Robalo the Beachcomber

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

Beach combing is an activity that consists of an individual “combing” (or searching) the beach and the flat beach intertidal zone, looking for things of value, interest or utility. For Robalo, beachcombing is an annual event. Each year as the waters warm along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of South Florida in the late Spring, Robalo ventures out to the beaches looking for things of value. Robalo is part of a large clan of beachcombers that frequent summer beaches in both the tropical Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the Americas. The name Robalo, of Spanish origin (rὁbalo), was derived from Lobos or wolf. Indeed, the Robalo are wolves of the sea, of sorts. In the U.S., especially in South Florida, we know them as snook.

Snook are a worthy saltwater gamefish and their lifestyle gives the saltwater fly angler some challenging opportunities throughout the calendar year. Taxonomically there are some 12 species of snook in the genus Centropomus split evenly between the Pacific and Atlantic. Of those 12, only four species reach sizes exceeding 10 lbs. Along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Mexico and Central America, Robalo as they are known, are an important food fish. In South Florida, Centropomus undecimalis, or the Common Snook is king. Female common snook can routinely reach weights exceeding 30 lbs. Snook are aggressive carnivores feeding on crustaceans and baitfish making them ideal fly rod targets. In early July of 2018, I would take advantage of this aggression as well as Robalo’s propensity for summer beach combing along the beaches of the South Florida Gulf coast.

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Wading Along The Halophytes

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

It was early October and I was lucky enough to steal five days of fishing in some of my favorite Tampa Bay haunts in advance of a few days business in Pittsburgh. The bay was cooling off, sea trout were abundant along eel grass flats and snook were moving inshore for the winter. Windy weather forced tough decisions about where to fish but there was enough sheltered water to make the trout fishing comfortable with the kayak. Although tides were favorable for good angling, timing wasn’t. Mornings, my normal time on the water, saw rapidly rising tides which limited my ability to do much wading around the most productive spots. On day three however, low tide occurred a bit later in the morning and the wind direction brought me to a shoreline that doesn’t get much pressure because it is isolated on two sides by a deep channel and on a third side by a dense Mangrove shoreline. As I paddled out into the flat opposite the Mangrove shoreline, I exited the tethered kayak and started targeting the edge of the flats and the deep channel. A large white gurgler stripped along the channel edge brought numerous trout exploding on the fly. For about three hours I was able to safely wade along a 1900-foot shoreline before the rising tide forced me back into the kayak.

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