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.

Lucky Hat

By Capt. Doug Sinclair, New Smyrna Beach, FL

There is much to suggest that Man survived amongst the other creatures of the world because he is both smart and erect. Were it not for his superb self-programming computer of a brain, the freedom of his dexterous upper extremities to make tools and throw weapons, the elevated position of his sentient eyes, ears, and nose, and his ability to deliver information and express feelings by a remarkable combination of sounds and facial movements, he would not have survived long in the jungle. Small wonder, then, that his head, which houses these vital sources of thought, perception, and communication, holds the highest place not only in his body but also in his concept of himself.

So, it is small wonder that a medical device company executive would call me at 10:30 am searching for a way to fulfill a lifetime goal: catch his first redfish on fly. This is truly fishing fever. It is a desire that doesn't fade with time. Michael is one of the few charters clients who is determined to catch everything with fins on fly, especially in saltwater, and especially on the flats.

"Captain, It's Michael, I'm on the road. I just finished my meetings in Jacksonville and I rented a car. I can be in New Smyrna by noon so can you fit me in for an afternoon charter? I just need to know where I can pick up some shorts and a shirt. Can you fit me in this afternoon?"

"You bet I can!"

I first met Michael at a clinic I was doing for the Fly-Fishing Campfire in Ocala last March. His casting was reminiscent of a stream fisherman and not suited too well for long distance double haul casting on a saltwater flat. But we would soon correct that and he would be mastering a 80-foot cast in no time at all.

He met me at the Canaveral ramp. While other guides were just returning with their charters, we were launching. You could see the anticipation in Michaels face. He was eager to get out on the water. Sight fishing in the late afternoon is especially good in Mosquito Lagoon, but poses different challenges as the light disappears. Redfish and Spotted Sea Trout are not as pressured and freely move along the mangroves. I prefer late afternoon fishing. Sighting fish is interesting as the sun starts to set. The water is usually calm and this is perfect for sighting a push from a long distance, way before you actually see the fish.

We moved quickly past Eldora State House south passed Pumpkin Point. I shut down just past the Goodrich Lease (an oyster harvesting area). We drifted south, with occasional steerage adjustments from the push pole to position us into a favorite flat. I was surprised at the water depth on the west side of the channel. It was about four feet deep. Maybe this is where all the water in the lagoon has gone. In twenty years fishing this area I've never seen Mosquito Lagoon so high.

As we started into the flat, you could see the pushes of large fish patrolling the mangroves for baitfish and shrimp. Some large tiger shrimp were actually jumping out of the water. They make a sound like water dropping from a pail.

Michael got on the casting platform and scouted the shoreline and water as I poled us ahead.

"Michael. Two o'clock about fifty feet. Pushing from your left to right. Hold and I'll position the boat for a leading cast."

Michael let go of the Borski Slider, the fly line and started his cast. The trailing fluorescent blue Royal Wulff fly line hissed through the rod's guides. It painted a light colored flashing line in contrast to the dark areas on the horizon. Only one false cast and the fly dropped silently into the water next to the mangroves, leading the redfish by at least 10 feet.

"Michael, let it sink."

"OK, start your strip. Nice and easy." But there was no hook up and the redfish swam right by the fly.

"Wow! Did you see him? What a magnificent redfish!" replied Michael.

Then came another push along the same edge. Michael started his cast and led the next fish. But nothing happened, no hook ups. So we pushed on, deeper into the flat in an area where trees blocked the western sunshine. Quietly and very slowly I poled along the shoreline. Michael every ready at the bow, waited for the first sign of movement. But none would come for at least another hour. Back deep into the flat and away from the trees we let the boat just stop and settle into the late afternoon.

The sun was just starting to set, dipping down ever closer to the far horizon. The water was flat as glass. Deep into the mangroves a family of eight raccoons made their way along a ditch. The glanced up at us and then kept moving. The little coons tagged along trying to keep up with their parents. Shorebirds munched on food in the shallow water. I started to pole again and turned the boat towards a small creek in the northeast corner of the flat. Suddenly we could see a huge push. At first I thought it might be a trout. But the high arching push could only be from a redfish. The push is unmistakable. Redfish arch their backs when moving quickly through shallow water. Even a small redfish can appear like a large fish. I'm sure we spooked this fish as I started to get the boat moving again. So I stopped and waited to see which direction the redfish would go. He turned and then started back towards us. I staked off the boat and we waited quietly as the redfish started back coming into casting range.

At fifty feet, Michael made his first cast and let the fly settle. The redfish didn't slow down. He just motored right past the boat and back to the front of the creek opening. Hunting redfish can sure be frustrating at times.

The thought crossed my mind that maybe he couldn't see the fly. Maybe we needed a little more flash. Maybe Michael was wearing the wrong hat. So we changed flies to a pink and yellow buck tail (my favorite trout fly). And, we changed his hat (my favorite Backcountry Flyfishing). On the next pass, Michael sent out the most beautiful seventy-foot cast that I'd ever seen him throw. He waited for the fly to sink, did one strip and scored with a hook up.

Rod tip pointing toward the shimmering surface, the redfish took off on a short run, and the reel was singing. Michaels' grin was from ear to ear. He played the redfish like a master. It is a feeling you never forget, especially on a strong redfish. Michael held on to the rod as the redfish made runs out to the opening of the flat, across to the mangroves and then back to the boat. This action was repeated a couple of times. We wanted to shorten this fight and get him to the boat quickly for a picture and release. Michael applied side pressure to the rod to slow the redfish down. He just kept up the run. With 12-pound tippet we had to be careful or we would loose this fish. The 8-wt DFR handled this fish with ease.

"Nice. Keep the tip up." Finally we were able to pole to the redfish.

This is what the art of fly-fishing is all about. With the fish in the water, I wetted my hands and then lifted him into the boat to remove the fly, take the picture, release and watch him swim away.

This was the end of a perfect day for Michael. Was it his casting? Was it the fly? Or, Was it the 'Lucky Hat?' It doesn't matter. What matters is being there. Being out in nature. Enjoying the reverence of a late afternoon fishing adventure to stalk and fight one of the best game fish in Florida - Redfish.

For many fly-fishing anglers, the challenge of presenting a fly to a wary fish and having him eat it is more than just putting food on the table. Next time you are out fly-fishing with me we need a new lucky hat. Michael still has this one.

Enjoy the outdoors. Practice catch and release. ~ 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.

Previous Fly Fishing The Salt Articles

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ]

FlyAnglersOnline.com © Notice