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Tuesday I hooked up with Steve and Paul down at Flamingo just before sunrise for a trip into the backcountry with their fly rods... The two friends were down at Flamingo for the first time to spend a few days in the backcountry of the Everglades. The plan was pretty simple - they'd fish with me the first day then head out in their skiff for the following few days with at least some idea of what to look for - and how to go about it... Both are skilled fly anglers and tyers but for Steve this was his first time in the salt... They'd spent some time tying for their trip so I made a point of having them use their own creations as much as possible...



Water temps on Tuesday were too cold for any tarpon so our first stop was a shallow run that ladyfish, jacks, and speckled trout use pretty often as a feeding lane - and with almost no wind at dawn we started out tossing topwater bugs... Paul with a Gurgler, and Steve using one of my SpeedBugs (a small white popper with a #1 hook)... Almost every cast across that feeding lane brought a strike from either a ladyfish or a trout. Paul had some difficulty getting hooked up at first until we removed the mono loop weedguard -then he was in business with fish after fish. Here's his first speckled trout...



very carefully released with Steve ready to step up and get across the fish...



Here's Steve's first trout - on a SpeedBug popper



We left them biting and moved along for other species, finding a few small snook wherever we went. The pattern that worked the best had to be Steve's version of a Borski Slider which got slammed by every fish he put it in front of... With two of the three species we needed to complete a backcountry slam we went looking for redfish working up really shallow along several different shorelines. We found fish at several spots but all of them spooked away from us until we moved out of Whitewater Bay and over to the west into Oyster Bay. The redfish there jumped on every properly presented fly - Paul with a yellow and white clouser, Steve with that Borski slider. Here's Paul's first redfish...



nice redfish on an 8wt rod



Next up, Steve found two reds, made a good presentation and he was fast to one that was a bit bigger.. That fish fought all the way to the skiff - was landed - then kicked free just before I could take it's photo (shy I guess...). With that second redfish both anglers had accomplished a backcountry slam on fly (three out of the four species, tarpon, snook, speckled trout, and redfish) a great achievement -particularly on their first time in the backcountry... If the tarpon had been around we'd have had a pretty good shot at a grand slam (all four species by the same angler, the same day...).



Later that day we stopped at a very shallow cove that would allow us to pole along quietly looking for big reds and snook - and they were there (but very spooky...). Each angler got shots at fish we could see cruising slowly just outside the overhanging mangrove shoreline in less than two feet of water... Unfortunately all too often the fish saw us and spooked away after a short bit of stalking our offerings... Spooky fish, and both reds and snook were nearly ten pounds... Steve did manage to catch a small lemon shark on fly as our last fish of the day... Small sharks in the backcountry (lemons and bull sharks mostly...) are very aggressive and will hit a properly presented fly on sight - no chumming needed...



Steve's first "toothy critter" on another Slider...



We left that cove with both anglers making their plans for the next day - when they'd be out on their own...



It was a good day that only needed a bit warmer waters to get the big tarpon back into the interior... The interior "backcountry" areas of the 'glades are the first place each year that the giant tarpon come into shallow waters - just trying to warm up a bit - long before they move on down toward the Keys - so we watch the water temps there very closely this time of year...



For anyone planning a trip down here for the first time - it's a pretty good idea to book a guide if you can afford it for the first day since it's a big, big area and very intimidating for first timers...



Be a hero... take a kid fishing..!
 
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