When I asked Capt. Jamie Allen to describe his profession, he didn’t hesitate.
“I truly believe I have the best job in the world. Not only does my office view change daily but it makes my anglers smile. My goal is to make sure they have fun while catching fish,” he said with a smile.
Allen fishes Charlotte Harbor and the surrounding waters, one of the most productive estuaries in Florida. His experience is based on a lifetime of fly fishing that began in Vermont when he was six years old. He moved to Florida in 2000 from Durango, Colo. and has been unlocking the secrets of the area ever since. While fly fishing is his specialty, he caters to all anglers and has an array of high-end spinning gear when the occasion calls. His fly anglers also benefit from the fact that he’s a Fly Fishers International (FFI) Certified Casting Instructor. This allows him to help his clients with any casting challenges they may have, including dealing with ubiquitous afternoon sea breezes.
Allen enjoys sight fishing whenever possible. On clear days it’s a big part of his day on the water.
“One of the best ways to learn about catching fish is watching them,” he says. “Seeing how they react to our presentations helps me find a fly or lure that will be effective.”
The best part of sight fishing according to Allen is being able to see their quarry eat the fly.
“It’s an unforgettable experience,” he says.
Tarpon are his favorite target and he’s gained a plethora of knowledge on their behavior over the years. While he targets tarpon when he can, each day on the water provides the possibility of a mix of species including – to name a few – snook, redfish, seatrout, cobia, pompano, grouper and snapper. Factors including weather conditions and time of the year all factor into the fish he concentrates on.
I met Allen at the Waterfront Motel on Boca Grande on a challenging weather day. Although we wanted to sight fish, the conditions were mostly cloudy with 12- to 15-knot winds. We fished shorelines and the edge of grass flats in Turtle Bay on his customized Grand Slam 17. Allen knew that without light, we would have to work edges and holding areas where fish stage to ambush bait. In four hours of fishing, we managed to spook about a dozen redfish and a few snook, finally catching a nice red at the end of a mangrove island.
During the afternoon, we also caught and released a number of small trout and ladyfish. The red we caught fell for a fly Allen tied by stacking brown EP fiber to create a head that pushed water, alternately kicking from side to side in a swimming motion. Its head was shaped like a cigar, and the pattern was tied to imitate the small finger mullet and scaled sardines the predators target.
Eighty percent of Allen’s charters are fly fishermen whose favorite target is tarpon, which he has a reliable shot at 12 months of year, depending on weather conditions and water temperature. In the winter his most dependable action on tarpon centers around the juveniles he finds in tidal creeks.
His second love is chasing tailing redfish. While he still finds dependable action when targeting redfish, the number of fish and the size of schools he encounters are not what they were in past years. He is puzzled as to what is responsible for the decline, but thinks it might represent the loss of a few year classes to red tide. At one time it was common to catch numerous redfish on any given outing. Now he averages a handful each day.
Fortunately, fishing in general has remained strong and snook, trout, tarpon and seasonal visitors like cobia and little tunny fill the gap. Capt. Allen has an excellent website with videos he shoots on his charters. It will give you an appreciation of his skill at putting his clients on exciting action and get you fired up to experience the fun. To book a charter, visit the website or call him at 941-628-9031.
As he says on the website, “Let the fun begin.”