Thursday, February 26, 2009

Huge News: Stuart Flyfishing is bringing the Fly Fishing Film Tour to Stuart!

Outside the Lyric

I am proud to announce that myself and my good friend Mike Holliday are hosting the Fly Fishing Film Tour in Stuart, FL. For those of you that know about the event it's a no brainer and for those of you that haven't heard of it get out from under your rock. Okay, just kidding I don't expect everyone to have heard of the tour but, if you flyfish or if you have ever wondered what all the hype is with fly fishing you need to check this out. The showing will be at the Lyric Theatre in historic downtown Stuart on the evening of April 3rd. We have been working over the last couple weeks to get this showing and today we finally got the official word from the guys at the Webeye Group and the Lyric Theatre. Tickets will go on sale soon. Once tickets are available for sale I will have another posting. This is just a teaser so you can mark your calendars. I will have more details on our local showing soon so stay tuned. Here is a quick breakdown of the films on the tour. You can also check out the trailers on the Fly Fishing Film Tour website.
Inside the Lyric

Confluence Films: “Drift”
A stunning visual journey, DRIFT takes you on a cinematic adventure across the flats of Belize and the Bahamas, down the tailwaters of the Green, Frying Pan and the Big Horn, spey casting on the Deschutes, and exploring the exotic rivers of Kashmir, India.

Beattie Outdoor Productions: “Nervous Water”
Filmed in Colorado, New Zealand, Texas and Papua New Guinea, Nervous Water depicts the thrilling pursuits of four groups of anglers, each hopelessly obsessed with the fish they love - Brown Trout, Cutbows, Redfish and Marlin.

Felt Soul Media: “Eastern Rises”
Combining the vision of founders Ben Knight and Travis Rummel, FSM creates soulful, story driven fly fishing films that capture the emotion and beauty inherent to the sport. Scenes from the Far reaches of the Kamchatka Peninsula to the threatened Bristol Bay.

Howard Films: “Bass: The Movie”
This is the first comprehensive look behind the scenes of Bass: The Movie. We pitted a conventional angler and a fly rod angler against one another in a Bass Eden. Who would win? Well, as it turned out, it evolved into a surprising team that left the Bass literally shaking their heads.

WorldAngling: “Connected”
Join the crew of Will Benson and Dave Teper, in search of the best saltwater flats fishing action, the largest fastest game fish that lurk in the light blue ocean as well as profile the people who have created a lifestyle that surrounds this Passion.

Skinny Fist: “Rivers of a Lost Coast”
The story of the cutthroat culture of California’s coastal fly fishing. Led by
legendary fly fishing gypsy, Bill Schaadt, a cult of coastal fishermen revolutionized their sport and redefined their own lives.

Rollcast Productions: “Hustle & Fish”
An epic fly fishing adventure chock-full of wacky characters, near death experiences, sharks, bears, wolves, and most of all breathtaking fly fishing footage and plenty of fish porn. It is RPs follow up to the hit film “Fishizzle!”

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mission accomplished

I am starting to see a pattern here, my lack of posts means I am busy fishing and that is a good thing. I owe it all to you guys, I have by far the best clients in the world. I am going to start with a quick fishing report, then check out the other posts for some very exciting news.

As I said earlier I have been slammed with trips lately, and most of them have been in the river due to wind, you know the routine fun fishing with snook, jacks, and ladyfish but, Sunday offered my a short window to do what I love best, fish the beach. I was able to pack in two trips, first I had a spin fishing charter with Shirley Howard and her son Corkie. They were both amazed at the schools of daisy chaining jacks, with their tails high in the air. I believe Corky hook about 5 and landed 2. As soon as I saw the amount of schools out there I had to call my client Jay Jones from Pennsylvania. He and his girlfriend Lisa had fished with me the day before and we were restricted to the river.

This is Jay's third year fishing with me and he is a motivated fly fisherman that has goals and one of his goals was to land a giant jack on fly. The first year we were hit by a cold front and went redfishing and last year we jacked fished but quite honestly Jay was a bit over matched by the 12 wt. rod. Last year Jay landed a jack on a plug but like I said he is motivated fly fisherman and he told me that this year he would be back to accomplish his goal. When I could not get out on the beach Saturday I was bummed because like most of my clients I really like Jay and I wanted him to achieve his goal. so when Sunday rolled around and it was calm and the schools of jacks were everywhere I had to call Jay. There was not a moment of hesitation Jay was fired up to go at it again on Sunday afternoon. I told you I have the best clients in the world. I dropped Corky and Shirley back at the dock by noon, completely worn out from fighting fish and by twelve thirty I was back out there with Jay and Lisa. I knew exactly where the schools were seeing I had just left them, and sure enough I was right. I guess I got lucky, we found the first school in about 20 minutes. Jay, being the totally cool guy that he is, wanted Lisa to catch one first then it was on to the quest of landing one on fly. Lisa made super short order of her fish hooking one on the first cast and landing ti in about 15 minutes. For some of you out there reading this she kick that fishes ass, sorry for the profanity but I have seen some people fight these fish for hours.
It was now Jay's turn with the fly rod, I could tell he was anxious, nervous, excited and any other emotion you could think of all rolled into one. I know I keep harping on how cool these jacks are but until you have experienced it you have no idea. After a few failed attempts, Jay gets connected to his first giant jack on fly and in the mist of all the excitement I see the fly line wrapped around Jay's forearm and with in seconds the fish is broke off. This followed by many four letter expletives. Onward with the odyssey, Jay was going to have plenty of other chances, the schools were everywhere. We approached another school and Jay hooks up again this time he clears the line and everything is copacetic, but within a few minutes the hook pulls? Now the tension is building, will this three year odyssey finally end? It is now four o'clock in the afternoon and the sun is getting low and visibility is quickly fading. i explained to Jay that we had about an eight mile ride back to the inlet and that my eye lids would be peeled back. About 2 miles into the return trip I see a school about 300 yards away and I put a thumbs up, at this point Jay knew exactly what that meant. I pulled the boat off plane, and put the Minn Kota (sponsor plug) in the water and trolled to the school. Jay knew this was his last shot, it was now or next year. On Jay's first and what turned out to be last cast, the mission was accomplished. I know he will still be back next year, these jacks are very addicting. Congratulations Jay!

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Friday, February 20, 2009

All in a day's work.

Everyone thinks that being a fishing guide is the greatest job in the world. Well, it is. However, what a lot of people don't realize is that mother nature plays a direct role in your fishing and financial success. My charters both today and yesterday have been cancelled due to wind and today cold and wind. February and March could be by far two of my busiest months but they are also the two months most likely to be blow out. With that said, the next question is what does a guide do on his day off when the weather is bad,we know the answer when the weather is good. I spent both yesterday and today tying flies in preparation for what I know is coming, long days on the water chasing big fish. If you have read this blog at all you know that spring and summer are by far my favorite times of the year. First the big jacks and cobia show up followed by the tarpon and permit, and let's not forget another one of Florida's overlooked fish, the little tunny. Okay, let me rephrase that for you folks in the northeast false albacore and for you locals here in south Florida, bonito. All these fish can put a strain on your equipment as well as your lower back. I have tied mostly poppers this week, I can't really call it my own creation because basically it is a big nasty Bob's banger but, for my blog I am going to call it the Corona slammer (see above picture). My slammer is tied on a 7/0, yes I said 7/0, Owner long shank trolling hook, it is very strong but not overly heavy. I use bucktail and krystal flash for the tail with a long ice chenille collar followed by a 3/4 inch foam head wrapped in holographic tape. I tied loads of different color combination but my favorite by far is the yellow and chartreuse, Corona slammer. The name was obviously inspired by my love of drinking beer while I tie flies and the color combination. This fly is not for the weak of heart but neither is giant jack fishing. I have thrown this fly on rods as light as 10 weights but I would recommend a 12 weight. I have some very exciting news coming up so stay tuned, and in the mean time try tying a few of these poppers and be creative.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

A taste of spring

Wow, I just realized that it has been 6 days since I posted something. Well the the last five days have truly been spring like. After the coldest week of this winter, we were blessed with five of the best days of this year. Temperatures were in the low 80's and the ocean was calm and this is a perfect recipe for fun. On Thursday I picked up a last minute charter with Joe Dibartolomeo and his buddy Bob. I don't think these guys knew what they signed up for. I broke them in easy with some spanish mackerel down at the mackerel hole, then it was off to hunt the big jacks. I didn't have to go far before I found the first school of jacks. Bob was the one who had the pleasure of catching the big jack and I think he gained a whole new respect for how hard those guys pull. After landing the first jack I had to relocate the school and in a matter of minutes we were on them again but, this time they were spooky and we could not get close enough to get a cast off. As I waited for them to pop up again I was panning the surface when out or the corner of my eye I saw some brown torpedoes on the surface. Cobia! I grabbed the rod from Joe and made a cast right in front of the fish, they jumped all over my topwater plug and after hooking the fish it was Joe's turn to get his workout. Joe had about a twenty minute fight ahead of him and I think if the fight was twenty one minutes Joe may have given up but he didn't and Joe was rewarded with a 43 pound cobia. Joe and Bob did a great job, I really enjoyed fishing with these guys.
I knew at that point that I had a few good days ahead of me. The next day I fished with Rob Crowder, we had a new prototype fly rod we wanted to test. After we caught a couple big jacks on the new fly rod we headed to King Neptune for lunch. No cobia on Friday.
Friday night I fished with long time client Ted Renna, we had one of those nights on the dock lights that reminded me of the old days, probably 20 snook on fly with a handful of jacks mixed in. Saturday I fished with good friend Capt. Scott Cormier and photographer David McCleaf. I told David how he was going to get photos of jacks and cobia and well that was the kiss of death. We had a fun day catching mackerel, bluefish, and a few smaller jacks but, no big jacks or cobia were found that day. It is still early in the spring so the schools are still hit or miss. I did get a couple jumps out of a tarpon that was probably close to the 100 pound mark before he straightened my hook. That was probably the highlight of the day. Sunday was back to charters, I had Jimmy Granbery from Nashville with his uncle Buddy in the boat and once again I wanted to take advantage of the spring like weather. We hunted jacks all the way north and only managed to find a few schools of smaller jacks 6 to 8 pounds along with huge schools of bluefish. We had a blast catching bluefish and jacks on topwater plugs most of the morning. We spent about an hour trying to get the tarpon to eat but, they wanted no parts of what we had so it was back down the beach. On the way back to the marina I kept passing the schools of jacks and bluefish occasionally stopping to catch one or two, then like Thursday we came across a nice group of cobia. The first one was small for cobia standards but ate a topwater plug and the second one was about 20 pounds and it ate a DOA terroreyez. I always preach that the terroreyez is a crab lure, even though it is shaped like a small baitfish, it's color (rootbeer) and the way it sinks makes it a great crab lure and once again the cobia proved my point. Last night a weak cold front moved through our area so the beach is better for surfing then fishing right now but, I am sure it won't be long and I will be back out there chasing big fish on light tackle and fly rods. Sorry for no cobia pictures but for those of you that have caught cobia you know how ballistic they go once in the boat.
Thanks again for reading and don't forget to sign on as a follower of this blog. I like to see who is reading. Keep posted for some exciting upcoming news from the Stuart Flyfishing home front.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

KISS "Keep it simple stupid"

KISS, I stole that phrase from my friend Mark Nichols he preaches that about his artificial lures, DOA, you may have heard of them. Anyway, the same thing applies to flies. Flies are designed for two things, catching fish and catching fisherman. The idea of this post came to mind as I was tying dock light flies for tonight's trip, as mentioned in the last post the lights have been my savior this week. The fly I have been using recently is a pattern that I stole from my friend Scott Cormier, he is the owner of the Southern Angler. Are you seeing a pattern here? Don't worry I only steal from friends and it is more of a trade off since I'm often the victim. Scott only ties a handful of flies a year, or at least that is our on going joke since he owns a fly shop. His newest creation is not much of a creation at all but man does it work. I know some of you guys reading this will say anything small on the lights will work and some nights that is true but I mean this critter has them crazy. Why? Because less is more in dock light flies. I think it is more about the material then the pattern. Synthetic materials are constantly evolving and the newest strategy by companies selling materials is to blend different materials so you do not have to. I love this concept. If I see a fly recipe and it starts, "take some of this, and a little of that, and mix it with this", I'm was not going to tie it! I have two kids and a very busy guide service, I need to tie a fly in minutes and there is nothing fast about blending materials. Problem solved, I can now tie killer flies fast with this preblended material. Here is my dock light fly, excuse me Scott's dock light fly. First, take a number 2 Gamakatsu glo-bug hook and put it in the vise. Take white thread or any color if you are lame enough to be out of white and high tie in a small clump of Steve Farrar's Flash blend natural. Follow that with another small clump of Steve Farrar's Flash Blend camo. Glue on the 3D eyes and epoxy it, done! I am obviously not revolutionizing the fly fishing world, but remember keep it simple stupid.
I think I should be sponsored by Corona?

As I was writing this post I got an email from one of the followers of this blog, RJ. It is so ironic how much his email related to this post. RJ had no problem with me sharing this email and after you read it you will see why, it is great stuff. Here is RJ's email:

Hey John,
I created this little fly that I thought you might be interested in checking out. I am not the best fly tyer, but since checking out your contest, I caught the bug, so to speak.

Anyway, like I said, it isn't that pretty, but it has other nice qualities. First, it is a true dry fly. I tied it on a really small hook. I think a #10. Then I tied some flash into the tail, and some hackle twisted around the hook to make legs. I then shaved off the top side of the hackle and covered it with this chartreuse foam. This was really helpful in seeing the fly floating in the water at night. I tied a few wraps around the green body, spaced out, to look like the joints in a shrimps back, and then tied in some mono eyes.

Well, it is a stupidly simple fly, but I thought what the heck. If I can get a snook to pop a dry fly, then fresh water trout fishing will officially have nothing over saltwater! I tied it in January, but waited until last night to test it out. It was the first "warmer" night in a while and the current was ripping with the almost full moon. I fished it exactly like a fresh water dry fly - no stripping, just drift in the current through the dock light.

I couldn't believe it, but it got nailed instantly! It was just like a trout rise - which in my mind is one of the best takes in all of fishing. His mouth nudged up to it and with a boil he sucked it in. The rod went heavy and it was game on! My first thought was how the heck will I land this saltwater beast with a #10 hook and a whole lot of structure. But with a little finesse and some nice boat handling by Jeremy Neff, we pulled it off. I snapped a picture of the 25 incher with the fly in its mouth and then got the signal from the camera "replace battery!" I have no idea yet whether the picture took. We landed about 4 or 5 more on this fly and then switched to a clouser after it got rocked by a beast, but the tiny hook didn't set.

Anyway, I thought you might be interested because you probably fish a lot of people from up north who are very proficient with a dry fly. They would probably get a huge kick out of this. Also, you get to fish a lot more than me, and might find a way to improve it or get one with a bigger hook to float. Its pretty easy to tie and fish, or if you want me to give you some I will, but then you have t let me take you fishing!

Keep up the good blogging!

Thanks for sharing RJ. It is guys like RJ that motivate me to write this blog, so please get involved and send me any ideas or comments you can. On a side note, I meet RJ last year when I was invited to fish in the Martin County Boys and Girls Club tournament. He volunteers a lot of his valuable time to the club and he should be commended for it. Thanks again RJ. I look forward to the next Boys and Girls Club tournament so I can defend my title as "top guide", just a little plug for myself.

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Taking the good with the bad

South Florida the last 4 or 5 days has felt more like northern Michigan, not that I would know since I have never been there but, I always hear how stinkin cold it is up there. The sun is finally starting to make an appearance today and the temperatures are suppose to get all the way to 74 today. However, this latest cold snap has really put a hurting on the inshore fishing here, this morning we cut our trip short becuase the water temps are still in the 50's and in case your from northern Michigan and you don't know that is freakin cold for this area. The silver lining in all this is that until it warms I always have the snook on the dock lights to fall back on. When I left you last I was on my way out the door for a night snook trip, my anglers that night were Justin Rufo and his dad Rick. Justin is from Virgina and when he booked the trip I thought his name sounded familiar, well as it turns out he grew up in Stuart and we lived in the same neighborhood as kids. We knew loads of the same people but for some reason really knew each other even though we are only one year apart, small world. Oh well, lets get to the good stuff. Justin started flyfishing this past summer and has really caught the bug, I know many of you remember that feeling, I know I do. When I put the boat in the water Friday night my water temperature gauge read 56 degrees and as many of you know snook are not big fans of anything below 60. On my way to pick up Justin and Rick I stopped at a light and caught a snook on my first cast, this was a good sign of things to come. As we were planning our night I learned that Justin was pretty much a rookie at flyfishing and that his dad Rick had never flyfished before. At that point I really didn't know what I was getting myself into but, they both had an incredible attitude about it and, if you know me I have tons of patience. This turned out to be the perfect recipe for a perfect night. Justin took the bow at the first light and got bit right off the bat but he missed the hook up, no big deal, off to the next light. The next light was full of snook and I could sense Justin's excitement grow, maybe it had to do with him repeatedly saying "look at all those snook!". Needless to say we were both happy to see so many fish in the light. I explained to Justin where he needed to cast in order to get bit and the first few attempts were off the mark. Then, after laying out the perfect cast I said, "that's it be ready.". Bang, Justin was hooked to his first saltwater fish on a fly rod and his life changed that moment, he is now addicted! He had such a great attitude about it from the beginning I think he was addicted before we even started. Justin landed the nice 26 inch snook, his first snook on a fly rod, and no one had a camera! That's right, I did not bring my camera!? We tried the camera phone thing but that doesn't work at night. Justin with his cool attitude said, "No big deal, let's get some more." By the end of the night Justin had landed about 9 snook on the fly rod. Here is where the story gets better, Justin's dad Rick was really enjoying what he was seeing and finally said I want to give this a try. Rick had never even picked up a fly rod before! After a few attempts, I made a cast and asked Rick to strip it in. It was now Rick's turn to see what all the stink is about. After Rick landed his snook, he immediately called a buddy. "Your not going to believe this but, I just caught a 26 inch snook on a fly rod and it was awesome!" Another one addicted? Maybe it is too soon to tell but I see the potential. After Rick caught another one on one of my casts, he decided to try again on his own. I must admit they were not the sexiest loops I had ever seen (sorry Rick) but, he managed to get a cast in the right area and hooked and landed his very own snook on the fly. All in all, we managed a dozen snook on so and they were all between 24 and 26 inches, very respectable fish especially for 56 degree water temps. Watching those guys fish the dock lights really brought back a lot of memories for me, like so many fly anglers from this area, this is a great way to cut your teeth. I sometimes overlook the dock lights because of the timing, either waking up in the middle of the night to hit them in the morning or up past midnight fishing them in the evening, either way the timing is tough. However, nights like that with such good people who were so appreciative makes me want to do it more. Plus it is a great way to beat the weather. Since we had no pictures Justin and I did it again early Sunday morning, this time he caught five in about an hour and a half before sunrise and we have pictures to prove it. The fish were a little small on Sunday, and since we don't have any pictures from Friday night I guess you will just have to believe it is not a fish tale? After the sun came up on Sunday the fishing was tough, I believe we only managed a couple small jacks and some vultures to photograph. I am waiting for Justin to email me some pictures of his snook so in the mean time I will post the pictures of the turkey vultures and some of an ospray having lunch. Spring is not far away so stayed tuned it only gets better from here.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

The new site design is launched!

Time to check it out, has a new look. It all started a few months ago when I meet Rob McAbee, do I need to say it? The Bug slinger guy. Anyway, as many of you know Rob also has a design company called Nomad Design and with his help he has given me a killer new look. It all ties together, from the website, to this blog, new business cards and also the new line of shirts. Speaking of shirts, I want to send out a big thanks to everyone that has bought one. I was really overwhelmed at the popularity of the micro fiber shirt, as a matter of fact I am almost out of them. I apologize for the short post, I have been waiting a long time for this post, but I have a charter tonight and I have to run. The snook on the lights have been very good lately so I hope this recent cold weather has not changed things too much. I will be sure to keep you guys updated. Give me some comments on the new site.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stuart Flyfishing on Facebook

I know, most of you that know me well are saying, "what in the world has gotten into John?" First the blog and now facebook, that's right if you are on facebook come and become a member of my group "Stuart Flyfishing". It is the perfect way for all of us to interact and network with others that share the same passion for flyfishing. At the time I am posting this I have 39 followers to this blog and I am getting close to 100 visits a day and the bottom line is I really do not know who you are? I have been on facebook for about 6 months now and I can not tell you how great it has been getting back in touch with old friends from high school but, lately it has become even more about staying in touch with others in the flyfishing world. Come join the fun and if you are a follower of this blog tell me what your user name is so I can connect a face with a reader. This blog is a perfect place for me to share stories and photography but in all honesty it is very hard to use it to communicate, this is where facebook comes into play. Check it out, I bet you you will be surprised by all the people that you know on facebook.
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Monday, February 2, 2009

She's the girl from Immokalee

"She's the girl from Immokalee" were the last words we heard as we rolled out of Joanie's Blue Crab Cafe' onto the Tamiami Trail. Those are the words to Raiford Starke's number one song, well at least number one in Everglades City, although I took a liken to it. Hell, I liked it so much that when I got home I tracked it down on Youtube to share with you. Finish reading this post before you check out Raiford's video.

You see this past weekend I was playing host to my good friend Rob McAbee, you guys know him by now as the Bugslinger guy. This trip had been planned for months, he was going to come down to sunny south Florida and chase big jacks with me but, we did not factor in one thing. Rob's knack for bringing cold fronts with him! Sorry to call you out like that Rob.

Day 1
The first day we were able to sneak out on the beach and after spending the morning looking hard for the jacks we resorted to doing some mackerel fishing. The jacks can be very hit or miss this time of the year but since the weather allowed us to be outside on the beach that is where we were spending our day, especially since the forecast the next two days were nothing but rain, cold and lots of wind! Mackerel were running big that morning so they were loads of fun on the seven weight but we both still had jacks on the mind so off we went running. Mile after mile there were no jacks to be found, my eyes were burning from staring so hard into the water. As we headed north we began to see a little life, some birds diving, some dolphin rolling, some tarpon rolling. Tarpon rolling!? That's right the fishing gods do have some love for Rob, at least a little, and after a quick fly and leader change Rob was on the bow of my Pathfinder casting to a very happy pod of tarpon. The wind was blowing 20 plus out of the south and the fish were traveling north, so here is your quick tarpon lesson for the day. Tarpon eat best when the fly is being stripped away from them not at them, I know you guys are saying "duhhh" but , you would be surprised how many people get into a rush and just start throwing. If you can't picture it yet I will put it into words, Rob had to throw a 12 wt. into a stiff wind with a big fly while big tarpon are closing in on him. Not easy. The good thing is that Rob is a good angler and he got the fly in them quite a few times, but no takers. The fish shifted paths and were now on the outside of the boat and Rob had to back cast to them. Rob was having no problem back casting and I kept reassuring him that they would eat and he just has to keep putting the fly in them. Mostly guide talk but, deep down I really was confident, I have had them eat that fly a hundred times so I knew it would happen. All I kept saying was, "strip the fly all they way to the boat, they will eat!" Rob was taking my instruction well. As he was looking for his next casting angle and I was still talking as usual we both here a huge crash behind the boat and all I hear is Rob yelling,"I'm on!" You see Rob's fly use hanging behind the boat while he was scoping out his next move. "I told you to strip it all the way to boat" were my next words. It was not the most conventional tarpon hook up I have seen but, we will take it and Rob is starting his vacation tied to a tarpon. After two jumps the fish threw the fly, I told you the fish gods only had a little love for Rob. What neither of us realized at that time is, that was the highlight of our three day trip. Sure we caught some more mackerel and even a few smaller jacks but, no big jack and landed tarpon.

Day 2
We both knew we were behind the 8 ball for the next couple of days and after weighing all the options we decided to go a fish the Tamiami Trail. Neither one of us had ever done it but both of us had heard lots about it. I made some calls to my people and got some info and from the sound of it we were making the right move. Just take Hwy 29 south head west to Naples and fish your way back east hitting all the bridges. Sounds simple enough so with fives, sixes, and sevens packed and a box of small minnow patterns we headed south Friday morning. On Thursday night Rob had a high school reunion of sorts, we both went to Martin County High School and although he is five years older then me Stuart is a small town and I knew just about everyone in a round about way. I am sure everyone has heard of the six degrees of separation, well, if you are from Stuart no matter how old or young you are the two degree of separation rule applies. After a handful of beers and some food we decided to leave because Friday morning we wanted to leave early so we could have a full day of fishing the trail. Out the door by 6 am on Friday we were heading south on 95 when just before Jupiter, where we were getting off to go to the turnpike, all we see are brake lights and before we know it we are in dead stopped traffic. Long story short it took us three hours to get to Jupiter from Stuart, about 20 miles for those that don't know, and after some major detouring we were back on our way. We made it to the trail by about none and stuck with the game plan. We stopped at our first bridge and within minutes we saw fish rolling everywhere! "Dude, look at all these baby tarpon" I yelled across the other side of the bridge to Rob. You see I had to yell, because about every 20 seconds a truck or car was buzzing by us. I missed a bite then Rob missed a bite and then another, finally after about 30 minutes I get a solid hook up. "Bro, I am not sure what it is but it is not jumping?" was all I could say before I saw that I had hooked a gar. When we first got to the bridge in all our excitement I said that some of the rolling looked like gar and this was the proof. I wanted a picture anyway so I could post it with this blog but, by the time Rob dodged cars to get to me the hook had pulled.

We were both still very excited about what the next two days would bring us. Then bridge after bridge after bridge, after bridge, all we saw were gar rolling. To make it worse after that first bridge we could not even get them to bite? Must be the front pushing in we thought, we will get them tomorrow when it is sunny and the cold air pushes all these mythical snook and baby tarpon inland to the trail. Honestly, we both were having a blast, it was all about the experience. Being in the middle if the glades, standing 20 yards away from man eating alligators and just soaking in everything. We decided to stay the night in Everglades City at the historic Rod and Gun Club. When you drive 6 hours to get somewhere that should have taken 3 and all you caught was a gar you have to start looking at the humor in things and that is exactly what the rest of the trip was, humorous. First thing I noticed right away as we pulled into Everglades City is that in the town circle there was not some cool monument or historic town hall, there was a cell phone tower! Who decided that would be a good place for a tower? It's not like they don't have land anywhere else? Then as we pull up to the historic Rod and Gun Club they have a sign at the entrance with two jumping tarpon, that have NO dorsal fins? I told you we found humor in everything. Next, when we asked the guy at the front desk if he fishes he says, "Not as much as I should but if you guys brought your poles you can fish off the dock." Poles! Earlier that day I was joking around with Rob about how I can tell how tough my charters will be when some guy tells me he has his own fly poles? The historic Rod and Gun Club was very nice and we enjoyed staying there, for sure. They had loads of old newspaper articles posted in the lobby that were documenting all the presidents and such that had visited Everglades City to fish, and, of course plenty of articles about the Everglades Swamp Ape. I guess laughter is the best medicine for a tough fishing trip.

Day 3
We got an earlier start and it was cold, in the 40's with some major wind but, we were determined to catch the Tamiami Trail snook and tarpon. First stop was the pond across the street from Wooten's. Wooten's is one of these places where you can take air boat rides and apparently it is big business down there because there are at least 3 or 4 other places that offer air boat rides off the trail but only one restaurant. I was told that this pond holds tarpon and on day one we saw quite a few people fishing it, although they did not really look like tarpon fishermen but, I was always taught not to judge a book by it's cover. Clear skies made for a nice bright sun that morning but still no active snook or tarpon, just more alligators basking in the sun.

Day 2 really was the kicker, we both quickly lost confidence and after one final attempt at the now famous gar hole, we gave up. Since there is only one restaurant on the trail we figured they had to have good food, so off to Joanie's we went for some cold beer and hot food. Joanie's Blue Crab Cafe' is located just east of Hwy 29 on the Tamiami Trail. After some cold beer, which is proudly displayed in big letters on the front of Joanie's, lunch and entertainment provided by Raiford Starke, we headed back to Stuart. I must admit that I had way too much fun this weekend and proof that fishing trips aren't always about the fish, it's more about the experience. Hey Rob, I think your next Bug slinger shirt should be "Skunked in the Glades"

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