A Fly for 100 Fish

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

Anyone who has ever read about, thought about or fished for Musky has heard the phrase: “A Fish of 1000 Casts.” Well this post has nothing to do with Musky. It does however recount an incredible day on the water—Friday, March 2, 2018—at the mouth of Mullet Key Bayou near the mouth of Tampa Bay. I had escaped winter in Montana for five days of fishing in Florida in route to some work in Pittsburgh. Day one generated the usual mix of Speckled Trout and Ladyfish on a pleasant day with little wind and a decent tide. Day two however proved to be one of those problematic days where the wind and tide conspired to make fishing difficult. I probably caught less than a dozen fish in five hours and fought a stiff southeast wind all morning. I was optimistic about day three on Mullet Key Bayou as the wind would be moderate, but from the north. Wind direction is all important in these shallow estuarial waters.

Mullet Key Bayou is oriented north and south and is about 1.5 miles in length. It is shallow with lots of exposed flats except for one natural and two dredged channels. In the Spring, water temperature in Tampa Bay is always a few degrees colder than the open Gulf. A night, shallow flats deep in the bayou cool consistent with overnight lows. With a southeast wind and low tide, that cool water is pushed to mouth and keeps water temps depressed even as the tide changes. Because the wind is pushing shallow water off the flats it keeps the water somewhat turbid at the mouth of the bayou as well. That cooler, turbid water was reason for the poor fishing on day two. The southeast wind also makes for much rougher conditions as it travels over two miles of open water. I was hopeful the north wind would make for better fishing. I was not to be disappointed.

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