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.

Watch Those Lips

By Capt. Douglas Sinclair

Congratulation Doug - You Made It!

About three weeks ago I got a call from Kent. He was traveling to Atlanta for the holidays and wanted to know if I could take one of his charters. Actually it was a hand-me-down charter from someone else. No one had a boat big enough for four people. My flats skiff is just shy of nineteen feet. So I got the honors. It's ok. I mean I can take four people (5 including yours truly). It means that people have to take turns casting. Can you imagine the confusion with four people trying to fly cast from a flats boat. I wasn't interested in becoming the first human pincushion.

I picked them up at the Critter Fleet in Ponce Inlet. Four big guys from Tennessee boarded my boat. I thought for the first time ever, I could have exceeded my weight limitations. I'm sure we had over twelve hundred pounds of people in the boat. This called for an immediate change in plans. Poling was out of the question. I'm sure any movement in the cockpit would have eliminated me off the tower. Hey! It would have lightened up the boat. We were definitely going to use the trolling motors.

"Captain. What are we fishing for?"

"Jacks and Spinner Sharks," came my reply. I was heading for some fast moving water behind Disappearing Island and Rock House Creek. This is deep water with a slough that drops from about six-inches off an easterly sandbar to about 25-feet. I knew that I needed to get them on some big nasty fish, stretch those lines and give them one hell of an experience. The trolling motors and the engine would be our answer and some big flies. Positioning them next to the rip was tricky.

Three of these gentlemen brought their own 8-wt rods, which I let them use. The wind was light to none, so casting wasn't a problem. With a big fish on an 8-wt rod, you need to play the fish more. You can't just crank them in.

Larry was first up on the casting deck. He was using my 10-wt DFR.

"Go Larry", his comrades yelled.

I tied on a red/silver deer hair fly, and instructed him to cast to the edge of the rip along the sand bar. Allowing the fly to swing into the eddy and then start the strip. It wasn't long before some jacks appeared. They were small and moved ahead of the fly to where the tippet was tied to the fly line. They started to nibble on the green covering on the loop connection. I had Larry move the line for a wet haul and recast, which he did. This time I moved him closer to the edge of the bar so that he could cast out on to the bar itself and then drag the fly into the rip. This worked. As the fly fluttered into the rip, I said "Strip, strip, strip, faster, Larry, strip."

On the sixth strip, the Jack hit the fly so hard I thought Larry would go overboard. Down the Jack went pulling hard on the line and the rod was bent to the butt.

"Walk him around."

Larry walked along the gunnel trying to hold the rod up and control his balance. His friends patted him on the back and moved out of his way. I turned the boat around to keep the Jack free of us. This was a big Jack. For almost twenty minutes that Jack came up and dove several times. Once he tried to race across the bar and Larry let him spool into the backing before the Jack reversed and came straight back at us and dove under the boat. I was hoping we could get the Jack up by the boat because Larry was showing signs of fatigue. I reached under the bench and pulled out my long handled net. When the Jack resurfaced, I put the trolling motors in high by-pass and motored over to the Jack and signally Larry to position the fish towards me. Larry bagged a nice 15-pound Jack. His buddies took the picture while I managed the boat position and the release of this great fish.

"I'm next! I want one of those too" yelled Allan. He wanted to use his 8-wt rod, so I put one of my pink KG Bucktail flies on a shock tippet tied to his tippet. I moved closer to Rock House Creek. I could hear baitfish being trashed along the reeds next to another bar. It didn't sound like a Jack, more like a Tarpon or a shark. Small spinner sharks move up along our inlets in the winter. Tarpon was unlikely, since it was too cold for them. Spinner sharks are mean. They pull very hard and run like offshore power boats.

I positioned us just near the rip, close enough for Allan to cast to its edge. Again the smaller Jacks started following the fly. Then they disappeared. I motioned to Allan to stop the strip. The fly started to sink and then the water exploded and the line started coming off the spool. Panic was written on his face. He didn't know what to do and it was clear he couldn't hear me. Allan instinctively put the rod tip down and then yanked with all his might. I just thought, "oh, no, don't do that." I was sure he'd break the rod tip. But the Sage didn't break (could have).

"It's not a Tuna!" John yelled at him. And he was right. You never set a hook like that using a fly rod. The fish will set the hook himself. I use really, really sharp hooks. Once there is any tension on the hook, it goes right in and won't come out as long as the line is tight. Again we were spooling into the backing. Allan got some help from his comrades, while I chased the fish with the engine. We were moving into Rock House Creek and towards the inlet. We couldn't see the fish, but the way it was pulling and the heading, I figured we had a spinner shark. I didn't want to risk Allan breaking his rod or breaking off the fish. Almost out of the creek and heading towards the mouth of the Indian River, the fish reversed direction and started heading back into the creek. I thought this kind of strange, but went with the flow. About half way in the creek the fish started moving towards a sandbar on the south side and into flat water. Now I was really curious to see what Allan had tagged.

In the shallow water, a ten-pound trout was wearing out. This was a really beautiful trout and Allan was just tickled by his catch. The front lip on the trout was ripped and a big gapping hole was evident. I turned and looked at Allan.

"Allan, please, in the future don't set the hook so hard. Look at this poor creature." Allan just looked at me, confused.

"What's your problem Captain?" was his reply, "You're going to clean him anyway, right?"

"No, Sir." I came back. "Trout are out of season, he's going back."

"But he's my fish. I'm keeping him, he's mine!"

"Wrong again." I said. "Allan, you've caught a beautiful trout. We'll take the picture and then say farewell to this guy." An argument played out and then I released his fish. Allan was not a happy camper. I fished his buddies until noon and then dropped them back at Ponce. We caught five Jacks and one Spotted Sea Trout, 75 pounds of fish. This was a great trip by anyone's standards.

Just remember to watch those lips. If you aren't fishing for large Blue Fin Tuna, on a Tuna boat, don't try to dislodge the lips from your fish.

Catch/Release: it's the right thing to do. ~ Doug.

About Doug:
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.

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