Life on the Water, Tim Gleason
First Cold Front – Well, we've had our first cold front of the year. I generally look forward to the first few cold fronts of the year after a long hot summer. Everything just feels like a breath of fresh air (literally). Previous to the cold front, my area has been fishing kind of slow. There just didn't seem to be too many fish around. You could still grab a few fish every morning but you really had to work at it. The morning of the cold front I was hoping the snook were going to get on the move. Sure enough, they were right where they were supposed to be. There were lots of fish up tight to the mangroves in super skinny water that was adjacent to deeper water and they were on the feed. I probably landed about a dozen snook ranging from 15 to 28” but lost 3 slot sized fish which brings me to my next topic
Combat Fishing – when snook get into tight creeks, canals, and adjacent to dock pilings and mangrove roots and you are throwing an inherently wimpy fly rod, I call it combat fishing. All the fish want to do is break you off on SOMETHING and all you can do is try to not give an inch. Snook just seem to KNOW where that escape hatch is and do their best to get there. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. There is a lot to go wrong but if you can keep your head about you and use your trolling motor to your advantage, you have a chance. One of the first things I do when hooking a snook near structure is to try to get the boat moving away from it as soon as possible.
After strip setting the hook and not giving any slack for the fish to move away from you, my next move is to get the trolling motor spinning in the opposite direction from the structure. Sometimes even getting the boat an additional 10 feet away can make all the difference in the world. If you have room, keep pulling the boat away from the structure. I have found this to be advantageous while both spin and fly fishing. Give it a try. You might end up landing a fish you normally wouldn't.
Skipping Pompano – There have been a lot of pompano in my local area this fall which is a bit unusual for me to notice as I don't normally fish for them. They have been a bit hard not to notice this year as they are constantly skipping out of the water as I run over them. I've had as many as 15 to 20 skip out at once. I really should try to fish for them more. They are there, I just need to whip up some crustaceany flies. Was running through the “pomp area” the other day and one actually skipped out of the water right into the boat. Can you say dinner? Pan fried in olive oil and a bit of butter and some black pepper was all it took. Tasty.
Some Dock Lights are Better Than Others – One of my favorite dock lights went out after Hurricane Ian and haven't seen it on since. I was out docklight fishing early the other morning and was cruising by the canal where it was on my way to a different canal and I saw it was on. I immediately swung back around for a peak. It was starting to get light so I didn't have much time but I figured it was just a “scouting” mission to see what was what. I creeped up on it on the trolling motor and it was stuffed with decent sized snook.
I immediately hooked a slot sized snook. I went back first thing the next morning when it was good and dark and hooked 2 nice slot sized snook landing one and getting sliced off by a gill raker on the other one. The point of the story is that almost all of the docklights have had almost no snook on them for the last month and the ones that are on them don't want to eat. This one gets turned on for a day or two and it is stuffed with biting decent sized snook. This light was good as well before Ian. There is nothing different about it from others that I can see. It is not in a prime current location. Goes to show you that some dock lights are just better than others in ways I can never seem to figure out. I guess I am just going to have to fish it.
More Stuff Like: I broke a 7 weight fly rod this summer fighting a tarpon. Stuff happens. It was an older rod and I had caught innumerable fish on it including my personable best snook of 41.5”. The rod was manufactured by Redington. I have used some Redington rods since I started fly fishing about 25 years ago. One reason I started with them was their warranty program. If the rod broke, they sent you a new one; no questions asked. I have broke a few of their rods over the years and have been pleased with their replacement warranty.
Redington was bought by a larger company called Far Bank a while back and they have changed how they deal with broken rods. The biggest change was for out of production rods which was the category mine fell under. I have heard nightmare stories of getting these rods replaced and the cost associated with doing so. Most manufacturers have revised their warranty programs similarly. When these rods were bought, it was supposed to be a straight swap out for a new one if they broke. Don't get me going on manufacturers changing their warranty program after the fact. I will never shut up; but I digress.
Needless to say I was anticipating a difficult process but I was pleasantly surprised in the end. Everything was done online including a registration of rod, a request for warranty repair and status updates. It took a little while but for $50 I had Redington's top of the line Crux rod on my doorstep in about a month or so. Way better than what people were saying about Far Bank and most fly rod manufacturers in general. I had never heard anything good or bad about the Crux rods so I wasn't expecting a ton.
I was pleasantly surprised. First cast along a mangrove shoreline, I blasted a cast 10 feet INTO the trees. The thing cast like a rocket. Once I figured how to cast it, I have found it to be a great distance caster and quite accurate. I am pleasantly pleased with the quality of the rod and a manufacturer who stands by their product. So if you are looking for a mid priced fly rod (at MSRP $419 this is a lower tier mid priced fly rod (fly rods are stupid money), Give a Redington Crux a try.
Well that’s it for this edition. See you out on the water. Look forward to sharing more Life on the Water next month. To follow some of my fishing life check out my Instagram account @timgleasonphotography