My friend and fellow guide, Mark Scarborough recently had the opportunity to travel south and chase down some saltwater fish on the fly.
The main purpose of the trip was to visit my father for the holidays. Well, when dad and I get together we usually set aside a lot of time for wetting a line. So I invited Mark to come a long and enjoy the fishing as well. So I guess you could say it was a full fledge fishing trip.
Dad had arranged for us to stay at his friends house, who was also providing the boat. I'd fished with Terrell before, floating my dad and him several times here in Tennessee, so we we're very comfortable with our arrangements.
We spent our first day on the water hunting the fish. We fished from the mouth of the Suwannee River, working the coastal creeks and grass flats. The first several hours seen us not doing too well with the fly. Zero strikes in fact, however, the results were the same for my dad, who was fishing with live shrimp.
Late in the day as the tide was coming in, we began getting some soft strikes as we worked the oyster bars and tidal braids. Then Mark and I started working some fish. These fish were 9 - 10" spotted sea trout, but we were just buzzed about catching them. No shut out for the fly rods today. The bad news is, my dad, and captain of the boat, didn't have much luck with the shrimp. In total we boated 7 trout and 1 small spanish mackerel.
Day two started off much better. Terrell joined us and took over as boat captain for the day. We also got an earlier start. We started fishing the flats about a mile offshore as the tide fell. We spent a few hours looking for fish without any success.
Then my day took a turn for the worse as I realized that I'd left my new pack of smokes in the truck! UGGGH! Now that was a bad move on my part. So, in the heat of the moment, I settled on a pinch of Mark's snuff. Now this was a site to see, but I toughed it out and made it work.
I'm glad I managed because as we moved into the tidal creeks, things started heating up. I'd switched from deep running line to a floating line and a small clouser minnow. The trout started coming to the boat in a furious fashion. We were counrting them for about ten minutes, then gave up because they were coming so frequently. Todays fish even held a better average size which was about 14".
We continued moving up into the grass flats and tidal creeks, and the fishing remained great. Then we began to find redfish. not huge redfish but redfish nonetheless. They typically fought better than all but the biggest trout. Dad and Terrell were also having some luck on live bait and spoons....yet the clouser minnows were the hot ticket as the fly rods out fished the spinning rods 4 to 1.
A storm on the horizon had us a little concerned so we decided to call it a day around 4:00. Which was the hottest action of the day. It was a good decision because the shore was coated in a thick fog. But with captain Terrell at the wheel and my gps we made it back to the truck with no incident.
A rough estimate of the day had mark and myself both boating 25 or more trout apiece as well as 15 or so redfish between us. Dad and Terrell think they finished with about 15 to 20 fish boated. Either way it was a super day and we all had a blast. We had several trout that went between 15" and 17.5".
Yesterday was our last day to play. Terrell was working so it was just Dad, Mark and myself as we set out for the gulf. We'd decided to make it a short day, to allow us a decent schedule for driving home.
The weather was cloudy and cooler and we even seen some rain. The biting gnats were out and in force. Often times the flies were so thick that it looked like pepper on your skin. We worked ourselves over with OFF and it helped a little. I did however notice how few were in my face while I was smoking. So I pretty much kept one lit at all times. 8-)
The fishing was much slower today than yesterday. Not sure if it had anything to do with the weather or not, could have been the later high tide, either way the fishing was slower. The same tidal creeks and grass flats as yesterday seen much fewer fish in them. However, with the time allowed to fish, we decided to just stick it out and enjoy a few more hours of fishing instead of exploring.
I ended up catching my best fish of the trip during the last hour on the water. It was a nice, fat 19" trout. Actually the last few fish were pretty good. 17" and 17.5" fish. Mark hooked and fought his best trout of the trip, however, it managed to cut his line as he was reeling him in.
Overall, I boated 5 trout, Mark had 3 and Dad, again took a goose egg on the live bait. The bite was just were nowhere near as good as yesterday. But as always, anytime on the water is simply awesome. Add to that the time spent with dad, friends, exotic fish, and a new horizon and you have a great trip. And that's just what we had......a super duper great holiday trip to the salt.
A nice shot of the type of places we were fishing.
The great weather and scenery made for a nice back drop of Mark casting.