Monday, November 27, 2006

Looking Back Over the Year...

It's time to say "thanks" to some fantastic people and incredible destinations that have made it a banner year for this writer.

* Captain Tadd Van Der Mark and Ranger Boats- Florida Bay, Florida
* Buck Buchenroth and Southern Cross Club- Little Cayman Island, BWI
* Captain Samuel Knowles and Samuel Knowles Bonefish Adventures- Long Island, Bahamas
* Captain Brian Hillier and Naden Lodge- Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia
* Captain Clint Goyette, Valley Fishing Guide Service- Whistler, British Columbia
* The Space Coast Office of Tourism- Melbourne, Cocoa, Titusville, Florida
* Captain Brian Pahmeier and East Cape Canoe Boats- Titusville, Florida
* Saint Johns Tourist Authority- Saint Johns, New Brunswick
* Destination Halifax (Deanna Wilmshurst)- Halifax, Nova Scotia
* and Captain Alan Zaremba-Miami. Florida
* Bobby Settles and Casa Blanca Lodge- Ascension Bay, Quintana Roo, Mexico
* Cheeca Lodge- Islamorada, Florida Keys, Florida


Friday, November 24, 2006

Attractions for Angling Families in the Canadian Maritimes- Part 2

Attractions for Angling Families in the Canadian Maritimes- Part 2


Jan Stephen Maizler

As our Peggy’s Cove experience came to an end, Deanna headed back to the city for our next destination. As our sojourn took us through multi-colored forests set off by striking coves, bays, and lakes, Deanna told us more about the people and fishing of Halifax and its surrounds.

Halifax boasts a population of over 300,000 and its people are called Haligonians. A large number of these people are employed in some water-based enterprise since Halifax has one of the largest ports in the hemisphere.

The major fishing operations out of Halifax are seasonal commercial harvesting of herring and lobster- this is generally done offshore. Regarding sport fishing out of the harbor, there are some party boats that take out customers during the summer for bottom fishing as well as jigging for mackerel.

The inland fisheries north of Halifax offer fly and light tackle sport fishing for salmon, trout, and smallmouth bass. On the most northern fringes of Nova Scotia, there is excellent ocean sport fishing for bluefin tuna and swordfish.

In the Nova Scotia countryside there are numerous bed and breakfasts. The most common recreational activities are trekking, cycling, horseback riding, kayaking, and sailing. The outside orientation of these offerings makes them especially desirable and appropriate for anglers and their families. There are numerous four-star restaurants that offer just the right cuisine choices to fuel or top off a day in the outdoors.

In what seemed in no time at all, we were climbing a hill in which the expansive Halifax Citadel came into view ( - National Historic Sites). After parking, we were joined at the entrance by a 78th Highlander who gave us a thorough tour and history of this fascinating structure. We also heard a live performance of the bagpipes, saw the noon cannon firing ceremony, and enjoyed a delightful lunch with the same 78th Highlander. The Halifax Citadel is a must-see attraction in this wonderful city.

Our next step was a tour of the Halifax waterfront. What made this an especially exciting prospect was that this would be done on the land and water via the amphibious Harbour Hopper ( ). After we boarded this impressive car-vessel, we received some safety and comfort tips. After touring downtown Halifax, we headed towards the harbor. After turning a corner, we eased down a launch ramp into the water and embarked on a pleasant tour with striking views.

The last attraction of our day in Halifax was Pier 21 ( ), which is Canada’s Ellis Island. Stefani Angelopoulos, the Communications Manager of Pier 21, made this experience unforgettable. After we toured the museum, we attended the multi-media film and video presentation. This was extremely moving and a dry eye was a rarity in my group.

Pier 21 chronicles Canada’s humane open-arms approach to the people of our planet. Pier 21 and indeed, my entire time in the Canadian Maritimes emphasized again and again why America is lucky to have Canada as its northern neighbor.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Jan Maizler Field Test #2- Yucatan Mexico

When I traveled to Casa Blanca Lodge in Ascension Bay last week, I relied on Spro bucktails for my artificial lure needs. On the flats, I used the 1/8 ounce yellow Baby Bucktail. In deeper waters, I used the 1/2 ounce white Prime Bucktail.

Here are the species I hooked and/or caught with both of these lures: bonefish, tarpon, permit, barracuda, ladyfish, jacks, blue runners, mutton snapper, lane snapper, mangrove snapper, and cero mackeral. These lures performed beautifully with tantalizing action. It was easy to get solid hookups with the Gamakatsu razor- sharp hooks. I experienced minimal bucktail breakup because of the lure's excellent construction.

Jan Maizler

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Attractions for Angling Families in the Canadian Maritimes- Part 1

Attractions for Angling Families in the Canadian Maritimes- Part 1


Jan Stephen Maizler

I realized a life long dream in visiting the Canadian Atlantic and Maritimes areas this October. It turned out to be everything I’d hoped it would, and so much more. The people are incredibly friendly, a pleasantry that visitors to Canada are made aware of again and again. The habitat of the region is striking and replete with verdant multi-colored forests, streams, rivers, and coves with waterfront homes and sailboats moored a short way off. The coastlines were sculpted with bold gray rocks and topped off with lighthouses, almost like a grand ice cream sundae concocted for fall adventurers touring the region.

Although I was to fish my way through the entire region, the second massive cold front of the season dropped temperatures, added rain, and served up some very chilly temps. This was no problem for me, because this weather belongs to the Maritimes during this season. More importantly, I’d have more time to explore the sights, sounds, offerings, and the attractions that would be of appeal to the anglers- as well as their families- who would come to fish here in the future.

I booked passage on the Carnival Victory ( This turned out to be an ideal mode of transportation. Every need was taken care of and we sailed around the area on high seas, bays, and inlets.

Saint John/Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick-

The first Maritimes port of call was Saint John/ Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick ( Our actual arrival was on an early morning that featured cool, brisk weather with an occasional light shower. As the ship docked and prepared for disembarking, I was ready for a tour that I’d worked out and chosen months earlier. Based on thorough research of this destination, I’d chosen a venue that included the city of Saint John itself, City Market, Reversing Falls Rapids, and the village of St. Martins.

As the ship was “cleared”, I was excited to be in a coastal destination that featured the world’s highest tides. As a Florida angler, my usual tide-change heights of a few feet were no match for this exciting region which featured rises and falls of as much as 28 feet! The daylong sojourn was being handled by Aquila Tours (

Once onboard the comfortable Tourbus, we made the short trip through Saint John to the Reversing Falls Rapids. The sight of such huge volumes of water racing at breakneck speed in multiple directions was novel, exciting, and downright humbling. A thorough discussion by our guide made this magnificent spectacle quite meaningful. As the bus resumed its journey back to the town’s center, afterimages of the river cascaded through my mind’s eye.

The next stop was Market Square in Saint John. This centralized attraction features delectable fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, (of course) local seafood, and practically any larder for the northern kitchen. The proprietors arranged their food items for display in floral patterns reminiscent of the shops of Nice and Barcelona. In addition, don’t be surprised if a shop owner presses you to sample a piece of dried dulce seaweed!

Our next destination was the quaint and idyllic fishing village of St. Martins. We arrived at low tide to find the lobster and herring fleet sitting on wood frames that would help buttress the boat’s keels as the vessels were completely aground at low tide! This quaint and extremely pleasurable village features a small lighthouse, two covered bridges, and a tidal cove that would satisfy the most demanding travelers or traveling photographers.

The climax of our St. Martins excursion was twofold. We lunched at the Huttge’s family’s famous oceanside Caves Restaurant on homemade biscuits and rich seafood chowder. After our repast, our guide encouraged us to explore the tidal caves in the distance. She advised us as well to scour the rocky low tide beach for “rocks with rings” that were sure to bring good luck.

When we returned to the Saint John seaport in the evening, it was time for the Victory to set sail for Halifax: one night and a full day would bring us to this must-see destination.

Halifax, Nova Scotia-

My party and I were especially lucky to plan and spend our day in Halifax with someone so qualified to familiarize us so completely: Deanna Wilmshurst, the Communications Manager of Destination Halifax ( ). Our itinerary was such an exciting and thorough venue: Peggy’s Cove, the Halifax Citadel, the Halifax Waterfront via the Harbour Hopper, and finally, Pier 21. These wonderful attractions are “stand-alone” excellent, yet when they’re combined with a fishing trip in this region, memorable becomes unforgettable, as it did for me.

Upon arrival, our ship debarked in cold clear weather- a perfect day for touring! Deanna picked us up in her spacious van and whisked us off to Peggy’s Cove. On the hour-long drive, we passed through countless hills, lakes, and multi-colored forests of fall. I did spot some fish that I was relatively sure were smallmouth bass. Peggy’s Cove is an unforgettably beautiful rugged coastal fishing village. It is highlighted by some of the most majestic rocks and lighthouse scenes I have ever seen. In the cold high winds, we climbed the rocks to the base of the lighthouse, which had a cozy post office at its base. In the enveloping warm sanctuary, postal officials were proud to tell us this was their nation’s smallest post office! Upon our descent, Deanna surprised us with hot gingerbread and lemon sauce and took us into a native watercolorist’s art gallery for an excellent display of painted work.

(to be continued)…

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Back From Casa Blanca...

It truly was a week to remember at Casa Blanca Lodge ( . Managing owner/partner Bobby Settles, fishing and fleet coordinator Mark Hamilton as well as hotel operator Maria work together to create and maintain an operation with "Swiss watch" efficiency in the midst of a splendid Mayan wonderland. In a cascade of days that bought all kinds of weather-sunny, cloudy, windy, and calm-the flats fishing remained steady. My personal results were the hunting, catching, and releasing of 14 bonefish to 4 pounds and 4 permit to 27 pounds.

Casa Blanca Lodge and its sister lodge Playa Blanca lie in the midst of the Sian Ka'an Biosphere- Mayan for Birthplace of the Sky-on the Quintana Roo coast of the Yucatan peninsula. Both of these magnificent destinations offer a cornucopia of life replete with palms, rocky beaches, sugar sand beaches, pelicans, dolphins, frigate birds, iguanas, caimans, and of course, the Big Three of flats fishing.

On one star-studded night off Casa's pier, I jumped a 40-pound tarpon on one cast and hooked and released a 10-pound permit on the next cast! One memorable afternoon, I caught and released 2 bonefish right in the midst of their bonefish skiffs which are moored against the beach. Experiences like this are quite unusual for Caribbean fishing destinations and make magical memories. The rest of the time, my fishing was from a 16-foot Dolphin Super Skiff under the able guidance of guide Agustin.

There's a great deal more to be shared about my Casa Blanca Experience.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Bounty on the Fringe of a Front....

Under the leaky, leaden skies of prefrontal Florida, sight fishing for bones under a dawn high tide was a bad idea. Last week's fishing provided more than enough data that the open parts of North Biscayne Bay were too chilly and fresh for tarpon. In this transitional time, it was a good idea to fish the calmer, more enclosed adjacent canals that lead inland-this turned out to be the right strategy. I found a swarm of tarpon far up a SFWMD canal, and released two out of three fish hooked. These fall tarpon generally run to thirty pounds, and are delightful high-jumping battlers. Coupled with the news from my editor that my new book on fishing the flats of Florida was entering production made it a fine morning indeed!