The List

I think most anglers have a few lists to work on. A list of new species to catch, fisheries to explore or the dreaded to-do list which keeps us off the water from time to time. I have all of these and more. After a long drought, I was recently able to check a few items off of my species list. The first fish checked off the list was tripletail. After a long day of shooting in the Everglades for Saltwater Experience I stepped off the camera boat and joined Captains Tom Rowland and Rich Tudor for the ride back to the Blue Moon Expeditions Mothership. We ran the buoy lines in the Gulf just outside the park and I was able to catch my first tripletail on fly.
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Next was a fish I had worked on a few times in the last couple of years: cobia. I had tried a few times in the Broad River in Beaufort, SC but couldn’t get it done. A few weeks ago Captain John Irwin of Fly Right Charters offered to take me out to the local reefs to chase Cobia on fly and I’m hooked. It was my first time nearshore or offshore with a fly rod in hand, the amount of life you can see out there and cast to is amazing. I managed to hook 3 losing 1 to the reef, 1 to a shark and getting 1 to the boat.
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Lastly is the one that has been on my list the longest: Bonnethead shark on fly. It’s not exactly a glamor species, but they are everywhere in our Lowcountry waters in the summer and are a great target. They are strong, 2-4 feet long and are easy to find on nearly any low tide finned out in a few inches of water. This is not to say that they are easy to catch with a fly rod. Over the years, I had sporadically tried to get one on fly but had been handed rejection after rejection. Finally, I caught a couple of little ones fishing in the Keys with Captain Shafter Johnston of Blue Moon Expeditions and thought that I maybe figured out enough to tease a full grown specimen into eating back home. So, I got home and headed straight for a likely flat at low tide and started working them. I hooked 3 that day and although I had multiple mishaps leading to zero landings, I now had the confidence needed to feed them. On my next outing, I went out with my usual fishing partner, Captain Jeremy Mehlhaff of Charleston Shallows and got my first Lowcountry Bonnethead on fly at sunrise on the second cast of the day. I’m still working on decoding them, trying to figure out how to feed them the fly consistently, but for now it’s back to the list to see what’s next.

Bonnethead Shark in shallow water

Bonnethead finned out in an inch or two of water

 

A close up of a fly caught Bonnethead shark in the Florida Keys

A small Keys Bonnethead that fell for a redfish fly

 

Captain Shafter Johnston releases a small Keys Bonnethead Shark

Captain Shafter Johnston releases a small Keys Bonnethead

 

Captain Jeremy Mehlhaff casts to a "tailing" Bonnethead on a low tide Charlaston, SC mud flat

Captain Jeremy Mehlhaff casts to a “tailing” Bonnethead on a low tide mud flat

 

Captain Jeremy Mehlhaff with a nice Bonnethead at sunrise

Captain Jeremy Mehlhaff with a nice Bonnethead at sunrise

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