Monday, October 17, 2011

My fishin partner came home again

             A few years back I was stationed in Colorado.  I used to fish the Air Force Academy lakes quite a bit and I usually had a fishing partner.   One of my Daughters was usually up and ready to go fishing with me.  Once I took all three of my Daughters and did not let my wife know… yeah you can imagine the phone call I got that morning after she woke up and the kids had “vanished”.  We got better about leaving notes and making sure everyone was accounted for.  Memories of my Daughters first Rainbow and Brook trout are still vivid in my mind.  We used to go camping and fishing and more times than not, one of them was along.  My oldest Daughter, Chelsea, went with me most often.  Most times she would fish for a bit then explore and come back with feathers and rocks and weird looking sticks, one time she even found a geocache.  We had no idea what it was but read the instructions, swapped out trinkets, and made sure she put it back.   Over the years fishing became yucky and smelly and pretty much off the “things to do” list.  Soccer, dances, and boys all took over that spot.  No more trips where my Daughters out fished me. 
                Recently, Chelsea told me she wanted to go kayak fishing when she came home from college on a break.   My heart leapt and I started checking tide charts, consulting with guides and locating a good spot.  I planned this trip out for a couple weeks and had visions of her battling redfish and hoisting them up triumphantly.  The day finally came and we were off.

                We got to the landing and got the kayaks offloaded and were waiting for some friends to get there.  I handed her a rod with a grub on it and she started casting.   Two casts later she landed her first fish of the day.  We hadn’t even got in the kayaks wet.  She had landed a nice little Bank Sea Bass.  I didn’t know they went this far up the river but there it was.  We launched and paddled down river.   We set up and threw out our baits and then started tossing artificial baits to fishy looking spots.  She managed to net a good sized crab that was eating her bait so we used it for bait for the big reds.  Our friends caught up and we paddled down to our next spot.   We set up and watched the water roll out of the grass.  There were a lot of small bluefish and crabs abusing our bait so we paddled back towards our launch to a spot I knew we should do good at.  We reset our anchors and got our baits out.  Her rod tip started dancing then bent over.  She fought it for a few minutes and Ta-Daa!!! Stingray.  She handed me the rod to remove the “Steve Killer” from the hook.  A quick flick of the wrist and pliers and the flat menace was on his way swimming back to the channel.  A new finger mullet was loaded and the line back out.  The rod danced again and this time a beautiful Wando River Speckled Sea Trout came in the kayak for a visit. 

                I was enjoying her reeling in fish and smelling the marsh and realized I needed to try and catch up.  I loaded a finger mullet under a cork and splash.  The cork moved instantly and then disappeared.   Visions of redfish danced in my head until the little Blue fish came up.   Stupid little greaser.   The sun was setting and Chelsea had a date so we called it a day.  As we paddled back in we chatted and raced and laughed and had a really good time.   Spending this afternoon on the water was the best day I have had in a while.  The relaxing sounds of the water on the hull of my kayak and the smells of the salt water and pluff mud still soothed the soul, but being able to share that with her was the best day of fishing I have had in a long time.   I even loved getting out fished again.   I think I know how my dad felt when I would out fish him. 
                Of course she is older now, in college, and on her own but I still saw my little girl paddling next to me.  She is doing great in school and I couldn’t be any prouder than I am in her.  Hopefully she will want to go fishing again soon.  I miss my fishin partner. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Recycled Fish...

I have a great group of friends... about 90% of them are fly fishermen and we all help each other out.  It's kinda what ya do when you are in the addiction like we are. 

One of my friends asked to help spread the word about  a new, well new to me,  org, called Recycled Fish.  Now I am not one to just blog and post up anything.  I have to believe in it and agree with it.  After a little research I like what these guys are doing.  I believe that anyone who fishes needs to be a steward of the environment.  We pack out what we bring in and I don’t know how many times I have returned to the landing with a kayak full of trash that people threw out.  Unless we clean up after ourselves and make sure we are not killing every fish we catch, my kids and grand-kids will be able to fly fish the marshes and creeks I fish now and be able to land those 30” redfish, Guys like me and the Recycled Fish are trying to make sure that happens.  I try, I really do, to do the green thing and leave as small a footprint I can. 

Now for some stuff from the web page…
Recycled Fish is the national non-profit organization of "anglers living a Lifestyle of Stewardship both on and off the water, because Our Lifestyle Runs Downstream."
We started out talking about Catch and Release, but it’s bigger than that now. If we want to catch more and bigger fish today and leave healthy waters for our grandkids, it takes living a Lifestyle of Stewardship both on and off the water.

On the water, we promote the S.A.F.E. Angling concept – "Sustaining Angling, Fish and Ecosystems." It’s the practices and products we can use to live as stewards when we’re on the water. It’s non-toxic and biodegradable tackle, single barbless hooks, and it’s cleaning up trash when we find it. It's not just Catch and Release, Selective Harvest is part of living as a steward on the water, too. "Limit Your Catch – Don’t Catch Your Limit!"

When Recycled Fish started back in 2004, spreading the word on Catch and Release and Selective Harvest was our primary message.
It’s bigger than that now. Today, we’re a national movement of fisherman who live a lifestyle of stewardship on and off the water.
We’re doing stuff like putting in low flow shower heads and changing how we care for our lawns, because that stuff matters to fisheries as much or more than catch and release.
Or it should be said, "Catch and Release alone won’t solve the problems facing our fisheries."
If we want more and bigger fish in our waters, now and for our kids, a lifestyle of stewardship is what it’s going to take, because our Lifestyle Runs Downstream.

So check out my friends over on and do what ya can to help.  They donate like 30% of sales to the cause in the shop and there is a BUNCH of good looking flies, even for a salt water guy like me and really good prices!  Even if you can’t or don’t want to support Recycled Fish, just remember their catch phrase, "Limit Your Catch – Don’t Catch Your Limit!", and really think about it.   Let’s make sure these fish, from Brookies, to Steelhead to giant Redfish, are all here for us and later generations to catch! 

Tight Lines and Screamin Drags!!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Another addict to the fold

As we drive in the dark towards the flat my fishing buddy for the day is pretty excited.  He is trying to be cool but I can see it in his eyes.  He is hungry for a redfish on the fly.  James has never seen a redfish tailing on a flat, so I made it my mission to at least let him see one and try his hand at enticing one to eat his fly and give him a story to tell over and over for years to come.   We all remember our first redfish on the fly.  The tingling in every single one of your nerves, the tunnel vision, the slow motion cast as it falls too short or too long, your heart beating a thousand beats per minute.  Then you make the perfect cast, it might not be the prettiest but it’s where it needs to be.  You see the swirl where your fly is, you feel the line start to run, your strip set and feel the power of the fish as he hauls fin away at mach 6.998 and your drag screaming.  I wanted James to experience this.  

We string up our rods and make out way out across a small creek and into the grass.  The wind is down and it is quiet on the marsh.  As we stomp our way out to where the water will fill in we talk about redfish, flies, and I give him a quick down and dirty class on where they will be and how to catch them.  As we stop to listen, the sounds of birds and the big splash of redfish crashing bait in the deep grass come to our ears.  We both grin ear to ear, because we know the redfish are here. 
We back off the grass and move down a ways to my favorite spot.  As we stand there listening and our eyes straining in the slowly raising light, the bugs are awful.  They get into your eyes, nose, and ears and bite the livin dookie outa ya.  As the light comes up just enough to see, the water is now shin deep and the first tail pops up.  James sees it but it is a fleeting flip and it is gone.  Then about 10 feet in front of us a redfish starts tailing.  I point it out to James and watch as his eyes get as big as dinner plates.  We both have the same grin and right there I know I have created another addict.
He strips line of his reel, eyes never leaving the fish, he asks for any last minute advice and I turn him loose.  His first cast is a little too far so he pulls it up and drops it closer.  The fish swims over it and he drops the fly again.  Now the fish changes direction.  The next cast gets hung up on the grass and isn’t even in the water as the fish swims under the fly.  He whispers to me, “catch ‘em.. catch ‘em” and I start to cast.  I have the same luck as I see another fish pop up.  I put the sneak on him and start moving towards a better line as James sees another fish to his right and follows him.  We separate to opposite ends of the big pocket and work on our fish.  At one point James is surrounded by tails as I am on the other end of the pocket.   

For the next forty-five minutes we chase fish and drop flies in front of them.  Then the tide turns and the water starts to move out of the grass.  The fish will follow the water and we need to get to work.  On our way back to the truck we see two more fish and we work them over quickly before they spook and are gone.  We probably spent more time just watching the fish tail in the grass and watching the early morning golden light glisten off the electric blue edges of their tails.  I didn’t get James on his first red on the fly but he did see them and like me was just happy to see them and be able to spend a beautiful morning on the marsh.  The next set of flood tides is in a couple weeks and there won’t be as much bait… I am pretty sure we are gonna get him on a red soon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fathers Day

The early twilight of a new day barely lets you see anything and we cruise down the road.  From my vantage point I can’t really make out much but the bait and tackle shop looms in the distance and the welcoming lights allow me to see a little of where I am.  An old shack of a building with hissing lights and a green painted screen door with a small rope loop for a handle, greets us like an old friend.  As we walk in the smell of salt water and the hum of aerators for the live bait assault my senses.  The low ceiling is covered in all sorts of rods, nets, taxidermy of those trophies the owner has caught.  Racks of hooks and lures and small cubby holes filled with lead and pre-made rigs line the walls and fill the floor.  A few old timers stand around the counter discussing the bite and who caught the last REAL fish.   I make a bee-line to the cooler and grab an ice cold YooHoo and some chocolate donuts, no fishing trip can start this early  and end up right without YooHoo and chocolate donuts.  We get our bait and a quick fishing report on what is biting and where and we are back on the road.  The sun starts to peek over the horizon and while a climb around on the rocks balancing my YooHoo and donuts the first line sings out to start the fishing.  The year is 1975 and this is usually how my weekends start with my dad. 
                I remember fondly these early morning forays to the Long Island Sound with my Dad chasing Stripers and blues and anything else that would bite a hook.    He was in the Navy and was deployed a lot of the time but when he was home, after the honey do’s that piled up on the last cruise were done, it was time to fish.  My Dad taught me how to fish, he taught me how to hunt, how to tie knots, sharpen a knife, make bottom rigs, and everything else required to catch fish.  Always with conservation in mind, he was always quick to tell me to throw the small ones back to grow up while people around us filled buckets and coolers with small fish.  We would spend hours fishing off the beach or a fishing pier, or off rock jetties and if we got lucky a friends boat.    Fresh water or salt water, it didn’t matter, my Dad is the consummate fisherman.  He has fished around the world, caught giant fish and even got skunked by me on a small lake in Vermont while I hauled in perch after perch and all he could do was bait my hook and pull fish off my line.   Anytime I have a question about fishing Dad has the answer, especially if it is how to cook up my catch.  I am one of the luckiest men in the world.  I have a Dad who taught me how to fish and more importantly to enjoy fishing.  Even when the skunk followed us to the water or all we caught were small fish not worth taking home, he was always quick to point out the beauty of the water, how the tides worked, currents, when the fish bite best, and everything else that make a fishing trip a great time no matter how good the catching is.  Dad doesn’t fish as much now; he’ll throw a line in the pond when he visits and still enjoy it like he was in the fighting chair on the Pacific side of Panama fighting a grander Black Marlin.  
                I have friends who are Fathers like me who think along the same lines and we all pass on our knowledge to our kids.  I have three Daughters who don’t like to fish too much.  They can still bait a hook and take their own fish off the hook and they practice catch and release like their old man.  I am proud of my daughters and what they have learned about fishing.  I doubt they will have the same passion for it as I do but they can still catch fish and enjoy being on the water. 
                One of my friends James, he lives in Georgia, is the quintessential Southern Gentleman.  He also has three daughters and a son now.  All his daughters are younger than mine and they all love to hunt and fish.  I am sure when young Jackson is old enough he will be living in the woods and on the rivers with his dad and I know James can’t wait.  We have already planned out his schedule for fly casting lessons and looking at what rifle to start him out with.   I love to hear stories about his exploits with his children and all they do.  I hope his daughters love this time in the woods and the water as much as mine did. 
                I am truly blessed to have a Father who taught me all I know about fishing and instilled a love of nature in me and to have friends who think like me and are passing on their knowledge to their children.  So, Happy Fathers Day Dad and to all my fellow Fathers out there.   Make sure ya call, or send a prayer, to your Dad this Sunday and tell him Thanks and you love him.  I sure will be.

Tight Lines and Screamin Drags…

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bassin on the Cooper

We met our guide at the ramp at the Cypress gardens launch just as the sun was peeking up on the horizon.  A big red and white Champion bass boat with a mean looking Yamaha 225 motor strapped to the back,  pulled in and we set about getting it ready to launch. 

After a quick run down the river we got to our first spot.  The wind was up a little and we started with some top-water and threw to a few really fishy looking points and cuts.  We had a few boils on our baits but no blow ups and hook ups. 

We switched tactics and went with a wacky rigged trick worm and started working the banks and drop-offs over.  Our guide, Capt. David Murdaugh, changed his posture and we heard his trademark, “let’s talk about it” line, when his rod bent in half and the water exploded with a beautiful two-pound bass on the other end.  After a pretty quick fight the fish was onboard and we snapped a few pictures.  The fish went back to its lair and we moved down the bank. 

 Small gators popped up and watched us from a distance and fish rolled and popped around us.  As we worked down the creeks and flats we found fish after fish.  Every once in a while we would throw a frog or another top-water bait to no avail.  The bait of the day was the wacky rigged worm.  As we rolled past a line of stumps I tossed the worm in-between two promising ones and let the worm fall.  I expected to feel the bump as it hit the bottom instead I felt a tell tale thump-thump of a fish sucking down a meal.  I set the hook and the rod bent.  My drag peeled off a little and a nice fish rolled then jumped on the surface.  I worked him out from the stumps and dragged him to the boat.  I was pretty happy. 

 I am not a bass fisherman and am really out of my element here.  Being able to listen to Capt. David and apply the lessons he gave us AND hook fish and land them really gets you pumped up.  We continued to work up and down the creeks catching fish and enjoying each others company and fishing stories.  The weather started turning so we ran back towards the landing.  We pressed on a little further and found some nice grass mats and started working them over.  After a short class on mat fishing from David we started working all the pockets over and were rewarded with three really nice four-plus pound bass.  We fished there for a while and we decided to call it a day.  Overall we had a great day with an outstanding guide. Capt. David is the epitome of a quality guide.  He knows the waters he fishes, he has been fishing the Cooper River since he was six-years-old,  and is always quick with a tip and smile for you.  His boat is well organized and if there is something you need he has it neatly packed away somewhere.  If you are looking for a great day on the water with an awesome person and guide then give a call to Cooper River Guide Service, (843) 452-9566 and let Capt. David take you fishing. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A rat in the grass

I rolled up to a walk-to flat I haunt hoping to at least see some tailing redfish this morning.  As I stepped out of the Jeep the 20-plus mile-an-hour winds hit me.  Dang.  I strung up my fly rod and sipped my coffee waiting on my buddy to show up.  We got all geared up and started walking to our spot.  The wind was kicking pretty hard and we wondered if we’d be able to get a cast off at all.  As the water rose and the wind stayed steady we watched.

  The grass got shorter as the water rose and the tension was climbing as well.  I closed my eyes and took in the smell of salt water and pluff mud.  I love this time of day.  The sun barely peeking over the horizon, the sound of water around my legs and the soft pull of the mud on my shoes. 

 Spring has sprung here in the Low-Country.  The fiddler crabs were out in force, crawling about and in and out of their holes.  We stood three talking about redfish and flies and how bad we wanted to catch one.  As the water rose over our knees Austin saw the first tail.  About 15 feet out and moving right.  I stripped line out and looked for him to show his tail again.  Nuthin.  I blind casted to a few choice looking clumps of grass and waited.  Then I hear Austin suck in his breath and try moving as quietly as possible as he moved towards me and there less than five feet from him was a beautiful sight.  In the early morning sunlight a big redfish tail flopped lazily back and forth.  I began to cast and with all my might I managed a ten foot cast into the wind.  Perfect cast to where he used to be.  I waited, I waited some more and about twenty feet to the right the tail popped up again.  A quick double haul and with the wind this time I dropped the fly in his path.  I mended my line and waited to feel the pull.  Nuthin.  Ghosted on us.  Never saw another sign of him.  We worked around a little at all the tails we saw, trying to cast into the wind and getting a fly close enough but apparently not close enough.  I worked my way down wind a little and saw one small tail then gone.  I turned around and saw something floating on the water near Austin.  It looked like a small piece of wood.  “Dude!  It’s a mouse!”  I heard above the wind.  As I made my way over I saw this very large mouse or a small rat paddling away. 

He got close enough to Austin and looked like he was going to climb aboard.  Austin gave him a quick push away and he continued his paddle.  I had two visions in my head at that point.  One was of a big ol redfish crashing on him and having a mammal snack for brekkers and the second was how I was going to tie up a rat pattern to target them on top water.   We worked our way down the flat looking for more fish.  I caught up to the rat and he was still paddling away.  He got hung up on my fly line and hung on for dear life.  I figured he had survived swimming around all those reds and he deserved a break.  I dropped my fly rod and he climbed aboard.  I dragged him over to a clump of grass and reeds and dropped him off.  

 Thinking I had paid up my karma debt, I figured it was time to hook a fish.  The wind kept howling and rising more than we thought it would.  Austin suddenly froze and started stripping line from his reel and he got that tunnel vision and I saw the fish.  A nice slot sized red working over a clump of grass.  He was down wind and an easy cast for Austin.  He let fly and dropped the fly a foot from the grass.  I saw the fly sinking and the fish moved towards it and there was a big swirl and boil.  Austin set the hook and the fly came flying back at him.  No sign of the fish.  Nada.  Gone without a trace.  With white caps in the grass we decided to walk back down and wait on the water to move out.  We sat on an old chunk of driftwood and debated on the fishing this year so far.  The water started moving out and we walked our haunt again. 

We worked over all the usual holes and found no more fish.  We were beat up by the wind and decided to call it a day.  No hook ups but seeing tailing redfish got my winter blood racing and ready for the next set of flood tides. I guess since I did help that little rat out with my fly rod you could say I did catch a “rat” today.   As always a great day of fishing.  Getting back out and seeing those fish tailing away was some good medicine and was sorely needed.  Welcome Spring.  Welcome back tails.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The St. Croix Bank Robber

Recently a St. Croix Bank Robber has fallen into my grubby little paws.  I have been playing with it for the last few days.  Casting and fishing and generally enjoying this rod on the water.  The Bank Robber was designed with Kelly Gallup and was specially designed for throwing streamers.  The version I got was the 9ft, fast action 4 piece 7wt rod.  It has a beautiful silver finish to the rod, the cork is nicely shaped , a little stiff, but it’s not MY rod and I won’t have it long enough to wear my hand shape into it but it fits my hand well.  The rod comes in a beautiful grey hard case like most St. Croix rods.  According to the St. Croix website it is made of “Super high-modulus SCVI graphite with NSi resin in lower section for added power with reduced weight. Featuring 3M™ Matrix Resin for unparalleled strength and durability”.  Fuji “K” stripper guides and hard chrome snake guides run the length of the rod along with alignment dots, which I really like, and another thing I really like, this rod was designed and handcrafted in Park Falls, U.S.A.   As with St. Croix rods it is backed by their limited lifetime warranty. 
When I first got this rod I assembled it and took it out behind the shop, slapped a demo reel on it and started casting.  The rod is pretty stiff and has a fast action to it but I prefer to throw a fast action rod.   The rod loads easily and it is really hard to make a bad cast.  Don’t get me wrong, I made plenty of bad casts, but it is light in your hand and a real joy to throw.   After I dumped 80ft of fly line and ten or so feet of backing through the tip top a couple times I took it apart and started thinking about the flies I was going to throw with this thing.  I sat down and thought for a minute… Streamers, this rod was made for streamers so that’s what I tied/threw.  I had a selection of flies all laid out and ready to go.

I stepped out into the sunny Saturday afternoon and felt the sun on my face and the wind blowing.  Ten to fifteen from the Northwest , I can deal with that especially with a 7 wt.  I am very fortunate to have a couple acre pond in my back yard chock full of Bass, Crappie, Bream and Perch and it is about 50 feet from my back door.  This is my playground.  I had an Okuma SLV 7/8 strapped to the rod loaded with Scientific Anglers 7wt redfish line.  Hey, all but my 2wt and 6wt are salt water rods.  I had to work with what I have.   I walked over to my favorite spot and at the request of a friend tied on a 5/0 hook strapped with 8-inches of fur and feathers to see how it would throw (sorry Chad biggest I could tie).  Well it did.  It wasn’t pretty.  The rod did not like the big fly, especially after it got wet and really heavy but I was still able to get it out a good 30 feet.   I snipped off that monster and decided to start small and work back up.  I selected a size 6 Micro Clouser with mono eyes and started chucking it.   The line shot through the guides, loaded and unloaded and an 80ft cast unfurled.  I stripped the fly in and a tiny bream took the fly.  I stripped him in and turned all 4 inches of this behemoth loose.  The rod barely bent.  A few more casts and a few more tiny Bream and it was time for fly #3.  I tied on a size 10 modified Clouser with bead chain eyes,  I call it the “Bufflehead” and started chucking.  Same result.  The rod loaded and unloaded beautifully.  The fly launched out and landed with a soft plop.  Now a nice sized wake started in the direction of my fly… As my heart began to pound I slowly stripped the fly.  One strip… two strip… BAM!  Big swirl and he was on.  Of course at that time it was a 25lb Largemouth and it had rows of shark teeth and was tail walking like a Marlin but… it was a good solid 2lb bass and he did come out of the water and tail walk a little.  The second venture out of the water and my fly came loose and flew back towards me.  The rod was bent pretty good and the feel of the fish fighting was all the way down the rod.  It felt very solid and I could feel every head shake and bump.   As my heart returned to a normal cadence, I shifted a little to the right and casted again.  Test hell, I wanted another shot at that bass!  Several cast later and no takes I went back to the test.  I worked my way around the pond picking off bream here and there and I saw the swirl.  Near a drainage pipe, there was some activity.  Every few minutes something was rushing the bank.  I have seen crappie do this before.  I selected a size 1 Bufflehead with gold bead chain eyes started my cast and let it fly.  The soft plop of the fly hitting the water and settling was met with a rush and the line tugging.  A quick strip set and it was on.  Something with a little bit of shoulders was pulling but not jumping.  I knew I had Mr. Crappie on board.  The rod was bent and he fought well.  Not big enough to get on the reel or take line back,  I easily stripped him in and posed him up with the rod for a quick pic. 

 I snipped off the Bufflehead and tied on a size 10 Muddler Minnow.  Lighter than the Bufflehead I expected a little shorter cast but the rod performed again and launched the fly as far as I wanted to reach.   I switched up flies, heavy, light, long, short.  When I stepped it up to heavy lead eyes tied on a M4, the rod did not like it.  It felt very clunky and tugged hard at the end of each false cast.  I slowed down the cast and the line straightened out and I was able to get a good cast to where I wanted.  It took a few casts to find the balance of the rod and fly but it was doable.  I would stick to lighter bead chain weight eyes on flies if you go with a weighted fly, the un-weighted flies, no matter the size or profile seemed to fly easily and cast like a dream.   
Overall the rod casted beautifully, unless you had an 8-inch monster fly or a really heavy salt water pattern.  All in all I threw 17 different streamers and countless casts.  The lightness of the rod and the ease of casting made it easy to forget how long I was out there.  As the light slipped away and I couldn’t see my flies anymore I packed it in and began writing.   As I think back on my afternoon and this rod I am impressed, with the rod not myself in case you were wondering.  This rod retails for about $400 and is very stout.  The 2lb bass on the line fought hard and you could feel the bend and the fight but it felt solid.   It casts like a dream and it light enough for me to throw with my bad shoulder for about 4 hours and not get tired.  I am not sure how this handles in moving water or against big Bows or Browns but for a pond rod it is pretty nice.  Maybe a little over-gunned for my pond but I felt I could tangle with a 8-9lb Bass and it would have handled it without a problem.  I still have a day or two of it in my possession so maybe I can stretch it out a little and find a big bass and see what is can do. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

New Logo

I was working on a new logo design for a friend when it came to me... I need one for TRC...  I sat down and started working on it.  Behold the new TRC Logo...
    I used this to make some cards and after this weekend I am hoping to have a flurry of new fly rods heading my way for some testing and review here.  If any of you has any new fly fishing gear and would like it reviewed here contact me and we'll get it worked out. 
    Recently I got to get my paws on the new St. Croix Bank Robber... While this rod won't rob your piggy bank it will make you consider holding up a fish on the end of it.  Casting is very easy and this rod is very forgiving on new casters.  Plenty of flex and a ton of backbone. 
    Another new rod I have had the pleasure of casting recently is the Temple Fork Outfitters Bug launcher in the 5/6wt.  This rod comes as a kit, with rod, reel, line, and a beautiful hard case for transport.  A softer rod than I am used to it still casts a mile and is easy to load and get your fly out to the fish accurately.  
     I have not had a chance to fish these rods yet but as soon as I do, full reviews and photos will follow.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Carolina Backwaters

Wow... is it the end of February already… I can’t believe how fast time is going for me.  I finally snapped out of my work-school-sleep-work-school-sleep-work-school…. Routine and had a chance to fish with a local Guide.  Capt. Fred Bricketto.  Capt. Fred  is the owner of Carolina Backwaters Charters and runs a very nice guide service.  Fred and I met on FaceBook through our mutual love of fishing, especially redfish here in Charleston, and started talking and plotting a trip.  The weather has been starting to warm up and the water was still clear as Bombay Sapphire Gin so we decided to head out and chase some skinny water reds.  My long time fishing buddy Austin tagged along as a model for photos, this was a working trip as well, and we met Capt. Fred at the landing.  As we walked down the road to the ramp the smells of pluff mud and salt air assaulted my senses in a way I haven’t felt in a while.  Immediately all the thoughts of work and school faded to a dark corner of my mind and thoughts of redfish schooled up in skinny water were all I could think about.  We turned the corner and the only boat at the ramp was a beautiful Egret 18’9” flats boat and a happy looking guy rigging up a few rods.  He turned and waved to us and when we got to he boat it was like seeing an old friend again instead of two strangers meeting for the first time.   Capt. Fred welcomed us aboard and as we idled out we talked about what we wanted to do and where to go.  We fell into conversation about redfish and where we wanted to go like we had been fishing together for years.  We got past the no-wake zone, he throttled up the Evinrude engine and the Egret came on plane and we were off. 

We ran down the Inter-Coastal Waterway and to some spots we both knew about and started looking for fish.  Our first stop met us with a break from the little bit of wind that was up and as Capt. Fred and Austin got ready on the front of the boat I climbed up on the poling platform to help scout for fish and start taking some photos.   Capt. Fred’s Egret has a trolling motor and a Power Pole anchor so moving around and stopping is not only easy but is all done from the bow and a remote control.  I was enjoying the higher vantage point of the poling platform and as Capt. Fred guided us around this first spot we only saw a few small fish.

We worked around a bit and decided to hit up some other spots in search of the big schools.  We ran to a couple of new spots, no fish.  Hit up another, no fish.  We tried a couple of my spots, no fish.  We had been out on the water for a while and haven’t had a shot at any fish when Capt. Fred looks at us with a grin and a glint in his eye and says “ I know where they are…”  we buttoned up and made the run.  As we ran to the new spot we talked about different tactics and where else they may be.  Talking over the sound of the 175horse-power outboard behind us was easy and within a few minutes we were throttling down and getting ready to look for fish.   Capt. Fred headed to the bow with Austin and I climbed back on the poling platform with my fly rod in hand.   Within two minutes we spooked a good sized school of redfish.  Capt. Fred and Austin looked at me and we all were thinking the same thing, GAME ON!  We were all amped up and we started working these schools over.  Capt. Fred was first to hook up with a Gulp shrimp on a jig head.  A nice big redfish was on the line and rolling around and head shaking and managed to spit out the hook.  We continued to work the fish over and Austin hooked up on a big red too, but the same thing happened, a big head shake and the hook came loose.  I am watching this and taking pictures and decide it’s time to show these boys how to catch a fish!

 I climbed back onto the poling platform and opened my fly box.   I looked at the flies I had been using and in the corner of my box sat a smaller M4 (Mad Mikes Mud Minnow) I had tied up months ago.  This was a little smaller and tied with darker materials than a usual M4 but I just had a feeling.  I tied it on and dropped it in the water to let the rabbit fur soak up some water.  I looked at the bank and saw a small cut in the grass line and after a deep cleansing breath I started my cast…  Three false casts and I dropped the fly about 5 feet from the grass edge.   I took up the slack and began my retrieve.  Strip… pause… slow strip… pause… as I started my third strip I felt pressure.  I had already snagged an oyster bar earlier so I was hesitant to set the hook but when the pressure started pulling back I strip set the fly hard and felt the head shake and the beginning of a run of a pretty good redfish.   With a quick “WHOO HOO!  FISH ON!”  I started trying to get line back on the reel.

I felt a little slack in the line and realized the fish was running right at me and I was stripping line as fast as I could.  I thought he had spit the fly out when I finally got the line back on the reel and felt the run again.  I still had my fish on.  He ran to the grass and back at the boat.  I felt the fish tiring and I moved towards the bow to reel him in and he saw the boat and made another run towards deeper water.  A little pressure and I turned him towards the boat.  I guess he liked the boat now because he was trying to stay under it.  After a few minutes I finally dragged him out from under the boat and Capt. Fred scooped him up.

YES!  My first salt water fish of the year and it was a Redfish on the fly.  Goal one for the year, check.   After some photos I released the fish to fight another day and we continued to work the bank over.  Time was getting short and I had school so we called it a day and headed in.  Capt. Fred has only been a guide since December, but his knowledge of these Low Country waters goes back years and it shows.  His boat handling skills are incredible and he also offers boating safety instruction though his charter service.  If you are looking for a comfortable day on the water chasing fish or a want to take the family for a beach pic-nic give Capt. Fred a call and book him for a trip.  All the information you’ll need is at: 
We had an outstand day and met a new fishing buddy and friend for life.  Meeting someone who has the same passion for chasing these redfish and for the conservation of these beautiful gamefish is always a treat.    Thank you again Capt. Fred for a great day on the water and puttin us on the fish!!!