"Subject: Update on my trip down to Sebastian River" by Charlee Barnes

Sent: Wednesday, May 15, 2019 7:17 PM
To: Steve Densley

Tom got here on Tuesday, April 30th, and we loaded up and headed down to Sebastian on Wednesday. Tom’s second favorite thing to do is shop yard sales, flea markets, antique shops, and he made me stop at every one we saw. Finally got to Sebastian, got checked in, and had some dinner.

I had received good information from a local angler and YouTuber Pete Hinck (a.k.a. Palm Beach Pete), and we launched at the first spot he suggested on Tuesday. The wind was too much to venture too far, but we both got a few strikes, but we were not seeing any tarpon. I paddled in to get my gloves and met a retired guide named John. He knows Pete, and he pointed us up river about 5 miles. He said tarpon stay up there until June. That is where we headed the next day.

One thing Tom forgot to tell me was that he had injured his shoulder skiing, and he wasn't able to lift up over his head much. That made unloading and loading two kayaks a pretty hard job. We managed to get them in the water and headed up river. Tarpon were rolling in deep water in the middle of the river. We saw and cast to dozens of them. Fussy fish, and hard to interest. OK, I will admit, neither Tom or I have much real experience tarpon fishing, but at least we found some. 

I did hook a Mayan Cichlid while fishing tight to the mangrove banks, but we were unable to get the tarpon interested in our flies. We continued upstream for the rest of the morning, and we did catch a few other fish. By 2 p.m., it was looking like the weather might become a problem, so we started back downstream. 

Just at about the boat ramp, we found a cove that was showing signs of feeding fish. We stopped there within sight of the ramp and started catching fish right away. Tarpon were rolling in the cove, but we still couldn't hook them. I was able to get some snook, lady fish, snapper, and even a catfish. 

Afternoons in Florida are always a problem. Wind comes up, and more often than not, we get thunder showers. As the weather got threatening, we headed in.

I was fishing both my 6 and 8 weight Double XX rods, and they were working beautifully. With the new Premium #6 line, I was throwing up to 90' of line whenever I wanted to. And the MAX III reel feels just right on the 6 weight rod.

After a second day of catching no tarpon but plenty of smaller assorted fish, we decided to go across the lagoon and fish while wading. We were not able to get the kayaks on or off the car without asking someone to help out. That evening, we went south to explore some of the flats. I hooked up with a good-sized red fish, but lost him after about 10 minutes.

Wading out in much of the lagoon near Sebastian Inlet is no problem while there is a dredged boat channel, but most of the shore on both sides is less than three-feet deep, even out 100 yards. Found lots of bait, but nothing on our lines. Tom was fishing his T-- M------- rod, and I swapped him my Double XX for a while. We agreed these were both good rods, and Tom felt the Double XX was a just a little faster. His M------- was a #7, and he was using a 9 weight line, so that may have made the M------- rod feel slower.

Then we decided to hit the beach, and try some surf fishing. The first beach we tried started producing fish right off. For about 2 hours, we were hitting something on every casts. We each broke fish off with 20# tippet. My best guess is that they were larger snook, but we never saw them. We did land several lady fish, and many grunts, these are an 8” to 10" bait fish. The grunts were feeding on glass minnows in the surf, and were just off the beach in the first trough.

The next morning we were back at the beach by 7:15. Low tide was at 6:30, and the incoming tides were bringing bait right up to the break. All morning, we hooked up with fish. Lady fish, grunts, snook, and finally, Tom hooked and jumped a nice tarpon.

The surf fishing was a good test of my 8 weight Double XX, and the Prime line, both handled it well. I am not sure if the MAX reels are saltwater proof, but since I always was off all my gear every night, everything held up well. The surf gets salt water and sand into everything, including your shoes and pant cuffs. Way back when I did a lot of skiing, we used to ski powder that would come up and hit you in the face; surf fishing is like that, only the waves smack you harder than the snow. Everything gets knocked around pretty good. Casting into the surf with the Prime line was never a problem. The line floats well and picks up off the top of the waves nicely. The more I fish with these products, the more I like them.

While there are many more expensive options in rods, reels and lines, Maxxon products I have used over this last 9 months have all performed well and have impressed every other angler I have been able to show them to. I don't think anyone has to spend more to get good performance. I, for one, don’t need lifetime tackle. I won't have a full lifetime to wear it all out.

Next week, I am planning on hitting the beach again. Snook are cruising along the beaches all summer, so I will keep fishing for them.





About the Contributor  Charlee is an angler with more than 50 years of fly fishing experience. He’s fished with dozens of different rods reels and lines. During much of his early life, he worked in some good tackle shops and had the opportunity to learn from many others. It was those skills in casting and presentation he was able to develop, which proved to be more important than the tackle he had. 


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