Since we are getting close to the holidays (less than two weeks) most of you will probably be
staying home or visiting friends and family during the coming days. I doubt that many of you will
be traveling to and fishing the Smokies although I hope you do. January and the first part of
February is probably the coldest time of the year and you will have to pick out the better days to
expect much success fishing the freestone streams. By the end of February, everyone will be
doing their best to force the bugs to hatch and the trout to respond even though they will probably
have to wait a few more days to see any surface action. That considered, I thought I would write
about some fishing trips we have made to various other destinations. Don't expect these articles
to be well written and edited. I am not trying to win any awards, just tell you about some things I
hope you will find interesting and some that I look back on with a gleam in my eye.
Bream and Shellcrackers, Lake Poinsett, Florida:
During the early 1980's, I had a nationwide syndicated television show. One of my
most popular areas was the state of Florida. That being the case, I always like to do
some of the shows in the area. The most populated area of Florida was Central
Florida considering the huge Orlando and Tampa TV market area. Most of the
programs were on saltwater fishing but occasionally I would do something on
freshwater fishing. George at Brevard Boat Sales in Coco Beach, one of my boat
dealer sponsors, was always very helpful and usually rigged a new boat for me to
use for whatever type of fishing I wanted to do. Most of them were saltwater boats
but they also sold and rigged out a lot of bass boats and small aluminum boats.
Freshwater fishing is very popular anywhere in Florida.
The St. Johns River chain of lakes begins in Central Florida and flows North to exit
the state of Florida at Jacksonville. Some of the best bass and bream fishing in the
nation exist in the small lakes near the beginning of the St. Johns River. Little Lake
Poinsett, a lake of only about 4,000 acres, is one of them. It has the huge Florida
strain of largemouth bass, of course, but just as popular is the great bream and
shellcracker fishing that exist in the St. Johns system.
During the early spring and summer months, fly rodding for bream is great on Lake
Poinsett and anywhere along the St. Johns River for that matter. I usually had guest
that fished with me and of course they were always able to shorten the learning
curve for a particular area or lake. I can't remember those guys names but I can
remember the excellent fishing they showed me. I did programs using both spinning
and fly gear on the fine bream and shellcracker fishing in Lake Poinsett. I
remember one particular fly fishing trip I made in particular. It was a beautiful day
and the top water action was exceptionally good. For the most part we used the
typical balsa wood head popping bugs. They work great when the bream are
bedding or feeding on the surface.
Chartreuse is always the favorite color of popping bugs wherever you go. I wished I
knew why. I can remember when they first started making bass spinner baits using
chartreuse skirts in the late 1950s and early 1960s when I was a kid. They took
over the market for a while because they were so effective, but anyway, I am getting
off the subject. There is just something about the color that I don't think anyone has
ever quite figured out in spite of all the speculation over it.
We caught beautiful, colorful bream on the surface of the lake that day. It made a
great TV show and filled the lake up with anglers the next week or two. It even
brought people from across the state to that lake. They didn't know that bream
fishing was probably just as good in many other places throughout central Florida.
I continued to go to the lake after the show was produced and did another show
using live bait and spinning tackle. On that trip, my guest, an African American
gentlemen who's name has escaped me, really showed me how to catch them but
most importantly showed me how to add the shellcrackers to the catch. Those trips
inspired me so much it has affected the "Perfect Fly" bream and panfish flies that I
am now selling. There will be even more new fly designs for bream and shellcracker
fly fishing to come in the next few months.
I will get into some of the details of some of those and other trips starting tomorrow.
Copyright 2008 James Marsh