Sunglasses: Don’t Leave Home Without ‘Em!

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For many anglers, whether they choose to grab their sunglasses on the way out the door likely depends on the forecast.

“It’s going to be cloudy all day, so I’m not going to take them/wear them”. But, for me, I ALWAYS wear a pair of sunglasses, regardless of the weather that might be forecasted. While the amount of sun in the sky is one of the reasons why I always wear shades on the water, there are a couple of other reasons that are just as important.

Like I mentioned, the first reason to make sure that you leave the house with a good pair of sunglasses is to protect your eyes from the damage of harmful UV rays. Even when wearing a hat, the sun can harm your eyes and even cause burns to the surface of your eyeballs. Think of them as sunscreen for your eyes!

The second reason that I always wear a pair of sunglasses (and I’ll always recommend polarized lenses for this reason) is to aide me in spotting fish and wading safely. Polarized sunglasses redirect light so that it hits the eye more uniformly, thus reducing glare. This, in turn, allows us anglers to better see below the water’s surface. I carry a few pairs of sunglasses with me at all times and each pair has its purpose depending on the amount of sun on a given day. The other reason I carry multiple pairs is so I can offer my clients a pair so that they too can benefit from wearing a pair of polarized lenses while on the water. This helps both my client and me big time when it comes to sight fishing, as well as pointing out obstacles in the water.

The third reason why I will always wear sunglasses while I’m on the water is

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Peanut bonefish, shifting baselines and Florida’s water crisis

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By Sandy Moret

The flats of Islamorada and Florida Bay once boasted some of the finest bonefishing on our watery planet, due to the lush seagrass that held tons of delicious bonefish cuisine like shrimp, crabs and toadfish galore. Toadfish were a major part of the bonefish’s diet and were one of the main reasons there were such monster bones in the backcountry.

Back in the late ‘70s, I had just begun fishing the Islamorada Invitational Bonefish Fly Tournament with Captain Al Polofsky. Small bonefish did not really count for scoring, and if you brought one of those “peanuts”—at the time, a bonefish under eight pounds—to weigh-in, you were actually penalized. We knew how much all the fish weighed because they were unceremoniously brought to the dock, mostly dead, and weighed at what is now the Lorelei (known as the Islamorada Yacht Basin back then). Most anglers didn’t think much of killing fish at that time, which is why so many old photos show fish strung up at the dock.

We were total rookies fishing that tournament, but Al decided to propose a new rule at the anglers meeting that a 100-point bonus be offered for releasing bonefish alive. The rule was passed unanimously, and catch-and-release bonefishing was born in the Keys.

That year in the tournament, Al was poling me on a bank in Everglades National Park and three monster bonefish were digging it up in very shallow water. As we came into position, I threw a number four Chico Fernandez Snapping Shrimp, and the fish all pounced on it, and one came up with the fly. We knew it was a porker from the first blistering run. We landed it and raced six miles to weigh it. The fish weighed a hefty 12.3 pounds, and we successfully released it.

We had lost an hour of fishing time running to the weigh-in, but we still had a good tide, so back we headed to that same spot. Well, there were now two fish tailing in the exact same spot where we had just caught the first big one. I threw the snapping shrimp again, and again hooked up. Another sizzling run, and we landed the fish and headed off to weigh-in. This fish weighed a whopping

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Sunday Classic / The Right-Handed Strip Set

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I’ve talked before about the importance of the strip set in saltwater fly fishing. I think every angler who’s tried their hand in the salt knows that you aren’t going to catch a fish without mastering this simple technique. Simple as it may be, reprogramming your muscle memory for the strip set can be a challenge and has sent many anglers into fits on the bow.
Today, I’m going to talk about taking your strip set to the next level with your rod hand. It was my friend Joel Dickey who first introduced me to this idea. We were tarpon fishing in the Keys and I fed a big fish that followed my fly for a good ways before eating it. As tarpon will often do in this scenario, the fish ate the fly and, rather than turning, kept cruising toward the boat. I gave a hardy strip set but, even with my six and a half foot reach, I was never able to put enough pressure on him to bury the hook. The fish jumped and was gone.

“What the hell are you supposed to do with that?” I asked Joel.

“There’s not a lot you can do,” he shrugged and told me, “about your only shot is to clamp down on the line with your right hand and pull.”

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Saturday Shoutout / Ghost Stories

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Watch the Video!

It’s no secret that I am in Love with the Bahamas.

It’s people, it’s culture, it’s beaches and beautiful waters. I even have a Bahamian dog, but my love of the Bahamas begins and ends with bonefish and the culture surrounding them. I feel fortunate to call a number of Bahamian bonefish guides my friends. I have an immense respect for these self-made men of the flats and relish every minute I spend in their company.

The film Ghost stories, by World Angling, takes on the task of documenting the guides and bonefish culture of the Bahamas. You can almost feel the warm breeze watching this footage. If you need a brief vacation in the Bahamas, I highly recommend it.

GHOST STORIES

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Bahamas Poon

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There’s no such thing as a bad day of flats fishing in the Bahamas.

There are however, exceptional days. The G&G hosted trip to Abaco Lodge this March had it’s fair share of exceptional days. We had a great group of anglers, beautiful weather and great fishing. You couldn’t ask for more, but we got more anyway.

Anglers Shane Maybush and Peter Olsen both got nice tarpon. Shane was doubley blessed to have lodge manager Christiaan Pretorius, and his pile of cameras and drones, on the boat when it happened. Chris put together this stunning short video of the event, which features some pro-level fish fighting and line dancing by Shane. Shane guides for Mossey Creek Outfitters in VA. If you’re in the area, look him up.

CHECK OUT THIS AWESOME VIDEO BY CHRISTIAAN PRETORIUS.

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Protect Yourself From Lyme Disease 

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2017 Promises to be a record year for Lyme Disease, here’s what you need to know to be safe.

Changes in the environment and patterns of human population have created a paradise for mice in parts of the US. Their populations have exploded and with them the black legged ticks, which carry lyme disease. In some areas you are at risk for lyme disease just mowing your lawn. Those of us who pursue outdoor activities need to be especially vigilant. Lyme disease is nothing to mess with. It can cause serious life-altering side effects including heart damage.

The media has been full of sensational reports lately, but I’ve seen very little in the way of useful information, other than “check yourself for ticks.” Then I found this story from NPR titled,

“Did You Get Bit By A Lyme-Infested Tick? Here’s What To Do”

I recommend reading the

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Why Aren’t We Talking More About Angler Positioning?

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Countless fly fishing articles have been written about matching the hatch, setting up your rig correctly for the water your fishing, and how to cast tight loops. It’s very true these are all areas in your fly fishing game you should always have covered, but what about angler positioning? Why aren’t we talking more about how important angler positioning is for fly fishing success. Have you ever wondered why there are trout fishermen out there that can’t cast forty feet, yet when they’re on the water fishing, they literally mop up every fish like a vacuum. There’s a simple reason for this folks. Great fisherman, that suck at fly casting, usually figure out really quick how important angler positioning is for ensuring they get presentations that produce hookups.

Listen up all you competition casters out there. I’m happy you can reach the far end of the casting pond with your fly. It’s not easy shooting fifteen feet of backing out the end of your fly rod. That’s impressive, but if that’s how you choose to spend your time trout fishing, you’re probably going to catch few fish. Oh, and remember that guy that you just laughed off the casting pond with his pathetic forty foot cast? He’s going to out fish you nine times out of ten, because he’s figured out, presentation trumps distance casting.

Forgive me if I came across a little tart there. Sometimes it’s helpful for driving the point home with my target audience. The fact is, I consistently find fly fishermen of all skill levels struggling with angler positioning. Most have problems determining where they should position themselves when they first approach a stretch of water. The problem lies with them not first thinking about where they need to be standing, so they can make their best cast and presentation. Instead, they’re thinking, “I”m not going to waist my time wading upstream, if I can reach that spot with my fly where I”m standing right here”. This usually doesn’t pan out very well for them. Two scenarios usually play out with this fishing approach. The first scenario has the angler landing the fly short, right on top of the pod of fish, very often resulting in alerting or spooking the fish. The second scenario, the angler does manage to get the fly where it needs to be, but because they’ve chosen to stand in the wrong spot, they have conflicting currents that compromises their drag free drift. In both cases, anglers that ignore the importance of angler position, remain fish-less.

BELOW ARE 3 TIPS FOR BETTER ANGLER POSITIONING.

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The Orvis Helios 2 One-Piece 5-Weight Review

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By Louis Cahill

It’s trout season and if you are looking for a hot new trout stick, I have good news.

The Orvis Helios 2 has proven to be one of my favorite fly rods in every weight I have fished. I own a handful of them in weights from 4 to 11 and fish them all the time. When I reviewed the H-2 One-Piece 9-weight, I said in my review, “I hope Orvis will make this rod in a 5 weight.” They said no, but I guess rod designer Sean Combs just couldn’t help himself.

I knew I was going to love this rod, especially after casting it at IFTD, but it has exceeded even my expectations. While I expected a fast-action casting machine with the smooth action and fast recovery of a one piece, I did not expect this new offering to be the all-around fishing tool it turned out to be. The H-2 One-Piece 5 is as impressive when mending and fighting fish as it is when casting.

There are trade-offs in every choice. Obviously a one-piece rod isn’t right for every angler. They can be tough to travel with, even in a car. Mine hangs in the ceiling of my SUV and gives me no problem, but if I decided to take my wife’s Miata to the mountains, I’d have to take a different rod. That said, if you are an angler of habit and your habits accommodate a one piece rod, there are a lot of advantages. Including being ready to fish as soon as you step out of the truck. I especially enjoy that.

WHAT MAKES THE H-2 ONE-PIECE 5 SO SWEET?

Action

All things being equal, a one-piece rod will always have a smoother action than a multi-piece rod. Simply removing the weight and rigidity of the ferrules make a surprising difference in both feel and performance. While many one-piece rods are extremely fast as a result of the diminished weight, the H-2 5-weight is remarkably accessible. It’s fast, to be sure, and very powerful but it has plenty of tricks up its sleeve beyond the long cast.

The rod loads easily enough for excellent roll casting and single-hand spey casting, which makes it highly effective on small water. It’s just as comfortable presenting a fly in tight cover as it is making an eighty-foot reach cast from the bow of the drift boat. While it excels at

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Tarpon of Cuba: 3 Tips For Success

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By Dan Frasier

I think what surprised me most was that they still looked like fish.

The dark shapes sliding below the surface were intimately familiar despite their legendary status, but the vastness of the flats and channels of Jardines de la Reina off the coast of Cuba seemed to put their size into perspective. The sabalo, Spanish for tarpon, looked natural. Why this surprised me, I don’t know. Perhaps it was the hours of videos I’d watched with monster fish exploding from the water. Or the gallons of ink I’d poured over about the silver king. The grandness of these fish left me anticipating something otherworldly. Where I’d expected to find a tiger in my living room, I’d instead found it in the jungle, where it fits.

From the bow I see the shape quartering toward the boat from 2 o’clock and all of the advice I’d sought in the previous weeks just sloughed away. Eighty feet and moving lazily toward us was simply another cruising fish. One false cast and I shot line to intersect it’s path at 70 feet. A few strips and the fly is in position and very slowly sinking. As the tarpon approached I give it two slow pulls. The calm and lazy shape tenses and snaps its head to the side and all of a sudden I’m holding a live wire and thinking, “Hit him as hard as you can.”

The entire process was strangely familiar to me. Despite having never chased tarpon before, the situations were much like I’d experienced in other saltwater situations and in my carp fishing. See the fish (something that takes training), cast quickly because you may only get one shot, intersect the fish, and don’t make it work too hard or do anything unnatural to eat your fly. Simple, but not easy.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still nothing more than a Middle School level tarpon fly fisherman. In the long calls I’d had with real tarpon Phd’s, I’d been given all kinds of tips, information, and strategies on how to address these fish in all of the more difficult situations. This was the kind of information that allows the experts to hook them when you can’t, or hook a higher percentage of his shots than anyone else on the water. Great stuff and extremely helpful when you are trying to take you tarpon game to the next level. But as a rank amateur, I was trying to take my tarpon fishing to ANY level and remembering and implementing these PhD level techniques in the heat of the moment was more than my tiny brain and lack of muscle memory could handle. And yet, I still managed to catch a number of fish, by leaning on what was familiar to me. Here are a few things I learned.

1. They are still fish and it’s still flats fishing.

I had built the idea of chasing tarpon up so much in my head that it felt like I was attempting to do the impossible. Go catch one of the baddest ass fish in the world on a fly rod with no prior experience and in a limited number of days. I’d put so much pressure on myself to convert on this opportunity that I’d nearly psyched myself out. I called everyone I knew with insight into tarpon fishing, talked to people about fishing Cuba (like it was fishing on Mars or in zero gravity), and read and studied like a madman.

All of this preparation was good. It helped in a lot of ways, but

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Sunday Classic / Drift Boat And Car Renting Tips Abroad

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When you’re traveling abroad on a fly fishing trip that you’ve meticulously planned out for months in advance, the last thing you want to deal with is equipment problems. That was exactly the case Louis and I ran into several years ago heading out to Wyoming for a week long fly fishing trip with our good friend Bruce Wayne, a.k.a “Batman”.

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