Captain Baz Yelverton

This is Captain Basil Yelverton (Capt Baz), and it's my pleasure to introduce our clients to the terrific fly-fishing in the beautiful waters around Pensacola, Florida. I grew up in Gulf Breeze fishing for trout with spinning tackle. My introduction to saltwater fly-fishing came unexpectedly 30 years ago on a bonefishing charter in the Florida Keys with famous Marathon guide Capt Cal Cochran. It was a spin-fishing trip, but Cal had a 12w fly rod on the boat rigged for tarpon. When a string of the silver kings appeared he thrust the 12wt into my hands and ordered "Baz, throw this fly to those fish!!". It was ugly. I had never held a fly rod bigger than a 6wt. The school of 100 pound tarpon came straight to the boat. I tried and tried to "throw the fly", but something appeared to be wrong with the rod. No matter how hard I tried nothing seemed to happen. I don't think I even got the fly in the water. When the tarpon disappeared Cal apologized and gently took the 12wt from my shaking hands. He stripped a hundred feet of flyline on the deck and with a couple quick, graceful moves cast the whole line in a beautiful, tight loop unfurling toward the horizon. I'll never forget it. How was that even possible with so little effort? Where did all the energy come from? From that moment I was determined to learn the saltwater fly cast.

I fished with Cal annually for the next 11 years, and he taught me both how to cast big fly tackle and the techniques for catching tarpon and bonefish on fly. I worked hard on my fly-casting skills and eventually took the quantum leap of leaving the spinning tackle at home. That was 25 years ago. Since then I've focused on learning to catch our local species on fly, and it's been a journey of trial and error. I'll never forget my first redfish, false albacore, pompano, and jack crevalle. My biggest success and local "claim to fame" was after 7 years of effort finally landing the first giant Pensacola tarpon on fly in 2002. That gave me the confidence to attend "Sea School" in 2003, earn my USCG Captains License, and open Gulf Breeze Guide Service in 2004.

Sight-fishing with a fly rod is to me the ultimate fishing experience, and that's what I do these days. We spend most of our time stalking fish in calm, shallow water either from a flats skiff or on foot. It's a team effort with me on the poling platform and my client on the casting deck. When we spot a fish my job is to quietly position the boat for the shot. My client has the thrill of casting the fly in front of the fish without spooking it, stripping the fly "just so" to entice the take, and strip-setting for the hookset after the fish eats the fly. Sounds easy, right? There are lots of things that can go wrong, but when it all comes together it's very satisfying. Once you have the casting skills to experience the thrill of sight-fishing it's hard to go back to blind-casting. If you are unfamiliar with the terms "double-haul" and "strip-set", consider a lesson with our local instructor Capt Richard Montgomery before booking a trip. I want your time on my boat to be well worth the fee.

Our favorite species are redfish, speckled trout, pompano, false albacore, ladyfish, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and jack crevalle. In addition there are times when we target tarpon, mahi mahi, and amberjacks. For more information on what's available and when, click the "Types of Trips" button and read through the fly-fishing section. Of course what we do each day depends on the conditions. We have lots of options on days with good light, clear water, and light winds. On windy days we're confined to areas in the lee, and when the conditions are questionable I give my clients the option to cancel or reschedule.

A typical day starts around 0800 in the summer months and 0900 in the winter months. The later start gives the sun time to rise higher in the sky for sight-fishing. Trips are 4 or 6 hours, and we want the best light. We usually start with a few minutes of casting warmup/practice/lessons and are fishing within a half hour of leaving the dock.

The objective is for my clients to have their best day ever on fly, and sometimes it happens. Even when it doesn't we always have a blast trying.

Capt Baz

Pensacola tarpon



Itís always a great day on the water with Gulf Breeze Guide Service!

Gulf Breeze Guide Service
P.O. Box 251
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561-0251 (USA)
Tel: 850.261.9035

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