The stars have aligned and it's time to head for The Everglades to fly fish for oscar (top and bottom photo), Mayan cichlid (middle), largemouth bass, bluegill, shellcracker and other freshwater species.
Action is best from December through April when the water level is down.
Once the rain season hits (June), the water rises and the fish spread out over millions of acres. It's much easier to find and catch fish when they're concentrated. In addition, it's hot during the rainy season, thunderstorms move through nearly every afternoon and mosquitoes are unbearable.
My Everglades trips are something else. My anglers average 150 fish per person -- or more! And over the last two years, it's been more oscar than anything else.
Oscar are my favorite. I call them the pugnacious bulldogs of Florida's fresh water. Their range is south Florida, in particular Broward and Miami-Dade counties. They are the strongest fish I've ever encountered for their size.
I use a 4-weight fly, floating line and 8-pound tippet. Go lighter and you'll never land an oscar. They are structure-oriented and their first move is a strong run back into the trees. You're job is to keep them out.
I begin the day with a No. 10 popping bug. Topwater fishing is exciting. If the topwater bite ends, I switch to my Mighty Myakka Minnow, one of the best flies I've ever used. Everglades fish really love the MMM.
I emailed famed peacock bass guide Alan Zaremba of Hollywood, Fla., last week and asked about fishing in The 'Glades. He emailed me back and wrote that the water level is down and the oscar are hungry.
I've never caught a peacock bass in the spots that I fish along Alligator Alley. But it I head another 25 miles east, I can get into them in the canals at Holiday Everglades Park.
If you've never experienced oscar fishing, give me a call. It will be a trip that you will always remember.