3:00 – “Streamer Tricks for More and Bigger Trout” NEW!
9:45 – “Fly Casting 101”
3:00 – “Streamer Tricks for More and Bigger Trout” NEW!
9:45 – “Fly Casting 101”
Florida fishing guide Blake Matherly had confidence in Rick Schreiber and I after seeing us fish through yesterday. We didn’t show an ounce of disappointment despite the fish-hindering weather. When you plan a trip way in advance weather can screw you. You can cry about it or change your frame of mind and have fun with what you have. Blake learned we like to have fun.
It’s a good thing Rick and I have the deal-with-it attitude because todays conditions started worse than yesterday. Not only did we have wind but we had overcast conditions. This however didn’t stop Blake from packing his push pole and he took us to his favorite redfish flat. After a half hour boat ride we arrived just as a few rays of sun popped to help us see and warm up the water.
The flat was sheltered and wind was light. The tide was coming in and Blake expected a rush of redfish. We saw a few swirls and a couple distant tails. By the time we poled to the area for a cast the fish were gone. No doubt the water temperature on the flat was colder than normal and the red drum weren’t feeding like we hoped for.
I manned the bow first for at least an hour. I made one cast to a fish slightly out of range and hoped he’d find my fly but no such luck. Eventually I made Rick take over hoping for better results but he too was unlucky. My 7-weight Winston with its shiny blue Abel didn’t get the chance to put the brakes on a redfish.
George had lunch plans for us so we headed there promptly at noon. It turned out that lunch was at a very special place, The Useppa Island Club. The club opened during the 19th century and its where tarpon fishing in Florida all began. Many famous people fished here back in the day including Herbert Hoover, the Rockefellers and Zane Grey. The historical fishing island is a tough place to get into even for a lunch but thanks to George and Blake we had some pull.
While we ate the rain started. This put our group into eating and drinking mode. The fishing was so tough no one felt like rushing out there again too soon. I took the time to walk around the club and enjoy the old photos and tarpon mounts. The pictures are amazing but boy did they kill a ton of tarpon back in the day!
Eventually it was time to go. The rain lightened to a drizzle so we were able to walk around the island. Numerous other sports take place on Useppa Island other than fishing. There was a most amazing croquet field and an outdoor chess board where the individual pieces were the size of a child.
When we boarded Blake’s skiff it was a downpour and the wind was gusting to dangerous levels. We made a beeline for Tarpon Lodge and sacrificed our afternoon session for safety reasons. Once again the weather didn’t stop Rick and I. We lit huge cigars and cast off the docks till we couldn’t take it anymore. The fishing really is tough. We didn’t touch a single fish and each took a blank for the day.
Tomorrow is not a fishing day. Its leisurely Sunday and we’ll sleep in then go to a late brunch at what I understand is another very cool restaurant near Pine Island Florida. Then we hit a billiards hall for the afternoon, toss a few dice and watch the Super bowl over a fine dinner at the Tarpon Lodge. Despite the tough fishing once again the annual trip with George was an incredibly great time.
One of my absolute best customers back in my fly shop days was George. Year after year George treated his friends and family to fishing in Jackson Hole Wyoming. I handled his trips and retail and made sure they had a great time. His favorite fishing guide was Rick Schreiber and over the years Rick and I became good friends with George and his crew. Rick has since retired from guiding and I’ve left the shop. Now George brings us along on his annual fishing adventure.
For nearly ten years we’ve ventured to Wisconsin. We’ve mostly ice fished but there were few musky fly fishing trips as well. This year George changed it up and we’re at the historic Tarpon Lodge on Pine Island in Florida for redfish and whatever else fun swims along.
As you might expect from a guy nicknamed “Monsoon Currier” the weather went to heck upon arrival. It’s been 80°s and sunny here for a month but as we touched down in Ft. Meyers a front moved in and we had torrential rains all night. This morning the rain is gone but the storm left us with 55° temperatures and a steady 19 mph wind with gusts to 25 mph. The weather is so bad for fishing that head guide, Captain Terry Fisher, made a futile attempt to cancel us when he saw the forecast a few days ago.
After a hefty breakfast at the lodge our guides picked us up at the dock. Terry greeted us halfway down the pier and laughed at Ricks and my fly rods. It was exactly when one of those sweeping gusts nearly stole my Winston hat from my head. Ricks and my guide is Captain Blake Matherly, and I could see the skepticism when he saw the fly rods too. In a subtle way Blake did all he could to talk us out of using them. After some counseling from both sides he handed me a chartreuse and white Clouser and tied on a brown one for Rick.
We pushed off and drove a whopping two minutes from the dock and Blake asked me to cast under an overhanging mangrove. He claimed it was a snook spot and no doubt it was fishy. But the real reason a guide has you cast this close to the dock you started at is to see if you can cast. Luckily I passed his test and we took off into the high seas southward for 45 bouncy minutes.
When waves are big never leave the dock on a flats boat without wearing your rain gear both tops and bottoms. Even the best of captains, and I’ve already learned Blake is superb, you’ll take on some splashes. The three of us dang near needed snorkels for the ride to Blake’s first fishing spot.
As we entered a narrow channel it was obvious why Blake put me through the casting test. I had to be extremely meticulous with my back cast because not only was I steeple-casting over Blake’s head but also wedging my loops between the overhanging mangroves. Over the next hour I landed nine handsome bluegill sized mangrove snappers.
An hour is all we had before we went to meet the rest of the group for lunch. I can’t remember the name of the place but it had excellent food and its believed Jimmy Buffet came up with his “Cheese Burger in Paradise” song here. I crushed six stone crab claws and we all nailed two beers. The place was completely decorated with 1$ bills.
The afternoon session was nothing to write home about. Rick took the bow for most of it and landed a few mangrove snappers of his own. The wind continued to howl but the sun may have warmed things up to a heatwave of 60°. The highlight of the afternoon was this cute little gag grouper Rick enticed to eat his Clouser at the base of an old dock.
As strange as it may sound to a hardcore angler, the highlight of trips with George is eating. My dream would be to treat my friends to fishing by day and to eat the greatest food imaginable by night. George lives my dream. We went to the Lobster Lady in Cape Coral and experienced the best appetizer feast in the history of mankind. Yes – mankind. George’s right hand man, Dave Baker (has been on every trip), carefully organized the appetizers two weeks in advance. Eight of us demolished lobsters, hundreds of shrimp prepared six different ways, colossal crab claws, oysters and the list goes on. For almost two hours we devoured so many appetizers that no one had room for dinner. Instead we went directly to desert!
I’m so full I can hardly breathe let alone type my blog. I recon I’ll sleep on my back tonight and dream about tailing redfish for tomorrow. I should mention that while Rick and I struggled with the fly rods, the other six guys fished live shrimp and caught snook, flounder, redfish, black drum, sheepshead, grouper and mangrove snapper. We’ll continue to be stubborn with the flies again tomorrow even though once again, the weather forecast isn’t on our side.
As expected Granny and I arrived in Victor after midnight on Tuesday absolutely beat to heck from the long day of travel. Sure enough there’s a bunch of snow and we couldn’t get in the driveway. I parked on the street and hauled our luggage in. I hit the bed around 1 AM and had so much to do today I got up when Granny went to work at 6.
I spent all day doing errands, paying bills, shoveling and then finally packing to redfish for a couple days. I’m presently enroute on our annual Wisconsin ice fishing trip only this year George has switched it up and we’re going to the Ft Myers, FL area for a long weekend of redfishing. We’re just about to touch down in Atlanta. I can’t believe I was here 48 hours ago.
The weather forecast for fishing looks iffy but it will be a nice break from the exhausting show schedule. Stay tuned. . . . .
I was wrecked in a good way after this weekend at the Somerset New Jersey Fly Fishing Show. The show was incredible from Friday morning until Sunday afternoon. I visited with folks nonstop. My seminars went great and there was tons of interest in my art. What wore me down most was drawing on Cliff Fly Boxes, computers and a Yeti Rambler Tumbler. When I wasn’t speaking I was drawing with sharpies and completed fifteen different pieces! Don’t get me wrong though, I loved every minute of it.
Somerset is a long way from Wolfeboro, New Hampshire as well and I drove six hours each way. That’s tiring in its own. Upon return to my folks house just before midnight Sunday, I slept poorly then tidied up loose ends all day Monday at their house. That night we celebrated dads 73rd birthday. He’s not doing well these days so we made it a special one at the Corner House Restaurant in Sandwich. One of dad’s favorites.
I’m presently on a blue lit night flight from Atlanta to Salt Lake City (SLC). Granny and I left Wolfeboro at 9 this morning and due to the blizzard in the Midwest had to divert from Minneapolis to Atlanta. Right now it looks like we’ll make it to SLC in time for our flight to Idaho Falls. Then it’s the drive to Victor and our ETA will be midnight. And I’m guessing after two weeks away there will be too much snow to pull in the driveway. Sometimes shows and all the travel involved can be punishing.
Lots of work to do tomorrow from shoveling to filling Cliff Box orders to paying bills to etc. . . . . . .. If it takes me all day and all night however I’ll do it. Thursday morning its right back to the Delta counter to head for Florida for our annual George Hillenbrand party. Usually we walleye fish through the ice in Wisconsin but George has moved the awesome event to Florida for redfish. Before I left for the east coast 15 days ago I packed my Winston’s, SA Redfish Tapers, Abel and Ross Reels, Costas and Simms Flats booties. Stay tuned. . . . . .
It’s been a nice three days up in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire between shows. I caught up on emails, got in a few workouts and booked a flight to Gabon. Gabon will take place in March and I’ll have more on this long dreamt fishing trip in weeks to come.
This weekend it’s the Somerset New Jersey Fly Fishing Show. Last year I drew on more than a dozen Cliff Fly Boxes. I have a few done up in advance ranging from striped bass, trout, bass, tarpon and bonefish. I’ll have blanks as well so you can place your order at the show. I need about an hour to get one done. And keep in mind you’re welcome to bring your own box or even a computer. Computers are hot this year!
Here are my presentations for the weekend.
I hope to see you there!
11:00 – “Tricks and Tactics for Fly Fishing the World’s Best Flats”
The Marlborough Fly Fishing Show is in the books. I had a blast as always seeing old friends and my seminars were a success. I’m happy to say my new PowerPoint show “Streamer Tricks for More and Bigger Trout” went smooth and was well received. We now have three days off to chill out with family and a bunch of turkeys up here in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire before heading to the Somerset New Jersey Fly Fishing Show. More on the biggest Fly Fishing Show on the planet on Thursday.
In a blink of an eye I found myself back on a plane from snowy Idaho to Boston on Tuesday. I say snowy because we are getting buried in the Yellowstone Country. I shoveled most of my 36 hours while home from Wisconsin and my flight out of Idaho Falls to head east required a major deice session and I was lucky to get out at all.
I’m presently at my folks house in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. This weekend it’s the Marlboro, Massachusetts Fly Fishing Show. As always I’ll be showing my art including many coffee mugs and beer steins with the new swimming fish on them. I suspect the new style brook trout will sell out fast.
I hope to see you there!
3:00 – “Tricks and Tactics for Fly Fishing the World’s Best Flats”
11:30 – “Streamer Tricks for More and Bigger Trout”
3:15 – “Fly Casting 101”
11:00 – “Streamer Tricks for More and Bigger Trout”
I suspected the jaunt to Wisconsin to speak to the Southern Wisconsin Chapter of Trout Unlimited would be fun and it was. The turnout for their mid-winter Icebreaker was fantastic and I met a lot of great folks. The only downfall to the grand trip was when the Green Bay Packers lost their playoff game in overtime last night.
I watched the thriller on ten big screens with Craig Amacker from the State Street Brats Tavern in downtown Madison. You want to talk about a wild sporting event to be a part of. When Rogers threw the Hail Mary with five seconds left I thought there was an earthquake! Unfortunately, that was the last Packers celebration until next season. . . .
I’m presently recuperating on the flight home. I’ll enjoy being home for a whopping 36 hours before I cross country again to speak at the Marlboro Fly Fishing Show in Massachusetts where I’ll give many presentations. This will be another action filled weekend and I’ll have more on this later in the week.
Let’s keep it “rollin”. I’m busting through the Idaho snow on the way to speak for the Southern Wisconsin Chapter of Trout Unlimited for their 33rd annual “IceBreaker” in Madison. I studied in Ashland, Wisconsin and graduated from Northland College back in 1987. I love this state! I hope my old 91 Explorer makes it over the pass and that my flights are on time. I’ve been looking forward to this one.
On Saturday I will be presenting “Four Seasons of the Yellowstone Trout Bum” and “Trout Bumming the World – All New Adventures”. Then I believe we’ll watch the Green Bay Packers from a WI bar. Does it get any better?
I hope to see my Midwest friends there!