Welcome to Salt Water Fly Fishing

Welcome to Fly Fishing The Salt! If you are just discovering the joys of fly fishing the salt (or salt chuck as some call it) here you will find information to steer you in the right direction. Tips on what equipment to use, why, where and how to fish. And we will try to include a little inspiration to get you going. For the experienced salt water angler, there will be personal stories about real fishermen and their experiences, tips on what flies for which fish and techniques that work. Your stories and articles are also most welcome. Share the knowledge and adventure. Pass it on! This is for you.

Oh Vidalia

By Capt. Doug Sinclair

Tears rolled down his cheeks. Nothing but a slight wind helped to shield his eyes from their burning sensation. Chop as best he could with somewhat primitive utensils. A fillet knife did the chopping, really slicing. There next to the skillet, the sauté was being prepared. Add a little of this and a little of that. What was carried in zip-lock bags to keep the vegetables fresh would go on first. But he always did the onions his way. Even as sweet as they were Vidalia's' could make a grown man cry. The fillets would wait.

Embers glowed a bright silvery red. Heat drew down a chill from the air. From the far side, dwindling flames pushed smoke up towards the dark sky. They appeared gray against the darkness. Sometimes you could hear the crack from fire straightening a limb. Sparks danced through twisted wood like a ball from a disco light. How is it you can watch, so intently, the dance of the flames? One fish, four people. A long awaited treat was at hand. The fire brought us warmth and provided fuel for cooking. We sat there for hours. Very few words were exchanged, partly because we were beat. But nothing needed to be said. Only a faint sigh and some snoring interrupted the silence.

Somewhere in the night you could hear a mocking bird call. It signaled its mate, letting it know there was warmth down below. In the pit, aromas were cascading upward. Sizzling sounds. A strong smell of basil, thyme, oregano, flat-leaf parsley, green peppers, and Vidalia onions were churned in an olive-oil-lined skillet. Sliced tomatoes were prepared. Some ground pepper too. There was no mistaking scent from the oak logs and cedar fronds edging the fire.

From a large plastic bag, fresh fillets were laid ever so carefully on the sautéed veggies. After a minute they were transferred to their own skillet, greased with peanut oil. The sizzling never ceased. More aromas filled the night air. Bodies stirred. Appetites would yearn for some good outdoor cooking. And what a feast this would be. Many years had passed since we had tasted the sweet white meat of a freshly caught Redfish.

Normally, catch and release would prevail. But on this one occasion we took this fish. It was a beautiful redfish. Roaming just inside the cut in Hong Kong flats, this redfish took a KG Pink Bucktail. We were out after big Gator Trout. The KG Bucktail fly, I named after a good friend of mine. He never went anywhere with out a Bucktail jig and to get him fly-fishing I always had Bucktail flies. This was a new fly. Pink/Brown on top combined with some Pearl/Yellow ice chenille.

Along a narrow slit a deep cut channel ran along a grass line on the west bank. The trout held up along the grass. JR threw the fly and let it settle. It got two bumps but no hook up. He recast. Same thing happened, a couple of bumps and no hook ups. JR threw again, but this time started stripping as soon as the fly hit the water. Again more bumps and no hook ups. I polled us away from the drop off. And waited for things to settle.

JR threw the fly past the drop and then led it back into the drop off. He was using a WF9I, an invisible braided monocore fly line. He let the fly sink, then stripped. As he repeated this retrieve a couple of more times, the line went taught. Line started off the spool in an explosive run. We saw the redfish come up out of the hole and onto the flat. The redfish startled the Trout who also bolted from the hole. We polled after him. The redfish made a dash to the north side of the island and then across the flat back towards the drop off. Line screamed off the spool. One hundred fifty yards of backing sliced through the water. JR was constantly reeling and spooling line. His hand looked like a machine attached to a bicycle pedal.

JR high-sticked the fish for awhile to wear him down. Then he side-sticked the redfish to pressure him. Meantime the 10wt rod was bent to the butt. Forty minutes passed and the redfish wasn't tiring. After an hour, JR was wearing down too. I got off the platform. We traded places. Carefully JR handed me the rod and line. I figured we needed to put pressure to the redfish's lateral line to stop him. Eventually, you could kill a fish this size by prolonging the fight. There was 20-pound tippet between us and the fish. Finally he started to slow. I put more pressure on the fish as we closed the distance and started winding fly line back onto the spool.

Once to the boat, it was evident we wouldn't be able to save this fish. The red was just 26.5 inches in length and about 8 pounds. The fish looked healthy, but really fatigued. We worked for 20 minutes to revive our fish. After 30 minutes, it just wouldn't swim away. It was clear this fish would die if we left it in the water. So our justification for keeping it was we would celebrate its life rather than having it die a lonely death in the Lagoon. None of us had eaten a redfish in more than 5 years. We were all staunch supporters of catch and release. It took a lot for us to take this fish.

There was joy and sadness in this meal. The chopping of the onion, the burning embers, the sparks and crackling of the fire, were reminders of what nature gives to us. This was a time to give thanks to the beauty of the great outdoors. This was a time to cherish each bite of our dinner and remember to protect and respect the species.

Catch/Release: it's the right thing to do. ~ Doug.

About Doug:
Capt. Doug Sinclair has relocated from New Smyrna Beach, Florida to Grantsboro, NC. He specializes in fly-fishing and light tackle charters. Doug charters the Coastal Carolina area of New Bern or Oriental. Catch him on the web at www.flyfishacademy.net or call him at (252) 745-3500. Doug is also a Sponsor here on FAOL.

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