Recommended Guide, Captain Brian Jill, Lost Coast Anglers, Tampa FL
The third week of July, I got the chance to take my family to Tampa for a well deserved vacation. This is a great place for this type of outing, as it is warm, but not too hot, has a lot of things to do with everyone, is close to the beach, but not overwhelmed with it, and the Gulf side of Florida is not nearly as “touristy” as the East side. I did some research on the local fly fishing guides, and I found none-other then Captain Brian Jill of Lost Coast Anglers, MOTIV FISHING, Animal Planet’s “Fish or Die” and one of the original “Trout Bums.” So I reached out, and was very pleased that I had booked him for three days of fly fishing madness.
It was a bright, warm July morning when my wife dropped me off at the marina where I was to meet my guide for the next three days, we looked around, and found sitting in his Hells Bay Marquesa Skiff, Captain Brian Jill intently rigging a 12 wt Loop rod with the appropriate tippet to catch a monster tarpon with a size 2/0 short shank purple bunny fly. I walk toward the flats boat, never having met him before, but familiar with him from the videos, movies, and recent T.V. show that I have seen. I introduced myself, and made a stupid joke about if his boat would be able to float if I got aboard. (I am a big dude)! Sternly, he said, “this boat has had bigger people than you on it before.” I jumped on, and we tore off North in search of the elusive “Silver King.”
I must say that Captain Jill takes immaculate care of his skiff, washing his feet before entering, and when a fish is brought to the boat, he looks like one of the guys cleaning the court after an NBA star falls down. He should, it is a beautiful boat, outfitted with an automatic trolling motor, casting platform that has a cage around it for rougher opportunities. He has developed a system that renders itself to have the perfect 10-11 O’Clock cast to a fish that might be 5 or 6 feet long. All equipment was well taken care of, and in perfect working order.
Late July is a strange, but great time to look for tarpon opportunities in the Tampa area, fish are there, but not in the numbers of the early migration, when you get a shot, it is more likely to eat your fly, as there are far fewer other anglers, particularly fly fishers, we only saw one other skiff all day. We made our way to a white sandy beach, with a sand bar maybe 200’ off shore. Captain Jill was poling on the platform, nose of the boat skillfully into the small waves, the cage made it easy to keep my spot, and not end up in the drink. Jill calls out there are some, 12 O’Clock, about 200’ hold on, I’ll get you a shot. I could see the fish that he was talking about. The brown backs of three fish that looked to be well over 100 pounds. He skillfully worked us to have a 10 O’Clock shot about 40’ when I casted just as he instructed, about 10’ in front of the fish, not on the other side of him, but right in front of his path. The fish moved closer, I retrieved the fly, slow, and steady. He rolled on it, Captain Jill said set it! I did, and nothing was there. I quickly rolled another cast to the two remaining fish, at a range of about 20’. The second fish came toward the fly, he was far too close. “I don’t know how I am going to set this hook!” Indicating that if I strip set this fish at 15’ I would break the tip off of my rod, as the leader would be inside of the first guide. The fish didn’t care about the boat, me, or anything else, he was going to have that purple treat at all cost. He rose, and I saw him open that bucket of a mouth, and suck my fly in deep. I waited an eternity until he went back down, and turned his body before striking him to the side with everything that I had. I could feel the rod flex all the way to my hand in the cork. The water exploded as this fish tore off jumping, and screaming the drag from my Echo Bravo 10-12 wt reel. This fish jumped out of the water eye level with me, (I guess that I was about 8’ out of the water). We tried to make some ground with the motor, but the fight would only last about 10 minutes. This hook-set proved to be too weak to bring this behemoth to hand, as he jumped one last time, then ran strait at me, he shagged the hook, and left my life forever. I was shaking, this tarpon did not get hooked, but I damn sure didI I will do this again, and hopefully soon!
As far as a guide, Brian is tits. He is very eager to catch fish, it seemed like he wanted me to catch fish more than I did. He is extremely hard working, possibly the hardest flats Captain that I have had the pleasure of fishing with. He is encouraging, and fun, if you need a great picture taken of your catch, he is definitely the man!
In summery, I am eager to fish with Captain Brian Jill, (hopefully sooner rather than later he has a great redfish bite in Winter). I am very interested in the early tarpon migration as well. I think of the people that I would recommend to this guide, and I think that he would provide value to anyone that looks to catch tarpon, snook, or redfish on the fly. Beginners to Master, I think that anyone would see value in his calm, fun approach, constantly positive attitude, and intelligent planning. We were faced with some very adverse weather conditions for the next two days, Captain Jill was constantly on top of it, formulating the best plan, then taking action up to, and including fishing all night for tarpon, and snook near the Tampa Bay area. Brian Jill is a great shallow water Captain, I look forward to having another outdoor experience with him. Capatin Brian Jill is a reccommended Guide for MyFlyFIshing.Club, as such, members will receive a 10% booking discount on thier trip. To book Captain Jill, just click below.
Tight Lines! MFF.C