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Fly Fishing in Northeast Florida

Fly Fishing in Northeast Florida Fly Fishing in Northeast Florida
By Jim Hammond

When people speak of the novice fly fisher person, they and I are talking about someone that has just started fly fishing. A novice is someone that has not had the time to practice, practice, practice. Fly fishing is like any other sport, if you do not want to be the last on the bench to play, you must practice.

Fly fishing is much more difficult than bait fishing because the angler is totally responsible for the strike. He has to make the perfect cast, work the fly like it was alive and then know exactly when to set the hook. Unlike bait fishing, where the angler tosses the bait out, waits for a fish to come by and see it wiggling, pick it up and run with it.

REMEMBER, the experts were once novices. So get out there and practice. I like to go into my front yard and throw the fly rod about thirty minutes every week. I place a pie plate in the grass and use this as my target. Try this for a few weeks and you will not believe the confidence that you will have when it is your turn to CATCH THE BIG ONE.

Here is a trick for the novice or for the not so novice on windy days. Use a fly line, 1 or 2 weights heavier than the rod is rated for. This will make an unbelievable difference in your ability to make that long cast.


The time of the year that all of us fly fishing persons have been waiting for, has now arrived. The winter thaw (ha! ha!) down here has started. For real there is a time, of the normal winter that fly fishing is very tough. So when I say the thaw, I mean that the water temps have risen to the point that almost all species have come alive and will readily eat a fly.

TROUT Right now the creeks are full of trout, and they will hit chartreuse or silver flies with curly tails. The fly that I tie for this looks like a green or silver, caterpillar with a curly tail. I like to tie this fly with as much weight as I can throw with an 8 or 9 weight rod. The more weight, the faster it sinks and the more you can work it and still have the fly keep in touch or near the bottom. DATES FOR THIS ACTION: MARCH 15 thru DECEMBER 15

TROUT TOPWATER There will also be days very soon that the topwater fly fisher can enjoy a few hours of trout fishing for fish in the 2 to 8 pound class on topwater poppers. These flies are especially heavy and hold up in the wind, so this is not an outing for the novice. DATES FOR THIS ACTION: APRIL 1 thru OCTOBER 15

RED FISH The reds are feeding around the oyster mounds and on the flats and they will hit several fly patterns. I like the gold spoon and the Jim Hammond special. I also like a popper for the top water explosions. DATES FOR THIS ACTION: MARCH thru DECEMBER

SPANISH MACKEREL AND BLUEFISH The spanish and blues are soon to be here and they will eat almost anything. Most of these fish are thick in numbers but lack in size. Most are in the 1 to 2 pound class. DATES FOR THIS ACTION: APRIL thru JUNE

JACK CREVALLE (THE BULLDOG OF THE INSHORE WATERS) The best of all is Mr. Jack Crevalle in the 3 to 10 pound class. When these bad boys come to the top feeding, watch out. They strike like a mad fish and they will test any tackle that you own. DATES FOR THIS ACTION: APRIL thru NOVEMBER

LADY FISH (THESE ARE SOMETIMES REFERRED TO AS "THE POOR MANS TARPON") These fish are another that are thick in numbers, but their size is not matched by their aerial acrobats. This fish ranges in size from about 2 to 5 pounds. When they are here they are thick as flies and will eat a bare shinny hook. When hooked they come out of the water several times before you get them near the boat. When boated you will think you have caught a small Tarpon, as they look and fight just like a tarpon. DATES FOR THIS ACTION: APRIL thru AUGUST

TARPON This is really not the area of the state to target inshore tarpon, although, I hook about 5 to 10 per year by accident, while fishing for reds or trout. These fish range in size in our inshore waters from 25 to 200 pounds. There are a few places that I have consistently seen tarpon, hooked a bunch and caught a few. There is one place here that tarpon live year round. All of these fish are from 20 to 30 pounds and VERY difficult to hook.

Capt. Jim Hammond

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