Sunday, March 12, 2017

Everglades National Park Fishing Trip

I had the opportunity to explore the fishing of the Everglades National Park with Mark Giacobba from Gladesoutfitter. My primary goal for this trip was to get a tarpon on the fly. We started out the day getting warmed up with ladyfish, jacks and a trout.We moved on through areas for snook, gar and bass and I was able to manage several bass on topwater and a gar which is always a blast.

Speckled Sea Trout
Florida Gar

After hitting the spots on the way, we worked our way through a creek for tarpon. Mark heard and seen signs of tarpon. As we try to be as stealthy as possible while moving through the creek, we spooked a nice tarpon. As we reach near the end of the creek, Mark suggested that I use a spin outfit with a yozuri lure and make a few casts since it was not realistic for a fly rod with the tight mangroves. I made several casts and one of the cast, a 5lb tarpon came right after the lure. It was incredible to see the tarpon and its shear strength but I did not set the hook hard enough and the fish came off seconds later. Mark navigated the boat a bit further and suggested I make a couple cast. Then a 20lb tarpon slammed the lure and this time the lure stuck the fish good. The tarpon made several jumps and ultimately straighten out the hook as I did not bow to the fish.

After those blown opportunities, we made a few rides to some mangrove shorelines where Mark poled me around for tarpons on the fly rod. We spotted numbers of tarpons around 15-20lbs either right under the mangroves or in the mangroves. Majority of these shots are extremely tough for someone like myself that does not fish for tarpon on a regular basis but I did what I could. I made 1 good shot at a fish that came for the fly but turned away last moment. As Mark said "this is a game of inches" and I totally agree.

Overall, this was a great experience to explore the Everglades fishing. I landed several species and experienced first handed how challenging tarpon fishing is but definitely more knowledgeable after this trip. You can be certain I will be going back to get one!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Fly Fishing for American Shad Basics

It’s about that time of year. Spring is around the corner and the annual run of American Shad is expected in the coming weeks. This is something many look forward to, including myself. I have written an ebook on how to chase American Shad with a fly rod to share this tradition. For those that does not have my book, I want to summarize some of the key elements for you to get started; fly rod setups, fly/lure, where to find them and how to fish them. These are my recommendations, as you spend more time on the water, you will find tune things that will work best for you.

I do all of my shad fishing in the Western Mass area. The thing to remember is that the fish are not feeding but heading to their spawning grounds. You want to get the fly/lure in their face to aggravate them for the take.  

Fly Rod Setups

                Single Hander: 9’ 5wt to 8wt.

                        Reel: click pawl or drag disc with 100yd of 20lb backing.

Line: floating WF line will be fine while wading, if you are fishing from a boat, you will want to use full sinking line.

                        Leader/tippet: 7-9’ of tapered leader down to 8-12lb tippet.

                Switch Rod: 5wt to 7wt.

                        Reel: click pawl or drag disc with 100yd of 20lb backing.
                        Line: I prefer to use a Skagit shooting with mono running line and a sink tip.

                        Leader/tippet: 5-7’ of straight 8-12lb.
     Shad fly: very similar to a clouser profile but very flashy. An assortment in different            sizes, colors, and sink rate will cover different water conditions.

                 Shad dart: go with a smaller shad dart (ie 1/64oz, 1/32oz), a size you are comfortable                          casting.

                Fish the Connecticut River and its tributaries. 

    Figure out their mood by using a variety of retrieves.
    From slow to fast strips and from short to long strips.

Shad on the Switch Rod - Photo credit: Mark P.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Fly Line That Will Ease Your Transition into the Spey Casting World

Are you interested in learning how to spey cast but not sure where to start or do not want to invest a fortune to decide whether it is suitable for you? Then this is the article for you.

A bit of a backdrop to get this post started.

I have been talking to a fellow shad angler and friend, Bob, on my experience in Florida and my experimentations on two handed rods for fishing the surf. One conversation lead to another.
He became more interested in two handed rods and spey casting - he has seen me spey cast with two handed rods back in my home waters of New England during the shad run. Coming from him - he told people how I am able to effortlessly cast a two handed rod though I am a small built. I'll take that compliment any day. Bob mentioned, he is getting older and would like the put less effort in casting heavy flies for steelhead back in Ohio.

He spent hours researching spey casting and every topic surrounding the subject such as rods, reels, types of lines and so forth, believing this is the solution for him. This led to him being extremely frustrated and giving up on the idea as there are many opinions out there and not sure who to believe.

I told Bob, just try the OPST head - one of my favorite compact shooting head out there thinking it would address his goals. I sent him to websites to look at the OPST in action, which OPST head to buy and where to buy it. He was very impressed with this OPST as he seen videos of people making effortless casts with it. The next day he spent hours doing research on a running line because the OPST is not a head with integrated running line. The website where I sent him to buy the OPST, he came across a video on the Wulff Ambush head with the integrated running line. He was impressed with the line and purchased it because he did not want to deal with the loop to loop connection between the head and running line. I have used the intermediate Ambush line with an integrated running line a while back and was impressed with its versatility. I can not believe I did not remember this line as a recommendation for him... Anyways the  Ambush line is what I could recommend to people that are looking to get involved with spey casting and potentially using two handed rods. There are just so many applications for the Ambush line from single handed casting to spey casting whether in fresh or saltwater depending how you match it to your rod.

Additional keypoints to note on the Ambush line: 

1) Read more on its versatility and and how to match the line to your rod for different applications on their website.

2- Wulff Ambush comes with either integrated running line or just the shooting head.

If you are interested in only the shooting head... there are many running line out there. One of my favorite is the Rio Gripshooter. It has the handling section so it does not slip out of your finger as easily but gain the extra distance with the mono portion,

3 - Available with Floating or Intermediate shooting head

You can slap the appropriate Ambush line on practically any single handed rod setup you may have and start spey casting under $100.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Why You Should Overhead Cast in the Surf with Two Handed Rods?

I have been fishing the salt alot lately and whenever I use my two handed rod, people have asked me about my setup as they rarely see many people using two handed rods in the surf but this is getting more popular. This post is to help describe the benefits of two handed rods in the surf and to talk about the rods and line setups. Let me know if you have further questions or want me to dive deeper into the details.

Here are a few reasons to overhead cast with two handed rods in the surf:

1)      Distance & Efficiency

Generally speaking, two handed rods matched appropriately cast greater distances compared to single handed rods.

We all experience when a blitz occurs right in front of us, the adrenaline gets to us and all the fundamentals of fly casting goes out the window. We just want to get our fly back out there in fewer cast as possible. This is where the two hander comes in with a shooting head that loads the rod quickly for an overhead cast.

2)      Reaching over the waves with less effort with the longer rods.

3)      Less fatigue on the body that allows you to fish longer.

4)      Cut through the winder easier with the heavier shooting heads.

Rod & Line System:
For this discussion, I will focus on the rod and line system since they affect more of the casting execution.

Rod setups:

Custom single handed rod conversions:
You can convert a single handed rod by adding a longer rear handle or a custom built two handed rod on a single handed rod blank.

1)      More accuracy because of the shorter blank
2)      Be able to fish closer to shore where fish may be lurking.
3)      The longer rear handle will give you more leverage against the fish compared to a shorter fighting butt.

1)      Shorter distance because of the shorter length of the rod.

            Switch, Spey and Beach rods:
Switch rods are generally 10.5’ -12’, Spey rods are 12’+ and Beach rods are 11’-14’ based on some of the rods out there. Beach rods are made for overhead casting in the surf.

1)      Cast longer distance vs the single handed conversation/custom built mention above due to length.
2)      May not be as accurate as the shorter length rod because of the longer length but when you are overhead casting in the surf it not matter as much.

1)      Landing the fish can be tougher with a longer rod.
2)      If you are fighting a big fish like a 100LB+ tarpon, shorter rods are preferred.

         Line system:
                        Separate shooting heads and running lines:

1)      Configure the system however you want, from the shooting head to the running line (fly line like running line or mono like running line).
2)      If you use the mono like running line with a shooting head you can get extra distance compare to fly line running line.

1)      If you use a loop to loop connection to join the shooting head and running line
a.       Usually people do not fish/strip beyond the shooting head because the connection can jam up to the guides.
                                                                                                                           i.      Sometimes fish are within rod lengths away and those are missed opportunities.
b.      If you have a strong fish on, there are chances they can blow up the guides.

                          Integrated shooting heads with fly line running line:

1)      No loop to loop connection to worry about.
2)      Fish within rod length if not closer.

1)      May not get the distance compare to a shooting head with a mono like running line.
a.       From my research, I have not seen an integrated shooting head made with a mono like running line.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Fly Gear Review: Redington Voyant 10wt Fly Rod

Updated 8/27

Recently, I purchased the 10wt Redington Voyant fly rod for targeting saltwater gamefish in Florida. After a few outings, I can say I am very pleased with the performance of the rod and how well it casted big flies/heavy flies during windy conditions. With it being discontinued, many fly shops are selling them at a discount, so get them while they last!

Below are my opinions of the rod, I kept it short and simple. Comment if you have any specific questions.

1) Fast action rod which makes casting in windy conditions much easier
2) 2 big stripping guides which lowers the chances of your line getting caught in the guides
3) Very nice cork handle
4) Alignment dots on each section for easy rigging
5) Affordable price

1) The hook keep on the rod is a bit annoying, Sometimes the line can get wrapped around it.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Peacock Bass on the Fly

I met up with a fellow angler, Cameron Cushman and we fished Miami for Peacock Bass. We started out by fishing near a local canal system. Both of us were so excited when we saw some big fish right away. After a while of trying to entice the fish to take, we could not get them to fully commit. We decided to move to another area.

After arriving to the new area, we spotted bunch of fish and we knew our chances are good especially with the sun out. Cameron was stalking a few peacock near the high grass, as I turned over his fiberglass rod was bent. I quickly ran over to snap some photos of him and his beautiful peacock! With a great start, we were very confident that the fishing would only get better.
Cameron with his Peacock Bass.
After Cameron landed his fish, he wanted to put me onto some fish as well! I changed up my fly with a clouser pattern that he tied. We saw another fish near its bed, I took many casts at it from multiple angles before it fully slurped up the fly and my rod was bent. After landing my first peacock bass, now I understand why people go crazy about wanting to catch these fish. The peacock bass fought hard and their colors are extraordinary. 
Cameron with his amazing photography skills took this action shot of my 1st peacock.

My first peacock bass! - Photo credit: Cameron Cushman
We decided to move towards to the beach to find more fish to entice with our flies. Cameron saw the same fish that his wife was fishing for before. I was working on another fish and it was going crazy in circles whenever my fly dropped onto its bed, after many attempts, it took the fly and it was on! Another beautiful peacock. Minutes later, Cameron tricked his peacock to munch on his fly. It was a another colorful fish! I found another aggressive peacock later, it certainly did not like any trespassers and the fish took my fly after it started sinking down near its bed.

What an awesome day of fishing for peacock. This is one species I can cross off my list but I will definitely will be going back to Miami for more. Learned a lot about sight fishing for Peacock Bass. big thanks to Cam!
2nd Peacock Bass, Photo Credit: Cameron Cushman

Look at that bend of the fiberglass rod.
The colors of that Peacock...

3rd Peacock Bass, Photo credit: Cameron Cushman

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Discovering Florida's Fishing Opportunities

The freshwater fishing has been treating me good. I started out with a weight dumbbell fly and fished off the bottom and landed many decent sized bass, bream and mayan cichlid. After talking to a friend, he reminded me how fun it was to fish topwater flies. I took his advice and landed even bigger bass on the top. My personal bass was landed with a deerhair bug. I was told there are even bigger bass in Florida and I am looking forward to. Along with the bass, I landed several new species which are not offered in the Northeast.

I plan to fish the salt soon and more updates will follow.

Personal best LMB

This LMB took a crayfish pattern 

Catfish? Not confirmed

Mayan Cichlid - alot of fun on the fly rod, they pull hard