Hot Fishing This Week- Mosquito Lagoon- Banana River Lagoon Fishing Report

The Orlando Area Fishing Report from Spotted Tail 2.19.12

Upcoming Events Dept-
-Merritt Island NWR Show and Tell Seminars- March 3 and 4. Read More Here… 

Four days were spent on the water this week.

On Monday Pat Macginn and Richard LongItalianName (no, I can’t do any better than that) joined me for some paddling on the Banana River Lagoon. Actually they mostly pumped their legs with the Hobie kayaks. We got to the first fishing spot and there was a big redfish.

Kayak charters can be difficult. If you lead the anglers so they know where to go you get all the first shots. If you have them go first they don’t know where they’re going. So- there was the big fish, right in front of me. I fired a black bunny leech out and it inhaled it.

Pat passed me and spotted four reds. He fired a jerk worm out and one of the fish inhaled it. It was by far the biggest red he’d ever caught. So we’ve been fishing for thirty minutes and have two pushing-twenty-pound reds photo’d and released already.

Big redfish, banana river lagoon, florida

Pat was real happy with this redfish!

I would like to report it stayed that way but that would be a large exagerration. However, at least a half dozen reds in the slot were caught, as well as a dozen or so trout that were mostly over the slot. The lures of choice were a 3 inch DOA Shrimp, and a Skitter Walk. All the fish were released.

It was an awesome day all in all.

Tuesday I spent hundreds of dollars at the auto repair shop. 🙁

Wednesday John Pusateri joined me for some Mosquito Lagoon fishing. The weather was incredible. The fishing was not. I hadn’t been out there in 10 or 12 days and the fish have mostly moved. The first two spots did not show a single fish. Then we had some fly shots (a black bunny leech) at a big school of black drum. They just gave us the fin. We tried for almost an hour without a sniff and gave up.

At the last spot we tried John was tossing a 3 inch DOA Shrimp into sandy potholes and got a couple nice trout and a couple reds, salvaging an otherwise very slow day.

spotted seatrout, mosquito lagoon

This trout got the skunk off us.

I filleted one of the reds and did a stomach autopsy. It had three or four small blue crabs in there.

Thursday found me in the Banana River Lagoon again. In my canoe was Ed Redman, a fly fisher from North Carolina. In the kayak was Todd Redman, official son of Ed, likewise a fly fisher.
We gurgled up a few trout, then went on the hunt for redfish. It is not uncommon for anglers who attempt wading in the mucky lagoon mud to fall down. So it happened with Ed. I walked him around in the canoe and talked him into the biggest redfish of his life, which took a wool crab.

Big redfish from the banana river lagoon, florida

Big Ed got this redfish to take a faux crab.

Then it was Todd’s turn. Using the same fly he threw to a pair of reds. One swam off, one swam over and inhaled the fly. It was also the biggest red he’s ever caught.

big redfish from banana river lagoon, florida.

Todd fooled this fish with the same fly that his dad used.

We had shots more or less all afternoon but those were all the bites we had.

Friday Ed joined me in the canoe again. Todd was in Roger Cook’s canoe. Again, we gurgled up a few trout and then looked for redfish. Roger scored first. It was (are you ready for this?) the biggest red he’d ever taken on fly.

big redfish from banana river lagoon, florida.

Roger carefully releases his best fly-caught redfish ever.

Ed then hooked one on the crab fly. He got a little too impatient and straightened the hook. He soon had another bite but missed the strike.

spotted seatrout, banana river lagoon, florida

He missed the redfish but gurgled up some seatrout.

I saw what I thought was a huge herd of fish, and poled over their as fast as I could. If we’d had a lettuce fly we could have thrown to a half dozen manatees that were my “fish.” Not the first time that’s happened to me…

Todd and Ed switched boats. It took a while but Todd stuck a red that took a wool crab. I grabbed the leader but the fish wasn’t ready to be grabbed and I had to let go Then the fish came off, so no photo of that one.

Then Todd and I went gurgling again and got a half dozen trout before bagging it for the day.

spotted seatrout, banana river lagoon, florida

We ended our day by gurgling up a few more trout. They're not as exciting as the big reds!

Altogether a wonderful two days, lots of fish, real nice weather, awesome people. This is why life is great and I love my work!

Life is short. Go Fishing!

John Kumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2012. All rights are reserved.


Effective Fishing Flies- Gartside’s Gurgler

In my last fishing report I mentioned using the late Jack Gartside’s Gurgler for seatrout with great success. I went to Jack’s website (yes, it’s still up and running, you can see it here) to see if I tied it anything remotely like Jack did. It’s modified quite a bit. I suppose that’s to be expected. Fly tyers always modify stuff to fit their own needs.

You tie these in the sizes and colors you need to match what your intended target is. For the seatrout I tie it as below, in white. I tie it on a #4 Gamakatsu SC-15 for baby tarpon. I use it in Alaska as tied below, but in pink, for silver salmon and on a #6 long shank hook in orange for Dolly varden. I tie little ones for bluegills. It’s a wonderfully versatile pattern.

Here’s how I tie it. Fishing instructions are below.

Gartside gurgler fly

What a finished gurgler looks like. Note the double layer of foam at the front.

Hook- Mustad 34011, size 2

Thread- flat waxed nylon

Tail- short piece of calftail, marabou, or Arctic fox

Body- Estaz or similar material

“Shell”- craft foam cut to about a 1/4-3/8th inch width.

1) Start the thread and wind back to hook bend. Tie in the tail. I find a short tail fouls much less frequently than a long one.

2) Tie in the Estaz, same spot.

3) Take the strip of craft foam and your scissors and taper the end to a “V.” Tie in the point of the V such that the strip extends out over the tail.

4) Wrap the thread up to a point about 1/4 inch behind the eye of the hook. Wrap the Estaz to that point. Tie it off and cut it.

5) Fold the foam over and tie it off at the same point.

6) Fold the foam back on itself and tie it off again, at the same point. The foam is now two layers thick. Drop the bobbin and use the scissors to cut the foam off 1/4 inch behind where you tied it off. The doubled foam increases the fly’s buoyancy, and makes it somewhat more durable.

7) Whip the head, then cement it.

When fishing for seatrout I try to make the fly pop and spit water. It does not make the commotion a popper will but it seems to make quite enough for the trout.

spotted seatrout caught on a gurgler.

Spotted seatrout caught on a gurgler. They seem to like it quite a bit, and it’s easy to make.

In Alaska when fishing silvers I fish it the same way.

For dollies cast it quartering downstream and give it little pops as it swings. There is no more enjoyable way of catching them.

Please let me know how it works for you.

John Kumiski


All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2012. All rights are reserved.


Big Reds, Plentiful Trout- Banana River Lagoon Fishing Report

The Banana River Lagoon Fishing Report from Spotted Tail 2.12.12

Upcoming Events Dept-

-Merritt Island NWR Show and Tell Seminars- March 3 and 4. Read More Here…

I’d like to thank those of you who came by to talk to me at the Old Florida Fishing Show- TC Howard, TJ Bettis, Gary Kokaisel, Greg from Kel’s, Mark and Ginny Nichols, Shane, and a bunch more whose names have already slipped (sorry! Names have never been a strong suit). It was good to see you! The show went pretty well and I certainly got some flies tied up.

Fishing only took up two of my days this week.

On Monday I launched the kayak at the Banana River Lagoon no motor zone at almost 1 PM, hardly an early start. I did not follow my own advice- the wind was SSE. It was overcast. And I thought I might sightfish for redfish.

I hooked the first one I saw on an experimental fly. I lost it. I did not get another bite, although I did have two or three more shots.

On the way back I remembered why I never go there on a SE wind.

On Friday I returned with son Alex and outdoor writer Vic Attardo. We got a much earlier start. It was still overcast but the wind was out of the east, much easier to deal with.

We found some seatrout right away and got several on Gartside Gurglers. When the bite slowed we continued on our way, until we found some more trout. We got some more trout, same flies.

The spotted seatrout bite was going on.

The trend continued until we reached the redfish spot. Holy cow, there’s a tailer. I had done something I never do, which was to bring bait into the nmz. Hey, you got a writer, you need to produce. Vic had the wrong fly on and with the wind I couldn’t hold the canoe in position all that well so I flung a mullet head to it. He ate it. He weighed around 16 pounds.

Alex got another, bigger fish shortly after.

Bull Redfish

Alex was REAL happy with this big redfish.

I left the two of them and took off for a walk armed with a six-weight and a crab fly. I threw to six or eight fish and finally got an eater. It was a handsome fish although a third of his tail was missing and he had a large scar on his starboard side near the dorsal fin.

bull redfish on fly

Alex agreed to model with my fish.

We got more trout on the way back, and loaded up the boats around 430 pm. It had been a solid day fly fishing, even without the two cut mullet fish.

And that, friends, is this week’s Banana River Lagoon fishing report! Thank you for reading!

Life is great and I love my work.

Life is short. Go Fishing!

John Kumiski


All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2012. All rights are reserved.


Is This The Future of Fishing?

I wrote this back in 2007. It’s even more valid now.

An outfit called Osceola Outback Adventures now offers fishing for great barramundi, and I’m talking Holopaw, Florida here, not Australia. They say with pride, “This is the only place in North America where you can catch barramundi!”

I visited the barramundi ponds yesterday. There were two small, rectangular ponds that had been dug out with a backhoe. There were fish, lots of them, quite willing to eat lures, too. There were rods and reels. There was novelty. I’d never seen a barramundi before. They’re beautiful creatures, muscular and strong. There was entertainment. The fish, although only running eight to ten pounds at the moment (they’ll get much larger), fight hard and jump like crazed ladyfish. They are as game a fish as one could ask for. If you were going to design a fish you’d be hard pressed to do a better job.

But something about the experience bothered me, just a tiny bit. The nagging sense of irritation in the back of my mind was similar to that your foot gets when you get a diminutive pebble in your shoe. The experience, although undeniably fun, just didn’t fit me quite right.

Then I had a minor flash of insight. When you go fishing, you understand that you may not catch anything. You may not even see a fish. While fishing undeniably requires skill, luck is important, too. A terrible angler can have a great day, and a highly skilled angler can get skunked. “All men are equal in the eyes of a fish,” as Harry Truman once said.

The barramundi ponds remove luck and skill from the equation. Ten thousand aggressive fish scour the entire water column, jammed into two small ponds. If you cast a bait out there, you will catch a fish. You may not get one every cast, but you will get one on many of your casts. It’s a great place to bring the kids, just for that reason.

What bothered me, then? It’s not fishing as I know it. It’s sure thing, captive audience, pay-for-fishing, fishing. Is this a bad thing?

I have fished in Florida for more than 20 years. Back in 1985 you could launch your boat at 8:00 AM on a Saturday at any boat ramp you cared to (except when the clammers were working the Indian River) and could get a parking spot. You could go to almost any fishing spot you wanted to and would not be met by the two or even three boats that were there already. Obnoxious boaters would not be burning down a flat that people in 10 or 12 other boats were fishing.

There weren’t as many people here then. And there were a lot fewer boats.

I like solitude when I fish. It pains me to go fishing on weekends now. The water is crowded.

Rock concerts should be crowded. The county fair should be crowded. Parades should be crowded. Baseball and football stadiums should be crowded. Fishing spots? They should not be crowded. For me, fishing in a crowd causes stress and is not enjoyable. For me, fishing in a crowd is a bad thing.

At the barramundi ponds you pay, you fish, you catch fish. There are no crowds. It may not be fishing as I know it but it definitely has value.

Builders build golf courses like crazy but no one is making any new lagoons, or rivers. They can dig new ponds, though. They can stock them with thousands of fish. They can require us to pay before we fish them.

Only you can decide if this is good or bad for you. I can see more and more folks pursuing businesses like Osceola Outback, though, especially as our natural waterways get ever more crowded. I can see more and more sportsmen using them.

I’m beginning to experience some existential dread about this. Is pay-for-fish the future of fishing?

Please, let me know your thoughts on this.

John Kumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2012. All rights are reserved.



A Full Week: Banana River-St. Johns River-Mosquito Lagoon Fishing Report

The Orlando Area Fishing Report from Spotted Tail 2.5.12

Quote of the Week Dept.  “The difference between a job and a career is the difference between 40 and 60 hours a week.” – Robert Frost

Upcoming Events Dept-

-The Old Florida Outdoor Festival, February 10, 11, and 12th. I will be there in the Coastal Angler Magazine booth, Saturday from 10-2, Sunday from 12-2. Please come visit! I’d love to see you!

-Merritt Island NWR Show and Tell Seminars- March 3 and 4. Read More Here… 

Non-Fishing Item Dept.- We live on an awesome planet, the nicest by far in this part of the galaxy. Our personal star makes that whole life thing go. In un-fishing related news, check out the amazing photos of our very own personal star here…

Fishing, ah yes!

It was a spectacular week, with plenty of fishing. On a windy Sunday (1/29) Scott Stroop and Joe Mercer, from Savannah, joined me for a day’s fishing. The Mosquito Lagoon was the venue. We went first to the spot where all the tailers had been a few days earlier. They weren’t there!

While poling, we ran over a school of redfish sitting in a white hole in the same vicinity. Scott got one on a spoon. Joe quickly follwed by nailing one on the fly rod, using a wool crab. This is good. We haven’t been out long and already have two fish.

The school had blown out though. We looked in a few other spots and saw nary a fin. Back to the first spot.

We saw a couple more fish but nothing targetable. My anglers had to drive back to Savannah (pretty athletic, down and back in one day) so we bailed a little early.

Monday fly fisher Josh Carleback, a resident of Brooklyn, met me at River Breeze. We launched the Mitzi and ran about two minutes. Five minutes later we were on a school of a couple hundred redfish.

We sat on them all day long, chasing them into the wind, which was blowing 15 out of the north. Eight hours of that wore my butt out, I’ll tell you that. But Josh got 10 or 12 slot reds on a wool crab, making all the effort worth it. He had a heck of a day.

Tuesday, in spite of the 15 mph east wind, I went to the no motor zone of the Banana River Lagoon. I thought I could find the big fish that have done such significant damage to my fly rod collection the last two trips.

I passed up a good number of slot reds, so determined was I to get to the big fish spot. Funny thing about big fish spots. They change. They move. They disappear. So I get to the big fish spot and I see exactly one black drum, while running it over with the kayak. I waded around for at least an hour hoping for a shot with no luck.

Our fish don’t like the wind. I know that.

Figured I’d go back to the slotties. On the way I ran over a few seatrout. They looked decent sized so I anchored and hopped out. Tied on an Electric Sushi. Second cast- THUMP. It felt like a real fish, and turned out to be a trout nearly two feet long.

Knowing it could be wishful thinking I changed the Sushi for a Gurgler. Thank you Jack Gartside! First cast, the toilet flushed, another beautiful trout.

Before I gave up I had gotten a dozen or so. The smallest was a solid 20 inches. It was a fun afternoon. And, I picked up two slot reds on the way back. Not bad for a windy day. Not every trip will to produce a 20 pound fish.

Thursday afternoon son Alex and I went to the St. Johns River. We took the Mitzi this time. It proved to be a good idea.

shad fishing St. Johns River

This handsome scene repeated itself many times.

The bite wasn’t real strong but it was steady. Alex had just visited Bitters’s Bait and Tackle, and bought a bunch of little crappie jigs. We started off tossing shad flies, but I wondered how a 1/32nd ounce crappie jig with a mini-twisty tail would work.

American Shad head shot

It's not a fly but the fish didn't care.

It was hard to throw on the four-weight but the fish seemed to like it. We both caught shad. Ended up with 10 or 12 between us. Alex got a chunky largemouth and a couple of crappie. I got a fat bull bluegill. It was quite a lovely afternoon.

largemouth bass ST. Johns River

It wasn't big, but it was obese.

Friday Dr. George Yarko and his brother John joined me for some Mosquito Lagoon fishing. Conditions were yucky, cloudy and windy. I had some mullet but we stopped and picked up a coupls dozen shrimp, something I rarely do. It was a good call.

There were three boats where I wanted to start, so we went to the next spot. Didn’t see anything for a while. Then, we ran over a couple reds. I immediately staked out the boat. Into a white hole we cast a mullet chunk out on one line and a shrimp on the other. Less than 100 seconds passed when the shrimp line went off. Twenty seven inch red, right at the top of the slot.

redfish, Mosquito Lagoon

The Brothers Yarko with the first (and biggest) of quite a few reds.

It turned out that spot was finished. The next didn’t produce, either. But the last spot produced about eight more reds and a 16 inch (yummy) flounder.

Spotted (redfish) Tail

This fish had some serious spotting. The other side was similar. Spotted Tail!

I filleted three slot reds and that flounder. All three reds had shrimp in their stomachs. The big one also had one of those damn Gulp synthetic bait things. I don’t understand why people use those things, they are not good for the fish.

Last but not least, on Saturday I met Ken Muhbich, a fly fisher from North Carolina, at Parrish Park. I started the day by slamming two finger tips in the car door. WOW that hurt. My fingernail is all black. I bet I lose it.

Cruising down Haulover a fisherman was fighting a big fish. We stopped to watch. His red weighed at least 20 pounds.

big Mosquito Lagoon redfish haulover canal

Someone was having a real good morning.

At our first stop we only saw a few fish, had just one shot. Did not convert. Second spot had more fish but they were hard to see and we didn’t get a single good shot. Third spot had exactly three fish. Ken couldn’t see the easy one and I hardly saw the other two. No luck there.

I decided to visit the place where Josh had done such a good job kicking redfish butt on Monday. On the way there- WHAM! Ken and I went flying. Fortunately we both stayed in the boat.

crab trap wrapped around an outboard's lower unit.

What did I do to deserve this? We're lucky no one was hurt.

I had to get in the water and cut wire for 30 minutes before we could get going again.

We get to the spot and of course there are boats around. But none of them are in the right place. We sneak in there and to my disbelief and delight some of the school is still there. They were very spooky but Ken did manage to fool one with a Homer Rhodes Shrimp Fly, all grizzly. It turned out to be the only bite of the day.

Redfish on Fly

This cooperative redfish rid of us a skunk.

And that, friends, is this week’s Banana River Lagoon, St. Johns River, and Mosquito Lagoon fishing report! Thank you for reading!

Life is great and I love my work.

Life is short. Go Fishing!

John Kumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2012. All rights are reserved.


Broken Gear? Call Customer Service

We outdoorsmen types abuse our gear. Heck, most of us didn’t buy it to look at it. And if you abuse something long enough, it breaks.

Then what do you do?

The answer for many is, go buy another one. But wait! Maybe, if you send it back to Customer Service, they will repair or replace it.

Last month I returned a number of items. To wit:

-A Simms Dry Creek waistpack. The old one had completely fallen apart. The zippers had seized up. It was toasted. Done. Simms did not replace it, but they did give me $60 credit toward a replacement. The new one cost me $40 instead of $100.

-my Tilley Hat. Tilley Hats are guaranteed for life. You have to pay return shipping, about eight bucks. I wore my beautiful, new Tilley Hat yesterday. Tilley has awesome products and awesome customer service.

-a Scientific Angler System 2 fly reel. This reel is at least 20 years old and was beat, completely non-functioning. SA charged me $20 and replaced the drag mechanism and spindle. Great customer service.

-a Shimano Spheros reel. I get about two years out of one of these reels. Then the bail gets arthritis. Then the bail seizes up completely. Sometimes Shimano fixes it. Sometimes they replace it. Either way, awesome customer service.

-A St. Croix fly rod. The old rod was at least 20 years old. They replaced it with a nice new Avid four piece for $50.

-two Temple Fork fly rods. TFO requires $25 per return. I had the new replacement rods three days later. Awesome customer service.

-a Redington fly rod and a pair of Redington waders. Thirty bucks per item. Just got the new waders, Palix River waders, retail for $150. Haven’t heard about the rod, but I suspect it will be coming along shortly. 2/3- it came today. Good customer service!

-a Patagonia raincoat and Patagonia waders. Both these items were five years old, and had been to Alaska several times. In other words, they got some hard miles put on them. I’m waiting to hear the verdict on these. 2/3- Patagonia called me today to tell me the gear is worn out and the warranty won’t cover it. They would not offer a discount on replacement. Patagonia stuff is very nice, but very expensive. I’ll think long and hard before I buy any more.

My Hodgman waders are also out of warranty and leaking like a sieve. Today Hodgman offered me a 45% replacement discount.

New stuff is nice. It’s nicer when you don’t have to pay list price.

If you have broken gear hanging around, call customer service and see what they’ll do for you. You may be pleasantly surprised.

And please let us know about customer service you have had, both good and bad.

John Kumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2012. All rights are reserved.

Cold, then Hot on Mosquito Lagoon- Mosquito Lagoon Fishing Report

The Orlando Area Fishing Report from Spotted Tail 1.28.12

Upcoming Events Dept-
-The Old Florida Outdoor Festival, February 10, 11, and 12th. I will be there in the Coastal Angler Magazine booth, Saturday from 10-2, Sunday from 12-2.
-Merritt Island NWR Show and Tell Seminars- March 3 and 4. Read More Here…

I hope that readers like yourself understand that writing two or three posts a week takes a considerable amount of time. I take pride in putting useful information that you can trust into every post. So now I am asking that you help me by allowing me to recommend products from time to time, and then sometimes actually purchasing them.

Along this vein I have just opened a new online store at Cafe Press. Our only products right now are a line of long sleeve jerseys featuring photography by one John Kumiski. That product line will soon be expanding.

Feedback has been good and shirts have already been sold. Please check it out and join the fledgling Spotted Tail nation! Thank you!

Also, I am in the process of finishing up an e-book on Mosquito Lagoon fishing. It will be for sale for $7.95 through my website, but I will be giving all of my subscribers a copy to thank them for their loyalty. Watch for it!

Last Friday night my phone rang. Bob Colley wanted to go fishing on Saturday. Let’s go!

Saturday morning found us out on the Mosquito Lagoon. One of us held a fly rod, the other a push pole. The wind was blowing from the south. Other than that it was pretty darn nice out.

I went to several spots where I had been finding fish. The fish mostly weren’t there. We did not convert any of the few shots we had. Bob had had enough by 1 PM, so we went back to Beacon 42 and loaded the boat. Skunktrooski!

Tuesday morning Bill Kirby joined me for a day’s fly fishing. There wasn’t a breath of wind. There were more tailing redfish than I’ve seen in at least a decade. It was simply extraordinary.

Bill used one of my old standbyes, an unweighted grizzly Seaducer. Every time Bill presented it properly a fish nailed it. It was an outstanding morning.


This was the first redfish Bill caught on fly, a good start.

Bill said, “I had a real good time yesterday and was very excited to catch my first redfish on  a fly. Thanks again for a great day!

Around noon a light breeze came up. Down went every tail! We managed one more fish after that. The flat where the fish were still has dirty water. That, combined with the clouds, made them very hard to see.

The boat was back on the trailer at 3:30.

Tom Van Horn called me to tell me shad fishing south of SR 46 has been excellent. Friday afternoon I went there, intending to walk up the river bank to the Econ and fish my way back. The water is too high to do that, at least with the amount of effort I had budgeted. So I fished just south of the bridge.

Those shad were flapping like crazy, but in spite of changing flies four or five times I didn’t get one. I did get three solid crappie, though, and a small channel cat. Yes, on fly. No, I never did that before. It was a new fish for my life list.

I met Phil Woodham at the boat ramp when I got back. It was good to see him. It had been a long time. He looked good.

He likewise said shad fishing has been outstanding. He and his friend Fred had stopped shad fishing and had gone catfishing. They had some fat cats, a few pushing 20 pounds. Keith Sutton, where are you?

And that, friends, is this week’s Mosquito Lagoon (and elsewhere) fishing report! Thank you for reading!

Life is great and I love my work.

Life is short. Go Fishing!

John Kumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2012. All rights are reserved.

How to Tie a Bullet-Proof Saltwater Leader System

tarpon baby

Fly fishermen from all over the world spend time on my boat. They have a lot of variation in their tackle. If I had my druthers their leaders would all be rigged the way I describe below.

Before we get there, though, let’s take a short historical perspective on fly rod leaders. For 2,000 years, fly tackle was used principally to catch freshwater trout. Flies were tied on tiny hooks, imitating small insects. Tippets had to be fine, so the fly appeared as though it were floating free. Leaders needed to be tapered, so the leader would straighten out. Energy had to flow smoothly from the rod, down the line, down the leader, and to the fly.

In trout fishing, leaders are typically connected to fly line with a nail knot. This works fine- for trout fishing.

About 80 years ago, some crazy guy got it in his head to try to catch saltwater fish on flies. Compared to trout, saltwater fish are big and strong. Saltwater flies are tied on relatively large hooks. They often have substantial amounts of lead added to them. If you get any kind of line speed at all, during the cast that fly will hit speeds of 50 or 60 miles an hour. Its inertia will straighten out almost any kind of a leader. You do not need a tapered leader for most saltwater fishing.

Tapered leaders have knots. Knots are not to be trusted. They seem to fail whenever a big fish comes along, unless you take pains to tie what are called 100 percent knots.

The leader system I use (not my invention) has a minimum of knots. At the single spot where a questionable knot is tied, the line is doubled. The only place my leader ever breaks is at a wind knot in the tippet, or at the fly. It’s bullet-proof.

You need to know two knots to tie this type of leader: either a surgeon’s loop (my brand) or a perfection loop, and a Bimini twist. Don’t freak out! The Bimini twist is not hard to learn or tie. It’s a 100 percent knot! The videos that the links go to will show you how to tie both.

Don’t just watch- get some 20 pound mono and practice along! Tie a half dozen and you’ll have it for life. Invest forty five minutes now and you’ll be able to make your own bullet-proof saltwater leader systems for as long as you fish.

Next, nail knots are not to be trusted in saltwater. They fail all too frequently. Many modern fly lines now come with a loop at each end. If yours doesn’t, either learn to whip a loop in the ends of the line or have someone reliable do it for you. There is no excuse for losing any fish because the line-to-leader, or even worse, the line-to-backing, connection failed.

Our assumption here is that we’re rigging an eight-weight. Adjust the butt section diameter up or down for heavier or lighter rods.

Take a spool of 30 pound nylon monofilament and pull off a wingspan, the distance from fingertip to fingertip when your arms are spread as wide as they go. In my case that’s a measured 69 inches. Tie a small loop in each end, using whatever loop knot you prefer. Make a loop-to-loop connection between this new butt section you have just made and the fly line. If you don’t knot it up it will last as long as the fly line.

Since most of my fishing is for redfish, we’re going to use 15 pound tippet. For bonefish you’d use lighter material. For snook you’d use heavier. Adjust the material as needed.

Take a wingspan of fluorocarbon leader material (I like Sea-guar). Tie a short (six to eight inch long) doubled line at one end, using a Bimini twist. In this doubled line tie a loop, using whatever loop knot you prefer. Make a loop-to-loop connection with this new tippet section you have just made and the leader butt. Your bullet-proof leader is done. Just add a fly.

You can tie a season’s worth of tippets in an afternoon while watching television. Coil them and place them in a labeled ziplock bag. While fishing you’ll never have to tie any knots. If a tippet gets messed up, just unloop it and loop on a replacement. Bullet Proof.

I find my best knot tying never happens when I’m surrounded by fish and trying to hurry. At home in front of a TV I tie great knots.

Test all of your knots before using them!

Once you learn to tie this you’re gonna love the bullet-proof saltwater leader system.

John Kumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2012. All rights are reserved.




Banana River Lagoon Fishing on Fire!- Banana River- Mosquito Lagoon Fishing Report

The Orlando Area Fishing Report from Spotted Tail 1.21.12

Upcoming Events Dept-
-The Old Florida Outdoor Festival, Apopka, Florida, February 10, 11, and 12th. I will be there in the Coastal Angler Magazine booth, Saturday from 10-2, Sunday from 12-2.
-Merritt Island NWR Show and Tell Seminars- March 3 and 4. Read More Here… 

Fishing Tip Dept.-
I found this very important chart on the internet this week, Fish Temperature Preferences, by Bob Stearns. I suggest you go there and bookmark it.

I fished two days this week. Tuesday Scott Radloff and I went to the Mosquito Lagoon. We found good numbers of trout and redfish, although they were not eating very well. We got four slot redfish using cut mullet and nothing on anything else we tried.

Thursday I went solo to the Banana River Lagoon no motor zone in the Ocean Kayak. I had the place to myself. That may have been due to the 73 degree high temperature or maybe the almost 15 mph wind out of the north.

It was too windy to fish from the boat so I staked it out and waded where I thought there would be fish. I did not get a bite for several hours. Those few fish I threw to just spooked off whatever fly I tried, or completely ignored it (in the case of the black drum). Finally had a trout take a black bunny leech I’d thrown on a blind cast, breaking the ice.

A black drum that would not respond made me change to a wool crab, although he did not respond to that either. I must have dragged the flies past his nose 40 times.

Finally, a nice black drum took the crab. Got way into the backing, love that! Got and released him.

Shortly after I got another big black drum on the first cast I threw to him. Same wool crab did the trick. Into the backing again.

Feeling better now, I spotted a redfish, a nice big one. Tossed the crab in front of him. A solid thump resulted.

I got the idea (again) to photograph myself fighting the fish. While I held onto th rod with one hand I got the camera out and set it up with the other. Ha! I’m taking pictures of myself. Isn’t that cool?

Got the fish up close to me and was paying more attention to the camera than the fish. He ran between my legs and snapped off two feet of rod before I could even think about responding. Managed to get him anyway, and got a picture, too.


Still fighting the fish with the suddenly stubby St. Croix.


This is the destructive critter, finally somewhat subdued.

Hot Tip Dept.- When going to the no motor zone, always bring a spare fly rod.

Took out the spare fly rod (six-weight) and put the reel on it. Put the crab back on. Went looking for another fish. Ooh, there he is. Good cast— Thump! another big red. Let’s photograph him too. Got him, photographed him, released him.

Into the backing four times inside of two hours. I must be living right.

I hope I don’t drop my camera in the water while doing this stuff. It’s a real shaky setup.

And that is this week’s Banana RIver-Mosquito Lagoon FIshing Report!

Life is great and I love my work (and my days off, too!).

I keep saying it- life is short. Go Fishing!

John Kumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2012. All rights are reserved.


Kayak Fly Fishing the Flats- A Primer


Good kayak fishing technique consistently produces fish like this.

While fishing from my skiff I often see kayakers out on the water, fishing the same areas. Although there’s nothing wrong with this, it doesn’t play to the kayak’s major strength- silently accessing areas that the skiffs cannot.

Finding these areas requires kayakers to do homework, searching for fishing areas they previously had not considered. Time spent researching on Google Earth will lead to some wild goose chases. It will also lead you to spots where the fish are not used to seeing fishermen, where they’re happy and relaxed. If part of the enjoyment of fishing is the joy of discovery, a computer and a kayak can lead to plenty of it.

When folks ask me what I look for when I go kayaking, my response is always, “Water that’s eight inches deep or less.” The areas where I fish are mostly non-tidal, but no matter where you live there are areas that a kayak can bring you to where the competition simply can’t follow.

 The Learning Curve

Like most other skills, you will find that learning to kayak fish the flats effectively requires some dues paying. You won’t just hop in and start catching fish. You must learn how to use the boat to its best advantage. You’ll have to learn how to handle the boat, as well as how best to fish from it. Casting from a sitting position will require some practice if you haven’t ever tried it before.

You have to handle the boat and fish simultaneously. Both need to be completely second nature before you begin to have consistent success.

The most important thing to remember? You must get to and stay in a good position from which to cast when you find a target. Flailing doesn’t work, and merely scares the fish away.

Kayaking Tackle

Look at kayak fishing the flats as an exercise in minimalism. One rod (bring a spare, unrigged and put away), a box of flies, some leader material, some food and water, the required boating and safety gear, and you’re good to go. For saltwater fly fishermen a seven- or eight-weight outfit is generally advised. Pare your gear ruthlessly- it’s easy to bring too much.

 Fishing Strategies

In most flats fishing you need to first find fish, then try to catch them. Kayak fishing the flats is no different. Paddle fairly quickly while in the “search” mode. Once you find some slow down and silently fish while in the “fishing” mode. The two are integrated but separate aspects of fishing from a kayak. You can’t catch fish where they aren’t! Finding them must always be the first order of business.

On days when I don’t find any fish I won’t make a single cast. It’s a sight fishing business. You gain nothing by wasting time fishing where there are no fish.

Be relentless in your search, and if fish are to be found you will find them.

If it’s too windy to control the boat, stake it out and wade (assuming the bottom is firm enough for this). Wading can turn what might be a frustrating, fishless day into an enormous success.

There will be fishless days though. Learn to love them. You’ll see workings of nature while paddling that you would never get to see any other way.

Catching fish from a kayak is more rewarding than catching them most other ways. Take the time to learn how and you’ll be a kayak fisherman for life.

John Kumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2012. All rights are reserved.