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Let The Feeding Frenzy Begin!

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On: Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 8:59AM | By: Captain Ray Markham

Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers/CCA Fall Fly Fishing Challenge Winners:

The past several weeks have been off the charts in terms of fish chewing. While it’s not been an all the time thing, the times when fish have been feeding have been pretty ferocious! Lots of different species of fish have been caught aboard my custom 1820 Action Craft Flatsmaster SE Hybrid. In the catch were Snook, Trout, Redfish, Pompano, Gag Grouper, Black Sea Bass, Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish, Jack Crevalle, Ladyfish, and Flounder… did I say Flounder? Wow! The Flounder bite has been the best I’ve seen it in years.

Flounder ranging from 10 inches all the way up to door mat-size in the low- to mid-20-inch range have been caught on several different lures. The CAL Shad has produced the majority of the Flounder, when rigged on a quarter-ounce CAL Jighead. The MirrOlure soft plastic Lil’ John XL brings up a close second. A new bait from Bass Assassin that I’m trying, called the Elite Shiner, shows some major promise as well. The slender shad style body has excellent action and has been taking its share of big flatties.

Redfish are on the move and in some areas big schools of giant Reds are showing up. While we have caught some oversized Redfish on Eppinger Rex Spoons, most our fish have been in the upper slot around 26 inches, and for those looking for a great fish on the grill, there’s hardly anything better.

We’ve been losing dozens of jig heads lately to some toothy critters. Bluefish have really taken over and some of these Blues are the largest we’ve caught in the past 10 years or so. Blues ranging up to nearly six pounds have been caught on CAL Jigs and MirrOlure Soft Dines. The new Soft Dine has been highly productive and while it’s king of combo between and hard and soft bait, it’s proving to be very durable and has been standing up pretty well to the attacks of these mauling Mackerel and Blues. But the bottom line is that they are catching fish!

Recently, I attended the Federation of Fly Fishers’ Fly Fishing Expo in Crystal River. It was a great shot in the arm for fly fishers who have laid off the sport for a while, as well as professionals who eat, sleep, and breathe the sport. I’m in that category of those who have laid off it for a while, since I rarely get to fish the pointy end of the boat these days with a fly rod. However, the week following the Expo, where the likes of fly fishing greats Chico Fernandez and Flip Pallot were in attendance giving seminars and rubbing elbows, spurred my enthusiasm enough to enter the 9th Annual Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers/Sarasota CCA Fly Fishing Challenge. The event was separated into two groups, the Angler Fly Division (no guides), and the Open Fly Division, where the guides entered along with anyone who wished to compete against them. The event was well attended and, in the end, Fred McClendon of Lithia walked away with the Grand Champion award (with the largest Grand Slam) in the Angler Fly division, and I managed to capture the largest Grand Slam for the Grand Champion award in the Open Division. All my fish were caught on a 6-wt. TFO fly rod using a chartreuse and white Clouser Minnow. I normally throw a tiny Eppinger Rex Spoon as a fly. It’s about ¾ of an inch in length and the Reds pounce all over it, but I forgot to bring my spoon flies for the tournament. Weather conditions were ideal for fly fishing.

With the water heading down into the 70s this past week, the action has fired up and top water lures are making a huge splash. Fish have gotten much more aggressive and are blasting baits on top big time. The new Pro Dog Jr. series from MirrOlure have been outstanding and everything from Snook to Tarpon are eating them. Redfish and Trout can’t stand to not hit the Mossy Green Trout color pattern. This kind of action will only improve over the next month or so until things really chill down. Some of the best fishing days of the year are just ahead, and I can hardly wait ‘til they get here. ‘Til then…I’ll catch ya later!

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