I have always loved Mobile Bay. I love driving across the causeway, especially in the fall. I enjoy taking my family out to dinner at one of several great seafood restaurants overlooking the bay. I love boating in Mobile Bay and watching dolphins and seabirds at work. But until today I have not generally loved fly fishing in Mobile Bay. At least not in the northern part.
The water in our Bay is generally not pretty, but rather dingy and silt-laden. The waves often make it choppy and hard to handle a flats boat. You can't really get out of the boat to wade due to the mud. But there I was this morning, standing on the front deck of a flats boat in the northern flats of Mobile Bay. The water was clean, baitfish were all around, and happy redfish frolicked about, picking up crustaceans and fingerling mullet, slipping in and out of the the dense grassbeds. And once in a while they ate a well presented fly! I couldn't help but think; "Is this really Mobile Bay?"
Joining me was Preston Sutter (right with rod), fly fishing guide from the Panama City. The evening before, Preston had given a presentation to the Bay Area Fly Fishers at our monthly meeting at Dreamland Barbecue. Afterwards, we packed it in for an early morning trip with local guide, Captain Dan Kolenich (right, looking on). We met Captain Dan at Scott's Landing on the causeway and left out on his Hell's Bay flats skiff about 7 am. A search for marauding crevalle jacks on the west side of the bay proved fruitless. But once the sun got up in the sky a little bit we headed for Captain Dan's favorite flats.
It didn't take long to get into fish, with Preston hooking a nice slot red shortly after we got into shallow water. That fish spit the hook, but there were plenty more targets, and bigger. We landed two fish on the morning, had shots at quite a few more, and experienced the full on flats fly fishing experience. You can get in on this by contacting Captain Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit his website, www.captaindankolenich.com. Captain Dan is full time on the water and knows where the clean water and the fish are hiding.
For a change of pace, head over to the resort of Water Color or Seaside just east of Destin and fish the clear waters of the Florida Panhandle for redfish, tarpon, speckled trout, spanish mackerel, and many more species with Captain Preston Sutter. Visit www.shallowwaterexpeditions.com to hook up with Preston and an impressive cadre of professional guides working out of the Old Florida Outfitters fly shop in Water Color.
I have to now say that "I get it," when it comes to fly fishing north Mobile Bay. This was an unforgettable experience in my own back yard. More to come!