Hello Skinny Water Culture, Paul Sonnen, here reporting from the northern Gulf Coast, and proud to be posting my first of many blogs here on the cyber net! I’m not the best at writing, but hopefully I’ll keep people entertained with large bribes and free booze…..not really, but promise an outlook of my passion for the sport and what drives me to keeping me on the water as much as possible! I’ve been lucky enough to have spent most of the last 10 years of life with a fly rod in hand and my job as a private boat captain, has led me to some epic destinations. Orange Beach, Alabama is where I call home currently, located right on the Florida, Alabama border. Pretty unique spot consisting of salty locals, tourist’s seasons, white sand beaches, Roll Tide rednecks, wealthy southerners, dinosaurs, not bad sight fishing, and a good amount of bronzback spotted tail aquatic creatures swimming around.
Introduction done! We’re lucky that our prominent wind in the winter time is out of the north which allows our waters to stay calm and especially clear. The last few years I’ve lived up here have been full of much scouting and learning more about what this region has to offer as far as sight fishing is concerned. Much of it is untapped and it has been an absolute blast figuring out patterns of a few different species of fish swimming through our waters. One of those radical patterns are the bull reds gathering in large schools starting in the fall, and partying their way out of the bays and onto the beaches. It’s not an everyday occurence but if you spend your hours looking, you might find the red tide!
This last friday was honkin out of the northwest, which depending on how much west is in it, can get sporty. My good friend and long time Orange Beach fly guide Capt. Cliff Jones and I figured we load up his Vantage and take a mid day gander of the beach. Also, joining us, was Cliff’s 13yr old son, Tristin, who was going to try his luck at his first redfish on fly. There was a nip in the air and Tristin immediately regretted not putting on an extra layer. After a short cruise we spotted the birds, a primo sign, bombing a few miles off the beach. As we closed the gap, we good see the topwater eruptions, and then the golden wind chopped surface of reds blitzing. After a few struggled attempts at throwing the 9wt Tristin got tight with his first red on fly and did an excellent job on the reel!
Tristin a little drained after his redfish rookie status had been upgraded!
After Tristin’s fish, we took turns teasing the bruisers with poppers!
That night my roommate’s and I threw an End of the World/ Christmas party that consisted of potent egg nog, cousin eddy, and a few failed head stand attempts. I managed to crash somewhat early knowing the next day was going to be stellar conditions.
They must have been celebrating the not so end of the world after party on Saturday. After running down the beach a little further from where Cliff, Tristin, and I had left them the previous day, I spotted the cloud of birds. It was going off!! The seas were calm and the fish were hungry. They stayed on the surface for long periods of time, breaking into smaller groups, then gathering back into massive schools, hunting any lone bait that got in their way. Of course all I have is my Iphone and after catching as many as I wanted on a popper, just tried to get some decent shots with the phone.
Looking forward to our next frontal passage to try and get some more footage and an updated story for SWC!
High Fives and Merry Christmas, Paul!