Posts Tagged With: Fly fishing

Mountain Goats

At Native Angler we love to do guided trips at our home away from home, the Greater Smoky Mountain National Park or the GSMNP for the rest of this article. The GSMNP is one of the most incredible places in the world. We all owe a great deal of gratitude to the sacrifice that was made by its one time residents and the founders and creators of the park for bequeathing it to us for our enjoyment.

I found myself mesmerized by its beauty many moons ago and have read almost everything ever written on the park, totally immersing myself in its history. When you hike it’s trails most people miss all the history you are walking by while staring at the beauty of the forest and streams. I love to explain to everyone what they are looking at when you look past the obvious. It is truly amazing to realize that people actually farmed this land at one point and raised their families here. These truly had to be some of the toughest people around. If you ever have the privilege of visiting the park do yourself a favor and read a trail guide and blogs about an area you want to visit before going. You will be amazed at what a little insight will point out to you as you hike a trail, tombstones, stone walls, maybe even an old chimney from a home long since gone hidden in the woods.

While we love the history, that’s just talk to make your hike seem less lengthy and strenuous. When it comes to the park you can make a trip with us as extreme or pampered as you would like. You can camp and fish in areas that trails have long since disappeared or stay in a cottage having steaks cooked for you every night and fish all day. It’s all in how adventurous you want to be. Regardless of which you choose we know the park and will work very hard to make sure you have a good time.

On our most recent trip we had the pleasure of having Andrew, Patrick, and Robert (all brothers) as well as their good friend Matt. I was met by my fellow guide, and brother in law, Max, from Knoxville, at the trailhead to our campsite Thursday afternoon. Max and I then hiked up a goodly, old mountain term, portion of our equipment for the trip and set up camp for the evening. After setting up camp we decided to do a little leisurely fishing to get a feel for the mood of the fish. The stream seemed to be pretty healthy and had a great flow for mid summer in the park. We caught a few decent rainbows and kept one to go with the steaks I had brought with me for that night. If you freeze them they will stay good and thaw that first day of the trip till your ready to eat that night. Nothing better than a little mountain surf and turf. After a few hours of camp fire chat between brother in laws that have known each other for damn near 20 years it was time to call it a day so we could get up early the next the next morning and hike down to bring the fellas up to camp.



The next morning we emptied our packs the rest of the way and hiked down to meet the guys at 9am. I must say downhill sans 65 pounds in your pack is much easier on the body. After reaching the trailhead we poked around for a few until the brothers Weaver and Matt arrived. I could see in there eyes they were all excited, all a little tired, and that the passengers who were experiencing the dragons tail for the first time were a little car sick. You are lucky to hit 20 on the tail as it winds for mile after curvy mile. We talked for a few about the hike into camp, only 2.4 miles but straight up with no level spots and not easy going by any means, and I loaded Max and my packs with the food for the next few days.

Fortunately there is a nice little detour spot on the way up to camp for those cool group photos and just the spot to shoot the obligatory for the wives and family photo shot. Other than that its just a walk uphill loaded down wondering how anyone ever lived out here. Then you realize why, you just look and listen. You hear the sounds and sights of pure nature; streams, cascades, frogs, birds, grasshoppers and even the wind blowing. The only sound you will hear that doesn’t belong is the sound of the feet and voices of your party. It is in one word, incredible!



Reaching our campsite after a solid hour of uphill climb, everyone jubilantly dropped their packs to the ground. We scouted out the tent sites for the guys and set up the rest of camp. After getting everything ready for the weekends stay it was time for a little debriefing, if you will, about water filtration, camp etiquette ( bathroom etiquette ), and a little refresher on what to do on the stream; we hold a intro to fly class with the group before we go but nothing is better than on stream instruction. Now it was time to fish. Generally it is better to strike out in different directions broken down into two man groups with a guide for each group for better fishing success, but this was a group of old friends and brothers, they wanted to experience it all together. Besides you can’t rib your brother or lifelong friend when your miles apart on a mountain stream, so off we went.

That first day we actually had a some success. Not a lot of fish were caught, but the GSMNP truly is an area where the old saying “if you can catch fish here you can catch them anywhere,” actually is the gods honest truth. I’ve always said you hear of plenty of people from this area heading out west to Montana or the like to chase trout, but you never hear of someone out west heading to the park to fish. A fish caught here on a little 3 or 4 weight fly rod, whilst jumping around from boulder to boulder, fishing small pockets of water that you can barely dabble a fly in due to the thick rhododendron canopy is quite the accomplishment for beginners to fly fishing. It is an even more impressive feet when your brother decides to tromp through the spot you ever so sneakily crawled into just to be a wise guy.



Fishing these small streams is also quite taxing. It is honestly the most fun you can have while physically exhausting yourself. So after four or five hours of fishing it was time to head back to camp and get some dinner. For meals on our trips I like to prepare good food that is high in carbs, no Atkins going on in these hills, and flavor. I will gladly weigh my self down with unimaginable hiking weight, I am a mountain goat, in order to not feed my guests and friends disgusting high sodium backpacker meals. So we had homemade chili mac for dinner that night, followed by a little ribbing around a camp fire and bed.

Even in August it gets cool enough in the mountains to slide in your sleeping bag at night, so to warm our chilled bones I prepared hot pancakes for breakfast Saturday morning to get our bodies fueled for the days fishing. I am glad we did fuel up cause the fellas really charged it this day. We worked into some impossible pockets and slid down the side of mountains to reach perfect little pools at the base of a small fall or cascade and it paid off with everybody getting into fish but Robert. I typically wouldn’t call out the name of anyone who didn’t bring a fish to hand but I can honestly say Robert was the best fisherman of the group, yeah I said it, deal with it you guys. Robert put in tons of effort and made great casts and presentations with a great positive attitude but it just didn’t happen. Damn you trout! I really think he took it with the best attitude though and truly understood that it really isn’t about the catching up here. Catching is a bonus, getting out of you comfort zone and truly immersing yourself in the experience is the part you’ll never forget.

After a successful days fishing we went back to camp and munched on a late lunch and packed up for the hike down. In true Florida boy style I put on my flops, hoisted on my every bit of an 80 + pound pack,
and started the glorious down hill march to the cars. I truly enjoyed myself on this trip, as the company was perfect. You really can’t ask for a better group of guys to share in this experience in one of Gods true wonders, the GSMNP. Thank you!

Our new website is just about done but if you would like to book a trip similar to this or one to many areas in the state of Florida give us a shout at…





Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Well surprise, surprise, my wife surprised me with a dream trip for my 40th birthday……BELIZE! Not only is she an incredible mother, wife, and friend, but she apparently is also great at keeping stuff hidden from me.

We left Jacksonville at 4 am and headed to Belize city after a short layover in Atlanta. From Belize City we had to take a puddle hopper over to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. This flight was almost the deal breaker when Sally booked this trip, as she hates little planes. She was good though because the view was incredible on the short fifteen minute flight with nothing but blue water everywhere.

When we disembarked the plane in San Pedro a representative from El Pescador was waiting on us to shuttle us by boat to the resort. El Pescador is incredible, the staff is on point. We boarded the boat, which had ice cold Belizean beers waiting on us and took off on the 20 minute ride to the dock of the resort. There really are no roads on Ambergris Caye so all shuttling is by boat or you can rent golf carts and ride in the power line right of ways. You can also ride bikes on the beach into town or various dive bars.

When we arrived at the docks of El Pescador the fishing director and staff were there to great us and get us settled in. The resort is older but beautifully nestled into its little beach front home, and is as cozy as it gets. They have a small building that has hotel style rooms which are very comfortable for two, and then they have villas which are perfect for larger parties and families.

The food here is incredible with breakfast served from 5am till 10 am everyday with lots of stuff to choose from and the best breakfast burrito ever. It is a handmade fresh to order flour tortilla stuffed with eggs, full fat real cheddar cheese, and some of the best thick cut bacon even this old southern boy has ever had. Lunch is served from noon till 1:30 and is chock full of great fare. Get the fried chicken! Dinner is one of my favorite parts of this resort. It is family style with everyone eating around large tables outside under the stars right on the beach. Dinner is different every evening and is to die for and always includes an incredible dessert. It is fun to meet people from all over and talk fishing and shop.

We fished with a guide, Raton, for two days and ventured on our own one day in a tandem kayak in the back lagoons. We went out on the kayak first and it was an incredible adventure. It looks like you are enclosed in a mangrove Forrest from the little dock on the backside of the property until you paddle through this 36 inch wide canal for a few minutes and come out in paradise.



We saw a ton of bonefish on our paddle as well as lots of other marine life. Didn’t catch any as I was just happy to be here in this incredible place and never really gave catching the fish much effort. Had an incredible time just paddling around and taking it all in with Sally.

El Pescador has the best guides in Belize hands down. They have been doing this their whole lives and some are second and third generation. The resort does a great job putting you with a guide that fits what you want to do, but you can’t go wrong with any of them. Our guide, Raton, was no exception. Raton had us on fish right away and kept us on fish regardless of the conditions.



Literally lost count on this trip of the bonefish seen, caught and just missed shots. Sally even got a bonefish and she doesn’t care much to fish. She did read three books though on this trip, and the adirondack chairs on the panga made for an extremely comfy reading station. Highlight of her trip was not only seeing but walking around on Leonardo Dicaprio’s island, Blackador.

We didn’t get to chase tarpon as the conditions weren’t really great for sight fishing the deeper flats and I can blind cast flies at tarpon here at home. I can’t however sight cast bonefish here in Jacksonville, Florida so I was more than happy bolstering my all time bonefish on fly count.

I could go on and on about this trip from beginning to end but with my typing wpm, it would take forever. I would just like to finish by saying if you even think you want to go, GO!

Thank you to the greatest wife and friend in the world. It is extremely cliche to say you make my life complete, but when you are my wife, mother of my children, best friend and you fulfill all my bucket list dreams you literally do make me complete.


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fishing is Hot! Weather is Not!

Weather permitting, the fishing has been fantastic here in Northeast Florida. “Weather Permitting” being the key words. For the last month the weather has been downright miserable; rain, excessive winds, cold, or a combination of all three. If you get a window to fish it is never much more than 36 hours and sometimes far less.

When the fishing is doable though it has been fantastic. I have been on as consistant a trout bite as you can get anywhere. They haven’t been big but they are consistantly 16 – 19 inches with a few bigger and a few smaller thrown in. These trout are all extremely healthy too, with most being fatter than their brethen from other areas.

The redfish bite is nothing short of stellar with multiple trips recently catching 8 to 10 redfish all in the upper slot range and some over. The reds though know about as much of what is going on with the weather as the local weathermen so they don’t react well sometimes to the consistent changes.

There are your typical late winter early spring runs of fish happening all over also. With Blackdrum, big ones to 90 pounds, cruising our area waters ready to be had, especially around full and new moons. You need a stout Overboard rod and the patience to jig a quartered crab slowly with the current in your yak and they will come. Also around are sheepshead, and all the 1-3 pound bluefish anyone could ever want to catch.

We have also had an incredible triple tail bite this year. For those of you that don’t know, triple tail are top 5 eating fish in the sea if not the best. they will be followed very shortly by the Cobia, thick center cut porkchops of the sea, moving in closer to the shore for our residents coupled with the migration north from the transients.

With tarpon not far behind and redfish getting more and more agressive with each rising degree of water temp. The weather may be sucking but the fishing is hot and only gonna get better in the next two months.To book a trip give us a shoot at or phone at 904-556-0049, and go check out our facebook pages and webpages at

Capt Sean Abbey
Native Angler Guide Service
Overboard Fishing Rods, LLC

Max Piet of Knoxville, TN with a nice trout in some fairly rough waters.


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bottom Fishing with B. Fine

Bottom fishing for reef fish. Reef fish are going to be present around
structure. There are two types of structure close enough to shore for
kayakers to get to; natural anomalies, and man-made structure. The
coordinates to these structures can be considered public and private.
If you surf enough on line you can get a bunch of coordinates to bottom
structure, but then again so can anyone else, the private numbers are
fished much less but also lead to some etiquette infractions. If
someone gives you coordinates to structure they found it’s not a good
idea to share them without the original person knowing. Paddling up to
someone bottom fishing and marking the spot on your GPS is also a huge
foul. So first step to reef fishing is finding some bottom spots to
try. Either from friends, online, or the old fashioned crisscross the
gulf until you see an anomaly on your depth finder.

Once you find a good spot you have to drop the bait down. I prefer a
conventional reel with a good heavy duty bottom rod. The smallest line
I typically use while bottom fishing is 50lb test. I usually run braid
down through a 8oz doughnut weight and to a 100lb+ barrel swivel, and
from the swivel I tie on a 4′ fluorocarbon leader and finally a 5/0
offset circle hook. The 8oz helps get the bait to the bottom fast,
which can be challenging on windy days or when the current is moving
faster. The primary baits used are cigar minnows or scaled sardines
either alive or frozen doesn’t really make a huge difference. Some
people hook the bait through the eye sockets or the tails, it’s all a
personal preference.

There is usually nothing subtle about a reef fish hitting your bait, so
make sure you’re holding on. The circle hook will set itself, the thing
you want to remember is you need to win the early fight so have your
drag set a little to the heavier side, (Not enough they make your kayak
lean!!) if you win the early fight you can keep the fish out of
structure, if you lose the early fight you’re going to lose terminal
tackle. The only reef fish I’ve found that doesn’t immediately bend
your rod over is triggerfish. If you are feeling bites, but not hooking
any fish and you’re bringing up very small pieces of what’s left of your
bait, chances are you’ve found triggerfish. Since they’re good eating
I’d suggest going down to a 2/0 hook with some frozen squid and you can
have a pretty tasty dinner collected pretty fast.

When you’re bottom fishing it’s not uncommon to end up losing your
terminal tackle to a mackerel that slices through your line or even end
up tangling with one of the numerous shark species, but if you play your
cards right you could very easily end up with red or lane snapper,
grouper, or even cobia.

Barrett Fine


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weather has us all confused!

This week has been no exception. Froze our cajones off at the Boondoggle and come home to a freeze, now today two days later I was sweating. The weather events of the last few years have us all wondering what is going on, the fish included.
This entire winter the fish in my hometown of Jacksonville, Fl have never completely gone into a winter pattern. Typically this is the only time of year that we get larger schools of cruising fish, roaming the flats in numbers over the dark mud bottoms staying warm. This pattern has been all but non existent except for the rare occasion and as soon as it starts it seems to be over.
This used to be my favorite time of year, next to the flooded grass spring tides, to fly fish for reds. High sun, low tides and small meal offerings are generally exactly what the reds are looking for. Much to my dismay I haven’t even found a school worthy of stalking with the buggy whip this winter.
Until recently I also used to follow the rule of small meal offerings for redfish religiously this time of year. I preferred small lures and flies over everything else in my tackle box. My favorites to give you an example of the size were the Yozuri flat crank to be worked slowly over just covered oyster bars, or an even smaller offering for those lowwwwww water cruising reds, with their backs half out of the water, of a Tiny Torpedo. You can sling this little morsel a long way on a 7’6″ med light with 6 to 10 pound braid and it lands lighter than a mayfly falling to its death on a trout stream. Place it in front of a cruising fish and give it a slight twitch engaging the prop ever so slightly and “its on like Donkey Kong.” Thank you Si Robertson for bringing that one back.



Its amazing what competition will due to even the snobbiest of lure snobs. Thanks to Kayak Wars I have started to throw cut bait at some of my old honey holes, a technique usually saved for novice clients and children. Then the extremely unusual happened which threw my marine biologist friends theory into a crumbled up piece of paper, that rimmed off the trash can onto the floor. You see he was convinced, and myself too, that a reds metabolism slowed so much in winter that they only needed to eat once every week or so because it took some time for them to need the energy from the food source. Then I caught this guy the other day on a large chunk of cut mullet, who proceeded to puke up a 8 inch mullet which was freshly consumed within the previous few hours. So not only did he eat a large meal, but he was eating again, throwing to waste 20 years of fishing knowledge on winter redfishing.


Leaving me to wonder if any of us truly know what we are doing, fish included!

Capt Sean Abbey
Overboard Fishing Rods, LLC

Native Angler Guide Service.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fishing from a SUP

We have all seen the sport of Kayak fishing explode in the last few years. It’s economical, eco-friendly and provides easy access to places where boats would be high and dry. “Yakers” are now a mainstream group of hard core anglers. Because of that, there is a new paddle craft emerging and offering new opportunities. They call it the paddle board. Many of us have seen these over-sized surfboards playing in the waves, or cruising just past the breakers, but fishing from one is a new idea to a lot of us. While the proper term for the boards is “Stand Up Paddleboard” or SUP, many boards are being modified so they can be sat on. Not having a place to sit can make fishing next to impossible. Several manufactures are producing models designed to attach kayak seats, but most are simply adding a cooler to them. A cooler with a rod holder becomes a tackle box, storage container and seat combined.
​Kayaks, while easy to drop and transport, still don’t offer the simplicity of the paddle board. Lightweight and easy to carry, you can launch it just about anywhere. Those fantasies we all have about that road side spot you drive past and have always wanted to fish, or that day at the beach with the family when that pogy pod swims in and gets mauled by aggressive predator fish, those fantasies can now become reality. While not suited for open or rough water fishing, the real beauty of the paddle board is it versatility in shallow water. With its stability and shallow draft, it gives anglers options that would be unavailable in a boat or kayak. During low tide in muddy creeks, it makes sight fishing those cruising reds easy, while at the same time giving you the option to carry live bait and anchor on an oyster bar as the tide rises.
​When it comes to fishing the flooded grass flats in Northeast Florida, it becomes the ultimate stalking vessel. With the ability to float and pole through grass, over shallow spots and only a step down to wade, it is fast becoming a favorite of tail chasers. With a limited amount of time to fish the water covered flats, ground can be covered quickly, extremely quietly and from a higher elevation than wading alone. Using a flats boat to scout an area and then launching a paddle board to move into that area is extremely effective. As with all fishing, everyone has their own style. When it comes to moving in for the cast, there are different ways to go about it. I prefer to pole until I spot a fish, then step off and wade in close if I can. Others like to stay on the board, finding casting from the board easy, even with a fly rod. You should practice and become familiar with being able to cast off the board. Often times, it’s your only option. Fishing flooded grass is by far the best way to cover the most ground and maximize your fish catching time. You can cover literally acres more water than wading and thus allow yourself many more opportunities to find the fish on the flats. There is nothing more satisfying than a properly placed presentation given to a head down, tail up redfish and the aggression in which he attacks that presentation.
​When it comes to tackle selection, keep it simple. A smaller assortment cuts down on weight and the amount of time you spend digging for that perfect bait. When it comes to rods, take the bare minimum and be prepared if they end up over the side. Overboard Rods, and they’re ability to float when they go in the drink, are a must. Nothing ruins a trip more than a flipped board and lost poles.
​So get yourself an SUP and see what the fuss is all about. There are economical options out there.
Bent rods and Screaming Drags,
Capt. Sean Abbey



Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Practice Makes Perfect

So you want to not only catch that bucket list fish but you wanna do it on fly. Better get out there and practice. In my opinion presentation is the most important part of fly fishing. Not the fly, your reel or your rod, or your buff and clothing choice.

Have you really looked at most flies? Do you really think that ball of fuzz or hair tied to a hook shank is what made the fish say “oh, I gotta have that?” The right fly is essential but quite a few can be the right fly in many situations.

You can have the baddest ass reel, milled from a single piece of bar stock aluminum with the sexiest engineering out there. Guess what? Fish didn’t even see that reel. Now your rod is extremely important to presentation but if it took a $1000 rod to get a fish to bite, there would be a heck of a lot less fish caught on fly.

Buffs are awesome and they serve a necessary need, as does having all the upf this and that clothing one can stand, but it doesn’t mean squat to catching a fish. Go with light colors on bright, bluebird sky days, grey and darker colors on overcast days and camouflage if your stalking streams.

Simple enough but none of the above will hook a fish as often as a fly caster that can put the fly just right there, yeah that’s the spot. Even the most professional casters spend time in some grass fields practicing. Besides nothing is funnier than the gut busting ” how’s the fishing?” From the park smo walking the 1/16 mile lap around before going home to pop a squat on the couch.

You have to get out there and give yourself goals and targets. It’s frustrating to finally get that day on the water where the moons align for fly fishing that school of reds you’ve been peeping at low tide only to line the school on your first shot. I like to push it when I practice. I tell people to start with hoola hoops and size down as you get consistent in fly placement. I use upside down frisbees placed all over at different ranges and angles and play out the scenario, don’t just go through the motions. It’s hard to drop a fly into a frisbee, but the more consistent you can get at it the more bites you are going to get, regardless of the fly, rod, reel or your brand new ice camo buff.

Capt Sean Abbey
Overboard Fishing Rods, LLC
Native Angler Guide Service


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at