Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:17 pm
Access to this State Park is USD 8 per day, parking and facilities are excellent but do try to find shade.
This is a beautiful white sand beach, short from front to back, with occasional holes or troughs hiding amid two or more layers of sand bars. It is is long hot hike all the way down to the end but this offers deeper water, and in summer better Snook. It is favoured by the salt water fly fishing retirees, who were, to a man, very helpful and pleasant. At the very end, the lagoon mouth can be waded (watch for the tidal flow) but it drops absurdly quickly. This said it holds Seatrout, Redfish, Snook and Jacks and lots and seriously lots of Stingrays. With the lagoon itself, there are all sorts of bumps swales and hollows in there, so do be careful. Storms have collected all manner of debris including lumps of trees in it. You can fish here and not just off the beach, but in the morning you will be facing into the sun. Cast to any structure visible over or under the water. We hit fish when the wind rippled the surface enough to hide our big sun-burnt faces. Did I mention there is absolutely no shade, no shelter and no cover of any kind, beyond in the mangrove fringes?
That deep hole guarding the lagoon entrance was stacked with Jacks and Ladyfish - a fish a cast. On the far shore, known as Hideaway Beach, and technically private, artificial rocky islands offer stable platforms for distance casting into the myriad shifting channels. In the late evening, by contrast with the lagoon, you will be facing the setting sun, so you’ll need excellent sunglasses to sight fish here but, again with care, you can wade in up to your knees on this beach to add distance to your casts. If you do get approached by security, just make your apologies and leave. You could argue that the private land stops at the mean high water mark...
Back on Tigertail beach, we started off with a whole shrimp hooked on a 2/0 circle hook through the tail, on a metre (3 foot) of 18 kilo (40 lb) fluorocarbon up to a swivel, above which a half ounce (15 gram) drilled bullet lead was free to run up the main line. Yes, 40 lb test fluorocarbon. This was lob cast, not more than 20 metres into a shallow hole. The delicate surf was alive with small fish, which a local described incorrectly as shiners. (Shiners are a freshwater species). We had dive bombing brown pelicans, little egrets begging for food, and an osprey for company. Later in the day a Manatee swam past, looking for all the world like a large block of brown seaweed. Had it not been moving against the lateral current, we would never have realized that it was a Manatee. Offshore a procession of boats and jet skis were scudding past…
We were stood in knee deep water, with me teasing out a wind knot in the braid, when Eoin who is holding the rod shouts fish on! The hell with the knot, he hands me the rod and I start to wind in, except it’s not winding in. It’s spooling out! Tightening up the drag, I get proper contact and start to try to bully a decent fish. To our delight, a Snook is slashing around on the surface in front of us. A few minutes later, the photo taken, this silver and gold saltwater Pike is scudding back through the surf. One look at the razor sharp gill covers on even a small Snook and you can see why 40 lb test is needed. The Snook was taken on the shoulder of a bar leading into a small round depression or deeper patch of water, in brilliant sunshine, at 11 in the morning, proving that a miscast should always be let fish! Photo in my blog, will try to insert them here. Google photos is not helpful in this respect, especially around resizing. Anyone got a solution?
Eoin follows this up fifteen minutes later with a small sting ray. Even a small one has a 10 cms (4 inch) barb. Thankfully this one gets flipped over and the benefit of using circle hooks becomes apparent – its neatly hooked in the mouth and easily released. A word of warning – once release, even quickly, sting rays can loiter for quite some time. Make sure everyone stands clear of the release area.
A local lands a small Crevalle Jack on a cast-net trapped dead “shiner” but his technique is different. He twitches it in behind a small float. We persisted with the knocker rig and the single and sometimes just half a shrimp. We’re getting lots of action but less than half of these rattling bites turn into hook ups, considerably less than half… but as luck would have it, Cathal is on hand to bring a small redfish – seriously a redfish – up into the surf. Unfortunately, the line parts. A bad knot joining the braid main line to the fluorocarbon appears to be the culprit. Even these small fish are serious scrappers…
The good news is that his persistence is rewarded when another redfish, small but beautifully marked with that classic tail spot, is beached. Our thoughts are turning to what the local slam looks like… but as the tide starts to reach the single ridge on the shell beach, the action slows. We get one thundering rapid vicious strike and its gone. Winding in reveals something quite remarkable. In truth I’ve never seen anything like it. The hook is gone and the fluorocarbon holding it has been pulled and stretched and thinned from its regular diameter down to a gossamer thin thread. What the hell did that!?! I've posted on US sites to see if they have any ideas...
A small ladyfish completes our captures. We agree it is time to trek up the beach, past the small lines of trees that run down to the water’s edge and the shell decorated brush. It’s a busy spot for walkers.
As we near the elbow, you can see the darker water signifying the depth. It’s windswept and the air is full of fine highly abrasive sand. Time for those neckerchiefs, those hats and the full length UV trousers and shirts. A doctor from Atlanta called Joel who only fishes for things you can eat, poured scorn on my questioning why he would not target bonefish. “Ugh no” he replied “I see way too many bonefish fishermen with melanoma. That flat’s fishing is a killer. Literally”. Food for thought.
We were throwing lures of every kind and they pulled a Spanish Mackerel and several Jacks all around the kilo (2 lbs), another and sadly singular and small, even rueful looking Redfish, two Ladyfish and a a few small Snappers. It also brought in a silvery poisonously spined fish called a Leatherjacket. Eoin hooked a Puffer Fish – which was spiky fun. We never realised you could catch them on lures. Cathal decided to use a Ladyfish head (fatally damaged) in the hope of tempting a big Snook. It tempted a small Shark which bit him off right in front of us! Cue more voluble OMGs.
The boy has a mouth like a sewer, no idea where he gets it from! *coughs*
Anyhow, lures seemed so much less dangerous after that, but it being the last proper session, Eoin decided to try cut bait. Soft tipped telescopic rods are not ideal for landing sting rays. Thankfully a heavy towel allowed a swift safe unhooking, again. Eoin switched to a local white bucktail and as darkness took over, in flat calm conditions, he produced a Speckled Seatrout. A stunning fish. His soft telescopic rod worked best for any species with a soft mouth. There is a lesson in that about setting your drag light. We hit on the tail end of a shoal of Blue Runners aka Bluestripe Jacks, which grunted profuse apologies for not being something better. They were probably attracted to the area by the rocks and islands, which can act as attractors especially on incoming tides heading for darkness.
We chatted with a local angler toting a big beachcaster. He was firing out whole frozen blue runners, rigged on heavy wire to a 10/0 hook for sharks. He assured us that this is a night time only pursuit and pleasant in the summer if you didn’t mind the sand flies.
His biggest to date, backed up with photos, was a ‘decent’ Bull Shark of around 400 lbs. Not big, you understand, just decent! Photos to follow...
Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:50 pm
kieran wrote:.. will try to insert them here. Google photos is not helpful in this respect, especially around resizing. Anyone got a solution?
If you are on a laptop, and assuming that you are not on a Mac, then choose to open the photo(s) in Microsoft Office Picture Manager - you can do this by right-clicking on the picture icon and 'Open with'..
On the opened picture then click 'Edit pictures..' at the top of the page, then 'Resize' on the right of the page. Under 'Predefined width x height' click on 'Web - large' then 'OK' it. That's it resized.
Just then need to right-click on the resized image and 'Save As..'. Save to somewhere e.g. Desktop to then add it here from there
Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:14 am
Selection of photos here https://photos.app.goo.gl/NJrZ2McpBheTSXin7
including ton up Tarpon at Bud 'n' Mary's marina
Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:30 pm
Yeah, the fishing sounds fantastic. Hard to imagine trying to fish in that heat though, sounds like hard work!
Is it any cooler first thing in the morning or late in the evening/night when it would be more manageable.?
Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:49 pm
Heat is not much better early late or at night. It drops to around 25 C, there can be thunderstorms (which are welcome!) but outside them the onshore winds drop away so the humidity feels even worse. And the sand flies and noseeums
come out in swarms. Most of the latter bites I got on Vero Beach (Atlantic coast) went septic despite my wife being a nurse and having brought half a pharmacy with us! Those are pics you don't want to see. The fishing was remarkable for being so good in such briliant sunshine during the day, the only difference between Marco Island and the Keys was the water clarity. A bit of surf at Marco (30 cms) has the water dirtied up enough for the fish to be very close inshore and feeding. I think the lack of any colour and dazzling clarity in the Keys was the reason some many species went off the feed. Even mackerel!
Apologies on the quality of the photos, that selection are the best there are - I think the boys may have a few more photos, hopefully of the other species. Stunning fish...
on the subject of it being like Fenit... yeah... Fenit don't have 100 lb tarpons wandering around: imagine if it did!
Fri Jul 12, 2019 12:26 am
Great photos, was that a egret? (bird)