OK, here's the deal in the world of southwest Florida fishing:
Snook are cooperating along the beaches.
Spotted seatrout, jack crevalle, ladyfish, Spanish mackerel, bluefish and tarpon are keeping things fun in the bay.
Some days are better than others. We finally got some decent tides and the action has picked up.
I had Ray and Nena Johnson out for a half day and they did well. Ray managed a number of nice spotted seatrout and ladyfish on fly. Nena caught several trout, including a 25-incher.
Cameron Knox of Scotland (below) joined me for a beach snook trip and had a lot of fun. He got to cast at well more than 500 snook. He landed two to 26 inches, hooked several others and had many, many follows.
Jonathan Allred (top photo) fished a six-hour trip and did well around Buttonwood Harbor. Mainly a freshwater fly fisher, Allred, who resides in Texas, caught spotted seatrout, jack crevalle and ladyfish. I hooked a fish on a topwater plug first thing in the morning, but lost it after a five-minute battle. When I reeled in my Rapala Skitter Walk, I noticed the a couple of straightened hooks. I'm guessing it was a large jack crevalle or bull redfish.
We've been encountering a few tarpon in the bay that are fishable on calm mornings. I'm betting they'll hit a well-placed fly or topwater plug.
Trout have been running the gamut of sizes. I've caught a number of fish from 20 to 25 inches. In addition, I've been getting some nice bluefish. We've been seeing Spanish mackerel, but haven't landed any.
Sarasota's Dave Robinson and I fished Buttonwood Harbor recently and caught a number of trout (to 25 inches), ladyfish and jack crevalle.
Redfish have been noticeably absent because of lousy tides, but that should change now that we're getting low tides in the morning. These fish are suckers for topwater plugs.
If you plan to be in the area, give me a call and book a trip. The action's much hotter than the weather. We get out early to avoid the heat.
The Skitterbug was a creation of mine that I came up with in 2007 to target bluegill and other panfish. It has caught a number of species, including bluegill, stumpknocker, Mayan cichlid, largemouth bass, oscar and peacock bass.
Fly anglers are more familiar with Gibby's D.T. Variation, one of the greatest beach snook flies in Florida. I have been using this fly since the early 1990s.
Writer Stuart Patterson contacted me to write the article. I met Patterson last fall when I was a featured tyer at the Federation of Fly Fishers Florida Council Conclave in Kissimmee.
Naples guide Matt Hoover sent me an original D.T. Special. Hoover told me it would be the only fly I'd ever need in the surf while fly fishing for beach snook. He was right!
I "tweaked" the fly over the years to suit my needs, leading to Gibby's D.T. Variation. I tied the tail feathers on facing each other rather than splaying them so that the fly would sink just a little quicker. I added 3D eyes, added some read thread to the nose and epoxied the head. In addition, I left the hook shank bare.
The fly has caught literally thousands of snook up to 39 inches. It's durable and extremely productive.
Over the years, I've caught a variety of other fish on it: redfish, spotted seatrout, jack crevalle, ladyfish, mangrove snapper, flounder, little tunny, Spanish mackerel and bluefish. I probably omitted a couple of other species.
I'm honored to have both flies received such praise.