1/20 - Headed out Thursday morning with another Fly Fishing Client from NY. Chet is a college professor who teaches Environmental Science and majored in Marine Biology so he was a real treat to have as a client. He is also a awesome Fly Fisherman capable of fly casting while sitting in the yak, both accurately and with good distance so I was very impressed and knew we had a good shot at getting him hooked up. We hoped for the best weather possible and they called for temps in the 70's and light winds from the NE switching to the SE around 8mph, which would be more than ideal and I made our plans based on that info to keep us out of the wind. The fish are really digging on that sunshine in the mid morning and late afternoon and with it being a full day charter we had plenty of time to find productive waters as long as we could keep out of the wind.
As with all my clients we met at Capt'n'Hooks Bait and Tackle to obtain necessary fishing provisions and then off to our launch site for a day of fishing. We got on the water around 7:30am and spotted a few boats and kayaks already working some of my go to spots, so we opted to head north for a bit. The water levels are all over the place as of recently and the water had dropped about a foot in 2 days, then came back up 5-6" and then dropped another 1 1/2ft. Well with the water went the fish, and a lot of the deeper depressions that were holding fish are now vacant and the morning was starting off slow. We finally found some tailing fish but they were ultra spooky and unpredictable, by the time we got close enough for a cast they would be long gone. The morning continued like this, and we bumped into a few friends along the way who also reported the same thing, lots of tails, but couldn't get close enough to make a presentation without them hauling butt elsewhere. It was frustrating but I knew we still had the afternoon bite to come which has been much more productive anyways, so I turned that frown upside down and we killed some time soaking baits in sand holes when ever we would come across some singles foraging about, or using the westerly winds to drift us towards shore blind casting to sand holes you know the usual stuff.
Noon rolls around and I swear the weathermen must all be drunk cause the wind did nothing they said it would. When we launched it was NE, by 10am it was NW, by noon it was out of the west around 5mph. We Bumped into Steve-O and Reeltime a bit further south and they to were baffled by the westerly winds, and were having similar luck to ours except Steve-O managed to trick a red or 2 into eating some jerk shads. We spoke shop for a minute or 2 and then parted ways and started heading back N to get ready for the black drum I knew would be schooling up soon. As we are headed north the mullet started schooling up and running up and down the flats which was great to see and I know now the flats are finally coming to life! We started fishing the tail ends of the mullet schools hoping some reds or trouts were feeding off shrimps or crabs stirred up from the feeding mullet but no luck. Then we saw a rather wide very minimal wake in front of us and while seated you would assume it was just another school of mullet but after standing up I quickly noticed it was a nice school of about 100 reds just swimming along at a snails pace. I bumped them up into shallower water so Chet could get a better fix on them and then he went to work trying to hook up on the fly. I got out of his way so I wouldn't spook the school to give him as much time as he needed to get the proper presentation. While he was making his casts I made a few of my own on a smaller school that broke off from the bigger school and caught 2 nice reds both about 26". Chet while making perfect presentations just couldn't get the reds to bite and we tried a few different fly's mostly suspenders or sinkers in Shrimp & crab patterns. While switching through fly's the school disappeared, and the wind finally started coming out of the SE. The Black Drum also started to make an appearance as school after school comes tailing down the flat.
Its 2pm and the blacks are pouring in so we set ourselves up right along the ledge they are running and go to work. I handed Chet a spinning rod with a shrimp gave him some instruction, 2 seconds later not 6ft from his yak a nice tail pops up and he tosses his shrimp out there and Slam Chet's hooked up to his first ever Black Drum.
Chet hooked up to a Black Drum on the Spinning Rod.
He landed the fish but as he went to lift it up for a photo he lost grip and the fish got away. Now that he got a fish on the spinner he wanted to get back to the Fly so we switched him back out, put on a nice sinking crab pattern fly and he went to work on the schools all around him. Well I knew with his skill he had a excellent chance and he proved me right, not 10 minutes later the Fly Rod bends tight and he's getting worked by a 30"+ black drum.
Chet hooked up to a Black Drum on Fly!
So again we had another quick release just as I got a hold of the leader and was about to lip the fish he gave one last shake and the fly's knot came undone and blackie swam for his life before we could photo up. Luckily I was able to leader the fish before it broke so we both felt OK calling it a catch! I then asked chet if he had a duplicate of that fly, and he said he learned a long time ago to always have 2 or 3 of each in case of this type of situation. So he tied on another sinking crab pattern fly with a little more attention paid to the knot and with schools still surrounding us he got back to work with the fly rod. It didn't take long with all the fish around us, 10 minutes later he's hooked up again and we landed this one and although not as big as the previous he was still a rewarding catch! Chet left the IRL a extremely happy man with 3 Blacks a species he's never caught before and one of the tougher species to get on fly in the area, and I caught 2 26" reds and 8 Blacks all 24 - 30".