Fly Fishing For Bass

The sun beams down as you begin to rethink if the clammy wading jacket was a good idea, you leave the giggles and shouts of eager summer beach goers behind. You navigate a labyrinth of gullies and boulders only separated by small patches of sand. The mellow thundering of lapping waves takes over. You take a few steps into the water and feel the cooling sensation as the first wave crashes against your side and the salty spray hits your face in the onshore breeze. Maybe the wading jacket was a good idea after all…. this can only mean one thing. Summer fly fishing for bass!

Fly fishing for bass

Fly fishing for bass

If there’s one thing I’m confident in my ability to fish for and understand it’s bass! Since the age of 13 when I first picked up a fishing rod. The species that sparked my teenage fishing obsession is bass.

I’ve since evolved and expanded my bass bait and lure fishing to include fly fishing, becoming obsessionally concerned with trout, salmon and sea trout.

However, despite a passion for fly fishing since being able to drive, fly fishing and bass fishing never crossed paths. They were two very distinct disciplines that I equally enjoyed. I would often tell myself catching bass up to 12lb on light lure tackle was plenty sport. Why should I make it harder?

Well, I guess as happens to some anglers. It becomes less and less about catching numbers, more about those moments that you will cherish and remember for many years to come. Therefore last year after many difficult nights in pursuit of sea trout. I took my usual #7 to the salt and begun putting the wealth of bass fishing knowledge I’ve spent my youth developing into the skills more recently built on in fly fishing. A romance of two true passions.

Bass on the fly

Bass on the fly

Needless to say, I swallowed a slice of humble pie. I was understanding of why some anglers now spend hours driving to the coast to wave a fly rod about, and why some anglers solely chased them on fly. It was relaxing, skillful and strangely rewarding, yet the moment you feel the line tighten and spring off the water as the rod hoops over, you feel on top of the world with adrenaline and sense of achievement.

Saltwater fly fishing is not for the beginner. You must have a good base level of casting, line management and more so understanding of the saltwater environment and your target species.

Although my bass fishing is now being done with a #9, as I strive to throw a large fly a reasonable distance in proper open coast Bassy conditions. There is absolutely nothing to stop your average U.K. fly fisher turning their hand to this sport with their standard reservoir or sea trout outfit! In-fact, this is exactly how I started out fishing and on a beach or estuary where the bass can be caught under your feet and don’t require too much bullying this is still the perfect set up.

The Airflo Sniper fly line and V2 fly reel are a great bass combo!!

The Airflo Sniper fly line and V2 fly reel are a great bass combo!!

I found the Airflo Forty Plus sniper fly lines absolutely perfect for the salt and able to throw most Bass flies you’re likely to use. With the sniper being another more lazy but efficient line to cast, although I must admit when conditions allow I prefer being able to false cast a longer line than 30ft head. I will be experimenting with more of the wonderful Airflo fly lines before the season draws to an end and report back my findings and preferences!

Finding bass

Firstly unfortunately bass marks are small areas with narrow windows of opportunity. Bass fishermen are known for being secretive and with the commercial and angling pressure on them being high, good spots are often kept between sealed lips.

What I can tell you though, is finding Bass means finding “edges” and the more edges you can pair together the more likely you may be in catching them.

A stunning bass beach in september - not a soul in sight!

A stunning bass beach – now to find them!!

These edges include:

Drop offs, edges where sand meets rock, edges of rips, edges where day becomes night (or vice versa), edges of physical structures and edges of where fresh and saltwater meet.

Typical ground to hunt bass ranges from open stretches of rocky coastline, clean surf beaches, rocky edges and points of beaches and estuaries.

These will fish on all sizes and stages of tides and it really is a case of putting in the time and working out the window of opportunity at each mark. With experience you will begin to be able to tell from a glance (with an educated guess). However for rock marks, generally try the first or last two hours of the flooding tide, estuaries the last hour of high when at the tidal limit or last two of the ebb further down the estuary. Surf beaches are any state of tide, it’s just a case of figuring the pattern but begin to focus either side of high or low in short regular sessions until the trend emerges.

Suitable flies for bass fly fishing in the UK

Suitable flies for bass fly fishing in the UK

The beauty of the U.K. is that you’re never far from the coastline, nor bass that will take a fly. They live everywhere, but…most are caught in small windows of opportunity and the skill lies in deciphering this! I hope this encourages you to get out this month with a few 4-6 inch Sandeel flies (surf candies etc) and sink your teeth into one of the most exciting and challenging forms of fly fishing the U.K. has to offer. Don’t be daunted by the experience and start the learning curve. The satisfaction when it comes together will be worth it!

5 tips to remember for bass fly fishing in the sea:

  1. Be stubborn, believe it’s possible and don’t give up – it’s easy to be overwhelmed in a big ocean, but under the right conditions catching bass on the fly is more than possible.
  2. Change location not your fly – you’ll catch more bass by finding them then swapping flies for what isn’t there! Pick a fly that suits the water clarity and stick with it.
  3. Wash down your gear – You’ll quickly ruin your gear if you’re not washing it down after each session a little 5 minutes TLC goes a long way.
  4. Don’t be wrapped up in having to fish SW winds and big tides – yes some areas suit this but just as many produce in the complete opposite,especially for fly fishing. Experiment and don’t follow “rules”.
  5. Vary your retrieves! Bass will some days want a fly stripped FAST almost faster than you can manage, where as some days they’ll demand a fly crawled back slow or swung in the current.

Tightlines,

Nathanial James

About the author: Nathanial James is a passionate Surfer come somewhat obsessed angler from Swansea, South Wales, UK. Be sure to Check out his Hook’n’Surf blog for more bass fishing tips!

The Seethrough Bait Fish

Welsh saltwater fly fishing ace Darren Jackson heads to the coast to fish for Pollock and unleashes a truly devastating fly pattern – the Seethrough baitfish!

As much as I would like to take credit for this pattern I can’t, and I don’t know who the credit should go to for this superb fly! Whoever did was a very creative, forward thinking fly tier and angler indeed.

The Seethrough baitfish

The Seethrough baitfish.

From the little I know I believe the pattern was originally designed for Seatrout in the salt by a Danish fly fisherman ( I could be wrong ?) I can’t find, or source, much info on it. I was instantly taken by the pattern and it’s use to me as a Bass/Pollock/Mackerel  lure. I could just imagine it being a extremely effective pattern for when they are smashing small bait fish and so it proved to be on a outing a couple of weeks back on the Pollock.

A chartreuse colour variant of the seethrough baitfish.

A chartreuse colour variant of the seethrough baitfish.

I turned up at the mark at midday with every intention of targeting Bass but, faced with a sea of glass, clear skies and a blazing sun beating down I was not confident of many Bass being around. I’ve caught many a Bass in such conditions but I much prefer it overcast with a little chop on the water to give them some form of cover. It’s also been a tough start to my Bass season and they have been thin on the ground, with a couple of blank sessions under my belt already I don’t think they are here in any sort of numbers yet, certainly not where I’m fishing anyway. I was out to get a bend in the rod so decided to tackle down and setup for the Pollock; off with the intermediate and on with the Airflo Di5 40+ extreme fly line with a couple of feet of T14 on the end. The T14 sinking tip is a great addition and advantage at this venue, not only does it get my flies down quick but it sinks my line at just the right angle.

I’m fishing off huge boulders which slope away in to the depths at around 45 degrees, through experience and countless sessions at the mark I can count my flies down and bring them back right up the face with out to many losses. I’ve tried many a line and method but, this would seem to be the best, level sinking lines just pull my flies straight into the snags.

Fishing off steep boulders with the T14 tip - and two at a time almost every cast!

Fishing off huge, steep boulders with the T14 tip – and two at a time!

I set up a two fly cast with the new 20.2lb Airflo G4 Fluorocarbon; the fish at this venue for whatever reason don’t run to big sizes and a 5lb fish would be a good one. I’ve heard tales of big doubles but never seen one to date or anything close to that size, I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t or, couldn’t, throw out fish of such size,it’s a perfect location for them, deep water, cover and massive amounts of sandeel, baitfish, shrimp etc!. If I was expecting larger fish I certainly wouldn’t  be fishing two flies for these power house fish. There really is no need to go any lighter than 20lbs, the fish are not leader shy and it has enough beef to take the knocks and bumps of being pulled over barnacle covered boulders. The first dive of a Pollock takes some stopping and if you don’t want them to run you in you gotta hold on, the 20lbs fluro gives me the confidence to give them nothing.

An olive Seethrough baitfish fly

An olive Seethrough baitfish fly.

I put a small’ish olive bait fish pattern on the point and a seethrough bait fish pattern on the dropper. Almost from the word go it was a fish a cast and although I caught fish on both patterns it was quickly evident that the seethrough bait fish was out fishing my point fly by a massive margin, they just loved it. Just in case it was the position of the fly on my cast I swapped them around to see if it would make any difference , It didn’t. I eventually put two seethrough bait fish patterns on and for almost two hours it was just double shot after double shot of Pollock .I couldn’t even guess how many fish I caught ?, all I can say, it was lots, nothing of great size, the biggest would have maybe nudged 4lb with a average of around 2lbs but, it was incredibly good fun.

Pollock rewards.

Pollock rewards.

The Pollock love the seethrough baitfish!

The Pollock love the seethrough baitfish!

The seethrough bait fish is a fairly simple pattern to tie and I’m so pleased I stumbled upon it, I’ve really enjoyed playing around with different variations. I’ve used different materials to what the original uses and you can do the same if you chose to give them a go. As well as being a extremely effective saltwater pattern I think it could be killer for you trout boys on backend fry feeders.

A white variant - could be ideal for fry feeding trout!

A white variant – could be ideal for fry feeding trout!

There is a YouTube vid out there for tying instructions, check it out here: https://youtu.be/eGFx7w9xOtY

Tight lines

Daz.

Airflo Tropical Saltwater Fly Lines – Reviewed by Matthieu Cosson

Airflo fly lines are the guides choice the world over for good reason – super tough, slick, and ultra reliable. Combine these attributes with awesome tapers and casting performance that goes on day after day, season upon season, it’s no wonder they have become the choice of professional guides in all four corners of the globe.

Here Matthieu Cosson, the head guide at outfitter FlyCastaway reviews the awesome Airflo tropical saltwater ridge clear tip and GT floating lines – read on to find out exactly why saltwater pro’s love them so much!

Airflo Tropical Saltwater Ridge Clear Tip:

I have been using this line exclusively for 4 years now on #8, #9 and #10 weight rods during my fishing but also guiding guests on Saint Brandon atoll (Mauritius) and in the Seychelles waters mainly at the Farquhar and Providence atolls. The 10 feet of clear tip make for a huge advantage as it adds more stealth to each presentation.

For confirmed fly casters as well as for beginners, the taper is the best for presentation casts to any species living on the flats of Indian Ocean flats. The former will also find it great for longer presentations as you are able to carry a lot of line in the air and it keeps true tracking.

I’ve landed a 16lb Indo Pacific Permit, lining it on its right hand side to be able to drop the crab just 8 feet in front of its head while it was tailing. The cast went into the strong Saint Brandon wind (around 14-16 knots). I never imagined being able to do such a presentation with any of the other lines available on the market and then getting the fish to eat the fly.

It also stalk the schools of Humphead Parrotfish on Farquhar and Providence atoll flats as well as the Triggerfish found there. It makes for a soft landing on the water and you can clearly see the fish swimming or feeding underneath the clear tip without being spooked. This is definitely improving your chances to get more bites!

 A Humphead Parrotfish - fooled using the Airflo clear tip.

A Humphead Parrotfish – fooled using the Airflo clear tip.

Also as a guide, having only 10 feet of clear tip helps to track the line drifting on top all the way to the customer’s fly, which is a huge advantage compared to a full clear line.

Despite not having a 60lb core, I found out it serves well as a GT line in 12-weight persuasion for pure inside flats fishing on pressured fisheries where the fish are smarter for these same reasons stated above. I meant pure flats fishing as you will not have to lift the GT from the below or horse it back from reef structure in atoll reef areas like , i.e. when fishing the surf which usually requires a hell of a lot of strength in fly lines.

A brace of GT’s (Giant Trevally)

Airflo Tropical Ridge GT floating line:

For years, guides have been looking for lines that combine both a good presentation and fighting abilities. Airflo have come out with their GT line using a 60lb braid core that does not stretch.

Up to the day, it is THE ONE line I will fish and recommend to my guests to use as not only has it the strongest welded loops on the market (should you choose to use them) but also a great taper to cast a size 4/0 to 8/0 fly without struggling.

My guests most of the time have an image of the GT as a rowdy fish species that will eat anything anytime and in any circumstances, thanks to some crazy fish porn, probably! The reality can be quite removed: …a GT following a ray or tailing into a school of Humphead Parrotfish on the flats is one of the spookiest fish to target.

Once your GT rod is set up with a certain type of line, you can’t change it quickly while on the flats as you don’t have time to change spools at all. It is critical to have a line that can both deliver a fly quickly into the surf as well as making great presentations with the fly landing softly.

The Tropical Ridge GT line allows the angler to track the fish while casting as it possesses a real taper. This makes presentations far better than any other lines and giving anglers better chances to hook and land the GT of a lifetime.

The line is also quite versatile, as I also use it for bluewater flyfishing here: we fish for sailfish, tuna, wahoo and small marlin in the blue. It loads heavier/stiffer rods up to a 13-weight quite well and has the desired breaking strength for pulling these pelagic fish up from the depths, we just know what we are talking about when we mean pulling hard.

We fish for sailfish, tuna, wahoo and small marlin using the GT line.

We fish for sailfish, tuna, wahoo and small marlin using the GT line.

For about a year now, Airflo has added their SuperDri coating technology to the line which definitely enhances its casting qualities, another great reason why I am never on the water without a spare Ridge GT floating line as a backup for my angling guests!

Matthieu Cosson
FlyCastaway Head Guide

FlyCastaway specializes in guiding groups of dedicated anglers to various exotic destinations in Africa and the Indian & Atlantic Ocean Islands around the continent.
For the trip of a lifetime visit: www.flycastaway.com

Kayak Fishing – By Chris Ogborne

Kayak fishing is one of the fastest growing branches of the sport. Here angling expert Chris Ogborne gives us a unique insight, along with details of a brilliant offer to help you get started.

Kayak fishing is great fun

Kayak fishing is great fun!

Fishing is all about fun, we know that. Its rewarding, relaxing, and a therapy. It’s about excitement as well, and occasionally when it all goes right it can be downright exhilarating. On rare occasions it can also be a true adventure, and that’s the essence of kayak fishing – the very heart and soul of this amazing branch of our sport is ‘adventure’.

I’ve been kayak fishing around the UK shoreline for more than thirty years now and because my home base is in the far south west it’s inevitable that most of my trips are focussed on the stunning coast of Devon and Cornwall. The fishing’s great, the scenery even better, and for most of the time we get better weather than anywhere else in England. All of which makes for ideal kayak conditions.

It’s hard to fully explain the appeal without indulging in too many superlatives. For me it’s more fun than any other branch of fishing, more involving and occasionally more demanding. I suppose the very crux of the matter is that you’re down there at water surface level, right in the aquatic environment, and almost at eye level with your quarry. There’s no noisy outboard motor to disturb the peace or the fish, no pollution, and no real intrusion into the natural world. It’s just the slow rhythm of the paddle, the gentle sluice of water under the hull, and the genuine feel that you’re doing the ‘hunter – gatherer’ bit in the 21st century.

If all that sounds a bit poetic just believe me when I say that it’s only half the story. Once you get into kayak fishing you’ll see what I mean. It’s relaxing, it’s healthy and it’s arguably one of the ultimate challenges left in our sport.

kayak 1To further explain the appeal, let me show you briefly how easy it is to get started:

Choose the right Kayak It goes without saying that the boat is the most important factor, so choose one that’s designed for the purpose. There are literally hundreds of kayaks out there, but when you start to look at fishing kayaks the list gets shorter. Basically it’s all about three things:

Stability: You need to be confident and secure when you’re fishing
Speed: You don’t want to take forever to get to your chosen spot, and
Tracking: You don’t want a kayak that swings all over the place every time you take a stroke with the paddle

With this in mind you can discount any kayak under ten feet in length when it comes to fishing, as it just wont work. Ideal length is between 10 and 15 feet, depending on your build, fitness levels, and where you’re going to fish. For rivers, inland waters and estuaries then a smaller boat is fine, but if you’re going to sea then a more substantial craft is called for.

Choose the right accessories: This is a bit like ordering a BMW from a main dealer – it’s much too easy to tick all the option boxes! The truth is that you can fish very effectively with a minimum of accessories, but there are a few that are vital. These include:

Carbon paddle: These are SO much lighter and easier to use
Buoyancy aid: or life jacket – an absolute essential
Rod holders: You simply can’t go fishing without at least two, preferably three
Decent seat: This will seem like a VERY good investment after a full day afloat!

You can add the rest depending on your budget and your fishing, but as long as you’ve got these essentials sorted you’ll have a good (and safe) day out.

Get some training: As in any branch of fishing, it pays to seek help when you’re getting started. There are loads of BCU (British Canoe Union) trained experts all over the country and an hour with a good trainer will save you days of experimentation and mistakes
Another great tip is to start off fishing in calm and shallow waters – far better to make any early mistakes here than out at sea.

Sort the right gear: Airflo make some great kit for kayak fishing and I always like to cover as many bases as possible when I’m out for a day. The Elite kit 9 foot 5 weight is a great all rounder for fly, but I also like to have spin and drop shot options as well for saltwater fishing – the TF Gear Blue Strike fishing rods and reels are perfect for both. With these brilliant all-round rods you can also troll if you like – they really are great tools with multiple options.

I would also advise a decent bag as well such as the fully waterproof Airflo Fly Dri carryall to hold tackle, a spare fleece or jacket as well as food and drink. This will sit behind the seat for ease of access and can be held in place by the bungee netting over the kayak’s storage area.

You can also add in lanyards to hold a landing net, priest, GPS or any number of extras Bungee lanyards are among those ‘almost essential’ options that you really should consider.

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Channel Kayaks. October 2014. Photographer Freia Turland e:info@ftphotography.co.uk m:07875514528

Channel Kayaks.

For the last two years I’ve been involved with an exciting new kayak company called Channel Kayaks. Unlike most manufacturers, they sell direct to the public so they are able to offer a top quality product at a hugely competitive price.

As well as making brilliant kayaks they also specialise in what they call ‘Adventure paddles’ which is basically a series of days out around the coast where you can sample all the delights of kayaking at first hand, and under expert guidance. These days are run in conjunction with the RNLI so you’re guaranteed great water safety advice as well.

For the purposes of this blog, Channel Kayaks have also come out with a very special pre-season price for you, as follows:

PRO kayak Normally £749 but NOW £520 (Perfect all-water kayak)
BASS kayak RRP £399 NOW £265 (Great for inshore and estuary)
TANDEM kayak RRP £579 NOW £395 (Two seater)

In all cases, this price includes the kayak, the seat, the paddle AND delivery within the UK, and as such it’s an amazing deal.

Just visit their website for all the contact details, or talk to them direct as there will always be staff to answer your queries or to help with free advice.

Channel Kayaks www.channelkayaks.uk
Or email byron@channelkayaks.uk
Phone: 01275 852736 or 07710745211

Kayak 2

Fly Fishing For Mullet

Ever dreamed of catching a bonefish on the fly but simply never had the chance? Then why not try and catch the next best thing – the humble UK mullet. Hook up with one and you are guaranteed a serious bend in your fly rod! Mullet can be found in great quantities all over the British coast and they are not quite as difficult to catch as they are reputed to be.  South Wales saltwater ace Darren Jackson has been landing Mullet on the fly regularly this summer, read on to find out how on his latest blog post.

The next best thing to a bonefish in UK waters!

The next best thing to a bonefish in UK waters!

It’s been one of (if not) the worst summers I can ever remember and it’s totally destroyed my bass fishing for the most part of the year. The problem for me being that a great deal of my angling is concentrated in and around the Bristol channel. A moderate south westerly can and will turn the coastal water to soup for days, even weeks, not ideal when the only method you use is fly fishing! I know bass can be caught in dirty/coloured water and I have done that, however success has been limited and clear water for me is a must. With this being the case I’ve paid more attention than ever to my next favourite finned friend…. the Mullet!

The ultimate reward - a fly caught mullet

The ultimate reward – a fly caught mullet

Mullet offer tremendous sport to the fly fisher and pound for pound they are as strong has any fish that swim our shores. As most of us now know, the once thought uncatchable fish with mouths softer than a gone off banana is total rubbish! They take a fly with gusto (not all the time, I may add) and with lips tougher than one of my wife’s steaks they are certainly worth targeting. All three species (the thicklip, thinlip, and golden grey) can be caught with a bit of stealth and a well presented fly.

All three can also be the most frustrating fish in the world to catch and will have you pulling your hair out at times. I can’t stress enough how important it is to find “feeding fish” if you want to give yourself any chance of hooking up with one, and to be fair, this can be most difficult if your just starting out!

Finding feeding fish is the key

Finding feeding fish is the key.

There may be literally hundreds of fish in front of you and you could throw the lot at them, if they are not on the feed, you will “not” catch them. They are miles apart from other predatory fish who can be tempted in to having a snap at our offerings even when stuffed to the brim with food. Experience and time spent on the water studying these fish tells me when to walk on past or to throw a  fly at them! Fish cruising around looking uninterested usually are. Look for tell tale signs that they are switched on- tailing fish or surface feeding fish are the obvious signs, you have to spend a little time watching fish holding mid water, look for a flaring of the gills, any sudden movements to the left or right almost like a trout intercepting a passing nymph. Anything looking out of the norm is  well worth a cast.

Location: Thick and thin lipped mullet can be found in a variety of locations from sandy open coast beaches to many miles up a river system in fresh water, one of the few fish that can tolerate this. For the most part, golden grey mullet are generally found on open clean sandy beaches .

Tackle: A 5 or 6 weight fly fishing rod is ideal and more than capable of taming the biggest of mullet. I personally use an Airflo fly rod in 9ft 6 weight for 99% of my mullet fishing. Teamed up with the superb Airflo Super- Dri Xceed fly line it really is a sweet little outfit. A selection of fluorocarbon leader material between 5 and 8lb will cover most if not all situations. A tapered leader or polyleader is also of great benefit to aid turn over and presentation but not essential.

A 6 weight is all you need.

A 6 weight fly rod is all you need.

I’m also a opportunist and if I’m out after bass and a shoal of feeding mullet turn up I will quite happily throw the 8 weight at them, even on this fairly heavy outfit they put up an awesome scrap! So I always carry my mullet flies on me, just in case.

A mullet landed on a flexi worm.

A mullet landed on a flexi worm.

Flies: 3 of the most consistent flies I use are the spectra shrimp, Ray’s mullet fly, and the flexi worm. I wouldn’t go anywhere without a few of each in my box. There are a number of others that will take fish, hares ear nymph, pheasant tail, red tag, I could go on but, put simply, small shrimp patterns tied on hooks of between 16# and size 12# will get you results.

Small shrimp type patterns will get you results.

Small shrimp type patterns will get you results.

Tactics for estuary and river fish: You are certainly going to have some flow and this is to our advantage. Once the fish have been located (hopefully feeding fish) creep quietly in to position to make the cast, cast well ahead of the shoal just allowing the flies to dead drift over them. If the fish are lying a little deeper in the water then throw the flies up a little higher or, as far has you think is enough so when your flies reach the fish they are fishing at the desired depth and right in the zone.

An ideal beach for mullet fishing - three cliffs bay in the Gower.

An ideal estuary for mullet fishing.

The mullet will move quite a way to intercept our offerings at times but by putting them right in their face helps. The dead drift takes a great deal of my fish and is by far my most successful method , they also respond well at times to a moved fly, a steady figure eight, short strips, try the lot to induce a take. If they are lying in quite a depth of water or hard on the bottom the same methods can be employed we just need to had some weight to our flies with bead heads and lead wire under bodies.

When the fish are feeding right off the top then a ‘washing line’ setup can work a treat- i.e a buoyant fly on the point, with another pattern on the dropper. Takes can be very gentle so concentrate and pay close attention to the end of your fly line for any indication that a fish has taken your fly, set the hook with a controlled strip strike. Take a little care when using this method, an over aggressive strip and light leaders don’t go well with each other (as I have learnt!) and you will soon find yourself and the fish have parted company rather quickly.

Some cracking shore caught mullet.

Some cracking beach caught mullet.

Tactics for shore and beach fish: This what I enjoy most and the closet thing you will get to in this country of walking a Cuban flat for bones, it’s very much alike. The best plan of attack here is to wade out in to the surf 20 to 30 yards out if possible, in order to put yourself between the fish and the shoreline. Walk slowly parallel to the waters edge scanning well ahead for signs of fish, they are usually quite easy to spot because of the fact they are feeding in inches of water, water so shallow their backs are out. As the surge of the water from a breaking wave rolls up the beach the fish follow looking for any morsels which may have been dislodged, as the water starts to flow back this is when they are most visible, they almost strand themselves in the thin water, with tails working overtime. They always seem to make it back though, I’ve yet to see one not make it.

So, once the fish have been located slow down, take your time, wade out a little more if possible and come back in quietly behind the fish. Big casts are very rarely needed and a 20 yard throw is a long one. Make the cast, sometimes you will be dropping your flies on to the sand and as the water covers them the fish will be following and with a bit of luck pick them up. They could also pick them up when the water is receding and your flies are tumbling back down the beach toward you, you’ll need to try and keep in contact with your flies with a steady figure of eight or strip to set the hook , to much slack could result in a missed chance.

Amazing sport can be found on a beach near you!

Amazing sport can be found on a beach near you!

If the fish are feeding and holding in slightly deeper water just off the shoreline, drop your flies in the middle of them and try to keep them there as long has you possibly can before tide movement and wave action takes them out of the game. Some beaches can be quite funny to read at times, one minute it will be running right to left and then 30 yards up the beach left to right. Faced with this situation and once you work out which is which (a few casts will tell you quick enough ) make a cast up tide and swing the flies through the fish- I’ve found this to be a very productive method. You can of course fish off the beach and sometimes it’s the only way because of conditions, if you have to resort to this even more stealth is needed.

Mullet are incredibly spooky when walking the shore line and seem to be able to see you from a long way off. Walk very slowly, pause for a minute or two scanning as far ahead has you possibly can for signs of fish. Once located don’t try and walk straight up on the fish, more often than not you will just send the scurrying for deep water, keep low, even getting down on your hands and knees for the last crucial yards. Make your casts from the kneeling position.

I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed if you connect with a mullet on your fly rod – so why not give it a go! But also prepare yourself for a little disappointment and make sure you leave the swear box in the house!

Tightlines, Daz

Fly Fishing Cuba – Cayo Largo

AAPGAI qualified instructor and Orvis Endorsed Guide Brett O’Connor took to a summer holiday to Cuba recently. With the help of  professional destination outfitter Aardvark McLeod, he managed to fit in five fantastic days of fly fishing the flats at the beautiful Cayo Largo, in the south central region of the Cuba. Take a read of this blog entry to find out how his fishing trip went.

It was time for our annual holiday. And as my wife well knows, I can’t sit still on a beach or poolside for more than a few days without getting bored. Luckily for me, she’s just as happy with her own company, a book, a pool and a pina coloda, as I am holding a fly fishing rod. It’s been twelve years since I last visited Cuba, so we decided to give the destination another visit, especially as it seems to tick all our boxes.

Getting stuck into a fish on the Cuban flats.

Getting stuck into a fish on the Cuban flats.

Cuba, and Havana in particular, really does have so much to offer if you’re prepared to venture out and experience the local culture. During the few days we were based there, we managed to tour the city and it’s local historic sites in a convertible classic car, visit a cigar factory, take salsa lessons in a local dance studio, and even see the renowned musical group Buena Vista Social Club play a set at our hotel.

A classic Cuban car

A classic Cuban car.

As for the fishing, Cayo Largo is in the South Central region of the Cuban Archipelago, it’s one of the last virtually untouched ecosystems left on the planet. And it’s only a 30 minute flight from the local airport.

The day we arrived at the Hotel Sol Club, we were taken to our room and had the morning to enjoy at our own leisure, before being I was taken to the lodge for a briefing and setting up the tackle for the following days’ fishing.

A monster Cayo largo poon'.

A monster Cayo largo poon’.

The fishing itself is split into six zones, one for each day. All the zones have the chance of achieving grand slams, bar one, which is mainly fished for Tarpon and Snook. During the other 5 days of fishing, we spotted Permit every day. Some days in numbers, others slightly more sporadically. Getting them to eat is another matter entirely. Each new day proved eventful, with a wide variety of fish. Naturally, there’s the usual grand slam species of Permit, Tarpon, Snook and Bones, but there are also Barracuda, Jacks and Snapper too. Three of the six days fished were only a licking of the lips away from Grand Slams. So many follows from permit endured, but no luck. But that’s what makes them so frustrating, yet so desirable. I had some great tussles with tarpon and one in particular will be a memorable fight for many years to come.

A nice Cuban Bonefish.

A nice Cuban Bonefish.

A toothy barracuda - great sport on a fly rod.

A toothy barracuda – great sport on a fly rod.

A nice bucket mouth - an unforgettable fight.

A nice bucket mouth – an unforgettable fight.

A grand slam still evades me, but rest assured I’ll be back to give it another go in the not-too-distant future. I’m sure the wife would love to go again next year… and I might be tempted to agree.

To book a guided day or to arrange casting tuition please visit Brett’s excellent website here.

 

 

 

Tarpon Fly Fishing in Mexico

Like many people suffering from winter ‘cabin fever’ I yearn for a sunny break during this dour time of year. This February my better half and I had the chance and some spare time to do it. On my fishing ‘bucket list’ is the dream of sight fishing for tarpon among the mangroves. So taking advice from friend a Rutland Water Fly Fishing member Frank Daley, a little island off the gulf of Mexico was chosen.

Beautiful sunset over a tropical Mexican seascape

Beautiful sunset over a tropical Mexican seascape

Many of us are in the same boat, going on holiday with the wife is never a fishing holiday, but I was lucky enough to pack the fly fishing equipment for a couple of hours here and there. I found myself out fishing for baby tarpon and bonefish….

Giant tarpon of 100lbs or so migrate to this area in the Summer, but baby tarpon can be found here all year round and are generally as spooky and as tricky to catch as their larger brothers and sisters.

Day one in cloudy and rainy conditions we sped across the ocean at 30 knots towards the mangroves which was over an hour away. The guide and I saw many pods of baby tarpon, often up to 15 or more milling around looking for food in the shallow water. These guys can spot a fish which to me looked like a stick on the bottom. Maybe after 20 years fishing here I will be able to spot them as well as the guides… Maybe!

The idea is to sneak up on them, without the engine, gently punting along the mangroves trying to spot them and if you see some, to generally cast around 3 feet in front of them with accurate and light presentation. The fly is best left to sink for a few seconds then a gentle strip to lure the fish into following. It’s almost like a one on one hunt. You and the tarpon… Just when you think it’s ignored the fly, there’s an almighty tug, which sends shock waves through your body!

You must set the hook immediately. No that’s not good enough. You have to set the hook as soon as you see the fly disappear as to wait for the pull is often too late. Strip strike with the fly line, not the fishing rod and point the rod at the fish till it’s firmly hooked. Then the thing goes ballistic.

The ratio of actually landing a silver king is 6:1, with many anglers jumping more than they land. Personally, I managed to boat three on this first day.

Robb Waddington getting stuck into his first Tarpon - on an Airflo Bluetooth nano rod.

Rob Waddington getting stuck into his first Tarpon

Day two and three were a disaster, two frustrating blank days with many fish missed and lost! Water temperature were lower than usual, causing the fish to go off the feed according to the guide anyway! What to do, call it a day and admit defeat? Or have just one more day? If you knew me, the answer was obvious… And what a day it was! With a low tide many of the areas we fished previously were almost dry land so we concentrated on the deeper channels of around 3-4 feet deep. As luck would have it so did the tarpon and we spotted fish continuously. I was casting at fish most of the day with frantic instructions from the guide… “12 o’clock, cast! 9 o’clock long cast!, 1 o’clock short cast!

I was recommended the Airflo Bluetooth Nano fly fishing rods by the Fishtec customer service team, along a matching chards tropical punch fly line – and to be honest, together, they performed brilliantly – punching out accurate casts even into a strong head wind.

The best fly of the trip, the Tarpon candy.

The best fly of the trip, the Tarpon candy.

Rob Waddington looking very happy with a nice baby tarpon

Rob Waddington looking very happy with a nice baby tarpon

I have to go back! The trip ended on a high, I have caught the tarpon bug and there’s some unsettled business with a 40lber that I’d jumped… Or maybe I’ll go in the summer sometime, after the real big fish!

I am a Rutland water based fly fishing Instructor and fishing guide, if you’re interested in a days guided fishing please get in touch.