Zane Grey and Bonefish Oblivion

Author and Keys fishing pioneer Zane Grey. Photo: IGFA

Author and Keys fishing pioneer Zane Grey.
Photo: IGFA

Grey referred to the trancelike state sometimes achieved aboard a skiff after hours spent beneath the hot sun attempting to sneak up on schools of bonefish as “bonefish oblivion.”





Founder of Umpqua Feather Merchants Dennis Black Passes

An avid angler and gifted fly designer and tyer, Dennis had a profound impact on many of us here at Umpqua, as well as on the entire fly-fishing industry as a whole. [Read more…]

“Bass Professor” Doug Hannon Dies at Age 66

+Doug-Hannon-m-r----2-bassDoug Hannon, who had nearly 20 patents for numerous fishing tackle, lures and boating propulsion designs, died at home Thursday after complications from neck surgery. After its launch last summer Hannon was again riding the crest of worldwide acclaim with his newest innovation the MicroWave Line Control System by American Tackle, introduced at fall and winter fishing and trade shows in Australia, Asia, and Europe and recently in North America.  Hannon  was best known for his recent inventions on the spin fishing front but he loved fly fishing whenever he got the chance.

Full press release below. [Read more…]

Gary Merriman Interview

Mike Mazur interviews Gary Merriman, inventor of the “Tarpon Toad,” for Sport Fishing magazine.

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.

Jon Ain Passes

Jon Ain PermitJon Ain, whose love of permit fishing and obsession with catching as many as he could on fly marked him as one of the true aficionados of the sport, died yesterday of complications from cancer, which he had been battling for several months.

Jon–whose professional life was spent as a physician and diagnostic radiologist–was the organizer and tournament director of the popular March Merkin tournament in Key West.  He was also a member of the board of Bonefish and Tarpon Trust.

Jon’s love of permit fishing was infectious.  He once told me: “I simply cannot get enough.”  A lot of us understand that feeling, and Jon will be sorely missed among the fraternity of permit fanatics.

Hal Chittum on Everglades Conservation

John Kipp

John Kipp

We conducted our first interview with boat builder Hal Chittum yesterday and ended up talking about more than just how naval architects and small-boat fanatics can produce interesting hull designs.  Hal and I spent a lot of time off the record discussing the state of Everglades conservation, and in particular what is happening with the establishment of so-called “pole-and-troll zones” in Everglades National Park.

He described a monumental effort by guide John Kipp–who virtually took two years off from guiding to work on management plan issues, attending public meetings and working to create compromise, while moving guides and others toward a better understanding of the need to protect the fragile flats of the Park.  Kipp and Chittum both worked hard on the issues, and met stiff opposition from commercial interests and even in some members of Park management.  But the scientists, he said “were always on our side.”

“What’s the status of the plan now,” I asked him.  “It’s moving forward, but the lack of funding means it is happening more slowly than it should.”

It’s just another reminder that the people who are most enchanted by the culture of small-boat performance also are often the most obsessed, and careful, about the environment we are privileged to enjoy.

Why Keys Bonefishing Changed: Ruoff’s View

Rick RuoffRick Ruoff and I were talking skiffs yesterday–and in particular about the fine custom pirogues built by Brian Esposito–when the subject turned to the health of Upper Keys bonefish.

I noted something Harry Spear had mentioned a few months back: that fish were much easier to see in the Keys these days because of the absence of the deep, dark turtle grass that used to line most of the basins and flats.  “Makes sense to me,” Rick replied.  “The best theory I’ve ever heard was that we need a hurricane to come scour the grass clean every few years.  But since the algae blooms have become widespread and more regular, it may be that the grasses are already so week that any hurricane will just scour them off the bottom.  That’s what happened with Wilma in 2005. It left big sandy areas where there used to be lush turtlegrass and manatee grass.”

“What do you think is at the source of it all,” I asked Rick, who is a trained marine biologist.

“There are some people who don’t want to hear this, but I think it has to do with pollution, which may be why the Lower Keys have been mostly spared.  The prevailing wind in the Lower Keys pushes it all out to see.  But the prevailing wind in the Upper Keys just pushed it all back into Florida Bay.”

We’ll be interviewing Rick, who’s been guiding in the Keys now for 43 years, in the coming weeks.

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.

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…]