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.


Summer Reds

By Capt. Doug Sinclair


I love this time of year. It is hot and humid. Shore breezes are calm but pick up in the late afternoon. The sun is high and you can look right into the water at the bottom. This is a time when the days are longer allowing for an early start. On the water by 6 am and back by noon, or a late afternoon starting at 4pm and back about 9pm. The weather gets down right nasty at about 1:30 pm but the rain and thunder are usually gone by 3:30 pm. Like clock work, you can depend on this schedule until late September. Early morning is the best time of day. The water is flat like glass and the air is cool.

Doug's boat

In Mosquito Lagoon the reds are tailing at first light and then again at dusk. The lagoon is the second largest estuary in the United States, and home to the world's largest redfish and spotted sea trout. Sight fishing for trophy fish is part art and part science. The science is in knowing what fly to cast and then how to retrieve and hook up. The art is in finding the fish because they travel in schools. You look for a tail or a push.

Redfish tail You'll see a tail edging the tall grass, or a group pushing ahead with tails or dorsal fins just cutting the surface. I've poled anglers in 16 inches of water for more than 2 miles, seeing tail-pushes for hours. It is a magnificent sight. The trout fishing is steady throughout the day. Large gator trout make unmistakable pushes just below the water and above the grass line. They look like submarines parading through the shallows. An occasional alligator can be seen too, lurking in the shallows. I have never seen alligators bother anglers but waders should be careful. With the sun up high waters here are gin clear. From the poling platform, you can easily see one hundred yards in any direction. Anglers can see a push or a blowout within 20 yards of the boat and it makes for a team effort when sight fishing. You can really feel the excitement once the school is spotted.

I had seen a large pod of redfish. I kept poling in a direction that would put us on a collision course with their movement. Just when I would start closing the school would change direction. I followed three schools for almost 4 miles. I stopped for a short break to drink some water. With the boat stopped and settled into the water, I took a long drink of water. At the same time I looked around. Two pods had been moving in our direction but I was sure the boat would spook them. So I was concentrating on intersecting a large school moving above Tiger Shoals. I wanted to get my anglers within a 50 to 60 foot cast. This would allow us time for a second cast.

It was 9:30 and I had been poling since just before sunrise, when Rob said, "What's that? I looked down and to my surprise there was a pod of redfish. Tails out of the water they just cruised along side my boat. This is not unusual. I've seen monster reds follow along side the boat and have my anglers just marvel at their beauty.

"What should I do?" asked Rob.

"Just watch them, they won't take a fly this close," came my reply.

"Wow! They are beautiful. How big do you figure they are?"

"Probably about 5 to 7 pounds."

Pod of fish moving

Their tails just waddled above the surface. A pod of 20 fish just cruised along. They were close enough to say hello and probably came up from behind the boat.

"This is like hunting, Captain?" Rob asked.

"Yes," I said, "that's exactly what we are doing - hunting and sighting for redfish and trout. We need to get close enough for a cast without spooking the fish. We will wait until they are about 30 feet in front and then I'll turn the bow away from them. Get ready to cast."

I poled us into position. And then it happened. Another pod and then a bigger school appeared out of nowhere. We were located just off a flat in about 3 feet of water. Between the boat and the flat were about 300 redfish, a pod of skates and thousands of baitfish. We stayed in that one spot for the next two hours and my anglers were delighted by the action of these reds that were just as happy to get hooked up and released, to do it all over again.

Redfish in hand We were in the right place at the right time. We caught about 25 reds and decided to move to a new location. I took my anglers to my favorite flat that was shielded on three sides from a hard blowing east wind. Once in the back of the flat you could make small adjustments as you drifted out. This flat is known for its monster trout. I recalled earlier in the morning as Rob talked about the revival of the trout fishery on the west coast of Florida. He said that the trout were big and averaged between 3 and 5 pounds. Boy was he in for a surprise.

Just as I figured this flat was active with reds and trout. We hooked up some more reds and a couple of small trout. As I rounded a point, I motioned to Rob that there would be big pushes near a dead tree on the waters edge. I said, "Rob, do not wait for my signal. If you see a push cast to the direction of the movement and lead by at least 10 feet."

Just as I said this a huge push came off the bank and Rob shot a cast out 50 feet. As the push neared the Bucktail fly I said, "tug." And in that instant, Rob's rod bent in half and we were in for a 20 minute battle of a nice 6.5 pound, 29 inch gator trout.

When you fish these parts everyday you learn a lot about the environment and the fishery. This is a great time of year to be fishing. Share the outdoors with a friend, neighbor, or someone you know will enjoy and appreciate the experience.

Catch & Release: Protect the Species. ~ "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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