Temple Fork Outfitters Mangrove Coast 9-wt review

After a bakers dozen trips to the Treasure Coast and Everglades I felt like its time to talk about the Temple Fork Outfitters Mangrove coast 9-wt rod. The Rod has become a staple in my rod box for all things inshore related, I have landed Redfish, Sea Trout, jacks and some very good snook on this rod. It has handled like a much higher priced rod and has never made me feel tired, even after some 6-hour days throwing big flies at heavy cover. Over all this rod is my favorite in the Mangrove Coast Series. The 7 & 8 are both wonderful rods but the 9 is where the proverbial sweet spot is.

Fit and Finish– The Mangrove Coast series has the fit and finish of a much higher end rod. Its beautiful straight out of the box and does not loose any of its appearance attributes after 100’s of hours in the salt.

Weight–Considering its a 9-wt the rod is very light. I fished it for several trips to the Treasure Coast of Florida and never found it laborious to cast, even on full day excursions.

Accuracy– I found the Mangrove Coast series to be extremely accurate to 70-feet and moderately accurate out to 85-feet. I used the Rio outbound lines on this rod. I also tested the Rio Flats Pro and it handled equally as well inside 50 feet but exceled at longer casts.

Action– The action was a solid medium with just enough softness to make it deadly accurate on short cast to laid up fish. This was paramount fishing docks at night because the ability to feel every step of the cast made for some truly glorious moments in the dark. After landing some 34+ inch fish I can say the power and lift of the rod make handling larger fish a dream.

Price point– I don’t know why this rod isn’t much more but, thankfully it retails around 329.95. I have always been a champion of good mid priced equipment and the Mangrove Coast truly sets the bar in that regard.

If there was one thing i would like to see on this entire series of rods it would be a little larger fighting butt.

Review: Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Sling pack.

Fishpond and their commitment to sustainability in the outdoors is a bar we should all set for ourselves. When I think of this pack I remember the old saying “Its handy as a shirt Pocket” because that’s the most accurate way to describe this sling pack. Most sling packs are uncomfortable and the manufacturer tried to put to many pockets and zippers in the darn thing. The thunderhead is built with a purpose and designed for the angler, not the hipster traveler. I cant say enough about the self healing zipper, as its the very definition of perfection.

The water resistant external pocket is spacious and a great place for licenses and your wallet. I used mine 4-nights on the treasure coast of Florida and nothing in the pocket got wet at all. The removable pocket inside the main pack is large and holds a lot of those small items you don’t want to have to dig for such as, car keys, small first aid kit, head lamp, leaders, and tippet.

The main compartment is spacious and will hold your rain coat, small jacket, and a camera with space left over. All in all the Thunderhead Submersible Sling pack of my new favorite back for short adventures around the globe.

My most recent trip I kept 4 bottles of water in the pack and the irony just hit me. These are made of recycled single use water bottles! Remember conservation and sustainability have to go together. Neither is a political keyword they are part of the ethos we should all strive to live by.

Dammit Sam!

The alarm clock jolted me, and the dogs, out of bed like the bellow of a ship’s horn on a foggy river. Our morning ritual is always the same, I let them outside, make coffee & breakfast, then let them in right after I set down to eat some bacon and eggs. Those dogs know when I am about to eat some succulent, perfectly prepared, bacon. So, I let them in, filled their bowls, and ate my cold breakfast with a smile.

I noticed, when I let the boys in, that it was cold outside. Now, cold is a relative term in Tennessee because 30 degrees is almost arctic. What a perfect morning to chase, or attempt to chase, a woodcock in the south.

The very second, I grabbed my shotgun out of the safe Ole trapper started for the door. He knew it was time to earn his kibble. As we got to the truck, he promptly sat down by the passenger door like a good boy. Only problem is he was supposed to ride in his dog box. It only took a single stern “Trap” for him to go to the tailgate and load up. I know he does this intentionally just to mess with me.

I happened to know exactly where I wanted to hunt on this fabulous morning. We arrived at a local Wildlife Management Area shortly before 8 in the morning. Normally I would avoid these areas like the plague because of deer season, but that closed last weekend. As I pulled into the designated parking area there was only a single other truck there.

I would say the truck was 20 years old if it was a day old. Not junk yard quality but, it had seen better days. The homemade dog box told me this was probably an old school hunter. Most likely a rabbit hunter, as upland hunters went away when the quail population crashed. In fact, I only knew of one other guy who still chased these wild birds. Trapper and I were waiting for him over coffee and Little Debbie Snacks. Yea I know all the dog trainers are cringing because I share my snacks with my dog. Well, he is mine and he likes little Debbie’s better than me.

Finally, Joe, my partner and the guy who is NEVER late called to say his daughter had his first grandson last night and he couldn’t make it. Normally I would say there is absolutely no excuse to bail, or be late, on a hunting trip. This time though I didn’t get sideways as you could hear his pride over the phone. I looked at trapper and said, “Today is all on you boy” and opened the dog box door.

While I had my back turned Trapper found the only mudhole in miles and proceeded to take himself a mud bath, then he found what was left of a deer gut pile and rolled in that as well. This dog can’t be trusted to his own means. To him everything in life is an opportunity for fun, then I realized if people were more like bird dogs the world would be a better place.

I got the gear together and called trapper over to the truck. Muddy and stinking to high heaven he sat there like he was posing for a magazine. I think he does stuff like that just to see if I will swear.

The plan was to test out my new side by side while we worked some old grown over fence rows, and creek bottoms. I held my breath and put the tracking collar on Trap, he is not a fan of this new collar but, he knows the rules, no collar no hunt. I was worried about him running into a pack of beagles and deciding he was a rabbit dog. I mean he is still just a 75-pound puppy.

I was getting my gun out of the cab when I heard a single shot ring out in the morning air. Odd I thought, as no beagles could be heard before or after the shot. The shot also came from a piece of cover I know holds birds this time of the year.  Then about 3 seconds later I heard a voice call out in the distance “Dammit Sam” At that moment I was not a 55-year-old bird hunter with more miles behind him than in front of him. I was a 7-year-old boy on a pheasant hunt in the late 1970’s. Our dog’s name was Sam, and as a pup she was terrible at holding until we got there. My dad yelling “Dammit Sam”, when she flushed the birds prematurely, is a long-lost memory of mine.

I would have daydreamed more had it not been for trapper screaming and running for the truck. He had been doing his thing and peeing on everything within 20 yards. When I looked to see what all the excitement was about, I saw he had made a friend. A very stinky friend. So now he was covered in mud, week old deer remnants, and had tangled with a skunk and lost.

It was at that moment I realized that my hunt was not only over, but it had also been oddly fulfilling. Hearing that man yell “Dammit Sam” took me back a few years and made me remember what’s important. It’s not the birds at all that we seek, it’s the experience and the memories made while chasing them. However, I do wish trapper would make a few less stinky memories on our journey through the uplands together.

When its finally time…

Some Trips just take on a mind of their own, this past trip to the treasure coast did just that. I left my farm in Tennessee last Sunday, heading to Orlando for a work conference. Orlando was, as always, a great venue. The weather was outstanding, the cuisine even better, and the nighttime bass fishing was right on point. As I stated earlier after 4-days of Orlando I was already tasting the saltwater spray from a fast moving skiff. Then it was off for Stuart and the treasure coast.

Thursday night was absolutely epic! I landed 25 Snook with several being over the slot, all were released and the slot is only a reference point, and a hand full of moonfish. When midnight rolled around I had had enough. Enough is a funny measurement because its totally situational. Pretty Sure my guide, James Cronk, of 772 Fly and Light tackle was as tired as I was,

Friday rolled around with high winds and bluebird skies and almost crushed my hopes of a second banner night. After working all Morning I spent my lunch hour with the crew of Whites Tackle in Stuart. We decided to wait until 8PM to go fishing because of the wind forecast. I grabbed dinner at Chucks Seafood and we headed out. The wind had died and it was flat water all the way to Jensen beach. We managed 6 snook up that way and started fishing our way back toward the ramp. All in we caught 13 snook and decided to call it a night at 11PM.

Moring rolled around a bit to early on Saturday. I was making plans to run to Vero Beach and see what I could catch. Then I stopped at the coffee pot where a friendly Labrador was greeting the guests. I gave the dog some lovins and wondered what my dogs were doing. Next thing I knew I was packed and headed back north to see my dogs. Sometimes no matter how good a trip has become, no matter how many fish we catch, its just time to go home.

Stuart Florida will be there in April when I arrive. I will run through my routine of Popeyes Chicken, Whites Tackle, the Hampton Inn North, and a shrimp platter at Lola’s seafood eatery, Then I will yet again chase the dream of a 40-inch snook on the fly,

For now Adios my friends,

Windy nights on the Saint Lucie

After 4-days at a conference, where I had to wear a sports coat and say nice things, the drive from Orlando to Stuart was the longest 3-hours of my life. Stuart Florida is one of the worlds more special places. Not only are the people amazing, especially the crew at Whites Tackle, the pace of life is a bit slower than in my home of Nashville, Tn.

I found this place by accident a year ago. We were headed to the Everglades and due to a scheduling mishap at the last minute, by last minute I mean 12 hours before my plane left, we somehow ended up in Stuart. In short I fell in love with this place and have been back almost monthly since last winter. I have come enough to develop a routine. I land in Fort Lauderdale at 10AM and get my rental car, Drive to Stuart and eat lunch at the same Popeyes chicken every time, Leave there and go straight to Whites Tackle, then check in at the Hampton Inn. The first nights dinner is always at Lola’s seafood Eatery. After than we fish until we have had enough. As a Gen X creature of habit I have used the same guide since my first trip. Captain James Cronk runs 772 Fly and Light tackle charters and has been both my go to guide and the guide that On the fly magazine has come to depend on. I cant say enough good about James Cronk. He is one fishy dude and that is all that matters to me! Plus he is not a member of the flat brimmed hat mafia nor does he say dumb shit like “Bruh Snook are cool but Permit are my passion”!

Last night “Enough” came about 11pm. We boated 25-Snook and a handful of Moonfish, I broke off more than I cared to on dock and bridge pilings. Snook, especially big Snook, like structure so losing fish just means your fishing in the right spots. By the time 11pm rolled around I was worn out from throwing a 9-weight fly rod all evening. I will be reviewing the Temple Fork Outfitters 9-weight mangrove coast in the near future but, if you don’t have one I would highly recommend you make this your next saltwater rod!

We are heading back out this afternoon but, the wind warnings tonight may land me in a bar drinking some Frigate Reserve Rum and enjoying a good cigar. Afterall the Snook may the the treasure of the treasure coast but its the journey, the people, and the ambiance that matters…