, you can get to these giant reds. I did not say "gracefully" because that is not how the rig works. It is not a stealth rig, but one that makes so much commotion that the fly stands out tantalizingly amid thousands of menhaden. Accuracy doesn't count. Distance does.

Mike Marsh is a freelance writer who makes his home in Wilmington, North Carolina. His writing appears frequently in national, regional and local magazines, as well as in five North Carolina newspapers. 128 l www.sosaltwaterflyfishing.com

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Captain Gary Dubiel's PopN Fly

The PopN Fly rig consists of a 1 1/2-inch long, 5/8-inch diameter Fly Foam cylinder with a wire harness threaded through it and a loop twisted into each end. A 3-foot section of 20-pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon from the end of the fly line is tied to the top loop of the wire harness. To the bottom loop is tied a 24-inch section of 30-pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon leader and the fly is tied to the other end with a loop knot. Dubiel uses a Temple Fork Outfitters 8-foot, 9-inch, 10-weight rod and a Temple Fork Outfitters large arbor reel with 200 yards of 30-pound test backing. The best fly line is a floating line with an aggressive taper, such as a Scientific Anglers Titan Taper. The fly is a Li'lhaden, which is a baitfish style. Dubiel ties it with a 3/0 or 4/0 stainless steel, standard shank hook, wrapping seven turns of lead wire around the middle of the shank. He glues epoxy eyes to the hook shank and uses Craft Fur or any natural fiber for the dressing, along with a couple of strands of Crystal Flash. The finished fly is about 4 inches long. Best colors are white, red/white and chartreuse/white. Flymen Fishing Company (flymenfishingcompany.com) now makes Dubiel's PopN Fly and distributes it through Hairline (hairline.com). It is available at tackle shops. For more information or booking a charter, contact Capt. Gary Dubiel, Speck Fever Guide Service at (252) 249-1520 or visit speckfever.com. September 2018

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W W

e had just pulled into the pond, and were e had just pulled theWe heard the redfish getting our rodsinto out. pond, and were getting before we even saw them. It sounded like our rods out. We heard someone, something was dropping cinder blocks the redfishorbefore we even saw inthem. the water. A hundred yards down the bank, there It sounded like someone, was a hungrywas pack of big angry or something dropping cinderredfish, heading to us. blocks the water. A hundred We wereinwatching them smash every shrimp, minnow yards down the bank, and crab in their path.there was a pack of big angry redfish, hungry I had put the bow of the boat 30 feet off of the heading to us. We were watching bank, allowing the angler an easy cast in front of the them smash every shrimp, feeding it in path. front of them, they will be minnowfish. and "Just crab get in their on us in about 10 seconds," were my instructions. The I had put the bow of the boat 30 feet off of the bank, allowing the a foot off the bank, shrimp imitation landed perfectly, angler an easy front of closer. the as the pack of cast redsininched By now we could feeding fish. “Just get it in front of see the fish, and it looked to be about a dozen reds. them, they will be on us in about 10 seconds,” "Twitch it," were the last words I whispered bewere my instructions. fore broke imitation loose. Thelanded lead red inhaled the fly, the Theit all shrimp hook was aset, thenbank, came perfectly, footand off the asthe boiling water. Our the pack of reds closer. fish’s panic hadinched sent the restByof the pack into somenow like we could see the fish, and itwere shooting in every thing a stampede. Redfish looked to but be about a dozen direction, we were onlyreds. focused on the big brute “Twitch it,” were the last on the opposite end of the 8-weight. The fight only words I whispered before it all lasted few minutes, butinhaled man what a show. The stalk, broke a loose. The lead red the andhook that moment the strike - after all thecast, fly, the was set, before and ofthen these years, getswater. to me. It is such a rush, I came theit still boiling Our fish’s panic freaking love it! had the sent the of the packpumping into something rest This heart scenario, happens regularly like a stampede. Redfish were just south of Bay St Louis, Mississippi. Shore Thing shooting in every direction, but Charters runsfocused boats regularly we were only on the big 9 miles south to the Biloxi which isend also known as the Louisiana brute Marsh, on the opposite of the Marsh in St. Bernard Parish. This marsh is absolute8-weight. The fight only lasted few minutes, butlabyrinth man what lya pristine, and its of acanals, ponds, and isshow. The stalk, cast,end. and that lands, seems tothe never Besides this marsh’s abmoment before the strike after all drum, speckled trout, surd amount of redfish, black of these years, it still gets to me. flounder and other fish, it is also a birder’s paradise. It is such a rush, I freaking love it! The banks and skies are full of pelicans, egrets, ibis, herons, spoonbills, just to name a very few.

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Bruiser Bruiser Reds Reds in in the the Biloxi Biloxi Marsh Marsh C aCapt. p t . Sonny S o nSchindler ny Schindler

The Biloxi Marsh offers a maze of channels and lagoons amid marsh grass, 9 miles off the Mississippi coast. Photo courtesy of Shore Things Fishing Charters. The Biloxi Marsh offers a maze of channels and lagoons

amid marsh grass, 9 miles off the Mississippi coast. Photo courtesy of Shore Things Fishing Charters.

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Hooking up in the marsh will put a bend in any rod. Photo courtesy of Shore Things Fishing Charters.

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The majority of our fly fishing excursions are pumping done This deepheart inside the scenario, happens marsh. I run a 26-foot regularly just south of Avenger, and Mississippi. can get Bay St Louis, into most ponds that runs hold Shore Thing Charters about foot of water. This boats a regularly 9 miles to we the find Biloxithe Marsh, issouth where best which is alsoand known as opportunities, get the the Louisiana St. most shots onMarsh reds.in My Bernard Parish. This marsh ideal conditions are light is absolutely pristine, and its winds, low water, ponds, and a labyrinth of canals, rising tide. When we set and islands, seems to never up on a flat or athis shore line, end. Besides marsh’s amountpreferred of redfish, I absurd have always to blackthe drum, trout, have sunspeckled at my back, flounder and other it and the wind in myfish, face. is also a birder’s paradise. From then on, its stealth The banks and skies are mode. No stomping full of pelicans, egrets, around the boat, or slamibis, herons, spoonbills, ming lids, that awill almost just to name very few. majority of our fly alwaysThe spook fish. I'll be fishing excursions are done watching for anything that deep will giveinside awaythe themarsh. locationI a 26-foot Avenger, and ofrun those reds. On the percan get into most ponds fect blue bird, low wind, that hold about a foot of clean water. water This isdays, where they we stick like sore thumbs. find out the best opportunities, Other days, make and get the they mostwill shots on reds. My for ideal conditions you work them a little are light winds, low water, bit. It doesn't take much to and them. a rising tide. When find A well-defined we set up on a flat or a "V" wake, the flicker of a shore line, I have always tail, or evento hearing the preferred have the explosion feeding sun at myofback, and fish, the will point to them. wind in the myway face. From then on, its stealth mode.

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When the cooling No stomping temperatures of earlyaround fall boat, or hit,thethese fishslamming begin lids, to that will almost always feed like mad. They are spook fish. I’ll be watching trying to fatten up for the for anything that will give coming winter. If our away the location of custhose tomers keep fish, I am reds. On the perfect alblue bird,checking low wind,the clean water ways fishes’ days, they stick out like sore stomachs, to see what thumbs. they they have Other been days, feeding will make you work for them on.a These fish are eating little bit. It doesn’t take machines, andthem. haveAlittle much to find wellregard definedfor “V”what wake, unlucky the flicker of a tail, or evenin hearing the animal wanders front of explosion of have feeding fish, their path. We pulled will point the way tocrabs them. shrimp, minnows, When the cooling and eels out of countless temperatures of early fall redfish stomachs. hit, these fish begin Even to feed stranger, weThey havearefound like mad. trying to fatten clams, up for the coming oysters, several winter. If our customers baby nutria, and evenkeep a fish,bottle! I am always checking water My point here the fishes’ stomachs, to is see that,what it is they not what you have been arefeeding throwing thesefish fish, on. at These are it is where you areand throweating machines, have inglittle it. regard for what unlucky wanders in front animal Shallow water, withof their path. We have pulled good pieces of broken shrimp, minnows, crabs and marsh, drains, redfish and eels outlittle of countless points are where we like stomachs. Even stranger, we to have focusfound our attention. Of oysters, clams, severalwhen baby and course, younutria, get withMy evpoint in even rangea water of thebottle! fish, do here is that, it is not what you erything you can to not hit are throwing at these fish, it theis fish onyou thearehead withit. where throwing your fly. Just lead them, and they will come to you.

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The reds are strong and colorful in these northern Gulf waters. Photo courtesy of Shore Things Fishing Charters.

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The reds are strong and colorful in these northern Gulf waters. Photo courtesy of Shore Things Fishing Charters.

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The redfish in the Biloxi Marsh often reach lunker proportions. Photo courtesy of Shore Things Fishing Charters.

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There are numerous ponds, deep in the marsh Shallow water, with good that we been marsh, fishing little pieces have of broken for years. havearebedrains, andWe points where come very familiar with we like to focus our attention. Of course, you get these areas.when In doing so,within range of the fish, doto everything we have learned foyou can to not hit the fish on cus our attentions on the the head with your fly. Just lead "different Meanthem, and areas." they will come to you. ing, if There you have feet are100numerous ofponds, straightdeep shoreinline, theand marsh that little we have been fishing one pick-up truck for years.pocket, We have sized or become a 2-foot very familiar with these areas. In ditch breaking through, doing so, we have learned to more than likely your fish focus our attentions on the will be hanging nearMeaning, those “different areas.� if different spots. you have 100 Countless feet of straight shoreI line, and one little times, trolled a shore linepickuphundreds truck sized pocket, for of yards, notor a 2-foot aditch through, seeing fish.breaking Then, when more than likely your fish we get near a little broken will be hanging near those section of marsh, different spots. it looks Countless like the Ireds area having a for times, trolled shore line hundreds of yards, family reunion there.not seeing Then,like when we get a fish. I always to have a little broken section anear second or even third rod of marsh, it looks like the reds are ready, at all times. There having family reunion there. will always be like thathave one to a I always spot where you just second or even thirdroll rodup ready, on bigtimes. groupThere of reds. ataall willWe always betothat one try send allspot thewhere flies inyou at just rollsame up ontime, a big but group of reds. the it can We try to send all the flies in at be a little chaotic. When it the same time, but it can be a goes perfect to plan, it off little off chaotic. When it goes isperfect an absolutely to plan, it isbeautiful an absolutely thing to watch. beautiful thing to watch. September 2018

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Flounders are other fish that may take your fly in these waters. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

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This

marsh

is

an

This magical marsh place. is anIf absolutely absolutely magical you have never experienced place. If youcertainly have never it, it is most worth experienced a once over. it, It itisisamost great certainly a onceor area for worth experienced noviceItflyis fishermen. With over. a great area the experienced number of or fishnovwe for regularly see there,With you ice fly fishermen. can number go fromof novice the fish weto experienced quickly. regularly seevery there, you can go from novice to Captain Sonny experienced very quickSchindler grew up on the ly.

Mississippi coast and has a journalism degree Captain Schin-of from theSonny University dler grew up on the MisSouthern Mississippi, he sissippi coast and has a began his guiding career journalism degreecharters from with blue water the University of South-In in Venice, Louisiana. ern be2006,Mississippi. he joinedHeShore Thinghis Fishing Charters out gan guiding career of Bay St.water Louis.charters He can with blue be Venice, contacted for fishing in Louisiana. In at shorethingcharters. 2006, he joined Shore com or sonnyschindler@ Thing Fishing Charters y aofhBay o o c o m out St.. Louis. He .

can be contacted for fishing at shorethingcharters.com or sonnyschindler@yahoo.com.

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TheCat CatIsland Island Experience Experience The For those who like their adventure in a

more civilized Shore Thing Fishing For those who package, like their adventure in a more Charters offers their Cat Island It civilized package, Shore ThingExperience. Fishing is ideal for an extended stay, Experience. while exploring Charters offers their Cat Island It the BiloxiforMarsh. The “experience” takes place is ideal an extended stay, while exploring Biloxi Marsh. The “experience”house takes situin athe three-level, 4000-square-foot place in a offshore three-level, ated 7 miles on4000-square-foot historic Cat Island. house situated 7 miles offshore on historic Although the island now has no permaCat Island. nent residents, over the decades it has been Although the island now has no permanent home to pirates, rum runners, pioneer farm residents, over the decades it has been families during War II, was used home toand, pirates, rum World runners, pioneer farm for training war dogs.World War II, was used families and, during Accommodations the house are for training waratdogs. all-inclusive, coveringat all snacks Accommodations themeals, house are all- and non-alcoholic beverages, island tours,and use of inclusive, covering all meals, snacks non-alcoholic beverages, island usefeakayaks and guided fishing. Thetours, cuisine of kayaks andsouthern” guided fishing. The lots cuisine tures a “Cajun flair with of local features a “Cajun southern” flair with lots of seafood (though other meals can be requestseafood (though be edlocal in advance). Guestsother overmeals 21 arecan welcome requested in advance). Guests over 21 are to bring their own beer, wine or spirits. welcome to bring their own beer, wine or The house has two private bedrooms on spirits. the level, well as a huge on loftthe conThesecond house has twoas private bedrooms taining beds. The as layout is kept comfortable second 10 level, as well a huge loft containing in 10 thebeds. summer two is massive air conditioning The by layout kept comfortable in units, powered generators that alterthe summer by by twothree massive air conditioning units, powered by threethe generators that TV nate current throughout house. Direct alternate current throughout the house. Direct also is provided. provided. AccessTV to also Cat is Island is via shuttle boat, Access to Cat Island is via shuttle boat,in with with departure from the public marina Long departure from the public marina in Long Beach, Mississippi. For more details and rates, Beach, Mississippi. For more details and visitrates, shorethingcharters.com. You also visit shorethingcharters.com. You can search ThingShore Cat Island Experience also Shore can search Thing Cat Island on YouTube to view the adExperience on several YouTubevideos to viewabout several venture videos about the adventure.

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The house is located on the water on Cat Island off the Mississippi The house located on the waterCharters. on Cat Island off the Coast. Photo courtesy of is Shore Things Fishing Mississippi Coast. Photo courtesy of Shore Things Fishing Charters.

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FISHING THE F

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outhern Saltwater Fly Fishing Team leaders recently made their maiden voyage to the Central American county of Belize. Considered a field test (okay, plus a great fun trip to the tropics), they auditioned everything from the new Douglas saltwater fly rods to local nightlife and drinks. One of the field tests was a nifty little product called SoftScience Fin Wading Boots. Giving them a workout was easy on the Belize Flats that surrounded the island getaway where they enjoyed a solid week of fly fishing for bonefish and permit.

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“I found the SoftScience Fin Wading Boots to be perfect for what we demanded from them in terms of function and performance,” said Claude Preston, Associate publisher of Southern Saltwater Fly Fishing Magazine. “They are very comfortable. They are sized to fit snuggly, so if you order the your proper size you may want to go up a half size if you are wearing a sock. I wear a 10.5 so I ordered an 11 and wore a lightweight wet-wading sock with it. The fit was perfect on the boat and while wading. There was no slippage inside the shoe. “These boots enabled us to handle the flats of Belize flats with no problem,” continued Preston. “Just as important to the SSFF editor, Jimmy Jacobs, and me, these boots properly supported our ankles while jumping in and out of the boat for wading opportunities. As previously stated, I encourage you to order the next size up as the boot has a nice snug fit once it gets wet." For those that like to fish the bow of the boat barefooted or with socks, the external zipper on the Fin boot makes for easy access when it comes time for wading. The clasp tightens the Fin Boot around your 148 l www.sosaltwaterflyfishing.com

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ankle and allows for virtually no entry of sand into the boot. If you have fished the flats, you are well aware of the annoyance of sand and grit working its way inside the boot. Unless you have leather tough feet, the effect is like having your feet rubbed tender and raw, and it happens pretty quickly. Comfort is the hallmark of this wading boot. They are super light both in your bag and on your feet. One thing that the SSFF testers really liked is the fact that this wet wading boot does not hold water. Designed to drain quickly when out of the water, you don't have that clunky feeling when walking in your boots. While not specifically built for wading on coral, the cushioned sole and ankle support performed exceptionally, and our testers were intentionally rough on them. Both testers said they wouldn’t go back without them. The SSFF view is that these boots would excel in 99 percent of all wading and boating situations and at a suggested MSRP of $89.99, the value is there for your wallet. September 2018

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I

n the animal kingdom, the greatest biomass consists of four phyla (groups), and they are all eaten at or below the surface by the saltwater species we fly fishers target. The Big Four include shrimps, squids, baitfish, and crabs. If a saltwater fly fisherman doesn’t have representatives of all these four ubiquitous animals in their fly box, then he/she is missing the boat and missing a lot of strikes too. I have learned painful lessons more times than I care to admit, for not having one or more of these represented in my fly box. Of course, all four of these ancient denizens of saltwater are pursued by a multitude of species as well as humans, including but not limited to other mammals, birds, amphibians, insects, and reptiles. Man probably consumes the most metric tons of any single predator species, but all the mammals together are far eclipsed by fish species as the champions of consumption. For example, a few thousand baleen whales ingest many tons of krill, but seven billion people ingest far more metric tons of shrimp than they do. And as much human consumption as there is, the hundreds of billions or trillions of fish throughout the world consume far more shrimp than humans do. The demand for shrimp species is global and insatiable. As primarily a saltwater aficionado I concentrate on developing flies that my target species like by to eat. That is paramount, even if it sounds simplistic. I am always trying to create flies that are reasonably easy to tie, stand-up to repeated casting and fish bites, and are not difficult to cast. The aforementioned Big Four make up the preponderance of my creations, and an example of each are pictured and described in what follows.

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Th

Edward Michaels


he

Big 4

Baits September 2018

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Tiger Paws

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Squids are abundant in all the oceans in many shapes and sizes ranging from the elusive deep-water giant squids made famous by Jules Verne’s 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, to tiny squids that are only several inches long. Sperm whales to sea trout relish the boneless softfleshed morsels. They can be found swimming alone or in schools around the world, at every depth, and display a multitude of colors often ranging from gray to pink, orange, or purple, and in multiple colors and patterns. They can display an iridescent quality that is quite an attractant to prey at times, but they can also exhibit an ability to camouflage themselves for protection. From Cape Cod stripers to Gulf Coast redfish, to Bahamian mutton snappers, Keys tarpon and more, squid flies will consistently take fish. The squid pattern exhibited here, Tiger Paws, was named after the major southern university I played rugby at, but which I will keep anonymous as there are five universities in the south with tigers as their mascots, and I would not like to lose my audience because of team loyalty. The particular fly in the picture is also fitted with my new Rolling snag-guard made from a hard mono loop and a tungsten bead threaded on it to add weight and action. The day I first started using squid patterns is indelibly imprinted in my happy memory bank. A number of years ago a friend of mine who comes to Saratoga September 2018

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Springs, NY to race his horses each summer asked me one day to find a place to fish within 300 nautical miles. That was the range of his best friends plane, as he was in town to watch his namesake 2-yr-old colt race in the prestigious Hopeful Stakes. Pouring over charts, or maps as most land-lubbers call them, the most interesting fishing location I could find at that time of year was Nantucket. It didn’t take me long to book a motel room and hire a guide for the next afternoon. My two friends were spin fishermen, but naturally, I brought along a 9 wt and some flies. I had recently read an article expounding on how the stripers were keying-in on schools of squid throughout Long Island Sound, Martha’s Vineyard, and Cape Cod. I spun some squid patterns in the aforementioned colors and added epoxy bodies for a realistic profile. When we met the guide, I was relieved to hear him tell us that squid would be on the menu again. The captain slowly approached a rip-line where we saw stripers riding a wave curl and crashing bait. As we came within 30 ft of the rip we could see the squids that were dashing about trying to stay alive. My two friends were given spinning rods by the captain and they quickly started throwing plugs at the feeding frenzy. They caught both blues and stripers occasionally, but once I began to throw my squid patterns I was rewarded with a fish on every cast that afternoon except for one. It was an epic "fish-on" day. Wanting to enhance the experience for my neophyte fishing friends, and so they could fight more fish, I would cast a squid pattern and immediately hand the fly rod to either of them, so they could strip the fly line and feel the strike themselves. The howls and high-fives went unabated for 2 hours.

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Bruised Bugger

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Flats Flea

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The best way to learn what fish eat is to inspect stomach contents. However, with new laws and our changing ethic of conservation, inspecting the stomach contents of some species such as bonefish is problematic. When I was a guide in the Lower Keys I was given the opportunity to inspect an unfortunate number of bonefish stomachs accidentally when shark attacks left only the front half of some fish to be reeled in. The most revealing discovery was the vast array of crustaceans that were devoured by bonefish. One might think, as I did at the time, that bonefish key-in on a particular species as they forage over flats. Instead, they proved to me that they were opportunistic feeders, devouring a multitude of small crusty creatures. My fly tying creations have since reflected those results, and I never tye only one style, size, or color of crab anymore. The Flats Flea pictured here is impressionistic of a number of small crabs that inhabit the sand flats anywhere bonefish are found. On a mostly white sand bottom, I use a white body feather from a silver pheasant, but ringneck pheasant body feathers in various tans and browns work effectively on bottoms with more color. Of course, other crab eaters like permit and redfish eat these critters, but I make them larger when targeting them. The fly must track right when stripped though, so it must be properly weighted. Two mostly unheralded crab eaters that frequent very shallow flats and always provide me with a thrill when they eat my flies are the gray triggerfish and the boxfish. Neither are as September 2018

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explosive as a bonefish when hooked, but they are trophies when they are enticed to eat a fly nonetheless. It has long been my secret that I would rather eat a boxfish than any other species. With only an exoskeleton, they can be cleaned quickly with a pair of scissors. The meat is alabaster white, boneless, firm and sweet. Yes, I have heard that they could cause ciguatera poisoning, but I have no proof. Eat at your own risk! Many, perhaps most anglers, began their saltwater fishing career by landing their first fish on a whole shrimp or a piece of shrimp. Nearly every saltwater game fish eats shrimp, and as mentioned above they are everywhere. So, having some shrimp patterns in your fly box is imperative. There are so many impressionistic shrimp patterns there is no reason for me to list any. Open any fly catalog and there will be an ample selection offered. The only decision that an angler needs to make regarding shrimp flies is how many to have, and in which colors and sizes. The simple answer is to stock many. Epoxy-bodied shrimps have been the rage for a long time, and although I did not invent them, I love to tye them and tweak the recipes so that I can create a color or countenance that appeals to me. Epoxies are difficult to handle and the resin tends to cure at once, but often not exactly when you want it to, causing an asymmetrical body. With the availability of Solarez UV Thick and Thin one can build a better shrimp body faster, with fewer mistakes. The pattern I have included is called Rolling Shrimp, as I include my Rolling snag-guard for oyster bars and grass flats. 158 l www.sosaltwaterflyfishing.com

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Polka Dot

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Rolling Shrimp

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For a baitfish pattern, you can see one of my favorites, the Polka Dot. It looks and fishes much like the ubiquitous Clouser Minnow, but it is a bit more snag-resistant as it is tied on a Partridge Extreme Predator hook, which rides point up and offers a much larger hook gap, which I have come to prefer. The stiff Faux Bucktail fibers also shield the hook point from catching any floating blades of a turtle or other grass. The lateral line and the multiple eyes from a single Mearns quail breast feather give it that irresistible baitfish look. Since the feathers of a Mearns quail are delicate, I cover the front portion of the feather with Solarez Thin to make it last after multiple casts and fish hook-ups. The first cast I made with this fly was to a shoreline-cruising brute of a redfish on my favorite crystal lear hometown flat. I was wading and watching for such foragers on a rising tide after anchoring my skiff about 100 feet from shore. When the fly landed about two feet in front of the fish I only had to make one strip and he accelerated to engulf the fly. After a long tug of war, I beached him in some grass and measured him to be a full 30 inches. As I said, that was the first cast with this fly, and the first fish caught. Many more followed. Since then I have landed stripers, barracuda, bluefish, sea trout, snappers, mackerel, flounder, and snook on this fly. September 2018

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Now you know how I really feel about the Big Four Baits in saltwater, and which types of flies to stock your fly box with. As the old saying goes: "Don’t leave home without them!" Edward Michaels is a retired Key West fly fishing guide and Captain. He has been tying flies for over 45 years and his articles have been published in various magazines. In a previous life he also owned and operated a Thoroughbred horse breeding and training farm in Saratoga, NY, and he was also a regional business manager for a fly fishing equipment and lifestyle company.

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End of the Line

The Blind Tiger

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ou've got to love an eatery that doesn't even have a freezer, because they believe in serving everything fresh!

The Blind Tiger overlooks the Bay St. Louis Harbor. Photo by Polly Dean.

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End of the Line That is the philosophy for this waterfront restaurant in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Their motto is “Frozen food has a different taste to it.... we don't roll like that!” Combine that with a décor reminiscent of the Bahamas – open air breeze, sand between your toes, amazing view, and ice cold beverages – and you have the perfect watering hole to follow a day of flinging a fly.

The Blind Tiger in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

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In serving food that is always fresh and never frozen, the laid-back open air place writes their daily specials on a chalkboard. And they have their Waterfront Staples menu that never changes. Their staples include items such as handmade chedder burgers, mahi tacos, Royal Reds steamed shrimp and loaded cheese fries – always fresh cut daily. The full bar serves up margaritas, rum drinks, mojitos and a variety of other tropical concoctions. Ice cold beers, including a selection of local craft favorites, are available as well.

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End of the Line Their name Blind Tiger doesn't come by accident. The term is derived from its use during the days of the unlawful practice of rum running. During the era of prohibition from 1919 to 1933, illegal late-night bars of southern towns were called blind tigers. Bay St. Louis had several that were popular with politicians, musicians, prostitutes, businessmen and lawmen. The owners of blind tigers coordinated shipments of rum from Cuba into the Bay St. Louis area via small speed boats that could evade the larger and slow-

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er boats of the U.S. Coast Guard. The area of coastline was popular with smugglers due to its proximity to the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Legend has it that Al Capone, Chicago's most notorious gangster, had a riverfront compound only seven miles from Bay St. Louis. Other Blind Tiger locations are in Biloxi, Mississippi and Slidell, Louisiana. A fourth location is opening soon in Covington, Louisiana. For more details visit theblindtiger.biz. The author at the Blind Tiger’s outdoor bar. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

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SSFF Issue 7 September 2018  

CLOSE LOOK: Florida's First Coast, Jacksonville to St. Augustine

SSFF Issue 7 September 2018  

CLOSE LOOK: Florida's First Coast, Jacksonville to St. Augustine