Friday, July 4, 2014

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Remembering My Buddy and Constant Companion For Ten Years

Corky, ten years as a faithful companion. We sailed and fished together, walked the beach and even traveled back and forth to  the Keys each year. She loved boats and boat yards, my kind of girl, forgive the Dragon Fly, she was just groomed and the Groomer always had to make a statement.

Corky, because she was a corker





Sunday, May 4, 2014

Landlocked

"On The Hard"



Back in New Jersey until Fall, time to dust off the lawn mower, garden tools and the Harley. For the last six months I woke up every morning to a grand view of the Florida Bay, rode my bike seven miles by eight am, then planned my day around some type of activity on the water. There is a bit of culture shock each time I return North, more cars, sirens and higher food prices, not to mention the neighbor's dog incessant barking.

I am very fortunate to have both sides of the coin in my life, it provides me with a much needed change which helps me appreciate both worlds and not take either one for granted.

This will replace the boats until next winter, my "land barge".







Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Time Has Come

Packing Up

After one of the best fishing days of the winter, it is time to pack up and head back to NJ for the summer. Both boats, the Catboat and the Flats boat are out of the water and safely tucked away for the summer at a friends house. Today all my fishing gear and items that I don't truck home with me will also be stored at my friends house, he allots me one room in his house to store such items. It is a great convenience to have this privilege. Thank you Roland Barth.

I head out on Thursday and will remain in NJ for several months, then it will be the return to the Keys for what I hope is another winter. So, until I get back to NJ and start some much needed motorcycling, yard work and other projects, this will be my last post for a short time.
Ready to get back to The Beyond.

Until next October







Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Permit Information and Facts...Fly Fishing

Permit

trachinotus falcatus
PERMIT
Permit are one of the flats grand slam fish along with tarpon and bonefish. Permit are difficult to find, approach and induce to eat a fly. This along with their tenacious fighting ability, landing a permit is one of the most highly prized accomplishments on fly tackle.
Permit range throughout tropical waters including Florida from Ft. Pierce on the east coast to Panama City on the west coast and the Florida Keys.
Permit are members of the jack family living in deep water holes and around old wrecks. Permit move to the shallow water flats to take advantage of the rich food supply. Preferring the ragged rocky shorelines and hard bottom flats, they will work the deeper edges and points while waiting for the highest tides before moving higher onto the flat.
Because of their difficult nature, permit are usually caught while fishing the flats for other species. Permit are extremely wary, difficult to see in the water and if you do get a fly in front of them, they are very finicky
Permit can be caught all year in the Keys but Spring and Fall provide the most favorable weather conditions for them to move onto the flats. Northern areas are best during the warmer weather when the water temperature rises.
Permit fishers must understand that permit are out of their normal element on the flats. They move up onto the flats only to hunt for food and while there they are very nervous, fleeing in panic at any sign of danger such as boat noises and fly lines slapping on the water or flailing overhead. Fly fishers must understand this and assume the proper attitude and techniques.
Those going out with the purpose of catching a permit must be armed with information specific to the permit.
This begins with an understanding of the "flats fishing" basics.
The ideal conditions for permit would be:
A warm sunny day, the water is clear and 70-80 degrees with a slight wind rippling the water surface. A strong tide is coming in that will flood the highest points of a rocky flat on which you will be poling or wading.
While ideal conditions are rare, each element increases the chances for success.
A bright day with clear water is essential in order to see the permit and effectively present the fly.
Permit like warm water. They will not move onto a flat having water temperatures out of their comfort range.
Wind can provide an important advantage for the flyfisher. Permit do not like calm conditions in shallow water and a slight wind will ripple the surface enough to cover them as well as the splash of the fly line hitting the water. Too much wind, however, may cloud the water making conditions impossible.
Water levels also determine where permit will be found. At low tide, permit hold in channels and basins adjacent to the flats that have access to the safety of deep open water. On the weak high tides, the fish will be working the edges of the flats. Which edge they are on may be affected by wind and water conditions. Permit move up onto the flats during spring tides and other strong tides. Lush feeding areas are flooded at these times giving access to the opportunistic permit. The timing of these tides are well noted by serious permit fishers. During the colder months, tides are not as important as water temperatures but the rule is: The higher the tide the better.
Permit Food
Permit eat crabs. They may also eat other crustaceans but mainly crabs. Blue crabs are a favorite for bait fisherman.
Permit Flies
The permits favorite food is crabs. Flyfishers must have a fly that resembles a crab, quickly drops to the bottom like a crab and enters the water quietly. Crab patterns have been developed that look like crabs and sink quickly as do the naturals. Arguably the best fly pattern for permit is the "Del Brown Merkin" sizes #2-#2/0. The Puff, McCrab and other crab patterns are also good for permit. Fly fishing for permit was not considered reasonably before the developement of these crab patterns. Use a full size crab pattern on windy days. Large patterns are more visible to permit and their noisier presentation is less noticeable in the wind. If one pattern is rejected, change size, weight or try color variations but its a good idea to stick with crab patterns. Upon rare occasions, permit will take a bonefish fly but not with any consistency. Many Guides use nothing but the Merkin Fly in different sizes, weights and color variations.
Merkin
  • Hook: mustad 3407 #2 - 2/0
  • Thread: Chartreuse 3/0
  • Tail (claw): Cree or ginger hackle tips, Tan marabou or fur and Pearl krystal flash or flashabou.
  • Body: Alternating strands of tan and brown sparkle yarn. Also blue and brown.
  • Eyes: 1/24 oz lead eyes dumbbell
  • Legs: White or chartreuse rubber hackle. Paint the tips red.
Permit Tackle
The one rod size to have for saltwater flyfishing is generally considered to be a 9 foot, 9 weight fast action graphite. This rod can be rigged for a wide range of gamefish including all but the largest permit. It has enough back bone to fight large fish and is able to cast fly patterns well in windy conditions.
Flyrod
The fly rod must have plenty of backbone to pull in a permit. Smaller permit can be taken on fly rods as light as 8 weight but a 40 + lb fish will require the recommended 9 foot 11 weight rod.
Reels
Reels must be of quality construction, corrosion proof for the saltwater environment, a strong smooth drag system, sufficient capacity to hold the fly line plus 200-300 yards of backing and be sized to match the fly rod. Single action reels are the standard for saltwater fly fishing.
Backing:
Permit make long runs making necessary 250 yards of 30 lb backing. Add a shock absorber between the flyline and the backing using 20 lb high vis mono line.
Line:
Floating Weight Forward (FWF). Fly line one size larger than the rod weight is recommended to aid in casting the heavier crab patterns.
Leader:
Permit mouths are hard but not abrasive and they have no sharp teeth making wire leaders and shock tippets unnecessary. Since permit do not seem to be spooked by leaders, a leader tippet 14-16 lb test works well. In windy conditions use 8 -9 foot leader with a larger crab pattern. When calm use 10 foot leader with a small fly such as a Merkin on #1 or #2 hook.
Permit Methods
Permit may be fished by wading stealthily or by poling a flats boat which are covered by general "flats fishing" basics. Guides who know the movements of the permit are strongly recommended.
Find
Seeing the permit is critical for proper presentation and retrieve.
Look for permit on top of flats and around rocky shorelines and points during high tides. During falling or low tide check the basins and channel edges.
While hunting for permit on edges of flats and near rock piles, look for black sickle like tails and fins penetrating the surface and under water.
Look for muds and tailing permit. When they dip down to eat in shallow water the tail can be seen above the water surface.
Look for shadows underwater or a large eye without body.
Also look for a permits distinctive wake as they move.
Look for the mirage like shape of the permit caused by sunlight reflecting off their body.
Cast
When a permit is spotted, move into casting range very quietly. When in range the window of opportunity is very small. Keep false casts to absolute minimum and get the fly in front of the permit quickly. Accuracy of the cast is more important than the distance. On calm days sixty foot casts are normally sufficient but in a stiff breeze forty foot casts are adequate. The ideal cast has fly sinking right in front of permit.
Presentation
When a crab is approached by predators out on the flat, it immediately drops to the bottom and stays still. This is exactly what the permit should see. When you encounter permit they will generally be either moving through the area or feeding. For the former, gauge the water depth, the speed of the permit, tidal currents and the sink rate of the fly and cast so that the fly reaches the anticipated meeting point just before the fish.
Feeding permit move erratically and therefore hard to lead. As they move along looking for food, they dip down to eat then come up and move in whatever direction they are facing. For this reason, the fly should be presented as close as possible. Wait for them to tail then put the fly right in front of them. Whatever the situation you must make your fly imitate a natural crab.
Retrieve
The best retrieve for permit is no retrieve. If your offering is refused, a small movement of the fly may bring back the permit for another chance.
Hook up
Since you wont feel a strike as with other species, seeing the permit tail near your fly is the best indicator that they have taken the bait. If the permit appears to take the fly wait briefly then pull the slack slowly with the line hand to determine that the fish has taken the fly. If you feel resistance strike firmly with the line hand NOT the rod tip. With this method, if you miss, the fly is still in the permits area for a possible second chance. Sweeping with the rod pulls the fly out of the area preventing a second chance. If the permit is indeed on the line strike several more times with the rod when you get a chance.
Extra sharp hooks are necessary as the permit mouth is very hard to penetrate with a hook.
Fight
When hooked the permit makes long powerful runs. Just let them go while trying to clear any slack line and getting them on the reel. If hooked near the edge of flats, permit usually head for deep water. Permit will use many tactics to dislodge the hook or tangle the line by using sea fans, coral, crab traps, rubbing their mouth on the bottom or other tricks. If nothing else works they turn sideways using their wide bodies to resist your efforts to pull them in. Keep constant rod pressure to keep the permit from resting and take back line when possible. Pulling opposite to their direction of travel keeps them off balance. Be ready for several more runs and settle in for a struggle.
Release
Decide ahead of time if you want to keep your permit, if you should be so lucky as to land one. If you decide to release the fish, try to leave it in the water, unhook and revive quickly to insure its survival. Permit are very good eating and they are not endangered although Florida does have regulations.
  • Keep no more than 10 per day aggragate of permit and pompano.
  • Permit size limit: None less than 10" or more than 20".
  • May keep one over 20".
Other methods
A chumming method that works well for permit requires either good GPS numbers or a guide to find the locations of permit schooling up on the surface over deep holes. Approach the location quietly and anchor within casting distance. Throw live blue crabs to center of the school of permit one at a time. This creates a competition among the fish to get the crab. Continue throwing out the crabs until the permit are sufficiently teased, then cast a crab pattern fly.
Spin and Bait
Bottom fish over wrecks or deeper water at the edge of rocky flats with crabs, shrimp, clams and conch.

Permit Video

This is the video that was taken of my friend catching his 40# Permit, warning, is is long, however you can click forward at any time to any location on the video.

 Wayne and his Permit Quest

Monday, March 24, 2014

Permit Cooperate with us in the Back Country

PERMIT MADE OUR DAY YESTERDAY

Yesterday my friend Wayne Johnson and I set out to catch some Permit in the Back Country of Florida Bay, in the Keys. After a quick stop to look for a couple of Redfish, with no luck, we headed out to our go to Permit spot, as soon as we arrived we saw some action on the flats. Wayne was the first to cast so I sat back in anticipation of maneuvering to boat as needed. Wayne's firs cast seemed to spook the wily Permit but then as Wayne took his second cast, wham the fight was on. The Permit took the long traditional run as he felt the hook for the first time, reeling off about one hundred yards of line in no time. Starting the motor and idling toward the fish, Wayne was able to get the fish under control, motor off and it was nothing more than that Permit against Wayne's resolve and the light tackle we were using.

After the catch, lifting a 40# Permit over the rail, pictures were taken, fish was weighed and then released, next came the high five's and celebration. Now it was up to me to catch the next Permit of the day. In a very short time later we spotted a fish coming toward us, it turned and as it did I put a near perfect cast in his direction of travel, wham, for the second time in just a short time. My fish took about four runs during the time that I was fighting him, then came the moment when Wayne lifted it over the rail, it was not forty pounds, more like fifteen-eighteen. The size did not matter, we had two Permit caught and released, we were happy.


We spent several more hours in different locations but the wind came up and made that type of fishing a little more difficult to be successful. Riding home, we reflected on how fortunate we were to have caught two Permit in the same day, these were not offshore Permit where they are more prevalent, these were Back Country Permit that are very cautious and smart making them a worthy Game Fish in any one's book.

We were both using 7' medium weight rods, 20# braid, # 3 hooks, mine was a circle hook and 30- 40 # F Carbon leader. My reel was a Penn Battle 3000 and the rod was a Carrot Stix.

Here are two pictures of Wayne's Permit, mine will follow.

Wayne's forty pound Permit
My little guy, about 15-18 #'s

As always, catch and release


video


video









Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Hammer Point Annual Snook Party 2014

Each year at the end of the winter fishing season Dave and his wife Pat host a party to celebrate the venerable Snook. This year saw many friends, neighbors and avid fishermen/women  come together and share stories about their fishing experiences, share what they have been up to during the winter months or just to socialize. It has proven to be one of the premier party's of the year and an invitation is cherished, at least in my case.

Thanks to Dave and Pat Leahy for a great job putting everything together, awards for the largest Snook, door prizes and great food and drink.  Great experience, look forward to next year.


For full screen, click on bottom right, under the video.













Thursday, February 27, 2014

2014 UPPER KEYS CATBOAT REGATTA IS HISTORY

FEBRUARY 14, 15, 16
 
The Upper Keys Sailing Club hosted the third annual Catboat Regatta that  drew  participants from Maine, NJ, Massachusetts, Vermont, Wisconsin, New York and from all points of Florida. All manner of Catboats were represented, Sandpipers, a Handy Cat, Nonesuch, Sanderlings and a few home made varieties. 
The  first day was a sail around on Buttonwood Bay, under light wind conditions and a beautiful day. The second day included another sail with a twist, called the "Rum Run". Each boat, while sailing around would have to pick up a card from five designated anchored boats, after obtaining the required number cards, the sailors returned to the clubhouse and exchanged the blank cards for five playing cards. The Captain with the highest hand was awarded a half gallon of fine Barbados Rum. The third day was a day of racing on Buttonwood Bay, then closing ceremonies.
 
A fine dinner on the second night was the highlight of the Regatta, 79 participants in attendance for a spectacular dinner cooked and served by the Sailing Club members.
 
Fifty foot Sharpie showed up to join in the festivities

Sanderling, Roland Barth Captain.

Approaching the Upper Keys Sailing Club

 Marshall Sanderling

Paul Smith, NJ, one of my crew

15' Sandpiper

Ibis, with a full crew

Handy Cat with a relaxed Skipper

Felix, Capt'ns Lindi and Davy

Falling wind

Searching for the wind, which never did return

Beautiful Sharpie headed to NJ

Light air sailing

Checking for the wind direction, what wind?

CB relaxing

A little wind at the start

Ibis


Felix


Usual Suspects

Lindi and Davey
Happy Cats
Blowing of the Conch at Sunset
Handy Cat and her Skipper before the wind layed down
Nonesuch
A Nonesuch joins the action


 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Catboat Tag

IBIS and PUFFIN playing on the Florida Bay
 
In the afternoon, I spied Roland's Catboat IBIS heading out of the Harbor, at the time I was having lunch with some friends on their balcony overlooking the Bay. They could see the look in my eyes, so they said,"go ahead we'll see you later". In a flash I was in my car driving home and in another flash I was on my boat sailing out of the Harbor.
 
After two hours and taking two separate courses we met up and had some fun playing in each others wake. It was a great day on the Bay,the conditions were perfect and the resulting sail was one for the books.
 
Here are two pictures that Roland took from his vessel, showing the proximity of the two boats, homeward bound.
 
My boat PUFFIN approaching from astern

Roland's cockpit with daughter Johanna at the helm,
I'm not far behind