I fish two Maverick flats boats, an 18.5 Master Angler and a 17 HPX Mirage Tunnel. Both vessels are powered by reliable Yamaha outboards. This combination allows me to accommodate various client needs and take advantage of seasonal tidal transitions.
Here in southwest Florida, seasonal tide and weather variations affects the way that all our bays, sounds, and tidal flats fish throughout the course of the year. Consistent northerly winds along with typically low morning and afternoon tides create some exceptionally low water levels during fall and winter. In addition, during this period, if the water temperature stays cool there is a notable absence of live bait. Some of our favorite gamefish like snook and redfish will feed on smaller bait fish, shrimp, and crabs at these times and will also group up in some of the deeper holes within the back country. Many boats that draft too much water will not be able to access these areas. If you can get back to the fish, it is a great time to throw small flies and soft plastic artificial baits. It is for this reason that one of my boats is a Maverick Mirage HPX Tunnel skiff. It’s a great winter boat.
During spring and summer, the bait and higher water returns. During this period, a larger boat with better range and the ability to fish live bait is very beneficial. The 18.5 Master Angler provides a great ride and is set up to fish any scenario whether it’s live bait, artificial, or fly.
I’ve also chosen top quality fly and spinning tackle. For fly fishing, we’ll use equipment from Ross Worldwide, their top of the line Essence FW series rods matched with either their Big Game or CLA large arbor reels. We will rig Rio lines that are designed to load quick and shoot easily. Our spinning gear consists of all Shimano equipment, Calcutta and Terramar rods matched up with Symetre or Spheros reels and Power Pro Braided line.
Stealth and the art of Poling
On a shallow inshore tidal flat, even the noise of a trolling motor is enough to put a wary redfish or snook on alert. Poling a vessel like the mirage with it’s minimal or nonexistent hull slap is a great benefit when trying to present a fly. It’s a tradition that’s worth keeping and there’s nothing like it on a quiet tropical flat.