Sunday, November 11, 2012

Saltwater Carp

Well, not quite...but close.

From what Captain Willy Le was telling me, the Black Drum is closer in behavior to a carp than the Red Drum, but either way, this was a fantastic trip for a sight fishing junky like me. I flat out loved chasing these Redfish.

The method was relatively simple, but the actual application took a little work. Word is, the Mosquito Lagoon Redfish are the most educated and difficult to catch Redfish in the world. After a day on the lagoon, I believe it. Granted, I don't believe they are as hard to catch as a big C carp, but those fish were no fools. If the fly wasn't presented well, and moved correctly, they didn't eat. They had obviously seen a few fakes, and it took the right stripping technique to get them to believe the fly was the real thing. If you got it right...the takes were took me a while to get it right.

The basic method was to pole along, eyes peeled in the shallow waters looking for tailing or cruising fish. Much lke carp, they could be tough to spot, or could be obvious depending on the bottom and the sun. We saw a ton of fish. If we got too close, they were gone, so most of the shots were longer...40-50 feet. Instead of the 20-30 feet that I am used to working with. The fly had to be cast past and in front of a cruising fish, and right onto a tailing fish. Getting the big, wind resistant fly to the fish at distance in heavy winds (it blew like hell all day) was tough, and only part of the battle.

Once in position, the real work began. All told, I put the fly on dozens of fish. Most wouldn't eat, and I don't think it was because they weren't hungry. I messed up a ton of fish because I simply didn't fool them. Much like a cat, these fish wanted to play with their food. It had to be short, sharp strips of a few inches, nothing more, nothing less, but even that knowledge wasn't enough. When the fish would get interested and burst toward the fly, you had to take it away...but not too far away. If the fly escaped, they let it, but if it remained just close enough, they would go after it again. If the prey didn't run...well, the fish would lose interest in that as well. This game continued for several strips and feet, a mad and pulse raising vision of fits and starts and hope and heartache. But sometimes, the fish would seem to decide that was it and a white mouth way larger than you would guess would simply open up and inhale the fly. Then I would trout set and wreck the entire event.

It was glorious. Captain Le was patient with me, and a great teacher. Eventually I caught on and put it together to land my first ever Redfish. These are beautiful creatures folks. After one bout with success, I had something to build on and we started sticking fish left and right. One fish in particular charged the fly 3 or 4 times, appeared to lose interest and turn around to swim away only to do a complete 180 back to the fly and smash it in a booming charge that had both of us whooping and hollering. Heady stuff. We ended the day with 9 reds to hand, a great day for the lagoon...number ten was there for us, but popped loose after a few minutes battle.

This was an amazing day, and something I absolutely will do again. If you ever get to Orlando, look up Captain Le and take a trip with Native Fly Charters for Redfish in the Mosquito Lagoon. I know I will be back.



Brent Wilson said...

Awesome work John. Reds are so much fun.

Gregg said...

Nice pictures. They are a pretty fish. If I ever had a chance. If I travel 800 miles I could find freshwater cousins, more likely than the brine.


Chris said...

Glad it wasn't too easy. Working for it makes it all that much more awesome. Some sweet looking fish.

Ty said...

What a cool report. Stellar stuff John.

Feather Chucker said...

Awesome post and pics!

Unknown said...

Hmm, will probably be in Orlando next fall....might have to stay an extra day or two, although I suspect I won't have near the "luck" (skill) you did.

Mark VanDehey said...

Ok, i am really jealous now.