Positioning the Kayak

For us with kayaks, learn to use them to your advantage when fishing ponds and lakes.  This means putting your shallow watercraft as close to the shore as possible. Make your cast parallel to the shore, but don’t just make the first cast on the shore, there are fish many times five to ten feet out from the shore, an area I refer to as the debris line.  This is a slight depression on the bottom that leaves, twigs and branches settle.  It is also the area where minnows hide along with crustaceans especially as the water starts cooling down.

By setting your craft in this position you are moving your fly or lure through the target zone the entire retrieve, increasing your chances to come in contact with fish.  Another reason to setup this way is other fishermen with electric motors can’t get in that tight, they are casting perpendicular to the shore and their bait is only in the target range for a few feet. Fish get use to seeing bait swim away from shore with the hum of the electric motor and the depthfinder pinging away, which I believe isn’t very natural for a baitfish, especially with the extra noise, but bait swimming near the shore and debris line is natural. Advantage kayaks!

Back to your casting, after the cast five to ten feet from the shore make the next cast several feet inside of the first retrieve, make the next cast right on the shore. I have caught countless fish in inches of water. With this casting technique you will cover all the productive water before moving the yak ahead for your next casting sequence.

Start taking advantage of this shallow watercraft.  Sometimes when fishing lakes I actually slide under the branches of trees and cast where no bass boat has ever went.

Advantage Kayaks!!!DSCN1498

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Two Prong Attack

The Two Prong attack was working well yesterday on the pickerel grounds. I was using a swimming fluke for the my locator lure with a crank and pause retrieve, if the pickerel missed the fluke I fired back with my fly rod which was at the ready between my legs. My success rate was a bout a 90% hookup rate.

For the non fly fishers, a super fluke behind the missed bait will help to bring the fish to the boat. I use this tactic in the ponds all year and it has surely upped putting fish in the boat. Next time you are out on the pond, make sure you have at least two rods at the ready. “Bait and switch” works!!!IMG_0036

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Bite Tippets

When I’m going after or going to encounter some toothy fish in my days fishing, I think about the bite tippet. Do I need one or should I tie one on. Sometimes I don’t because I’m feeling lazy, and cuss myself when I get cut off by a fish and lose my fly.

As I have gotten older, I realize tying a bite tippet on before I go fishing has relieved my temper tantrums and in the process have found more than the intended use of a bite tippet.

Of course, the foremost reason is reducing cut off by those toothy fish, but I have been using them for fishing stripers with a popper in the salt. A bite allows me to grab the heavier line to bring the fish into the boat.

I use it also when I’m fishing in weeding and grassy waters.  It helps prevent the sharp edges of the grass from cutting my fly off after repeated casts.

It also makes a great handle for pulling fish out of these grassy waters. I like to tie on around 18” of 30 to 40 pound mono to my leader with an Albright Knot. I have improved the tying of this knot and reduced frustration by going through the loop three times instead of once like the tying instruction illustrate.  I use ten wraps over the loop and the two additional wraps have made a huge difference in reducing the slipping of the tag over the knot. I tie the fly on with a two wrap non-slip loop.

So, if you find me on the water on any given day you will see I have bite tippet on my line and by the way it doesn’t spook fish.


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Bendbacks can be effective in any waters for any species just by changing the hook size and the color combinations of the materials.  The bendback’s advantage is that the fly rides with the hook up much like the Clouser Minnow but is a little more weedless because of the way the materials are tied on the hook.

The hook itself is “bent back” a little bit just behind the eye, and all the materials are tied on the small bent portion of the shank so that they extend back to cover the hook point. The photos below will clarify how this is done. Nearly any tying pattern can be used, but streamer and deceiver patterns tend to be very effective. These flies are perfect for fishing in the mangroves for snook, or for bass fishing in the “slop” around lily pads or for pulling the fly through weeds.

The secret is in how the hook is bent.  I don’t use commercially available bendback hooks, because the bend at the eye is too severe.  You can do a better job at home. The bend is ever so slight.  Use a pair of needle nose pliers to grasp the hook shank right behind the hook eye. Apply just enough pressure away from the hook point to feel the hook start to bend, and it will be enough.  All of the tying material is tied on this section of the hook.  I use stainless steel saltwater hooks, even for fresh water flies, because they bend easily.

As noted, you can tie your favorite bucktail streamer, deceiver or many other patterns in this style, and have a good weedless fly for those times you’re fishing in the trash.  The Clouser Deep Minnow also rides hook point up, of course, but you get a different action with the two flies.  Because of the weighted eyes on the Clouser, it tends to dive rapidly during the pause between strips of the line.  The bendback, though, will swim with a more straightforward action. Sometimes the fish prefer one type of action to the other.  Ask them why! Make some bendbacks part of your arsenal.



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Something to consider, how many times has another fisherman, discussing your successful fishing trip asked, “what did you get them on?”  This is usually the wrong question. The lure or fly is usually only a very small portions of the reason your fishing trip was a success.  The reasons you caught fish could have been the time of year, depth of the water, bait that was present, type of retrieve, depth of the retrieve, style of the retrieve (fast, slow, pauses in between strips), been there many times before, etc.  What does all this mean?  It means you have paid your dues and spent time on the water.

There is no substitute in the world for time spent actually fishing.  Yes, you can get solid information from people that do spend time out there, and yes, you will sometimes catch fish because of their generosity, but they can not put the fish on your line.  You must do this and experience on the water is your best teacher.

Successful fishermen are the fishermen that fish regularly. The better ones also are very observant and are attuned with the environment and the entire “goings on” of nature in general.  An example of this…have you ever been fishing an area and have been doing well, and then the fish stopped biting, but the tide is still running?  Of course you have, but did you realize that the birds aren’t singing or flying or the squirrels aren’t scurrying around the shore like they were awhile back.  This is a time of rest for the animals, and fish usually do the same thing. It could be barometric pressure, moon phase and hundreds of other possibilities that we really don’t understand, but for one reason or another, all of nature has shut down for a period of time. This is a good time for us too, this is the time to just sit back and maybe eat lunch and wait for nature to start up again. This is being observant.

Successful fisherman are also fisherman that have been in countless fishing situations where they can reach back in their memory banks on how they have fished a certain group of circumstances successfully in the past and change their fishing techniques to answer that particular problem.  This is time on the water.  You can’t teach it, you need to experience it.

Fishing is not an exact science. Situations change by the day, sometimes by the minute and you need to change also.  Maybe the retrieve you were using to catch those stripers near a set of pilings is no longer working, but you are sure the fish are still there.  What do you do?  Change flies or lures?  Change you position?  Change your retrieve?  You might need to experiment, but if you had experience fishing this location in the past, then you would know what techniques should bring a few more fish.

Some fishermen keep logbooks on the trips and enter pertinate information like tides, wind direction, best time of day, etc, etc.  This can be a valuable tool in your learning to be a successful fisherman.  How elaborate your log needs to be is up to you.  I have kept a fishing log since 1973 of my fishing experiences and have used them numerous times for many reasons, for example, what time of year was best for a certain river for a certain species and so on. I average over hundred plus days a year on the water and have built up a large archive of useful information to help me become a more successful fisherman.  A quick glance at my records help me determine the best location, tide, wind direction for a given time of the year and for what fish species I’m trying to target. As I have gotten older, I can’t rely on my memory for all of that the information, I need some help and this refreshes my mind, of course, until I forget again.

Everyone reads the exploits of other fisherman on the web and in newspaper articles and some just jump in their boats on their days off and run right to the “hot spot” that they have been reading about all week.  Sometimes they catch fish, despite not knowing a thing about the area they are going to, but more likely they don’t usually do very good until they have given the area several other tries.  Why does this happen?  It could be many factors, but more then likely they have started to become familiar with the particulars of the area.  This is time on the water, watching other fisherman, observing when the fishing is best because of tides, winds, etc.  They are starting to pay their dues and this usually means they are on their way to becoming successful fisherman.

This doesn’t just apply to the salt, but any water. I fished ponds in Delaware for years and can relate the same conditions and techniques described above. I see other fishermen fishing these same waters and observed they are not fishing the water right for the time of year or conditions. Time on the same waters will make you more successful. Spend time on the water and learn the waters, it will make you a better fisherman. Good luck.DSCN0314-cropped

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My “Go To” Fluke Retrieve

I’m a firm believer there is always three fish moods out there at any time. The aggressive mood… the fish is at its most active, the neutral mood… it will eat, but won’t move very far for its meal and the passive fish… the offering has to be right in its face and kept there.

I have seen fishermen using the same flukes in the same waters strike out because they are fishing too fast. They have the tendency to think this is how the fluke is supposed to be fished. Not wrong, but not right either.  This will work for the aggressive fish, but how about the other two?

How do you retrieve a swimming fluke to handle all of these moods? I have been using a retrieve for years that I feel have given me a good shot of handling them. I call it… “The Crank and Pause.” This retrieve produces more fish for me than any other, hands down. I fish most waters with this technique. I vary the number of cranks of the handle and then pause. During a retrieve I might make two cranks and a one second pause or two to three cranks with the same pause or maybe pause two or three seconds. I also vary the speed of my cranking from a moderate fast crank to a slower one with a longer pause in between. As most strikes occur as bait is falling, the more crank and pauses I can get in one cast, the better my chance of hooking up.

Give this technique a try next time you are fishing with a swimming fluke, your success rate will go up.DSCN1499


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Guide Count


Have you ever heard of the term “guide count”?  I have fished with a guide friend in Louisiana for over fourteen years chasing redfish. A true Cajun… Capt Marty Authement and I are best friends and had some great times together along with a few of my fishing buddies accompanying us.

I was invited to fish with him for the first time by a gentleman that published my first fly shop catalog. During this initial trip I learned the term “guide count.”   At the end of the fishing day, back at camp, I was reflecting on the number of reds and speckled trout we caught that day when I was corrected on the real number. I said “No that number is way too high, I was keeping count.”  Marty came back, “Nope the count was several fish higher.” How can that be?

That day I learned about the “guide count.” The guide count is the number of fish hooked during the day. As the guides down there figure, the guide put you on the fish no matter if you landed the fish or not, he did his job of locating them, if the client lost the fish that was his problem, it still counted on a fish hooked.

DSCN0100I thought about that for awhile and agreed that as a guide guiding a client around the marshes allowing the fisherman an opportunity to hook a fish no matter the end result, it was still a fish hooked up.  So, when you have hired a guide and the boated numbers don’t add up, remember they are going by the “guide count.” Make sort of sense for a guide as a working man.

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