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.

Confused Fish

By Captain Scud Yates, Fort Walton Beach, Florida

I slipped down to south of New Orleans again for a day of fishing. I called a guide friend when the weather looked just right and he had a day free. As it turned out the tides and winds had the water really riled up and finding clear water was the problem, certainly not the fish. Not all days are perfect down that way but they usually turn up some experience that is memorable. This day would not break this mold.

The day started as a contest of seeing the fish before they bumped into the boat trying to see us. Casting under your feet is pretty hard.

I managed zero fish until after lunch when we finally figured out where some "almost" clean water could be found. I had four fish within a hour but only after finding them within twenty feet of the boat and getting a fly right in front of their noses. The casts were more like cane pole fishing for tin fish in a washtub using magnets.

We finally found a flat with little water and fish where you could see them as their backs were almost out of the water. The first fish to pop up attacked the fly so hard it surprised us. It stirred up the mud in the attack and had problems finding the fly. I switched to a popper. It is my favorite way to catch these fish and in this case the mud would be on the bottom and the fly on top in the clear.

The theory worked out and the next fish must have attacked the popper a half dozen times without ever getting hooked. He knocked it out of the way, dropped it after having it and even overran it and turned around and missed it on a slashing attack. The fish almost ran into the boat on the last attempt before seeing us and leaving in a huff and with a splash. Both of us were laughing so hard it hurt. The show was almost as good as a catch.

The next fish left us with our mouths agape. It showed up from about twenty feet in a slight hole. The sun angle allowed me to just make him out on the bottom under about a foot and half of milky water. He was sitting with his nose slightly pointed away. I dropped the popper about a foot off his nose and popped it once. He "alerted" and froze looking at the bug. A fish like that is either concentrating on eating or getting ready to go running. Either of the two choices is usually dramatic. An attack is violent and fleeing is too. To make one or the other happen I moved the popper just a little to make it look like a shrimp on the surface. The fish did neither of the two expected choices but came up off the bottom and tried to just "sip" the fly in like a trout sucking in a small bug. Because the boat was moving and the fly creeping toward the fish's nose it ended up right on top of his nose between his eyes. I think this confused the fish a bit and he just came up through the surface and ended up with his head out of the water with the popping bug lying on its' side two inches above his mouth directly between his eyes. The fish and I were both at a loss of what to do for about three seconds. The act was happening within fifteen feet of the boat and I considered trying to slide the fly off his nose so he could try again. I think I actually saw the fish's eye go from the cross-eye look it had when it was trying to see the thing on his nose to the eye focusing on me looming over to his left side, along with a boat and all. His indecision evaporated and his leaving act threw water all over the place and the popper went flying. Both of us in the boat were dumbfounded at what we had both watched. It was the funniest attack we had ever seen out of a redfish. None of the options we though might have worked would have given us as much pleasure as just having seen that act. The photo below is a re-creation of course.

The day went on with a couple more redfish, a shot at a monster black drum and finally an attack by a herd of fish the really did hit the bottom of the boat trying to get at the fly. Only the powers above knows how many fish we polled by this day without a hint they were there.

The day had produced few fish, but nice ones of extraordinary beauty. They ranged from five to eight pounds. It was nothing like the recent outings with dozens of monsters, some over twenty pounds. But, the two popper attacks will be remembered for some time, especially the confused fish with the lure on his nose. ~ Capt Scud Yates/ April 2006/ scudyates@cox.net

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