I managed to squeeze in a trip to Louisiana to fish with what I consider one of the best saltwater fly guides in LA, Miles Larose, @Shallowsouth. I got the call after one of his fly-in clients had to cancel due to Harvey’s effect on air travel or maybe he got nervous due to all the bad weather from the hurricane. Either way, the client cancelled, our gain.
It was hard to believe that we might have a couple of sunny, calm days right after Harvey blew through, but that’s what the weatherman said and I took him for his word and (for once) it paid off. Every now and then the weatherman does get it right.
The casting was fast and furious going from ho-hum boredom as we waited for fish, to sheer pandemonium when one of the fast moving, herky-jerky wakes was spotted. Miles would give us instructions as the fish’s wake approached. The wake was sometimes only visible by him and we depended largely on his keen abilities to separate the mullet and bait wakes from the predators. Usually by the time he told us to drop the fly we would have spotted the fast moving, erratic wake, hopefully, otherwise we were totally dependent on his instructions. More often than not the fish would turn just as we made the cast which forced us to pick up and cast again using a tight line cast or what I call a “Belgian SLAM”. Here’s a video of my friend Jim trying to feed a fish and this was very typical of the action:
Jim did finally get his hook up and made a great strip-set but when he was clearing the line it got caught up in the reel’s knob and broke the loop. Just that fast, no more fish:
The fish were so close to the boat each time they took the fly made for a lot of line on the deck which had to be cleared. The fly had to be stripped extremely fast so there was no way to throw the line back in the bucket. Of course all of that is part of fly fishing and just makes for more fun.
Below is the first fish I hooked where I went in to autonomous mode. I made a cast right where the guide wanted it, but to his chagrin, I picked up the cast he wanted me to make and went off script to cast to another fish. Turned out good though!
This was the fish:
Jim hooked a nice redfish which became unbuttoned and I hooked a really large gar that also came unbuttoned.
We made many casts to sheepshead in the afternoon, but those neurotic fish just wouldn’t cooperate, as usual. Only a couple of redfish were spotted with no casting opportunity.
Notice in the videos that we are wearing the SS stripping bucket and rod holder. The SS works great on a flats skiff too, though not as important as when it’s used in a kayak or SUP. We had no need for a paddle holder so it’s removed, hence the cinch strap on the paddle holder, allowing removal. I cocked and locked the rod in the holder on the first day because we were looking for the fish. It was far more comfortable not having to hold that big 11 wt for hours on end and the rod was still always ready, just maybe a couple of seconds slower to get a cast. Once we found the fish I held the rod in my hand with the hook in the fly keeper keeping a tight line to the rod tip with just a little flyline out and shooting line in the bucket. No stepping on flyline, standing on flyline and no chance to accidentally rod wrap the line from it swinging in the wind as I turn and talk to the guide etc. Plus I hold the rod down, removing shadows off the water that are made by the fly caster when using the common saltwater quick cast position which is with the rod held high. Actually I don’t like the high stick position of the saltwater quick cast which is with a long, loose loop of line hanging out. Sometimes fish show up incredibly close and even that loop of line is too much fly line. I only need about a foot of flyline out of the tip and I can shoot what I need just as fast.
Two tips offered by guide Miles Larose:
- Open your hands when the fish is hooked and keep your hands wide when clearing the line to keep it away from the knob, rod butt, reel.
- Never kick fly line that is on the deck. If you kick the line, especially with shoes, the exterior coating can roll and separate from the line’s core. This separation from the core or “degloving” will ruin the line. This can can happen even if you aren’t wearing shoes, which you shouldn’t be wearing them anyway as using your bare feet to sense the line is the best way to keep from stepping or standing on it. I use the stripping bucket of the “Samurai” System which keeps the line from being underfoot, making this tip mostly unnecessary, but line does fall on the deck when stripping or fighting fish. As we were using the guide’s rod, I understand his concern, although I don’t think either of us did that. Guide Kirby Lecour advised me of this same tip long ago in a seminar he gave in Memphis.