Vol 6 No. 19 - February 01, 2006

Fishing friends

By Rusty Chinnis

Fishing has been a part of my life since I was five years old, when my father took me for my first excursion off the coast of North Carolina. His job with the railroad caused the family to relocate several times, as he climbed the corporate ladder. With each move, I formed relationships with others who enjoyed the outdoors in general, and fishing in particular.

Twenty six years ago, I settled on the west coast of Florida and established a home of my own. The ensuing years have been particularly rich with friends, associates and experiences that have in many ways defined my life.

Captain Scott Moore holds up a nice-sized snook.

Soon after arriving on Longboat Key, I was fortunate to be introduced to Captain Scott Moore. Our association began with chartered fishing trips initiated by Bobby Lee, a Longboat Key resident. Over the years, I was blessed to share time on the water with Lee, Moore and their two sons Robert and Justin. This was a time rich with sun drenched days on the water pursing tarpon, snook, trout and redfish in Terra Ceia Bay, Charlotte Harbor, Pine Island Sound and Sarasota Bay. Over time, I developed a friendship with Moore, as he built his business and reputation as one of Florida’s top guides. While he enjoyed the riches of the local waters, Moore was concerned about the health of the local fishery. It was conversations with Moore that led to my interest in conservation, and spurred us to form the Manatee Chapter of the Florida Conservation Association.

When I received a call from Moore a couple of weeks ago to fish Charlotte Harbor, I hurriedly rearranged a few appointments to clear the day. I suggested that we take my flats boat, since I wanted to get some target practice with my fly rod for an upcoming trip to Belize. While Moore has made his reputation catching snook, trout, redfish and tarpon with live shiners, he is equally proficient at putting artificial spin anglers and fly fishers on fish. We meet for breakfast in Placida at 8:30 and launched the boat at the Placida ramp about 9:30 that morning. Moore had encountered a school of large redfish a few days before in Bull Bay, and we headed south to find them. The day turned out to be a warm and sunny day, rare in a winter that has seen more than its share of wind and clouds.

When we arrived in Bull Bay, I caught a nice trout on my first cast. I had several other hits before we blew several large reds off the deep edges of the flat where they had relocated. They had taken up residence in water that was too deep for sight fishing, so we headed farther into the bay.

Our second stop was on a long, shallow, mangrove edge, where we encountered several large snook, big sea trout, and a number of reds. Although I made some good, long presentations, the fish seemed too spooky to approach with the fly. Trading places with Moore, I poled back across the area and he hooked a redfish on a top water plug almost immediately. Switching to a jig, he landed a nice trout and had several other strikes before insisting that I once again take the bow. We changed places near a point far in the backcountry, and within minutes I was making casts to schools of snook that showed no interest whatsoever in my fly. It was a bit frustrating, but still supplied me with a considerable amount of target practice.

The pattern repeated itself throughout the day. Time and time again, Moore took me to fish that turned their noses up at my flies. At one stop, between two small islands, I made dozens of casts to some of the largest snook I had ever seen. While the outcome was the same as before, it was exciting to see fish pushing thirty pounds inspect my presentations.

It seemed that each time I gave the bow to Moore, he was able to land snook, redfish and trout with just a few casts, but I never gave up on the fly. At the last stop of the day, the fish finally started taking notice and I had two nice reds make a pass at my fly, in each case missing the hook. While the action was slow for me that day, it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of time on the water with a good friend, and Moore gave me what I had asked for, plenty of targets. I look forward to time on the water with friends like Scott Moore. It’s a big part of what has always defined my life. To book a charter with Moore, call him at 778-3005.

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