We are two weeks into the new year and starting 2021 and Redfish off with a bang. There's no lack of Redfish around, you just have to find the ones with the right mindset. We've been seeing hundreds of fish in schools ranging from 10 fish to 100 fish...all in less than a foot of clear water. Some schools see you from 100ft away and require a very stealthy approach and cast...while others are much more user friendly.
While not necessarily targeting them, we are finding a handful of Speckled Trout on the Redfish flats we are fishing. When we find them along a cut bank or drop off, they've been more than willing to play along with us. I've seen a few flounder on the flats this week also.
If you've never seen a hundred Redfish circling you in six inches of water, you are missing out. We should have this type of sight-fishing available to us at least through the end of March. Give me a shout if you want to take a shot at it.
Back in the fall of 2019, Grays Sporting Journal came and spent a few days with me while writing an article for their magazine. The Albies hadn't quite arrived yet, but there were plenty of Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish, Jacks and Houndfish along the beaches here on the Crystal Coast. We also hit a few tailing tides, and hooked a couple Redfish. The awesome folks over at Gray's just posted some footage from that trip, I'd love for you to check it out.
I'm in the mood to share my thoughts about a company and product that I really love. Hatch Outdoors and their Finatic Fly Reels. They didn't pay me to say that, they didn't ask me, they don't even know I'm writing this. I've been fly fishing for 15 years and working as a guide for 9 of those, and I've bought, beat up and sold my fair share of fishing gear. So, when you come across something you really believe in, it's worth sharing with your clients and any other anglers looking for a great product.
"I've shared the following story with countless anglers on my boat, and now I'm putting it out there for everyone else."
When I first got back into fly fishing 15 years ago, I had to decide what gear I was going to invest in. The options were overwhelming, and back then, there weren't nearly as many online resources to help with that decision. I settled on an overseas made rod, a cheap fly line, and a fly reel that would get me started. I still own the rod, and I caught a few fish that first year before the drag completely quit on the reel and the handle fell off.
Thus, began my 10-year process of buying gear and abusing it to see how long it would last. When I say abuse, I don't mean throwing it down and kicking it around...I mean fishing for extremely tough fish in some pretty harsh environments.
"I've been through enough brands and products to start my own fly shop."
That's where Hatch comes in. In 2017, I launched my own fly rod company and began looking for a fly reel that would match well with the rods we were building. These would be reels that I would fish daily as a guide but would also be used on demo rods when Mauser Fly Fishing set up booths at trade shows. I had a few rules in mind when I started researching companies.
(1) I wanted a Made in USA Fly Reel company, and (2) I wanted a reel from a company whose main focus was reels.
There were a handful of companies that fit the bill. You can probably think of them immediately and count them on two hands. I had used the products from several of these brands over the years and had been pleased with all of them.
I emailed 5 of those companies and told them about the new business I was building, and explained to them that I was considering using their products exclusively to guide with and use on my demo rods. And then I waited... I was sort of testing the waters to see if any of them showed interest. I wasn't asking for freebies or even discounts, I was just curious if they'd respond back. As a guide, I've always been a big fan of supporting companies that are a fan of what I'm doing.
"Within 24 hours I received an email from Hatch."
The manager at Hatch responded to my email and commented on how exciting it was that I was starting a new business venture. He also said that they were honored that I'd consider using their reels for my guiding and demo rods. The response came quickly and felt genuine, which is something you don't see much anymore. (I did receive a response from the other brands, but it took a few weeks, and none of them seemed nearly as thrilled. I understand what it's like as a business to be completely overwhelmed with the day to day process and receiving a never-ending inflow of emails. That being said, the company that beat everyone else to the punch is the one that got my attention.)
I placed an order for 5 reels that same week. A Finatic 3+, 4+, 5+, 7+, and 9+. I still fish all of those reels four years later and have had zero issues. I've also added several more to the collection.
The email from the manager wasn't my only positive experience with Hatch. A few weeks later I received a thank you letter in the mail from the owners, John and Danny, along with some Hatch stickers. Rarely, if ever, do I receive a thank you letter from a company that I purchase products from. It's something Mauser Fly Fishing does for every customer, so when I was finally on the receiving end of one, I was thrilled.
Later that year, I went to the ICAST/IFTD show in Orlando. While there, I had the pleasure of chatting with the team at Hatch. Even though the show was extremely busy, the owners took the time to talk with me about my businesses, fly fishing, and really made me feel like I was important to them.
At that point I was so sold on this company, that there was no way another brand could steal my attention. I was a super fan.
By now you've probably figured out why I'm head over heels for the company's culture, but you're probably wonder how good their products are.
I have been fishing my Hatch 3+ through 11+ reels nonstop. Big Redfish, Striped Bass, Albacore, Bonito, Sharks, etc... They've stood up to everything we've put them through. Their drags could stop a train, the machining is flawless, and the design is easy on the eyes. My buddies absolutely love theirs too and have caught everything from big Tarpon to Arapaima on them. I don't know anyone personally who has had a failure with them, but I have no doubt that if there was, Hatch would take care of it immediately.
"There are plenty of companies that make excellent fly reels, but ones that also make you feel like part of the family are a bit harder to come by. That combo is the reason I'm sold on Hatch."
I could just say that "Albie fishing has been stupid good lately", and leave you with these pics and it would be good enough.
But, I'll elaborate a little bit and tell you that we have been Blessed with a fantastic later than normal Albie season. The water temps stayed up longer than normal (much to the dismay of trout anglers) which kept the bait flowing and the Albies blitzing.
Not only has the bite been really good, but it's been really weird. As in, we have caught fish in some really out of the ordinary scenarios. Up a creek, on a flat in 1 foot of water, blitzing on the shoreline with their backs out of the water and bellies in the sand...heck, we even hooked and fought one inside some floating docks in a marina.
On top of that craziness, we have gotten into some big'ns too! Some of those fish that make fighting a 10lb Albacore feel like a Speckled Trout. We call them "Buffalo".
We had some nasty weather earlier this week, but it looks like things are shaping up nicely to squeeze out another week or two of Albies before it's over.
Thank you 2020, you finally did one thing right!
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll zip it and let the photos do the talking.
If you want to hit the water with me before 2020 is over, just give me a shout. We have some unbelievable schooled up clear water redfish fishing coming up the next few months too, so I'd love to show you what it's all about.
November 2020 has been really good, both inshore and nearshore. Except for a few weather issues, the fishing has been great. I've had fly anglers and spin anglers, veterans and newbies, and it's all been really fun stuff.
The water is starting to really clean up in some parts of the marsh, and clear water means great sight-casting. On the days we've had clear skies and low winds, the sight-casting for reds has been excellent. I'm looking forward to sight-fishing continuing to improve through winter as the water gets cleaner and the Redfish start to school.
Albies have been great and we've fished them from New River to Cape Lookout this month. Some days we've gone to battle with hoards of anglers and some days we've had miles of Albies completely to ourselves. A few days they have been up and down and picky, and some days they would just eat, eat, eat. We've bent the heck out of some fly rods and spinning rods this month and made a bunch of good memories. The fishing is still going strong with some really big Albacore showing up. Fishing should continue to be good into the beginning of December, and maybe longer. Love these fish!
Want to catch some Albies and/or Redfish with us?
My "Other Favorite Fish" is in town, and he's brought all his cousins with him. There's been some fantastic False Albacore action lately, and I couldn't be happier about it. There's plenty of fish along the Crystal Coast beaches from Emerald Isle to Cape Lookout.
The action should continue to be really good through at least mid-November, and possibly into December. These are such killer fish to chase on a fly rod, and we plan to get into as much action as possible over the next month or two. And for my non-fly fishing friends, these fish are a handful on light-action spinning rods too!
If you've never hooked into a fish that rips your line off the reel at 40mph, then you really should come give this a try. Unless I get a cancellation, I am currently booked through October, but I have open dates in November. Give me a shout if we can be of service.
We'll be in Louisiana next week chasing Reds, Jacks, Sheepies or anything that will bite a fly. But when I get back, I'll be ready to charge after the Albies. They've been around, but they should really be good in a week or two. Fly fishing or light tackle...it's an insane fishery and something I look forward to every year.
My October is really filling up and November isn't far behind, but I have a few spots where I can squeeze in a couple more False Albacore (or Redfish) trips.
Just wanted to share an old favorite video of mine. Looking forward to the days when I can focus on shooting a little more video. Even if it's just setting up a few GoPros and editing some short vids like this.
Get fired up, this will be happening all down the Crystal Coast very soon!
It's now early September and things are starting to "Fall" into place. Yeah...I went there.
Bait, mostly mullet and shrimp, are on the move in the marsh and Redfish and Flounder are taking advantage of it. Around the inlets and beach fronts, there is a solid migration of mullet and silversides getting destroyed by small jacks, Spanish Mackerel and early season Albacore.
On spin, the top water bite continues to be good. If we aren't fishing top water, we are generally having great luck with spoons and spinnerbaits.
On fly, sight casting continues to be good with shrimp patterns and rabbit strip streamers. We can usually spot reds crawling around in a foot or less of water, following the contour lines of the grass and oyster shells.
On dirty water days, we have had good success with copperhead fly patterns.
Tailing redfish continue to be an exciting option on big flood tide days.
Fishing, both inshore for reds and flounder, along with down the beaches for mackerel, blues and albacore, should just continue to gain momentum over the next two months.
Mid-September through mid-November are generally my busiest months, and it's because of the great and varied fishing opportunities, both on fly and on spin.
I have still a small handful of openings over the coming months, so let me know if you want to go chase some fish.
Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isaias passed through a week and a half ago, and left us with some down limbs and a few power outages on the Crystal Coast, but otherwise unscathed.
The water was a little muddy afterwards, but it's starting to clear up, with some really pretty water on the high tide.
The redfish bite has been consistently good, with some fish coming on fly and lots on spin...both on topwater and on spinnerbaits and spoons. We are also catching good numbers of flounder while targeting reds.
As long as the weather cooperates, we've been having some really nice days chasing redfish.
We are nearing the end of July and we've had some pretty hot fishing and some even hotter days.
The weather has been in the 90s most days and many of those days have felt over a hundred! In heat like this, we try to get out on the water by 6am and off by mid to late morning. Mid-day is just miserable.
We've had some varying conditions, with weeks of clear water and weeks of muddy water and wind. The conventional fishing has been quite good with a great topwater bite on Skitterwalks, and a sub-surface bite on gold spoons and spinnerbaits. When the water is clear, we've been able to sightcast reds on weedless soft plastics.
Low tide fly fishing for Redfish has been an A-Game sport lately, as the dirty summer water has given us fleeting shots at sight-casting fish. We've been able to find enough clean water areas though, to give fly anglers a decent number of shots at fish within 50 feet of the skiff.
The big flood tides for tailing Redfish have been really excellent for the most part. We had several days in July where we had more shots at tailers than I have seen in the past 12 years. I can't wait to see what the rest of the tailing tides produce this year.
Along with Redfish, we've picked off good numbers of Flounder unintentionally. I'm looking forward to Flounder season opening up Aug 16 - Sept 30 with the numbers we've been seeing.
This has been my best summer of bookings in 9 years of guiding, which I am so thankful for...especially after the loss of so many trips this spring due to the Pandemic. Thank you so much to everyone who has fished with me this year, and if we haven't yet, then I hope to fish with you in the future!
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