12/11/13

Insects and other foods the trout
should be eating:

Hatching:
1.     Blue-winged Olives
2.     Midges

Most available - Other types of food:
3.     Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)





Fishing Tales - Figuring Everything Out
When Angie and I first started shooting and producing fly fishing videos (DVD), we
were still living in Panama City Beach, Florida. During the dead of winter, there
wasn't much trout fishing opportunities anywhere in the nation, so we began to
pursue the saltwater species on the fly.  

In the middle of the winter, when it gets as cold as it gets along the northern Gulf
Coast, and that is sometimes less than freezing temperatures, speckled trout will
abandon the shallow water of the bays and move into the creeks in brackish
water where they are safe from being eaten by dolphin. I'm referring to the
mammal (Flipper) not the dolphin fish. The cold water will make the speckled trout
almost lethargic and easy prey for the dolphin.  I've seen them heard up schools of
specs in shallow cold water and have a feast.

One of our favorite places to fish for them, normally using spinning tackle and jigs,
was the Intracoastal waterway between Panama City and Destin. Most anglers call
it the "ditch" and in essence, that is all it is - a deep ditch running inland to allow
inshore navigation for commercial boats and barges. Few people fish it but few
know that the colder the weather gets, the more speckled trout from West Bay and
Choctawhatchee Bay will congregate there. That is also where the shrimp
congregate and the first and foremost reason for the trout (and redfish) to
congregate there.

The particular day I am writing about (approximately 1998) our video camera failed
to work. We had taken it out of a warm car into the freezing weather and vapor
locks caused the automatic safety feature to shut it down to keep from harming the
heads. It was below freezing and our guides were freezing up even though the
ditch has very high banks on each sides of it from the sand dug out to build the
canal.

After running the boat from a launch at the highway #79 bridge towards Destin a
few miles, we stopped at the first likely looking place in the channel to fish. On my
first cast, I caught a nice spec on a white Clouser Fly. I proceeded to catch one on
just about every cast for the next hour. The bottom of the boat was full of specs,
more than we could possibly eat, so I began to release them. I don't know the
number I caught in the freezing cold temperature, but I do know it took more time
for me to get the ice out of the guides than it did to cast, hook a trout and release
it. I'm guessing I caught over fifty and probably more like seventy-five. I would get
as many as three or four strikes a cast but due to my very cold hands, I would miss
a lot of them. I quit fishing because we couldn't video anything and because we
were both very cold.

Two days later, I invited my friend to go with us and we headed to the exact same
area of the Intracoastal waterway to show him the fast action. This time we kelp the
camera in the cold trunk of the car and made sure condensation didn't shut it
down, something I usually forget to do. The camera worked just fine. The
temperature had warmed up to about forty degrees rather than the high twenties
from the day before but most of the other conditions were exactly the same. I cast
for an hour in the same place without the first take. We started moving around to
different areas trying to figure out where they moved to and didn't get a single take
on the same fly I used two days before. I didn't measure the water temperature
because I didn't have a thermometer but I didn't see how it could be much  
different. After about four hours of fishing, I failed to catch anything - not the first
trout or redfish - nothing.

The only possible thing I could figure that changed the location of the fish was the
tide had, of course, changed. The current in the ditch was flowing from the exact
opposite direction. Because it has to flow either east or west, versus north and
south, an incoming or outgoing tide at Choctawhatchee Bay, pulling water in or out
of Destin Pass, working with or against the tides at West Bay and P.C. pass,
can make it difficult to figure out at times. Normally, the fishing isn't affected much
as long as it isn't slack, but in this case, it must have made a huge difference.

I guess the point of this fishing tale is that sometimes, just when you think
you have everything all figured out, the fish just make a fool out of you.
The big difference in me and most other fishermen is when I discover I haven't got
it all right, I get very upset. I can't pass it off like most guys can. I can't stop trying
to find the reason I failed and I can't stop thinking about it. I may as well have just
lost the masters golf tournament by looking up on my last putt.

Fishing has always been a very serious thing to me. At seventy years old, nothing
about it has ever changed. The only thing about it is, if that never happened, and I
was always able to figure it all out, I probably would loose interest in it.
It is
the challenge of catching fish that makes fishing the sport it is, not the
catching
.
Copyright 2013 James Marsh
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The Perfect Gift for Smoky Mountain Anglers -  Tying Perfect
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