Dual Function Angling Shirts From Capital Sportsman

Anglers in saltwater environments have two main concerns when it comes to shirts to wear. The first is protection from the sun, followed closely by comfort. If you are a traveling sportsman there are a couple of more things to consider. Having shirts that look good and that can do double duty both on and off the water make packing an easier chore.

A couple of lines of shirts from Capital Sportsman can take care of all of those concerns. One is the Hemingway Fishing Collection. These casual classic, performance, and rip-stop fishing shirts are ideal for the avid anglers’ need.

 


 

The Hemingway Collection

 

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At 4.5 ounces these 100 percent poplin cotton shirts are cool and comfortable. They feature two bellow pockets, a placket with seven wood-tone buttons, polyester mesh ventilation, a utility loop and roll-up sleeve tabs. These long sleeve shirts are available in four colors.


 

The Ultimate Hybrid Shirt

The other option is the Ultimate Hybrid Shirt. These shirts offer all the features anglers crave, but in stylish package that can be worn for evening functions as well. They feature extended sleeve plackets, open front pockets for easy access, a secure pocket for valuables and comfortable fabric.

Check out these flexible shirt designs at capitalsportsman.com.

Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir

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Progress is being made on the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir to the south of Lake Okeechobee in Florida. The project by the South Florida Water District and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is designed to rectify conditions that have led to the loss of seagrass beds on both the east and west coasts of the peninsula, as well as in Florida Bay.

The project has been championed by many environmental groups, as well as the Everglades Foundation (evergladesfoundation.org) and the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (bonefishtarpontrust.org.)

A deep above-ground reservoir, along with the features needed to meet state water quality standards, will be built on lands the state already owns, with the core being “A-2” parcel located between the Miami and North New River canals. It borders private agricultural land to the north, the “A-1” parcel to the east, the Miami Canal on the west, and the Holey Land Wildlife Management Area to the south. The Southwest Florida Water Management District will identify other state-owned land, as well as private property in the surrounding area, that could be purchased or swapped to achieve the optimal project configuration.

Preliminary project coast is estimated at $1.4 billion to be split by state and federal governments, as outlined in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.

Project benefits are increased flow of water to Everglades National Park and the Florida Keys, while reducing damaging discharges into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.

Mangroves on the Move?

 Red mangroves growing along the shoreline. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs

Red mangroves growing along the shoreline. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs

Three species of mangrove trees are prevalent on the coasts of South Florida and two of them figure prominently in producing habitat for saltwater game fish. The red mangrove is found along shorelines and features a web of roots that form impenetrable tangles beneath the trees.     Black mangroves are also found near the shore and often are flooded by rising tides. They, however, don’t have the root tangle, but rather a series of root stubs that protrude up from the ground around the trees.

The white mangrove is found on higher, drier ground and has very little influence on fish species.

Mangrove forests often form on shallow flats and can collect debris and sand to eventually become islands. But, while still flooded the bases of the trees offer protection to a host of forage species, and hunting grounds for predators. Mangroves also protect shorelines from erosion, especially during gale and hurricane conditions.

In recent decades the Sunshine State’s mangroves have been disappearing to shoreline development in most areas of the state.  However, a new study published in the magazine Hydobiologia authored by Villanova Biology Professor Samantha Chapman, coupled with a report from Smithsonian Environmental Research Center scientists, points to some good news on the mangrove coasts.

Prof. Chapman’s research shows that mangroves provide as much as eight times more protection for coastlines than do salt marshes, and the mangrove stands offer a much more cost effect form of protection than do man-made breakwaters.

As for the Smithsonian work, it used aerial photographs from 1984, overlaid by satellite imagery from 2011, to show the northern limit of mangroves at the 30-degree north latitude line, which is just north of St. Augustine. Surprisingly, it also showed that the mangrove trees were encroaching northward, with the greatest build up found in the area between 29 and 30 degrees of latitude. Through there the mangroves are replacing salt marshes.

The main reason for this expansion seems to spring from less extreme cold weather in this part of Florida in recent decades. The number of days when the air temperature fell below 25 degrees had declined during that period, allowing the tropical trees to move north.

Click Before You Cast!

Where are the fish? It is an age-old question Chesapeake Bay anglers ask when searching countless tidal creeks, rivers and bays stretching over 4,500 square miles and averaging 21 feet deep. We all understand that fish are influenced by food, shelter and water conditions. So where do we find this information? The answer is just a few clicks away.

The State of Maryland, Commonwealth of Virginia and the federal government collect and post a variety of environmental monitoring data online to help us better understand and care for our waters.

This goldmine of information also provides powerful tools to help you eliminate unproductive waters, saving you fuel and increasing your chances of fishing success.

Step 1: Think like a fish
There is a wealth of information available about all Chesapeake Bay game- fish that can teach you where, when and how to catch them. Once you understand their favorite seasonal haunts, pull out your charts and get ready to start zooming in on productive spots.

Step 2: Eliminate areas outside of preferred salinity range
Some bay fish are better than others at surviving over a range of salinity conditions. For instance, rockfish are found anywhere from freshwater to the ocean. The habitat of fish with limited salinity ranges, such as largemouth bass, expands or contracts with changing salinities.

However, salinities in any spot vary greatly due to the amount of rainfall entering through the Chesapeake’s rivers. During years of low rainfall, saltier conditions spread further up the bay.

If you know what salinity your target gamefish prefers and compare it to current salinity maps, you can eliminate unproductive waters.

Step 3: Eliminate poorly oxygenated areas
Fish, just like us, need oxygen to survive. During cooler months, there is plenty of oxygen in most areas of the bay. However, when the waters warm, there are large areas, generally in deeper waters, which have very little or none.

This is caused by the denser, saltier, deeper water’s inability to be recharged with oxygen from surface mixing. Algal blooms also cause low oxygen levels at night through respiration, or when they die and decompose.

Avoid fishing in waters with less than about 3 mg/l of dissolved oxygen.

Step 4: Eliminate areas outside of preferred temperature range
Water temperature greatly influences the seasonal distribution of gamefish. Each species has a preferred temperature range where cooler temperatures slow them down and warmer temperatures increase their activity. Some fish avoid high water temperatures, often moving as deep as possible.

An angler’s adage: To find fish in the cooler months, look for warmer water, and in the warmer months, look for cooler water.

An event called the Rockfish Squeeze occurs in the summer when striped bass try to find cooler water but are prevented by poorly oxygenated waters. They end up squeezed into a small layer of barely suitable water at the extremes of their maximum temperature tolerance (84°F) and their minimum dissolved oxygen requirements (~3mg/l).

Step 5: Eliminate areas with poor water clarity
Poor water clarity can make it hard for fish to find and capture food. Clarity is impacted by the amount of suspended sediment and algae in the water. Excess sediment carried into the bay by large rains or re-suspended by wave action can reduce clarity and result in coffee-colored water.

Fish avoid high levels of suspended sediment but often feed in or near the edges of this murky water because these areas often contain food. Large algal blooms can often color the water various shades of green or brownish red. In some cases, fish avoid areas with dense algal blooms because the algae can be toxic or cause low oxygen levels.

Step 6: Identify preferred habitat
Fish need places to live, eat and reproduce. Due to constantly changing water conditions, preferred habitat can vary greatly throughout the year.

Experienced anglers know that gamefish often congregate on or near areas where relatively deep water is near shallow water or habitat edges. Typical areas include channel edges, drop-offs, flats, grass beds, oyster bars and points.

In the remaining areas on your chart, mark places with these types of features. The best fishing areas often include a combination of several key habitats.

Step 7: Find moving water
Once you have identified your fishing spots, check the streamflow, wind, wave conditions and tide charts to find moving water.

This is important because moving water can funnel baitfish and crabs through the prime habitat areas gamefish feed. Rising tides can move fish into shallower areas while falling tides can pull prey out into deeper channels.

Wind direction, duration and speed can mean a big difference to your fishing day. Not only does wind oxygenate the water, but winds blowing against the tide can often produce larger waves than normal and can slow tidal flushing. Likewise, winds blowing in the same direction of the tide can speed up tidal flushing.

Increased flows can improve fishing by cooling and oxygenating the water and dislodging food, but when flows get too high, they can quickly alter conditions by decreasing water clarity and salinity.

Step 8: Get out there!
You have now identified the best places to find fish right now—not last week or last month—but right now. All that is left to do is to go out and catch a bunch of fish!

Article by Tom Parham—tidal monitoring program lead.
Appears in Vol. 20, No. 3 of the Maryland Natural Resource magazine, summer 2017.

Sage X Fly Rod Review

Last July while attending the ICAST/IFTD Show in Orland we lined up for our opportunity to cast the new Sage X fly rods.  We are dazed by these new fly rods. It was not until the 2017 launch of Southern Saltwater Fly Fishing Magazine that we requested loaner Sage X. Faster than you can make a false cast, FedEx dropped off 9 ’ 8wt Sage X that arrived with a Sage Reel / RIO line as well. The game was on.

               Unless a fly rod is a real dog or ridiculously over-priced for the performance, it’s tough for a fly rod reviewer to not talk in glowing terms about the positive attributes of a new fly rod, or for that matter fail to give a new fly rod at least some level of accolades.  Reviewing Sage X loaner put us in the uncomfortable position of finding the appropriate phrases of praise that we have used time and time again in the past that frankly are cliques. We knew it was essential to tell truth—so here goes.

               The fact of the matter is, this Sage X is the best damned casting 9’ 8wt our team ever laid hands on. Trust, us that’s saying a lot. Well, that’s our story, and we are sticking to it. We challenge anyone to grab one up to prove to us otherwise. Lifting line from the water our Sage X generated a lot of line speed, with little or no false casting. Collectively we were habitual false casters. Now we have seen the light. Additionally, the rod has a remarkable ability to cut through the wind, which is great when fly fishing flats where blaming the wind is our favorite alibi.  To tell the truth, by our estimates, the Sage X can improve our rating as casters by 5 to 8 percent. Think about that.

Sage rods have a reputation of being high speed “casters’ fly rods,” requiring a well-developed timing. The Sage X is speedy but is remarkably forgiving of casting styles.  We were enamored with our ability to throw long, parallel, picture perfect loops.  In hand, the Sage X feels light and swings light, with a lot of spring in the butt section that transmits greater feel when cast. We liked the comfortable grips on our Sage X that are smaller and more contoured than the grips on other large Sage rod models in the past.  We found that the grips definitely enhanced our casting precision, which is was by the way, quite remarkable.

Sage X rods feature an all-new fast action taper built with the maker’s KonneticHD Technology that delivers greater blank recovery and a crisper tip stop. This is the secret to casters creating tighter, more efficient loops throughout all ranges. Sage’s fast action taper allows you to dig deeper into the rod and access the lower sections, shifting power closer to the angler. Decreased lateral and medial movement and vibrations in the blank result in a more accurate and efficient presentation, resulting in a performance driven, forgiving fast action blank that redefines synergy.

The heart of the Sage X is its makers’ new proprietary KonneticHD graphite/resin composite that is the highest energy transferring material ever created by the company.  Advanced high density (HD) fiber positioning, enhanced laminate characteristics, and optimized manufacturing techniques combine to increase composite modulus while maintaining durability. KonneticHD creates amplified strength-to-weight and stiffness-to-weight ratios as needed within the rod blank. Optimized fiber-to-fiber energy transfer along the length of the blank minimizes both lateral and medial vibrations, delivering accuracy in an easy loading blank with quick recovery, a crisp tip stop, and enhanced line feel for complete loop control.

According to Sage, the optimized hoop to axial fiber positioning reduces blank weight and enhances cross-sectional strength and performance.  The result is superior tracking through minimized lateral and torsional movement. Focused energy transfer creates greater connectivity with less effort. In laymen jargon, this bantamweight casts like a dream and puts flies where you were hoping they might touchdown.

The Sage X can also be described as seductive eye candy. A Black Spruce blank with dark green thread wraps with metallic grey trim wraps makes it uniquely stunning. Other great features on the Sage X include Fuji ceramic stripper guides with hard chromed snake guides and tip-top, and a laser etched line weight on slide band. As you might expect, the presentation is impeccable; black rod bag with titanium logo and Black Spruce model tag in an evergreen powder coated aluminum rod tube with Sage medallion. Classy, eh?

So what do we really think about the Sage X? We like it a lot, and have schemed far too much on how to avoid sending back our loaner. Incredibly, actually purchasing the rod has even been discussed. It would be a first…

BTT Synthesizes Studies to Improve Conservation

According to BTT, the alterations of freshwater flows are having wide-ranging impacts on the ecosystem, which in turn is hurting the tarpon populations. As a result, BTT is trying to understand and plot a course to increase the asset of a tarpon fishery. The Neverglades Coalition will assist in planning and creating a new reservoir in the Everglades Agricultural Area. BTT believes this will decrease discharges down St. Lucie and the Caloosahatchee. It will also improve clean water to the Everglades and Florida Bay.

Also, BTT has significantly expanded their tarpon tagging program by conducting a study to track their movement, habitat and the impact of freshwater flows.  A genetics study and juvenile tarpon mapping will also be looked at in tandem with the tagging program. All the data will be used to improve conservation efforts particularly with resource management agencies.
https://www.bonefishtarpontrust.org/conservation-approach

Featured Guide: Capt. Tuck Scott

One of the most inspiring discoveries of Southern Saltwater Fly Fishing Magazine’s recent sweep through the Lowcountry was the stratospheric level of the fly fishing guide services in the region. As much as anything, the knowledge and quality of the professional fly fishing guide willing to share the secrets of the Lowcountry have turned places like Beaufort into virtual hubs of long rod angling adventures.

            Captain Tuck Scott is one of those top shelf Lowcountry fly fishing guides who are responsible for the current angler interest in these waters. An Orvis Endorsed Guide, Tuck as he prefers to be called, has helped turn a largely ignored coastal fishery into a glittering, five-star destination.

“Our mission is to provide our clients with an outdoor experience and education about the Lowcountry’s fishery while providing the best fishing the Lowcountry has to offer,” says Tuck.

Do you want to know what makes the coastal waters of South Carolina unique to other southern coastal waters? It’s the Lowcountry's large fluctuation in tides accompanied with over 50 percent of the United States East Coast marshland water, all residing in South Carolina, makes for a very healthy, unique fishing environment.  

Tuck and company provide two different schools in Beaufort; the Redfish School and the Orvis School. These saltwater oriented schools are geared to make clients better casters and saltwater anglers. When there or when you book a fishing trip, they supply everything clients need to match the target species in the local waters. Tuck and his team of guides run high-end technical poling skiffs. These crafts allow access to super skinny water where local species can be targeted. These skiffs enable the best sight casting possible.

 “My clients want shots at fish and they want to do it with a fly rod,” says Tuck. “They also like being educated about our fishing and environment, and to have a fun day on the water.”

“I grew up fishing this area as a kid with my father and my grandfather,” says Tuck.  “Everything I worked toward always ended with me wanting to be back on the water I grew up on, so I returned and became connected to Bay Street Outfitters and the head guide at the time Captain Doug Gertis who I was able to train under on my way to becoming a guide for the Outfitter.”

According to Tuck, most of his clients want to come fish a flood tide for tailing redfish from April through November. Many also schedule visits from late April through June to take advantage of sight casting to Cobia inshore. Increasingly popular also is winter fly fishing the big schools of redfish found on the mudflats at low tide.

A day in the skiff with Tucks typically begins with meeting him at one of a number of different boat landings.  Beaufort County has a cache of well-maintained boat landings that cover the area’s expansive watershed incredibly well.  Trips include bottled water on ice on half and 3/4 days, and lunch on a full day. As noted, tackle and flies are provided.

            “To those new to fly fishing the Lowcountry, I strongly recommend practicing with an 8 wt. or larger before you head this way,” says Tuck. “Spend some time working on a double haul. You will find that mastery of this is helpful for enabling you to take advantage of shots at fish.”

“The other thing to practice is accuracy,  but not for hitting stationary targets. When you come here, many of your opportunities will be at moving fish. Practice as if the target is moving so you will be able to lead fish with your cast.”

            “South Carolina’s Lowcountry fishery is a one of a kind resource,” says Tuck. “Unique shots at hard fighting saltwater fish is what the Lowcountry is all about.  All of our guides strive to not only show you fish but to make sure they provide an education for each client to become a better angler.

Win a Prize for Capturing a Fish

Ph. D. student, Addiel Perez from El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR) in Chetumal, Mexico, is navigating a study to better plot and understand the movements of bonefish in Mexico, Belize. Already having tagged more than 6, 000 bonefish and over 70 permit, he is close to deciphering a possible pre-spawning site that may include bonefish from Belize and Mexico. Even though he and those with him have impressive results, they request that anyone who captures a tagged bonefish to record the tag number, take a photo, document the date and location (be specific), measure the length of the fish from nose to fork and report the capture. Each tag has contact information. You may report your info at their website at https://www.bonefishtarpontrust.org/report-tagging-data.

Info from this study will be presented by BTT in their November Symposium.

Catch-A-Lure: Turn your Fly Rod into a Fly Retriever

Nothing spoils the magic of fly fishing like getting hung up a in the tangled limbs of a fish hiding mangrove tree. Insult is added to injury when it results in the loss of a fly that you do not have a replacement for in your fly box. It happens to us all. And for most of us it happens too often and at the worst time.

Enter, Catch-A-Lure to the rescue. Catch-A-Lure was invented by a lifelong fisherman from Eastern Pennsylvania. Like every other fly fisherman casting on Keystone State stream, he noticing wherever he fished in streams, rivers, or any body of water that there were always fishing lures hanging up in the tree branches, bushes and even in an occasional dock. His flies and lures, usually new and quite valuable, were also an eyesore to the estuaries’ environments.

The Catch-A-Lure is a nifty, compact device that enables fly fishermen to quickly recover otherwise lost flies which can really take a bite out of your casting time. Catch-A-Lure easily attaches and detaches from rod tip. Catch-A-Lure uses the length of your fly rod to reach flies in trees, bushes or other situations. Placed against the obstruction holding your fly, all you have to do is pull downward to auto-cut monofilament to free your fly. It cuts away leaves and could not be more simple or easy to use.

Catch-A-Lure is made out of a tough high-grade polymer plastic. Heavy-duty magnets attract steel hooks and bind them to the side.  It stores easily in a fishing vest as well as sticks to vest metal ring or lanyard for fast access. Catch-A-Lure also doubles as a fast cutting tippet tool. It is a new tool and a must-have for the avid fisherman beginner to expert. Additionally, Catch-A-Lure reduces a carbon footprint to our precious fly fishing environments.

Maryland Striped Bass Season Opener

Striped bass are known as rockfish in the Chesapeake Bay and are very popular targets for anglers on Maryland’s portion of the bay. April 15 marks the opening of that state’s spring trophy striper season that continues through May 15.

"Nothing says spring is here like the first day of trophy rockfish season," Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Fishing and Boating Services Director Dave Blazer said. "For many Marylanders, it's a tradition that spans generations."

The stripers are returning from their spawning runs up freshwater tributaries at this time of year, thus showing up in the brackish to saltwater portions of the bay.

For complete striper regulations visit eregulations.com/maryland/fishing/striped-bass-4/.

 

Major Bonefish and Tarpon Research

Given the interest in catching the glamor species of saltwater fly fishing – particularly bonefish and tarpon – it is surprising how little research has taken place covering these fish. As a result we know relatively little about their life cycles. Fortunately, that situation is beginning to change.

The Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (bonefishtarpontrust.org) has been doing ground-breaking studies on both of those species. The resulting data is giving us a much better picture of how these fish thrive.

For instance, in February BTT, through their Florida Keys Initiative, finished up three years of bonefish genetics sampling. Fin clippings were collected by hundreds of anglers from thousands of Florida Keys, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico bonefish to be analyzed at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, the research arm of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. It is hoped that genetic analysis will show whether the Keys’ and other bonefish populations are local and self-sustaining or rely on populations in other regions. By identifying where the fish come from, they can help determine where and how to manage for conservation. 

The Florida Keys Initiative is also supporting the innovative Bonefish Restoration Research Project at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. Those scientists are working to spawn and raise bonefish in captivity. With the help of guides and anglers in the Keys, bonefish have been caught at multiple locations to provide brood stock. If stocking becomes a viable restoration method, BTT sees stocking as a tool that might be useful in conjunction with habitat restoration.

Another important effort is the mapping of juvenile tarpon habitat. These immature fish live in the calm backwaters of mangrove creeks, coastal ponds and other bays. Because of their preference for these particular areas, they often are close to humans. This means the habitats are heavily affected by coastal development, changes in water flows and nutrient runoff.

One misconception is that the juvenile tarpon only are found in healthy habitat. Unfortunately, that’s not always true. Extensive research in southwest Florida made it clear that altered habitats are not the best for juvenile tarpon. 

Wildflower Preserve in Placida was BTT’s first habitat restoration project. The area contained high densities of juvenile tarpon, which ultimately contributed to poor growth and undersized tarpon leaving the system. A juvenile fish exiting the sanctuary already has to face new predators and competitors for food. If the tarpon are stunted that makes their outlook bleak. 

Juvenile tarpon habitat mapping was the obvious answer to finding nursery areas and studying what an ideal nursery habitat should look like. In January 2016, BTT began asking anglers for their help finding locations with tarpon 12 inches or smaller. 

Those anglers provided GPS coordinates and were also asked if there were larger tarpon present at the site, as well as the little ones. It is important to know if tarpon are able to grow to larger sizes before emigrating or if they are getting too big and overstaying their welcome by competing for food and space with smaller tarpon. 

All this new data can now be used to improve conservation efforts of the correct habitat for increasing tarpon stocks.

Finally, another project is afoot in Belize and Mexico, headed up by Addiel Perez, a Belizean working on his PH.D. at El Colegio de la Frontera Sur in Chetumal, Mexico. Working with guides, anglers, fishing lodges and commercial fisherman he has tagged more than 6,000 bonefish, as well as over 70 permit, in the area from Cave Caulker, Belize to Xcalak, Mexico.

 

In the last four months he has received 80 reports of recaptures of the bonefish. The idea is to gain understanding of the movement of the fish in this region.

Anglers catching a tagged bonefish or permit are ask to take a photo of the tag, with the number clearly visible. Then, submit the photo, along with date of the catch and as specific a location for the catch as possible to bonefishtarpontrust.org/report-tagging-data.