A fishing slam is a fun and challenging way to put your knowledge, skills and abilities as an angler to the test. Two of the big slams in Florida are the Backcountry Slam and the Flats Slam. Rob says the Backcountry Slam consists of snook, redfish and tarpon and it's often approached with sight fishing focused around mangrove islands and shore lines, right in the heart of where the fresh water drains out of the everglades. The Flats Slam consists of bonefish, permit and tarpon and is widely regarded as the "big three" of the flats. Rob says right now is a great time to take on the Flats slam as there are a lot of tarpon around, as well as permit and bonefish. Permit in the Florida Keys area can be found both inshore and offshore and average in size from 10 to 30. They are extremely powerful, Rob says. They make big runs and they are sight fish so they are pretty elusive and spooky. In order to catch permit, a decent amount of skill is required to make a good cast without spooking them, yet getting it close enough that they can see the bait. When fly fishing for permit, Rob says he uses crab and shrimp imitations. However, the most deadly way to catch a permit, he reveals, is to throw a live crab out on a spinning rod - it won't last long. When it comes to tarpon, Rob says right now is the heart of the migration. During that migration, tarpon head south and both gulf and Atlantic fish meet in the Florida Keys to stage and spawn around the full or new moon in the last part of May, heading offshore for a week to ten days before working their way back inshore and heading north to go home. There is a lot of water to cover, Rob says, and a lifetime of poling the flats has given him an advantage in being able to consistently and effectively find and land fish.
Having clean water and healthy habitat for aquatic life is essential in any body of water. Water quality issues in Florida have been on the radar for years without much real action. Many fisherman in the past have recognized the water issues, Rob says, but they have never had the kind of influence or enough people behind them to affect the kind of change needed to make an impact. Born out of a concern for clean water and healthy estuaries across Florida, a non-profit called "Captains for Clean Water" was formed and together their efforts have created real momentum for meaningful change for Florida waters. Rob says the health of water in south Florida and the Florida Keys comes from the fresh water drainage of the Florida Everglades. However, through many different avenues that water flow has been disrupted and severely reduced. Water previously flowed south from Lake Okeechobee, down through the Everglades where it was cleansed in that ecosystem and then dumped into the Florida Bay. The flow in that water shed is down by as much as 70%. That water is diverted for many reasons, one of the big reasons is for agricultural use like irrigating crops. The agricultural impact on water quality has been significant, Rob says, as pesticides, herbicides and other chemical pollutants sprayed on fields find their way back into the aquifer or main flow of the Everglades water. Those chemicals cause serious grass kills, dirty water issues, severe algae blooms, and from there a domino effect of other problems. Rob says for those reasons, and others, advocating for better water management practices is crucial and that's what "Captains for Clean Water" does. The group has worked to open the eyes and ears of the masses, and motivate a large following of people to get behind them and they're making some progress now. Because of "Captains for Clean Water" and a governor that has had an open ear, really cares, and wants to make a difference, Rob says they have reached a point where they are starting to regain some of the natural flow that once was in the Everglades. Because of legislation that they've been able to advocate for and get passed through congress about what people can and cannot do with the water and re-establishing some of those flows, Rob says they have already started to see some progress with areas getting seagrass growing back and some areas that have been dirty for years are getting clearer. There are high hopes for restoring the water quality in Florida, he says.
Listen in as Rob Fordyce joins The Revolution to talk fly fishing for tarpon, the Florida fishing slams and advocating for clean water. Be sure to watch "The SeaHunter" airing on Outdoor Channel, Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. and Sundays at 7:30 am ET. You can also catch previous seasons and episodes anytime on MyOutdoorTV.