You will be fishing from one of three outstanding vessels: a Pathfinder 2400 TRS bay boat, a Hewes Light Tackle 18 crossover flats skiff, or a Classic Mako 211 “Yelverton Edition” customized for our needs. Most of our fishing with 3 or more anglers will be from the Pathfinder. Fly fishing trips where poling is required, shallow flats fishing with spin tackle, and backwater trips will generally be in the Hewes. When the Gulf of Mexico is sloshy or if the Bay gets too choppy for us to be comfortable in our other boats, we’ll fish from the Classic Mako 211.
The Pathfinder 2400 TRS Bay Boat is good at just about everything. She’s 24’ long and features an 8’6” beam, has lots of dry storage, multiple coolers and bait wells, and seating for more folks than we can fish! The open, step-up bow is great for fly casting or spin fishing, as is the stern. With no T-Top and below-deck rod storage, the entire boat is obstruction-free. She has a comfortable, dry ride in most conditions. Powered by a Yamaha 250 SHO outboard, she can fly along in the mid-50s if we ever need to get someplace in a hurry. Her GPS-controlled trolling motor allows us to anchor-up on secret deep-water spots, and the PowerPole shallow water anchor locks us down on the flats, silently. You will enjoy fishing from and riding in this excellent vessel.
The Hewes Light Tackle 18 is a fabulous crossover flats skiff. She is right at 19’ long, features a wide 8’ beam, and floats in less than one foot of water. With walk-around gunnels and large casting areas bow and stern, the LT18 offers tons of room and is very stable. We probably won’t need this many, but she can safely store 8 fly rods up to 9 feet long under the gunwales and 8 additional rods in vertical holders. She has multiple built-in insulated coolers for drinks and harvested fish, as well as a huge livewell. Her flip-up rear seat sits us down low and comfy on longer runs, while the Yamaha 2-stroke 130 sounds great providing thrilling sprints across the flats on calm days. The LT-18 has an elevated rear platform for poling the flats, a GPS-controlled trolling motor for holding spots or pacing schools of fish, and an 8-foot PowerPole shallow water silent anchoring system. We have a lot of options with the Hewes.
The Mako is a 21-foot Deep Vee Center Console vessel customized for fly fishing and sight casting. She has an 8’ beam and is powered by a 225 horsepower Yamaha four-stroke outboard. The casting deck is large and sits 30 inches above the water providing an excellent angle for spotting fish. The bow is obstruction-free with a recessed cleat and no bow rail. From the bow, you can cast 360 degrees as there is no top to obscure casting to the stern. The second casting position is in the stern. We can safely store 8 fly rods and multiple spinning and conventional rods. She also has a built-in insulated drink cooler and a cavernous livewell.
Of course, all our boats have all necessary USCG safety equipment including Type 1 life jackets, fire extinguishers, flares, signal flags, whistles, and first aid kits. We also have modern GPS navigational aids, compasses, trim tabs, multiple anchors, lights, and more. Your safety and comfort are paramount!
We use premium St. Croix Avid and Tidemaster spinning rods, which are the top of the pack in my opinion. Rods just don’t get any better. Light and powerful, these rods allow anglers to catch extremely powerful fish on light tackle. For instance, you may catch a 15 pound redfish on the same rod we use for trout fishing – the Avid series 6’6” medium power fast action that weighs only 3.8 ounces. Or you could land a 30 pound King Mackerel on a Tidemaster 8’ heavy power fast action rod that weighs 8.9 ounces. These elegant rods can handle the fight, and they are so light you can cast for hours and remain fatigue-free.
Our St. Croix spinning rods are fitted with either Shimano Stradic 2500/3000 or Quantum Cabo 60 reels, both spooled with PowerPro braided line.
I really like the power and feel of Temple Fork Outfitters BVK series rods. They load up just right on your double haul and shoot the fly in tight loops right where you’re aimed. That is, if you do your part. If you choose to use our tackle, this is what you’ll use in 6 and 8 weight setups when we target trout, slot or just-over-slot redfish, Spanish Mackerel, and more. For bigger fish like the rambunctious Jack Crevalle, we use 10 weight Sage rods. Reels will be either Tibor or BVK, depending on the setup. We have tons of tried and true flies for the species we’ll target, and of course you are welcome to bring you own assortment. You just never really know what fly a fish will inhale until you give it a wet test!
When we bottom fish for the brutes we’ll stick to the basic tried and true Penn Senator 4/0 or 6/0 reels spooled with 50 to 80 pound Ande monofilament. Over the years I have learned you really need some stretch in your line with these fish – braided line just does not get it. Braid is super strong and abrasion resistant, but a large snapper shaking his head will almost always throw the hook unless the line offers some stretch. (This is a secret, please don’t tell anybody.) Generally, we’ll use 6’ or 6’6” boat rods, stand-up type, to help pull these powerful reef fish up and out of their hidey holes. Be prepared to have sore arms for a few days when we get into the Red Snapper and Grouper spots around here. These fish can PULL.