In the world of guided fishing there is NO such thing as a for sure bet when you’re out on the water, which is why I refer to my job and fishing in general as one big game. As we all know the only thing that’s consistent with fishing is change. One day the wind is up, the next day it’s down. One day it’s sunny, the next day it’s cloudy. One day its warm, the next day its cold (if its not 75° in Florida it’s cold). It’s the ever-changing game of finding and feeding fish that gets into your blood and makes you want more torcher.
Since the start of October I’ve had the pleasure of fishing weekly with an incredible angler from Wyoming named Ed Opler. To say fishing is in this 87 year old mans blood is an understatement. His eyesight for spotting fish is incredibly sharp for his age, his casting is nearly flawless and he still has the balance of cat on the casting platform (he would laugh if he heard me say that). Needless to say he’s one hell of a fishermen and it has been a pleasure to guide him over the last couple of months in the wind, cold, heat, and snow. Ok, maybe we haven’t fished in the snow yet but what we have fished in is wind, wind, and more wind. I honestly can’t recall a 30 day stretch where I’ve fished more days in windy conditions than not in my guiding career. Do you think that fazed Ed? Not a chance!! This man is not going to miss a day of fishing no matter what the weather guessers say.
During our first couple of outings we challenged ourselves by trying to land a 3 fish slam all in the same day. Usually this time of year our three fish slam consists of landing a Redfish, Speckled Trout, and Snook all on fly within the same day. This challenging task usually can be accomplished when the conditions are ideal but as tough as the wind has been in recent weeks we found the Trout and Snook to be the hardest parts of the trifecta. With the wind being the toughest hurdle to overcome during our first few days of fishing both Ed and I set our sites on fishing the backcountry for what usually is the most difficult portion of the slam, the Redfish.
Redfish in general are scavengers by nature and they ideally do not like swimming outside of their ambush zones to chase baits or fly’s which is why targeting them on fly can be such a task. Relatively precise casts are ideal but the real challenge usually is choosing the right fly that excites their appetite. This time of year due to the pristine water clarity flies that feature dull colored materials that move or pulse when not being stripped are ideal. Both Ed and I each have our favorites patterns but we have found the most success using tan and white small EP baitfish patterns as well as Redfish Sliders tied on a size 6 hook. Smaller flies have worked very well for us primarily because of the lack of splash once the fly enters the water. In clear shallow water the number one priority is a stealth approach with a soft entrance into the water.
Ed’s casts are a work of art for the most part. With over 60 years of practice he’s mastered the ability to manipulate a fly line in order to make short quick casts and even the most challenging of long casts. Tailing fish, cruising fish, and fish hidden so far back in the mangroves have all become part of his quiver in recent weeks and I for one will be looking forward to pushing him around into the New Year to see what other tricks he has up his sleeve.
Capt. Kyle Messier