Events and Special Features

In this section we report recent and future events and special features. Included are several entries which review the past year of events and several classic feature articles such a Fly Fishing the Everglades and Fly Fishing Transition from Fresh to Salt Water..

Events

Recent and Upcoming Events:

Thursday, July 20:  Club meeting with Capt. Nick Angelo as speaker

Saturday, July 22: Club outing at Blackthorn Memorial I-275 rest area (Click for details)

Thursday, August 17: Club meeting (Saltwater fly Tie-A-Thon, Pizza)

Saturday, August 19: Club outing (Urban outing, Flora Wylie Park on St. Pete's waterfront)(Click for details)

For a longer range look and more detail, click Calendar in the navigation column on the left. (Once on the site, click tabs on the upper right to select the calendar form you want, then click on individual items for more detail.)

For additional monthly Suncoast outing information and reviews, please go the Newsletters section and retrieve the most recent issue of our newsletter On the Fly.

Special Features

July Outing Review: Blackthorn Memorial -Bob Burkard

Our July 22nd Blackthorn Memorial / Clam bar outing was one of the most enjoyable outings that I have been to. Which is strange, since the severe thunderstorms and rain forced us off the water very early in the day. A group of us (32 people) assembled under the shelters where we swapped stories and had an early lunch.

Stormy Blackthorn Memorial Outing

The fishing knowledge shared was tremendous. Some of us newer club members were really blown away by the comradery and open/free exchange of area history, fishing techniques, and discussions of fishing, and life in general. An observation from one of our members was "I can fish on my own any time that I want, but getting together like this with a group of friends is really special. I can learn more from this group in an outing than in years of trial and error fishing around Tampa Bay".


2017 International Fly Tackle Dealer Show in Orlando

In mid-July Orlando hosted what is probably the biggest sportfishing show in the world. And it's just for people in the biz – retailers, buyers, reps, and so forth. IFTD was the fly fishing show at one end of the hall. ICAST was everything else, and it was huge. This is the show featuring fishing products that will go on dealer shelves in 2018. Buyers and media representatives got to vote on what they considered the best gear.

The Fly Fishers International exhibit anchored rows and rows of displays of the latest fly fishing gear that will be on retailer shelves next year. Among those who worked the FFI booth were, from left to right, Tom Logan, chairman of FFI's board of directors, Suncoast Fly Fishers Karen and Rick Warfel, and FFI President Len Zickler
2017 International Fly Tackle Dealer Show

Some of the winners from the ICAST Best of Show competition…

Fly Reel:  Pure Fishing, Inc. - Pflueger Supreme QRS Fly Reel
Fly Fishing Rod:  G. Loomis IMX-Pro Fly Rod
Eyewear:  Costa Sunrise Mirror Lens
Boating Accessories:  Yeti Coolers' Load Out Bucket
Lifestyle Apparel:  Frogg Toggs Prym1 Series Pilot II Jacket & Bibs
Electronics:  Johnson Outdoors SOLIX 15 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS
Fly Fishing Accessory:  Simms Fishing G3 Guide™ stockingfoot wader

Here are some of the winners from the IFTD Best of Show competition…

IFTD Best of Show:  Sage - Salt HD fly rod
Women's Wading Boots:  Korkers, LLC - Women's Dark Horse Boot
Fly Rod (Freshwater):  Scott Fly Fishing - The G Series
Fly Reel (Saltwater):  Nautilus Reels - GTx
Women's Waders:  Orvis - Women's Ultralight Waders
Fly Line (Saltwater):  RIO Products - Direct Core Flats Pro
Accessories Under $100:  Fishpond, Inc. - Quickshot Rod Holder
Fly Pattern (Saltwater):  Umpqua Feather Merchants - Chicone's Tuscan Bunny
Boat/Personal Watercraft: Creek Company - T. Rex 9.8 Mini Drifter


President's Vision and Value Award

This annual award is given to the SFF member who best embodies the club’s vision and lives the values. Following are past SFF President's Vision and Value Awards winners:

2008: Paul Sequira
2009: Tom Gadacz
2010: Mark Hays and Richard Oldenski for "Meeting Members Needs"
2010: Joe Dail and Pat Damico for "Constant Improvement"
2011: Ken Hofmeister
2012: Tom Hummel
2013: Bill AuCoin
2014: Paul Sequira
2015: Karen Warfel
2016: Tom Trukenbrod
2017: Tom Gadacz

Next year, we’ll also add a president’s award to the SFF member who best embodies the club’s vision and lives the values.



Fly Fishing the Everglades

Paul Sequira: Everglades Canal Primer

If you’ve heard about SFF’s annual special club trip to fish the Everglades and never joined in on this event, you probably have a few questions. After all, “The Everglades” covers a lot of acreage in south Florida so just what are we talking about? At previous club meetings, many questions were asked and much excellent information was offered. I’ll review some of those questions and provide information that I think will be helpful to those who have never fished there.

Where do we fish in the Everglades? The canals right along Alligator Alley (I-75) in the general vicinity (about 5 miles west of the tollbooth) of the intersection with Route 27. This is known as the Miami Canal system. As you are traveling east on Alligator Alley you will see pull-offs from the highway with parking lots and boat ramps on both the north and south sides of the roadway. They are located near mile markers 31, 32, 38 and 41. Also, there are three boat ramps along Rt. 27 (north of I-75) giving you access to these north/south-running canals. This is known as the New River Canal system. Somewhat further north on Rt. 27 is another excellent fairly new canal access called Holey Land with plenty of parking and a first class boat ramp.

Go to Google Earth to view these locations. A listing of boat ramp locations along with GPS coordinates can be found at the website “Inshore Boat Ramps in SE Florida, Broward County” http://www.inshore.com/br-brwd.html The ramps we are interested in are the last three entries in the list.

Everglades

Everglades Holiday Park has excellent access to a large canal system (the New River Canal - South system) and is located off Rt. 27 (about 5 miles south of I-75) on Griffin Road (the first traffic light you come to on Rt. 27). There are boats with outboard motors available for rent here. Go to http://www.evergladesholidaypark.com/ for more information and excellent directions and map.

Where do you stay? A convenient and comfortable place to stay is the LaQuinta Inn Sunrise Sawgrass Mills, 13651 N.W. Second St, Sunrise, FL 33325 tel. 954-846-1200. Directions and map at Also, campsites are available at Everglades Holiday Park tel. 954-434-8111, see link in preceding paragraph for directions and map. Both of these locations are a reasonable drive from all of the fishing spots listed above.

Can you wade fish in the Glades? The short answer is no. Although the water depth in the canals varies depending upon rainfall and how much water is being released into them, the average depth is said to be approximately 18’ to 20’. Also, there are many very large alligators that claim residence in the canals and everything swimming there can be of great interest to them.

What kind of boat is needed? Canoes, Gheenoes and boats under 18’ are excellent choices. Because of the large alligators resident in the canals, kayaks may not be a good choice. Due to the condition and size of some of the boat ramps, boats in excess of 18’ may not be the best choice for the canals. An electric trolling motor in addition to your outboard motor is very helpful. Jon boats with outboard motors can be rented at Everglades Holiday Park; however, these boats cannot be removed from this canal system. This is not a handicap, I have hooked my largest bass to date in this canal, and there are also peacock bass in this canal system.

What size fly rod is recommended? Any 4 or 5 weight fly rod in whatever length you are comfortable with will work. Long casts are not necessary when fishing the canals. In most of them, if you run your boat down the middle, you can easily cast to either side of the canal. If you enjoy throwing larger poppers, a 6 weight rod is helpful.

What flies are recommended? Everyone has their favorite flies for bream and bass fishing; but if I could have only one fly to fish the Glades, it would be a white foam spider or beetle tied on #8 or #10 hooks. Many flies work, in fact I don’t know of any fly that doesn’t work in the Glades. I like to fish top water and in addition to the foam spiders and beetles, I really enjoy fishing poppers in white or yellow colors, on #6, #8 or #10 hooks. However, the fish don’t seem to have a color preference; I know that chartreuse and fluorescent pink poppers also work very well. The determining factor seems to be whatever color you can see best. I have also found small Clousers to be very productive when you find schools of bass chasing small minnows. You’ll often find this situation around little creek-like runoffs into the canals. I like the Little Brown River Clouser but I’m sure other colors such as gray/white etc. would work just as well. I have had success with weighted nymphs such as Jim’s Bead Head Nymph and Bully’s Bluegill Spider. Most of the flies mentioned here are described in the fly tying section of SFF’s website www.suncoastflyfishers.com.

What kind of fish can I expect to catch in the Everglades? Bluegills, redear sunfish, spotted sunfish, warmouths etc., large mouth bass, peacock bass, bowfin, Florida gar, Oscars, and Mayan cichlids are the fish most commonly caught. A few years ago, we experienced a couple of record breaking cold winters for Florida and this has had a bad effect on some of the exotics, but the fishing there is normally so good, you will still catch a lot of fish and have a terrific time. For an incredible list of fish commonly found in Everglades waters go to http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/SouthFlorida/everglades.html

There you have it, all the information you need to fish the Everglades canals, even if it is your first trip there. Barring any more bad weather, I feel safe in saying that fishing in the Everglades will be an opportunity for you to catch more fish in any one days fishing than you have ever experienced before. Also, you will have a terrific time with your SFF friends with lots of good stories to tell when you return.

Paul Sequira

 

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Snook Symposium 2016

The FWC held a snook symposium on January 13, 2016, at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, FL. The purpose of the symposium was to present updated snook research and solicit input from Floridians.  Jessica McCawley, Division Director Marine Fisheries Management, welcomed everyone.  Speakers giving the research update included Philip Stevens, Joy Young, Robert Muller, Alexis Trotter, and Melissa Recks.

Snook are protandric hermaphrodites and hatch as males and transform to females when they are older.  Apparently this process is influenced within a group of snook. Snook can live more than 20 years and reach 50 inches.  Average snook on the east coast weigh 9.4 pounds and on the Gulf coast 7.2 pounds.

They live in estuary and intermediate offshore waters as well as fresh water rivers and canals.  They usually return to the same waters to spawn but may spawn offshore and will usually return to the offshore site.  The usual spawning time ranges from April to October.  The juveniles seek the safety of estuaries.  Males reach sexual maturity in 2 to 3 years and females in 3 to 4 years. Researchers tag snook to follow migration and spawning patterns and various types of tags are used including ones that emit radio waves.

There seems to be a higher natural mortality rate for west coast snook than east coast snook and some of the factors include cold kills and red tide.  West coast snook mature faster than east coast ones and in general are doing better than the east coast snook.

Determination of the size of the fish that can be kept has varied and is influenced by the estimate of breeding females and the upcoming male population that will transform into females.

The spawning potential ratio (SPR) is defined as the ratio of mature fish in the population compared to an unfished state and the management goal of 40% is used to provide buffer against episodic environmental events such as a cold weather kill or red tide.  In 2006, the SPR for both east and west coast was around 25%.  Regulatory changes put in place in 2007 are helping achieve an SPR of 40%.  Because of the cold kill in 2010, the season was closed.  Snook harvest reopened on the east coast in September 2011. It did not open on the Gulf coast at all until Sept. 2013.

Stocks are now rebuilding and snook stamp funds have generated money for more robust stock assessment.

A stakeholder survey was conducted and additional discussions are scheduled for the rest of 2016.  More information can be found at http://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/snook/symposium/

Tom Gadacz

President, IFFF Florida Council


Fly Fishing Transition from Fresh to Saltwater

By CAPT. PAT DAMICO

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How does one become a saltwater fly fisher? Usually, most are freshwater converts. But these days there are many that have actually started in saltwater. Northern visitors that come to Florida to enjoy our weather can be frequently seen in our airports carrying rod cases.

All fly rod companies make 2, 3, 4 and even 5 and 6 piece outfits that easily conform to on-board baggage requirements. However, I have one word of caution: Checking fly rods in with luggage could be a disaster. Your "hard" case can end up like a pretzel!

Most of my northern clients have spent their fly fishing past with nothing heavier than a 5 wt. rod fishing freshwater trout streams. The most frequently asked question I'm asked is, "How far must I cast to fish saltwater?" Saturday morning TV fishing programs have intimidated them because of the frequent emphasis on distance. If their best previous cast has been 30 feet, they are not going to cast 60 feet with a 10 wt. rod no matter how well balanced the outfit is.

When fishing for freshwater trout on a stream, you have current, structure, feeding stations, wind, water clarity, air and water temperature variations, casting obstacles, drag, and the sun causing shadows, but increasing visibility. Depending on the species, you can have most or all of the same in the salt.

Variations in current that create drag are the most significant problems when trying to tempt a freshwater trout to take your tiny dry fly. Tide can be substituted for current, a dock, piling, or oyster bar would be structure.

On small freshwater streams casting obstacles can be a real problem, but I fished small creeks entering Tampa Bay either wading or in my canoe that were just as challenging. Overhanging mangroves, boats on lifts, docks, and bridges are certainly obstacles to casting.

I’ve caught a lot of saltwater species on small flies and many freshwater fish on bigger offerings. Are there more similarities than you thought? When the wind is flat, I’ve used 6 wt. rods for bonefish and reds in shallow water to allow a stealthy presentation. Other circumstances may require a 9 wt.

Most saltwater species roam looking for forage. If you’ve ever fished a big brown trout river at night you know that they do the same. During the day, these lunkers are under a bank or behind a rock in a deep hole and not actively feeding.

Watch snook under a lighted dock face into the tide waiting for supper. As the tide changes they will reverse position. I fish a lot at night, and the position of a light on a dock will have fish under the dock with an incoming tide and out in open water away from the dock on the outgoing tide. Is this the reason some docks produce better on certain tides, or is the accessibility to the fish the problem?

Trout will generally hold in a "feeding lane" and rise as the fly drifts into their vision. I’ve fished over stubborn brown trout for hours as I tried to imitate the specific mayfly they were engulfing and the horizontal position of the fish never changed. Herein may lie one of the major differences for the aspiring saltwater fly fisher.

Time to cast is a bigger factor in most saltwater applications. Most notable is when a guide is poling you across a shallow flat and seeing a redfish, he calls out the position. Provided you see the fish, and know his direction, you have a set of unique circumstances to overcome. Get the fly in his zone of vision quickly, quietly, naturally and accurately at his depth, with a minimum of false casting...preferably using only one, from a moving boat, at a moving fish, in the wind, without hooking the guide. This will be the defining moment and where failure is most frequently assured.

After attempting this drill a number of times, frustration will set in and trying harder will only make matters worse. The guide isn’t doing too well either! He has worked very hard to position you properly only to have his efforts wasted.

If I’m taking someone out for the first time, we meet at least an hour before I expect the fish to be active. We then go to a quiet area and I show them how to cast, retrieve, clear line, strip strike, and get line on the reel with the outfit they will be using.

I realize books have been written on each of these topics. However, in a short period of time an experienced fly fisher will get it together enough to be able to up the odds for success considerably. On my charters, we usually use my equipment because it is better balanced and will work for the specific task. I will hand the rod to my client and ask them to show me how well they can cast.

With this simple evaluation, I’ve seen everything from a cast of 10 feet with a loop the size of the moon to someone who was very proficient. In either case , these clients had told me during our pre trip phone conversations stories about catching salmon in Alaska, giant rainbows in Colorado, and sailfish in Mexico -- on flies, naturally. The ten foot caster could be much more descriptive and vocal. Now he is in trouble! And yes, I’ve had trips where I had to make every cast for clients, they did the retrieve, and we caught fish! Who thinks guiding is easy?

Frequently, a good portion of our trip has been devoted to casting instructions. Some inexperienced anglers have actually doubled the distance from their first attempt. Certainly, this could very well have been done in a back yard on the grass, or in a snow covered parking lot up north. When you do practice, use the heaviest outfit you have. Get some good instruction. Most good fly shops, even 200 miles from saltwater have heavier outfits than you can use. Become familiar with 8 and 9 wt. rods and you will have an enjoyable trip.

Saltwater fly fishing is a blast! This article is really intended to help you put your expectations in perspective and encourage you to join the ranks of many who are discovering this new dimension to our sport.

Information is available by contacting me at: 

Capt. Pat Damico
IFFF Master Certified Fly Casting Instructor
St. Pete Beach, FL