It was one of those mornings. We caught a little over
25 redfish, 14 trout, and half-dozen jacks. We were just
plain tired. Arms felt like lead weights strapped to our
shoulders. That heavy feeling stays with you long after
you've stopped throwing a 10wt rod. But, look at what
we accomplished in a little under 4 hours. I replaced
the tippets three times on two rods, and once on the 8 wt.
All the fish were released. Call it lady luck, or just
a great fly angler.
We had everything working against us. Cold weather wound
its way south into Florida. We had five days of consecutive
freezing temperatures. Even the bait guys were canceling
trips because it was too cold for their parties to go out.
At 27 degrees our Florida fish are usually in shock and not
feeding. They head for deep water. It means that some
will move up into the creeks. Which is just fine by me.
The creeks offer great cover and protection from the
northerly winds. That protection also allows the sun
to penetrate and warm up the southerly facing banks.
Air temperatures will move up quickly by the sun.
From 27 degrees at daybreak you can see a ten-degree
climb every hour. That means the water temperature
will also rise. By ten in the morning the redfish
and trout will move up along the banks to feed on baitfish.
Getting a fly to them is the easy part. Wrestling them out
of the mangroves requires some high sticking.
I've had more charters from fly anglers in the past three
weeks than anytime I could remember at this time of the year.
Fly anglers know cold weather. Most of them are from northern
climates where they fish for trout in streams so cold you
could freeze your butt sitting on a rock. One spring I
fished Lake George with a friend and there was still snow
on the ground and ice on the rocks. Imagine my expression,
standing there in my breathable waders.
Jane is a Vermont cold stream angler, and a really good caster.
She double hauls almost as good as Lefty. She is accurate
and uses the roll cast frequently. You don't see people use
this cast much, but it is very effective in tight spaces,
especially for changing casting direction. I think the
technique is better than using a false cast. She also
perfected a nice underhand side-cast, good for getting
under branches. So we had questionable weather and
fishing conditions mixed with some outstanding angling
skills. I launched from the North Causeway in New Smyrna
and headed up the Indian River towards Spruce and Lost
Creek, about six miles up the Intercoastal Waterway.
The beauty of this day was that we didn't travel far for our
bounty. Not ten seconds after the Foxy Clouser entered the
water, the lady from Vermont tied into a 23-pound redfish. We
weren't halfway on the bend into Lost Creek. It all got
better after that. Each cast brought a hook up. After
three hook ups in a half hour, we moved down the creek to
a large mangrove stand. There the roots were sticking out
of the water. You could see tailing fish along the southerly
exposed bank. This day was really cool and the water
temperature hovered around 55 degrees. But we were protected
from the wind by nature's blind of Black and Red Mangroves.
They were just high enough to block the Northwest wind.
Water and air showed through the arching root branches. The
sun sparkled reflections on the ripples against the grass edge
that lay behind the mangroves. Three redfish moved slowly
along these roots. A low cast got a hook up inside the roots
where a redfish engulfed a crab fly. There was no explosion
from the hook up, just a lazy kind of pull. You could see
that we were hooked up. But the redfish was taking his time,
moving slowly through the branches. It was clear that our
redfish had no intention of relinquishing his snack. He
had us wrapped up in roots and grass. But we weren't giving
up either. I poled us over to the mangroves were he was
somewhat trapped by winding us around the roots. Carefully
I held his jaw while I removed the fly. He really didn't
move far. The redfish just lingered for a while and then
swam off. I removed the fly from the tippet and then
pulled the leader free of the roots and replaced it on
Around the next bend and into a small pond area about a
hundred yards long by thirty yards wide, we saw a huge push.
I could tell it wasn't a redfish, had to be a trout. The
area was more open and so I had my angler pick up the 10-weight
rod. I wasn't sure that the Foxy Clouser (tied with brown
and tan marabou) would work. Normally I'd recommend a
chartreuse half/half or a KB Pink/Tan Bucktail. The
stripping action had to be timed right. My angler cast
and let the fly settle. As the trout made its way to the
fly, she did a short, brisk strip, and then let the fly
settle down again. The hook up was unmistakable and that
trout hauled off to the end of the pond, where he was
played and released. We hooked and release thirteen
more trout from this pond. All were really gorgeous fish
in the six to seven pound range. I couldn't help thinking
to myself, "found them." It is always nice to locate a
school of fish. The odds of finding a school here - well
we could have won the lottery.
Later we moved on south into Smyrna Creek and managed some
more redfish and jacks. All in all, it was a great day
to be repeated a couple of more times while she was here
on vacation. The cold weather didn't seem to affect our
fishing. It pays to understand the weather conditions
and think about where the fish will be hiding. Just don't
underestimate Lady Luck.
Catch/Release: it's the right thing to do.
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.