Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fishing with Keisuke Ota from Japan

My friend Frank Carbone, owner of Hawghunter Guide Services, had a client from Japan who wanted to catch his first snook.  Enter Keisuke Ota, from Japan.

Due to the closure of the Everglades National Park (Govt. shutdown) we had to move to the western edge of the park and fish "outside".  Not a problem, as I said, fish are everywhere in South Florida, all I had to do was find them.

We drove almost 2 hrs. from Miami to Marco Island and started fishing around Cape Romano.  I fished this area before and remembered the spots, so finding fish wasn't that difficult, or was it?

We started fishing right outside Coon Key, a spot that produced some nice fish before and we couldn't connect with any snook nor redfish, all we had were some tiny Jacks (they fight hard by the way).   We spot a couple 30" + redfish but no hooking.

Later me moved to the Souther edge of Cape Romano searching for snook on the beach but these fish vanished from the shore, probably because the weather temperature dropped 20 degrees from the previous week.  So we kept searching until we found a flat with a channel on the side that produced a bunch of small snook (mission accomplished with Keisuke) and bunch of large redfish, in very skinny water.

Kei managed to land one on his Crappie rod that fought like a demon. 

Frank, as usual, was catching a lot of snook casting to the mangrove shoreline.  What a great caster. He put his plug in every hole, like it should be.

The bait of choice was a 3" gulp shrimp on a jighead, for all species.  We tried with some twitchbaits and Kei got a couple of boils, but no strikes.

It was a great fishing day and Kei got his snook.   Life is good.

September Everglades

September was a great month for fishing the Everglades.  As usual, fish where everywhere and happy.  I had the opportunity to fish with great photographer Nick Shirghio www.nick-photo.com and he had captured some great moments.

Fly fishing was our preferred method for stalking the flats for redfish, baby tarpon, snook and other species, but soft plastics and twitchbaits were the weapon of choice of the conventional anglers.

South Florida never stops to amaze me, especially Florida bay all the way to Naples.  There are so many fish that sometimes I think that all the fish from the world has moved here.

Summer fishing was great and I expect the fall to be even better but, now, with the changing weather and some cold fronts moving into South Florida we expect a change in the pattern of fish behaviour and we will have to act accordingly.

Keep fishing my friend!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Flamingo in August (en Español)

Hace rato le habia prometido a mi amigo Frank Carbone, guia de peacock bass en Florida y agente de ventas para el Amazonas www.hawghunter.com , de llevarlo a pescar a Flamingo.  El nunca habia sacado un Redfish en el Estado de Florida y estaba con muchas ganas.  Luego de chequear la marea le digo de salir el Sabado, que a pesar de ser un dia concurrido por pescadores, siempre encuentro un lugar para mi solo.
La noche anterior me llama otro amigo, Nick Shirghio, excelente fotografo comercial y fanatico de la pesca con mosca.
Ninguno de los dos es muy experimentado con el fly fishing asi que lleve equipos de fly y spin.  Frank se decidio por el spin y Nick por el fly.

Llegamos a la rampa a eso de las 8.30 am (no es necesario madrugar tanto) y nos fuimos a los flats de los cayos Murray y Frank.  La marea empezaba a entrar y se veian estelas de lisas por todos lados y entre estas las estelas de los redfish y otros predadores.
Hay que saber diferenciar cual es cual, para no cansarse metiendo tiros inutiles a los cardumenes de lisas.

Probamos durante dos horas pero ninguno de mis pescadores estaban afilados lo suficiente como para clavar ningun redfish, y vimos muchos, y algunos grandes.   Luego de ver como el agua ya cubria el flat y el constante moviemiento de las lisas oscurecia el agua notablemente, decido moverme hacia los cayos mas al sur, a mitad de camino entre Flamingo e Islamorada esperando encontrarme con Snook, Redfish, Tarpon y Tiburones.  Si la suerte nos acompañaba veriamos tambien algun permit.

Navegamos unos 25 minutos y llegamos al primer cayo.  El agua estaba empezando a bajar (hay mucha diferencia de mareas entre los diferentes puntos de Florida bay) y muy rapido.  Es un cayo que me es particularmente muy productivo, si el pescador mete la mosca donde debe meterla.

Ni bien entramos en la primer bahia se veia salir de abajo de los manglares los snook, ya seas solos o en grupos de hasta 10 o mas.  Estos estaban en agua bien transparente y bajando, asi que estaban muy asustadizos pero pudimos clavar un par.   En los flats, se empezaban a ver los cardumenes de redfish rata (rat redfish) que son los mas chicos ( 30 o 40 cm) y entre ellos algunos mas interesantes con algun chanchito de unos 6 a 8 kg.

Seguimos pescando toda la costa del cayo hasta que vimos unos tarpones "rolear".  Por alguna razon siempre estan en ese mismo lugar, y cuando pueden se meten debajo de las ramas de los manglares a comer y protegerse del sol.

Frank logra meter un tiro abajo de las ramas con la caña de spinning y un camaron Gulp y enseguida clava un tarponcito de unos 4 o 5 kg que luego de un par de saltos escupe el Gulp.  Como habia dos pescadores, si uno pesca uno o lo pierde le da el turno al siguiente.  Nick mete un buen par de tiros y clava otro mas chiquito pero le corta por no tener shock tippet, habia atado la mosca directamente en el leader de 12 lbs.

Como el agua seguia bajando fuerte y se nos iba el tiempo decidimos pescar zonas con palos y pozos para buscar unos redfish.   Ahi cambio nuestra suerte ya que pudimos ver varios de los grandes y meter buenos tiros que pagaron con algunos chicos y otros mas grandes.

Frank siguio con su Gulp y Nick con unos Half and half con rattle en anzuelo # 2/0

Al final tuvimos un dia espectacular y quedamos en volver el fin de semana siguiente.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

3 Days in the Abacos

I am fortunate enough to be able to fish in very nice places and not many of these surprise me anymore.  This was not the case on my recent trip to Abaco Lodge, on Marsh Harbor, Abaco Island, Bahamas.

I arrived full of expectation.  My home bonefish, though very large, were being very elusive.  We've seen a bunch, but were tough to eat.  I wanted to catch a bunch of bonefish, really bad.

Once I arrived at the lodge, a short 15' from Marsh Harbor airport, I was impressed with the quality of the lodge and the warmth of Ken and Anne Perkinson, lodge managers.

On arrival day, Ken offered me to go wade fishing to the Ocean side (not the Marls side) for a couple of hours.
Right upon arrival we saw a few larger than average Bahamas bones, a few of them over 5 lbs with a really nice fish we estimated at about 9 lbs.  These fish were as spooky as our Biscayne Bay bonefish and even though we had some good casts, only one took my fly and broke me off on a coral head.

The following day was overcast, with some storm heads aproaching fast.  At the dock I met Capt. Marty Sawyer, probably one of the few caucasian guides in the Bahamas and my first impression was that I was going to be a long day.  He looked at my fly box and asked me for another one.  He said use this fly and gave me a Puglisi Spawning shrimp # 4, fly I like a lot, it looks fishy and I know Enrico and like this grumpy Italian guy a bunch,  so I had no problem accepting the defeat of my flies.

We cruised for about 15 minutes on this incredible environment of marls, mangroves, sand beaches, coral heads, palm trees and wildlife until we reached a spot tha Marty thought it will hold fish.

I got in position and he said " 9 o'clock 25 ft, bonefish taking off!!!" which I thought it was funny, when we spook a bonefish in Miami is Hasta la Vista, Baby.  NOT HERE!  Marty asked me what I was doing as I watched the bonefish swim away and I said i was looking for another one.  He shouted" ".. cast to the f......g fish, NOW".  Now the bonefish was about 65 ft away and still swimming but I did as I was told, landed the fly a foot or two to the right of the fish, which put a grinding halt, turned around and eat that fly like there was no tomorrow!
Go figure, a spooked fish turned around and took a fly!  Only in the Bahamas.  It ended up with a 4 lb bonefish that took about a 100 yards of backing of my reel and gave me a new perspective to bonefishing.

Marty looked at me and told me: ".. I told you Martin, if I had you fishing yesterday, we would have caught 100 fish..."  which was a great compliment as I was starting to like this guide a lot.

I spent the rest of my fishing day catching one bonefish after the other, all of them on Enrico's fly.   At one point I though that Marty was such a good guide that I could fish blindfolded.

What I did next was try my theory and I closed my eyes for a while and listen to Marty until he said, ".. bonefish 11 o'clock, 40 ft, moving towards 11.30 (sic) cast...." and while I was literally blind casting (2 casts) he told me to drop the fly, which I did.  I started stripping with my eyes closed an he said ".....strip, strip, stop...... strip, stop......let it sit.....SET THE HOOK......"   The result was a 3 lb bonefish, that I hooked with my eyes closed under the guidance of what I consider now one of the top 5 guides in the world.

Later, when I was having a Balvenie at the lodge, Anne brought me a copy of the Drake magazine were it features an article on Marty Sawyer.

My following days were spent fishing a couple of hours from the Hell's Bay Professional boats Abaco Lodge has until my arms went sore from hooking lots of bonefish and the occasional permit (which I hooked but failed to land) and wade fishing the Ocean side with Ken, watching huge bonefish, Biscayne bay size.   I only managed to hook one very large fish, that again broke me off and another one that I think took my fly but I never managed to feel the strike .... he gave me the fin and swam away....

I am very impressed with Abaco Lodge, the amazing fishing it has, how easy is for totally novice anglers to learn how to bonefish - heck, even learning how to fly fish - and how demanding and skillfull you have to be if you want to catch the bonefish of a lifetime.   Abaco has opportunities for the novice angler and for the most experienced angler alike.

One day after fishing for about two hours I had caught so many bonefish that I guided my guide Kenny for a change of pace and we had a lot of fun.

Besides the bonefish, I saw permit, baby tarpon up to say, 50 lbs, very large mangrove Snapper, bunch of lemon and black tip sharks and great barracuda.

I look forward to fish Abaco again. 

For more information on Abaco Lodge visit www.abacolodge.com or www.nervouswaters.com

Photos by Clau Cebrian Photography www.clauphotography.com

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Permit fishing close to home

July was great despite some nasty weather.  I did a lot of guiding but managed to do some fishing myself.

First day out had 3 shots at Permit.
See, there is this particular channel close to the boat ramp that has Permit almost year round.  The water moves really fast, there is substancial structure between 6' and 10' deep (depending on the stage of the tide) and a very nice weedline that hosts a bunch of Permit food (crabs and shrimp).

All you have to do is be there at the right tide and you have a chance of hooking and landing a record Permit.
Sure, it is not skinny water and tailing fish, but a Permit is a Permit, no matter what.  And these fish are not as picky as when they are in 1' of water.

Most often than not, if you manage to present the fly in the permit's face, you will hook him.   You will also have to have the right fly and manage the tricky underwater currents than any deep channel has.  Enter Nymph fishing for trout!

The typical presentation we use in this particular body of water is upcurrent, leading the fish by 4 to 8 feet to be able to put the fly in the Permit's mouth.  You will consider current speed , fish speed and depth to determine this distance prior making the cast.  Once you make the cast you will guide your fly using the rod tip and leader, much like nymphing with a tungsten bead head fly.

Always keep an eye on the fly, you must know where your fly is all the time in order to present it properly.  If your fly or the fish have moved, you can correct using the rod tip, and try to have control of the fly lines as well, so you can mend or manage it so you get a good dead drift.

We fish mostly with a floating line but sometimes an intermediate line is a better option. 

As for flies, always use crab patterns.

See the results:

Friday, June 14, 2013

FLY FISHING ALTO PARANA LODGE - www.nervouswaters.com

These are a few minutes of lots of fun while fishing with Conway Bowman for his FLY FISHING THE WORLD TV series on the Sportsman Channel.

It was a LOT of fun fishing with Conway, he's a great angler and we share the taste in music.

We were supposed to go and fish Salta but Northern Argentina was flooded, no matter where you went.  With the help of Nervous Waters we finally got to fish their spectacular ALTO PARANA LODGE even though the new boats were not delivered yet and the lodge was closed for the season.

They did a great job finding local guides for us in a heartbeat and everything was excellent.
Water was high and discolored due to several weeks of pouring rain but we caught a lot of small fish and Conway lost a fish estimated at over 15 lbs. 
Justin Karnopp, TV producer also lost a really nice fish in a break between filming.  He was wading a sandy bank and swinging flies.

We promised to go back when conditions are normal. 

Find below some photos of a trip done a week before the deluge started.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Permit for Tarpon

Last night while fishing the lights under the bridge for Tarpon I got a very strange tarpon bite, it didn't jump but ran like crazy and put a dog eat dog fight.

After a 10' battle I had a permit on the boat.  What a nice surprise.

The strange thing is that permit are supposed to be these picky creatures that won't take anything but a live crab and I got this one on a Purple Bunny 2/0 tarpon fly, on the swing.

Life is good!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Miami bonefish

Miami has monster bonefish, there’s no doubt about it.  Here bonefish average 6 lbs and monsters over 14 lbs are reported caught every year. 
But at the same time they are huge, these fish are very elusive, here you really understand why they are called the Ghosts of the Flats.

To catch a Bonefish in Miami you have to be very patient and either have a lot of skill if you are wading by yourself (yes, you can fly fish for Bonefish in Miami by yourself) or have a good guide. 

If you have a guide, you have 50 % of the battle won.  Your Captain will take you from flat to flat until you find the Bonefish, he will skillfully position the boat so you can comfortably cast and hopefully you can present your fly in a way that not only you will not spook him to another time zone but also convincing enough that he will inhale it and well, you know the rest…

If you are fishing by yourself you will be very, very limited on your possibilities but it is very possible to hook one indeed.  Around Miami there are several flats you can drive and wade.  Most of these flats are located either on the ocean side of Key Biscayne or South Miami.  I started fishing for Bonefish 12 years ago and didn’t have a boat until 6 years ago and caught a bunch, but my fish catch increased dramatically when I purchased one after getting my Captains License.

In order to maximize the chances of catching one you should time your wading with (preferably) the last 3 hrs of the outgoing or the first 3 hrs of the incoming tide and (preferably) at dusk or dawn.  During these stages of the tide and time of day is when Bonefish seem to be more active AND you can see them tailing, which is a BIG plus.

I have caught Bonefish at 12 pm on the last ½ hr of an incoming tide but this is very rare unless you have a boat and have the sight fishing advantages of the casting platform. 
You will simply not spot the bonefish with the water over your knees unless you are very used to doing so and you have the sun way up above your head and no clouds.

Since you’ll be fishing early or late seeing fish in the water will be difficult if not impossible, what you have to look for is tailing fish or nervous water.  You will be confused at first, the nervous water might be a ray, a school of baitfish, a great Barracuda or simply some current passing over structure.  After a few times out you will clearly notice the difference. 

Once you have spotted the bonefish you will have to cast to them.  Here, the higher your skill the better chances of catching one trophy fish.  If you want to catch one Bonefish you will have to practice quick accurate casting.  Precision is a must and you have to practice. 

Since you’ll be wade fishing, and you will go early morning or late afternoon on the tide level we previously mentioned, water will not be very high and you will be not be seen easily so you can get closer to them than, say at 3 pm with the sun in your head.  A 50 ft cast is pretty average.  Make sure you practice accuracy with a 12’ leader tapered to 12 lb and a heavy # 2 or # 4 fly. 

I took friends new to fly fishing for Bones for their first time and they hooked one and other times I spent hours hunting and casting to tailing fish and all I got was the fin…

If you happen to have a friend with a boat or hire a guide, you will have much, much better chances to catch one as spotting them is easier and if the flat you intend to fish shows no sign of Bonefish, you can always move to another one.  But remember, you will need to practice accuracy with a maximum of 2 false casts and presenting the fly 50 ft away with a heavy fly and oh yes, if its windy way better.

In order to be successful try NOT to cast as soon as you see a tail, wait, patience is a must.  Read their behavior, try to see what he/they are doing and to which direction they are moving and once you have mentally figured it out, try to lead them by a couple of feet, DO NOT cast on their heads as they will spook, DO NOT CAST past them as the fly line will spook them.  If they are tailing, they are feeding; so cast 2 – 3 ft in front of their projected path and let the fly sit in the sand, turtle grass or mud and then strip very slowly, as slow as you can strip until you feel a snag, or a bite. 

Don’t worry you will know immediately if you have a Bonefish as your fly line will start peeling from your reel at previously unheard-of speed.  The other thing that will move real fast is your initial smile into a scared grin when you see the last few yards of backing coming out and you are trying to decide what to do. 
Do not panic, you have made sure before coming to Miami that your reel on your 8 or 9 weight rod has at least 200 yards of 20 lb backing and this fish will probably stop soon.  And stop he will and turn 360 degrees around and charge you while you are reeling like a madman and your fingers hurt and you are sweating in 90 degrees and you know, you are scared you are going to loose him, loose the Kodak moment of your life, and your bragging rights, and your manhood in front of your friends, and so on…
But miracles happen and you just reeled the last 10 ft of fly line and the leader is into your tip top and this Bonefish of a lifetime is 3 ft away looking at you with anger is his eyes until finally you grab him, kiss him and feel sublime as you carefully let him go….

Tight lines, Martin

A new begining

I always wanted to write about my fishing adventures.  I have been fly fishing since a was a little kid when my Dad taught me how to cast a fly to trout in Patagonia.

From that early times to today life has blessed me with lots of fishing opportunities, with new friends in and out of the water and visits to exotic waters all over the world.

Yesterday I fished with my youngest client ever,my new fishing buddy Kade Miller.

Kade and I go way back since his uncle Jay brought him fishing a couple years ago.  When we went back to the dock Kade cried like the kid he was because he simply couldn't quit fishing.

I saw myself in Kade that day and I am sure he will enjoy fishing for the rest of his life, just like I do, and eventually meet great people and see wonderful waters all over the world.

I look forward to fish with Kade again, he made me feel like a kid again.