I took a flight from Baltimore's International airport for Orlando Florida. One of the great things about flying in the United States is the cheap air fares, compared with rip-off Britain's air fares, high airport taxes and of course the very high tax on fuel. My destination was the town of Titusville on the east coast of Florida known as the Space Coast where the fishing can be excellent for the price of a fresh or saltwater fishing license.
Many people visiting Florida stay in Orlando and pay Orlando prices. It's much cheaper to stay outside the area. I discovered Titusville a few years ago. I had been at a fly tackle show up north where one of the dealers asked if I had fished the Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon. He made it sound so good I decided to visit before coming back to Blighty. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The town is situated just across from the Kennedy Space Centre on the west bank of the Indian river. I recommend you have a day visiting this world famous Space Centre even if the fish are biting madly. It's a super place for all the family. Titusville is a town without all the hustle and bustle and high costs of Orlando and fishing is not far away. In fact you could catch a twenty pound redfish before breakfast then spend the day at one of the many attractions from Disney to Sea World and then have a few beers in the evening - which keeps all the family happy!
I shall never forget the time I visited Titusville with Robert Goodwin and John Bodsworth to chase the big redfish of Mosquito lagoon. Arriving to fish I noticed the top joint of my Sage rod was broken. No fishing for me. The next day while waiting for a new rod to arrive from Kaufmann's Streamborn of Oregon, we called into Florida Fishing Outfitters for a chat and to look at the latest lure fishing gear.
While we chatted to Jay Dee and his wife Patti, Jay Dee asked "Why aren't you guys out fishing" John answered "Martin's broke his rod and is waiting for a replacement". With that Jay Dee asked me what rod I used so I answered "A Sage 8 weight". With that Jay Dee disappeared out back and returned with a Sage rod saying "Use that, and bring it back when you get your new rod." I said "You don't know me - can I leave you a deposit?" "No, you go off fishing, I can see you're three keen anglers".
Now that's what you call friendship and help from a fellow angler.
The next day I caught tarpon, redfish and some good size ladyfish. When I got back to my hotel the new rod was waiting for me. It had arrived in less than twenty four hours from Kaufmann's and they also arranged for collection of the broken rod at the same time. Now that's what I call exceptional service. Could it happen in this country after a simple and free phone call? I doubt it.
To the south of Titusville you have the famous Cocoa beach, Which is well worth a visit. To the north is the well known Daytona beach, known for its bike and car racing. In between there are lots of attractions. I choose to stay in the Best Western, a hotel with a swimming pool and laundry room. But that's not all, The hotel also has a lake where you can fish for bass, bluegills, sunfish and crappie with a six weight fly fishing outfit. The kids can even catch fish on bread as the wife or girl friend soak up the sun. For further information E-mail Nancy or Carol email@example.com Shoney's restaurant situated close by is a good place to eat at a reasonable price.
Across the road from The Best Western is a Wall mart store where you can buy a yearly saltwater fishing permit for about $30-00. You can rest assured you will have a great time in Titusville without all the hassle and high prices of Orlando.
Other very useful addresses are Guide Capt. Patti and Jay Dee of Florida Fishing Outfitters E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or Telephone 321-868-0000 They are situated on 4260 S Washington Avenue on (US1) Titusville
You don't need any tackle or fishing licences when you go out with a guide. It's all supplied along with drinks and food if needed. Make sure you take some good sunscreen, good polarized glasses, a hat, and don't wear shoes with black soles that might leave dark marks on the guides boat. They will not be very happy!
I had come to fish and record a programme with a group of lady tournament anglers in the waters around Titusville; to help out with a kids fishing day and take a look at some locations, for one of my filming sessions with 421 Film Productions later in the year. I also planned to fish the Indian/Banana river and Mosquito lagoon for redfish, snook, sea trout and ladyfish. (The latter are excellent fighters and a perfect fly-rod quarry. This fish is a great jumper spending a lot of time in the air. If they grew as large as tarpon I doubt if we would land them.) I might even get a chance to fish for tarpon and jacks.
If you want to fish for bass in freshwater then you have some of the best guides and largemouth bass fishing in the United States. Fly fishing is the way to go and your reservoir outfit is ideal. Take two lines, a floater and an intermediate. Take the advice of local anglers for choice of flies and small popping plugs. Bass are great fun but don't offer the same fight of a redfish or seatrout.
If you're visiting the Titusville area for some serious fishing then you need three outfits. For redfish, ladyfish small snook, jacks and seatrout I would choose an eight weight outfit with a floating line. If you're going to buy a new line for the trip I would suggest you choose one of the new Cortland 444 Tropic plus Ghost tip tropic lines. With it's clear nine foot slow sink tip and floating body it allows a fast line pickup so you can quickly deliver another cast. For the bigger redfish weighing over twenty pounds, big snook in snaggy areas and baby tarpon which might weigh 30 or 40lbs then take a nine or ten weight outfit. Again I would choose a 444 Cortland Tropics plus Ghost tip line. For the big tarpon you need a twelve weight and a floating line. Remember this advice is not written in stone. These are only guide-lines. If you don't have an eight weight then use your seven or nine weight. I have found you can up-rate Sage rods by one weight i.e. eight weight to a nine.
Reels should be of good quality with a good drag that won't let you down at the critical moment. In the past I used American made saltwater reels and sometime ago I spent a small fortune buying some Tibor reels which have hardly been used. Just after I had bought my reels J.W.Young's brought out their Sea Venture saltwater fly fishing reels
which are well engineered and come with an excellent drag. My Young's reels have been used in the Bahamas, Persian Gulf, Lake Nasser, Mexico, the United States and the UK without a problem. Leaders and flies are best purchased in the States.
I know this is a fly fishing column but as you all know we often get days when the wind is so strong that it's impossible to cast a fly. To make sure I can still fish in windy conditions. I always have with me a light spinning outfit, loading the reel with 10lb line. I use bass assassins and Nemire spoons. There are two types, the cranker and buzzer series. Not only do these Nemire spoons work for redfish, seatrout, jacks and tarpon, they are also good pike lures. I haven't used them yet for flounders but feel they will also work for this species and for bass. The small size could be a good chub and perch lure. If you don't have a spinning outfit you can get a good outfit at Florida Fishing Outfitters at a reasonable price.
Most important. Don't forget your salt or freshwater fishing permit.
My first day in Titusville was spent in getting my saltwater fishing license, meeting with several friends, getting in some casting practice on the lake at the back of the Best Western Hotel and taking a look at some film locations. I was also able to spend some time talking with some of the officials of the Inshore Fishing Association including President Jim Armstrong and Redfish Tournament Director Grady Warren who told me the winner of last years Titusville event won over $10,000 in prize money. I got an interview with Grady for my "At The Waters Edge" programme. Another guy I spent some time with was John Nemire who designed the Nemire spoons. John had flown in from Arizona for the redfish tournament. He told me the Nemire spoons had proved very successful on the freshwater bass tournaments circuit and expected competitors fishing them in the redfish tournament would probably be as successful.
My next day was spent on the Indian river just across from where the space shuttle leaves from its launching pad. A light wind was blowing from the east when Captain Patti launched her boat. I had made up two outfits, a nine foot nine weight rod with a Ghost tip line with a nine foot leader, to which I tied in a 12" tippet of fluorocarbon line and a red and white Clouser minnow. My other outfit was a seven foot spinning outfit with 10lb line to which I attached a bass assassin lure.
With everything ready Captain Patti opened the throttle. As the power built up the bows lifted and we moved fast across the Indian river leaving a big white wake and rooster tail. The captain, shouting above the roar of the motor and the wind, said "We're going across to the east bank of the river to a small bay where the fish were gathered some days ago. Though for the last two days we have had strong winds with white caps and the fish could have moved".
The other ladies team with us today were Sandy Fletcher and Tricia Brannis in their boat "Fish N Chick's" who were practising for the next days big redfish tournament. These girls are very ambitious and they practised hard. Sandy works in the tackle trade while Tricia is a surgical assistant from Tampa Bay across on the West Coast of Florida. Both girls are well supported by Pure Fishing Tackle. They have several sponsors including as follows: Florida Fishing Outfitters, Lazy Days: The number 1 in RV's, Power Pole, AT&T Wireless,
Outback Steakhouse, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Fenwick, Johnson, Mitchell, Spider and Spider Cast.
With the wind blowing some fifteen knots, casting and fish spotting were difficult. Patti worked hard to give me a chance but the fish didn't want to show. What was so unusual was, we couldn't find the redfish shoaled up. Only single fish which were moving quite fast when spotted. Suddenly Patti called "Martin fish 12 o'clock fifty feet". I didn't see the fish but cast as directed. It was spot on. I soon had a nice redfish around the eight pound mark. Later in the day Patti spotted another one. I cast some three feet ahead of this fish which dashed forward and grabbed the lure. Fish number two, weighing about five pound, was quickly unhooked and released. Two chances, two fish; you can't do much better. It was a team effort between captain and angler.
With the wind increasing to some twenty knots we called it a day and headed for the launching site followed by Sandy and Tricia who were happy having found some fish. Today they hadn't been bothered about catching. They wanted to find the redfish for tomorrow's tournament. It was noticeable that we didn't see any of the guys out practising. That's probably the reason that Captain Patti's team are in sixth spot out of 140 teams. These girls fish hard and work hard; they deserve al their success and long may it continue.
The next day was tournament day. The girls hard work the previous day had paid off. They caught redfish during that tournament when some of the guys failed. It was a male and female team who finished in top spot.
If you're looking for some exciting fishing, E-mail Captain Patti at Florida Fishing Outfitters: email@example.com
She will take good care of you.
The Fylde Coast
Two days after arriving back in the UK I was on the Fylde coast in search of bass. Joining me was Kent Sherrinton from Burnley Lancashire and Steve Makin from West Yorkshire. We arrived as the tide was flooding. It was probably two hours before high water. We decided to fish the flood tide with big lures, jointed plugs for surface and sub service fishing along with some really good popping plugs. It was a nice day, light easterly wind blue sky perfect for casting a fly which we planned to do on the ebbing tide when we would follow the tide out across the sands.
We all tackled up spinning outfits using twelve pound lines. Arriving at the waters edge we were very surprised to find the water fairly clear. As we moved along the foreshore we found a large area of weeds and rocks covered by some two feet of water. This was a good place to try especially when most of the foreshore is mainly sand and soft mud. As I recorded an interview with Kent, he suddenly shouted "bass!" and dashed away.
I watched him cast and retrieve, cast and retrieve; then he called to Steve and pointed to a spot some fifteen feet from the shoreline. "There they are Steve, by that second big rock". I looked in the direction Kent was pointing. I too spotted a group of fish, best probably weighing between four and six pounds. We worked the area until high water when the fish disappeared. We had several follows but no takes. I couldn't even get a take on my favourite bass assassins.
We discussed the problem of no takes and Kent thought the fish were feeding on something small. No doubt our lures looked out of place in the very clear water. Kent also suggested the use of shrimp patterns on a fly rod might work. Both Kent and Steve thought there would have been a better chance of the fish taking if it was overcast. I suggested a dawn session when the tide was right. I have always been in favour of dawn sessions for all sea fish species especially when the water is clear. At high water we made our way back to the car for a welcome mug of tea and a bacon sandwich.
As Steve made the tea and sandwiches, Kent and myself tackled up our fly rods; we were both using nine foot, nine weights Kent's a Sage, Mine an Abel, which I was getting to like more and more. I feel it's an excellent rod for pike especially with the lifting power in the butt. I chose a Cortland Ghost tip line with its fifteen foot slow-sink tip and a nine foot leader tapering from 40lbs at the butt down to a twelve pound tippet. Meanwhile Kent was going to fish Clousers and Deceivers. For me it was a small popper that Kent had tied up during the winter. His flies are excellent, good design and well made. The hooks have very sharp points which is just what one needs to make sure the hooks go in and stay in.
After a long slow lunch we made our way back to the foreshore. We stood disconsolate the tide was out a very long way. All the talking, eating and drinking had ensured we had missed the best of the tide. Still, we thought, let's give it ago. We fished an hour or so, I had one swirl at my popper from a small bass but I didn't connect. Steve spent the time fishing lure with no success. It was time to leave as we trudged across the sands we discussed the bass. It's feeding habits, locations, fighting ability and their survival from over fishing by the big commercial fishing fleets, especially the Spanish and of course those people who leave nets on the beaches and nursery areas.
These nets not only cause the demise of our bass but many sea birds get caught in the unattended nets. Despite lots of letter writing and pointing out how the bass could give a new lease of life to many small coastal areas through sport fishers visiting the area (they would be staying at B&B's, visiting the pubs, buying petrol etc) still nothing is being done by successive Governments. All they do is stick their heads in the sand hoping the problem will go away. They cannot see further than their noses. It's no wonder we don't have any faith in politicians.
Why not try bass fishing this summer with a fly rod? It's a lovely way to spend time at the waterside, trying to catch what many feel is the most sporting fish in the ocean around the UK coastline.
Rods? My first choice would be a nine weight nine foot. Having said that, if your rod is an eight weight then you can still catch fish. The nine weight helps to defeat the wind and chuck bigger flies. As already stated, the Cortland Ghost Tip lines are excellent. It's also nice to have a good sinking line when
fishing deeper water, especially around rocks. Teeny lines in a 300 grain offer good value for money.
Reels, whenever possible, should be saltwater-proof but having said that, you can use your freshwater fly reel if it will take enough line and backing. What you must make sure you do on your return home is thoroughly wash, dry and polish your line before you do anything else. When chasing bass I would always want a few Clousers minnows in various colours especially chartreuse and white, some Lefty Kreh Deceivers, and a few sand eel patterns and poppers. I use a nine foot leader tapered from 40 butt section to a fluorocarbon tippet of around 12lbs. This all depends on the conditions. If you're fishing open water with no snags then 12lb will be strong and tough enough, but in snaggy conditions I will go up to twenty pounds.
Finally, make sure you have a good pair of polarizing glasses. They not only protect your eyes but make fish spotting much easier. I have a pair from Optilabs, prescription glasses with amber high-contrast lenses and side pieces For further details Tel Tony Kerr 0208-6865708
I would ask you to practise catch and release using barbless hooks. I don't think readers of fishing.co.uk will kill all the bass they catch then sell the fish at the local fish market or fishmongers as some people do. The bass needs all the help we can give it. Remember, they are a very slow growing species. If you're lucky to catch a few fish, take one around the 4lb mark for the table but release all the other fish.
Why not join the Bass Anglers Sportsfishing Society E-mail Steve Pitts Steve@pitts18.freeserve.co.uk
The Society do a lot of work behind the scenes in getting protection for the bass and more restrictions on the commercial fishing fleets which are decimating the fish. I would like to see a rod licence fee for saltwater fishing and the revenue going to the building of reefs around the UK coastline.
A few days later Alan Roe of Blackpool and myself went back to the Fylde coast. Conditions were good. I decided on the fly rod today. It paid off. I had two fish about twelve to fourteen inches on white Clousers. Not big fish, but better than stocky trout and these were wild fish.
If you have any questions E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a good month's fishing