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introducing the new exocett series from t&t. remarkably light. extraordinarily strong.
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This was a really memorable redfish for me. Not only was it an awesome Mother's Day present, but it definitely made for a fun fight on the five-weight! -Lisa Lowman, photo by Brad Lowman
Like many people, I have a love/hate relationship with permit. They have the ability to pester me more than any fish in the sea, but when the stars align, it can lead to the fish of a lifetime. I was backpacking through Bocas del Toro, Panama this past January. We were on our way to go surfing when I spotted a massive school of permit with their entire backs out of the water. After running a fly across their noses for almost an hour, I finally fooled one into eating and got him to my side for a hug. Catching a self-guided permit on fly was such a significant moment in my fishing career and my emotions were uncontrollable! -Heather Harkavy, photo by Haley Barrett
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I've been fishing the Keys and Biscayne Bay for many years, and nothing beats that special time in the spring when the big tarpon show up on the ocean. I love these fish! -Adelaide Skoglund, photo by Bill Legg
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Few things in this world make me happier than fly fishing with Skip. After a good sandbar session, he curls up in a salty, crimpy ball behind me on the bow, only lifting his head for overslot redfish. Heâ€™s tough to impress. -Bre Williams, photo by Brad Dickey
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Iâ€™ll never forget the first snook I caught as a kid. To this day, it is still one of my favorite gamefish to target. I first picked up a fly rod just shy of two years ago and quickly learned how incredibly rewarding it is to land them on fly. There is something special about sight casting to that long, dark shadow in the water, watching its massive mouth inhale your homemade concoction of fur and feathers. The snook strike is always exciting, and the fight is a lasting adrenaline rush. I always look forward to the privilege of catching one. -Christina Stoneburner, photo by Capt. Jeff Legutki
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Fly fishing in Louisiana this year was awesome. The flora and fauna in the marsh were breathtaking. I caught two redfish over 30 lbs, a tagged redfish, and an estimated 30 lb alligator gar in addition to countless other fish. The way redfish inhale a fly is incredible. If Iâ€™m lucky enough to land them, I get the pleasure of releasing them back into the wild. In addition to getting time on the water with the fish, I also get time with some of my favorite people: my hilarious guide Adam DeBruin and my supportive dad. Fishing truly is all about the fish, the people, and the place. -Stevie Kim-Rubell (age 12), photo by Daniel Kim
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I have chased sails around the world (Australia, Seychelles, Mexico, Madagascar) and never landed one until this past Christmas (with my lucky antlers on). What made it that much more special was landing him with my husband and gorgeous little girl Isabella with me to share the moment. -Clare Carter King, photo by Brandon King
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JOIN TODAY. PROTECT TOMORROW.
is a membership-based organization, and our members are our lifeblood. Since our founding in 1998, we have grown to include concerned anglers from over 20 countries, researchers from throughout the world, and guides committed to working with BTT in order to educate anglers and gather data while on the water. The generous support of our members is critical to our mission: Conserve and restore bonefish, tarpon and permit fisheries and habitats through research, stewardship, education and advocacy. We have celebrated many accomplishments, but there is still much more work to do. Please help us in our mission by joining and urging your friends, guides, lodges, and fishing clubs to join. Please go to www.btt.org and click â€œJoin BTTâ€? to become a member today.
Editor-in-Chief Joseph Ballarini Creative Director Shawn Abernathy Consulting Editor Alex Lovett-Woodsum Managing Editors Rock Dawson, Arthur Lux Food Editor Kelli Prescott Publishing Consultant Samir Husni, Ph.D.
Senior Contributors Bob Branham Pat Ford Mark Hatter Ruben Martin Peter McLeod Jonathan Olch George Roberts Greg Thomas
On the Cover
Meredith McCord with a 90-pound GT caught in the Seychelles. Photo by Stuart Webb.
ABOUT Tail Fly Fishing Magazine provides a voice for saltwater fly fishing culture in a bimonthly print publication. We focus on delivering the best photography, destination travel, reputable commentary and technical features from the saltwater fly fishing lifestyle. Tail began as a digital publication that debuted in September 2012 and has been in print since September 2016. In many places, fly fishing has become important to both people and the environment. As a method of fishing imbued with values of stewardship and conservation, it connects people with the marine world in significant and positive ways. Tail Fly Fishing Magazine supports creative expressions that heighten our appreciation of fly fishing and encourage us to look at it in new ways. The magazine strives to provide content that reflects our mutual fascination with all aspects of saltwater fly fishing. We are grateful for your support and we welcome photographic and written contributions. Tail Fly Fishing Magazine is published six times annually. Subscriptions are available for $48 per year. Prices vary for international subscriptions. Please contact us with any advertising, subscription or submission questions. 2300 Alton Road Miami Beach, FL 33140 WWW.TAILFLYFISHING.COM 305-763-8285
Creative Contributors Shawn Abernathy Capt. Kacee Bones Brita Fordice Capt. Lacey Kelly Andrea Larko Alex Lovett-Woodsum Meredith McCord Lori-Ann Murphy Capt. Moe Newman Kelli Prescott Katka Svagrova Kat Vallilee
Photography Haley Barrett Capt. Kacee Bones Capt. Drew Delashmit Rick DePaiva Brad Dickey Capt. Doug Kilpatrick Daniel Kim Brandon King Bill Legg Capt. Jeff Legutki Brad Lowman Lori-Ann Murphy Stuart Webb Luke Williams
To the thousands of anglers who put their trust in our reels, and our reels in their hands [ day after day and year after year ], WE THANK YOU!
I N LOV I N G M E M O RY O F J O HN C . MEL FI
Inside the Box by Lori-Ann Murphy
Photo Essay: Katka Svagrova's Belize by Katka Svagrova
Down the Road: Fly Fishing Lousiana by Capt. Moe Newman
Taking the Leap by Alex Lovett-Woodsum
A Father's Daughter by Meredith McCord
Tapped: Beer Reviews
On the Plate by Kelli Prescott
Fly Tying: Tidepool Sculpin Flatwing by Brita Fordice
The Pursuit by Kat Vallilee
Between the Lines: An Interview with Angling Artist Andrea Larko
Picking Up the Pieces by Capt. Kacee Bones
An Angler Opines by Capt. Lacey Kelly
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WITH US 5O/5O On The Water aims to inspire and celebrate women in the sport we all love. #5O5Oonthewater see more at orvis.com/5O5O
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G E T TA I L AT T H E S E R E TA I L E R S 18 TA I L FLY F I S H I N G M AGA Z I NE
Mossy’s Fly Shop 750 W Diamond Blvd Suite 114 Anchorage AK 99515
Jimmy’s All Season Angler 275 A Street Idaho Falls ID 83402
Front Range Anglers 2344 Pearl Street Boulder CO 80302
Old Towne Fly Shop & Outfitters 4009 Pontchartrain Drive Slidell LA 70458
The Compleat Angler 541 Boston Post Road Darien CT 06820
Alltackle 2062 Somerville Rd Annapolis, MD 21401
Beaver Creek Fly Shop 9720 Country Store Lane Hagerstown MD 21740
Gordy & Sons 22 Waugh Drive Houston TX 77007 Sportsman Finest 12434 Bee Cave Road Austin TX 78738 Swan Point Landing 1723 Cherry Street Suite 4 Rockport TX 78382 Tailwaters Fly Fishing 1933 E. Levee St Dallas TX 75207 UTAH
Black Fly Outfitters 11702 Beach Blvd #109 Jacksonville FL 32246
Fishwest 47 West 10600 South Sandy UT 84070
Bill Jacksons’s Shop for Adventure 9501 US 19 N Pinellas Park FL 33782
The Bear's Den 34 Robert W Boyden Rd Taunton MA 02780
Forgotten Coast Fly Company 123 Commerce Street Apalachicola FL 32320
Florida Keys Outfitters 81219 Overseas Highway Islamorada FL 33036
Fly South Fly Shop 115 19th Ave South Nashville TN 37203 WASHINGTON
Frontier Anglers 680 N. Montana St Dillion MA 59725
Gig Harbor Fly Shop 3115 Harborview Drive Gig Harbor WA 98335
Flounder Creek Outfitters 515 Garden Street Titusville FL 32796
Madison River Fly Fishing Outfitters 20910 Torrence Chapel Rd D5 Cornelius NC 28031
Harry Goode’s Outdoor Sports 1231 E New Haven Ave Melbourne FL 32901
The Avid Angler 17171 Bothell Way NE Seattle WA 98155 CANADA
Ole Florida Fly Shop 6353 N Federal Hwy Boca Raton FL 33487
Urban Angler 381 Fifth Ave, 2nd Floor New York NY 10016 RHODE ISLAND
Orlando Outfitters 2814 Corrine Dr Orlando FL 32803
The Saltwater Edge 1037 Aquioneck Ave Middletown RI 02842
The Angling Company 333 Simonton St Key West FL 33040
West Wall Outfitters 787 Tamiami Port Charlotte FL 33953
Bay Street Outfitters 825 Bay Street Beaufort SC 29902
Charleston Angler 654 Saint Andrews Blvd Charleston SC 29407
Blue Ridge Fly Fishing 490 E Main Street Blue Ridge GA 30513
Charleston Angler 1113 Market Center Blvd Mt Pleasant SC 29464
The Fish Hawk 764 Miami Cir NE #126 Atlanta GA 30305
TEXAS Bayou City Angler 3641 Westheimer Rd Suite A Houston TX 77027
County Pleasures 100, 10816 Macleod Tr. S. Calgary AB T2J 5N8 Canada Fish Tales Fly Shop Ltd. #626, 12100 Macleod Trail SE Calgary AB T2J 7G9 Canada Bass Pro Shops over 80 locations in the USA Dick's Sporting Goods over 86 locations in the USA Field & Stream Stores over 25 locations in the USA
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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR You may have noticed the magazine looks a bit different this month: the entire issue features female contributors who are each making their mark on saltwater fly fishing in different ways. Some of them you may recognize, and others you may have never heard of, and I’m proud to have each of their unique stories told in this issue: stories of adventure, honing a craft, learning, competition, and loss, all of which I am sure everyone can relate to in some way. I am lucky to have a father who took me fly fishing from a young age, fostering a love for it that continues to grow. We share many great memories because of it and still fish together regularly. My story is not unique among women who fly fish: for many, a father, boyfriend, brother, or husband took them fishing for the first time (or they saw Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through It and hoped all men who fly fished looked like him). As more women get into the sport, I expect more of these stories to be about bonding with mothers, and sisters, and girlfriends. I’ve already seen a dramatic change since I was a kid.
photo Rick DePaiva
It is encouraging to see many companies and people leading the charge, starting initiatives and actively working to introduce more women to fly fishing. More women are joining the industry, more are learning to fish and teaching others, and they are popping up in great photos, and print and film. The future for women in fly
fishing looks bright. I’m hopeful that in this shareeverything digital age, as more women (and men) get into fly fishing, they remember why they started, and keep striving to learn and improve. Catching fish on fly is about much more than getting the perfect photo to share, and we all need to remember to appreciate and enjoy precious moments on the water. As this issue came together, I spoke with a friend who is the head guide at an Alaskan lodge. He told me about a woman named Andrea who has been going to fish with them by herself for years. She is nearly 80 now, and though I’m sure nobody reading this knows of her, he swears she is one of the fishiest people and smoothest casters you will ever see. She most likely has never posted a grip-andgrin to social media, fishing year after year for the pure joy of it. It is a good reminder not to lose sight of what brought us to the sport in the first place. I am proud of this issue, thankful for all the talented contributors, and hopeful that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together. I also hope it inspires you to take a woman or girl in your life fly fishing. Enjoy! Alex Lovett-Woodsum, Guest Editor
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Sun Bum Sunscreen Not only do their products really work to keep you protected out in the hot sun, they also smell better than pretty much any other sunscreen on the market. Sun Bum is fast becoming the go-to sunscreen for people who love the outdoors and is a great choice for fly anglers.
YETI Rambler 26 oz. Bottle The YETI Rambler is fairly ubiquitous these days, and with good reason - it’s simple, stylish and keeps drinks ice cold for hours on and off the water. Get a few for those long days of fishing and #kickplastic for good.
Orvis Open Air Caster Shirt
This issue's gear guide features some of our favorite triedand-true unisex fly fishing products for your days in the salt.
Orvis started the 50/50 On The Water initiative, campaigning to get more women fly fishing. They make the Open Air Caster in men’s and women’s, and it’s a great choice for keeping you cool on those long, hot days on the water.
Sight Line Provisions Lost Cast Bronze Tarpon 2.0 Sight Line Provisions makes rugged unisex bracelets for avid anglers. We love the bronze tarpon - it’s a real statement piece and looks good on men and women alike.
Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Sling This sling pack is built for anglers who live life in the elements, with plenty of storage compartments and the peace of mind that your stuff will stay dry. Made from bombproof recycled nylon, this sling pack can hold everything you need for the day (including an extra rod) while still giving you comfort and freedom of movement when you're wading the flats.
Patagonia Rainshadow Jacket Made in men's and women's, the Patagonia Rainshadow Jacket packs down easily, and is great to have for the days on the flats when the weather takes a turn for the worse. It is lightweight but will keep you dry when the rain starts to come down.
Nautilus X-Series Fly Reel The Nautilus X-Series is designed with an open frame that optimizes strength and rigidity while reducing weight to better complement modern, ultralight fly rods. We love the XL and XL Max for smaller saltwater species like redfish and bonefish. Like all of Nautilus' reels, they come in an array of sharp custom colors that will make you the envy of everyone else on your trip.
RepYourWater Fish Spine Performance Tee Husband and wife team Garrison and Corinne Doctor own RepYourWater, designing unique state-specific hats and apparel for anglers and hunters. They are avid supporters of conservation, with proceeds from all sales going to various causes around the country. This US-made tee boasts soft, moisture wicking tri-blend performance fabric and UPF 25 to protect you from the sun.
Manhattan Travel Cocktail Set Elevate your post-fishing toast with the Manhattan travel cocktail set. Perfect for making everything from a dry martini to a white negroni. The stylish leather case is pure class and the two bottle storage area ensures that you won't have to be without your favorite spirit.
Filson Tin Cloth Padded Compartment Case What better way to store your favorite fly reels than in a Filson compartment case? Made out of Filson's legendary tin cloth, it will hold up to decades of abuse, and will look even better as it ages. Adjustable compartments make it useful for more than just fly reels. This case will last a lifetime and will never go out of style.
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T H E BOX
Lori-Ann Murphy loves to fish and guide for bonefish, permit and tarpon in her home waters of San Pedro, Belize. Searching and angling for these fish requires a lot of time staying in “the ready position,” and when the fish show up, you need your shot to count. While it’s always nice to try something special off the vise, this selection of flies is guaranteed to get the job done. Put a proven pattern with a balanced leader and great presentation in front of a fish and that fish is going to eat.
Henry Cowan’s Barracuda Fly - This fly imitates a baby bonefish. Cuda fishing can be great fun when the other three species are being too high-maintenance.
White Toad - if you have only one fly in your box for tarpon down here, let it be white. Christmas Island Special - Belize’s “rice and beans” for bonefish and permit. I like them in sizes 4-8 in pearl or orange.
Bio: Lori-Ann co-founded Reel Women Fly Fishing Adventures in 1994 as the first fly fishing travel company dedicated to getting women out on the water. Their mission is to ignite women who have a passion for fly fishing and provide adventures so they can realize their limitless potential. Reel Women Fly Fishing Adventures provides great experiences for all anglers, but the push to acknowledge and support female fly anglers along the way has always been their main goal. Visit www.reelwomenflyfishing.com to learn more. Lori-Ann was featured in the TV series, “Buccaneers and Bones” several years ago, and continues to enjoy sharing her beautiful home of Belize with her guests.
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After seeing thousands of permit, bonefish and tarpon on our flats in Belize, your work really captures not only their appearance but also their attitude/personality. I’ve never seen another saltwater flats sculpture thats even close to yours. Will Bauer Blue Horizon Lodge
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My trip to Belize marked the first time I visited the Caribbean. As soon as I stepped off the plane, I was totally in awe of the country. I stayed at the Isla Marisol Resort on the Southwest Caye of Glover’s Atoll, just 35 miles southeast of Dangriga. The little island and the cozy beach cabanas are surrounded by palm trees and hammocks. Belize is a beautiful place— more than a third of it is a protected nature reserve—and it is filled with amazing wildlife, plants, birds and reptiles. The flats fishing around the islands is also incredible.
by Katka Svagrova
This was the first time I had the chance to fish for bonefish; translucent, nearly invisible and one of the spookiest fish you will encounter on the flats. Belizean flats look different than the white sand flats you might encounter in the Bahamas or the Seychelles. There are many schools of tailing fish along the channels, and smaller schools cruising back and forth along coral flats. On my first day, on the advice of a local guide named Alex, I went out on the biggest flat in front of the island. After a few minutes of walking, I found myself in a bonefish paradise. I saw a huge school of tailing fish, and as soon as my fly hit the water, a small fish began tracking it. After a few short strips, the fish ate and I was hooked up to my first bonefish. He took off across the grass flat, his tail leaving a narrow furrow in the water. After three quick runs, I finally got to hold my first bonefish, admiring
how easily he blended into the colors of the flat. Over the course of the week, I caught untold numbers of bonefish. They are plentiful and easy to target in Belize. There are also great opportunities to catch a grand slam in Belize—it is considered one of the world’s best places to target a slam for a reason. On my first day, I caught tarpon and bonefish and lost a decent-sized permit. Since we were on a near-deserted island, we spent the evenings drinking rum-filled coconuts, watching the sunset and waiting for dark, when the tarpon entered the shallows for their nighttime hunt. Tarpon are particularly strong hunters at night, and this was certainly true on Southwest Caye. They entered the channel every night around 10 and stayed until the wee hours of the morning. We fished black and purple Toads, casting constantly and stripping fast, and I was able to jump six tarpon during my time there, bringing two to hand. My trip to Belize was a wonderful escape from the hectic times we are living in. Belize offers a calmer, slower-paced way of life: everyone you meet is always in a good mood and smiling, and their motto there is “fish hard, live slow.” It didn’t take long to adapt to the lifestyle: wake up when you like, fish as long as you want, and finish the day with grilled lobster, cold beer and fish stories with fellow anglers.
After a few minutes of walking, I found myself in a bonefish paradise. I saw a huge school of tailing fish, and as soon as my fly hit the water, a small fish began tracking it. After a few short strips, the fish ate and I was hooked up to my first bonefish. 28 TA I L FLY F I S H I N G M AGA Z I NE
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Bio: Katka Svagrova is a passionate fly angler with more than 20 years of experience in the sport. For the past five years she has been the womenâ€™s champion of the Czech Republic, and she has experience fishing in some of the remote destinations around the world including Australia, Guatemala, New Zealand, Africa, Belize, Maldives, Norway and Iceland. This summer, she is working as a fly fishing guide on a remote salmon river in Iceland. She is also an up and coming photographer and writer.
The uncompromising, award-winning saltwater rods from Scott.
Scott Fly Rod Company 32 TAI L FLY F I S H I N G M AGA Z I NE
2 3 5 5 A i r P a r k W a y, M o n t r o s e , C o l o r a d o 8 1 4 0 1
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Down The Road Fly Fishing Louisiana by Capt. Moe Newman When you tell the average person you are heading to Venice to fish, they may look at you funny, probably thinking, "I didnâ€™t know you can fish in Italy," or "What would one fish for in California?" But youâ€™re really going to one of the vastest fisheries in the world in Venice, Louisiana. Venice lays alongside the mighty Mississippi River. It's not at the mouth, but is at the end of the road, which lies 20 miles north of Southwest Pass. The land between here and there is full of rich nutrition that helps support the outstanding fishery that starts hidden among the roseau canes and stretches out into the Northern Gulf of Mexico. I've spent my whole life exploring all that the area has to offer. "Down the Road," as the locals call it, because the only road in and out runs along the Mississippi River all the way from New Orleans. It's a place that welcomes many types of fishermen, and it is quickly becoming a favorite haunt for fly fishing enthusiasts. A morning flight into New Orleans International Airport followed by an hour and a half drive and you can be catching bull reds on fly that afternoon. It is easily accessible and offers remarkable fishing, which is the reason it is fast becoming a top fishing destination.
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In Louisiana, you can fish for almost anything, from freshwater species to large offshore pelagics. And with the plentiful fishing comes many, many guides. Some guides fish here full time, while others make it a seasonal stop. I've personally adopted Venice as my home away from home. I grew up in Louisiana, and my husband Eric and I started Journey South Outfitters in 2014. I spent my life on the water and finally decided it was time to take my years of fishing knowledge and boating skills and put them to work. Going from an angler to a full-time guide is not without its challenges. It's one thing to go out fishing with family and friends, but as a guide I am responsible for making every call from 5:30 am to when I return to the dock. On top of that, I have to make sure my anglers have a good time. In the past, everything was just second nature and I never questioned my decisions on leaders, gear setups, and fishing spots. Things changed for me the day I decided to make my living as an offshore and inshore charter captain, in part because I am one of the few female captains who has taken on this lifestyle. Covering both inshore and offshore makes the job both more difficult and more rewarding. As with any job, there are challenges, but I am always learning from them and growing. I am constantly refining everything to offer the best possible outing for my anglers, because their success is my success. Now with four seasons under my belt, my knowledge and skill have far exceeded
Going from an angler to a full-time guide is not without its challenges. It's one thing to go out fishing with family and friends, but as a guide I am responsible for making every call from 5:30 am to when I return to the dock.
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any milestone I had ever expected to reach, and I'm proud of how far our company has come. Growing up, I never planned on guiding people to their first bull red on fly, or their first amberjack on fly, or better yet, their first yellowfin on fly. All of these “firsts” were things I took for granted then. Now I get to relive those moments vicariously through other people, and my appreciation for the amazing fishery I call home grows stronger with each passing day. Growing up as predominantly conventional anglers, Eric and I found that the fishery Venice offers is also ideal for fly fishermen, which was a game changer. I've come to really enjoy targeting these fish on fly, both as a guide and an angler. Inshore, there is no other fish like the bull red, and they are unique in Louisiana because of both their sheer size and aggressive nature. During the fall, these pumpkins—a nickname they got because of their copper color—go on a pre-spawn feeding binge. Venice is one of the top menhaden (pogy) fisheries. To humans they are stinky, slimy baitfish, but they are highly enticing to bull reds. The menhaden cover every inch of water surrounding the outskirts of the marsh, and the reds follow. On a typical day, you will see tons of injured pogies on the surface, and with a quick slurp, they disappear into the mouths of the redfish below. After the spawn, the reds move inshore along the shorelines and into shallow ponds, some of which are so shallow that their backs protrude out of the water, making them easy to spot as they belly-crawl along. Both situations present ideal opportunities to show them a fly, and they eat pretty much anything with reckless abandon.
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The same menhaden that the bull reds can't resist also drive the offshore species crazy. Their oil and scent spreads quickly through the water to help raise the fish up and create a feeding frenzy, which provides the perfect chance to present a fly to any species that show up for the buffet. Each morning before going offshore, I throw the cast net, hopefully once but sometimes for hours, to catch well over 500 of these slimy, stinky baits. Live bait is the key to having a successful day fly fishing offshore. The Northern Gulf of Mexico is full of life because there are oil rigs everywhere. Each has its own fish habitat, and there are many species you can target. Two of my favorites are the greater amberjack and the yellowfin tuna. They are two of the hardest-pulling species we have in the Gulf, and a battle with either is tough. When I target AJâ€™s on fly, we have to be about 15 to 20 yards off the rig. As we throw out live baits, life just emerges out from the legs and the depths below the oil rig, and a feeding frenzy ensues. Then you just have to wait for the amberjacks to rise up. When they do show up, their extreme aggression and strength make for incredible visual takes, and once you entice them, getting a good hook set is the least of your worries. Once tight, I slowly pull the boat off the rig and the angler has to just hold on for dear life. These fish like to go right back where they came from and always try to dive down into the rig. They will rip most of the line off the reel, and you have to overcome many obstacles and challenges to get them to the boat, carefully maneuvering the fish through the rig's legs and out to open water. Typically, it takes an angler three to four hookups before they are able to successfully land one, and that extreme challenge is what makes an amberjack such a rewarding fish to catch.
The Northern Gulf of Mexico is full of life because there are oil rigs everywhere. Each has its own fish habitat, and there are many species you can target.
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As with amberjacks, targeting yellowfin tuna on fly has its own set of challenges, but also provides a great sense of accomplishment when you are able to land one. Despite using the same bait source, the approach is a little different. We target the yellowfin tuna around rigs, shrimp boats, and an underwater feature called the salt dome. At each location, we still throw out live baits one after another to try to create a feeding frenzy within casting distance. The result can be magnificent, the sea foaming from tuna aggressively smashing the surface all around the boat. The fly is best presented next to or around a live bait, like the bait and switch tactic, but the hook set is what is key. A solid hook set and deep penetration are crucial to landing tuna, because they have hard mouths and the battle can be up to two hours long and will test every bit of your strength.
Bio: Moe Newman was born and raised in South Louisiana and grew up fishing along the coast of Pass Christian, Mississippi to Port Fourchon, Louisiana, chasing everything from reds to many offshore species. Once Moe met her fishing buddy and now husband, their world of making a hobby into a career quickly developed into starting Journey South Outfitters in 2014. They offer all-inclusive lodging along with a fleet of boats to ensure your visit to Venice, LA will be hard to forget. They specialize in both conventional and fly fishing, inshore and offshore, striving to offer the best experience possible and helping anglers check some pretty cool fish off their bucket lists. Visit their website at www.journeysouthoutfitters. com, call them at 504-416-2724, or shoot them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to book your trip to Louisiana.
The size of the yellowfin varies depending on where they are being targeted. Around the rigs, we primarily see 40 to 80-pounders, which to me is the perfect size for these tough-fighting fish. They tend to dive deep and the battle is primarily up and down the whole time, with fights around the rigs typically lasting under an hour. When we target them behind the shrimp boats and the salt dome, we encounter the larger yellowfin, usually 100 to 200-pounds. These fish are in much shallower waters, so the initial run is out along the surface. I run the boat to keep up with them so my angler doesn't get spooled, which can happen pretty easily with these speedy fish, even with fly reels that have well over 400 yards of backing on them. Once the fish settles in, it becomes an up and down battle of wills, and that will make or break an angler. These are some of the hardest fighting fish on earth, which is part of why they are one of my favorite to target on fly. There is a great sense of accomplishment when a yellowfin tuna is landed: I usually let out a few loud whoops of joy while my angler searches for a place to collapse and rest. This fishing isn't for the faint of heart, but one of the best and most diverse fisheries on earth is right in your backyard, and Venice may yield some of the wildest and most challenging fly fishing you've ever experienced.
Photo: Steve Larsen
New 8’ 7’12” Quick Shot Models for 2018! Party-sized fiberglass fun at your LOCAL FLY SHOP!
GET OUT THERE.
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by Alex Lovett-Woodsum
everal years back, I spent months complaining to friends and family and agonizing over whether to leave a job I was unhappy in. I knew I was ready to move on, wanted to shake my life up, but leaping into the unknown in a tepid job market kept me marching through the same office door day after day. My wake up call came in the form of a tragedy, as they often do. A friend from college had taken his own life. The night before his funeral, as his many friends gathered over drinks, reminiscing about what a wonderful guy he was, laughing and crying about great memories shared with him, we all tried to grapple with the gut-wrenching shock. We lamented that we had not seen each other more since college, had not stayed in better touch with him and each other, and secretly wondered what part we had played in the tragedy, or at least what we could have done to prevent it. I was stoic through it all as others broke down around me. I comforted and passed tissues to friends that cried through the funeral, and it wasn't until I boarded the plane back to Miami later that day that I suddenly lost it, hot tears streaming down my face as I choked back sobs. The man in the seat next to me awkwardly tried to console me as a kind flight attendant brought me a mountain of napkins and offered me a drink. It was on that flight, as my puffy eyes finally dried and the bourbon burned its way past the lump in my throat and into the dark mass that had filled my stomach over the past few days, that I decided to make a change. That week, I put in a month's notice at my job and set to work formulating a plan to start a business and bring more joy to my life. A friend of my father's invited me on a last-minute trip to Tarpon Town in Campeche, Mexico not long after that and I accepted without hesitation. We caught tarpon and snook and spent evenings in the charming walled city eating great Mexican food to our hearts' content. Raul, the owner of Tarpon Town, invited me on an exploratory trip departing a week later to Scorpion Atoll, a remote island chain in the Gulf, north of Progreso, Mexico. My passport was about to expire, but I expedited a replacement around the Thanksgiving holiday (not an easy or cheap feat), bought a last-minute flight to Merida and stayed up into the wee hours tying flies until my neck ached. A few days later, I found myself drinking a mojito alone outside a cafe in a charming little town square, waving away street vendors selling hammocks and knockoff Cuban cigars and awaiting the arrival of my new travel companions. Scorpion Atoll, it turned out, was my Elysium. A four-hour pitching boat ride began with tired eyes peering into the impossible blackness of the early morning as it swallowed the coastal lights at our stern. Halfway through our journey, dawn broke, first warming and then painting the sky all around us with vast swaths of pinks and reds and yellows as the water and horizon came into focus. Sunrise is a remarkable sight when unencumbered by land, and it filled me with hope and anticipation. After a few more hours of rolling through waves and staring at the endless ocean, islands appeared as if by magic and the water turned shallow and a remarkably clear turquoise hue. Jagged coral heads beckoned all around us as we carefully made our way to land. We scarfed sandwiches and pulled on our wading boots, rigging rods and poring over flies as we drew closer. I was unsure of what to expect as I stepped off the boat onto the rickety,
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After a few more hours of rolling through waves and staring at the endless ocean, islands appeared as if by magic and the water turned shallow and a remarkably clear turquoise hue. Jagged coral heads beckoned all around us as we carefully made our way to land.
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weathered dock on the main island, a candy-striped lighthouse on the other side in the distance and little else but sea and sky surrounding us. The four of us rushed off in different directions without saying much, anticipation and adrenaline driving away our fatigue. I started down the beach alone, the sun warming my back, and was entirely shocked to see two very large bonefish cruising steadily towards me under a wave, just a hundred yards from where we had docked. I figured I was too close to them and they must have seen me, but flipped a short cast out anyway. Both fish lit up and raced to the fly, with the smaller of the two grabbing it practically next to me. After a short battle and failed attempts to get my camera from my bag and yell into the wind to the guys on the boat as I held the fish in the waves, I released what looked to be a nine-pounder, stout and fatter than any bonefish I had ever seen. A minute later, just as I had stripped my line back out, I spotted and threw to a school of small bonefish, their outlines fuzzy grey and nearly imperceptible against the bright white sand bottom. I hooked up immediately and was surprised to see a thin black tail cutting through the waves as I brought the fish closer, realizing it was actually a small permit, the fly tucked neatly into the corner of its silvery mouth. The rest of the day was filled with much of the same: aimlessly exploring this wild new place and catching fish after fish, most of them abnormally large and well-fed. At times I found myself staring out at the horizon and chuckling at the sheer absurdity of it.
The rest of the day was filled with much of the same: aimlessly exploring this wild new place and catching fish after fish, most of them abnormally large and wellfed. At times I found myself staring out at the horizon and chuckling at the sheer absurdity of it.
The trip was perfectly imperfect. We camped on the beach next to the lighthouse and a small Mexican Naval base, swatting away the bugs that showed up on cue as the sun set, drinking good Mexican beers and lukewarm cocktails with a few melting ice cubes, eating grilled barracuda, using a seatless saltwater flush toilet and taking cold bucket showers from collected rainwater. I relished that I was forced to be out of touch with the outside world, my phone buried in a pocket in my duffel. I needed that; needed to step away from the world and let this magical place and the great fishing and the scenery wash over me and erase
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As the sun finally broke the plane of the horizon, penetrating the water around me and tinting the clouds a brilliant gold, it illuminated hundreds of translucent, swaying bonefish tails breaking the surface of the calm water nearby.
a bit of the hurt in my heart and soothe some of my anxiety over my professional leap into the unknown.
There was not much to do besides fish, so in the evening we talked and listened to music as we drank through our dwindling beer supply, and amused ourselves with hermit crab races before crawling into our sleeping bags early, a stiff breeze easing us to sleep. We woke with the first light from the sun each morning, perching ourselves in misshapen plastic chairs to drink instant coffee, shaking off the effects of the night before and waiting for the sky to get just light enough that we could run out and try to catch a few fish before breakfast. Each day, we took the boat to a different island and explored new terrain, wading all day until our legs ached and our feet pruned, breaking midday for a bit of shade, beer and fresh 'cuda ceviche on the boat. We caught fish after fish: cruising on white sand, feeding over shallow coral, in breaking waves and tailing in turtle grass. I often fished alone, reveling in the silence, grateful to have my mind devoid of real thoughts, consumed only with scanning for the barely perceptible flicker of motion or color change betraying a bonefish. The water and islands were mostly pristine, with minimal vegetation, white sand and the occasional bit of trash that had found its way there in the ocean currents. The only other souls on the smaller islands were seabirds that glared and cried out as we approached, not accustomed to being disturbed. When I left that place five days after I had arrived, dragging my weary body back onto the boat, preparing for a rough journey back to the mainland, a lightness and sense of calm I hadn't felt in a while permeated every bit of me. I returned to Scorpion Atoll a few months ago with friends, this time on a larger boat with a few staterooms, warm showers and air conditioning. The fishing was not quite as good the second time around (it would have been hard to beat), but Scorpion still had that undeniable magic I felt the first time I experienced it. We fished hard and caught plenty of bonefish and some permit to top it off. On our last morning before beginning the journey home, a few of us rose before dawn on a low tide and made our way off the boat and onto the island we had spent the night in the lee of. We wandered in separate directions, each on our own mission, and I once again found myself wading alone, in the middle of a vast grass flat in ankle deep water without a soul in sight. As the sun finally broke the plane of the horizon, penetrating the water around me and tinting the clouds a brilliant gold, it illuminated hundreds of translucent, swaying bonefish tails breaking the surface of the calm water nearby. For several minutes I stood and watched silently, frozen, utterly overcome by the beauty and filled with profound sadness and gratitude for what had brought me there in the first place.
Bio: Alex Lovett-Woodsum lives in Coral Gables, Florida, where she runs a consulting business for small businesses and nonprofits. She has been the Consulting Editor for Tail since its print debut, and also helps run its social media and online marketing. She also works on numerous conservation causes including Now or Neverglades. When sheâ€™s not working, Alex spends most of her waking hours fly fishing her home waters around Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys, as well as hosting trips and traveling to fish as much as she can. You can reach her on Instagram @alexwoodsum.
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A FATHER'S DAUGHTER by Meredith McCord
A thunderous crash explodes behind Stu and me as we wade the white sand flat of the lagoon with a 9-weight in hand on our final day looking for the cherished Indo-Pacific permit. Our heads whip around to see bonefish flying in the air over a commotion of white, foamy water. “Geets!” Stu yells as he sprints back towards our boat, “Geets!” When wading the flats in the Seychelles, it is normal to always carry your 11 or 12-weight Giant Trevally rod, but this morning, we were on a declared permit mission. The speed with which Stuart Webb crosses back over the flat to our boat makes him look like he is running on water. I follow as quickly as I can to catch up. By the time I reach him I am breathless. He has already starting stripping out my line and thrusts the rod in to my hand, as we both stare mesmerized by the vision in front of us. A black mass of sharks, rays and GTs are on the attack, moving aggressively down the edge of the lagoon, killing everything in their path. Momentary hesitation due to shock quickly brings the maelstrom of destruction 30 feet from us. I cast Alec Gerbec’s Reaper, a 10/0 black foam popper fly, into the chaos. While it is still in the air, multiple fish lunge out of the water in an effort to smash the huge popper, but the sheer force of the attack displaces the fly. Out of room and time, I am left with only one thing to do: I lift the line and slap cast it as the turmoil is now literally at my feet. One pop, and a monster smashes my popper. “Are you on? Are you on?” Stuart yells. For a millisecond, I am confused and paralyzed. I know I am on, the line shooting out through my fingers like firing bullets, cutting deep into my flesh, but the fly is sitting there rocking in the waves. “I’ve got her!” I respond breathlessly. Then we both realize what happened: the trevally hit the fly with such brute force that it blew the foam head right off the 10/0 hook. As I play the fish, Stu runs with my fishing partner Tom Collins’ rod to get in for the double play. A minute later, Tom is hooked up too! My fish is still screaming out and close to getting into my backing. I lock down the drag, but the massive fish is on a mission. Stuart sees where my fish is heading and knows we need to chase it. He radios for assistance and quickly grabs the net from the boat for Tom, telling him help is on the way to land his GT.
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By now, my fish has reached her goal and has me wrapped around the only bommie (coral head) in sight. Past experience has taught me that at any moment, the sharp coral could do its job and sever the line. Somehow during all the chaos, our boat has set afloat out into the lagoon, and Stu is forced to dive in and swim out after it. Once on board, he fires it up, whips back around and I jump in. I ease the tension on my line, but reel like a mad woman to keep light pressure on as we race for the bommie, praying the fish stays hooked. Stu, a pro captain, maneuvers us around and around above the coral until the line finally unwraps, and miraculously, the giant fish is still on. Concerned about the integrity of my coral-scathed line, we work to quickly tame the beast and land her. Meanwhile, back on shore, another skiff has arrived to help successfully land Tomâ€™s 75-pound GT.
By now, my fish has reached her goal and has me wrapped around the only bommie in sight. Past experience has taught me that at any moment, the sharp coral could do its job and sever the line.
Both sweating profusely, Stu and I finally get her boat side, but the torque and the sheer size of the fish causes my rod to explode into pieces. Stu quickly grabs the leader and begins to hand-line her back in. We try numerous attempts to bring her on board, with Stu grabbing the tail as I grab her massive head. Finally, with all of the energy we have left in us, we heave and pull and manage to slide her in over the gunnel right on top of us. Sweat dripping, breathing hard, we motor the short distance to the edge of the flat for pictures. I take in the sheer size of this fish, a 127 cm, approximately 90-pound giant trevally, in total awe. As I release her back into the beautiful lagoon to reunite with her fearsome companions, my mind turns to how I came to be here. Tears well up as I realize it is time for the gut-wrenching, but perfectly-timed thing I have to do next. As I reach for the bag of ashes that has been in my backpack all week, a flood of memories begins to roll through my head like a film reel on an old projector.
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The oldest of three kids, I was born into a fishing family. It was just what we did. Whether bass fishing the tanks and ponds of Texas or walleye and musky fishing in Canada, it was always part of our lives. My parents put rods in our hands before we could even walk, and for me it struck a special cord, lighting a fire in me that burns to this day. In the early 90s, my family bought a place in San Pedro, Belize that opened a whole new world of fishing for me: saltwater. My dad took me spin fishing for bonefish with George Bradley, and the sheer pull of those salty fish whet my appetite all over again. That same year, like many people, I saw the movie A River Runs Through It, and it exposed me to an intriguing art form I had never seen before: fly fishing. Unlike most kids, we werenâ€™t allowed to watch TV except for one hour on Saturday mornings, so I had never seen Walkerâ€™s Cay Chronicles or heard the names of legends like Flip, Stu and Lefty. The movie brought to light an approach to fishing I had never been exposed to, and I was captivated. After my college graduation, I packed my bags and moved with my sister and a few friends to the fly fishing town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming with one mission in mind: to learn and perfect the art of fly fishing. No one warned me that, like golf, it is a lifetime sport, where perfection is never truly realized, but the effort to get there is what it is all about. That summer, several people took me under their wings, helping me to purchase my first outfit, an old reel and no name twopiece 6-weight rod, and teaching me the basics. I instantly fell in love with the sport and knew I was in trouble as the addiction set in.
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Luckily, my dad was smart and made me secure a job in the “real” world before I headed out west. When September came along, I packed my bags and left to join corporate America in Atlanta, following my dad’s footstep in commercial real estate. It didn’t take long to realize I was not cut out for wearing pantyhose in cold corporate offices. I will never forget when my first year review came in stating, verbatim, “Meredith needs to wear her shoes a little more often around the office.” After a little over a year, I resigned. I had inherited my dad’s sense of entrepreneurship and soon decided to start my own business, a paint-your-own pottery company, The Mad Potter, in my hometown of Houston, TX. In the early years, the business grew quickly and I opened multiple locations. Once the business was stable, I was able to start balancing life more and pursuing my passions of traveling, mission work and fishing.
Dad and I fished together every day from morning 'til night, doubling up over and over again on bones and throwing each other air high fives across the flats.
In 2005, my life changed forever. My dad was invited by a group of his buddies to go to the Seychelles for a weeklong fly fishing trip to Alphonse Island. He accepted, having heard that the Seychelles boasted four to six-pound average bonefish, much bigger than our beloved Belizean “bananas.” A few months before the trip, one of the guys had to drop out, so they were looking for a twelfth man. Dad brought up the idea of bringing me along, but it was quickly shot down, as it was a “guys” trip. As the trip drew closer, the space remained open. Finally, shortly before the trip and after vetting me, the men relented. For Christmas that year, dad gifted me 10-weight and 12-weight Sage XI2 rods rigged with Abel Super reels. The challenge became learning to cast these bigger rods. Luckily, the local fly shop in town offered lessons, so I was able to get some practice before our trip. As the only female on the trip, I felt I needed to prove myself, and showing up without any skills would have been a huge mistake. Needless to say, that place—from the lodge with gorgeous A-frame huts and the thatched roof “open air” bar, the friendliest, most entertaining and encouraging
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mix of South African and Seychellois guides, the clearest water I had ever seen teeming with more species than I could count—stole part of my heart. It opened my eyes to the vast number of species one could catch on fly, all of them mind-blowing with their colors and sheer size. Dad and I fished together every day from morning ‘til night, doubling up over and over again on bones and throwing each other air high fives across the flats. It was a truly special time with him I will forever cherish. That trip was the beginning of a long litany of yearly trips that we would take together with his friends. His friends became my friends, and I became a part of the group. From Venezuela to South Caicos, Alaska to Christmas Island, we adventured together, but the Seychelles was always our favorite. Dad was always my fishing partner on the trips. On one occasion in Belize, I turned around on the bow to see my dad sprawled out on the Belizean panga staple, the Adirondack chair, just smiling at me funny. When I asked, “why are you looking at me like that?” he just laughed and said how he loved watching me fish and seeing the joy it brought me. He often just liked to sit and watch. We had a ball together, and we were together when he caught his first permit, his first snook, trigger, GT, and many more great fish, and he was there with me for many of my firsts. Dad was a natural and always caught the big ones. Eventually my passion for the sport started to supersede even my dad’s, and I looked for opportunities to fish more often. The answer came in a way only God could have written. In the fall of 2013, I was down in the jungles of Bolivia at the invitation of two of my dad’s friends after one of their daughters had to cancel at the last minute. It was there that I met Tailwaters Travel’s travel photographer, Matt Jones. He had been hosting a group at Tsimané Lodge chasing golden dorado when I showed up. He asked if he could tag along. We instantly connected, and a month later, I was working for Tailwaters Travel as an ambassador and Travel Host. In March of 2014, Dad came with me on a Tailwaters scouting trip to Cosmoledo and Astove. The trip was above and beyond our expectations, with GTs galore and more bonefish than we could count. We didn’t know at the time that it would be our last trip to the Seychelles together. Just three months later, dad was diagnosed with Stage Four Kidney cancer. He was always an optimist, as the best fishermen are, and fought hard, always referring to his battle as a “minor bump in the road.” Eighteen months later, he lost that battle, and I lost my most cherished fishing partner.
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People grieve in different ways. I cope by fishing. I don’t know if you ever quit grieving for a loved one, it just changes over time. The tears don’t come as often, but when they do, they are often accompanied by rich memories. As I watch my giant trevally swim away that day, I know it is time. I hold the bag that has been neatly tucked away in my pack, filled with what looks like grey sand. Dad would have loved this moment: my personal best fish, in one of his favorite places on earth, caught out of a famous shoal named after one of his best friends, Ed Cappel. I can feel him here with me; he was so much a part of the moment and this amazing fish that we landed against the odds. As the wind blows around me, I bow my head and say a little prayer, thanking the Lord for the sweet times with my dad, before emptying his ashes into the crystalclear turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. As I watch them drift away in the current, I hear his voice in my head saying, “Atta girl, that’s my girl.” Frederick Ryan McCord, Sr Sept 18, 1945 - Oct 21, 2015 To my cheerleader, my encourager, my hunting and fishing partner/guide and my loving father: thank you for including me in your life, loves and hobbies every step of the way, and for encouraging me over every “bump in the road.” Your love and loves have inspired so many. With every fish I catch, every bird I shoot and every weather report I get, I think of you.
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BIO: An accomplished entrepreneur, competitive triathlete, humanitarian aid leader, and a passionate angler since the age of three, Meredith embraces life and throws herself completely into everything she endeavors. Never content to sit still, Meredith is always on the go. Meredith resides primarily in Houston, TX, where she started and runs a successful chain of paint-your-own-pottery studios, The Mad Potter (est. 1998). Thanks to her incredible staff at The Mad Potter, Meredith has the opportunity and availability to work/travel part-time for Tailwaters Fly Fishing Travel, as a lodge scout, ambassador and trip hostess. Meredith has over 140 world records to her name. When she is not at work or on the water, she’s usually enjoying family and friends, church, bird hunting or cooking at home. She is passionate about many things in this earth, but her biggest love is for the Creator of it all.
Brewery Name: New Glarus Brewery Website: newglarusbrewing.com Location: New Glarus, WI Beer Type: Sour Fruit Ale Appearance: Deep mahogany Aroma: Strong Cherry and tart cranberry Flavor: Cherry, cranberry and faint tart apple with small hints of oak ABV: 4% Final Thoughts: Possibly one of the best fruit beers we have had. The ale is very fruit forward and would be great to have in the evening after spending a great day on the water with friends, or even after a meal for a dessert drink.
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Brewery Name: Full Sail Brewery Website: fullsailbrewing.com Location: Hood River, OR Beer Type: Mexican Style Lager Appearance: Straw gold with good carbonation Aroma: Grain with a fresh lemon zest Flavor: Slighty sweet grain and corn with a bright lemon freshness ABV: 4.5% Final Thoughts: Inspired by traditional Mexican lagers, Full Sail puts their own twists on a classic beer style. The slight lemon freshness makes this the perfect hot weather beer. Itâ€™s goes perfect on and off the water. Excellent with tacos al pastor!
There are also women involved in making one of our favorite things - beer. All of these selections are either founded, owned or brewed by women. We are proud to showcase these great beers from some of the female pioneers in craft beer.
This issue of Tail features women anglers and guides who are making a great impact on the sport.
Brewery Name: New Belgium Brewing Website: newbelgium.com Location: Ft. Collins, CO Beer Type: American IPA Appearance: Cloudy light orange Aroma: Tropical and citrus fruits Flavor: Citrus forward and balanced, not overly hoppy ABV: 7.5% Final Thoughts: This New England style IPA delivers with a medium body and a nice balanced flavor that's not bitter. This is a great beer to drink if you have been curious about NE style IPAs and an even better beer to try after a long day on the water chasing tailers. Excellent with Thai or Vietnamese food.
Brewery Name: Alaskan Brewing Company Website: alaskanbeer.com Location: Juneau, AK Beer Type: Session IPA Appearance: Clear golden Aroma: Lemon peels and hop Flavor: Bright hops at first, that give way to a slight malt finish ABV: 4.5% Final Thoughts: Great example of an easy drinking session IPA. This beer is perfect for anyone wanting to down more than one but wanting to have some hop forward flavor. This beer pairs excellently with a grilled burger topped with blue cheese and caramelized onions.
Brewery Name: Stoudts Brewing Company Website: stoudts.com/brewery Location: Adamstown, PA Beer Type: Kolsch Appearance: Light straw with great clarity Aroma: Grain, with light floral and toasted malt Flavor: Super bright with a faint floral and herbal hoppiness, perfectly dry ABV: 4.8% Final Thoughts: Light, dry and crisp with a slight floral hop aftertaste. A fantastic version of the traditional Kolsch style beers. Great carbonation and the dry-crisp refreshing factor make this the ultimate beer for a hot day. Pairs perfectly with any meal, especially grilled meats.
SURF WAX IPA
Brewery Name: Burial Beer Company Website: burialbeer.com Location: Asheville, NC Beer Type: IPA Appearance: Golden yellow with a slight orange haze Aroma: Super tropical, pineapple and mango, mosaic hop aroma with slight sweet wheat Flavor: Mosaic and citra hops make for a nice tropical and citrus peel flavor, malty but not sweet, piney ABV: 6.8% Final Thoughts: A great modern West Coast style IPA, but with a little haze going on seen in most New England IPAs. This is a great beer to have with spicy or rich foods, or better yet, grilled pork belly. TAIL FLY FISHI NG M AGA ZI NE 6 3
ON THE PLATE
by KELLI PRESCOTT
Spring and summer are all about the sun, sight fishing crystal clear water, and kicking back with buddies over good food and ice cold beer. In this feature, Iâ€™ve got some awesome tips for all of your barbecue needs as well as a killer taco bar that makes entertaining easy and delicious.
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CHICKEN cut of meat: whole chicken cook time: 2-5 hrs temp: 225ยบ F wood: oak, hickory, apple
The first and most important step to a killer smoked whole chicken starts the day before. Brine! A brine is basically a saltwater solution that helps flavor the chicken down to the bone and ensures you get the juiciest result. Get a bowl large enough to submerge and cover a whole chicken in liquid. Add 1 gallon of sweet tea, 1/3 cup kosher salt, a handful of peppercorns, and an orange and a lemon, sliced. Whisk until the salt dissolves. For smoked chicken this sweet tea brine is my favorite but any brine recipe works! Cover and refrigerate 12 hours. (Make sure the brine covers the entire chicken.) Remove chicken from the brine, pat dry and season liberally. I use kosher salt, cracked pepper, garlic powder, a sprinkle of brown sugar
and cayenne. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with a peeled and halved yellow onion, a lemon, and a couple stalks of celery. Place seasoned chicken directly on the rack of your smoker and keep a close eye on the temperature. Start checking for doneness right before the two hour mark. Insert a meat thermometer through the thigh and into the breast - if it reaches 145/150ยบ F, you're ready. Remove the chicken and wrap loosely with foil. Let rest 30 minutes to an hour to finish the cooking process. Removing the chicken early and letting it finish cooking in the foil will result in the juiciest chicken every time. Enjoy!
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BARBACOA TACO BAR
Ingredients: 2 cups red cabbage, shredded 2 cups green cabbage, shredded 2 ears of corn, cooked, cut from the cob 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped Dressing: 1 cup mayo 1/4 cup honey 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp celery seeds 1 tbsp lime zest salt and pepper, to taste Combine all slaw ingredients in a bowl. Whisk to combine all ingredients for the dressing in a separate bowl. Dress the slaw to your liking and toss to coat.
BARBACOA cut of meat: beef cheeks cook time: 5 hrs temp: 275º F wood: oak
For this recipe I call for beef cheeks instead of using the whole cow head. It's easy and anyone can get perfect results! Once you have the beef cheeks, season liberally with kosher salt, cracked pepper and garlic powder. You want a nice crust to develop as the cheeks smoke. Simply place the seasoned cheeks directly on the rack of your smoker, and wait. If you want to regulate the smoke flavor you can always wrap the cheeks in foil at some point during cooking. For more smoke flavor, leave unwrapped the entire five hours. Grab a cold beer and work on your taco bar while the barbacoa cooks - but, careful, make sure your temperature stays regulated! When it’s all done, shred the barbacoa, add it to your taco bar layout and feast!
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Barbacoa is my absolute favorite, and in my home state of Texas, it’s a pretty big deal.
avocado, cubed, dressed w/ lime + salt queso fresco, crumbled radishes, thinly sliced romaine lettuce, shredded your favorite salsa tortillas, heated over open fire
PICO DE GALLO ROASTED POBLANO QUESO
3/4 lb processed American cheese, cubed 1/2 lb white cheddar, shredded 3 cups half and half 2 tbsp butter 2 tbsp flour 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped finely 2 poblanos, roasted, chopped 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder salt and pepper, to taste In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, add butter. Once the butter is melted add onion and poblanos and cook until onions become translucent. Add flour. Cook for one minute.
Ingredients: 2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered 3/4 cup white onion, finely diced 1/4 cup jalapeno, deseeded, finely diced 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped 1/4 cup lime juice 1/2 tsp garlic powder salt and pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and enjoy! Cherry tomatoes always look and taste better - but any tomato variety will work!
Add half and half, whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer. Add cubed American cheese and reduce heat to low. Stir mixture frequently until all of the American cheese melts. Turn heat off. Add grated white cheddar and stir. Season with garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped cilantro and queso fresco if you'd like!
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Tidepool Sculpin Flatwing by BRITA FORDICE
Brita learned to fly fish at the age of eight while growing up on the Stillaguamish River in Washington, and taught herself to tie flies at 10. Following college she spent years in both Idaho and Alaska before settling back down in Washington. In 2004 she began working for The Avid Angler Fly Fishing Outfitters in Seattle where she spent years teaching classes, hosting travel, and guiding local waters, with beaches being her favorite for sea-run cutthroat and salmon. In 2016 she began working at Far Bank Enterprises, and is currently a Product Developer for RIO, Sage, and Redington, and still guides during her days off. She is an ambassador for the American Museum of Fly Fishing, and represents J Stockard, Lagartun, and HMH Vises as part of their pro team. She can be contacted on Instagram @seafly907.
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MATERIALS Hook: Ahrex tube hook in #6 Tail: vwhite bucktail Thread: olive Veevus 6/0 Feathers on tail from bottom to top (first to tie in to last): -tan saltwater neck feather or rooster saddle feather tied in concave to prevent fouling of other feathers -one folded piece of Krinkle Mirror Flash in Silver Holographic -bleached grizzly saddle feather followed by two pieces Ripple Ice Fiber in Peacock and two pieces Root Beer Krystal flash folded in half -rooster saddle feather in olive dyed grizzly variant Lateral Line: Copper Ripple Ice Fiber Body: Lagartun Copper Flat Braid Collar: Mottlebou (or mixed marabou in brown, rust, and burnt orange) Head: Senyoâ€™s Fusion Dub in Crusty Nail on top and Senyoâ€™s Laser Dub in White on bottom Eyes: Flymen Fishing Co. Living Eyes in Earth 6mm
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1. Wrap thread shank to where the bend just starts. On this hook it’s between the barb and the point. 2. Hand stack a clump of bucktail and tie it in. I use my thumb to smash it down so it surrounds the top half and sides of the hook. This assists in preventing the feathers from fouling. 3. Tie in first feather concave (upside down) to act as a secondary foul preventative.
4. Following this feather, take the Krinkle Mirror Flash and fold it around the thread and tie it in on top of the base of the feather. 5. Next, tie in feather number two followed by Ripple Ice Fiber in Peacock and Krystal Flash in Root Beer. 6. The final feather is then tied in and the shank is wrapped over, the feather stems are folded behind the eye and then wrapped back over the shank. This helps to keep the feathers from pulling out. 7. Next tie in the Lagartun flat braid and tighten over the base of the feathers and wrap up the shank.
8. Now tie in the Mottlebou on the top and wrap the thread about 1/8 of an inch back over it to allow for room for the head. Following this, tie in three to four pieces of Ripple Ice Fiber in Peacock on both sides as the lateral lines. 9. Next, hand stack a clump of Senyo’s Fusion Dub and tie in at the center so there are equal amounts hanging in front of the hook eye. On the bottom of the shank do the same with stacked Senyo’s Laser Dub in white. Follow by pulling thread forward, pushing dubbing on both top and bottom back, and then wrapping thread in front of the dubbing behind the hook eye. Whip finish to finalize.
10. Lastly, attach the eyes using Loon UV Flow and a UV light. Now get out and fish it!
Tips: The right feather is key. The strength is in the stem, and the perfect location to tie them in is always right at the point where the “feather fluff” has been stripped off to and where the real feather portion begins. Due to this, you cannot make a feather that is too long work and just strip the actual feather to the perfect length. It will twist every time. No amount of glue will save a spinning feather. The key is to wrap a couple light wraps, increasing the tightness on the upturn with each wrap. If it doesn’t turn, you’re good. If it starts, you can try to pull slightly on the stem to correct it without unwrapping. If it still doesn’t, throw away the feather and start fresh. You will never get that feather to work. Use a drop of Loon Flow at the base of each feather once tied in. This will add durability to the feather and fly. Again, this will not prevent it from turning if it is tied incorrectly.
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THE PURSUIT by Kat Vallilee
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It was a hot Key West summer a few years back, and Drew Delashmit, my fearless guide, and I had decided to fish the Del Brown Permit Tournament for a second time. Hoping only to give a good account of ourselves, we set out in slick calm conditions to give it the old college try. Iâ€™m probably stating the obvious here, but permit are notoriously spooky fish. A nice 10-15 mile per hour breeze is your friend if you're trying to catch one because it provides you with a little more cover, and the fish are not as sensitive to your presence. I remember looking at the glass-like water as we left the dock and thinking to myself, "There's just no way." We saw several wakes throughout the morning that we simply could not get close to. As Drew poled the skiff toward them, they swam away, ever keeping us at a distance of about 300 feet. The eerie silence and stifling heat were oppressive. The birds that normally chatter and squawk in the mangroves were silent. At times there was nothing to distract from the beads of sweat that formed between my shoulder blades and then dripped sluggishly, one at a time, down my spine to my waistband. In other words, it was HOT.
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In the early afternoon, we arrived at another placid flat and immediately noticed an enormous school of permit rumbling around in the shallow water. Another school followed 200 yards behind them, their sickle-shaped tails slicing through the waterâ€™s surface. We were elated to see how relaxed these fish seemed as they milled around, feeding happily. To our great dismay, these permit were still just as wary of the movements of the boat as the others we had seen that day. We couldn't get close. Ultimately, Drew decided that we would just stay still and hope that one of the schools would come within casting range on its own. After just a few minutes of slack-jawed waiting, a school of about 40 fish started waking directly toward the boat. I breathed deeply to try to quell the sound of my heart pounding in my ears. When the fish got within casting range, I threw the fly about three feet short of where I had intended it to land. I didnâ€™t want to scare them by tearing it back out of the water for a re-cast, and figured I had to play the cast as it was and hope the fish would find the fly. Sure enough, after two slow strips, I came tight and set the hook.
After just a few minutes of slack-jawed waiting, a school of about 40 fish started waking directly toward the boat. I breathed deeply to try to quell the sound of my heart pounding in my ears.
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For me, the breadth of emotion that the permit tournaments can engender is one of the most compelling aspects of the sport.
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The water boiled as the school spooked, and my fish did her best to join her friends as they retreated from the flat. I all but held my breath as our permit led us into a nearby channel. I prayed silently that she wouldn’t wrap the line around a coral head and break off. We chased her down, and when the fish surfaced a few yards away, we could see we were hooked up to a big girl. It’s difficult to explain how high the stakes feel or the flood of relief and joy that accompany netting a fish like that in a tournament. Suffice it to say that when Drew got her in the net, I had to sit down. I don’t know how many times I said to Drew, “No way. No way. No way!” When the time came to watch her swim away, I exhaled and thought to myself, “Wow, what a gift.”
I don't know how many times I said to Drew, "No way. No way. No way!" When the time came to watch her swim away, I exhaled and thought to myself, "Wow, what a gift."
That fish put us in the lead on the first day, and the one we caught the following day kept us there. After getting skunked on the third and final day, waiting for the other teams to check in was excruciating. I reminded myself, “Whatever happens here, you have to act cool.” But I won’t lie, when not one but two teams came in and knocked us out of the top slot (1st Place Joe Skrumbellos and Matt Fitzgerald and 2nd Place Ed Young and Scott Collins), I wonder if I looked as deflated as I felt. For me, the breadth of emotion that the permit tournaments can engender is one of the most compelling aspects of the sport. It’s one of the reasons I keep striving to get better and one of the reasons fly fishing has become more than just a hobby. It’s a pursuit.
BIO: Kat Vallilee grew up in Pennsylvania and now lives in Key West, Florida where she and her husband own and operate The Angling Company, a full-service fly shop. When she’s not in the shop, Kat spends as much time as possible fishing her home waters of Key West as well as traveling to farflung destinations to fish. She currently holds the 2 lb IGFA permit record.
IGFA PERMIT LEADER CONSTRUCTION by Kat Vallilee When we’re asked for our permit leader “recipe” at The Angling Company this is what we recommend. We start with a length of 50# fluorocarbon (we mainly use Rio Fluoroflex) and attach this to the fly line using a nail knot with a half hitch. This is how we attach a butt section to our leaders for any species because it’s a nice smooth connection that will go through the guides with ease. This is going to make up a good chunk of the overall length of the leader (about five feet). If you want to add length to your leader, this is the section to extend. Second, we add a section of 40# fluorocarbon using a blood knot. This section should be about four feet long. Because the two lines are different diameters, do two wraps with the 50# and three wraps with the 40#. Next, you’ll blood knot a short piece of 30# fluorocarbon to the 40# (just about a foot). We use it so that when we add our class tippet (usually 16# fluorocarbon), we’re not trying to attach two pieces of fluorocarbon with significantly different diameters, which would result in a weaker connection. For this blood knot, do three turns with the 40 and four with the 30. Now, we use another improved blood knot to connect our 30# to our 16# class, which helps with attaching the thinner line to the thicker line by doubling over the thinner line before tying the blood knot. Your class tippet needs to be at least 15” inches long, but we recommend two or three feet of class because this will allow for a few fly changes before you have to tie a new piece of class on. For this connection, do five turns with the doubled 16# and three turns with the 30#. The final step is attaching the fly. For this we use the improved non-slip mono loop. We prefer this to the clinch knot because it allows the fly to move a little more freely and more naturally.
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photo Bobby Altman
Nobody Does It Better
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Andrea Larko is an Angling Artist from Pennsylvania. She has been a fly angler and an artist for as long as she can remember, but a few years ago those two hobbies collided and turned into a career. You may have seen her brightly colored abstract work on Simms apparel, Abel Reels, Montana Fly Company or original art on Vedavoo packs. She is a founding member of Able Women and travels to teach and promote proper catch and release fly fishing techniques. She loves to blue line for wild and native trout species, so if you see her on the water, donâ€™t tell anyone about that spot!
Between the Lines An Interview with Angling Artist Andrea Larko
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Tail: We love seeing women flocking to fly fishing more and more. How did you first get into it? Andrea Larko: I have three sisters and we all grew up fishing together when we were kids. My mother tells me we would run to the stream like we were going to the amusement park. We were all brought up encouraged to try new things and be wellrounded individuals, and I’ve always been drawn to the outdoors and the water. Fly fishing was a natural extension of that. T: You’re based in Pennsylvania and obviously most of your fishing is in freshwater. When did you first start saltwater fly fishing? How was the transition from freshwater? AL: My sister, who lives in Carolina Beach, gave me my first introduction to fishing in saltwater. My first saltwater fly fishing experience was on a trip to Belize with Able Women two years ago. I actually found it a lot easier to cast on the flats compared to wading a small stream running through the woods: I didn’t need
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to worry about getting caught in trees or watching my back cast. I loved the sight fishing as well. I’m accustomed to reading water, but sight fishing was a very different experience. My biggest surprise when I hooked my first bonefish was its speed. In freshwater, fish can only run so far up or downstream. Usually rocks, riffles or shallow pools slow them down, but in the ocean there is nothing stopping a fish from running off with your entire line. It was quite the eye opener. It did take a few missed bonefish to break the habit of trout setting. It had become such an instinctual response to trout set when I hooked a fish, by the time I actually remembered the strip set in all the excitement, my rod tip had already gone straight up and that bonefish was off for China! T: What’s your greatest fishing memory? AL: My best memories of fishing are from times I get to fish with my family and friends. I usually fish alone, so when I have the opportunity to fish with people close to me it really means a lot. One of
my favorite fishing memories was during a trip I took to Alaska a few years ago. I was fishing the confluence of the Kenai and Russian Rivers and getting pushed out of my spot by other anglers, so I sat down on the bank to relax for a few minutes. One of my sisters stepped in upstream from me and went about 15 feet into the Kenai, with swift teal glacial water rushing past her. I watched her cast, mend her line for the perfect drift and grid out her sections of water. I then saw a large flash just below her. I asked her to trust me and not move as I stood up and cast a purple haze dry fly directly at her feet from where I stood on the bank. It dropped slowly onto the riffle she was making by standing so far out. A few feet below her, I saw a fish rise to my fly, and got to land the most beautiful leopard rainbow trout I had ever seen. At that moment, amid dozens of fisherman standing in a row fishing beads and flesh flies with hardly any takes, I felt like an accomplished fly angler. I will always remember landing that beautiful fish with the help of my sister on the net. I have that purple haze sitting next to my desk
to remind me that while I may think I can do it all by myself, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the cooperation of my family and the people who support my work. T: When did you start creating artwork, and how did you decide to combine your love of fly fishing and art? AL: I’ve been creating artwork since I could hold a crayon, but I’m not sure you could call that “art.” It has been something I’ve aspired to my entire life. Through high school I took as many art classes as I could and decided to pursue Art into my college degree as well. It was difficult for me to pinpoint what I wanted to do with art. I took courses in photography, sculpture, printmaking, fine art, graphic design, jewelry making, screen printing, glass blowing and flame working, ceramics, and so on, but I always loved drawing because I could do it anywhere and didn’t need much except a piece of paper and a pen. I earned a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Art in Illustration from the Rochester Institute of Technology. My love of fishing and my love of
art came together after I graduated from college. When I moved back to Pennsylvania and began fly fishing, I painted some trout for my fly tying area. I shared the paintings on social media and people began asking for prints and commissions for new paintings. I didn’t really make this decision, but I realize how blessed I am to be a full time Angling Artist. I cautiously quit my day job less than six months after those first paintings came out, and couldn’t feel more fortunate now that it happened the way it did. T: Your artwork has a very unique, recognizable style. How did that come about? AL: Thank you. I find it quite ironic that I studied art formally, because it always felt forced and tedious to draw or paint realistically. I wanted to make something that was enjoyable for me to create and something that made people smile. I’ve actually been drawing in the “zentangle” style since I was in junior high school. I’ve always just called it doodling. It helps clear my head to draw repetitive patterns and designs. Fly fishing also does that for me, so when the two collided in my
sketchbook, I didn’t really think much of it. I had been drawing like that for almost 20 years. But it was new to other people and actually became quite popular in the years following. I guess it was luck that they came together in such a way at the right time. T: We love your cartoon character, Bob. Where did you get the inspiration for him? AL: I’m so happy you enjoy the Bob cartoon series. He’s having a rough go of fly fishing, but he’s optimistic and he won’t give up! I hold a small fly fishing show in Pennsylvania every year for small business owners in the industry called Artistry in Angling, and this year, Pig Farm Ink was kind enough to host an Iron Fly event at my show. They asked for a piece of artwork for the flyer, something quirky and funny. I’ve enjoyed drawing cartoon characters since college and came up with the idea of Bob using a chicken drumstick as fly material...I ended up catching a big fish. My sister gave him his name and I found it fitting, so Bob became a character. I had a lot of fun drawing that first Bob cartoon. It was a nice change of pace from my usual work,
I find it quite ironic that I studied art formally, because it always felt forced and tedious to draw or paint realistically.
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Bob knew how to get the perfect hero shot. so I drew a few more of them just for fun. I’m planning on making a Bob book of cartoons, so expect some more Bob in the future. At the moment, the current Bob cartoons are available in my Etsy shop as small 5”x7” prints at andrealarko.etsy. com. T: You’re committed to some great conservation causes. What are the things that keep you up at night? AL: Coffee, usually just too much coffee. But I digress. Mostly, I am concerned about a lot of issues most other fisherman are also aware of. Some issues I will also be addressing in Bob cartoons, to raise awareness on a comical level. It can be a bit easier to learn through humor. I’m fortuitous enough to have many loyal followers of my work, and I want to use that attention to inform about issues close to home for myself and so many others. I practice, teach and promote catch and release fly fishing because I target wild and native fish. Throughout
my years of fishing, I’ve learned so much from other anglers about my mistakes and how to correct them. I wish to pass on the fly fishing knowledge I’ve been fortunate to learn by making fishing art my career. When fishing was just a hobby of mine, I wasn’t as knowledgeable about conservation and my footprint when I was on the water. It was only when I began my career as an Angling Artist that I began to learn from my mistakes, and they were numerous. I hope to pass some of that knowledge to others who don’t have the time, as I didn’t initially, to learn as much about the sport they’ve enjoyed as a recreational hobby on the weekends. We should all learn how to lessen our footprints and keep this sport prosperous for future generations to enjoy. T: You’re a part of Able Women. Can you tell us about that? AL: I’m honored to be a founding member of Able Women. It is a wonderful initiative to get more women on the water by making it a bit easier and more comfortable for those who may feel intimidated to first get involved in such a male-dominated sport. As an avid angler, I can understand how it may feel like a boys' club, but throughout the years I've noticed more women at the fly fishing shows, in fly shops and on the water. A lot of women only know the stigma of fishing as a “men’s sport” but have never
tried it themselves. They’re missing out on the grace of casting a fly line, the patience of being on the water all day waiting for that beautiful fish to take your fly, the rewarding feeling of catching a fish on a fly you tied yourself, and the serenity of being outdoors and feeling a connection with the water and nature. Fly fishing has changed my life, not only through my career as an artist, but it has also given me more confidence, peace and an escape from my daily routine. I think more people can significantly benefit from fly fishing, and I want to help in any way I can to give them that opportunity. This bit is directly from the Able Women website: Fly fishing teaches independence, strength, and creativity. It is a sport very much defined by grace. And who understands grace better than a woman. Able Women was formed to spread the word about fly fishing and the many emotional, physical and spiritual benefits it brings to women. T: What piece of advice would you give to other women and girls getting in to fly fishing? AL: It may be a male-dominated sport, but please don’t let that intimidate you. Fly fishing has changed my life, and spending time on the water is so peaceful and healing. More people need that connection with the outdoors in their lives, women and men alike.
Stay in Touch with Andrea! If anyone would like to follow the daily adventures of Bob, check out my new work and see which events I will be attending, you can follow my work on instagram @andrealarko on twitter @alarko or Facebook at facebook.com/artbyandrealarko. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for custom work.
Bob knew his casting was on point. Wind knots must be real.
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Super-Dri Bonefish The perfect balance for technical delivery. airflousa.com
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PickinG up the Pieces by Capt. Kacee Bones
veryone’s heard the cliche that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but I’m not sure it applies to me. Since Hurricane Harvey hit my hometown of Rockport, Texas, I have had many bouts of weakness, yet I’m still here. I don’t necessarily feel stronger; maybe just changed somehow. It has been more than six months since the storm and there are still miles upon miles of debris in our town. Hurricane Harvey took more than just homes and property; it took pieces of all of us. In the immediate aftermath, the level of patience and hope it took just to get through a single day was exhausting. Everything was rearranged: the landscape, the fishery, the community and our personal relationships to all of it. As a new guide, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would ever be successful afterwards, if maybe this was a sign. We suffered minor and major damage to both of our skiffs. No one knew where the debris was out there, so navigating once familiar waters became a treacherous leap into the unknown. Our entire community relies on tourism and fishing for its livelihood. Few places to stay, a handful of local restaurants open, and a shocked fishery were all we were left with just as we were coming into what is normally the best time of year for fishing. How would any of us make it?
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Photo by Alex Bommer
August 25th—the day the storm hit—is not really a memorable day for me. Every day since then has been memorable: the aftermath, coming together as a community, every day that my family, my neighbors and the guy living in the tent at the trailer park in town wake up and try to go back to living our lives. Threaded in are epic days on the water—my sanctuary and refuge—poling a father and son around a few months post-hurricane, helping them connect with tons of redfish and forgetting about it all for a while. Those are the memorable days and the ones that have defined the storm for me. From afar, it is easy to distill natural disasters down to just a few dramatic sound-bites and news clips before forgetting about them altogether. For those living in their destructive paths, it becomes a seemingly unending process of picking up the pieces left by the storm after the rest of the world has long since forgotten about it. For some, getting back to business and normal life meant rebuilding homes. For me, it meant something different. I only suffered minimal property damage compared to many of my neighbors, and helping the community became my family’s priority. We took time off to do just that—clearing debris and helping people rebuild. I had just launched my guide business two weeks before the storm hit, and it was a make or break moment that never even happened. The idea of booking trips too soon after Harvey gave me anxiety. Not only was I a new guide, but I was also up against the aftermath of the storm. I had taken a huge leap: it was my only source of income, and the future success of my passion was suddenly up in the air. Just as I decided to make my living outdoors, Mother Nature decided to be unusually cruel, as she often can be.
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From afar, it is easy to distill natural disasters down to just a few dramatic sound-bites and news clips before forgetting about them altogether. For those living in their destructive paths, it becomes a seemingly unending process of picking up the pieces left by the storm after the rest of the world has long since forgotten about it.
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When it was finally time to get back out on the water in November, the fishing seemed to be almost back to normal, which was a huge relief. I had feared the fishery would never be the same; had actual nightmares that the fish were being sucked up into cyclones in the sky, never to come back. I think our community and the fish that inhabit our waters have much in common: we all dealt with loss and change, but we took cover, survived and came back to the places we love. The outpouring of support from anglers from all over has been overwhelming. The effort they put into booking local guides, even as the community was still rebuilding, sent a message that was received with open arms and grateful hearts.
Bio: Captain Kacee Bones resides in Rockport, Texas, where she is a fishing guide, avid angler and surfer. She is a Hardy Pro Guide and guides out of her trusty Chittum skiff. Kacee is also the founder of She on the Fly, a company that celebrates and promotes women in fly fishing. Visit her website at www.flyfishgooseisland. com to learn more and contact her.
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After the storm, the fishery didnâ€™t always produce. I ended up having to relearn to fish places that were so familiar at one time. Spots I once knew like the back of my hand have slowly taken back their shape, or perhaps I have just adapted to the change. I write this in the early spring, when the wind never stops blowing. I have learned to appreciate the wind. There were things we were unable to control last August, but now that we have settled in to our new normal and the fish are here and happy, we can embrace the seasonal challenges and opportunities we face as fly anglers. They are upon us. And come fall, we will all be a bit better for it.
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AN ANGLER OPINES by Capt. Lacey Kelly Photography by Luke Williams
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Why don’t we see more female anglers in saltwater fly fishing nowadays? I believe we are on the cusp of change when it comes to women in saltwater fly fishing. I’m sure there are many reasons why, but one that strikes me as a main culprit is that many women feel more comfortable learning from women, and more and more are getting into it these days. When starting in any sort of male-dominated sport, women can be self-conscious about learning from a man. They tend to be able to relax with a female instructor, mentor or guide, and get more out of it. The last decade has cultivated a massive female contingent in freshwater fly fishing, producing female guides, instructors, fly tiers, fly shop owners and fly fishing travel hosts. It’s been a pleasure to watch the female sector grow tremendously over the last ten years, and it is still booming. We have a long ways to go, but from what I have witnessed so far, women in fly fishing are clearly on the rise. While the numbers of women fly fishing freshwater have jumped significantly in recent years, saltwater has not experienced anywhere near the same amount of growth.
I believe I can count on one hand all the other female saltwater fly guides I know of in North America. We have not been as fortunate with growth in my particular field. I hope to see that change, but first we need more women to get into saltwater fly fishing and become passionate, self-sufficient anglers. With the onset of social media and its role in making a passion or sport a “trend,” more women are visible in the sport. That and the big industry push to get more women involved in fly fishing and provide them with meaningful opportunities, and I believe more ladies will come out of the woodwork in the next decade to take a passion for saltwater fly fishing and turn it into a profession. Adventure travel is on the rise and I’ve seen more women traveling to try out saltwater fly fishing lately, and more companies and lodges offering womenonly opportunities to do so. As more women experience the rush of catching their first saltwater fish on fly, it will eventually create a wave of women involved in saltwater fly fishing, which will breed more guides and passionate anglers. One reason for the discrepancy between women in freshwater and salt is that freshwater fly fishing provides easier access and is generally more beginner-friendly.
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One of the biggest obstacles coming into the saltwater game is having access to a boat, kayak, paddleboard or any other mode of transportation to get yourself in front of fish. It is becoming more affordable and practical these days to start that journey, but there also needs to be more support from women who already know the ropes and are willing to provide advice and lend a helping hand. When I lived in Belize, I ran a fly shop since I couldn’t legally guide (you have to be a citizen to guide there), so I had a several year hiatus from pushing a boat. I recall feeling like my hands were tied behind my back when I first got there, felt helpless without my skiff. It forced me to become a different kind of angler, relying initially on wade fishing from shore, eventually incorporating a paddleboard to up my game for solo missions on the flat. My point is: where there’s a will, there’s a way. Don’t let the fact that you don’t have a skiff stop you from perfecting your saltwater fly game. Start fishing the beaches and creeks, wading flats, and my personal favorite, ditch-hopping for juvenile tarpon. Work your way into being so self-sufficient—tying leaders, casting, presenting the fly to fish, strip-setting—that by the time you find a friend with a boat, hire a guide or purchase your own skiff, you already have the skill set to catch fish. I was fortunate to grow up in an outdoorsy family with a father who taught me how to operate a boat and back a trailer at a young age. When I first started driving at 16, he let me take an old Aquasport bay boat out on solo fishing adventures, just me and my yellow lab. At 19, I got my captain’s license and began the journey of turning a passion into a profession. Becoming a self-sufficient female angler and outdoorswoman was not easy, especially then. There were many days I felt alone, and I had no female support. I remember walking into a fly shop for the first time terrified and timid, wondering if they would laugh at me for trying to become a fly guide. With some encouragement from my then-husband and a few other guide buddies, I slowly started to get into it more. I spent early mornings catching bait for my spin charters to fish the lights for tarpon, and in the evenings
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after I dropped them off, I would hit the mangroves to fly fish for redfish and snook. I spent countless hours to put it all together, only to find myself hexed trying to get my first tarpon on fly. I think I went 0-20 until I finally landed my first, a nice migratory tarpon. From that day forward, it clicked. I recall the time I realized that there were other women around my age who were fishing guides. I about fell off of my couch. A show called Fly Nation came across my TV one day, and I saw this girl guide named April Vokey. I looked her up on social media (which had just started to take off) and she not only took the time to answer my email, but called me to chat one day. Though we guided in two totally different places and types of fisheries, it was groundbreaking for me to be able to bounce things off another female guide. Over the years we chatted from time to time, and she sent a few charters my way in support of my endeavor into becoming a fly guide. It wasn’t until five or six years later in Belize that I actually got to meet her in person and fish with her. We’ve become good friends, and I still value that little bit of support she fed me when I first started out. Being able to relate to another female guide, at times just through reading her blog, was a huge step in becoming the fly fishing guide I am today.
I recall the time I realized that there were other women around my age who were fishing guides. I about fell off of my couch. Bio: Southwest Florida native Capt. Lacey Kelly is no stranger to the flats. She has spent a lifetime on the water and several years of guiding tarpon, snook and redfish on fly and conventional tackle. While taking a break from guiding she ran Tres Pescados Fly Shop in San Pedro, Belize for two years where turquoise waters of Belize provided her with the proper backdrop for mastering permit on the fly rod. Back to her roots in Florida, now Capt. Lacey manages and guides with Florida Outdoor Experience, a hunting and fishing lodge located near Cedar Key in Chiefland, FL. Working with FOE, which is located along Florida’s nature coast, has allowed Lacey to get back into guiding along the Nature Coast of Florida with a new emphasis on promoting and instructing the sport of fly fishing. Whether she is fletching arrows for the next hunt, or tying flies for her next charter, you would be hard pressed to find another as dedicated to the outdoors as Capt. Lacey Kelly.
To the ladies, my point is this: always strive to improve. Find and latch on to someone you look up to and respect, whether freshwater or saltwater is your game. Be humble and open to learning and reach out. You’d be surprised how much support you will find in your fellow female fly anglers, and it could change the game for you. P.S. I’m always here to help, and I offer lessons in fly fishing, fly tying, as well as workshops for women. Just holler at me!
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