Flies for the Keys

DogmanDogman Posts: 450 Deckhand
I'm headed down to Sugarloaf Key for the month of July and I'm filling my fly boxes. I've never been to the keys before so I would really appreciate some suggestions on patterns, colors, or anything you can think of. I'm not concerned with catching anything in particular. I'd be happy catching ladyfish and jacks. I just love catching fish on my fly rods. I've tied up a bunch of crab and shrimp imitations and I have a few white/chartreuse, all white and white/olive clousers in various sizes.

If anyone has fished lower Sugarloaf sound and has any tips they would be appreciated. I'm staying on the upper part of Sugarloaf Shores right on the sound.
2013 Native Watercraft Slayer 14.5 (Sand) - His
2010 Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 (Mango) - Hers
________________________________________________
Lost Fishing - You know it's where you'd rather be!

Replies

  • acesoveracesover Posts: 552 Officer
    You might want to ask Sparse Gray, he may be able to help you.
    FYIWFG
  • saltybumsaltybum Posts: 1,572 Captain
    I too am heading south first week in June to Lower Matacumbe and hope to wipe a bonefish off my bucket list. AND I too have many flies for reds and trout but did some searching and plan to tie a few Crazy Chucks and others in tan with a touch of orange.
  • DogmanDogman Posts: 450 Deckhand
    I would love to catch a bonefish, but I don't think I am a good enough caster yet to accomplish that. I'm practising on carp up here but with how our weather has been they are not in where they should be yet. I'll be happy with anything at the end of my line :D
    2013 Native Watercraft Slayer 14.5 (Sand) - His
    2010 Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 (Mango) - Hers
    ________________________________________________
    Lost Fishing - You know it's where you'd rather be!
  • Permit RatPermit Rat Posts: 2,283 Captain
    Dogman wrote: »
    I would love to catch a bonefish, but I don't think I am a good enough caster yet to accomplish that. I'm practising on carp up here but with how our weather has been they are not in where they should be yet. I'll be happy with anything at the end of my line :D

    Dogman, you can do it if you can cast the head of your fly line plus the leader.......about 40 feet. Only thing is that you have to be able to do it fast, with no false casting. But I even have a way around that, which will come later. You want an outgoing tide, preferably the bottom half, so you can be in water shallow enough. You want to put the chum in about knee deep water....maybe a hair deeper.

    Anyway, all you need is one of those flow troll bait buckets, the kind that waders use on the flats. Go to Sugarloaf marina and buy 2-3 dozen live shrimp. Then get in your car and drive down Sugarloaf Blvd. (directly across from the Lodge) to the end and then turn right on Old State Rd. 4a. This actually used to be the old A1A, but I digress. Turn right and go about 2.5 miles to a bridge over Sugarloaf Creek. But before the bridge, you will see on the left, what appears now to be a public ramp. It used to be where John Sammy's house was. This was a wooden Victorian conch house, back in the day, set in like a tropical jungle. It was beautiful, even though no one lived there and it was run down.

    ****...I digressed again. Oh well....walk in the water to the prescribed depth with your bait bucket. most if not all of your shrimp will be dead by now, but that's OK. Find a white spot on the flat and start breaking up the shrimp into little tiny pieces with your hands. The smaller the better. Throw this into the white spot. After you have broken up about 3 shrimp, back off about 40-50 feet directly up-current (that is important for you as a first timer)

    Now make a cast into the chum. You want the fly to land right in the middle of all that cut shrimp. Having done that, put any extra line you may have, back on your reel. If you can cast the required distance without a false cast, all the better. Speed of presentation is paramount and IMO the most important aspect of sight fishing on the flats. If you CANNOT cast that far without a bunch of false casting, just take your time and get the fly into the chum and just leave it there. If you are directly up current like you are supposed to be, then the fly will stay there all afternoon if need be. If and when some bonefish show up, all you have to do is start your retrieve, which should be kind of fast strips, but only about 3 inches long....real short strips. For a fly, I used a crazy Charlie, size 2, in tan or pink....exclusively and I can't remember that fly ever failing me in a chumming situation.

    Because of pinfish, cowfish and other critters, you'll have to add a few more shrimp, about every 20 minutes or so. Have you ever seen a bonefish on the flats? I hope so....because they are not easy to see for beginners.

    But there you go....good luck. That flat will hold a grand slam at various tides. These days there may even be some redfish around but I have never seen one there. However I do know that they have been caught up around Loggerhead Key, which will be the island you see to the East.
    .......Rick
  • DogmanDogman Posts: 450 Deckhand
    Permit thank you so much. That is incredibly helpful. 40 feet is no problem even in a wind. For me it is more of getting it out there without spooking the fish. My delivery isn't great. I've got a few charlies but I'll tie up a few extra. With 30 days down there I hope I can manage one bone :D

    Oh I'll have my kayaks down there too.
    2013 Native Watercraft Slayer 14.5 (Sand) - His
    2010 Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 (Mango) - Hers
    ________________________________________________
    Lost Fishing - You know it's where you'd rather be!
  • saltybumsaltybum Posts: 1,572 Captain
    30 days!!!! You Dog man I only get three real days of fishing then I have to head back to Brevard Co.
    You better post some pictures.
  • sparse greysparse grey Posts: 1,751 Captain
    Dogman Permit knows of what he speaks. Follow his lead & you should do fine. Flat is fairly user friendly with not a lot of soft stuff. Good luck with your efforts. Yak should do well in the sound & bendback, clousers & soft hackle will do for reds & trout. If you do use a yak on the flat mentioned be aware of the strong currents that can be in the channel on the far side.
    Ron Conner Release the fish, keep the memories. Once a Knight is enough.
  • FreeFlyFreeFreeFlyFree Posts: 121 Officer
    Wow I've read about chuming for bonefish in an "old" book (1995) Flyrodding Florida Salt!, you don't find those techniques written in any of the latest fancy bonefishing books... that chumming technique it seems to attract everything that feed on shrimp. That book spoke of also carrying a chumming PVC Pipe like this one and besides the shrimp chunks just throw the pipe up current
  • DogmanDogman Posts: 450 Deckhand
    Dogman Permit knows of what he speaks. Follow his lead & you should do fine. Flat is fairly user friendly with not a lot of soft stuff. Good luck with your efforts. Yak should do well in the sound & bendback, clousers & soft hackle will do for reds & trout. If you do use a yak on the flat mentioned be aware of the strong currents that can be in the channel on the far side.

    Thanks sparse I will listen and heed his advise. Which channel are you referring to? East or west of Sugarloaf Shores?

    @saltybum - I leave on June 29th and go back August 1st. We are spending one day in Cocoa Beach to let my kids see the Atlantic. The rest is all fishing

    I'm staying here
    myplacew.jpg
    If that helps anything.
    2013 Native Watercraft Slayer 14.5 (Sand) - His
    2010 Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 (Mango) - Hers
    ________________________________________________
    Lost Fishing - You know it's where you'd rather be!
  • Permit RatPermit Rat Posts: 2,283 Captain
    I don't think the channel that Sparse Grey is referring to, is in that photo. BTW I don't know how they did it, but the "darker blue" areas in that shot look deceptively deep......like a 25 ft. V-bottom outboard could get up on plane in those areas. Don't be fooled. At least the last time I drove down the Keys, nothing had changed and that whole area is extremely shallow, with a cap rock bottom.

    Your pic mostly shows Section F of Sugarloaf shores. To the far lower left, you can just see the beginnings of Bay Point. If you had dragged your view a little to the NE, you would have seen Sugarloaf Lodge. The piece of water in the very upper right of that photo, is what we called Lower Sugarloaf Sound. The Upper Sound is north of the bridge and you get there by going through Harris Gap....the first bridge to the East of the Lodge. The current rips through there, but the gap is so short that you might be able to make it through. Stick close to the shoreline and I think you can make it.

    Kayakers need to watch out for the channels that enter onto the ocean side.... Tarpon Creek and Sugarloaf Creek. Both are long channels and you will probably wear out before you get half way through. There is another dredged channel that runs from the Lower Sound to the ocean, but I have never been in there, so know nothing about it. This is because the water on the north side is very very shallow, with a hard bottom and I guess I did not want to take a chance on it. But I wouldn't mind checking out the south side, where it hits the ocean. That looks real good to me.
    .......Rick
  • Permit RatPermit Rat Posts: 2,283 Captain
    Wow I've read about chuming for bonefish in an "old" book (1995) Flyrodding Florida Salt!, you don't find those techniques written in any of the latest fancy bonefishing books... that chumming technique it seems to attract everything that feed on shrimp. That book spoke of also carrying a chumming PVC Pipe like this one and besides the shrimp chunks just throw the pipe up current

    FreeFlyFree......Chumming is how all the Sugarloaf guides caught bonefish. The late Harry Snow's skiff never had a poling platform, even after they were invented. A later skiff may have had one, but only because it came with the boat. I don't think he even carried a pole, but I could be wrong on that. Harry drove his skiff from a wheel mounted at the very front of the boat. His anchor was a rather large but thin-tined grapnel that stored within his reach (while he was still seated) and was attached to about 10 ft. of line. Harry could deploy and retrieve his anchor, without leaving his seat behind the wheel.

    All Harry did, was chum bonefish for clients. He was a heavy man....obese by todays standards and he moved around as little as possible. For bonefish, he used about 10 lb. mono tied to a #9 or 10 black swivel and about 8 inches of #2 bright wire. Yes, WIRE! To that he twisted a 3/0 Eagle Claw #189 baitholder hook. (For those of you who don't know, this hook is HUGE....I used a 1/0 and later developed a technique for rigging shrimp with a #2 Mustad 9175....the same hook I used for permit) Anyway, the reason for the wire and big baitholder hook, was that at any time, Harry could remove the shrimp and affix a 10-12 inch rubber worm and his people could then cast for barracuda on the flats in the Winter/early Spring.

    Harry caught a lot of bonefish....12-16 per day on a good one. Lots of double headers for his clients. This is all about 20-30 years before your "old" book was written.

    And it has nothing to do with fly fishing...so I apologize
    .......Rick
  • DogmanDogman Posts: 450 Deckhand
    I don't mind a hard paddle. To be honest up here in the Niagara River the current rips at all times. Gets up to almost 20 knots in some places with the average around 8 I think. I will have fun exploring the sound :D I really appreciate the help and pointers. If you get down that way in July the first beer is on me :D
    2013 Native Watercraft Slayer 14.5 (Sand) - His
    2010 Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 (Mango) - Hers
    ________________________________________________
    Lost Fishing - You know it's where you'd rather be!
  • sparse greysparse grey Posts: 1,751 Captain
    Launching at the ramp Permit mention that channel can have very strong currents in the narrow area.
    Ron Conner Release the fish, keep the memories. Once a Knight is enough.
  • DogmanDogman Posts: 450 Deckhand
    Thanks for the warning I'll keep an eye on the current when I am around that area.
    2013 Native Watercraft Slayer 14.5 (Sand) - His
    2010 Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 (Mango) - Hers
    ________________________________________________
    Lost Fishing - You know it's where you'd rather be!
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