Friday, January 26, 2007

The Cold Front, The Tarpon and Fireman Don...

Far as I'm concerned, today's the day that High Season has arrived in South Florida. The reasons for this are firstly, the arrival of our first big cold front and secondly, a seasonally-appropriate push of tarpon into our backwaters to flee the sudden discomfort of the icy blast. I define icy blasts as any weather system dropping temperatures into the fifties- kind of cavalier, very subjective and "all about me" for someone so often blessed by life in the sun-kissed tropics!

The fish were where they needed to be and I stopped counting the rolling fish after one hundred- this, after only thirty minutes. The majority of the fish cavorted with hard rolls and tail slaps right back to the bottom. Occasionally, the bubbles of their burps would rise to the surface, give a fishy pop, and create a mini-fog in the cold atmosphere.

As I continued casting, a fellow angler ambled over to me and introduced himself. His name was Don and he was a recently-retired fireman from New York. As a novice angler to this fishery, he shared his utter fascination and helpless astonishment as he beheld this silver king extravaganza. I explained to him that tarpon often "carry on" like this, but eventually go on a "bite" of a comparatively short duration. This did eventually begin about an hour later as I hooked up with a fine fish of forty pounds. There was more oxygen in the cooler water, which enabled the tarpon to extend the battle to about thirty minutes. Don ran for his camera and got some shots of the fish being released for his friends back in the Big Apple. I found his excitement a thoroughly refreshing experience and such a welcome breath of decent fresh air compared to the asthmatic gulping necessitated by the oxygen-stealing of big ego I-can-cast-a-fly-farther-than-you types.

This was my first tarpon for 2007. It was a good morning made even better by Don.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Spring Stirs in Miami Wintertime...

Perhaps a better way to say it is that SOFLA has had very little winter, so shallow water fishing seems to be holding up. Yet these undemarcated seasons can throw confusion into inshore gamefish patterns. As bears awaken all too early from their hibernation in Russian hinterlands, tarpon on the other side of Mother Earth may begin a very early migration to the Keys, only to be thrown by a late season sucker punch of a cold snap in April. Who knows?

Based on my observations lately, bones and tarpon have moved over to the oceanside flats and channels respectively, a trend that is associated with "wintertime".

This Friday morning featured a wisp of a cold front which dropped water temps. a degree or two. Problem was that the front was accompanied by a high "mackeral sky" cloud cover, which made peering in early morning flats waters quite hard.

So it was time to make lemonade from lemons by blind casting flats dropoffs, basins, and reefy inshore structure. The species that came to the jig were seatrout, big ladyfish, mojarra, jacks, and large blue runners. I switched tactics for some very large grey snapper and used a "snook hook" with a 2/0 trailer on which I mounted a large juicy live shrimp. That move gave me over a dozen fish to 4 pounds.

The sun broke through the cloud cover and stayed unfetterd and bold above me. I fired up my engine, ran for five minutes and staked out my skiff on an oceanside flat where I tossed out some chum. I did have two groups of two bonefish dart in, then out of the area. If the water temperature was a few degrees higher, I think those fish would have tracked in a little longer. If the weather stays mild, inshore angling forays should show better and better results.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Thanks, Captain Butch Moser...

Captain Butch's Fresh Water Extravaganza

By Jan Stephen Maizler

Photography by Captain Jon Cooper

Today was a phenomenal day with Captain Butch Moser and Captain Jon Cooper in the canals of western Palm Beach County. It reminded me of the old days, when fishing was about catching and not just "shots", rods were called poles, and you counted what you caught, ate, or released. I won't likely ever forget that the three of us stopped counting after we reached 125 fish- all of this in a half-day trip.

Captain Butch Moser does his magic by chumming with live bait: oftentimes threadfin shad. He also uses these delicate fish for live bait- and do they ever work! I'd wonder what a fly fisher could do with those big peacocks, largemouth, and Mayan cichlids as they're boiling at live chum barely a dab-cast from Butch's Carolina Skiff. Our catches ran to good sizes: peacocks to 6 pounds, bass to 8 pounds, and cichlids to 3 pounds. In a word, extraordinary, since the heaviest line we used was 6-pound test. I opted for 4-pound spinning and was thoroughly satisfied!


Captain Butch proudly acknowledges a very long pedigree of fishing in various venues for over forty years since he was a child. He first started fishing as a hobby, but as he grew up, it became his life's work and labor of love. He has had stints as a charter boat captain for private clients as well as commercially hook and line fishing for kingfish, yellowtail, and grouper. About twenty years ago, it became clear to him that the fish stocks off the Boca/Delray Florida coast had declined. This trend made him turn his attention to fresh water fishing for largemouth bass and bluegills in the western canal system of Palm Beach County.

The factor that really turbocharged his freshwater guiding business was the stocking of this canal system with peacock bass. The "peacocks" flourished and created the makings of a "can't-miss" fishery that will delight any angler.

Butch has a specially designed Carolina Skiff that is an excellent and roomy workboat that is far more comfortable and stable than bass boats. The most striking feature of his rig is a massive livewell that's almost as large as a bathtub: this gives Butch the capacity to keep huge quantities of live bait that make his style of angling so incredibly productive.

There was a wealth of wildlife that spiced up our foray into these canals: turtles, egrets, ibis, limpits, iguanas, and all manner of migratory ducks. We even caught a strange yet exotic fish that was called a clown knifefish.

I believe Butch Moser is a guide for all seasons from novices to experts. If you want to give your friends, family, or children an indelibly successful fishing trip, Butch's track record is likely to bring great results!

Captain Butch Moser
Cellphone: 1-561-254-2790
Home Phone: 1-561-732-5996


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Looking Forward to Belize River Lodge...

Though it might take awhile-like most things- photographer Art Blank and I can't wait to get down to Belize River Lodge ( This destination has an incredible pedigree in origin, history, and customer good will as well as current high marks in service, lodgings, vessels, fishing, and eco-touring. With those qualities, BRL pulls anglers and travelers like a magnet into the exotic coast of Belize.

This destination is one of those rare places on our planet where a quadruple Grand Slam ( bonefish, tarpon, permit, snook) is a real possibility.