Chico’s First Tarpon

Chico FernandezHell’s Bay Boatworks just published this great little story by Chico Fernandez about his first tarpon on a fly rod, landed in Cuba in the late 1950s.

“[I]n 1956, my dad hired an American captain to run his new 62’ sport-fisherman. The captain, besides using spinning tackle, turned out to be a fly fisherman. One look at the big fat fly line unrolling in the air and I was in love – the smell of bamboo, the beautiful flies, the leader construction, and the casting, of course. I didn’t know it then, but I had started an affair that would last the rest of my life.”  Read the whole story.

“Silver King: The Birth of Big Game Fishing”

Tarpon Fishing HistoryAs I was talking with Keys guide Dustin Huff the other day, we both agreed that without tarpon fishing, we’d be scratching our heads about what the future might bring.  As with permit, bonefish, redfish and snook, tarpon seasons trend up and down, but the migratory nature of the fish means that they aren’t as completely dependent on local food sources and weather conditions to thrive.  That may be one reason their populations seem to be holding up, even if they are more difficult to feed–a phenomenon easily explained by the numbers of boats and fishermen.  And of course tarpon are very long lived–as is the tradition of fishing for them.

“Silver King,” made about the long history of tarpon fishing on southwest Florida coast, contains a ton of great imagery and is worth all of the 20 minutes it takes to watch it.  It marks the “beginning” of giant tarpon fishing with light rods as March 19, 1885, when William Halsey Wood caught a 93-pound tarpon in Sanibel Island’s Tarpon Bay on a bamboo rod. [Read more…]

“From Shore to Shore: Boat Builders and Boatyards of Westchester and Long Island”

Susan Hodara reports in The New York Times on a very cool exhibition on boat building and history currently happening in White Plains, NY.  “These are craftsmen who have accumulated tremendous knowledge… and who, in some cases, can trace that knowledge back generations.”

Scientists: Old Tarpon Formula Underestimates Weight by As Much As 15%

Tarpon Master App

Tarpon Master App

Marine scientists Jerry Ault and Jiangang Luo have come up with a new “ellipsoid” formula–complemented by the “Tarpon Master” version 1.0 app for iPhones–to instantly estimate a tarpon’s weight.

The real shocker in the story, though, is that, according to Ault, the old girth-squared times length divided by 800 method  was terribly innacurate. “What I found was, ‘Oh, crap, it’s negatively biased,'” Ault said. “It underestimates weight by more than 15 percent.”

Plano Redesigns Web Site

Tackle box maker Plano just redesigned their Web site, promising the new design will “make selecting products as easy as finding them in a tidy tackle box.”

Cuba Fishing

Cuban TarponCyril Chauquet goes fishing in Cuba, starting at the seawall along Havana’s famed Malecon, and ending up on the
Rio Hatiguanico, in Matanzas, Cuba, fishing for tarpon from an inflatable dingy. [Read more…]

$3000 Inflatable Flats Boat

Bare Bones Flats Boat

Bare Bones Inflatable Flats Boat

Richard Swan, an avid fly fisherman and entrepreneur and formerly CEO and founder of Glacier Glove, has just announced his latest product: an inflatable flats boat that can be checked as luggage or fit into a car trunk and set up in about ten minutes.  The boat will be introduced at the Miami International Boat Show, Feb. 14-18 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

One to two adult anglers can stand up and cast from the Bare Bones™ thanks to an innovative drop stitched floor. Drop Stitch construction is widely used in inflatable Stand Up Paddleboards (SUP) and greatly improves stability. The light weight design floats in five inches of water. In addition, the frame offers two sets of oar locks strategically placed to allow the Bare Bones™ to be rowed facing either the stern or the bow. Facing the stern provides the greatest rowing power, while facing the bow, allows the rower to see the fish and move the boat with precision to the best casting position. “Flats boats have traditionally been poled on the flats, a skill that takes a lot of practice to acquire,” said Swan. “The Bare Bones™ offers the option of rowing, a skill that most fisherman already possess.”

Caring for a Camera in Saltwater

Saltwater Camera CarePro photographer Louis Cahill of Gink & Gasoline shows how to take care of a camera in saltwater environments. [Read more…]

Permit Tip #3: Learn to See the Fish

Because fly placement is critical, it’s probably more important to see permit than it is to see any other flats species you’ll stalk.

Contrary to rumor, permit are not harder to see than other fish; they are just different. Standard advice is to look for the darkest part of the fish — their coal-black, forked tails. This is especially true when trying to spot smaller permit. But the longer you pursue permit, the more you will begin to look for the whole fish. Permit are generally larger than bonefish; yet they typically frequent darker-bottom flats and don’t cast a telltale shadow as often.

Head-on, however, the dark band that runs down their back from just behind their head to their tail is a dead giveaway. This is why a permit can seem to suddenly appear and then disappear as he first turns toward and then sideways to the angler. Also, despite previously published claims to the contrary, permit do in fact mud, and their muds are especially visible when they hold in current on dark, grassy bottoms or move across the current on a favorite flat, leaving short “smoke trails” each time they dig into the bottom.

“Nervous water” is a giveaway too, especially places where permit are comfortable high up on a flat.  Disturbances on the surface may not always be made by permit–but sharks and rays can both have permit following them, so any nervous water is worth checking out.

And of course you’ll sometimes see a permit tail or tail tip, especially when a permit is nose-down in shallow water.   On especially calm days, permit tail tips often pop up when the fish are “floating” or hanging in current, as they look for crabs and shrimp on the surface.

The Sebile Knot

Sebile Knot

Sebile Knot

Tom Rowland demonstrates a very strong connection for tying braid to fluorocarbon: the Sebile Knot, or Chinese Finger Trick, which he learned from Key West guide Robbie Delph. “Not really a knot, but an ultra-strong connection.” [Read more…]