The Stakeout

Used to be that pushpoles were the most convenient way to temporarily anchor a skiff to a flat.   Of course if the wind was blowing over 15 knots and you had even a moderately heavy skiff, you had to be very careful about the angle at which you inserted the pole into the bottom.  Too much flex–especially on one of the early glass or graphite pushpoles–meant a trip back to the dock with a pole that might or might not be repairable.

So it’s not surprising that several companies have come out with manual anchoring systems based the pushpole-as-anchor concept but with a lower cost and a lower likelihood of breaking.  Three products worth mentioning are the Stiff Ram-Rod, the Wang Anchor, and the Stick-It Anchor Pin.  All are pictured here with links to their Web sites, and they’re all under $150.00.

Anchoring poles like these differ in materials and durability, but the key difference in my opinion centers on how the anchors are attached to the skiff.  Most have a Y- or T-shaped head that will accept a looped tie-off line, which can be attached to your platform or a cleat.  The Wang system includes a bracket which must be attached to the hull or deck.  And the Stiffy adds a stainless steel shacked for clip-on ease.

Bonefish at 130 Feet: Hope for Islamorada

Charter fisherman aboard Islamorada charter bottom-fishing boats have been catching bonefish up to 24 inches long in water 130 feet deep, report multiple news services.  And they were released.

Dr. Jerry Ault, director of the University of Miami Bonefish and Tarpon Research Center, said that the fish encountered in deep water were likely spawning and that late December through early January is the height of the bonefish reproductive season.

“Bonefish tend to spawn in deep water near the edge of the continental shelf, but it’s certainly unusual to catch a bonefish in that kind of depth,” Ault said. “Typically, they are inshore and this is really cool and of great (research) interest.”

If the bonefish are spawning offshore of Islamorada, my guess is that the the chances of upper Keys bonefish recovery are increased.  Now we just need to figure out what is keeping them off the flats.

Powerpole Moves

JL Marine Systems Inc., the parent company for Power-Pole®, C-Monster™ Control System and Green Marine™, has moved to a new custom-designed building in Tampa.

Permit Tip #2: Place the Fly Where the Fish Can See It


One of my favorite permit flies: the classic Merkin. It may not be as sexy as some of the pure imitations now in vogue, but it still works.

It is often true that you don’t want bonefish or especially tarpon to see the fly until they stumble across it. If you use the same strategy with a sinking fly for permit, such as the standard Merkin, it will do more to frighten them than stimulate their feeding behavior. After all, crabs don’t jump up off the bottom when they see a 30-pound permit moseying toward them.

Try to drop the fly far enough away from the fish that the splash will not spook it but close enough that it will first notice the fly when the pattern drops through the water column. This will vary from 2 to 15 feet, depending on the depth and clarity of the water, the speed at which the fish is moving, and whether it is actively feeding or tailing. If you are tempting fish with a floating fly or shrimp-type streamer, which are usually stripped, this rule does not hold, as you typically want the fish to see the fly only after it has been in the water for a second or two. The all-time permit champ, Del Brown, whom I had the pleasure of guiding for almost 200 days over the years, used to say that he threw the fly “right at the fish.” He usually finished by adding, “But I always miss by at least a foot or two.”

Permit Tip #1: Keep the Rod (the Right Rod) in Your Hand

Del Brown

Del Brown with a nice permit we caught on a cold, overcast spring day west of Key West.

Use a Properly Sized Rod and Keep It In Your Hand

Sure, you can keep a fully rigged permit rod in the gunwale rack for the occasional stray fish that interrupts your tarpon fishing, but when you see a permit, you will want to keep your eyes solely on the fish. They can be quite difficult to see, especially for the inexperienced.  Much of permit fishing is about removing distractions, like thoughts of where your fly is or whether your line is ready to cast. So always have the rod in your hand.

Although these fish can weigh up to 50 pounds, line and rod weight are determined as much by the need to calmly deliver heavy flies — often in a stiff wind — as they are by the size of the fish. The standard is a 10-weight rod with a weight-forward floating line. Some anglers feel the need to overload with an 11-weight line to help turn over bulky permit flies, and many prefer to use a “saltwater taper,” which has more of its belly weight toward the tip.  But if possible don’t throw a big permit fly on too small a rod; it’s not much fun, and whether the fly is going to swing around and hit you in the back because you can’t get the line speed is the ultimate distraction.

Tarpon Flies:Tying The Gurgler

Tarpon GurglerThe Gurgler–authored by the late Jack Gartside–can be used for many, many species.  We’ve even caught permit on them.  Here, Scott Yetter ties a Gurgler for baby tarpon.   [Read more…]

Powerboat Sales Rise in 2012

Powerboat sales–mostly “in the 15- to 26-foot range, which make up 96 percent of the 12.4 million boats registered in the U.S”–were up 10% in 2012, and the National Marine Manufacturers Association says it expects another 5-10% growth in 2013.


Tarpon Heading South

Tarpon MigratingIf you’ve ever seen a large school of tarpon migrating, you know it’s quite a sight. The poster of this video says: “Returning from a day of mackerel fishing off of the St. Lucie Inlet, we ran into this huge school of tarpon that were trucking it south. We threw several types of jigs at them but they were only interested in whatever they were eating in the water. We think it was glass minnows.” [Read more…]