Publisher's Note: If you missed Part 1 and 2 of Show Time,
The camera pans in the flats boat running up along a bank
and turning sharply into a cove. Water rips off the side
gunnel with each turn of the wheel. The captain's hair is
blowing back from the wind and his hat is stuck fast between
the console and the small windshield. "Good Morning! Thanks
for joining us. I am here with Captain Doug Sinclair to test
our fly-fishing skills on monster Snook. Captain tell us a
little about our quarry and our plan for today."
Yup. I was dreaming and awoke again to somebody screaming
out some hard rock song on the radio. I wondered, "Who the
hell picked that station?" Only one person came to mind.
As sleepy-eyed as I was, I could smell the steaming
orange-cranberry muffins sitting on the kitchen table.
Henry managed to buy them the night before and surprised
Chad and me. Coffee and muffins were waiting at the table
"Big day ahead sailor boys. Let's get this show on the road"
I don't mind telling you that he said it with such vigor and
authority, he kind of scared me a little. You have to understand
Henry. When he gets up, he's in high gear. Accept it and move
on. I have to admit, I was really excited. My enthusiasm
showed as did my anticipation of the day of ahead. I moved
the fly rods so fast out the door I almost broke a tip in the
ceiling fan. Boy, that would have been a disaster to break a
rod before you got started.
By 4:45 am we were on the road. We had to trailer the boat
down Jensen Beach and turn right across the bridge to Stuart
and then south to a launch site off of South Dixie. The snook
destination was Seawalls along Anchor and Overlook Terrace,
the old boat works area. Snook had been stacking up along the
walls and best taken at dawn. So that was first part of the
day to hook up snook on fly and then do the tarpon show in the
We met Mark and his partner who had an Action Craft 1820 SE
Flatsmaster. Mark brought his Dolphin for JB to use as the
camera boat. Our plan was really simple. Communication was
by cell phone. Mark would work the St. Lucie River while we
worked the seawalls and backwater for snook. Meet up at noon
by Hells Gate (aptly named for its treacherous currents) to
go after the tarpon.
We departed the launch ramp promptly at 6 am and our boats headed
for the seawalls. Henry managed some pretty awesome camera work
while we motored in the dark. Chad used his Sun Spot Light to
cover close ups as we motored by. The morning was crisp but
not cold. No wind. Just a beautiful sunrise over this tropical
setting. We reached the seawall near Anchor Point and shut
down. Trolling motors would get closer without spooking any fish.
The fly rods were pulled out from under the gunnels. Henry took
the 8 weight DFR, his favorite rod (actually my rod). There was Wulff
Bermuda Triangle Taper Tropical Line with a 16-pound Mirage knotless
tapered leader and a 50-pound bite tippet to keep the snook from
shredding the leader and breaking free. Our flies were simple.
Three colors, exactly the same pattern of a Gray Mullet and
JB's Slammer, and one rod with a Black and Silver headed Tomoka
The Gray Mullet lays up on the surface. A slow strip action
moves the fly and the tail undulates in the water like a wounded
mullet. This is a very effective fly on snook, jacks, blues,
trout and Reds (when tied in white).
It was really early for sight fishing. So we looked for pushes
along the wall and along some marker posts. You could hear mullet
piercing the surface. And, then an explosion of bait behind us.
"Jacks!!" JB yelled. "They are moving towards you."
"Fish on" yelled Henry. It was a small snook and as soon as the
fight started, jacks paraded over to reduce the snook to just its
head and bones. Henry threw the line again. He backcast 80 feet
of line to the side of a channel marker and hooked up a big jack.
Well kind of big. He weighed 15 pounds. One thing I've learned
about Jacks. If a school moves into an area you might as well fish
for jacks because those other fish aren't stupid they run for cover.
And, don't put your hand in the water when jacks are busting up
For the next hour we landed and released about 20 jacks. I never
thought I'd hear myself say that I was sick of catching jacks.
But here we were, like the previous day when we couldn't score
one trout and caught many, many jacks. It was the same thing
all over again.
"Doug, it's Mark, I'm at Hell's Gate and big jacks - 30-pound
range are busting up bait big time. Get over here as soon as
you can." Man oh man. Here we were. This must have been our
journey to do a jack show.
"Henry, you want to do a jack show?"
I could see the frown on his face, as we were about to head over
to Hells Gate for some big jack action. When we rounded the buoy
into the St Lucie River, we were joined by four other boats.
I kept thinking that all of a sudden we got mighty popular.
Turned out these were guys recognized Mark's boat and they were
following us. Up ahead you could see Mark. Look at that Jack.
The sun was just coming up and the jack action was becoming furious.
Mullet in the 12 to 18 inch range were being carved up by the jacks.
Before I could yell stop. Henry pulled the 8 weight out of the
rack and threw the black and silver mullet fly in the water.
ZING . . .off went the line. The spooling sound woke me up.
Line came off that reel at warp speed as the fish motored down,
down, down. Henry had stripping guards on otherwise he might
have lost a finger.
The rod was bent over in an acute angle like a straw. I never
saw a strip strike come so fast or so strong. The jack went to
the bottom in about 25 feet of water. Henry stood there holding
the rod back and it was bent from the front of the cork to the tip,
which was now in the water. Forty-five minutes later we got the
jack up and to the boat. Henry wanted to tail grab him and handed
the rod to me. I pulled my hat down just above the brim of my
glasses and my shirt closed around my neck. As he handed the
rod to me, the jack sounded again. I couldn't believe it.
"I thought you wore out this fish." I yelled to Henry.
"Just hold him, he'll come back up."
I held on for what seemed like ten minutes, but the jack was not
coming up. Chad was in the camera boat with JB. They both
watched intently as we fought this fish. I finally got him
near the boat. Cameras rolling. Henry grabbed his tail, but
the jack was stronger and he flipped out. Camera off. Down
he went. Faster than a speeding bullet right to the bottom.
When jacks sound they roll over on there sides. That's when
you have to wait on them otherwise you could break your rod tip.
We waited and waited, and waited some more.
"What's he doing?" asked Henry.
"Side strike him and see if we can get him up." I replied.
At that moment the jack gave in and up he came. Next to the
boat with close up shots we were ready for another jack.
Henry lowered him to the water and the jack bolted. Another
cast and another hook up and the chase started all over again.
The boat during this episode was about a half mile above the
St Lucie Channel Marker. Just west of Hells Gate. We drifted
very fast side ways to the current and the wind, which made
the filming sun angle perfect.
I thought for sure I would be wearing shattered graphite pole
when it broke under the direct downward pressure from this jack.
Even JB from Redington was blown away by the strength of this
rod. After 2 hours of constant pounding the cork started to
separate but the rod never broke. If you ever fish strong
current and strong fish moving into the current, you better
have a strong rod. Luckily I really didn't care if the rod
broke. After all, Redington has an unconditional lifetime
guarantee on their gear and I figured if it broke I'd just
get a new one.
On the next jack the fish moved up under the camera boat.
Henry had to manage the fish while I managed the position of
the boat, all the time keeping a safe distance from the camera
boat. Chad was at the bow and he put the camera down in Mark's
boat. He stood up (I guess because we didn't really see him
since we were trying to man handle this jack). Chad reached
for the trolling motor handle and slipped. We heard a loud
crash and splash.
"John's in the water!!" I yelled.
"What?" said Henry, "Who's John?"
"Chad fell in the river."
"Where's the camera?"
"In the boat."
We all drifted with the current waiting for Chad to climb
back into Mark's boat. So concluded our Snook morning.
Wait till you hear about the Baby Tarpon show we did in
Please don't teach your trash to swim. ~ 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.