A Taste Of Salt

A Taste Of Salt

I’ve been fly fishing for many years now, probably twenty at this point. People have told me to try fly fishing in salt water. I never put it on my radar because I couldn’t piece together a week or more away from my family, both from budgetary and time constraints, to roam the tropics on a flats boat hunting for the large, silvery fish I saw in fly fishing magazines. I was perfectly happy plying freshwater for trout and smallmouth bass instead, but I also harbored a curiosity about the subject. It took some time to realize that if I wanted to make fly fishing in the salt a reality, I didn’t have to go the vastly southerly route, that I could probably find fishing available near our annual spring break retreat if I tried. For reference, we visit Indian Rocks Beach, a laid back beach town along the Gulf, just west of Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida. Although it is north of what I considered the classic “flats fly fishing experience”, I felt there had to be something there.

When I brought it up to an acquaintance of mine, he chided me for not knowing that tarpon migrated throughout that region in the spring. Another acquaintance, who moved to the area some years ago, shared pictures of snook he caught along the beach. I soon had an idea of what I could chase and just needed to put together the logistics. I started hunting around for a guide and soon found Captain Brian Jill of Lost Coast Anglers. I reached out to him and he called back within twenty four hours with more details on what we could find and date availability. I was ecstatic to hear he could accommodate me and that reds, snook, and saltwater trout would be on the menu. I was most surprised to hear about the reds, I thought that was more of a Louisiana thing, so this was going to be an interesting experience.

We met at Dunedin Marina at 8:30 and tore out of there into the bay. Interesting enough, I’ve seen this water before after we hiked at a local state park and wondered to myself if fishing was available there. So, in a way I was coming a full 360 on this trip. We found the wind to be fairly heavy and ducked behind small islands looking for sea trout. I caught quite a few fish by ripping Clouser minnows over grass beds. Most of these were of average size, but a few we found near a power plant outlet were fairly sizeable. This was a common theme throughout the day. We’d target snooks and reds, then hit sea trout to level out the action.

The snooks and reds were both exhilarating and frustrating. I’ve never sight fished like that before, and for the most part I put the fly in a decent spot upon Captain Brian’s directions. I didn’t get any eats, and learned first hand how selective these fish can be. Captain Brian put me on fish all day, I just was not able to connect. I think I’ll try it again after some additional casting practice, especially trying to stay silent, which I really struggled with. I shift on my feet when I cast, which isn’t a big deal if you’re wading or standing on bank, but it really makes a difference on a boat. An enormous difference. I found myself catching line under my feet because of it almost all day, so I need to work on my mechanics some here if I want to make another go at it. I also need to discern fish in the water better. Often times I mistook mullet for snook, as I’m not used to discerning fish in the water column. However, since I’ve seen it now I think I can identify them better.

Would I try it again? Yes, and I’ll connect with Captain Brian again in 2022 if he has availability. Now that I know what it’s like I think I can prepare for it. I do see why saltwater fly fishing is so addicting though. Fish are readily available. You don’t have to get up at the ass crack of dawn for a chance at them. You do have to deal with other boats, wading fishermen, and jet skis (the latter did bust the first school of snook we came across). And, it is fun!

 

 

Front Of Boat Fly Fishing Guide
Front Of Boat Fly Fishing Guide
Captain Brian Jill Guide
Captain Brian Jill Guide
Sea Trout Caught On A Fly Rod
Sea Trout Caught On A Fly Rod
Busch Light Florida Fishing Pack
Busch Light Florida Fishing Pack
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