Tag Archives: Redfish

2017 Fall Field Campaign Start

50-LB Grouper

The 2017 Fall Field Campaign kicked off with an intense four days of fishing in Daytona FL for a variety of species. After 10 months of mediocre fishing at best, I was seriously motivated to get back on the water.  I mentioned to some of you that 2017 could be considered the worst angling season I’ve had since I was 4.  I’ve just had bad timing, harsh weather, health issues and uncooperative fish.

40-LB Redfish

Apparently, the single best Rehab to recover from hip replacement surgery (at six weeks post OP) is bobbing in a boat for 4 days and battling monster fish on light tackle. There were… great stress angles, constant balance adjustments, abrupt boat wake waves to anticipate and the challenge of maintaining a death grip on your fishing rod as the fish make unpredictable head-shaking/surging/screaming runs under the boat and against the ripping tide current.  :-0

The weather was unstable with high heat/humidity, swirling winds, intermittent rain, thunderstorms, storm surge tides and the drainage of dirty freshwater runoff left over from the recent hurricanes.  In other words… Just the way we like it because all the Rasta fair weather fisherman stayed home.

Thunderhead

The best fish of the trip included a 12-pound Tripletail, 40-pound Redfish, a 50 pound Goliath Grouper and a 60-pound Tarpon.  All totaled, we managed to land 12 migratory Reds mostly in the 30+ pound range.  Many thanks to Austin Campbell and Billy Rotne for their efforts to find the fish under adverse conditions.

Tarpon-02

A note about Tarpon:

For those of you that have never done so, catching a Tarpon anytime is a special event especially on light tackle. To begin with, their entire head-mouth and gill plate is as hard as bone so achieving a secure hook-set is rare.  When hooked, they immediately go airborne leaping, somersaulting and tail-walking across the water. If at that point they have not managed to throw the hook with their violent head shakes, they make screaming runs both towards and away from the boat so maintaining constant line pressure can be extremely difficult.

In the second phase of the battle, Tarpon typically go deep and try to use their “broom sized” tail to propel them with maximum leverage against the tidal current.  The hardest thing to do at this point is to avoid breaking the rod on the boat gunnel as the fish dives back and forth under the boat and tries to wrap the line around the motor, hydraulic power poles and/or the anchor rope. 

In the third phase (once under control – NOT), the angler is trying to break the fish’s will by wearing it out. The only problem is that Tarpon are anatomically equipped with a prehistoric air bladder (lung) that actually allows them to take a gulp of fresh air when on the surface and rid their muscles of the accumulated lactic acid build up (thus reviving them to keep fighting).

Eventually (if all goes as planned – NEVER), you can maneuver the fish alongside the boat (after about 6 attempts) to have your guide grab the beast with both hands by the lower jaw and hold on for dear life as the fish makes one more attempt to violently shake it’s head to get free.  Now the fun starts because getting quality pictures of a Tarpon is next to impossible.  Not only are they notoriously uncooperative but their huge armor-like scales reflect light similar to a mirror which wreaks havoc on the camera’s aperture settings. You have to take dozens of shots quickly to get just the right angle, focus and clear water film covering the length of the body.

This time, however, it all went perfectly for Billy and I as we managed to get great photos reviving the fish in the water before releasing it unharmed (discounting a sore lip and a lasting memory).  In fact, the close-up photos we captured were the best I’ve ever managed to get from a perfect sized fish that was approximately 60 pounds.

 

Enjoy the photos and be sure to plan your trips.  The Fall Field Campaign continues next week hunting the migratory Brown and Rainbow trout in Yellowstone National Park.

T.O.

Making Lemonade

You’ve heard the saying… What do you do when life hands you a pile of lemons? Make lemonade.

Making Lemonade

That’s exactly what Billy Rotne, Rod Mergardt and I did when fishing in FL last week. In 4 days of fishing (hard), in perfect weather, we managed just three Redfish, two small Tarpon (in the 20 Lb range) and a handful of other “non-targeted” fish (shark, sea trout, catfish etc.). The lone highlight of the trip was a double hook-up by Rod and I with a 17.5 Lb. and 33 Lb. Redfish across from T.O.’s bar on Mosquito Lagoon. Rod also had a close encounter of the 4th kind with a baby manatee that was approximately 60 pounds.

Rod’s 17 lb Redfish also had an attached tag that revealed it’s growth and migration over the past several years. A very interesting report is attached. Continue reading »

Winter Field Campaign Update

The Winter Field Campaign with Captain Marty started with a sprint as Rod Mergardt, Lee Zipp and I landed 15 great fish with over 350 Lbs of combined weight.  The top 7 Redfish were 31, 31, 30, 28, 27, 26, and 24 pounds.   The black drum we landed ranged from 16 to 28 Lbs and Lee also landed two great Sheephead in the 5+ pound range.

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The weather cooperated far better than originally forecast with a thick blanket of cloud cover all day, temperatures in the 60’s and light winds.  Tomorrow’s weather forecast is for potential Thunderstorms in the AM but we will give it a go and see if we can get out in-between the storms.

A quick review of the pictures revealed a few great ones.  More to follow.

T.O.

Fall Field Campaign Update

Marsh Panorama

Is it possible to visit a “Third World Country” and fish without leaving the Lower 48?  Yes, and it’s called LOU EEZ EE ANNA.

What a great trip!  Katie and I had wonderful accommodations, great meals and entertainment staying in downtown New Orleans at the Courtyard Marriott (St, Charles and Canal St) in the heart of the “combat zone.”  We were guided for Continue reading »

Day two in North Carolina

Fishing Report: Day Two

It was another spectacular day inshore fishing with Captain Richard Andrews, hunting Monster Red Drum near Bath NC.  We first were treated to a vivid Red sunrise followed by a perfect weather day with Temps in the high 80’s, a gentle breeze and no chop or waves to speak of.

Rob, Hunter and I had a classic “Top 10 Day” as we Continue reading »

2016 Fall Field Campaign Moves to N.C.

The Campaign moved northeast today to Bath, NC to hunt the migratory Redfish in the “Inner Banks.”

2016 Fall Fishing Campaign in North Carolina

Hunter and Rob Brinkerhoff joined me with Captain Richard Andrews as we spent the day fishing every technique we could muster.  The day was Continue reading »

Day Two In The Bayou

It was a fast and furious day in the Bayou with Captain Marty as we dodged multiple showers and thunderstorms.  All things considered, we had a great day before being driven off the water by lightning strikes just after noon.  We landed 7 fish between 10 and 30 Lbs. with the fish of the day being a monster Black Drum that actually chased down Billy’s Purple raider fly – TWICE before being hooked.

The Ambush Red

The Ambush Red

We caught multiple fish on every technique today (Fly, Jig, and Crab).  What we’ve been able to conclude thus far about the redfish in LA is that their behavior is radically different than those landed in Mosquito Lagoon.  The fish between 15 and 30 pounds here are as aggressive as Continue reading »

The Hunt for Redzilla in LA

The first day of the LA Fall Field Campaign was challenging but still rewarding for Captain Billy and I as we landed 7 very respectable fish with Captain Marty.

T.O. with 28 Lb Redfish

T.O. with 28 Lb Redfish

The weather was in the mid 60’s with Cobalt Blue Skies and light winds out of the Northeast.  The highlight of the day for me Continue reading »

Final Day Fishing in Louisiana

20150327 - Final Day in LA (8)

20150327 - Final Day in LA (7)The sun came out brilliantly on our last day hunting Big Drum in the remote marshes of LA.  With the sun also came the opportunity to sight cast for the largest of the resident monsters.  Katie’s first big Black Drum on a fly was actually hooked in the early AM when we were socked in with thick cloud cover.  With the water being significantly off color, we were able to sight fish – not because we could see the fish cruising the bottom… we were able to spot them because the fishes upper back was actually out of the water!

Whereas big Redfish may run like a “Muscle car,” the Black are more like fighting a Tractor.  Katie’s fish was around 33 Lbs. and on an 8 Wt. rod, it provided an arm blaster workout.20150327 - Final Day in LA (3)

We also landed several big Reds in the 20 and 30+ Lb category as the day progressed on.  I must admit that the remote fly fishing for these magnificent fish (with no other fisherman within miles) is truly a special treat. Continue reading »

A Drum Fest

It was a Cajun day deep in the Louisiana Marsh with Captain Marty as we hunted monster Redfish and Black Drum.

20150323 - A Drum Fest (2) - Fly Fishing Portraits, LLC

 

We finally figured out the pattern late in the afternoon and located several large fish in a deep channel off the point of a shallow Bar.

 

We were surprised to catch so many big Redfish at this time of year (all over 25 Lbs.).  Katie and I landed 6 excellent drum each with Katie’s largest three being 38, 37 and 31 pounds.20150323 - A Drum Fest (6) - Fly Fishing Portraits, LLC

 

We have one more day tomorrow to hunt for the elusive 50 pounder.

 

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More to follow.

 

T.O.

 

PS  Plan your trips!