I had been talking with Mike Hanson of Valrico about the Native SUV 17 for a couple of weeks. After a visit to the house to see the skiff in the garage, we were able to schedule some time to get out on the water so he could see the skiff in action. We launched out of Ruskin around 7:45 with some great conditions greeting us for the day.
After a great run on the Little Manatee River, we found ourselves on our first spot along the Eastern shoreline of Tampa Bay. Mullet were everywhere and we had a falling tide. Mike's choice was a 4" Mirr-O-Lure soft shad (Chicken) on a jig head. My choice was a She Pup (Bone/Chrome). He got a couple bumps but I got blown up from the poling platform!
After a while and some more tide fall out, we decided to move on to our next stop along the shore. The something kind of weird happened....Mike says to me, "Jon this skiff is all I could ever want. So I guess I better learn how to pole a skiff. I've never done it." I got the front of my skiff for the rest of the trip and made the most of it. For someone who had never poled, after a little instruction, Mike did an awesome job and spotted some fish at the same time. I went 2/5 on fly with the redfish. It would have been 3/5 but the first one we saw, I had my 10Wt. Ross Fly Stik with a foam head slider. If I would have had the 6 wt. Rx with the Corona Toad in my hand....done deal. All the reds were laid up in about 7" of water.
This redfish did a 360 on the fly looking for it when it hit the water. FIVE presentations later.....got an eat! COULD NOT have done it without the Monic clear floating line.
On the way back in, Mike took the tiller to get a feel for what his future would feel like. It was the first time I got to lay out on the front deck while someone else drove. Kind of nice. Once we hit the mouth of the Little Manatee, we see a Sea-Doo with two guys stranded on the GIANT oyster bar just out in front of Shell Point Marina. They waved us down and Mike and I wade (with shoes on) over to them. Two kids (boys maybe 16 years old) are stranded, life jackets floated away, feet and hands are all cut up. We sit them on the bar and drag their PWC off the bar. While we do this, I ask them how they got close to 150 yards away from the channel? Their response (in classic Bill and Ted bongwater sucking style and slang) a wave knocked them off course.....gotta watch out for those rogue waves in the Little Manatee River. Mike and could help but to laugh, but the kids were lucky. It could have been much worse. Another PWC rider found their jackets and we got them on their way....45 minutes later.
Mike had a great time playing with the Native and I had a great time dropping some flies on some willing redfish. Definitely a good day on the water!