About a week ago, in Florida for IFTD, myself and Rick Mikesell, Trouts GM, and spent a reasonably humid morning casting the new rods on one of the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes Orlando ponds. After rehydrating ourselves during a welcome break from the sun, Tom Hanson of Orvis joined us for some fishing time during the high sun (from 1pm - 5pm) with Captain Mark Benson at the Ritz-Carlton. While trophy bass were our intended target, the heat of the day had different toothier ideas...
Rick rigs up the 20 lb flouro.
Tom brought along three rods. Two Orvis Helios 3 - a 9 foot 8 weight and a 9 foot 10 weight and a Orvis Helios 2 9 foot 8 weight for comparison.
King of the Golf Course. Capt. Mark has one job. To get you on fish...and he takes that pretty seriously.
Rick letting the 10 weight H3 rip. We were both impressed with how accurate this rod was. Never felt undergunned and was accurate at all casting ranges.
Capt Mark owns the path.
Shingle Creek. The Headwaters of the Everglades. We were told of the groups of bass that would cruise this stretch of the creek. It was shady and noticeably cooler along the creek. We were hopeful that the action would turn around.
Still on the hunt for trophy bass, Rick was prepared with something big and black.
The Orvis Helios 3 had no problem roll casting in tight quarters. It's awful green down in Florida and over hanging branches were everywhere. The Helios 3 thrived in these tight quarters.
After working several prime stretches for bass, spirits were pretty down. It was blazing hot and we hadn't seen, heard, or felt any evidence of the giant largemouth that inhabit these golf course ponds.
The topic of gar was brought up. Captain Mark wasn't too sure about us and our desire to throw flies at a fish many people in the south deem to be a trash fish. But, we like sight fishing around these parts and gar were the ticket to turning around our day.
Tom had a smooth left-handed cast. He was putting it on gars' noses on a consistent basis. We spent the next two hours, with a 45 minute thunder/lightning delay, throwing big bright bass flies at gar of all sizes. From one foot to 4 feet, there was a lot of action to be had with these willing natives. Capt. Mark doesn't get many requests for gar fishing on the Ritz-Carlton golf course ponds, so he didn't have any rope flies available. Getting gars to eat bass streamers was pretty easy. Hooking gar on a bass streamer was a much different challenge.
Tom put the bisquit in the basket. A true beast!
Rick stuck another baby before our time on the golf course ran out. We all hooked a lot of fish, including some 3-4 footers with significant girth. But, without rope flies, we were lucky to rope a couple babies. Fish or not, it was still a blast waiting for a gar to rise to the surface to gulp some air, put an effortless cast on a dime with the H3 and keep your fly moving as a gar would follow it from bank to bank, eating below your feet.