This week the guys from FishingBooker caught up with Captain Fraser Simpson from Fly and Fish with Fraser, one of the captains running regular nighttime fly fishing charters out of Miami. They talked about guiding, fly patterns, and why the nighttime is always the best time to fly fish.
What is it about fly fishing at night that beats traditional daytime fishing?
It’s a lot more relaxed and quiet. The situation is unique in Miami because the Tarpon feed around the bridge lights and one of the natural phenomenons is the shrimp hatch that goes on in the Biscayne Bay flats from January to April. So the Tarpon just sit in the shadows and wait for the shrimp to come through the light and when they do the Tarpon just ambush them there on the spot. So it presents this unique situation where we can just get up there by the bridge and sight fish and the numbers are just incredible. It’s not uncommon to catch at least twenty fish in a night and get lots of them back to the boat. So if somebody is fishing for the first time and they want to get a Tarpon on the fly this is a great way to do it.
Which bridge in Miami is that?
Any of the bridges in Miami with those bright lights will produce. I got my favorites and so do the Tarpon, so you just have to figure out which ones are producing more. I fish a lot in the north area during January and February and then as the season passes, in the summer, I’ll be more on the south side.
Is there any other species you’re targeting on fly other than Tarpon?
Right now there’s also a lot of Snook passing through a lot of the inlets.
Is there any particular equipment you like to use?
I fish with a lot of Nautilus and G. Loomis. You can get a lot of drag on those so you can subdue the fish in a short amount of time. I mean everybody’s got their favorite but that’s what works for me. For fly patterns with Tarpon I really love this pattern core Tarpon Snake. A lot of people don’t know about it but it’s just this huge black fly and the silhouette at night looks just like a Mullet so it works really well for April and March. And then before that when the shrimp hatch are running I’ll use a night fly which is just an all white fly, shrimp imitation. Something like a tan or white laid up Tarpon fly works well too. But just for the oddity of it, I love the Tarpon Snake.
Is there more competition down there now?
Not for night fishing. It’s quiet for us and that’s why I like it because there’s less competition and you don’t have the sun beating down on you. There’s also few boats, so you got the Tarpon to yourself, especially on a weeknight. On top of that we are sight fishing so it’s pretty exciting although finding people who want to fish pretty late at night can be a challenge because we’ll fish till three or four in the morning but if somebody wants we can go out at six and come back in around ten or so.
What are some other fly fishing strategies that you’re using?
One of the strategies is that when the fish are facing into the current we cast up current. We make the presentation of the fly look natural so we strip really fast and we bring the bait back with the current. We’re fly fishing over the back of the Tarpon and that’s a big secret a lot of people don’t know. Most people try to fish across the current and swing the bait which works well for Snook but for the Tarpon fishing straight up across their backs and casting into the current works really well.
Why are they schooling up around the bridges, because they can see the bait coming through the light?
Well it’s the same scenario as us wearing a baseball hat. We want something that let’s us sit in the shade while allowing us to look out into the light. So the Tarpon just hide out there in the shade of the bridge, looking out into the light and then they see these shrimp emerge from the darkness into the light. And of course the shrimp are nonchalant. They get attracted to the light so they start raising up out of the bottom, coming out of the grass and you’ll see them panic if they see a shadow or a predator. So the Tarpon just sit there, waiting on the shrimp like they’re on a conveyor belt and take turns slurping them off the surface. And if the lights happen to go out on one bridge, they’ll start schooling up around the other nearest bridge and you can see them flashing under the water, even if they don’t surface, and that’s one of the coolest things about sight fishing.
What do you think the key is to being a great fly fishing guide?
You gotta put your time in. My first time out on the bay was 1997 and I didn’t start taking customers out until a year ago. You gotta know your waters and know your charts before you take someone out as a paying customer. I try and work every tide, incoming and outgoing and there’s some spots on the incoming that I’ll work for a couple hours and then you gotta move on to the next spot. Before you take a client out you should know several spots on each tide where you can go and you know there’s gonna be some good opportunities there.