Friday, March 27, 2015

There are tricks to success when fishing The 'Glades and the Myakka Minnow

Rob Halupka battles an Everglades oscar from a canal along Alligator Alley. Notice that the spot features lily pads in front of trees. On this particular day, the fish were congregating in holes behind the front edge of the pads.
I received an email from fly angler Howard Beamer about catching fish in The Everglades and, in particular, on my Myakka Minnow.

Beamer had fished a canal along the Tamiami Trail a day prior to a trip I made. He found conditions pretty tough.
A school of Myakka Minnows ready to catch fish.

"I talked to Joe Mahler yesteday and he said you got 75 oscar the day after we fished the same area," Beamer wrote. "OK, so what's your secret?

"I used your Myakka Minnow and only landed three. What a blast!

"I had never caught an oscar before."

His appetite for the diminutive panfish has been whetted.

He will satisfy that hunger once he understands how to fish The 'Glades and how to fish the Myakka Minnow.

To newcomers, the shorelines of every canal down there look the same.

But they're not.

They're are subtle differences that can make the difference between catching a lot of fish and catch just a few.

For the most part, the shoreline consists of lily pads, bulrushes, rocks and trees. The key to success is to determine what structure the fish are hanging around. Once you figure that out, you can pinpoint them and eliminate those areas not holding fish.

On my trip, the fish were around pockets in the lily pads, and, in particular, pockets in the pads in front of trees. We caught very few fish casting to the front edge of the pads.

Once my client, Rob Halupka of Toronto and I figured that out, we caught fish consistently.

Over the course of the day, we caught 75 oscar, 30 bluegill, 15 stumpknocker, 12 Mayan cichlid and maybe six largemouth bass.

Not a bad day.

Once I located the fish, it still took my client a while before he figured things out.

Accurate casts are a must. If you miss your target, how can you expect to catch a fish?

When fishing from a kayak, you don't need to be any more than 20-25 feet from your target. That's the beauty of paddle craft.

Only take out the amount of fly line you need to cast. If you're trying to make a 25-foot cast, there's  no reason to have more line than that off your reel.

Be alert at all times.

On many occasions, I would see a tell-tale wake heading toward the fly when it hit the water. That was my signal that a fish was about ready to inhale it. Most of the time, they did.

Watching the end of your fly line is very important. After casting the Myakka Minnow to a likely looking spot, I let it sink. I would strip it in slowly in one-inch increments.

Most of the time, I didn't feel a hit. I saw the line dart to the left, dart to the right or dart straight ahead. That was the signal that a fish had taken the fly and to set the hook.

On some occasions, the line simply wouldn't move when I stripped it. That also was a signal.

"Those fish sure hit lightly," said Halupka, an experience fly fisher. "I'm  sure there were plenty of times that a fish took the fly and I didn't know it."

Another important technique is to keep the tip of your fly rod at the water's surface or even in the water. That eliminates slack line and helps you detect hits a little better.

As with any fly, the Myakka Minnow isn't magic. If the fish are hitting small minnows, it will work -- provided it's fished correctly. Most of the time, correctly means slowly.

When fish are visibly aggressive, you can speed things up a bit.

Let the fish tell you what they want. They will -- if you let them.

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