What an absolutely phenomenal night of fishing we had Tuesday! In fact, it was the capstone of two extremely productive days in the Venice/Nokomis area.
Woody Boyce, who's a regular at the fly tying sessions I do at Cook's Sportland every Friday evening, has been a guide in Pennsylvania and Alaska for quite some time. Last year, he and his wife, Elaine, decided to start wintering down here so he's been getting a handle on this saltwater stuff.
"I've been having a great time going out in my Gheenoe [a hybrid canoe/kayak], and I've been catching a lot of fish," Woody told me a couple of weeks ago. "But one of my old clients is coming down and I really want him to spend a night snook fishing off your boat. He's really into catching fish, and I think that would be a great way to go."
So, Tuesday a bit after six in the evening, he and Mark Pappas met me at the Higel Park boat ramp next to the Venice Yacht Club. We made a short run to the light I wanted to fish, and I just KNEW we were going to have a great night when the anchor set us in perfect position the first time Woody eased it over the bow.
The incoming tide kicked in not long after we got settled, and it was strong enough to both "clean" detritus from the water and bring an enormous amount of little shrimp and baitfish to the waiting snook. In fact, on the third cast I made, demonstrating technique to Mark, a hefty snook ate the shrimp pattern but came unpinned.
Woody and Mark sorted out the details regarding who'd cast from where on my Hewes Redfisher—which at 19 feet is plenty big enough for both of them to toss flies simultaneously. But Woody really wanted to put Mark on fish, and gave him the prime spot on the bow.
The fish were reluctant at first to take their offerings, though, and I kept switching patterns until we "cracked the code" with a size 6 glass minnow fished near the surface. Then it was gangbusters until Mark finally had enough and around 10:30 stepped down off the bow and said "let's go home."
In the meantime, however, a new Personal Best had been established. In 16 years of fishing down here, neither I or any of my clients had ever hit The Flats Slam—redfish, trout and snook—at night. Well, Woody and Mark BOTH accomplished that Tuesday night!
How many fish did they catch? We couldn't even hazard a guess. Dozens, for sure, in just a little over three hours of actual fishing time. Enough that Woody called me just as I was typing his name in the second paragraph to ask if I could take out a couple more of his friends tomorrow night!
The answer, I was happy to tell him, is YES.
But, let's get back to the beginning.
More than a month ago, Ray Torris sent an email asking if I could guide him and his son on February 20. They stepped onto my boat at 7:30 in the morning, and proceeded to have a very fine trip. Raymond, who's relatively new to fly fishing, was tossing one of my eight-weights, while Ray used the spinning rod.
We worked the ICW in Nokomis and Osprey, and brought a bunch of fish to the boat before tying up at the dock a couple of minutes after 1pm. They literally got off my Hewes and Mike Coombs, his son Eric, and Eric's girlfriend, Laura Shaw, stepped aboard.
Mike had called Sunday afternoon "on the chance you might be able to take us fishing." Since Monday was the day that had been allocated for fishing, that's what happened. I stopped at Dockside Store at the Albee Road Bridge and got a couple dozen shrimp from Capt. Ed Johnson, and Laura ROARED through them.
The nice part was that she roared through them by hooking fish after fish after fish—including a very fat trout that went home for dinner. Yes, Mike and Eric caught fish, too. But Laura really "showed 'em how!"
Tuesday morning, Mike Burke and his dad, Tom, fished the same area with me. Tom—who likes to brag about his golf game rather than fishing exploits—caught a bunch of jacks, trout, snapper, catfish and ladyfish on spinning gear. Mike, who was sticking with the fly rod, kept trying to set the hook by twitching the rod tip instead of using the "strip-strike." Predictably, he also kept missing them.
Finally, just as it was time to cruise back to the ramp so that I could meet Mark and Woody, Mike scored.
"That strip-strike is really hard to remember," Mike admitted, "but I learned my lesson. NEXT time we come down, I won't be using the rod tip." Which is a very good thing, since his next trip we me quite likely will be for tarpon in May or June!
We've got a front moving in very early Saturday morning, with the possibility of strong wind and heavy fog. But, the forecast is for skies clearing by Sunday, and great weather for next week. Which is great since the two veterinarians who kept Ghost crashing through grouse coverts for 14 seasons—Paul Mesack and Joel Alsup—will be here fishing with me the first weekend in March.
Which, I also should mention, is Kate's birthday (the fourth) Which birthday? C'mon, you really think I'm THAT stupid? Let's just say that she's already old enough to drink Jim Beam, and leave it at that!
Tight Loops, Capt. TonyTight Loops Flyfishing
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