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.

Saltwater Fly Fishing For Inshore Game Fish:
Part Thirteen: Fishing After Dusk

By Capt. Douglas Sinclair

Congratulation Doug - You Made It!

Sunset on upper Indian River Lagoon "In before nine, out after five," my father used to say. Lately, morning fishing is not as good because of the many guide boats and their parties. I've seen as many as 15 guide boats in a single location. Sometimes that includes me, but I try to avoid the crowds. There are lots of fish on our Florida flats and it isn't necessary, or ethical, to crowd another fishing party, especially a charter boat.

This brings me to a discussion about night fishing, or late afternoon fishing which usually turns out to be an evening on the water. While the days get longer and skylight remains past 8:00 P.M. the fishing can be superb. I've always liked fishing in the later afternoon.

The gusty winds of the day have died off and the water starts to get flat. Shallow water temperatures retain the heat from the day and the fish become very active after sunset.

The day gives way to a falling sun and the waters, usually, become still and peaceful. There is no pressure from racing boats and hundreds of anglers trying to entice a feed. You'll notice that when schooled fish are surrounded, during the daytime, they go to the bottom. In very shallow water this makes them skittish to say the least. At night, the risk of capture is gone and prime feeding is at it's best.

Witching Time

There is a serenity to the lagoon and inshore waters that you don't find during daylight. It is also a time when perfected casting skills pay off. You won't be able to see your back cast; although at times just before dark you can see tailing fish and cast in their direction. Fighting a fish at night is even more exciting.

Preparing for a night fly-fishing adventure requires common sense though. Consider the type of equipment, clothing, and safety equipment you will need, and also what to do in an emergency. Your knowledge of first-aid and CPR can be very important.

First and foremost, do not fish alone. Fly-fishing with friends is more fun and takes some of the risk away from fishing in the dark. Decide how long you want to be out, where you will fish, what conditions will prevail such as tides and currents and types of fish, or other critters (alligators, snakes, sharks, etc.) that inhabit the area at night. Always, day or night, carry a first-aid kit. Know first-aid and how to treat minor injuries and abrasions such as puncture wounds, also take a flashlight and cell phone. It is more important at night to wear protective footwear (Flats or Reef Boots), because you cannot see what you might step on if wading a flat.

Black Widow

Consider the flies you might take. My after-dark favorites are ultra hair bugs Black Widow (above) and Witches Brew (below) .

Witches Brew
As your eyes adjust to the darkness you become acutely aware of movement, sounds and nature. You are a minority among all living things. Your senses are heightened. You smell things you hadn't noticed before. You can hear the ripple of water as it brushes against your waders (recommended) or skin. The water and air is cool. You can hear jacks or blues or dolphin breaking up baitfish. You will even notice a push more pronounced at night because of the effect it has on the flat water.

As the sun makes its final plunge below the horizon, the world is yours. The stillness becomes your ally. You'll also notice that your friends will be silent too. It is this silence that is broken only by the swishing sound of the fly line in the air. There is beauty in seeing the line fall softly to the water. Let the fly sink. Wait a couple of seconds, even six if you can. When you start that strip be prepared for the explosion at the end of the line, when a redfish, trout or other game fish, picks it up. Set the hook, but let him run. Listen to the magical sound of line running the reel. Your heart will be pounding with anticipation, like a rat in a 5-gallon bucket. The excitement is exhilarating and will steal your breath away. This is what fly-fishing was meant to be.

Orions Belt But there is more. Once you've adjusted to the dark there is another rich surprise in store for you. Look up and see the stars. We are so lucky in Florida to have the richness of the galaxies within our grasp. See Orion's Belt (the three blue stars in a diagonal line).

Catch the Big and Little Dippers. The sky is like a map of all the constellations, laid out perfectly for you. If fishing wasn't enough, you might even witness the Northern Lights. Once while on a fly-fishing trip in the Northern Maine wilderness, a friend woke everyone in the camp to come out and see the sky. It was spectacular. The light was a many hues of green and white light squirreling it's way across the sky.

Northern Lights

The Northern Lights represent a phenomenon that few of us in the South can appreciate. Best seen in Northern U.S. this is an almost mystical display of astro-physics. This event captured our attention for more than an hour. We sat on the cold ground, in soggy grass and propped ourselves up against trees and stones. A couple of guys soon fell asleep watching the lights. You could hear the faint snoring over the whistle of wind in the trees. The light captured our attention and it seemed like an eternity sitting and watching the light display high above the earth. After about an hour we gathered the stragglers and headed back in camp. Four hours later when we awoke to the sun rising, we were all speechless. But that day lives on in our memories for what we witnessed and the outstanding fishing that followed. We caught and released more than thirty salmon and trout in six hours.

Go out and fish the night. Take a friend and enjoy the wonder of our universe. Your bonus will be catching fish. Until next time.
~ Doug

About Doug:
Doug is a fly-fishing guide from New Smyrna Beach, FL. He is a member of CCA, FFF, AFF, APCA, and FOWA. He can be reached at 386-679-5814.

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