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Thadeus Ragan getting comfortable on the winners stand.

Advantages are sometimes just luck, and mine was just that

By Skip Clement

Author Steve Kantner covers ALL of South Florida fishing on foot. See book here.

As a copious note-taker of all things relevant for the fishing moment to pure head-scratching jibberish when looked at years later is the reality of my stack of notebooks on fishing South Florida from the early 1990s to a few years ago.

On a cleanout of these notebooks, it became apparent my highest ranking subject was fly and spinning for largemouth bass, of which Florida has more than its fair share of double-digit flavors.

Here’s my background of fishing for freshwater bass, particularly Micropterus salmoides, largemouth bass

I fished many days for bass on my own, but my best outings and learned skills came after nearly three decades of fishing with South Florida’s most knowledgeable walk-in fisherman, the legend known as the Landcaptain – Steve Kantner.

Although Steve’s guiding days have date code expired, his writing days are just now hitting warp speed with book titles like Fifty Women Who Fish, and The Ultimate Guide to Fishing South Florida. Additionally, throughout his guiding career, a list of articles are countless in the number of stories appearing in national and regional magazines, newsletters, fish wrappers, and subject-based blogs.

Largemouth bass. Illustration by award winning watercolorist, Thom Glace.

My other mentor, Thadeus Ragan, a South Floridian by way of the backcountry of Tennessee

For decades, Ragan, a Miamian, began his guiding career while waiting for his next male model assignments, which has now reached a reverse order of the time consumed.

His exploits as a tournament bass competitor have gone from minor leagues to the ‘bigs’ with wins that now pocket new boats, vehicles, fishing toys, and bucks.

Takeaways:

It may be a shock to some readers, but if your flies can mimic the lures shown below, one’s that tournament bass fishers rely on in as many iterations as you can imagine and that you can find as ‘fly patterns’ in Steve Kantner’s book, Backcountry Flies, you can jump from day camp toddler to college student in one bounding leap.

That observation first came watching Thadeus choose his flies when we fished the miles and miles of canals running to sea or running from or into the Everglades and fishing those same South Florida marshes, ponds, and canals with the ‘Landcaptain.’

If you can tie your flies to look like these, you’re good to go, but remember, a lot depends on how you swim them and where you swim them

Top L to R: Worm, Texas Rig the universal Finesse worm and tantalize Bass along the bottom. Rigging it up weedless style helps avoid snags and catches. Green Pumpkin is the catch-all color ideally sized in 6-7″>>> The tube & tail design mimics Gobies and Crustaceans >>> Bottom L to R: The weedless or skirted Bass Jig is arguably a top 3 for its versatility and popularity among the Bass fishing public >>> Frog: Cast a Green, Yellow, or Black frog into veggie spots like lily pads in shallow water. Pump it along the surface and pause. Wait to set the hook on the second bite >>> Far Right: Swimbaits: Cast around the edges of the schools where Bass are lurking and provide a steady retrieve, letting the Swimbait’s paddle tail thump and alert nearby lunkers.

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