Gary Meyer | Tuesday, 13 November 2018

I spent another day in a canoe flyfishing in the Everglades mangrove environment, this time solo. I was tempted to say I was in the back country, but the area I sampled would more accurately be described as “front country.” It a tough call as I got access to my intended fishing grounds by launching in the back.

Although you would never guess it by the weather, the wildlife knows the season has changed, and they are acting accordingly. After rounding just about every blind corner I spooked huge flocks of wading birds that have migrated south for the winter. It made me laugh that many of the areas that I frequent are reserved for non-motorized craft. One of the reasons for this restriction is so the wildlife is not bothered by the noise. The question arose: if these birds flee from me as I quietly paddle my canoe, at a distance hundreds of yards away, how could the sound of a small motor bother them any more? Don’t read this as I am complaining… I personally appreciate the quiet myself and love the fact that few other anglers are willing to put in the work necessary to get there.

Another thing that I found funny during the day was my continuing attempt to find the optimum combination of flyrod and flyline to present a particular fly to a maddeningly spooky and selective pain-in-the-ass fish called a snook. Snook are a popular and tasty semitropical species that can be caught by a number of techniques, and in some cases, particularly by using live bait, they are actually rather easy. But, sight fishing them with a fly is not one of the easy ways. What fun would that be?


At particular conditions, snook will move to shallow water where they can be targeted. Unlike bonefish, they are hard to see at much distance, but like bonefish they are quite in tune with their environment. If they detect the flyline in the air they will flee. Sometimes, if you crash a fly or flyline too close to them they might flee then too. Other times they will remain but be on guard and not be inclined to eat for a while.


So, you would think that a lighter flyline would be better as it is stealthier. But, then there is the fly to consider. The baitfish that these shallow water snook often hunt is a short stubby little thing lovingly called a mud minnow. So, here is the rub: fat flies are wind resistant, and saltwater hooks in the size appropriate for large fish with tough mouths are heavy. Light flylines are not the best tool for casting fat, heavy flies.


My problem is that I cannot seem to find just the right combination of rod and flyline to deliver the fly. I know what fly to use. Over the years I have found a pattern that, if presented correctly, the snook will oftentimes eat. It is getting it there that is the challenge.


This latest trip I tried out a new line. It is a newer version of an old standard that is now “one-half line heavier.” It also sports a front taper designed to turn over relatively larger flies like streamers.


Was it better? Yes. Does it carry the fly the distance often needed, and do it with finesse? No. Could it be that I am trying to buy my way out of a very difficult problem that needs to be addressed via a different avenue? Quite possibly! Am I going to give up and quit trying? Hah!


One thing that is unmistakably apparent after this weekend: large flocks of wading birds suddenly taking flight over snook in shallow water just scares the crap out of the snook.