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.

Black Drum

By Capt. Doug Sinclair

Not until I heard a crash, did the block finally fade away. A bugle blasted in my ear. I looked up, kind of startled and foggy-eyed, to see my father's blue eyes and bright smile. It was Saturday morning and time to get up. After the usual bathroom hygiene, I headed to the kitchen. The aroma was unmistakable. By the corner of the refrigerator, light formed a wedge on the fake brick linoleum floor. I turned into what was probably the "first" galley kitchen in North America. My mother stood at the window bathed in morning sunshine, cup of coffee in her hand.

"Morning Chug," she said with a smile.

"Morning Mom."

"Be a good day for fishing."

"I recon."

"Take a seat now and drink your juice."

I loved cold grapefruit juice in the morning. I looked back at her as she turned to look out the window. I couldn't help thinking she was some kind of angel standing there, her silhouette wrapped in sunshine.

I slowly sipped my juice. I looked out the window into this morning's sun. I thought it ironic that this image would surface after all these years. I saw that image of my mom many times when I was in Vietnam. I was young, impressionable, and awe struck by the mess war makes of human flesh, of the suffering, of the pain, and the loss. Our combat air unit ran medical recons in the western Mekong Delta from April 1967 to July of 1968. We were invincible, like the fireman going into a blazing inferno. I was medi-vac'd out to Manila in August of '68, and then sent home packing with my medals.

The image of the World Trade Center crashing down into the street and the spires and cathedral of dust that rose back up, took me back a place I've tried to forget. How ironic to be fishing with a reporter and his friend from CBS when all this was going on and none of us realizing what was happening. Here we were enjoying ourselves while at the same time people were dying and enduring miserable pain. The World was in shock. We were in the best place on the planet - insulated from humanity - basking in the warmth of the morning sun and all the nature around us.

We motored to the backwater around Ponce Inlet and Lost Creek. The southern sky looked ominous with a weather front moving in. But the sunshine felt good. I figured we had about four hours before conditions would deteriorate. Lost Creek is one of my favorite haunts. Don't see many anglers in the back lake because few know that it's there. A small creek opening narrows on a curve. It is only passable on an incoming tide. We would make the best of a three-hour window.

The County Mosquito Control District dug a canal connecting Spruce Creek to Lost Lake (all saltwater). Strong tidal flows provide the right habitat for predators that need fast moving water. This is an area known for Snook, Jacks, Bluefish, Redfish, and Spotted Sea Trout. An occasionally Barracuda, Tarpon or Shark can also be added to the mix. Four rods were ready with floating and intermediate lines and twenty-pound tippets. A couple of Redington RFX light tackle rods were rigged with Excalibur Spooks.

Flies consisted of my favorite Fur Shrimp (#6), Redfish Diver (#2), Redheaded Mullet (1/0), Blue/White Deceiver (1/0), and Palmered Crab compliments of Capt. Mike Critzer of Chesapeake Bay.

Both Gerry and John were excited by our morning adventure. When you are sight fishing it is easier for the fly angler to make the first cast. The reason is simply that the fly angler is less likely to spook a fish than the light tackle guy who is slinging bait or a lure onto the water. A blind casting situation requires you to pay attention to the water movement especially along a grass or mangrove line. In this situation the fly angler always has first shot.

I had my hopes set on a big jack or snook. Gerry started off using a floating line rigged with a green redheaded hair bug fly. Sun at our backs, he worked the mangroves. After awhile and no action, Gerry took a break and let John try his hand with an olive/white Spook Junior (with a teal lateral line). John cast along a drop off next to an oyster bar. He cranked the lure back and forth imitating a wounded mullet. Two casts later a four-foot tarpon came up and rolled on the lure.

"Fish On!" John yelled.

But as soon as the words came out the tarpon rolled off the lure and swam around it for another look. Even with changes in retrieve speed and pauses, John couldn't get the tarpon to bite. This happened several more times without any hook ups. So he relinquished his rights on the casting platform to Gerry.

Gerry with a nice black drum, John's happy too This time Gerry picked up my custom 9-weight with intermediate line and the Palmered Crab fly. He laid down a beautiful cast in the same area that the tarpon rolled. His stripping action had to be faster because of the weighted fly. On his third cast his line went tight bending to the butt. We had "fish on." And, Gerry also had a lot of running line on the deck that he would feed up until he could get the line on the reel. I wasn't sure what he hooked up because the fish was down about four or five feet. Gerry applied pressure by sticking the rod tip in the water and following the fish around the boat. Finally with sure determination, Gerry managed to get the culprit to surface. It was a nice four-pound black drum. He was handled gently, photographed and then released after making sure he could swim away on his own power. It is a great feeling when the fly angler is the first to land a fish.

John got up on the platform. Naturally I positioned him so that he could cast into the same area we hit all morning. John cast again and this time landed a nice 4-pound jack. Gerry let him cast again and he landed a baby snook. Rotating back and forth the two friends cast and caught fish until it was time to leave. We had a great morning.

Back at the ramp, Gerry turned on his cell phone only to find fourteen messages waiting for him. We learned of the terrible events soon after that. I hope that none of your loved friends, family or acquaintances was lost in this nightmare. I wish you peace and comfort in this time of sorrow. ~ 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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