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Fall Fly Fishing In Southwest Florida

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On: Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 3:35PM | By: Capt Gregg McKee

Pine Island Redfish

Now that fall is here it’s time to gear up for some of the year’s best fly fishing opportunities throughout Florida. Here on the Southwest coast around Matlacha and Pine Island that means making sure the fly box is stocked up with various shrimp and crab patterns for tailing redfish and plenty of Clouser Minnows for everything else. 

The Clouser Minnow is by far the best all-around fly ever invented. Originally created for the smallmouth bass of Pennsylvania's Susquehanna River, Bob Clouser's simple little streamer has landed a greater variety of species in both fresh and saltwater than any other pattern in history. Most amazingly, given this fly’s immense popularity and success, the Clouser Minnow has only been around since only the early 1980s.

The original Clouser has been traditionally tied using natural dyed buck tail. This gives the fly just enough buoyancy to counter the sink rate caused by the dumbbell eyes tied at hook’s shank. This combination of materials is what gives the fly its irresistible, jigging retrieve. The only problem with the natural buck tail Clouser Minnow is that it's not especially durable. It takes only a couple of whacks by hard mouthed saltwater species like tarpon or snook to shred the natural hairs and make the fly unusable.

If you tie your own flies this isn't much of a problem. The Clouser is one of the sport’s easiest patterns and can be whipped up properly in about two minutes. You can spend just an hour at the vise and have all the Minnows you'll need for a day in Pine Island Sound or anywhere else in Florida. Even if you're not a tyer, Clousers are usually one of the least expensive patterns sold at your local fly shop, and you can find them online for as little as $2 a piece.

One thing I like to do is tie several Clousers using a synthetic material called Supreme Hair instead of the natural buck tail. Supreme Hair is inexpensive, easy to work with, and makes the fly much more durable. Tied this way, the fly’s action is nearly the same but they sink quicker, which makes them a great choice for blind casting over the reefs and deeper flats. I've had Supreme Hair Clousers stand up to multiple barracudas in the Keys and all over the Caribbean. When I'm fishing in a spot like Charlotte Harbor I use this fly as soon as I find a big school of ladyfish, smaller sea trout, or bluefish. When the strikes are coming one after the other, a Supreme Clouser will keep you in the action much longer than a natural version.

Fishing Report: Pine Island Sound

This previous week has been all about the redfish. The big schools have finally invaded the Sound and I’ve been concentrating on them at various flats from Pineland to the north tip of Cayo Costa. Since I primarily sight fish on my charters, this area’s clear flats have been much more user friendly for spotting reds than the still dark waters of Matlacha Pass. The bottom of the incoming tide will give you great tailing conditions, especially when they happen in the mornings like we had early last week. Once the flood really kicks in it’s time to jump up on the poling platform and try to eyeball their orange backs over the grass. If you’re lucky you’ll spot one of the huge schools that are currently cruising this part of Pine Island Sound and literally have a barn door-sized target to hit. If the schools don’t show there are still plenty of big single fish on the bright flats like those near the stilt houses at Captiva Shoals. Fly or spin casting to these 30-inch reds is incredibly challenging and as close to Keys-style bonefish as you’ll find here in Southwest Florida.

If you want to give this a try give me a call anytime at (239)565-2960.

Capt. Gregg McKee

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