Flying at Flamingo, 24 June
<p>Only one day at Flamingo this week but it was pretty good. My angler was Pete Schwartz, an accomplished fly angler from Cincinatti. We were on the water before the sun and made it almost all the way across Whitewater Bay before dawn. The target was the Gulf coast where I thought we might find a few tarpon. We found them at our first spot but couldn't stay connected with popping bugs. One medium tarpon did try its best, though.... it assaulted that small popper so hard that it went end over end through the air. I think it was just a sign of things to come. We switched up flies and Pete went after them with a Silhouette streamer. Our first fish was a very fat mangrove snapper...
That fly seemed to be what every fish on the coast wanted (if we could keep from losing them). At the next spot, a river mouth, we missed several tarpon strikes on it before one just slammed the fly and, of course, took it home with him....
After tying on another Silhouette we went back up a nearby river where a group of small to medium tarpon were holding along the point of a single island. Pete laid the fly in just right and was rewarded by a solid hookup in strong current. The fish gave a good fight on the 9wt. rod before coming to hand, and we were on the board with a 25lb fish.
The best part was that the fly was still in good shape. We still had lots of tarpon to work but the rest of them had our number so it was time to scoot. Given the conditions that day I thought that a long run to the north might pay off. At first none of the places we hit showed much at all but we finally hit one spot and saw a very nice tripletail (it was big enough that it looked like a plastic bag floating in the current) holding against a falling tide. Pete laid that same fly out and the fish took on sight. He immediately got the surprise of his life when the triple jumped at least three feet in the air as it felt the hook. Some anxious moments later and he had his first big triple, it weighed a solid 10lbs on the Boga Grip....
I've had much bigger tripletails on my skiff but this was the biggest on fly.... I want more.
A nearby creek at low tide was holding both snook and reds when we got there along with a good sized flock of roseate spoonbills for an audience. The snook were large but very careful in the really shallow water. After more than a few refusals we had a chance at a passing redfish and once again put that same fly (now a bit worn) in the right place. We landed that fish, took a quick photo, then went back after the snook....
After we finally spooked the snook there it was time for another long run. I thought there might be one or two spots inside that we could find some more snook to complete a backcountry slam. Back inside Whitewater Bay we hit a few spots without more than a few very aggressive mangrove snappers to show for it. Nearly at the end of the day we hit one last spot.... and turned it around. By then we'd finally retired that Silhouette and tied on a smaller maribou minnow pattern on the lightest leader possible (straight 20lb fluoro - no shock tippet) and Pete laid it right next to an ancient buttonwood log along a quiet shoreline. He moved that fly only an inch or two before a nice snook just exploded on it. That fish made three runs back to its sanctuary but Pete was able to turn it every time. It measured exactly 28" and was carefully released.
The smile on Pete's face says it all.... His first backcountry slam at Flamingo.
About The Author: Captain Bob Lemay
Company: Captain Bob Lemay Fishing Guide
Area Reporting: Biscayne Bay and Flamingo
Bio: Capt. Bob LeMay began his south Florida fishing career almost thirty years ago. He has worked for area tackle shops, mated on charter boats, but the highlight of those early years was winning the Lauderdale Billfish Tournament in 1973 with two anglers who had never fished for billfish before!
By the end of the seventies he was guiding part-time and tying flies commercially. In 1995, he began guiding fulltime. Through Umpqua Feather Merchants his fly patterns are now sold in shops around the world and in catalogues like LL Bean and Westbank Anglers.