Friday, January 30, 2009

Baby Bones and Bigger Shark...

Friend Don Eichin and I plied the chilly prefront waters of South Bay. Loads of jacks, 'runners, muttons provided action. The best fish of the day were the 3 small bones we jigged up right on the flats dropoff and a handsome shark I caught on light plug tackle and a Spro bucktail tipped with shrimp.
Jan Maizler
Jan Maizler's Amazon Blog

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cold Front History.....

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Last Week's SOFLA. Icy Front Makes Angling History...

While I was inshore fishing with captain Ken Collette last Friday, I reported that I did quite well.Little did I know that the offshore waters had been cooked into a flat blue consomme full of sailfish. My colleague Rudy Gomez of CyberAngler ( linked me to the Mayor's Cup Tournament ( with the following jaw dropping results:

January 26, 2009, Miami, Florida - (Credit to Mayor's Cup Tournament)"When most anglers think of double-digit billfish fishing they think of foreign destinations like Guatemala and Panama; each famous for their high catch and release counts. But this past weekend demonstrated that Miami sailfish action is as hot as anywhere in the world as the Sea Vee Mercury Mayor’s Cup broke several records.The fishing started of lightning fast. How fast? In the first hour of fishing 101 sailfish were released. The pace continued as radioman Dan Kipnis struggled to keep up with all the calls. “It was pure pandemonium,” he commented. “It’s never been quite like this. This is historic.” The hot bite continued all day as the teams were on pace to break the one-day release record of 403 releases set by the Sailfish Kickoff in 2005. Of the 55 teams fishing, more than half of them had double-digit releases and 5 teams had 20 or more releases. And what about the record? It was smashed with 422 releases in one day! The top boat for Saturday was “Get Lit” with a total of 22 releases. “Advanced Roofing” released 18 sailfish on Saturday and led the outboard division.

Expectations were high for Sunday’s fishing. Teams were hoping to eclipse Saturday’s numbers, but it would be difficult giving Saturday’s blistering pace. The second day brought plenty of lead changes and the fishing was also red hot. Again, many teams had a double-digit day with “Wound Up” having the most on Sunday with 15 releases. On the outboard side “Rock Star” had 10 releases to lead the day. In total, another 238 fish were released on Sunday brining the two-day count to 660 releases; a 2-day tournament record in the United States!

And here's another "kicker" from an email by friend and famous photographer Pat Ford:"Big jacks moved into Stuart last friday and hung around thru sunday. Naturally I got up there on Monday and only caught the last trickle. We only had a few small pods and it was over by 9am. Lots of mackerel though."

Jan Maizler
Jan Maizler's Amazon Blog

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Day on Biscayne Bay with Captain Ken Collette (954-463-0512)- Photos by Jan Maizler

After many years, I finally fished with Captain Ken Collette. Despite water temperatures that were extremely cold, Ken's able guiding kept our rods bent all day long. These images and more are part of an upcoming story on jigging wintertime channels for CyberAngler.
As usual, I employed my trusted plug outfit with Ambassador 5600C4 reel, Evolution Rod, and white Spro bucktail jig. Ken used an 8-pound Cabela's spinning outfit and white nylon jig. We both had a blast.
Ken's contact information is...
Phone- 954-463-0512

Friday, January 16, 2009

The New Launch of CyberAngler Angling Travel Section

Please join me in the first installment of the new CyberAngler Travel Section for Anglers.

Simply click the link below and experience the expanded "writer's cut" story of adventures out of Naden Lodge in marvelous British Columbia.

And get ready for loads of fishing adventures around the globe in CyberAngler Travel.

If we have not met before, click...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cold Fronts and Winter Waters....

Here in Miami, the last three days have been calm and cool-if not just plain cold. The water temperatures have been slowly coming down on a daily basis, but the clear skies have created the kind of persistent sunlight that makes the afternoon shallows the best opportunity aperture for bonefish in Biscayne Bay. To wit, as I write this at 6 a.m. on saturday, the air temperature is 57 degrees. That kind of scenario creates an overnight water chilling that the better part of daytime must undo and warm up for the flats fishing to provide viable and consistent results.

And yesterday's inshore fishing provided nothing unexpected. I made this particular trip with my friend Don Eichin who shares with me the compulsion to be on the water before the sun rises. This may be aesthetically desirable, but self-defeating when bonefishing in SOFLA'S winter waters.

I was glad to be back in my boat, which was sidelined not just for repairs but thoroughly avoided for 2 weeks as the last thing I wanted to do was cope with the holiday crowding in the marinas and waterways.

At first light, we looked for bird activity as well as baitfish signs. Though we found both, the last of the incoming spring tide only gave up a few jacks.

By the time the tide was going out decently, the sun was high enough to start flats fishing. The way I bonefish in Biscayne Bay this time of year is to either run south and pole around the ocean side of Islandia in 5 feet of water looking for bunched bonefish schools or chummimg flats dropoffs. Today's plan involved the latter as Don does not do much poling.

We did have two separate encounters with huge bonefish. One of them spooked at my cast, while the other fish simply swam over a perfectly-placed cast. The other fish we saw were a tiny trio of fish that slipped over the flats edge into the deep before we could get off a decent cast.

Rather than wait for a few more hours of sunshine to thaw out the gray ghost hesitation, I repositioned my skiff over the flats edge and we began jigging the channel deeps.

Don used spin tackle, while I used my plug outfit with an Ambassador reel, Evolution rod, and 1/2 ounce Spro bucktail in the Magic Bus color scheme.

It was clearly Don's day. His first catch was a nice green jack, which is rare for this bay. He also caught a huge and brightly-colored coronet fish. His next significant catch was a 5-pound bonefish. This delighted Don, since this was his second bonefish-but his first on artificial. For my part, I caught a few jacks and snapper, plus a nice mackerel.

Though the results were modest, the day was filled with fun, fellowship, and fair skies.

Jan Maizler
Jan Maizler's Amazon Blog

Friday, January 02, 2009

Images of Roatan, Barbaretta, Morat, Kevin Bodden, and Tropical Beach Resort (2003) by Jan Maizler

Though Tropical Beach Resort is no more, this great destination and the fabulous island of Roatan- featuring guides Kevin Bodden and Perry Cooper-gave photog. Art Blank and I some of our greatest island and flats fishing adventures. These are memories I'll never forget!

Thursday, January 01, 2009



Jan Stephen Maizler

My day with Captain Leon Davis began in the wake of a large passing cold front in the winter of 2006. The skies were bright blue that morning and were highlighted by patches of tiny white “mackerel” clouds. The chilliness in the air and no doubt, the water, certainly would be a factor in our hunt for the snook and redfish in shallow Florida Bay.

In these environs and conditions, Captain Leon and I concluded this would be a challenging experience. Days like this reminded me that the joy of fishing should be based on quality, not quantity.

The winds were blowing out of the North at a brisk 15 to 20 M.P.H. Captain Leon had a definite strategy in mind for these conditions, a game plan he employs with regularity for this time of year. This involved running North way up to the Florida mainland.

Firstly, this would get us out of the wind. Secondly, the muddy, dark-bottomed habitat warmed by the late winter sun would attract lots of snook and redfish in search of a “heating blanket.”

After we loaded his vessel with all the necessary tackle, equipment, and supplies, we took out some time for a brief discussion as to his choice of a boat, motor, and accessories. Captain Leon was delighted with his new rig, a 19-foot Ranger Cayman flats boat powered by a 200 H.P. Mercury Optimax engine.

Captain Leon said he focused almost exclusively on backcountry fishing, which means daily forays across the huge open waters of Florida Bay. Captain Leon said he often deals with bumpy seas that might suddenly turn into snaking shallow channels through exposed flats.

Couple these watery demands with periodic nasty weather systems that he’d have to outrun, and he knew his rig would need to be “ large-enough, solid, good-tracking, shallow-running, and plenty fast.” I’d find out throughout the day that his rig was all these things, and more. It was clear to me that the ultralight, ultrashallow-running types of flats boats were less appropriate in these potentially large and rough waters.

Captain Leon fired up his rig and we eased out of beautiful Dove Creek Lodge, where I was staying. As he got out of the harbor, he turned to me and said, “ put your cap on the console clip and hang on.” He pushed down the throttle all the way, and I finally understood what Captain Kirk intended when he told Scotty, “ Warp drive.”

We ran south along the Atlantic shoreline to Tavernier Creek Marina, where we obtained some nice, lively shrimp. As we idled away from the marina, I took advantage of the no- wake requirements of the winding creek to learn more about Captain Leon and his life of fishing.

I learned that Leon had been fishing for the last thirty years, and that he comes from a family that has about one hundred years fishing experience. His life as a fisherman is one of transformation. He spent the bulk of his native Floridian life doing commercial fishing, where the numbers of fish caught were central to his livelihood. About ten years ago, he became a backcountry skiff guide. He was successful in short order due to his extensive knowledge and friendly personality. Though he put his customers on plenty of fish, he realized that it was a win-win situation for the resource, fish stocks, and anglers alike to practice catch and release fishing as much as possible. This was not always an easy goal when you consider the prospect of golden-fried fillets of redfish, snook, or seatrout. His remarks seemed to reinforce my earlier thoughts about fishing being more about quality than quantity.

As we eased through the mangroves, Captain Leon said, “ I feel I lead a blessed life.” He has his wonderful life on Florida Bay, his parents were alive and well in North Florida, and he had the best companion in Marjorie Smith, noted Keys artist. Captain Leon was totally without pretense and was thankfully free of “King Guide” syndrome: with him, there was no yelling about a missed fish, because he knew there would always be another.

Better yet, any and all customers are welcome on the Reel Ranger, including children, elderly, and physically challenged customers. Leon said he greatest goal was for his clients to have fun on beautiful Florida Bay. I thought to myself, “ who could fail to like this man?”

Tavernier Creek came to an end and the bay appeared before us…more warp drive and off we sped on the Reel Ranger towards the warming muddy shallows of the mainland. Islands would seem to float in the distance. As we plowed towards them, they’d take on more shape, color, and detail.

Captain Leon’s gaze was totally fixed on the water ahead of us. As it rushed under the skiff, he’d make sharp turns into tiny channels through huge flats again and again.
His deft piloting left me free to gaze and dream.

About a mile ahead on the emerald bay, I spotted an island that was almost totally white. I tapped Leon’s shoulder, and pointed at this curiosity. He smiled back and said, ‘watch.” In half a minute more, the island lifted skyward in a hundred different directions. The mystery was solved in a few more seconds as we shot under countless numbers of migratory white pelicans. This was the magic of Florida Bay- my day was already made!

In about half an hour, Captain Leon took the Reel Ranger off plane and eased toward a green wall of mangroves. Moments later, he cut the engine, grabbed the pushpole, and mounted the poling tower.

Moments later, he pointed into the distance and said, “ about one hundred feet at twelve o’ clock, there’s a wake headed towards us.” I saw it immediately, and grabbed an ultralight spinning outfit rigged with “2/8 pound Powerpro, 30 pound fluorocarbon leader, and 1/8 ounce white Spro bucktail. Since I was using artificials in shallow water, I knew my cast would have to land well ahead and beyond the wake. This, for two reasons: Firstly, I’d need lots of “lead” to keep the lure retrieve working well above of the grass. Secondly, I knew the fish’s tails made the wake and their heads would precede the wake by a good two feet.

When I felt comfortable about my casting range, I feathered a good cast into the water and began my retrieve immediately. When my line intersected the area ahead of the wake, there was a big swirl and my rod pulled down. Not far in the distance, a brownish-silver snook of about six pounds broke the surface and shook its head. Suddenly my rod straightened and line came loose as the lure flew out of its mouth. Leon laughed and said, “that’s a good first try.”

I reeled in my trusty little Spro to check the leader for chafing, and felt cold water dripping off the lure. I mentioned this to Leon and he said, “ let’s hope the dark bottom and rising sun do their job on this water.”

We poled along the shoreline for another ten minutes as I fan-casted the area from the shoreline to about twenty feet out. I had another light bump, but no solid hookup. Suddenly Leon spun the skiff to the left and put his skiff “on point” to a tailing redfish of about ten pounds. He eased the skiff towards the fish. Between pounding heartbeats, I planned my casting strategy. This presentation would have to be closer, as the fish was feeding downward in dark water. My first retrieve went unnoticed. My second cast only got a half-hearted strike, and the fish disappeared.

The pattern was clear: slow-moving snook and redfish spotted every ten minutes. All the fish were there primarily for a sunbath, not a meal. The sun rose and the water warmed, but no change. But I didn’t care. There was so much to see and experience: a day of quality, not quantity.


Dove Creek is the creation of Snappers Restaurant owner Howard Kolbenheyer. He built the lodge about two years ago “as a place to provide the serious fisherman with everything to pursue his passion.”

Dove Creek Lodge has fourteen units that range in size from straightforward lodge rooms for two, to luxury apartments suites big enough for the whole family. The interiors have a Keys motif-artistic, crisp, yet homey- that will satisfy you. My suite was chock full of excellent fishing art, and boasted a striking Atlantic view upstairs and plush pool table downstairs.

The lodge has a luxurious lobby that retains a high-end angler’s destination feel with mounted fish and a fishing library. Outside, there is a well-appointed pool and hot tub for post-fishing restoration, or just plain relaxing and socializing. According to Howard, Dove Creek Lodge is hooked up to the World Wide Web in each room, as well as by “wireless” out around the pool.

Howard has designed Dove Creek Lodge to provide a range of services that has a broad appeal for both angling and non-angling travelers. This is an ideal destination for family events and corporate retreats that need full service while retaining centralization. Non-anglers can enjoy eco tours, snorkeling, swimming with dolphins, and a game of golf, to name just a few activities.

Boaters will be delighted with Dove Creek Lodge’s Oceanside marina. It hosts a 14 slip floating dock that is available to Lodge guests that would like to bring their own boats as well as Dove Creek guests needing a charter boat pickup. It’s always a pleasure to have your guide waiting in a ready skiff for you just a few steps from your room.

At this time, the lodge has four “resident” flats and backcountry guideboats as well as two offshore/bluewater vessels. Howard said he had plans to add another six guides to the Dove Creek roster in the future. It’s a wise practice to book a Dove Creek guide as well in advance of your stay as possible, as many are booked a year in advance. By all means, if you do not have a guide when you book reservations at the Lodge and you want one, speak with Lodge Manager Jeff Baci, and he will do his best to accommodate you.

Dove Creek Lodge has some future plans you’ll want to know about. According to Howard, late spring will see the opening of Dove Creek Outfitters, which will specialize in the finest tackle, equipment, clothing, and boat charters. This will be adjacent to their oceanfront resort on the Atlantic side of Key Largo.

As a resort and restaurant owner, Howard Kolbenheyer clearly has an adventurous and visionary spirit. He mentioned that a project currently under negotiation that he hopes to realize is daily floatplane bonefishing trips from Dove Creek Lodge to the Bahamas. He felt that this project was doable because the pilot he is talking to is also a crack bonefish guide. I found this unique prospect almost intoxicating as it conjured up visions of flying into the rising sun, wading for and hooking bonefish on Andros Island,
and returning to the Lodge just in time to salute the setting sun over cocktails and dinner. Wow!

It’s a surprise and fun convenience to have Snapper’s Restaurant mere steps from Dove Creek Lodge. Rooms, amenities, and eatery form an excellent resort complex sculpted into a Keys Atlantic Harbor.

Walk through the front door of Snapper’s or stroll through the seawall entrance, and you’ve entered an experience that features gourmet waterfront dining in a casual Keys atmosphere. You can enjoy fresh seafood, Floribbean cuisine, prime steaks, tropical drinks, and delicious deserts. If you choose to sit outside by the water’s edge, you can watch the resident schools of tarpon circle enticingly beneath you as you dine.

Snapper’s restaurant is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. On Sundays, there’s a delightful champagne jazz brunch featuring live entertainment. It’s always a good idea to make reservations at this ever-popular eatery.


As you head south through Key Largo on the Overseas Highway, turn left at Mile Marker 94.5 at the (Oceanside) Snappers/Dove Creek sign. Take Seaside Avenue a short distance to Dove Creek Lodge and Snapper’s Restaurant.

147 Seaside Avenue
Key Largo, Florida 33037
1-800-401-0057 or 1-305-852-6200
Rental car and airport transfers are available on request


Postscript- Leon Davis has passed away, leaving a big hole in the Keys fishing community. He was a fine captain and good man.
Jan Maizler
Jan Maizler's Amazon Blog
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