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.

It's Show Time: Part 3

By Capt. Doug Sinclair

Publisher's Note: If you missed Part 1 and 2 of Show Time, start HERE.

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 for us.

"Big day ahead sailor boys. Let's get this show on the road" Henry barked.

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 afternoon.

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 mullet fly.

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 baitfish.

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.

25 pound 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?"

"It's Chad."

"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 the afternoon.

Please 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.

Previous Fly Fishing The Salt Articles

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ]

FlyAnglersOnline.com © Notice