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.

The Soup We Float Upon

By Captain Scud Yates, Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Winter in our local waters of North Florida does not yield great numbers of fish to a fly fisherman, but can offer a great variety. Saltwater fly fishing, in general, is seldom done for one species and you often find strange and varied things on your line's end. The typical leader is made stronger than you need because size of the fish is never a constant either.

I once had a dinner in Spain that had so many types of sea creatures in it you could not count them, let alone recognize them. Unk Smith and I caught enough things on one day recently to fill the wildest boulibaise ever cooked up in Europe. Like this fishing day, the meal was a great experience.

We launched on a sunny cold (50 degree is cold for us here) day to catch the out-going tide in a local bay near a warm water outlet from a river. The run across the bay was cold and a little wet but when we stopped, I had a speckled sea trout on the line within a couple of casts. I was working with a new epoxy fly made with all artificial hair. Unk put on the all time standard yellow and white clouser fly and quickly hooked several of the trout and then had a hard fighting fish take the hook. The fight was a deep hard pull and we argued for while about what it was. Finally, he got it to the surface and he had a stingray by the nose. You don't target them but they eat things off the bottom too. I did get a picture of the two-foot long thing but Unk was trying to get it off before I could. He threw a couple more times and had another hard pulling 'something' on. We always hope for a redfish but usually a red will come to the surface and be seen fighting. This fight went on for a good while on his six-weight rod and turned out to be a fair sized (couple pounds) saltwater catfish. I was fumbling for the camera as he was trying to get it off the hook without spiking himself. He beat me to the release. If he was going to catch a north Florida slam he did not want it to include either of the two he had by now. A salt water slam is usually three game fish but gets redefined locally, he could have had a real winning slam if he could have had a jelly fish next.

Unks Trout

After a couple of more trout we moved off to try and find the elusive redfish. Unk poled from the platform on the stern and I stood on the bow ready. This small boat from a distance looks like a half-sunk "H" with us at either end. We together weigh about a hundred pounds more than the boat. It did not take long and we had a shot at a nice redfish lolling in the shallows sucking up sun. He did not eat but Unk next spotted a huge ray swimming towards us stirring up the bottom while eating its' way along. Right behind it followed two large reds catching the things fleeing from the ray. I threw the spoon fly behind the ray into the mud cloud with fins and tails sticking out. One of the beauties hit it like a freight train going down hill and almost pulled me off the front end. Unk, always the cool calm one, was suggesting techniques at the top of his lung power. My cell phone rang right in the middle of the fight. Unk later told me, 'he would have killed me if I had tried to answer.' A guide gets all the credit when a good fish is caught. The customer is only a necessary evil to the process. Why a phone you ask? I am on duty working constantly at my consulting job.

The fight lasted long enough, even on the heavy eight-weight rod, to make any fisherman happy. He was big enough (about ten pounds) to use the net on and took some time to revive before releasing; he needed to be peppy enough to get away from the sharks. We saw plenty more reds but not eating as these were. Unk and I were practicing to be guides spotting these guys, so it was still productive.

The next spot (all these 'spots' were within a few hundred yards of each other) I hooked into a ladyfish on my six-weight and got the jumping fish 'fix' for the day. On the next cast a fair sized (foot and a half) needlefish ate my fly. Unk caught a little jack cravelle to round out the day. He never got the jellyfish.

Seven kinds of fish in about three hours seemed good for a slow day. We headed in with smiles once again. Of course, we smile any time we spend time on the water, even without fish. This remote area is teaming with ducks, eagles, osprey, pelicans, and many other water fowl this time or year.

In these the waters, but not caught this day, were bluefish, sharks and several other fun things to find on a hook. The water we float around in is truly a soup of wondrous variety. With some care on the part of fisherman with catch-and-release and put some sanity in the development of the land, we can perhaps keep places like this alive for our grandkids.

But, if we don't get our sewage plants ahead of the development, an area like this will be wiped out with a single housing development binge. Such a growth is happening on the north side of this bay and I bet the sewage plant will follow years later with septic tanks overflowing well before. The problems with drinking water for those that move into the houses is a far more popular problem than the health of the fish.

One bad thing we saw on this day was a young pelican that landed beside us when we were landing a trout. He obviously wanted the fish. When it flew off empty handed we could see he was trailing a fishing line from his rear. Somewhere inside of him a hook was slowly killing him. ~ Capt. Scud Yates

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