florida report---keys and ft. lauderdale back water
Just returned yesterday from 10 days in florida and 3 were spent in the keys fishing with our friend of the forum and guide Ben Iannotta.
Of course when I get there a big wind storm decided to pick up. 4/8 we were going to go out but with 20-25 mph winds we dicided to go on 4/9 in hopes the wind would let up a little. Well it did drop to 15-20 but still nowhere near ideal and since I had to leave the following day Ben was a good sport and took me and my fiancee out on his classic hewes bonefisher.
The wind was really whipping but Ben was able to somehow control the boat and I was able to get a least 40 feet of line out decently straight but spotting fish was tough to say the least. Best shot at a bone came early but due to the wind waves we did not see it until it was within 10 feet and coming towards the boat. Got a little flip cast out but the fly did not sink fast enough and the bonefish never saw the fly. Saw another towards the end of the day but it was gone before I had a chance to cast. Still a good intro to the world of flats fishing and will be back. Did catch a few cudas and we even saw a bald eagle which I did not even know lived down there.
Cannot wait to return again within the next year and Ben is a great guy and a pleasure to fish with. Could not ask for a better guy to have involved with the forum and we can look forward to his bi-weekly florida keys reports to be a mainstay on the forum within the next month.
So I left a little discouraged that I did not really get into any fish and headed back up to Ft. lauderdale to stay on Michelle's parents boat.
They had a yak so i decided to take it out on 4/11 to see what I could find in the vast network of channels throughout the city. There are tons of resident tarpon that inhabit the channels and I thought if I was lucky I could get a chance at a baby tarpon. There are some bruisers in there but with a 9 weight there was no way could handle one so I was looking for some smaller fish.
Paddled into a small back bay and saw my chance. A school of small tarpon porpoising and got the fly out in front and wham..tarpon on. It was only about 25 pounds but what a fight. At least 8 jumps and it took about 20 minutes to get him to the side of the yak. The water is not the cleanest so I did not want to wade in it so I had to fight him from the yak. I felt a little like the old man in the sea with this fish towing me all around but I was able to use the weight of the yak as some extra drag. Released him healthy and was shaking for the next hour from excitement.
Continued yaking my way further back and saw some manatees which was very cool. They would come right up to the yak in hopes I had some food for them. A little scary as they were big but pretty docile.
So I continued fishing and caught a 25 inch snook, a 23 inch catfish, some kind of fish that looked like a jack, and had some swipes from what I think were peacock bass on a miyawaki beach popper we used out here for coho.
Overall a incredible day and a wide variety of fish to be had. Definitely took some sting out of not picking up a bonefish earlier in the week.
Oh and here is the kicker. All these fish including the tarpon were caught on Juros real eel. I had not planned on trying to fish the channels so I really did not come prepared fly wise. It was the only non bonefish fly I had brought with me and for some reason the fish liked it on that day. Wish i could of got a picture of that tarpon with a real eel hanging out of its mouth.
Also like in Adrians report I broke a rod for the first time. Had the rod tip low while retrieving the fly and kind of spaced out. A big pull jerked the rock forward into some rocks and and the tip snapped in two. Lucky it is a sage so it will be back as good as new in a couple weeks.
Caught a killer tan and now back planning the wedding , going back to work, and getting ready to sell the house. 6 months from now I will be in Boston frantically looking for a job...cannot wait.