Thursday, October 27, 2011

Holy Mackerel

I have to replenish my Clouser supply from the weekend.  Those Spanish did a number on my flies.

Half of a Clouser minnow

At least I can reuse the hooks and eyes...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fly Fishing Pensacola - Day 2

Sunday morning I was on the water by 7 am.  This time, I was wearing waders.  It was a very good decision.  I very briefly checked out the sound side before moving to the gulf beach.  I waded out past the sandbar, but once again, it was very quiet with no action in sight.  Just when I was starting to lose hope, I saw some splashing down the beach a ways.  In a matter of seconds, the water was boiling around me.  I didn't know right away what type of fish was having this feeding frenzy, but I quickly found out.  My first cast resulted in a strike, and I stripped in a fly that was half the fly it used to be.  Spanish!  The next cast resulted in a solid hook up, and after a spirited fight, I brought my first Spanish mackerel to hand.  I quickly lost count of how many Spanish mackerel I caught.  It was so easy, it was ridiculous.  The biggest challenge was the fact that I had to tie on a new fly every time the old one became nothing more than a hook.  Surprisingly, only once did a fish bite through my 20 lb tippet.  I managed to take a couple pictures despite the fact that all I really wanted to do was unhook each fish and start casting again.  

Most were around 17", the biggest was 19"

This is always difficult...

But Spanish mackerel weren't the only fish around.  Every once in a while, a hook up would result in a fish flying through the air and doing cartwheels.  Ladyfish!  Of the four ladyfish I hooked, one threw the hook, one broke me off at my tippet knot, and I landed two.  They were both about 22" long, and they gave my reel a serious work out.

Ladyfish are such a blast to catch.  I've never caught a tarpon, but watching these ladyfish fight reminded me so much of the videos I've seen of immature tarpon.  I can definitely see the family resemblance.

Eventually, the frenzied Spanish mackerel started to disperse, and the splashing became less frequent, but it was one of the greatest fishing experiences in my recent memory.  As mackerel go, they probably weren't even that big, but being able to catch a 17" fish on every cast is just insane.  It was about 2 hours of pure joy.

A couple of side notes.  There were a couple of bait fishers on the beach near me.  I don't think they caught anything.  This time I was feeling quite smug.  Also, this section of the beach is overlooked by an old gun battery - a very cool place to fish.  I took some pictures.

An odd looking rig being brought in with several escorts.  I think its well within range...
Great success!  Pensacola never disappoints.  I'll be back for sure.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fly Fishing Pensacola - Day 1

I left bright and early on Saturday morning and headed over to Pensacola for my big solo fishing and camping expedition.  I had mainly three fish on my mind: redfish, Spanish mackerel, and ladyfish.  Fall is supposed to be a good time of year for redfish, and the waters around Pensacola are supposed to be a good place to find them.  Also, I read that Spanish mackerel are abundant near Pensacola, and I've never caught one before.  Finally, I caught a big ladyfish the last time I was in Pensacola, and I was looking forward to doing battle again.

My first stop was wade fishing in Santa Rosa Sound, near Gulf Breeze.  It was only about 9:30 am, and it was probably around 60 F.  Being from Michigan, I tend to get cocky about the temperature down here - psh, I don't need waders, this is Florida!  In reality, the water was chilly and the wind was blowing hard.  Needless to say, I was quite cold.  There seemed to be no action on the flat, and I was only entertained by a couple of puffer fish, one of which puffed up while I was trying to get the fly out of his mouth, which caused me drop him and left him floating upside down, buoyed by his puffed up chest.  It was quite hilarious, but I didn't get a picture.

I moved on to the beach near Fort Pickens.  I'm never quite prepared for how beautiful the water is.

Two shades of blue
The fishing was slow here as well, but I was enjoying the the scenery.  I watched in awe as a group of huge rays patrolled the sandbar like giant underwater geese.  Eventually I managed to hook a fish - a dinner plate sized flounder.

More after the jump.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pensacola Preview

Well, the redfish have got the best of me - I've been unsuccessful in my attempts to catch them recently, and I haven't seen them tailing for quite some time.  I need a boat...  This weekend, however, I'm going fishing over in Florida, near Pensacola.  I was there a few weekends ago with my girlfriend, and we caught a few fish while hanging out on the beach so now I'm coming back on a purely fishing expedition.  Last time, I caught a 2 ft ladyfish, and my girlfriend broke off a ladyfish and caught a nice flounder.   

Still not too sure about the whole idea of touching fish...

An interesting note about this flounder is that it was a much lighter color compared to what I am used to in Mississippi, apparently due to the whiter sand near Pensacola.

Anyways, there should be another post coming next week to recap my weekend (unless of course its a complete disaster).  Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

In Pursuit of Tailing Redfish

I've been looking for tailing redfish every night since I first saw them on Tuesday.  I still haven't caught one, but fortunately white trout have kept my evenings from being completely unsuccessful.  I have now found tailing redfish in several locations, and I'm on a mission to find more places where they consistently tail (and maybe catch a few).  One thing I find odd is that I have now seen redfish tailing right next to the Lake Mars boat launch, and there are always tons of people fishing there, but either nobody notices the redfish or nobody cares about them.  They just sit there with their bait in the water waiting for something to happen (which is actually probably more effective than what I do).  I guess I just prefer to hunt fish rather than letting them come to me, which apparently makes me a weirdo around here.

No redfish yet, but some beautiful sunsets:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tailing Redfish

Well, I got my speckled trout poppers and mullet flies in the mail, but I am now completely distracted by what happened while fishing last night.  I received word from a friend that he had seen tailing redfish on his way home from work.  I checked out where he had seen them, couldn't find them myself, but decided to go fishing elsewhere anyway.  Walking down the shoreline somewhere on the Mississippi Gulf Coast I could not believe my eyes.  On a section of beach, redfish were feeding like crazy, within a foot from the shore, the tips of their tails sticking out of the water, and every once in a while, a back would break the surface as a fish got in real shallow chasing something.  I'd been dreaming of this ever since I moved down to Mississippi, but somehow I hadn't managed to see tailing redfish before, and I never really thought I'd see them from an accessible part of the shore.  I figured you needed to be on a boat in the marsh to really have a chance at them.  My first approach resulted immediately in splashes and v lines away from the shoreline as redfish scattered to get away from me.  I located another group of fish, and this time approached on my knees, but stayed about 10 yards away, casting almost parallel to the shoreline.  The next hour was some of the most exhilarating yet frustrating fishing of my life.  With so many redfish in sight, my casting went to pieces - tailing loops, snagging grasses, and missing my target.  But even when I got it together, they mostly ignored my offering.  I switched from a Clouser to a crab pattern, and got a couple follows and one take that resulted in a very brief fight, but I could not bring a fish to hand!  I thought tailing redfish were supposed to be easy to catch...  I'll be back tonight.