Monday, September 28, 2009

Back to Summer Basics...

I'd given up on the mullet run for the time being and returned to an old summer haunt.

Despite early fall skies of sheared-off clouds and southwest winds, the summer put up its' dukes with blasting heat and cicadas chirping from shoreline trees and was winning the match by 8 A.M. I stuck with the latter opponent and found loads of tarpon...which, for the most part weren't eating- save one! With the help of a "heavy" 12-pound rod and a half-dozen jumps, I had a nice 60-pound tarpon at the boat for release within 10 minutes.

Things felt better again!


Friday, September 25, 2009

A Quick Look Back at 2009 Trips and Stories- Past, Present and Future

Captain Butch Constable -February- Jupiter/Stuart mackerel, bluefish, cobia.

Captain Mike Smith- March- Sanibel snook.

Captain Rick Sawyer- April - Green Turtle Cay big ocean bonefish.

Captain Ralph Allen/Wyvern Hotel- April- Punta Gorda snook, redfish, seatrout

Tranquility Bay Resort- May-Ambergris Caye, Belize bonefish, tarpon, barracuda.

Nantahala Outdoor Center/Watershed Cabins- June- Bryson City, N.C. rainbow trout.

Los Suenos ( ) Costa Rica- July- jacks (urel), mackeral, tuna.

Captain Brian Woelber/Savannah Beach Inn-August- seatrout, flounder, redfish, bluefish.

Pitt River Lodge, B.C. - August- bull trout, chinook salmon, sockeye salmon.

Captain Nathaniel Lemmon- September- Mosquito Lagoon redfish and seatrout.

Captain Greg Snyder-September- Stuart snook and seatrout.

Mullet Run?....

I scrapped using my skiff today in order to cover the bay bridges last night and the beaches at dawn.

I only saw a few unresponsive tarpon last night at an otherwise well-known bridge hotspot. There were no mullet. I tried three other bridges with various lures and had no strikes nor did I see any mullet schools. Last year was quite different-more windy and less summery at this time. I also cannot fail to notice how poor the fishing has gotten in all parts of Biscayne Bay compared to twenty five years ago- and that really includes the bonefishing.

On the report of a friend who caught a snook along the beachfront three days ago, I worked the surf off North Beach for two hours starting at dawn. No strikes, no mullet.

Looks like I'll revert to more summertime strategies.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Safety and Angling Travel....

I've commented recently that although islands like Roatan are literally offshore of Honduras, they are still a part of that nation and its' current unrest FROM A PSYCHOLOGICAL POINT OF VIEW.

Recall the claims of camps and lodges from both sides of the Yucatan that their regions had no swine flu- but angling tourism slowed down significantly anyway.

It's a far better strategy for operators south and outside of the USA to see to it their countries are stable through lobbying efforts than by claiming their countries' problems do not affect them.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A White Sport Coat and My Obfuscation

Well, boo hoo hoo- but here goes. Fresh from the ignominy of blowing last Friday by quitting before the morning t-storms had a chance to show what they'd do, I swore allegiance to purposeful perseverance regardless of what weather the dawn would reveal today. In addition, I prepared about a dozen outfits that would take on anything from jacks to mackeral to snook and tarpon- after all, everyone was trumpeting the mullet run. My exuberance was almost downright innocent- parted hair, clean nails, etc. (ugh).

I showed up quite early at the ramp and stuck around. I launched my boat in the dark amidst freshening winds which would later peak at 15 mph. The sliver of yesterdays' new moon had disappeared, promising very high water, what with the onshore breeze helping the rising spring tide right smack dab in the middle of yep, high fall tides.

Dawn attempted an appearance, but multiple showers blocked its' act. It rained here and there, so I dodged showers 'til I got some clear sky. The water was too rough to see any rolling tarpon, so I staked out where I thought they'd be. I jumped off a tiny fish on bait and then lost another high-jumping junior who blasted my red and white Yo-Zuri literally next to my skiff, then jumped and tossed the hardware seemingly at my face.

I saw a few jack schools hitting the beginnings of our mullet run, but they were too quickly on the move. I motored on to a grassflat in the hopes a catching a tarpon blindly, but the bay only gave up some snapper, seatrout, and small 'cudas. I felt justified packing it in and came back to the boat ramp where the piers were completely under water. Getting my skiff on the trailer was not the usual dry and crisp affair I like it to be.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

An Afternoon Peek...

I was able to scout Haulover Beach ( off A1A- North Dade County) this afternoon and saw a few schools of mullet trickling down the beach. This is in contrast to a report from Jupiter Inlet that tells of numerous mullet at night getting blasted by snook. More later...


Sunday, September 13, 2009

My First Day of Fall....

The wind is out of the northwest, the clouds have "pancaked", and the air is drier. I've heard reports from Fort Pierce that the mullet are headed south. So just for today, it's the first day of fall!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Another Southwick Associates Survey

For Immediate Release: September 10, 2009

Survey: Majorities of hunters and anglers believe license fees are used exclusively for fish and wildlife conservation

Majorities of both hunters and anglers believe that 100% of their state hunting and fishing license fees are spent for fish and wildlife conservation and for nothing else, according to two recent surveys.

In separate August 2009 surveys from and, hunters and anglers were asked how they think their states spend the funds collected from hunting and fishing license fees. About 33% of hunters and 37% of anglers said they believe that the money from license fees is used only for fish and wildlife conservation.

Just 16.5% of hunters and 15% of anglers said they believe that the money from hunting and fishing licenses goes into the general state treasury, where it is spent for many different purposes, including education, road maintenance, and other expenses, as well as for conservation of fish and wildlife.

About 29% of hunters and 27% of anglers believe that license funds are shared between fish and wildlife and the general state treasury, while 22% of hunters and 21% of anglers stated that they don’t know how the money is spent.

By participating in the and surveys, you will be automatically entered to win a monthly drawing for a $100 gift certificate at your favorite outdoor retailer. Better yet, you will also be automatically entered in the annual drawing for a $1,000 outdoor gear shopping spree! To get started, go to, or and click Take the Survey.

Launched in 2006,, and help the outdoor equipment industry, government officials and conservation organizations track consumer activities and expenditure trends. The information above represents only a small sample of the vast amount of data that is available from the complete survey results. The results are scientifically analyzed to reflect all U.S. anglers, hunters and target shooters. Find out how a subscription to the complete survey data can help your business, government agency or organization.

DonnaSouthwick Associates
PO Box 6435
Fernandina Beach, FL 32035


I'd been looking forward to a return bout with the tarpon and prepared the night before with relish. I checked the radar map at 4 a.m. which revealed little storm activity. An hour later, as I headed to a local boat ramp with my boat in tow, much of north Biscayne Bay became carpeted with heavy rain and an occasional lightning flash. The weather report-which I rarely trust- called for numerous showers, but I always gaze at the conditions myself for a better estimate.

The rain continued into early dawn, which is the usual time for the tarpon bite in these locales. Though the weather was letting up, my experience indicated that the silver kings hereabouts were never happy with lightning and thunder, so I scrapped my plans. It did clear up to a sunny day by 9 a.m. with the summer sun burning off the clouds and I'm really not sure or happy about my decision to not fish.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Little Palm Island Reprise...

Escape to Little Palm Island


Jan S. Maizler

Little Palm Island is the embodiment of pacific tropical magic set in the beautiful Florida Keys. With environs, lodgings, amenities, and appointments on the highest scale of excellence and luxury, it is a six-star destination in a five-star world.

Its pristine expressions are supported by its offshore placement, reachable only by boat or seaplane. The first thing that any angler will notice is the abundance of lush flats against the island. There is a crystal-clear moat that surrounds most of the island quite close to the steps that lead you to your thatched oceanfront suite.

During the days, plump mangrove snapper and colorful wrasses circle the island for your viewing pleasure. As the sun goes down and surrenders the sky to a starry blue nightfall,
countless tarpon flood the island moat.

After a memorable gourmet fusion dinner in the Dining Room, stroll down to the Atlantic Docks, slip into a lounger and enjoy the parade of silver kings as they swim after pink-colored shrimp. You may find that your adrenaline gets the best of you and you find yourself headed back to your suite for your fly rod!

Once your rod is in hand, take a breath and steady yourself. Even if your concierge hasn’t told you yet-and he will, if he sees your fishing rods- when nightfall comes to Little Palm Island, the Sunset Dock is the tarpon epicenter. Make your way through the torch-lit, palm-studded path to the Island’s northwest corner, and walk to the end of the pier- you’ll probably find tarpon of all sizes in numbers that are impressive.

Now, focus on catching a Little Palm tarpon and discard all distractions. There’s no doubt that your wife, friends, and family are pleasantly caught up somewhere in their plush rooms, strolling amidst the greenery, enjoying a libation at the Monkey Hut Bar, or gazing mesmerized at the star-studded sky. Keep switching lures or flies and no doubt, you’ll hook a silver king right on the island.

You could even fall prey to the Island Spell with the balmy breeze, starry night, the silver kings, and lose all track of time. A pleasant sensation, but fight it off as the moon drops, since you’ll need a little sleep and energy for early tomorrow morning, when your skiff guide will pick you up within steps of your oceanfront suite.

Amidst the magic of Little Palm Island, you’ll have to tell yourself that tomorrow is another day, which is exactly what I said to myself at 2 a.m. after, I jumped three fish. It was easy to find my suite along the moonlit tropical path as a tasteful sign saying, “Owl Suite- Jan Maizler”, led me right to my lodging. As the ceiling fan spun overhead, I eased into the massive bed, and plunged into a peaceful reverie of my entrĂ©e to Little Palm Island. A series of recalled images whirled by…memories of a delightful trip over the ocean from Little Torch Key onto Little Palm Island aboard the thirty five-foot launch, Miss Margaret. A pre-check-in tour of the island which featured a Spa, fitness center, lagoon-style pool, boutique and gift shop, library, and the two bars and dining room. Soon, I descended into a deep, peaceful sleep.

A brisk knock on my door awakened me. I surfaced quickly and on my way to answer it, my alarm clock joined in on the wakeup brigade. I could make out the beginning glow of a cloud-spotted dawn through one of the southern windows of my suite. I opened the door and there stood Captain Fernand Braun, ready, willing, and able. I told him I’d be “right back” (a relative term) and made a writer’s rounds of gear, tackle, note pad, pen, coffee, and camera. When I got back to the half-open door, Fernand said, “ssshhh, stay still- it’s a nice buck.” In my pre-coffee state, I had no idea what he meant until his hand went on point and I followed it to a large Key deer munching in the grass in a gently lit clearing barely fifty feet away. I smiled and said, “ looks like we’ve already hunted something down.”

We headed towards the Atlantic Dock mere steps from my suite. As we turned through the shrubs onto the dock planks, I could see his skiff. It was an impressive rig: a seventeen- foot Maverick HPX, powered by a shiny ninety-horsepower Evinrude. I quickly concluded that this was just the right kind of skiff to get us quickly across big open waters, yet be able to ease across tailing flats as well. The interior was spotless and was laid out perfectly with flush open casting decks for fly and light tackle fishing.

As Fernand started loading my fishing tackle onboard, I lifted up my ten-pound plug rod and said, “weapon of choice.” We both had a brief talk about how rare baitcasting tackle was getting on the flats, compared to spin and fly tackle. In my case, I’ve had plug rods under my thumb with weekly regularity since the Beatles invaded the States.

In the low light that preceded sunrise, he laid out his plans and strategy to start the day. We’d be heading out into the backcountry about ten miles to the north, where he’d been finding large schools of rolling tarpon on the preceding three days. His words had the effect of a jolt of Greek coffee- my adrenal glands fired up at the prospect of battling leaping tarpon under a dawn sky amongst those seemingly limitless shallows. Fernand fired up his engine and we began to ease through the crystal clear moat that surrounded part of the island. I took this time to rig the business end of my plug rod with three feet of doubled line, three feet of fifty-pound fluorocarbon leader, and a quarter-ounce white Spro bucktail.

Once we got into open water, he gunned the throttle and off we flew towards the Gulf. The smooth ride and my position alongside Fernand gave me a chance to get to interview him as to his background and to his current life as a fishing guide. I asked him questions and he answered them as we flew over the emerald-colored bay.

Captain Fernand Braun is one of the “house guides” at Little Palm Island, yet he guides independently as well. His background is indeed rich and fascinating and includes expertise in judo as well as food and beverage. In years past, he was one of the first commercial fishing divers to turn away from the pursuit of jewfish- now called goliath grouper- because of his concerns for their overharvesting. His stance helped form the support for regulations that have increased the number of these fish in the deepwater and wreck habitats.

For approximately the last twenty years, Fernand has been a professional charter captain. In a refreshing expansion of this work, he offers not only flats fishing, but also photographic expeditions and eco-tours. Further, everyone from novice to expert and from kids to adults is welcome on his vessel. Fernand is an instructor in fly casting and fly fishing, yet enthusiastically encourages the use of all forms of light tackle. It was a nice start to a fishing trip to know I was with a professional diver and photographer as well as fishing guide.

We arrived at his backcountry destination a short time later under an early morning sky patched with light showers and blocks of blue. Fernand said, “hang on” as he suddenly reached for the throttle to slow down his skiff. As the boat coasted towards a rain-misted sun, he cut the engine.

Fernand stood up, pointed, and said, “ 11 o’clock- about 100 feet.” It didn’t take long for me to see a tarpon roll in one spot, then another tarpon roll in another spot. Fernand seemed to sense where I was looking and said, “ no…more to the left.” Then I saw what he meant- a school of about thirty or forty “happy” tarpon slowly rolling and traveling towards us. On the flat surface of these backcountry waters, it was easy to see school of the same size about eighty feet behind this first group of fish. Fernand climbed onto the pushpole tower and began polling their way. I, in turn, climbed to the bow casting deck. The moment of truth arrived with the first of school of tarpon about fifty feet away. I tossed a perfect cast well in front of the fish and watched my bucktail disappear behind a whitish silver flash as my rod pulled down with a vicious strike. I struck back, and a fifty-pounder went airborne. Though I quickly bowed to the fish, a quick snap of its’ head threw the bucktail.

The first school of tarpon was already behind the boat, but voila!, here came the next school. I quickly checked my leader for chafes, resharpened the hook and plunked off another good cast. In two sweeps of the rod, another tarpon struck hard, and I struck back. Fortunately, the fish didn’t jump at first and began to run. I struck the fish twice more and line poured off my reel in a battle that was settling into a safer “ground game”. It took me about fifteen minutes and two jumps to get the tarpon alongside the boat. We guessed its’ weight was around forty-five pounds, an excellent catch on tackle normally used to catch five pound bass. We took some photos, and “breathed” the fish until it was strong enough to swim away. Fernand said, “that’s the hardest part of the Grand Slam. Let’s go find a permit”.

He only ran his skiff about five minutes before he cut his engine and pointed to a school of really large tarpon in a channel. We were drifting their way and they were swimming our way: who could resist? I tied on a slightly heavier bucktail and cast twenty feet in front of the apparent lead fish. I got a solid strike immediately and struck back. It felt like I had hooked a freight train. Though nothing jumped, Fernand saw the line disappearing from my reel and started the engine to follow the fish. This next battle took about half an hour in slightly deeper channel water and yielded a beautiful trophy barracuda of about twenty-five pounds. We released the fish and again cranked up for the permit flats.

About ten minutes later Fernand eased off the throttle, cut the engine, climbed the tower, and astonishingly said, “one hundred feet at one o’clock”. I gazed in that direction in the hopes of seeing a sea of black sickles, but instead saw a large group of circling whitish silver tails. This was a group of really large bonefish. For the Grand Slam’s sake, I grabbed a spinning rod baited with a live crab and fired off a cast that landed about ten feet in front of the tailing fish. The tails disappeared and my line came tight. I struck hard and the line began to fly off the reel. However, the run didn’t seem hard enough or long enough. In five minutes, we released an eight-pound bonnethead shark. The bonefish were gone and as we fired up his rig for a fourth try for permit, the light showers off to our north had consolidated into a huge threatening thunderstorm. This persuaded us that heading back to Little Palm Island was the right thing to do. In the few hours that we had been fishing, the action had been excellent.

The Resort-

Little Palm Island is designed to provide a lifetime experience for couples, friends, and family members over sixteen years of age. There are thirty rooms: twenty-eight of them are thatched oceanfront suites and two are Island grand suites. It’s important for you to be aware that this destination is one of the most highly-awarded of exotic resorts, because of the ultimate treatment you and yours will receive: attention is paid to every possible detail by staff that is warm, caring, and giving.

It is also a brilliant destination for any non-angling wives. As you fish the flats of the lower Keys or ply its blue waters for sailfish or marlin, your spouse may be gratefully partaking of the following amenities and appointments.
*Personalized stationary
*Cold towels on the beach
*Breakfast served on your private deck
*Treatments at the Spa
*Cozy reading at the library
*Shopping for gifts
*Working out
*Hunting around for the numerous Key Deer on the island.
*A swim in the sea or the pool, followed by a discrete rinse in your suite’s outdoor shower or enjoy a warm bath in your suite’s jetted tubs.
*A trip on Little Palm’s dive boat to some of the most beautiful reefs in the world.

After you return from fishing, have your catch cooked in the Dining Room or enjoy their gourmet fare right there. If you desire, have them set up your supper on the sand right at the water’s edge as you watch a magnificent sunset. Have a drink after dinner, wander its forests, or watch the stars. After a long day’s fishing, you can both return to your suite, and find your canopied bed turned down and the room lit by numerous candles. Little Palm Island is a destination any angler owes to himself, wife, friends, or family at least once in his life. Like other peak experiences, you’ll find yourself craving to return again and again…

Drive south along the Florida Keys Overseas Highway for 120 miles until you get to Little Torch Key and MM 28.5. Turn left on Pirate’s Road- Look for the Little Palm Island bus shelter and turn left into the parking lot. This is where you will register and depart for the island on one of their hourly motor yachts.


Little Palm Island Resort and Spa
28500 Overseas Highway
Little Torch Key, Florida 33042
Toll-Free Phone: 1-800-3-GET-LOST
Phone: 305-872-2524
Email: click CONTACT US on their website

Captain Fernand Braun
P.O.Box 430660
Big Pine Key, Florida 33043-0660
Phone: 305-872-9052

Jan Maizler

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Laying Low...

I guess I find myself midway between those stark wilderness Grizzly Adams types and the tournament elbow-rubbers- the Artic Circle or Boca Grande: keep 'em both!

But when it's holidays, weekends, or worse, holiday weekends, I'm as far away as I can be from that scene.

Maybe now is the time for like-minded anglers fringing on Urbania to keep to the wee hours and fish the shadows under bridge lights. If there's bait coming through, and even better, with some wind, maybe a snook or tarpon will come to your presentation. It's better than walking 200 yards just to get into your tow rig and who knows, maybe one night in all this heat, you'll look up and remember the sky!


Friday, September 04, 2009

Fishing 'Tween the Storms...

The span of time today between the early thunderstorms that burn off and the Everglades buildups was only 4 hours. I saw lots of tarpon, but had no strikes. Large surface-striking jacks improved the morning as I released 2 -8-pounders on plug tackle. The morning closed with the release of a 20-pound 'cuda.

Some especially memorable visuals of the day began with easing up to a fishy "wake" backlit by an eastern sky which pitted the rising sun against the rolling packed bulges of a huge thunderstorm. One sweep of the rod and I hooked up with the first of the jacks referenced above.

The more remarkable image/moment came as I watched a porpoise right alongside my idling skiff pursue a terrified jack around a channel marker. The porpoise came after its' prey with patience, but the jack -also an ambush tactical genius- kept loop-de-looing around the marker and seemed to evade its' blow-holed predator until exhaustion took its' toll. One quick surge and the jack disappeared down sweet Flipper's maw.