Saltwater Fly Fishing In The United Kingdom

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Florida - 2007 - By Alan Sandom

 

This year I decided that if the weather conditions allowed I would spend more time on the fly and give the lures and bait fishing a rest. The first few days passed just relaxing and getting over the journey, but I did check out the holdall and all of my gear, everything intact and no losses, so that was a bonus as I was scared that the baggage handlers were going to cause me some grief!

The first Tuesday morning came with me on St Pete's Beach at 7.00am, clear sky, water warm and like gin, tied on a small Clouser and had a few casts, just to try out the new line (Rio Outbound Tropical - 9# Intermediate) did that line fly or what, coupled with my Bloke 9# I knew that I was going to enjoy myself even if I didn't catch! Them I had a few plucks on the fly, so tried speeding up the strip and bang a Mangrove Snapper almost immediately nothing big but a great scrap, this was followed by two more all in the 15 ~ 18" bracket, the beach by now was beginning to get busy and I was thinking of calling it a day when a NeedleFish hit, (these resemble our Garfish and maybe the same?) shortly after a small pod of Bluefish skated past, I saw two Redfish in the surf but neither showed interest in my fly? But just as I was starting back onto the beach a Manatee surfaced not twenty feet from me. Everything looked good for the following sessions so, elated on making everything work and catching went back for breakfast (10.00am)

Wednesday had me again out again early but the wind was up and it looked like rain, so I ventured down to Pass a Grille, arrived again 7.00am tide going out all day? Was like this yester day and was the same for the next two days? This time I tied on a 'Half n Half in Blue over White, first fish on first cast was a Ladyfish of around 2lb, went ballistic jumping all over the place, followed by 8 Mangrove Snappers mostly small fish but did have two around 15", then it went quiet for a while so changed to a pink over white Clouser this took two 'Lookdowns' of about 12" another Needlefish followed by two Skipjacks, not the Tuna variety, but game little fighters with poisonous spines! Then 1 small Gag Grouper all of 14"! Again it started to go quiet so back to the condo for breakfast at 11.00am.

Thursday couldn't come fast enough; the wife had already stated fishing early is ok as long as I put some time by for taking her shopping! - Back down at Pass a Grille, wind was quite brisk and the sea had a fair chop on it! Again tried the pink and white Clouser, with masses of fry close in and strikes on them everywhere - heaven I just could not go wrong that was until the Spanish Mack's arrived boy can they chop through mono!! They managed to eat through four of my flies in quick succession, even 30lb mono tippets didn't stop them, today's catch amounted of 8 Ladyfish; 6 small Jacks (to 2lbs); 3 skipjack; 1 Florida Pompano; 4 Spanish Mack's to 3lbs, oh yeah! I tried one of Carl's Poppers! Cast out, was stripping it back! And bang it was gone, never saw what it was but again it had teeth?? Must get some 'Tyger' wire before we do that again. Other entertainment was by a young Manatee, which swam, passed almost by my feet and a pod of Dolphins six of them at about fifty feet away (spoiled the bite) so back for breakfast 11.00am

Friday came and we had had a storm blow all night? The beach was out of the question as was Pass a Grille, so went inland to Fort De Sota, a national park with around ten miles of beach twice as much backwaters and two fishing piers! If only in this country!! Tried several spots but just a couple of pulls but nothing to show for them, at my third spot Got the new 7# Bloke out and gave it a try not the same action as my 9# but after a couple of casts managed to put out a reasonable cast (considering the wind that is) and hooked up a Speckled Sea Trout (Weake Fish) of about two pounds, the wind was still giving me grief so back onto the 9# this made it easier but the fly line kept slapping on the surface in the swirling wind?? Only managed 1 pinfish and another Ladyfish before I had ruined the position. Still it was two new species so quite pleasing.

Saturday came and as the beaches get fairly busy at the w/e with locals as well as tourists, decided to take her indoors shopping?? First stop 'Bill Jackson's on I19 just outside Clearwater, what a store caters for all outdoor sports, from Shooting; Archery; Canoeing/Kayaking etc., etc, but best of all saltwater fly fishing!! Had a free casting session on the lake out back and fly tying session on the counter. Spent three hours in there, talk about a kid in a candy store?? Carole the wife lasted all of 1 hour found her asleep in the car!! What did I buy? A pair of Simms Flats wading boots and some fly tying bits and pieces, got back to the condo to see a 2~3ft surf running and still a fair breeze blowing, so grabbed my gear donned the boots and waded out. First wave smacked me straight in the chest nearly bowled me over, eased back out of the water a little and tried a few casts! The prognosis was the boots are great, my Flexi-stripper worked a charm even with the waved breaking over the bristles the line stayed put and I managed a few good casts, even got a few pulls but nothing stayed on.

Sunday weather was fine wind had dropped to a gentle breeze but the crowds were out in force, so were the Dolphins, so took Carole out for the day! Later that evening the wind had returned so gave it a miss.

Monday had me hitting the alarm at 6.00am (its pitch black still I'm on holiday and getting up ??) I hit the beach outside the condo at a run!! After the blow everything had calmed down and the fish were in, in good numbers. After taking 12 Ladyfish; 4 Jacks;! Lizard Fish (ugly buggers head like a lizard and all teeth); 1 Pinfish and 2 Spanish Mack's, I was getting tired it was 8.00am after all! But tried for one long cast to empty the Flexi' and was just into the backcast as the wind veered, there was I waist deep in water with line all around me and a No2 hook firmly embedded in my left forearm? I had not crushed the barb and on trying realised it was not coming out easy?? Chopped the tippet and packed up back to the condo and spent the next half an hour cutting the eye off and nipping away at the fly fibres? That was the easy bit, but it wasn't bleeding too much so some consolation? Tried pushing the point through but could not do it, found a maintenance guy and got him to put pressure on the skin while I pushed against it and got the hook through and out. Lesson learnt that will not happen again.

Tuesday, overslept - didn't get out till 9.00am. Drove over to Fort De Sota, by the North Pier, Bright sunny sea flat calm and gin clear, tide rising. Huge amount of baitfish everywhere but little else managed two Skipjacks, Saw 4 very large Redfish but no takes very skittish, obviously had a lot of gear thrown at the? Saw a manatee very close - maybe only twenty feet from me! First thought was Shark? Me fifty feet from the shore, up to my waist in water?? Up popped its head snorted and swam off leaving me wondering should I really be here? Decided after two hours of nothing to move, so back to Pass a Grille, to be met by locals saying 'you've missed the bite, its now gone quite' still I managed two good Spanish Mack's both over 4lbs; 1 Ladyfish; 1 Mangrove Snapper; 1 Large Needlefish (damn thing bit me as I went to extract the fly, there I was holding a fish with my right hand and the fish holding the left hand?? Talk about laugh but it did make me bleed! Beaks full of little needle like teeth. That was followed by 10 Skipjacks, 3 Blue Runners and one small Jack. Hundreds of hits but no lost flies, fly use a size 4 Chartreuse and White Clouser

Wednesday- Back to Pass a Grille, on the jetty - arrived at 8.15am four other already there, within half an hour six more arrived, obviously they heard about how good it was yesterday? So I left for the bay side beach1 Pinfish and two jacks and a lot of weed moved over to the Gulf side beach, much better no weed! Took two Ladyfish and one Blue runner. Back to the condo at 12.00am, to find the wife with friends around the pool, so put some more sunscreen on and slide of down to the beach, wind was increasing all the time! Took 7 Jacks; 7 Ladyfish, 1 Blue Runner; 1 large lizard fish before the wind got too strong for me? All of this has given me a problem how do you take pics standing waist deep in surf? Did see two good Snook later in the surf, but my gear was back in the condo then?

Thursday after see the Snook on the beach, arrived early 6.15am still dark and a full moon showing, cast around tried several flies but nothing till daylight? Then it was Jacks for about an hour plus three Ladyfish. 9.30am Sun now very hot and the bite had died so packed up and went for breakfast.

Friday, possibly my last fishing day? Pass a Grille water very low and no movement! Tried the jetty and both beaches with just a couple of Skipjacks to show, decided to try the roadside beach are, again nothing!! So started edging towards the peninsular end, here it is very shallow and by the time I was waist deep was probably 75 yards from the shore, had a pin fish then a small jack. Just as the tidal movement started I started to get small hits but no takes? But it was encouraging that I was getting something, then I had a take and line started to peal of the Flexi?? Onto the reel and still it was going?? Applied rim pressure to try and slow it down this only got is going faster and I was almost down to the backing (flyline is 140 ft) and worrying about how good the knot was? And it changed direction and I managed to get a little line back, each time it went back and forth until finally I could put some pressure on and gain line, it seemed ages, but I finally caught site of what it was a good Redfish, one of my target species. I finally beached the beast, what it weighed I don't know but I'll leave that to Andy to estimate, what I can say is that it was 32 inches long. As I had it on the beach took a couple of pics to show and released it. Carried on for another but by now the boat traffic had increase and spoiled the fishing! Back at the condo the wife was again by the pool with friends, so I accepted an offer to accompany a bait fisher on the beach, caught Ladyfish; Jacks; Pinfish; Lizard fish as we packed up my new pal commented that I had either caught or had a hit on every cast, he failed to get one?? One up for the fluff??

Sad note I failed to get a Snook, but there is always next year; I did save my stripping finger with a new glove Carole bought me! And it does improve the grip when the hand is constantly wet?

Saturday all packed away to come home when Carole asked if I wanted pics of me on the beach?? We were down there in fifteen minutes; I had 1 Lady; 1 jack and 2 Pinfish while she took a dozen pics, none of the fish?? Ah well I did get a bonus extra Half-hour and there is always next year, just wish the UK fished a well!! All in all a great time caught 14 species of fish had no blanks, the new line proved to be great and my casting improved dramatically!! Roll on 2008.

Ps. Never did get the lure rods or bait fishing gear out

Alan


 

 


 


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