Why You Should Go to ICAST

By Mike Hodge

Vaughn tries out a fly rod at ICAST.
Vaughn tries out a fly rod at ICAST.

The pages of the calendar have turned. June has bled into July, which means it’s almost time for ICAST.
The world’s biggest fishing trade show is set for July 12-14 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.
Representatives of the Blackfly Outfitter and Lodge will be there along with scads of outdoors companies, CEOs, reps, celebrities, writers and guides. It’s a once-a-year who’s who gathering of the fishing industry.
Why ICAST? Because it’s THE place to network and check out all of the new gear —- before it debuts at your local fly shop —- new rods, reels, lines and assorted apparel. You name it, it will be on display. Among the companies you can expect to see: Patagonia, Simms, Costa, Nautilus, Tibor, Hatch, Sage, G. Loomis, Thomas & Thomas and TFO among others. It’s akin to Christmas in the middle of the summer.
Orlando is a mere two-hour drive from Jacksonville. If you can go, don’t miss it. If you can’t go, the Blackfly Blog will keep you up to date on the must-have gear. Stay tuned. For more on ICAST: http://www.icastfishing.org/

Why you need global rescue insurance

By Mike Hodge

Ever been fishing, when an accident happens? Maybe you sprain an ankle? Even worse, maybe you break a bone? Maybe you get sick?
If you’re fishing locally — and with a buddy — you’re probably OK. You’re only a cell phone call away from help at a hospital or clinic.
But what if you’re fishing abroad, away from the comfort of home, what do you if things go wrong and you need medical help? If you think your health insurance will cover you and that all will be taken care of, think again. Chances are, your hard-earned dollars towards that monthly-premium won’t matter much in a foreign country.
Brian Jill, a co-star on GEOFISH and GEOBASS, a series of fly-fishing adventure films, carries Global Rescue Insurance to ensure his medical needs are taken care of, no matter where he or his cohorts are. It could be deep in the Amazon in search of Peacock bass or big snook after trudging through Mexico’s thickest muck. Regardless of the obstacles, Jill knew medical help was but a satellite phone call away.
“We’ve had it for a while, but never needed to use it,” Jill said. “(We) feel better knowing it’s there, though.”

Brian Jill (center) of GEOFISH fame uses Global Rescue Insurance.
Brian Jill (center) of GEOFISH fame uses Global Rescue Insurance.

If Global Rescue Insurance is good enough for an adventurer such as Jill, shouldn’t you have the same peace of mind? Odds are, your trip will go well, but it’s a good idea — and a good investment — to have a plan if you need medical assistance.
Blackfly Lodge has you covered when you visit us in the Bahamas. Global Rescue Insurance is automatically included in packages for our guests. We want you to be comfortable and relaxed during your stay. For information about medical and travel insurance, visit our Blackfly Lodge website:
http://www.blackflylodge.com/index.php?id=24

How to Get Ready for Your Big Fishing Trip

By Mike Hodge

Capt. Vaughn releases a very nice Bonefish!
Capt. Vaughn releases a very nice Bonefish!

So you’ve scrimped and saved and finally gotten enough days off from work to take that fly-fishing trip of a lifetime. Now what?
Time to plan for that bucket-list trip. Assuming that excursion is to foreign soil, you need to get with the program and get organized. If you can, start at least a month or two from your departure date.

Assuming you’ve already booked your lodge and airfare, let’s go over the basics. You’ll need a passport. If you have one, make sure it’s up to date.
There’s medical prep. Make sure you bring your personal medications and get immunized, if you need to. That, of course, depends on where you’re going.
File an itinerary with the embassy of the country you’re visiting. Not every foreign country is welcoming and if they’re not, you want someone official to know your whereabouts.

Before you start packing, ask the lodge what you should bring and what you’re responsible for. Don’t assume. Ask.
A couple non-fishing necessities spring to mind.
1) A satellite phone. You can’t always count on cell service.
2) A small wall charger, since some hotels may only have one outlet.
3) Batteries. You can never have enough.
4) Condiments. Ketchup and mustard are a given in U.S. restaurant. No so in other countries.
5) Toilet paper/Kleenex. Not as prevalent as you might think.
6) Last, but certainly not least: Trip insurance (in case of a last-second cancellation); and medical evacuation insurance (Global Rescue) in case emergency care is needed. Global Rescue is included in the Blackfly Lodge package price, rare for most lodges, but certainly comforting for Blackfly Lodge guests.
The above items should get you started on your preparation. But what about the fun part of the planning? The fishing stuff? What kind of fly-fishing gear do you need if you go to a foreign country?

Let’s start with rods. Bring two. There’s always a chance one could break. Go with a four-piece setup, if possible. It’s easier to carry on board an airplane.
Bring two reels with the appropriate line and leaders. Take both with you, already rigged, on the water.
As for flies, better to bring your own, because they may not be available, at least at a reasonable cost, at your destination. Check with your guide for particular patterns to bring.

As for clothes, study the weather and prepare for every possible scenario. If it may rain, it probably will.
All of this planning is easier, of course, if you’ve visited your intended destination previously. If not, you’re going to need guidance. And there’s no better staff to accommodate your needs than the anglers at the Blackfly Outfitter in Jacksonville.
Owner Vaughn Cochran and Blackfly travel ambassador Matti Majorin have fished world-wide and can answer your questions about preparing for that fly-fishing trip abroad. They know where to go, where to stay, where to fish and what to expect. For more information, visit our Destinations and Fly Advisor pages. Or you’re welcome to call us at the Blackfly store: 904-997-2220.

Safe travels!

It’s True: You can Catch Reds in the Surf on Fly

This post is submitted by Mike Hodge

I admit it. I love redfish. Pictures of them adorn my living room wall and kitchen. It doesn’t matter where or when, I will try to find them.
I’ve caught them on the flats and in the river; on high tide and low tide; in spartina grass and turtle grass. Last summer, redfish in the surf on fly became my focus.
I heard rumors of redfish on the Northeast Florida beaches for years, but most of my buddies scoffed at the notion of fishing for reds in the surf. But as it turns out, redfish do indeed make their way to the surf and yes you can catch them on fly.
It’s not easy, but, if the conditions are right and the stars align, it’s very doable.

 James Ferguson battles a red in the surf.   (Photo: Andrew Mizell)
James Ferguson battles a red in the surf. (Photo: Andrew Mizell)

Most of the Northeast Florida beaches, from Fernandina to Flagler, from Matanzas Inlet to Little Talbot Island, hold reds at some point during the years. It’s matter of identifying the right conditions.
The good thing is you don’t need a boat. Grab a rod, a reel, a small backpack for the essentials — a bottle of water is highly recommended — and you’re good to go.
Chances are, you will cover a fair amount of ground walking the beach, so a good, low-impact workout is guaranteed, and with a little luck, you will find a fish or two along the way.
Try to find a fairly secluded beach near an inlet. Fish a low incoming tide on a sunny day. Watch closely as water fills the sloughs. Baitfish will sometimes show first, followed by the reds and jacks. Fish a Clouser with the sun at your back and keep your eyes open.
It takes a little legwork, but when you hook a beach red, you will be rewarded. Just ask for James Ferguson or John Bottko at the Blackfly Outfitter in Jacksonville. Stop by and we’ll set you up with accurate information and the right gear.

— Mike Hodge

Why You Should Have Fish Art

Submitted by Mike Hodge
vaughnPainting

In every house or office, there’s a story. For the first peek into a person’s life, look no farther than the pictures on their walls. Some people have photos of their family or friends. Or their pets. I fish, so naturally I have fish art.

There’s a redfish in my kitchen and another one in the living room and a brown trout just above the fridge. The majestic tailing red is my saltwater favorite. The brown is a tribute to my love for spring creeks.

So why do we have art? Why does art matter? Because it gives others a glimpse into who we are. It can inspire, it can send a message or create a conversation.
The Blackfly sticker, on my old Jeep, was an instant ice-breaker, on or off the water, with anglers and non-anglers. Other fly fishermen instantly recognized the logo; those who didn’t fish often were overcome with curiosity: Just what the hell is that?

The cliché is true: A picture is worth a thousand words, probably more.

If you’re a serious fisherman, you try to fish as much as you can, but if you’re not fishing, you’re probably thinking about it. Having that visual connection to the water is always comforting and a way to connect with others.

So if you’re going to have fish art, why not buy quality? Blackfly is known for its first-class fly shop, restaurants and lodge. Blackfly also offers stunning artwork for your home or office.
Vaughn Cochran’s sporting fish art, generated from a tremendous amount of time on the water and at the easel, demonstrates nature’s nuances. Much of Vaughn’s inspiration came from his days as a fly-fishing guide in the Keys. His job was to find fish, and that attention to detail served as the muse for his art, which he expresses in a variety of mediums —- oil and watercolor paintings; ceramic sculpture; art pottery; print making; intaglio; silkscreen; wood carving; batik; and metal working and casting. His portfolio spans more than 40 years.

If you want to browse or buy Vaughn’s world-class art, stop by the Blackfly Outfitter in Jacksonville, the Blackfly Restaurant in St. Augustine; or the Blackfly Lodge in the Bahamas.