It’s that time of year — the time when I start thinking about which national park Diane and I will visit this summer. We have talked it over, and this year it’s going to be Acadia in Maine. Maine is one of just three states in the union that I haven’t had the pleasure of traveling to yet, so we will both be seeing something new.
Now as I’ve told you before, these trips that we take aren’t planned as fishing trips. These are planned solely around the national parks available and being able to mark them off her (our) list. The U.S. has 63 national parks designated across the country, and we’re planning to see them all.
Acadia National Park was established in 1919 — the 15th park on the list that started with Montana’s Yellowstone in 1872. It sounds fantastic. The pictures I’ve seen and the stories I’ve heard make the planning of the trip exciting, and being there is something to look forward to.
Just because these aren’t planned fishing trips doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be any fishing. Diane understands my obsession (sickness?) and is very patient with me, knowing I will have to cast a line somewhere, sometime.
When I think of Maine, Atlantic salmon, stripers, smallmouth bass and of course brook trout come to mind. It would be wonderful to catch any or all of these as we make our way through the state … but it’s not planned. I will be taking two rods with me: A 3-weight and an 8-weight, to be used when and where the opportunity may arise … but it’s not planned.
I wonder if you can catch lobster on a flyrod? Eating a few of these malacostracan arthropods boiled, steamed, fried, bisqued, mac-and-cheesed or hoagie-rolled is definitely on the “plan to do” list. We will talk about trip planning and packing as the time for our departure draws closer.
In the meantime, there are still plenty of fish to catch right here. Tarpon will be around until the cold fronts start dropping down in the beginning of winter. I haven’t seen too many on the beach, but I have seen them in the Harbor and Pine Island Sound. Take an intermediate line with you for some of the deeper water around the Harbor.
Look for rollers and cast on them as soon as possible to get their attention. If you aren’t seeing too many roll and can’t get a bite subsurface, tie on a big popper. In shallower water, make casts over the area where you think they might be. You may just irritate one enough it’ll come up and eat it.
Don’t be surprised by Spanish mackerel or bluefish out in the Harbor either. They have been a fun if sometimes aggravating bycatch. The annoyance comes when they cut your leader clean through, taking your fly and leaving you to re-tie.
Snook have been great on the beach. Again, small light-colored flies seem to be the best. In my search for tarpon in the rivers and backcountry, my clients and I have been enjoying catching a lot of smaller snook on poppers near the mangroves, docks and other structure.
The water has become a little dirty due to our rains, so here’s a tip: Shorten those leaders up to 6 or 7 feet. You’ll have more control and accuracy during casting, and turning those poppers over will become much easier, making them more enjoyable to throw.
Be on the watch for schools of jacks too. They will blast by you, eating anything and everything in their path. If you see or hear them, get a fly in front of them quickly. The schools I’ve been seeing have been running by at high speeds while smashing bait, and they never quit moving.
Red tide reports are brutal for our neighbors to the north right now. But, of course, opening the gates and dumping all that crap out through Piney Point had had no elevating effect on the ever-present Karenia brevis, I’m sure. That was a brilliant move. Get on the phone. Put your government officials on your speed dial. Be the squeaky wheel! Aren’t you tired of it yet? I sure am.
As of yet, we don’t have any problematic red tide in Charlotte Harbor. Let’s hope it stays that way. Stay fly and get out there while you can.
Capt. Rex Gudgel is a fly fishing guide in the Boca Grande area and an International Federation of Fly Fishers Master Certified casting instructor. If you’d like to take casting lessons, book a trip or just need more fly fishing info, contact him at 706-254-3504 or visit BocaGrandeSlamFlyFishing.com or CastWithRex.com.