Fly Fishing for Coastal Gamefish
I met Cameron Mortenson (Fiberglass Manifesto)at the Midwest Fly Fishing Show in Detroit in March 2012. I was at the show manning a BTT booth, Cameron was handling the traffic at the Fiberglass Manifesto booth. We chatted a bit about glass rods, how they are better than so many of the modern rods (many of which are too stiff and fast) for soft presentations that are so often needed for tailing fish (whether redfish, bonefish, stripers...). A week or so ago I arrived home from work and found an 8wt fiberglass rod waiting for me - an 8'6" 8wt from Lilly Pond Rod Company - a loaner from Cameron to test on the redfish of southwest Florida.
Going old-school. Fiberglass rod loaded on the kayak at dusk.
This was a real blast from the past - glass rods have a completely different feel from graphite rods. Whereas graphite rods are slick and modern, glass rods have a different feel to them, a feel that I can only describe as homespun.
This past weekend the tides and weather cooperated - strong low tides near dusk, thunderstorms that stayed well inland, and calm winds.
I paddlded the kayak into a network of backcountry ponds, and immediately found redfish pushing bait on the edge of a seagrass bed. And then a couple of tailing fish farther on the grass flat, and then the sound of a fish exploding on bait around the corner. All of this before I could strip enough line off the reel to make a cast. I'm not sure what the history of this rod is, but if it can attract fish like this, I don't know that I'm going to send it back to Cameron.
Fiberglass rod helps to fool a nice redfish.
The first challenge was slowing my casting stroke enough to wait for the glass rod to load. The fast rods of today require a faster, stronger stroke - although timing is critical, it's possible to use muscle to make up for not-so-great timing. In contrast, in my opinion, it's all about timing when casting glass rods. And because of the longer stroke and softer rod, I think that it's eaasier to make soft presentations of the fly in the shallow conditions found when fishing for tailing fish and in the backcountry. Once I slowed my casting stroke, things went very well.
Granted, there were a lot of redfish in the backcountry this past weekend, but these fish aren't very forgiving. It's not like the stories I hear of Louisiana redfish who will tolerate two or three poor casts, and even hit a fly on a poor cast. The skinny-water backcountry redfish here will give you one chance - a bad cast, they spook and are gone; a cast off the mark, and they don't see it or ignore it. A good and accurate presentation is critical. This glass rod was perfect for this situation.
In the last two hours of light on the first evening I think the tally was 8 redfish to hand, some casts blown, and a couple of fish the spit the hook. All sight-fishing. Not bad.
The next evening, the glass rod managed a backcountry slam - redfish, snook, and spotted seatrout. Not bad at all.
I'm sure Cameron would like the rod back soon, but we have another good backcountry tide coming up in 10 days. Hmmm.
Another fly tying video - Bastard Crab. This has proven to be a great fly for bonefish, and permit seem to like it too. See this and other fly tying videos on the Simple Flies Video page.
Yet another revision of a Simple Flies video - the Simple Baitfish.
The revisions to the Simple Flies series just keep coming. The latest to be revised in the Candy Corn, a productive tarpon fly. This color combination is great for the tannin-stained backcountry. This and other fly tying videos are all available on the Simple Flies page.
Yet another update to the Simple Flies video series. Simple Anchovy has been re-edited to include commentary on prey and tying tips. Simple Anchovy Redux is also available on the Simple Flies video page.
More photos have been added to the Stock Photos gallery. Click on the photo below to access the newly posted photos.
Another Simple Flies video has been re-edited to include commentary on habitats, prey, and tying. Norman's Crab Redux is also available on the Simple Flies video page.
As if I needed anymore proof that the new word 'sporadicity' was appropriate for this tarpon season, this weekend was the kicker. Saturday we had the first good weather in more than 2 weeks - mostly sunny, light breeze, no swell. So out I went in search of tarpon. Even within the day it was sporadic - fish moving through for about 45 minutes, then nothing. move to another spot, same thing - fish for 30 - 40 minutes, then nothing. Checked out some laid up spots, nothing. No fishon Saturday. Headed out for a few hours mid-day on Sunday, had fish coming through a beach spot for about 1.5 hours. A steady stream, fish every 5 - 10 minutes. Got 2 to eat - about 60 and 90 lb. Nice. Then suddenly, the fish stopped coming. There had been no change in tide, no change in wind or sun. ???? So I headed to a spot where I sometimes fin laid up tarpon, and damn if I didn't find 2. The fly got hung up in the abundant floating grass, so I was blanked on laid up fish. But what a difference from Saturday to Sunday. Oh yeah - there was not a single boat in either spot!
Simple Flies Video Update: I'm starting to go through my fly tying videos to add content - details about the prey the flies imitate, in what types of habitat to use the fly, and tying tips. The first Simple Flies Video Redux is The Big Ugly. Now on Vimeo. This video and others are also posted on the Simple Flies Video page. Enjoy.
I've posted a new feature on how fish interpret sound and how sound behaves in water, with some advice on how this influences fly design and presentation. This is a condensed excerpt from my book Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing for Coastal Gamefish. This piece is posted in the How To section, which has a lot of other useful information in 12 features.
Sporadicity (noun) spo-rad-ic-i-ty - the quality or fact of being sporadic. OK, so I made it up, but it perfectly describes the 2012 tarpon season thus far. There are tons of fish one day, the ocean seems empty the next. Tarpon eat with reckless abandon one day, and turn away from all flies the next. The ride high one day, and rub their bellies on the bottom the next. This new word needs to be added to all tarpon angler's dictionaries.
If you're into reading about the science side of things, I've updated the list of research articles available for download on the Research page.
The official release date is May 1, but I just received my first 'author' order, which means they have them in the warehouse. The Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing for Coastal Gamefish is now available. This is a revised and updated edition of Fisherman's Coast, and includes three new chapters - Tides, How Fish Use Sight and Sound, and Stewardship - and new photos and figures. My pre-release copies have already been sold, so there is a handful of anglers who've already started reading the book. You can order a signed copy from me or via your favorite bookstore, fly shop, or online vendor.
I can't remember where I saw this link, maybe midcurrent or moldychum. In any case, an awesome web site that provides real time vector graphics on wind speed and direction. And you can zoom in. This is one of those sites that makes me think that this is what makes the internet worth it, worth tolerating all the crap that the internet has become. Anyway, check it out.
A recent update to the Tribal Bonefish Blog contains some interesting story links.
My next presentation will be at Flying Fish Outfitters in Nokomis, FL, from 10am - 11:30am. Topic = tarpon.
During my seminars on bonefish, tarpon, and fly tying at the recent Midwest Fly Fishing Expo, I was asked some questions that are pretty common at these types of presentations. I'll share the most commonly asked questions, and my answers, here. I've also added these questions to the Q&A section of the web site.
Q: Do you prefer gelspun or dacron for backing?
A: I prefer dacron. I realize that more gelspun can fit on a reel, but the stuff can slice fingers way too easily. This is especially risky for tarpon - a quick surge while I have a finger on the backing while winding it onto the reel, and I have a potentially deep slice in my finger. I don't have nearly as much of a problem with dacron. Plus, I don't think that the extra amount of backing on the reel is really needed. I often hear bonefish anglers talk about the need for 200 yards of backing, or how a bonefish ran for more than 100 yards. These statements are just not valid. I've never had a bonefish run 100 yards - do you realize how far that is? Go to a football field one day and put a beverage can at one end (to represent a bonefish) and walk to the other end. You'll have a tough time seeing the can. I once had a false albacore make an amazing run before slowing to a stop. When I began to reel in line, a small loop formed in the backing. I kept reeling, eventually landing the fish. That evening after I got home, I pulled the fly line and backing off the reel to get to the loop. I stretched the line across a field near the house, and measured the distance once I had reached the loop in the backing. It was 75 yards, and was much farther than any bonefish had run. In other words, the extra yards of gelspun backing isn't necessary, and the cuts it can cause are bad news.
Q: Do you use barbless hooks?
A: Yes, for all of my fishing. I don't think the fish-loss rate differs between barbed vs barbless hooks, barbless hooks are better for the fish because they reduce handling time when releasing the fish, and they are better for the angler that hooks himself (or the guide). That's one reasn I like the new barbless hooks from Grip - they come barbless, so no need to crimp the barb when tying the fly.
Q: What rod do you recommend for bonefish fishing?
A: I think it was Joan Wulff who said that it's tough to find a 'bad' rod these days. The technology is advanced enough that even most of the lower price rods are decent. Of course, some rods are better than others. But I think that the most important consideration when purchasing a rod is that the rod matches your casting style. Some people cast best with fast rods, others with slow rods. I like to feel the rod load, for others that's not a consideration. So my advice is to cast different rods, find the one that suits your style. And remember that just because a Brand X 8-weight was great doesn't mean that their 10-weight will also be great. I've found that for most rod models there is a perfect rod weight, with performance not as good with higher or lower rod weights.
Q: What camera gear do you use?
A: My still camera is a Canon Rebel T1i. I use Canon or Sigma lenses that combined cover a range from 17-135, so I can get wide angler to macro shots depending on the lense I am using. I can also shoot HD video with this camera, which I use for some top-side shots.
For underwater, I use a GoPro. I added an outer lens to improve the quality of the image underwater. I followed this do-it-yourself tutorial on jazzandflyfishing.com for making this outer lens.
Thanks to Dan, John, Scott and all of the other folks who made the Midwest Fly Fishing Expo an enjoyable trip. They had great attendance, all of my seminars were well attended. And the weather was even unseasonably warm for part of my stay. I'm sure they're all glad that the show is over until next year.
One of the fly patterns I tied at my fly tying seminar is now posted on Vimeo. The general pattern I modified from a pattern by Buz Fender (believe it or not, a winter resident of Florida, and a summer resident of an areanot far from where the Midwest Fly Fishing Expo was held - small world). This particular color pattern was dubbed the CandyCorn by friend and videographer Rich Volpe, but it can be tied in any color combination. As are other Simple Flies, it requires just a few materials, is quick and easy to tie, and is very effective. This patterns has replaced the Toad as my top tarpon pattern. This video is no permanently housed on the Simple Flies page.
Hosted Trip to Abaco Lodge - I will be hosting a bonefish fishing trip to Abaco Lodge, on the edge of
the famous Marls of Abaco, Bahamas, June 27 - July 2, 2012. Believe it
or not, this is perhaps the best time of year for bonefish fishing on Abaco.
Nervous Waters and BTT are joining forces to help protect and preserve bonefish and the environment that sustains them. Enjoy five days and four nights from June 27 - July 2, 2012 of spectacular fishing and exceptional accommodations at Abaco Lodge. Nervous Waters will donate 100% of the proceeds to BTT's sonic tagging program that is working to identify bonefish spawning locations on Abaco so that these locations can be protected. In other words, you get to go fishing for bonefish, and help pay for critically important research and conservation. Plus, i'll give evening presentations about all things bonefish. Let me know if you're interested. Only 8 spots available.
I'll be at the Midwest Fly Fishing Expo March 10-11. I'll be giving presentations on bonefish and tarpon, fly tying seminars on flies for the flats, will be at the authors' booth, and will be at the BTT booth. The schedule is:
9:45am Authors' Booth
11:30am Bonefish 101
3:30pm Tarpon 101
4:45pm Fly Tying seminar
11:30am Fly Tying seminar
1:30pm Boenfish 101
2:30pm Tarpon 101
I've posted another Simple Flies video - the Big Ugly. This fly has become popular at numerous bonefish destinations, and all indications are that the pattern is selling well at Orvis, where it is part of their selection. Orvis is also selling some of my other bonefish patterns: Norman's Crab, Legless Merkin, and Bastard Crab. See all of my fly tying videos on the Simple Flies page.
I've received numerous inquires about purchasing some of my photos, so that option is now available for digital images on the Stock Photos page.
I just finished going over the page proofs for my new book Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing for Coastal Gamefish (a second, expanded edition of Fisherman's Coast). It looks great. Three new chapters, new photos and figures. It's on schedule for a May 1 release. If you want to pre-order, you can do so on the Books page.
I will be hosting a Bonefish & Tarpon Trust trip to Pesca Maya lodge March 31 - April 7, sponsored by Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures. If you are interested in being part of this special trip, sign up soon. Participating anglers will be fishing for permit and bonefish with the goal of tagging as many as possible in ongoing efforts to gain a better understanding of movement patterns and habitat use. Plus, I will be giving evening presentations on bonefish, permit, and tarpon - their ecology, conservation, fishing tactics, and more. A portion of the funds will go toward BTT’s mission. To sign up please contact Brita Shaw at Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures, (1-888-777-5060), email@example.com . Cost for the 7 night, 6 day trip is $3,575 and is based on double occupancy and a shared boat. You can email me for more information as well.
An underwater video of bonefish lounging on a shallow flat. Also posted on the videos page.
I will be doing a live interview on kayakfishingradio.com on Monday, February 6, at 8pm to chat with Redfish Chuck about Bonefish & Tarpon Trust. I'll post a link to the podcast on the Jetsam page once it's posted.
A heads up to fly anglers in the Detroit area - I'm going to be at the Midwest Fly Fishing Expo in Warren, MI, the weekend of March 1-11. I'll give presentations and fly tying seminars each day, and will have a BTT booth as well. Although the event is indoors, I'm still hoping for unseasonably warm weather up there that weekend.
I spent the day fishing some beautiful backcountry that I haven't fished in years. Way back when, I caught some dandy redfish and snook in this area. Today conditions were perfect - morning overcast gave way to sun, a nice incoming tide, the water was clear, the sandy bottom just perfect. The strong east wind whistled over the tops of the mangroves, leaving the ponds untouched. I fished this backcountry network of ponds and cuts for 5 hours today...and was skunked. I saw only two snook and one redfish the entire time. This is becoming more common place - the shallows that used to produce well here have become spotty, some once-productive locations are now usually empty of gamefish. The folks fishing bait and jigs in deeper water are still catching reds, but the flats and backcountry don't seem to hold as many fish. I fear this signals an overall decline.
This is generally true of any species - as the total abundance declines, the geographic range of the species shrinks. The occurs on a large scale as occured with Bluefin Tuna, which were once abundant in the Caribbean, but are generally no longer found there. On the local scale, this occurs as a reduction in the habitats in which the species are found. I wonder whether the lack of gamefish in the shallows signifies a shrinking of the populations - they now seem to be most abundant in the deeper water, and less abundant in the shallows. I guess we'll find out in the years to come - will their abundance also begin to decline in the deeper areas.
In a recent email exchange with Pete at FishingJones, I was giving him some grief over not snagging any swag at the recent Fly Fishing show in Somerset, NJ. He said "...with 19 rods I think I've over-saturated my house and my wife's patience." I hear you, Pete. But I just couldn't help myself and gave this response, which I decided to post since it may be valuable advice for other fishing addicts out there with non-fishing spouses: "You just made your first mistake in the art of obfuscation as it pertains to the spouse. You actually counted the number of rods you own. Rule one = Never Count! Then you can always honestly say - "I'm not sure" when asked how many rods you have, so you can never be blamed for getting another. It's like going to the grocery store and getting a gallon of milk because you thought you were out, but it turns out there is still a half gallon in the fridge at home. That's OK, you'll use it eventually."
It's definitely a long conversation, but this podcast from Tom Rosenbauer at Orvis with Brian Okeefe provides some great photography tidbits. (Side note - when he's fishing, Tom's not a big talker, which is great. Now, as long as he doesn't start to do podcasts from the water....)
There are some Traveling Angler research fishing trips coming up in the next few months, part of Bonefish & Tarpon Trust's angler participation. Trips to Pesca Maya lodge in April, Belize River Lodge in May, and Abaco Lodge in June. What a great excuse for a trip - help out with tagging research and go fishing at the same time.
A number of people have asked about the sling pack I wore during filming of Buccaneers and Bones. It's a Patagonia Stealth Atom Sling pack.
My next presentation will be on Boca Grande on February 2, and will be about tarpon habitats.
I just received a copy of the cover for the upcoming book, due out May 1. Details here.
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust has a cool gear give-away new membership campaign going on. Worth checking out - do the right thing and get chances to win gear and a fishing trip.
New Simple Flies video - Simple Baitfish
New video clips from the 2012 season of Buccaneers and Bones
Episode 1 Preview
Episode 2 Preview
This from Bonefish & Tarpon Trust
For Immediate Release
Buccaneers & Bones Season 2
The first preview of Buccaneers and Bones Season 2 is now online. See it
before everyone else. The first episode will air Friday, December 30, at
12:30AM and 6:30AM, and Saturday, December 31, at 10:30AM and 5:30PM
(all times Eastern). Future episodes will air in these time slots in the
We’re also pleased to announce that Buccaneers and Bones has received
three nominations for a Golden Moose award – the Academy Award of
Outdoors TV: Best conservation series, Best series open, Best
A new video has been posted in the Simple Flies fly tying video series. Norman's Crab is an easy to tie, very productive fly for bonefish. The fly has also worked well for redfish and sheepshead.
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust has begun posting some 3 - 5 minute shorts from Buccaneers and Bones television series that aired on the Outdoor Channel in early 2011. The new season starts December 30 on Outdoor Channel. You can see the video segments from the series and some behind the scenes photos on BTT's Bucs & Bones page.
A new article from Mexico on the Permit and Bonefish tagging program. Thanks to Rafael Chacon for posting the article on his Facebook page.
A nice article by Skip Clement on the recent Bonefish & Tarpon Symposium is in the current issue of the online Fly Life magazine . The article is on page 50.
On the Web: A two part interview (part one, part two) on Chiwulff.com, and one profile (on Orvisnews.com) are now posted. It's nice when others do the heavy lifting. Phil's piece on Orvis News was great, I am now using it as my Bio on the About page.
Some more of my fly patterns have been picked up by Orvis. They were nice enough to ask me to write a story in Orvis News to promote the flies, which is reprinted below, including information on how to purchase these flies.
I was recently asked, “What is your
favorite pattern for casting to tailing bonefish?”
Without hesitation, I said “A crab pattern.” I like crabs for two reasons: they have a high calorie content, and crabs are almost always present in shallow water. Bonefish are opportunistic feeders and are able to take advantage of the great diversity of prey they encounter on the flats. In a study in the Florida Keys, for example, more than 130 species of prey were recorded in the stomachs of 385 bonefish.
But such a large list of prey isn’t very helpful to an angler trying to select the best flies for a fishing trip. Fortunately, although bonefish have a diverse diet, a few types of prey are consistently in the top five, making fly selection easier. Chief among the top types of prey are crabs.
In my experience, crabs are almost always
present in the shallowest water. As the tide
turns to flood, hungry bonefish push into the skinniest flats in search of small crabs that are feeding in relative safety. In fact, I have watched bonefish slither across shallow flats, their bodies half exposed, to feed on small crabs. But crabs are present in all of the habitats used by bonefish, so every fly box should have a selection of crab patterns.
There are far too many kinds of crabs to
worry about imitating a particular species,
the way a trout angler would. Instead, it
makes sense to focus on the three main
groups of crabs that are eaten by bonefish,
and then use flies that mimic the general
characteristics of these groups. Within each
group, we can focus on the similarities
among the species to minimize the number
of flies we need to imitate them.
Swimming crabs (family Portunidae), mud crabs (family Xanthidae), and spider crabs (family Majidae) are the most common small crabs eaten by bonefish. Crabs from all three families are well camouflaged in their surroundings—whether they’re green in areas of seagrass, mixed tan and green in areas where coral rubble is mixed with seagrass, or tan or brown on shallow mangrove flats. In addition, although the maximum sizes of these crabs vary among species, the sizes most often eaten by bonefish tend to be similar—typically the size of a quarter or smaller.
The greatest differences among these
families of crabs involve their behavior,
which influences pattern and presentation.
Species of swimming crabs are all similar
in shape. They can be voracious predators
and scavengers, and always seem to be
on the move. Their color varies from the
olive green of blue crabs, to tan with eyespots
for some tropical species, to light tan
on the sand flats. Swimming crabs use their
paddle-like rearmost legs to swim through
the water, and they will swim rapidly sideways
to escape a pursuing bonefish. Their
move of last resort is to dive to the bottom
and either duck under cover, such as a rock,
or bury in the sand.
Because swimming crabs swim sideways, they tuck in their legs and claw on the leading side of their body, and let their legs dangle behind them on the trailing side of the body—this is the most hydrodynamically efficient orientation. The Legless Merkin (size 4) fly pattern is designed to mimic this orientation, with a generalized body trailed by a barred tail that mimics the trailing legs. This fly lands lightly, so you can cast it very near the fish. Once it’s on the water, allow the fly to drop to the bottom, and then move it with short, quick strips. Once a bonefish sees the fly, change your retrieve to a long, slow strip.
Mud crabs and spider crabs are both
walking species. They lack the rear, paddlelike
leg that allows swimming crabs to move through the water. Therefore, mud and spider crabs maintain a close association with hiding places on the bottom. Mud crabs, when chased, hide at the bases of grass blades, burrow into the soft bottom, or scurry under a rock or shell. Spider crabs are especially abundant among rocks and shells in seagrass beds and sand flats, and on rubble flats. These species feed along the bottom and scurry for the underside of shells and rocks when chased.
The sizes generally eaten by bonefish range from about 1/4 inch to 1-1/4 inch across, with most crabs measuring between 1/2 and 3/4 of an inch. These groups of crabs were the inspiration for Norman’s Crab (size 6), a small pattern that lands lightly on the water and is best fished by leaving it still on the bottom. The movement of the rabbit fur and rubber legs implies a mud or spider crab busily foraging on the bottom, unaware of the approaching bonefish.
If they run out of other options, all crabs will turn to face the approaching bonefish, in an attempt to ward it off by snapping with their claws, all the while moving their legs as they search for a hiding place. Similarly, swimming crabs diving for the bottom can be a blur of motion. The commotion of waving claws and rapidly moving legs was the inspiration for the marabou and rubber legs of the Bastard Crab (size 4). I’ve had great success when using this pattern for both cruising and feeding fish in knee-deep or deeper water. When you cast it close enough for them to see the fly drop, the fish will often east the fly as it drops to the bottom. If you feel like the fly needs some action, a quick strip followed by a freefall works well, with the fly typically eaten on the freefall.
Adams Crab Selection
2 each pattern: 1 light, 1 dark
Item #6P8T | $15.95
to order, call 1-800-548-9548
A very cool ad from Patagonia, appeared on Black Friday.
Some big news in this update, and the explanation for the lack of activity on the web site: four years after Fishermanscoast.com was launched, the site has undergone a complete makeover. The site has been reorganized, there is a whole new look, and there is new content - such as fly tying videos. So explore, let me know of any dead links or other coding errors.
The first video in the Simple Flies fly tying video series.
There are a number of Traveling Angler opportunities through Bonefish & Tarpon Trust for the spring of 2012 - two to Belize and one to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. These trips help riase money for BTT's conservation mission and get anglers involved in the research and conservation that is occurring in these locations. Plus, on a trip that includes a BTT scientist, you will see presentations on the latest in research and conservation of bonefish, tarpon, and permit.
Some 2011 tarpon season highlights from Rich Volpe.
Understanding Tides: I recently did a podcast with Tom Rosenbauer of Orvis. Tom does podcasts weekly, often on fly fishing for trout. In this episode, he wanted to talk about how tides influence fly fishing for saltwater gamefish. Although Tom and I have fished for bonefish together many times, and tides are frequently the topic of discussion, we didn't limit our discussion in this podcast to bonefish. Any saltwater angler should be able to glean some information from this podcast.
Tagging Permit and Bonefish: I was recently in Mexico as a guest of Casa Blanca lodge, working with Rafael Chacon, the biologist Bonefish & Tarpon Trust has hired to be the feet-on-the-ground for Project Permit. I filed this trip report.
False Albacore: Now that fall is here, southwest Florida experiences feeding frenzies by a variety of species. Ladyfish are way more than common, and can save the day when other fish aren't active. But the best days are when the Spanish mackerel and false albacore are on the feed. So far this year, both of these speedsters have been abundant and hungry. I was recently able to get out with Arno Laubscher, owner of Scientific Fly in South Africa (they make some great barbless hooks that I now use almost exclusively). We found some Spanish mackerel and albies a day before a cold front swept in.
Book Update: The text for the new book (a second, revised edition of Fisherman's Coast, which is now out of print) has been edited by the publisher, and I have been through the editorial comments. Now the book goes through the design and layout process. The book will include two new chapters and all new photos to illustrate key points in the text, and will be titled The Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing for Coastal Gamefish. The release date will be May 1, 2012.
Feeding tarpon: It happens along many coastlines during the fall, as the the hours of daylight shrink with each day, the air becomes cooler and drier. Seemingly endless streams of baitfish emerge from the estuaries, beginning migrations south or offshore. Gamefish become frenzied, gorging on the overabundance of food. Spanish mackerel and bluefish blast through schools of baitfish, only to puke up the latest mouthful, turn, and do it again. It is a season of plenty. Whether it's striped bass, bluefish, and albies in the northeast, or jacks, tarpon, and snook in Florida, the frenzied action is the same. The challenge is that the game is always moving, so a good time can be spent searching. But once the action is found, it can be quite a show.
On a recent calm morning, I was on a dawn patrol in search of late season tarpon when I found fish in full frenzy mode. Tarpon, snook, and crevalle jacks were gorging on scaled sardines and threadfin herring trapped against jetty rocks on an ebbing tide. There were no other anglers in sight.
The best sports announcers know that the most memorable moments speak for themselves, they know when to shut up. This 14 minute video contains the sights and sounds of some great fall feeding action. Watch. Listen. Enjoy. And bookmark this one for those dark days in February.