Recently I was in southern Florida, and I took the opportunity to take a guided saltwater fly fishing trip. The majority of my fishing time is spent targeting trout, but I have really enjoyed the opportunities that I've had to fly fish in the saltwater. I've always wanted to learn how to fly fish effectively in the ocean, and booking a guide is the best way to accomplish that.
|Mangrove lined channels|
Early in the morning I met my guide, Captain Paul Nocifora, at a boat ramp in the 10,000 islands region, south of Naples. Paul's gleaming East Cape Vantage boat was ready to go, and we headed towards one of his favorite places. The sun was just starting to rise above the ocean, and I appreciated the beauty of the Florida coastline. We started fishing along a channel of Mangrove trees, with Paul patiently explained the saltwater strategy to a dry fly fly fisherman.
|Gulf of Mexico|
We were targeting snook, redfish, and Mangrove snapper, and I was throwing the fly at the roots of the Mangroves where the fish were lurking, waiting to attack prey that swam by. The goal was to get the fly into the root system, then strip it back to the boat. It took a bit of practice getting the heavy fly into the small windows where the fish hide, but I slowly started to get the hang of it.
Paul is a very experienced saltwater guide, and he gave me some great tips. As a trout fisherman, it can be easier to get away with some casting flaws, but when you are slinging big flies quite a distance, it is important to pay attention to the mechanics.
A suggestion that Paul gave me was to try and stop my back cast around 12 o'clock, and the forward cast at around 11 o'clock. Although you probably won't be able to do it, this thought process really helped me with casting fast action rods on the saltwater. Another thing that we don't do much on trout streams is the strip set. Lifting the rod tip to set the hook on a saltwater fish is a problem due to their hard mouths. Paul recommended the strip set (holding your rod tip down, or in the water while you strip the line to set the hook).
During the day on the water, we covered a lot of territory, and I greatly enjoyed the beauty of the coastline. We saw a lot of wildlife, and I even cast to a few sharks (no luck!). We primarily caught mangrove snapper, and I sadly didn't take as many photos as I would have liked to since I was fishing so much!
If you are planning to fish this area of Florida, I would highly recommend Capt. Paul Nocifora. His boat was well maintained and comfortable for fishing, and his knowledge of the area was great. He was patient, fun to spend time with, and put me on fish. You can't ask for more from a guide!
Check out his website at http://www.gladesflyfishing.com/guideservices