Editor's note: Capt. Bryan Holeman is a competitor on the Redfish Cup, and guides out of Key West, Fla. Known affectionately as "Bear," Holeman and his clients enjoy year-round success on the flats surrounding Key West, making his insight to flats fishing invaluable to anglers everywhere. Bear's goal with his blog is to inform, inspire and entertain with weekly updates detailing his activities, be it guiding or tales from the RFC tournament trail.
Alright, the last one was a little skimpy on the tips, but I had to introduce myself. Since then, I fished the Redfish Cup at Chalmette, La., (more on that) shot some hogs — hogfish, that is, and took some folks fishing.
At Chalmette, Travis and I were looking good Day One, until the weigh-in. Chalmette is a place where everyone catches 'em, so it's always a really close event, the top 25 were all within one pound, and we had a pound of dead fish penalty. That took us out of the top 10 and basically out of the event. Next is Biloxi, which is the same sort of deal. If we have a good event, we can make it to the Championship. I went out on a friend's Donzi and shot some hogfish and yellowtail that made for a heck of a feast, too. Now to make good on the tips.
Bear's What's working where: Georgia and the Keys
While I'm in Key West, much of what I'm telling you is applicable throughout the Keys. However, I know most of you are not. In order to keep folks from being alienated, I'll give some buddies a call in other areas to see what's going on. For this one, I got Capt. Scott Owens (www.flyfishgeorgia.com/877-605-3474) out of St. Simons Island in Georgia to chime in.
Capt. Scott fishes from St. Simons to Jekyll to Savannah to Jacksonville, Fla. He says the tarpon have shown up in droves. A good day is three to five fish, but one day he jumped nearly 20 fish and landed 11. That's a killer day.
Redfish are around in the flooded grass, look for them to be tailing (see the picture) and toss a light jerkbait with a weedless hook to them. He got some intense video from one of his trips that can be found here: For and easy and fun day on the water, you need to be fishing for jacks.
Capt. Scott says there are world record size jacks on the flats right now. He's been averaging fish in the 28 to 31 pound range, with a 43 pounder thrown in. Check out the photo. These things are ferocious. Cruise the flats looking for them tailing and throw a topwater, jerkbait, live bait, it doesn't really matter, these bruisers eat most anything.
Now for the Keys report
The flats down here have really heated up. Most of the tarpon are gone, but bones and permit are everywhere. While there may still be a few permit around wrecks, you'll find most of them on the flats.
Bonefish are all over the ocean side flats. During the heat of the day, they'll stay in one place and you can whack on 'em pretty good. Look for them where you see signs of life on the flats. Faint puffs of sand give away their exact location and mean they're on the move. They position themselves into the current, so you want to get to where you can toss your bait in front of them and let it drift to them naturally. I like to throw a 2-inch Berkley Gulp! shrimp with split shot crimped above the bait.
Next week we'll see what's going on around the western part of the Gulf.