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Capt Bob LeMay

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Posts posted by Capt Bob LeMay


  1. Very surprised to see that Everglades National Park has not locked down for Ian... Usually,  if you even say the word hurricane they lock the gates...figure the storm surge alone will be problematic - particularly for the Everglades City / Chokoloskee area since they're barely above sea level as it is... Looks like south Florida got lucky on this one.. .

     

      Will report out as soon as I'm able to get back down to Flamingo and / or Chokoloskee for anyone interested.  In the meantime everyone along the Gulf coast of Florida will be doing everything they can to  prep for what looks like bad news coming their way..  Hope everyone stays safe - and after the storm,  once you've sorted out check on your neighbors and assist if needed... Good luck to all.


  2. A quick note… haven’t been able to call up this site for a week or more now. So glad to see it up again …

    With the weather being the original topic on this thread I’m happy to report that hurricane Ian looks like it will miss down here around Miami but instead head for Tampa and points north while pretty much ruining the fishing from the Keys all the up to the Panhandle area of our state.

     

    Lucky me… I’ve only lost three trips I had booked out of Everglades City this week.  Hope everyone stays safe and helps out their neighbor after the storm passes …


  3. I'm pretty sure I have a partial box of Keel Hooks - somewhere in my gear (they were stainless, of course, and by Eagle Claw).  If I can find them I'll gladly send them to whoever can use them - gratis.. I remember trying to use them - without a lot of success as a beginning tyer in the mid-seventies -and I was pretty much self taught using what few books I could find (this was long before the explosion in our passion on the saltwater side of things..),  I also remember tying up the Blonde series on standard hooks - then never having any particular success with them myself... Once I was well on my way as a tyer and finally getting an order or two from one shop or other don't believe I ever got a single request for anything done up on a keel hook... 


  4. Weather down my way (the Miami area) is still just cooking and it's sure to generate a hurricane or two.. Water temps last night in Biscayne at 8pm were 88 degrees at the surface...  At 1Am this morning we were waters that had only dropped a single degree...  We won't get our first hint of cooler weather usually until the end of the third week of October...  Still,  we did manage a few fish... but not fly fishing - we were tossing small lures into docklights where we could see small bait getting shredded... 

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    Our snook season just opened but any snook has to be a minimum of 28"...  so this one swam free

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    This one a bit bigger but still short...


  5. Back in the years before fluorocarbon came along, heavy bite tippets with monofilament were problematic (hard to straighten out and prone to allow a clinch knot to make the fly offset and not attractive at all).  One of the “fixes” was to snell that heavy leader to the fly so it had to track straight… that in turn encouraged tyers to provide flies with at least 1/4” of bare shank to accommodate the snell.  Some of the tarpon patterns I’m still drawing royalties on were developed back then (late eighties).  The other “fix” was the leader stretcher that was very popular back then.

     Once fluoro came along none of that was necessary- but tarpon still eat those same flies even if no one is snelling them any more… 

    ps- the royalties involved are very small… Come up with a pattern like a Clouser or a Copper John… and things change.


  6. As a teenager,  in the sixties, I hunted gray squirrels a lot in North Alabama with my trusty Benjamin air rifle - and don't believe I've ever seen a black squirrel.. Fast forward to many years later and both gray and fox squirrel tails were part of my material supplies for both bonefish and tarpon flies... for many years.   Very interesting...  Here are two tarpon flies with one using gray, the other using fox (or red) squirrel tail collars - they're both my version of Stu Apte's "Apte Too" tarpon bugs from years ago - and yes, occasionally having a weedguard on a tarpon fly might be handy...

    EttFxVB.jpg

    By the way,  a fellow in the natural materials industry mentioned the other day that squirrel skins and tails were getting very hard to come by in bulk for processing,  dyeing, and packaging for fly shops... Seems that these days the small monies they generate aren't worth much effort the way they were in past years... Don't think I like these days very much... 


  7. I see similar foolishness down in the ‘glades regularly.. The boat ramp I use most days (the interior ramp at Flamingo ) is about 200 feet long - but only about 80 feet of it has docks and it’s where we launch our skiffs and meet our anglers.  The rest of it has an occasional big ‘gator or crocodile hauled out and sunning themselves.  On more than one occasion I’ve seen families with small kids in hand walk within five feet of them as though they weren’t dangerous at all… and I just hold my breath.  Either specie is frighteningly fast on land and if one grabbed a child no one would be able to stop a tragedy from happening at all.  The crocs have a reputation as fish eaters but big ‘gators actually kill a few people in Florida almost every year…

    bPui8rF.jpg

    At that ramp.. and that's me in the background ignoring this eleven footer (the American salty gets a lot bigger...) but as mentioned they're supposed to be fish eaters and not particularly dangerous to people.... 

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    this one's a bit smaller and these are the guys visitors are perfectly willing to get entirely too close to in my opinion...  

    Don't have a photo of a big 'gator but they're the ones I'm real careful around - a big one is just plain dangerous - and up for anything it can seize, then drag the victim into the water - and drown it... 

     


  8. That night scene... was very nearly one of the first kinds of fishing out of a boat down here (way back in the winter of 1972...) for a young man going to school on the GI Bill.  No matter where you are (if you're not way up north...) there's probably some pretty good night time fishing and anyone can find out about it - by simply getting to the water in places where there are bridges, piers, docks, etc.  -and in my early years a boat was a luxury... What I'd say to look for is any place that has docklights or any lights that shine down onto the water (a great spot, locally is where a restaurant is on the water and has a few lights)... diners can watch small tarpon,  snook, and other species feeding while they're having a meal.. Of course places like that frown on fishermen - but at least it gives you an idea of what you're looking for.  Many a motel on the water with a dock of some kind will also have a light or two...  I can remember more than one night when the bed I was paying for didn't get much use since I was out back, rod in hand, as long as the tide (whichever way it was going) held fish.. 

    I scout bridges for fish differently these days.  If I want to know a given bridge is holding tarpon, snook or other species I drive from bridge to bridge, park my truck, and simply walk the bridge on the up-tide side (where feeding fish are usually found) - particularly at each light along the bridge.... Stick your head out past the railing and look straight down... If the fish are there - you'll see them in the bridge shadows and get to watch how they feed and exactly where on each bridge they're holding in the existing conditions.  Simple matter the following night to work your skiff into position to take advantage of what you've learned... Locally, there are five bridges that connect Miami (the mainland) out to Miami Beach and one or all of them will hold fish on a given night.  Very handy to have done a bit of scouting in advance when you're not getting booked night after night... 


  9. Works for clousers but each pattern is different and has different requirements.  The fish are our judges if a fly doesn't swim right or hold the profile you want - turn it into a wall ornament (after trying to figure out what needs to change to get a given result...).  That's something I emphasized years ago when I actually ran organized fly tying classes at our local community college (night classes, adult education... but it only lasted a year or two at most... ).  That was very nearly forty years ago... 


  10. Some years ago I worked a bit with foam that I cut out into cylinders of various sizes to make a few poppers (long before I even considered making poppers for fly shops...).  I found a bit of info that pointed me towards any local hobby shop that stocked thin wall brass tubing for model airplane makers.  The tubes they had were about 10" long and in different diameters - perfect for turning into foam cutters.  I set up each one I intended to use and spun it in my rodbuilding lathe... While it was spinning it was a simple matter to lay a file on the free end to sharpen each tube.  Once sharpened,  you simply set up the size tube desired, got it spinning then placed the foam against the sharpened end to cut out your popper blanks.  Any mods needed once I had the blanks were simple cuts with a new single edged razor blade (and if you needed a sharper blade - double edged blades, being thinner, will always cut easier and cleaner than those single edged blades I started out with...).  When I went to pre-shaped foam heads things became a whole lot easier...

    RDIgUoE.jpg

    I long ago quit using head cement of any kind - instead preferring to use a tiny drop of Krazy Glue on the thread instead - then if "shiny" was needed to coat the thread with Sally Hansen's or some other finish coat once the super glue was dry.  None of my poppers have any second coat ever... any extra finish hinders the way the bug floats and moves on the retrieve... 

    A word about poppers for my area in the backcountry of the 'glades... We only use them in very low wind conditions (mostly at dawn or dusk) and I learned the hard way that to get good bites I had to have my anglers make some adjustments... In short we're not making any big pops with them - or working them fast at all - and for the best results I had to have my anglers place the tip of their rods actually in the water - and make sure the rod is pointed directly at the bug with each retrieve eliminating all slack line and any rod action in the retrieve, relying solely on their stripping hand for hooksets.  Ideally I want them making continuous small short strips -only about six inches for each strip - but very sharp  (each strip needs to have the bug make a tiny "blip" sound) and slow down,  don't get in a hurry almost like you were bass fishing.  Having the tip of the rod actually in the water eliminates all slack so each hand strip imparts that same motion to the thing with the hook on it... Lastly I do my best to explain that the first strike will many times be short and if I can get my angler to just keep "blipping" that bug - the second strike won't miss at all...   We have spectacular results with these bugs under the right conditions.  For small tarpon, redfish,  or snook we're working each bug up against mangrove shorelines or as close as possible to any downed trees or other structure where I'm certain fish are holding.  For big speckled trout it's the opposite... we're working that popper across current out away from shorelines then slowly doing those same very short sharp strips as it drifts across places where the trout are holding -then finally swings into a down current presentation...   At any point in the retrieve the bug will get attacked and usually specks will keep after it until they succeed... Since many of our trout spots during warm weather also hold hungry small sharks getting a hooked fish back to my skiff gets interesting... None of the interior sharks are much bigger than about six feet long - but all of them are quite aggressive and will keep trying to eat a hooked fish until you pick it up out of the water next to my skiff...  Great fun, but the sharks will get fed if you're not quick enough once you're hooked up.

    QsxYfUG.jpg

    Our waters in the interior are dark (like strong tea when clear and cloudy brown when wind and rain make it so.).. I believe our fish have a very small "window" and many times have learned to strike at any indicator that food might be there - and we take advantage of that whenever conditions allow.  Great fun, once a freshwater fly angler learns not to try to "trout set" on a strike instead of strip striking - but that's something we all do at times even guys like me that long ago switched to the salt or brackish places to chase fish... By the way, with popping bugs... only a floating line will do - anything else will just be frustrating... 

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  11. As noted above I'm using soft foam popper heads for my SpeedBugs... The heads are by Perfect Popper, and they're available to any shop that does business with Wapsi Fly... 

    zLXQpyG.jpg

    These are using Mustad 34007 stainless hooks in size #1 (two or three sizes larger than Perfect Popper recommends for this size head- but I'm tying for saltwaters and really need the larger hook.  Unlike freshwater poppers that concentrate on carefully painted heads along with rubber legs, etc.  The SpeedBug is only meant to imitate a struggling  minnow (and of course the foam won't take paint, but will take markers if needed... so they look a bit plain... Don't be deceived these are deadly on snook, tarpon, speckled trout, redfish and any other fish willing to attack easy prey at the surface... 

     

    In use, I run a  double layer of thread (Danville's flat waxed nylon) over the area that the popper will be attached to then fit the pre-shaped slot onto it,  just barely... The next step is to run a bead of thin super glue onto the thread then push down the popper into position and clamp the edges of the slot with a clothes pin to hold them together for about five minutes until the glue sets up rock solid...  The glue I prefer is the original Krazy Glue available widely.  The clothes pins leave a noticeable dent in the popper head but in an hour or so the head returns to its original shape.. Here's a pic or  two of how I'm doing my collars and tails... 

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    This was the original SpeedBug - so named because of how quickly I could produce them when filling orders for shops

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    some color variations

     


  12. Although our weather is awful this time of year (and the heat and humidity will certainly spawn a bad hurricane somewhere…) we are blessed with some first rate night trips on an outgoing tide… After the sun goes down the urban portions of Biscayne Bay and similar areas turn magical - no matter how grubby they look in daylight… Docklights big and small hold snook, tarpon, and other species like they were on stage in the center of a spotlight… I mostly have my fly anglers with an 8 or 9wt rod and we stay at the limits of their casting ability (get too close and the fish get lockjaw…).  A few casts at each light, then we’re either hooked up or moving to another dock light… all while that five hour falling tide is keeping them feeding.  
     

    The best part?  As long as it’s not a weekend - we have the water to ourselves….  There’s always a falling tide every night but when I tell someone that on that particular night the tide won’t get started until after midnight… I don’t get many takers.  At least twice every month, for a five day period that falling tide starts near sundown and we’re in business.


  13. I don't know a thing about cutting salmon - but have done a bunch of fish cutting years ago when at times the boats I worked on generated 100 to 300llbs of fish that needed  to be processed (fileted mostly but occasionally steaked out or gutted, scaled and kept whole).  My choice all those years ago was always Forschner stainless butcher knives - and I still have a pair of them today when I'm only occasionally cutting and packaging enough for a meal for my anglers...  i very carefully never keep my fish cutting blades on my skiff - they reside in my truck and only come out as needed.  When I go into shops that carry Russell and/or Forschner (they're comparable in my eyes...) I'm startled by how much they go for now... My fish cutting blades are both curved (scimitar style), the small one is 10" the large one 12" (and it also doubles as a chopping blade since it's heavy enough - I also have a generous sized cleaver but haven't used it in years... I guess my world is a bit different than most who fish freshwaters since occasionally I'm cutting fish that might go 20 or all the way up to 80lbs...


  14. Not nearly enough... when you're working as a guide you're fishing just about any anglers that are interested... My fly fishing, although I was a commercial tyer for many years and even wrote a chapter for a book on the topic... is only 15 to 20% of my bookings.  The ads that I used to run in magazines always noted "beginners welcome" and I really mean it... I've had folks on my skiff who've never held a rod before - ever...  After a few hours I have them actually casting, retrieving, using artificials if at all possible, etc.  My favorite days, of course,  are when I have fly anglers aboard and we're some distance into the backcountry over a variety of fish...  Must admit as well, that I get a kick out of having kids on board -

    and for small kids an opportunity to try to grab a live bait from my livewell  (with bare hands of course...) is sure to improve a slow day.... For kids I'm focusing on action as opposed to size - and for kids almost any specie is a treat... 

     

    I learned long ago that our flies needed to be nearly weedless (actually snag-less if at all possible - some patterns won't allow you to do that...) since we're working mangrove jungle shorelines.  I also learned early on that I can fish two anglers at the same time - someone with a fly rod in the bow while his (or her) partner is using spinning or plug-casting gear in the stern - and they rarely conflict... Matter of fact each kind of gear compliments the other - not exactly what you see on TV shows... Great fun when my anglers are occasionally both hooked up at the same time - but it's real trouble if the fish are giant tarpon and you're up a small river somewhere...  Another point to emphasize - it's always a great idea to match rod size to the fish you're aiming at... A nice 5wt rod works well for exotics like peacock bass, cichlids, and oscars in freshwater canals (also on baby tarpon, less than five pounds), while a big tarpon really does need a heavy 12wt or 11 wt rod for the angler to have much of a chance of winning.  Lastly I do my best to match fly line type to the situations we face.  An ordinary floating line works very well for rod sizes up to about a 9wt - while my heavier rods, 10wt and larger all are set up with a full Intermediate line...   Many days you won't find a fly rod on my skiff since the folks I'm fishing simply have never learned to use one... Other days I'll usually keep one spinner on board and every other rod is a fly rod in a range of sizes - to match my angler's needs... 

     

    If at all possible I'll also re-cycle chewed up or damaged flies (saving the parts that are usable then re-tying on eyes, collar, and/or weedguard).   There also times when "re-cycling" means saving whatever you can from an old fly - and re-tying that pattern on a new hook (salt is hard on gear- and the fish themselves are quite capable of damaging a hook beyond repair... On more than one occasion I've noted that a slightly chewed on fly will out-produce a nice new one... Not something you'll hear from folks selling flies, of course... Lastly, many of my fly anglers are making the transition from freshwaters to the salt - where it's an entirely different game in many respects.  My best days are when I can assist someone new to the salt to be able to succeed... 

     

    As an old TV show used to say "My world - and welcome to it"...


  15. Down here in south Florida “cooking” is our best reply when asked about the weather… You have be one tough guy to fish in the backcountry this time of year and every afternoon it’s lightning and the storms that bring it… not to mention clouds of mosquitoes.  
     

    We’ll finally get some reasonable weather in a few weeks -if a hurricane doesn’t bite first…


  16. Funny story, since I’m not exactly a purist - I’ll fish with any kind of gear (or technique) short of hand grenades ( don’t ask…).  An outfit I buy plastic tails from didn’t have the color I needed but did have lots of rejects (colors reversed) that I could pick up for very little cost.  I bought a few hundred and they worked so well that I came back and bought 500 of them.  Hope they don’t catch on since I’ll buy them again… if they have them.

     

    Things we’re certain will work -don’t  -and things that shouldn’t work, might just surprise you. 


  17. Where you place eyes on the hook shank directly affects the attitude of your fly as it sinks - nose down, level, or tail down… That, in turn, imparts different movement to your fly as you strip it in with pauses between strips trying to entice a strike.

    Eyes, lead or beadchain, are often an important feature in the flies I tie for the salt… and I’ll occasionally use different sized metal eyes to achieve different effects.  The same way that different hooks (heavier or lighter, larger or smaller) with the same pattern can produce different outcomes… 

    Take a close look at where the eyes are tied in on the original Clouser Deep Minnow (something that many variations miss…).   Hope this helps…  Here's a few pics of patterns with eyes - both lead and beadchain in a variety of sizes and positions for different effects... 

    9rpjl3t.jpg

    This big Tarpon Snake pattern (4/0 heavy, extra strong hook) works quite well on big fish - big tarpon particularly in many colors.. If I tie it with lead eyes - tarpon won't eat it at all...

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    Crystal Schminnow (#4 hook) is a great pattern when fish are feeding on small minnows - I also do few with plastic eyes that suspend instead of sink for working very shallow waters...  

    YZxZDUd.jpg

    These "bonefish clousers" are in two sizes, #4 on the left, #6 hooks on the right - note that each size actually has different sized lead eyes...and that with the sparse wing on top each sinks nose down and can be stripped with a jigging or hopping action along the bottom since bonefish feed mostly on the bottom (but not always...).

     

    Both by changing the size and material of the various eyes  you use - but also by changing the placement - you can achieve remarkably different attitude and motion in a given pattern that's going to be worked as opposed to drifted (like a dry fly...).  I've even tied clousers on long shank hooks with the eyes just forward of the hook's bend - to provide a long bit of  bare hook shank between where the leader is tied and the actual body of the "fly" - specifically meant to allow the angler to fish a pattern without using a wire leader that long shanked hook is the "wire leader" preventing cut-offs from mackeral, barracuda, and other toothy critters...

     

     


  18. Was honored recently to fish " Captain Bouncer", a local legend and IGFA Hall of Fame member out of Flamingo on a trip meant for baby tarpon... Bouncer (Randy Smith) has finally retired from a fifty year career as a charter captain where he helped his anglers set many world records... When I first got a job as a mate on charter boats - he was one of the first guys to provide a pointer or two for this young green mate back in 1973 so I've known him for years.  At any rate we found a few fish then caught and released them on both spinning and fly fishing gear that day .  Here's a pic of Bouncer and I hope to see him on my skiff again... 

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    that day we started out with small popping bugs then went to small white streamers...

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    the SpeedBug, a small popper with a soft foam head from Perfect Popper and #1 Mustad 34007 hook

    4SSXs4c.jpg

    My version of Norm's Crystal Schminnow on a  #4 Mustad 34007 hook

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