Posts

Mosquito Lagoon Cold Front

Cold Front Seatrout and Redfish

Well, here we are, in one of those famous April cold fronts. The wind had most of the week shut down but low and behold we have a cold, clear, crips day and we are ready to rock.  We launched at Beacon 42 around mid-morning to allow all the boat ramp antics to take place before we arrived.  We made our way into one of our normal haunts and immediately started seeing fish. The water was crystal clean and although the fish were quite spooky, Jason got a small redfish to eat quickly. 

Mosquito Lagoon Redfish

The traffic on the water was typical for a weekend day with beautiful weather.  This added pressure, coupled with the clear water never helps.  We were just going to have to slow down and use the clear skies to our advantage.  I decided to push out and adjust our approach, which proved to be the right move.  The angle of attack was not perfect, but we hid our shadows well and that was the difference. The first trout of the day was a beautiful fish. Not a giant but enough to wear the tag Gator.  

Mosquito Lagoon Gator Trout

As we proceeded across the flat we noticed that was was not alone.  Jason, called me off the platform to take a shot with the fly rod. He did not have to twist my arm. My bow session was a quick one. We spotted a large fish on the edge of a pothole. She was at 11 O’Clock, quartering away. That is my jam. Luckily, I kicked off the rust quickly and dropped the fly just beyond her reach. Two hops and she ate. Barely having to move a muscle…just the way they like it.  The colder water had her fired up quick when I came tight. She took me to the reel but not much further and I guided her into the net if fairly short order.  

Mosquito Lagoon Gator Trout on Fly

That is all I needed. Foss is back up. 

We were contemplating a move but decided otherwise as we had a clear path with not another boat in sight. The flat and shoreline ahead was an area I had not fished in a while but with the clean water it was worth a look. It did take us a couple hundred yards before we began seeing fish but they were grouped nicely and eager to eat. This stretch was packed with smaller trout and Jason would go four and five casts in a row with a bite. 

We were approaching a series of pot holes so a quick platform switch and I had a small trout on my first cast.  A basic shrimp fly was all it took.  The trout were eating it to the point it was unraveling.  That was my queue to climb back up top and give the bow back to Foss. As luck would have it, his next shot was to a belly crawling redfish. We joked that was the shot I wanted and he made it count.  

Mosquito Lagoon Redfish

We moved one last time as we finally were approaching another skiff. We gave way picked another stretch. The trout followed. It was almost comical the amount of small trout he was catching.  As the sun began to fade we decided to make the run back and be thankful for the day we had. “Wish they were all like this”, Foss said. 

Mosquito Lagoon Sunset

 

Still Waiting on Dorian and Catching Redfish

I rarely, rarely fish on holiday weekends due to crowds and lack of courtesy and all things that end up on the qualified captain… but this year was different. It was Labor day weekend but the State of Florida and The Bahamas had an incredibly powerful Hurricane Dorian bearing down on both of us. Typically the holiday weekends have my wife and I headed to see friends for golf and hanging by the pool but due to the impending storm those plans were cancelled. In hindsight, we would have had plenty of time to enjoy our weekend while Dorian crawled our way but since we decided to stay put and the weather looked good another trip was due for the lagoon. Two days before, I had Guffy and Dave on the skiff for an excellent day and although we were cutting it close with weather, Foss and I decided to give it a go… and glad we did.

We arrived at the ramp to be met with only one other boat, how refreshing. All Refuge ramps were closed due to storm prep so we had to launch at Riverbreeze although we were planning on running south. A launch at daylight was met with moderately brisk east winds but those were expected. We headed south and as always, very thankful I have the 12 degree Chittum as we were met with whitecaps in open water but those were eaten for breakfast.

Our first stop yielded three small fish in about six casts as we pushed for tighter cover. That area is known for smaller schooling fish but we had our hearts set on tailing fish or bank crawlers so we pushed tighter as the approaching storm brought extra water into Mosquito Lagoon.

Dirty water Redfish

Water clarity was off but some activity ahead kept our spirts high. I swapped Foss’s paddle tail color to a dark body and the chartreuse tail hoping to get their attention. The first group of fish pushing away from us were in a hurry so I got out from behind them and picked a better angle to cut them off. We pushed ahead, got Foss into range and his first cast into the group, has the Stradic singing. This fish had a much bigger ego than his size but I always appreciate the effort and a quick photo and release and I decided to move on as two boats were poling into the bay we were in.

Mosquito Lagoon Redfish Release

Now seeing the increased water level I had a spot in mind, although a little longer run than we had planned, we both think it would be worth it. I don’t have to tell y’all, it was.

Big Mosquito Lagoon Redfish

After the long run we had the place to ourselves and the fish were happy to see us. Finding some skinnier water and backing Redfish, Foss put it where it needed to be and was hookup to an absolute stud. I would rather see one big fish eat in skinny water than catch ten blind casting! Thankfully 99% of my clients feel the same way!

Two smaller fish to hand and it was time to head in and meet the wives for lunch. Another stellar half day on Mosquito Lagoon!

Pre-Dorian Mosquito Lagoon Redfish

With the impending Hurricane Dorian there were a number of days leading up to the predicted landfall that were going to be clear and low winds, the calm before the storm if you will.

One thing I always try to do is fish right before a front or named storm as the approaching weather always seems to have the fish in a very corporative mood. This trip was no different, I had Guffy and his friend Dave on the skiff as Guff set it up to give his best friend Dave plenty of bow time of what was setting up to be a good day.

Landing Redfish

The day started as many do, launching in the refuge, making a a quick run and quietly poling our shoreline of choice. Early it was flat calm and the noseeums were feeding, on us. One of the many reasons I fish in pants no matter this time of year, I like to stay out of the sun as much as possible and number two, bugs. Doesn’t happen often but when the noseeums are out, they are out. Needless to say, the cigars were out early in the morning to offer some relief!

Our first stop had a number of tailing fish and it is always exciting to see separate groups of fish that you can work independently of one another as you move across the flat. If the first group doesn’t want to play you have your next target already in sight.

The first pair of tailing fish seemed happy and calm as we approached and although Dave’s first cast was off the mark he made an excellent correction with a clean pickup and put-back (no false casts) that did the trick. Two bumps and the first fish of the morning was on!

A beautiful redfish that had Dave out on reel and Guffy on the Rising Net, the first redfish came aboard, quick photo and release and Guffy’s turn on the bow was next, but not before a few sips of celebratory Maker’s Mark between the boys.

About as quick as Guff can step up on the platform and get line off the reel a group of tails rise up about two cast lengths away. As we approach and stare them down we notice it is a mixed bag. Guff asks, “Those aren’t all redfish are they?” I respond with “Nope, Good eye. It seems the Reds are feeding off of the Stingrays.” We slide in and Guffy lets one go, bump bump and he comes tight! “Something doesn’t feel right” Guffy says, it looks to be just a slow pull going away from the pack. Good news is the fish have not spooked. I tell Guff to point his rod right at the fish and pull the fly. Two things, if you have the ray hooked in the mouth, we can get him to the boat and released quickly or break him off. The other option and what typically happens is you have foul hooked the ray and a straight pull can free the fly and you are ready to cast.

Big Mosquito Lagoon Redfish

Thankfully, the straight pull works and with very little pressure the fly comes right back at us. A quick inspection and all is good. Two quick false casts and Guff gets the fly back in on the Redfish Tails the line is immediately tight and this is a bigger Red than we expected to be in the group. The line clears easily and the fish is on the reel and almost out to the backing. As always Guffy is ear to ear smiling and loving his new Sage X in “Jaguars Teal” as he calls it. Dave nets the fish and a couple quick photos and a bruiser of a redfish slides away to fight another day.

Unfortunately, we got spotted by another skiff that just couldn’t resist letting us have the redfish we found to ourselves. If they needed to come in on us while we landed a fish, they must need to catch one worse than us so I just let them have it. We picked and move and thankfully met by a new group of fish, maybe it was karma but we would happily take it.

Dave was back up and took multiple shots into tailing fish that seemed to want nothing to do with his fly. On his third shot, slowly working the fly through the group we were all on pins and needles expecting an eat at any time. Nothing. I told Dave to give it one more shot and he strips the fly quickly twice to pick up and on the second strip, with the fly up on the surface, a redfish comes out of no where and eats! Thankfully it was a split second before Dave popped the fly into his backcast or it would have been a swing and a miss.

Dave Redfish

With time running out as we had to be in by lunch Guff put together a great two-minute drill on a group of redfish moving fairly quickly pushing bait and shrimp down the shoreline. We had to get on our horse and take the proper angle as they were moving away at a pretty good clip. If I had to guess we took 15-18 shots at these fish and they either ignored or snuck out quickly chasing shrimp. A few quick pushes to gain some ground and Guff lead them a little more and that is all it took. Just needed it in their zone. As Guffy had that fish boatside I couldn’t help but think all that ground we covered and as quickly as we covered it was all due to the Chittum Mangrove 18. Not only is she quiet but being able to chase and gain ground on active, quick moving, feeding fish, is second to none!

Mosquito Lagoon Redfish

Another great Pre-Storm day on the water. Going to hit it again tomorrow as Dorian has slowed down and increased our window. Pray for those in the path.

Brothers and Redfish

As the summer dragged on we had been fairly lucky to not have any named storms knock on our door plus the afternoon storms had been fairly light. What does that mean? Our water levels in the Lagoon have been lower and the lack of rain also helps keep the algae bloom at bay when really affects the water quality.
I received a call from a younger guy who had moved out west for his time in the military and he was taking a week off to come home to Florida and spend time with family and needed to catch his first redfish on fly. He had not seen his brother in some time and wanted to spend time on the water with him as well.

Side note, he got into fly fishing after moving out west and also a shop rat at Fish West, one of the leading fly shops both online and brick and mortar. The coolest part about that is I had no idea until we got to talking while fishing. The reason I think that is cool is he never bragged or beat his chest about working at a fly shop or acting like he knows everything because he works in a shop. Sadly, this goes both ways all too often, and I feel their pain. I managed an Orvis shop a number of years ago while guiding and hosting trips and trust me, people who work in fly shops do not NEED to hear you are a guide. You can travel to new water, shop local, ask questions and there is no need to start the conversation with you are a guide. As with many things, it is not what you say but how you say it…

*Climbs down off Soapbox*

Once he got home he sent me a few note on a blog post he was putting together for the Fish West Website that I will quote in here as I think his writing deserves to be noted as you can feel his excitement and it was my pleasure to have him and his brother on the skiff….”The excitement was palpable, I was finally able to go home to Florida with a fly rod in hand. This was a big deal to me; the guys at Fiswest heard about it for two months. I knew that I would need to be guided to learn the areas for my self-sustained trips; this is when the research started.”

Nathan was the ideal client, we spoke on the phone a number of times, both knew what to expect and I appreciate him staying in touch, asking question and most off all practicing…. “I called him to introduce myself and explain my skill level and intentions. He was more than excited to get out me out on the lagoon and to school me up on fly fishing in the salt. He gave me drills and expectations for my casting distance as well as handling the wind we may encounter. Your guide is most importantly your teacher. Make them aware of what you need to learn.”

Pete’s Redfish

Upon him climbing up on the platform you could see his smile and feel his excitement. The redfish were ready to play, “We saw our first tailing Redfish fifteen minutes into the day and we were on. My first cast of the day went right to him. Unfortunately it wasn’t the fly, it was my line.” I think he got a little buck fever as two healthy groups of tailing redfish right off the bow almost immediately will get anyones heart pumping!

As the morning went on the redfish were a little snobby and I feel it was wearing on the guys a little. Nathan’s brother had made a nice pitch to a bank crawling redfish and that fish jumped all over his jig! It was exactly what we needed. Sometime a quick break is all you need. We had been poling a small bay that was loaded with fish but we were unable to connect and I could feel the wind come out of his sails… “We stopped and sat while I had a beer or two. We talked about our shared love of trout and rap music. My mind was back in the game. The pressure to catch fish is a trap that most of us will fall into if it is a new species or a new body of water. Remember that slow is smooth and smooth is fast. If your cast is bad it doesn’t matter how fast you get the fly out, you won’t catch what you’re after.

Beers for the Boys

Sometimes a couple beers and a few laughs out on the water with your brother is all you need to get back into the game. It worked. His brother grabbed a bank crawling redfish, high fives all around then Nathan hopped back up and you could feel the momentum shift as not 5 minutes later we pushed around a corner and… “we saw them. There was my chance. We had about five tailing Reds without a care in the world besides the food in front of them. Chris turned the boat, I took a breath, and the fly was off. Turning my mind off made it all come easy. My cast was precise, my leading was the best it had been, and I got my eat! Excitement filled the boat and my heart was racing a mile a minute. I set the fly, raised my rod tip, and began stripping. Just because the fish is bigger than you are used to, you don’t have to bring it to the reel. Many fish are lost because people want to watch that reel spin. The fish will let you know when it is time to go to the reel. It was a great feeling to have Chris cheering me on as he knew this was the biggest moment of my fishing career and a top 10 moment of my life.”

Nathan’s First Redfish

For me, there is nothing like watching someone stick their first redfish, whether it is 15 minutes into the day or late in the 4th quarter, it is very rewarding and exactly why I do this. In his blog I feel like he expressed a few good points in hidesight and want to leave you with one final quote from his Blog Post… “These last few things are what I figured out for myself. I believe that if you walk away without a few pages of notes you have wasted the day. Do not argue about your approach and do not discredit them because you think you know better. There is a reason they are guiding, and there is a reason you booked them. LISTEN! Remember that they are also on the boat. Chris pushed the skiff for eight hours, imagine how you would feel if someone only talked to you when a fish popped up. Don’t “include” them in your conversation, have a conversation with them. Be a human being, don’t drink too much, keep the fish wet, and enjoy yourself.

I had a blast with the Brothers and look forward to many more redfish with them!

Welcome to the Sickness

Of the charter clients that I push in the Lagoon, a vast majority of them are either new to the sport or looking for that first redfish on fly. I treat it as a great honor that many choose me to help them venture into a new sport or challenge of fly fishing and have the confidence in me to deliver that first redfish on fly. I have always enjoyed a challenge – whether in my has been days of baseball or during my day job and especially on the water. It creates an incredible high from accomplishment and the bond and friendship created between client and guide it unmeasurable. I live for that moment when the client’s hands are shaking as they hold that first Redfish on fly.

Enter Pierre, not new to fishing but brand new to fly fishing. Brand new as in, only hard work, no fish yet, not even a panfish. Needless to say I had my work cut out for me. The good news was, he is an excellent Bass and inshore angler, so he understand fish, movements, what works with the conventional tackle, now all we needed to do was get the fly in front of some willing Redfish and seal the deal. Not always an easy task with our snooty Mosquito Lagoon Redfish.

One of the things that seems to help on the water is a little dose of beginners luck. Not that you have to be a beginner in fly fishing but maybe you have never fished saltwater or caught a redfish on fly, a little beginner vibe helps us all at one point or another.

In addition to being new to fly fishing we only had a short half day to get it done but remember, if it was easy everyone would do it so off we went. Good news, the weather was excellent, a little bit of cloud cover but calm winds helped show a fish pushing or a shy tail barely breaking the surface.

At out first stop we sorted out all the kinks, talk about using 12 o’clock, 9 o’clock… you would be surprised at how few people understand analog time, especially when the excitement of sightfishing takes over. We talked about some basic casting dynamics and explained proper stripping techniques and how to lay line out. Good to go.

The first shoreline we stopped at was one that has produced time and time again with beautiful scenery and happy fish. It was a beautiful March morning.  Wading birds and active bait greeted us as we pushed the first 100yds. Anticipation was high and being sure to help Pierre settle in and let his casting practice take over is always you want to work on with a new angler. They are constantly thinking about trying to do everything right that their mind can get in the way. As I called the first few fish out I could tell a little bit of buck fever was getting the best of him but it was early and he was easily seeing the fish so it was just going to be a matter of time.

As a little stroke of luck would have it a group of smaller, confident tailing fish approached the boat and both of us saw them from at least two cast lengths out. It gave Pierre a few calming breaths to get ready and with two false casts let his shrimp imitation go.. “Great cast, let it sit as they move in, small strips, smaller, keep coming… he’s got it!” Strip set and it was on. A few short bursts and a beautiful small Red made his way safely into the net. The elation and deep breath took all the weight off his shoulders for future Redfish. With shaky hands he gently held the fish for a photo and eased him back into the water and a quick tail kick, he was gone.

First Mosquito Lagoon Redfish on Fly

First Fish and First Redfish on Fly!

 

High Fives and welcome to the Sickness!

A few more good shots as clouds continued to build and one last Redfish to hand before we had to head in made for a wonderful beginning to a new addiction for Pierre. He’ll be back.

Mosquito Lagoon Redfish

Well Done Pierre! Beautiful Mosquito Lagoon Redfish

Meet the Band

Ladies and Gentleman… The Band

Everyone has that group they fish with. Sometimes it is 10 close friends, sometimes it is just a few but they know it as the team, or squad, or whatever. Our spots stay between us, flies and lures that work are kept close to our chest…and so on. Well you have seen photos of this bunch and you will see more so I should properly introduce them. Look, I don’t mean to pump these guys tires but…

Mind if we Dance with your Dates?

Up first, we got Guffy, it is a mix of a nickname with his last name that I never spell correctly and lets be honest, there are plenty of Matt’s in this world but so far we have only seen one Guffy. We have been fishing together now about 2.5 years. He came to work in our office as a writer, well more of a wordsmith and creative storyteller honestly. He really should be writing all of these but y’all are just going to have to make do with me. Anyway, his fishing knowledge and experience was limited at the time but wanted to soak it all in like crazy and is a really fishy dude. He dove into flyfishing head first. Started building his own fly rods, tying flies and we got him out on the ponds to work on his cast before he took his first shot at a redfish. His chosen stick is always a 7 weight on the redfish flats and he slings it well.  His first redfish was a perfect cruiser on a grass flat, laid down a great shot with a gurgler, and he got to see the redfish eat in gin clear water. That will be one I can always look back and see in my mind. He is a big LAX guy, goal scorer, hockey guy, unparalleled sense of humor, Jaguars Fan, sports a hell of a beard, Fly The W guy, got a solid Top 5 Babes list, student of the rap game, Patagucci fan, loves Trout in the snow and his dog. 

Catch Redfish. Go Jags

Next up we got Taylor Belinger(one L), he just pretty much just gets called Taylor and he is ok with that. Taylor joined the team at work as well and had some fishing background. He really wasn’t steeped in the fly game yet but he flocked to it like the salmon of Capistrano. He is a graphic designer by trade and enjoys coloring pictures. You would think since he sits behind a camera so much that the lens might not love him, but you are dead wrong. The camera loves him, he is really the 2019 Tom Selleck in Magnum P.I. but with a dad bod, which is really in right now.  Builds his own fly rods, ties a mean fly, *Cheat Code* is his go to pattern and can shoot ropes. His first red on fly was on a gurgler a well. There was a small group of tailing fish on the back edge of a flat and a few blown shots didn’t discourage this new fly fisherman and the one that worked was a killer shot off the edge of the feeding school when one fish broke away and slammed it. His rod of choice is an 8wt and can send it. He is a big TB Rays guy, lives for a good rope hat, loves skinny bitches, keeps his ear to the street for sick beats, keeping dad bods sexy, big UCF guy, loves weddings, a digs a long frisbee on the beach. 

Magnum P.I. Poon

There you have it, you will undoubtly see more of these two so if they offend you, better bow out now. 

Couples That Fish Together…

The wife and I have known Jason and Cathy for a number of years now and they were one of the first couples we became friends with when we moved to Central Florida from Jacksonville.  Jason and I fish together a bunch, we have traveled together, fish locally, fish tournaments, you name it, we have chased it.  The wives are great together too and enjoy a day on the boat as much as a day by the pool. For all the trips and days on the water, it was brought to my attention, Cathy had yet to catch a solid Redfish up on the flats. Needless to say I was surprised, she bass fishes with Jason and also has caught Bonefish in Mexico along with a host of other saltwater species… how could the redfish have eluded her? Well, let’s do this. 

Full disclosure…(Flashback) I found this out one afternoon when Jason and I were planning on chasing some tailers on a summer evening and Cathy wanted to join and just relax on the skiff.  We had a few hours one evening, the storms dissipated and we made a break for the Lagoon. Foss (jason) had a hot hand on the bow and grabbed a few tailing fish before he let me take a few shots.

I connected with one before taking my place back up high and as we approached a small group of tailers, Cathy says, “You know I have never caught a redfish like this”. I about fell off the platform. So obviously she was up, right now. The first group didn’t go as planned and light was fading but a upper-slot fish appears out of the grass not 10 feet from the bow.  She gives a shot backhand with the jig and since shots like that rarely work…. shit, HE ATE IT!  Cathy leans on him as he proceeds to cut a swatch across this grass flat, the Stradic is screaming, Jason has his fist in the air and I am cheering… The Line Goes Slack… My heart sinks and expletives fly from the pretty blonde on the bow. Although the few hours were great by most standards, we all felt the wind out of our sails when that hook pulled. The hook was sharp, the knots held… sometimes weird shit happens. 

Fast forward to now, a few months later, Cathy is still talking about the one that got away, and we all remember it a little to vividly.  Got the new skiff, and it is a calm January day, perfect for us to get Cathy on one she deserves.  We launched in the north end of the Lagoon as the water was clear and I had been following some solid fish in the grass over the past weeks and it was setting up to be ideal.  Although a little convincing was needed she was first up. We pushed a low water, slick shoreline that had clean patches of grass where the flat was beginning to wake up. Cloud cover was present but it played into our favor as we were in skinny enough water that full sun might have given our location away to the sharp eye of over-slot redfish.  If they were in here, we would see their backs out of the water and could approach with caution. 

Ahead, there were signs of a redfish slow cruising, a long, lazy wake with just the very tips of his tail peaking above the surface. Cathy, on the casting platform was armed with a DOA and ready to take her first shot. The fish paused and put his head down to eat and now was her shot. Direction was good but she over shot him a little and as he got back to cruising, the line grazed his back and he was gone. No worries, plenty of fish here, and not 40 feet up the shoreline was one going away from us super tight to the mangroves. He ducked behind a small island about the size of the skiff so I made the decision to cut him off on the other side. Two quick pushes and he came around the island just as we approached him. “It’s a nice left to right, go head and give him a little room and he will swim right to it”, I told her. “What if I throw it in the mangroves?”….. I said ”you won’t, let it go”…

It was a textbook cast at a shoreline crawler. Her lure landed softy about 10 feet in front ,and as he approached, I told her “hit it once and he will jump it”… she did, and man did he crush it.  He went from 30 foot off the bow out to 100, in a split second. It was another impressive run by a Redfish but the hook held this time and Cathy countered his runs by gaining on him little by little. Pretty soon he was taking one step forward and two steps back until she eased that over-slot red into the net. Not sure who was more excited and relieved, Cathy, Jason or me! A few quick photos, healthy release and toast of a cocktail, Cathy had her skinny water Redfish and it was a gem.  Even Jason snuck in on the photo, they joked and said this is how married couples with no kids do a Christmas card! 

I had to cut all the excitement short as there was a tailing fish about 80 feet and closing quick. Cathy graciously deferred the bow to Jason and what seemed to be all in one motion, he stepped up, made a cast and was hooked up as soon as it hit the water. All I did was a quarter spin to give him a better angle and I was back down to net his fish. Of course his was smaller, which we joking was fitting but as we released him, Cathy and Jason both said, “Your turn”. Now I don’t get on the bow much, mainly because I enjoy putting people on fish but it seemed right to try and all get at least one each. Well Jason wasn’t on the back long as another crawler was tight to the shoreline.  I took my shot and lead him about a rod length and all it took was one hop and he had it and was headed to the horizon.  Cathy played net lady, I eased him in and after a quick photo he was on his way again. 

Sometimes things just comes together and we made one stop and didn’t have to push more than 50 yards of a shoreline for all three of us to get on the board. Jason grabbed another tailer before we had to head in but it was an eventful few hours on the Lagoon. 

FRIDAY

I know ya love redfish, I know this. And I’m gonna get you a redfish on fly cause it’s Friday, you got the day off and you ain’t got shit to do…

Sometimes it just all comes together. 2018 is nearing the end, you have a few vacation days to blow, although the weather men are calling for some wind, there are very little clouds in the forecast.  Anyone one who has fished the flats, or guided on the flats knows they would rather have wind and no clouds rather than clouds and no wind, generally speaking. Y’all know my thoughts on clouds, I have the stickers to prove it…

I had my boy Guffee on the bow for the trip as he too snuck out of the office. The weathermen were right on both accounts, there was wind and there were no clouds! Thankfully plenty of redfish to be found but there was also one of the first cold snaps of the year, so it had the redfish in a slight funk. We hopped around to some of the typical haunts as the sun got up but I had a feeling they would be in Mosquito Lagoon that has softer, slightly darker bottom looking to warm up with the bring sun.

On our second mud flat we started seeing fish. I pushed one shoreline that wrapped an island and dead ended into one of the famous mosquito ditches and found 3 redfish sunning. Two casts at these uninterested fish and we decided to push into the ditch as we could see activity down what was a long hallway of mangroves. Casting was tight and difficult and the fish still seemed lethargic so I spun the boat and out we went.

We didn’t make it 50 feet before I spotted a lower slot fish actively working the shoreline with his eyes down searching. It only took Guffee one shot to put it in the zone and two bumps of the black/purple and the redfish was on. Beautiful smaller fish and love the energy they have during the winter. Great fight, shot a couple quick photos and off he went.  That wasn’t the only fish we came tight on but the only one we got our hands on, shit happens and you loose fish, but it is always good knowing you fooled them.

As with most fly fisherman we love accessories, some are worth it and some are worthless. One of the good ones comes from Carbon Marine with their LineLair II, mine is in Ice Blue but they have a number of other colors to match your skiff. Plus, they work as good as they look at keeping your fly line on the deck and help keep it from turning into a cluster.

First Trip in the New Skiff

December 8th was the delivery day and after just six weeks the Chittum Skiffs, Mangrove 18, was on her way home. The wife rode down with me to their Palm City, FL facility to do a final walk through and see the place. Her last visit down was during the initial test ride and looking at colors and layouts. She was a big help during the process as she spends quite a bit of time on the skiff and has to constantly listen to my ideas or thoughts on making improvements to the setup on all my past skiffs.

This one was different. I had notes, sketches, and ideas on how I wanted the side console, casting platform, fuel capacity, rod holders…etc. George and Hal and even a few of the team members there walked me through all options and ideas I had to make sure this was the skiff to end all skiffs.

Options were as follows, Carbon package, Side console, quick release trolling motor mount, Simrad NSS9 EVO3, Florida Marine Tracks, Setup on Poling platform, Aft facing stair stepped rod holders, 13.5gal tank(which could be replaced without cutting the deck), 12in heigh casting platform with deck fittings, Tohatsu 50Hp as the power and a Ram-Lin Aluminum trailer.

As you can imagine, our first trip was the following morning and it did not take long for Melissa to claim her spot on the bow and land a beautiful over slot fish to claim the, “Queen of the Boat” title.