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.

Catman Creek

By Capt. Doug Sinclair, New Smyrna Beach, FL

I picked up my anglers in the soft light of dawn at JB's Fish Camp. Slowly I pushed us back from the dock and we got underway. We moved at idle speed south along a bank of boat docks and oyster beds. You could just make out the island around Turner Flats.

Fog from the Atlantic Ocean poured over the islands and hung like a blanket on the water. Visibility was poor. I've traveled these waters so many times, it was like walking the parking lot at Walmart. I love the morning air and the sound the water makes. I couldn't see much and certainly no other boats. Mosquito Lagoon was all ours. You could barely make out palmettos on the western shore.

The air was still except for the heavy mist. We moved effortlessly in our shallow draft boat running like ghosts in the early morning gray. Birds flocked along the shore. Egrets and Wood Storks sat on branches or walked quietly scanning the water for food. A Rosette Spoonbill walked in the subdued shadow of a Great Snowy Egret. A pair of Ospreys flanked the opening to what I thought was an entry to Catman Creek.

Moving again, we passed just north of Eldora Plantation. I noticed two pushes on the grass line across from Pumpkin Point. Normally I would have pulled over, but I wanted to reach the creek while there was still enough light. I figured the fog would lift by mid-morning and we would surprise a school of redfish.

My anglers were excited, but at the same time apprehensive. Rod Wilson and his cousin Gary were from Buffalo and had never seen or caught redfish. So this was a really special adventure. Both were experienced anglers, having fly-fished in the Bahamas and the Florida Keys for bonefish and tarpon. They had heard about Mosquito Lagoon and stories of monster redfish and spotted sea trout. But they were understandably eerie about moving so fast in the fog.

Finally we reached the creek opening, or so I thought. It would take a good hour to pole up to Sally's Island. Two days before we had our hands full with a school of redfish, about 100 or so in the 27 to 32 inch range. I was bound and determined for a repeat performance.

The boat settled down into the morning mist and the quiet of the water. Looking around we could see the defused shadows of neighboring islands and small coves of white and black mangrove. The water was high for this time of year. Recent storms had dumped 17 inches of rain on us and the lagoon rose to new proportions, flooding a lot of flats that would normally be impassable. Scanning the water, I couldn't make out any pushes. The water was fairly clear and you could see the small pods on blades of turtle grass. They looked iridescent.

I climbed onto the poling platform and started to push us ahead. The fog was really thick and visibility limited to about 100-feet. Still, it was great being there and moving slowly over the grass. Here a long narrow bar is flanked to the west by high palmettos. A deep hole runs parallel to the shoreline. It's a great place for redfish in the late fall. The slough runs back south again and around behind Gaines Island. I figured if we didn't see any reds on the east side we could follow the shoreline until we ran out of real estate.

The game plan was to pole to the edge of the island and stalk some reds. After an hour I couldn't see the island. I kept poling along watching and listening for any movement. The boat slid easily over the shallow flat. Rod and Gary were full of anticipation. You could see it in their expressions, as they intently followed by gaze along the grass line.

Finally, I saw a push moving ahead at two o'clock, about five to six feet off the grass line. This was a big red cruising just below the waterline. He looked like a huge submarine throwing out a long wake. I motioned to Rod. Quietly he stepped onto the deck and prepared his line for the cast. He held the fly in his left hand and looped about 20 feet of line on his arm, like a fisherman getting ready to throw a cast net. He watched my finger as I pointed in the direction of the push. Rod was an experienced fly caster and I knew that he uld lead the fish with plenty of time to work magic with the fly. He threw the intermediate line 80 feet on his first cast. I wondered how lucky I could get having such a fine caster on board. This should be like picking ducks off at a carnival shooting gallery.

Rod threw that Borski Slider repeatedly, but no one wanted to eat. We saw continuous pushes and he led each fish by at least 10 feet. I think it is always the way. When you get an exceptional fly caster on board, the fish won't bite. I poled for another 30 minutes and still couldn't see the island. Rod took a breather while Gary got up into casting position.

We pushed up into a narrow cut between two islands. A four-foot slough ran to the northwest bank and two Ospreys perched on branches across from each other. I thought there had to be trout in this area. So Gary, with a KG pink and white buck tail fly, threw to the edge of the rip and let the fly settle and drift to the bottom. On his third or fourth strip the line went taught and he fought to keep the tension at the same time keeping the rod tip up. Finally, the fish made a run across the bow and rolled. It was a beautiful redfish. With each run, Gary feed the free line out until he could work it from the reel. Twice the redfish made passes and runs along the slough. Eventually he pulled the redfish in for a picture and release. Just about this time the sun was poking its nose through the mist.

Good light is a necessity for sight fishing. Reds are easily spotted from the tower in shallow water. They stand out like copper plated dishes and you can see them 200 yards away.

Gary got back up on the bow. The next cast brought him another redfish. And, then it was time for Rod to take the bow. Eventually they boated and released seven redfish. Their day was packed with memories of the hunt and fighting these awesome fish. The sun finally came out which made picture taking all the more easier. Even before we headed back, Gary and Rod were already planning their next trip to New Smyrna Beach. This was an experience they would share with their colleagues back at the State University of New York.

The fishing wasn't as spectacular as days before. But how could anyone complain about catching seven redfish on fly. It was a superb day by anyone's standards. The two men from Buffalo will return, as do many anglers who visit our area for the first time. It's called "fishing fever." It gets in your blood and gives you an unmistakable rush.

It is the beauty and magic of Mosquito Lagoon, one of the largest estuaries in North America, second only to Chesapeake Bay. She has more than 4,000 species of birds, animals, reptiles, and aquatic creatures. The majesty of nature is all around us. You can't help to be captured by the awe of this place. With many islands and backwaters, each area is different and at the same time alike.

Catch a glimpse of a horseshoe crab as it scurries through the grass, or a skate flapping its wings to dust the sand off while it moves effortlessly. See the multitude of shore birds that migrate here each year. It is finding new places and exploring our environment. Fishing brings people together and becomes a great connection of life. No matter the conditions. Just being in this place, fog, rain or pure sunshine, and then if you catch fish - well that's just the icing on the cake.

Rod and Gary were on cloud 9 and couldn't wait to share the success of their adventure with strangers on the dock as we returned to JB's. Everybody was excited, and a little astonished that we didn't keep any fish. The redfish are still out there roaming the wonderful garden of Mosquito Lagoon. We never did get to Sally's Island. I made wrong turn and found a new place to fish. Isn't that just like life when you take a wrong turn and find something new. Just like New Smyrna Beach with its many hidden treasures. ~ Doug

About Doug

Capt. Doug Sinclair is guide from New Smyrna Beach, Florida who specializes in fly-fishing and light tackle charters. Doug charters the waters from Mosquito Lagoon to Palm Coast. Catch him on the web at www.coastalflyfishing.com or call him at 1-386-424-1075.

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