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.

Are All Fishermen Really Liars?

By Capt. Doug Sinclair, New Smyrna Beach, FL

"I make it a rule never to weigh or measure a fish I've caught, but simply estimate its dimensions as accurately as possible. Then, when telling about it, I improve those figures by roughly a fifth, or twenty percent. I do this mainly because most people believe all fishermen exaggerate by at least twenty percent. So I allow for the discounting". (Ed Zern, Are Fishermen Really Liars? 1977)

It was too long ago that I broke my favorite fly rod to this 44-inch, 38-pound beauty. It was probably a world record. But we had no way to register the fish without taking it out of the water on a long trip to a certified scale. The redfish would have certainly died. It was the winter of 1996. That year, precisely February 24, 1996, Charlie Hogan broke a State and IGFA world record for his redfish that measured 48.75 inches, had a 28.75-inch girth and weighed 52 pounds 5 onces. Our Bogga Grip bottomed out at 30 pounds. So the real weight was anyone's guess. With redfish, you really can't apply the Girth to Length ratio to determine weight. It just won't compute and at the time didn't really matter. I couldn't kill the fish. So we photographed and released her.

Redfish are thick now. Water levels are typically low in the Mosquito Lagoon at this time of year. And, the redfish are schooling up tight in the shallows. They feed on shrimp and mullet. The weather has been mild in comparison to the long weeks of cold weather last year. With daytime temperatures in the mid-60s the water stays just below that presents some interesting challenges for the fly-fisherman.

One good cold snap helped to school the reds and drop the water level to concentrate them. Figure they wait for a full moon the bite will be late. The bite is late because our tropical climes and mud flats need to warm up before the fish will become active. If the bait isn't moving nothing else will either. So, you have to get smart about increasing your odds of hookups.

Brad and I left later than usual. I wanted to reach the northeast corner of the basin and pole along the grass edge to a spot we used to call the blue bucket. The old palmetto still hangs out over the water and a frayed broken rope hangs where it once supported that bucket. The air is brisk. Few shore birds are present. The basin is quiet and still. You can only feel the silent push from the pole as we move forward. The sunrise will be spectacular. It always is in the southern winter.

Using his NTi Redington 9 weight, Brad let his cast settle on a push along the grass line. He stripped slowly allowing our JB Mullet Fly to swim in the morning blue. We moved on studying every ripple and every interruption of the water's surface. Could that by a push? Is that a tail? We kept on patiently waiting and watching for signs of a tail or a dorsal, or a push, anything that would signal they were moving about.

It is easier to see once the sun is high in the sky. Winter-time bait usually consists of mullet and they usually swim at the surface. You'll notice that anglers use Mirro-lures or Excalibers to attract game fish. It is no different for the fly angler. Top water flies are the best imitations of bait and usually the flies that will draw the most strikes and hook ups. You need flies that make noise and will attract redfish and trout. Borski sliders are difficult in the cold weather because fish aren't always feeding on the bottom. When you hear that there is a mullet run on, go to your top water flies. Besides these flies are much more fun, because you can see what they are doing in the water.

Well that's just what we did. As I polled along I could feel the sun heating up my jacket. I also knew that the sun was heating up the mud flats. Soon mullet started becoming active on top. And, just as soon as we saw the mullet, the redfish started to move.

"There, Brad, 40 feet, 3 O'clock." Wham! What a hook up! Just three strips and Brad had a great looking 5-pound redfish. And, fishing got better after that. It was now 11:30 am and the bite was ON!

We fished hard for another two hours. The hook ups were great action and a lot of fun on fly. Stealth and presentation are always important, but if you get a refusal don't hesitate to switch patterns. Just remember to be patient and enjoy your day on the water.

Practice catch and release and don't teach your trash to swim. ~ 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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