Hello there, fellow angler! This is Capt. Jonathan Moss with another edition of Pro Tips!
I recently had John from New Zealand on the skiff for a full day fishing charter. His goal was to catch any of our top inshore species using a fly rod, but he especially wanted a tarpon. Of course I was excited as I am always thrilled to have new clients on the boat, and suggested perhaps we chase after an inshore grand slam, which means landing four of our top inshore species, those being redfish, sea trout, snook, tarpon and black drum. He agreed, and after a few emails we were able to nail down a solid plan which started with pushing away from the dock at 5:30 a.m. There is something special about running the river in the early morning hours. It almost feels like you own the place. And with it being the middle of the summer we were immediately greeted by a countless number of mullet and an incredible showing of bioluminescence.
Our spirits were high. Our plan was solid. But we knew accomplishing our goal would be no easy feat.
Step 1: Catching the Sea Trout. With ample amounts of bait, summertime usually means mullet. I like to begin the day using a topwater presentation. Fishing with a topwater lure at first light is very successful and an absolute blast. Rapala Skitterwalks and D.O.A. PT-7s are my favorites. If you are throwing fly, a gurgler or popper will get the job done. As we arrived to our first spot, the mullet were everywhere and scattering from cruising and attacking sea trout. We knew our first species would be an easy one to check off the list and we did so using a popper fly.
Step 2: Finding Snook. While we were catching our trout, we observed several snook-like explosions along the mangrove shoreline. We quickly poled in a little closer to investigate and began making casts in those areas. To our surprise the snook refused the popper fly, so I suggested we make a fly change to a black and purple bait fish pattern. Color selection for lures and flies is always determined by water color and sky color. In our case, the sun was low and the water was muddy so dark colors were the top pick. What a game changer that was! The snook inhaled the fly and species number two was complete.
Step 3: Sight Fishing a Redfish. Now with the sun higher in the sky, it was time to transition to searching for redfish. We made a quick move into clear, shallow water, looking for redfish swimming along the mangrove shorelines. Since our grass flats are all but gone, I have been spending quite a bit of time seeking out new structures for fish to hide in and around. A quick fly change to a white clouser minnow and the search was on. It didn’t take us long to find the fish, but we had to work on our presentation. Fishing in shallow, clear water with bright sun always creates the scenario of, “I can see the fish, but can they see me?” And the answer is yes. Long accurate casts are the key to success when fishing for any fish, especially redfish, in clear, shallow water.
Step 4: Hook a Tarpon. There are always tarpon around during our summer months here in Brevard County. The questions is, will they eat what you’re throwing? These fish are definitely my personal favorite frustration. With tarpon, the key is to figure out what exactly they are feeding on, and that is done by examining the bait in the water in the areas you find tarpon and paying attention to when you see a tarpon act as if it was eating (an explosion on the water surface). On this particular day, there were glass minnows all around the mangroves and the tarpon seemed to be getting their fill. I opted to continue fishing with the white clouser, and John made a perfect cast to a tarpon lying parallel to a mangrove in 3 feet of water. Tarpon, though, are tricky. Once hooked it is crucial to implement the tactic of “bowing to the king” to ensure the tarpon stays connected to your line.
We did it! Inshore grand slam on fly! What a day and a fun accomplishment for my new client.
Have you caught inshore grand slam? I’d love to hear from you about your experience!
Capt. Jonathan Moss
Go Castaway Fishing Charters