The Most Important Thing You Can Do for Your Skiff’s Rigging

Skiff Rigging

photo by jepoirrier

I spent some time yesterday morning discussing skiff construction with legendary builder and in-demand boat rigger Tom Gordon of Islamarine Boat Repair.  One of the questions I asked him was about maintaining electrical systems.  Specifically, I wanted to know what to do when you were dealing with electrical rigging that isn’t bulletproof–either because of shoddy workmanship or because of age.

Tom said, “It’s very simple: keep it dry.  If you have plugs in the rigging wells or anywhere else that are preventing water drainage, remove them.”  It stands to reason that any additional exposure to moisture–leaving wet items or rags in compartments with electronics (e.g. wet anchor lines beside batteries), leaving standing water in a bilge, or even leaving your boat in the water rather than pulling out each day–will all shorten the working life of your system.

“The Road to a Jericho”

Jericho Bay Lobster SkiffShearline Boatwork’s Chip King tells the story of building a wooden Jericho Bay skiff, based on an old lobster boat design, for wooden boat aficionado Larry Wilson. There’s some wonderful detail here about the inspiration and skills required to build this classic boat. [Read more…]

Reeder/Denkert Team Catches 34 Redfish in 2-Day Tourney

Ross Reeder, guided by Captain Dave Denkert of Islamorada, Fla., caught and released 11 redfish on bait, 23 reds on artificial lure and one bonefish on bait during the two-day Redbone Celebrity Tournament Nov. 2 – 4, which also celebrated its silver anniversary as a major fundraiser for cystic fibrosis treatment and research..

For more on the Redbone events go online to or call 305-664-2002.

Rod Protection: I’ll Take the Pledge

That’s right, I said Pledge®–the same stuff your mom used to clean furniture (back when furniture was made of real wood).   This tip was passed along to me by an old Key West guide back in the 1980s when I asked what would help protect my fishing rods.   Pledge actually does a remarkable job of putting a shine on not just on the rod itself but on the guides as well, and in my experience it provides a layer of protection to both.  Maybe that’s because it contains “silicone formers” in an “isoparaffin carrier” and octylphosphonic acid–a corrosion inhibitor.

Believe it or not you can also clean sunglasses with the product.  It won’t streak, and leaves a nice shine on lenses.  I’m sure it breaks all kinds of lens cleaning rules though, so check with your sunglass manufacturer before trying it.

On a somewhat related note, never put ArmorAll® on any fly lines or PVC products–it has ingredients that break down polymers and will leave your lines cracked.  The best thing for cleaning a fly line is  plain old warm water and mild soap.

New Book/DVD: “Kayak Fishing” by Jeff Weakley

Kayak FishingPhotojournalist Jeff Weakley gives advice on selecting, outfitting and transporting fishing kayaks, along with technique-specific instruction for catching all kinds of fish, from largemouth bass to striped marlin in this new book from publisher Florida Sportsman.

Fly Fishing for Winter Tarpon

It’s been only weeks since the last of the baitfish populations pushed out of south Florida. With them went some fairly predictable fall tarpon fishing.  But now we are only weeks away from the months when tarpon begin responding to warm, calm winter days by moving up into the rivers and basins of the Everglades and other sheltered inshore areas.

Some of the best tarpon fishing you can do happens in January, February and March in Florida.  It’s not well-known or well-understood, but the winter fishery is something to behold if you get the timing right and know where to look.  We’ll be publishing some tips on winter fishing over the next few months.  Here’s one to start:

When looking for winter tarpon, think dark bottom and no wind.  Dark bottom–be it the tannic sand of the Ten Thousand Islands basins or the long dark turtlegrass in water that is 10 feet deep or so in the Keys–holds heat.  And the absence of wind brings tarpon closer to the surface; there are different theories for this, but my favorite has to do with the fact that wind (and cold) oxygenate water and enable a tarpon to stay deep without rolling.

So to begin your search for winter tarpon–assuming you don’t know the locations they’ve preferred historically–start by looking near deeper water or pockets in basins in about 10 feet of water.  And look in on calm days with bright skies so that you can see fish that are sometimes laid up 8 feet below the surface.  You may have a hard time getting the fly down to them without an intermediate line, but don’t worry–they’ll come up.  And if the weather has been calm and hot for a few days, don’t be surprised to see some very big fish lollygagging right near the surface.

Beware the Biting Permit

PermitIf you’ve been fishing for permit as long as we have, you might think you’ve heard it all when it comes to rumors about permit behavior.  This video contains some decent footage of permit scrounging for food, but it suggests something we’ve never heard before: permit in schools become aggressive and deliver dangerous bites!
(Apparently they go for the pinkie.) [Read more…]

Where Have Florida Bay Bonefish Gone?

As Susan Cocking writes in the Miami Herald, the decline in bonefish populations in the Upper Keys and Florida Bay has so far puzzled scientists, who are looking at changes in food sources, water quality and habitat as possible clues.

Stu Apte and the Citrus Queen

Stu Apte Citrus QueenAh, the good ole days, when real men poled standing next to the engine and beauty queens coated in coconut oil observed the action from the comfort of genuine naugahyde.

There’s plenty of angling detail in this old video, including the use of a “stiffener” inserted into the fiberglass rod butt, Stu applying finger pressure to the line, and a demonstration of how hard it was to set a hook in the days of highly flexible rods and thick wire hooks. Stu was likely fishing in one of the Lower Keys bights where guides of the era had discovered some very large laid-up tarpon. [Read more…]

How Hurricane Sandy Affected Chesapeake

Scientists are studying how the massive rainfall amounts brought by Sandy may affect water temperatures, sedimentation, salinity and the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay.