What a switch. Five boats. Count them. Just a hazy, lazy day in the lagoon. Four
guides taking a banker's morning. Put yourself in one of these boats, but not the fifth
one. Picture this. Four captains and friends staked out on the east side of the biggest
school of reds in a long, long time. Armed with their favorite fly rods and monocore fly
line. Some using half and half Clousers, some with Borski sliders and some with crab
mitations. Except for that fifth boat and his party of two. We know him well. He
chases reds and trout and is always under the scornful eye of the others. He doesn't
embrace our concern for nature. He takes the big trout and fillets them for his customers
right at the ramp. How disgusting. How disrespectful. How wasteful. A steady habit
of this can really deplete the species. That's why we have slot limits, but it doesn't mean
you have to take fish everyday, on every trip.
Is that what it takes to build a reputation? We don't think so. There is honor in "catch
and release". There is honor in protecting the habitat and environment. It is everyone's
responsibility. As captains, why not educate the public. We are all accountable for our
It sure is a nice day. Everyday is a nice day. We are so spoiled in north Florida. Can't
remember when we had a bad day. Can't remember when I woke up and every part of me
was happy to be alive. It's the air. It's the water and sunshine, lots of sunshine. The weather
is the best attitude adjustment here.
We, the four captains and friends, look forward to catching a few big fish and then move
on and try another location.
The other captain has rigged up big mullet for bait. He motions to his party to throw them
in our direction even though we are 75 yards away. Is it good? The big mullet scare the
reds and they tear off to greet us. Ten fly lines hit the water almost simultaneously.
Kent hooks up a 30 pound red on 8-weight monocore. A red this size must be played into
the backing and then "planned" to the surface. This battle takes 20 minutes. This beauty
is brought to the boat and while still in the water, photographed and released. Keith, Dave,
Doug, Steve, Jamie, and Paul hook up reds from 14 to 25 pounds. These are enormous
reds and bend rods and steal your breath away. Your heart pounds from the excitement
and it is hard to believe that fish this size can be swimming around in 18 inches of water.
The school moves around and starts heading for the boat casting mullet. Closing on 25
yards, the captain motions to his party. Pointing. Scanning with his index finger extended
and by a wave of his arm, showing the direction his boys should cast. The mullet hit the
water with a huge BANG. And the school reverses direction and heads straight for us.
The first hook ups did not phase these fish. They weren't brutalized. They were handled
with care and dignity, brought to the boat and released. Not flung over a gunnel. Nor
hoisted airborne for all to see. Again the flies hit the water, ever so softly. Lines pulling
he flies lightly towards the surface and allowed to descend. Picked up at the head of the
school, hook ups went on for almost an hour.
We were near the drop offs. The wind was light or none at all. The water was calm except
for the giant pushes coming from the big boys in the school. It looked like someone dragging
huge logs under water with the water pushing out at the sides in a big "V."
Back and forth, the reds moved from us to the captain with the mullet. From our stakeout
position we watched as the captain with the mullet tried time after time, unsuccessfully to
catch some fish. It just wasn't in the cards. The mullet boys got skunked! The captain
got skunked! We weren't trying to taunt him. This was a twist of fate. Four captains
and friends without paying customers caught numbers of reds. Then we left the place to
the quiet of the fishing party. We hoped that their luck improved. And, just maybe they
learned that throwing big baitfish doesn't always work.
Capt. Doug Sinclair has relocated from New Smyrna Beach, Florida to
Grantsboro, NC. He specializes in fly-fishing and light tackle charters.
Doug charters the Coastal Carolina area of New Bern or Oriental.
Catch him on the web at
www.flyfishacademy.net or call him at (252) 745-3500.
Doug is also a Sponsor here on FAOL.