Peter Corrao of FlyLight Charters guides the depths of some of the most explosive coastal waters on the East Coast of the United States. Corrao recently sat down to take on some questions for the Venturing Angler:
Where do you guide and why?
I guide predominantly in Southeastern Connecticut and then secondarily at Harker’s Island, North Carolina. I guide in Connecticut from April until the last week of October. Fishing is good every one of those months in Connecticut. Then I take the boat to the Harker’s Island area of North Carolina for the month of November. I fish both areas because, for fly fishing, these areas are really hard to beat. In Connecticut I fish mainly for stripers, bluefish, false albacore, and bonito. From my marina in New London, CT, I can access Rhode Island, Block Island, Montauk and all of the Eastern Connecticut shoreline. When our fall run is winding down I head to Harker’s Island North Carolina and fish there exclusively for false albacore. The albie fishing there can be epic and November is prime time for these fabulous fish.
What is your favorite fish species?
My favorite fish to target is false albacore. Fishing them is the most like a combination of hunting and fishing. Once found they can be finicky eaters and you constantly need to be on your game regarding what fly they will eat at that moment. But once caught they fight like no other fish. Pound for pound nothing caught on a fly fights like an albie. Imagine hooking your 9 weight rod’s line to your friends motorcycle and having it take off at full speed. That’s what it’s like to hook an albie. These fish break 9 weight rods like it’s a priority to do so. They are such a thrill to catch and every fish is memorable. We’ve got days in Connecticut when it’s not unusual to catch a dozen a day. In North Carolina it’s common to catch a dozen in a morning.
What is your favorite thing about guiding?
Two favorites for me. The first is staying relevant in my retirement. I had a great career as President & CEO of four different public and private companies. When I retired at 58 I didn’t want to sit on the porch and I wanted to do exactly what I loved best … which was fishing. So, the first answer is ‘my favorite thing about guiding is fishing. With that comes being outside, enjoying beautiful scenery and meeting lots of fabulous and often like minded people. The second thing I like is keeping my competitive juices flowing. Finding and catching fish for people, especially on the fly, is a real thrill for me. And luckily it’s a thrill for the anglers I guide as well.
What’s your most memorable trip?
I recently had a chance to guide a father and son from the Hudson Valley area of NY/NJ. The father was a fantastic fisherman and the 5 year old son was a really good spin fisherman, especially for a 5 year old. Anyway, about half way through the trip and after catching a bunch of nice bluefish the father told me that the beautiful 5 year old boy was a ‘Make a Wish’ kid. The youngster had been diagnosed with leukemia and had been going through weekly chemotherapy treatments since he was 4. It really touched me to see just how much this kid loved fishing and how much he enjoyed life. Casts his own rod, hooked his own fish and if the fish were too big for him he’d stick the rod butt in the rod holder and “give it hell.” What a fantastic attitude about life the father and son both had. I really hated to see the day end because I loved watching this kid have so much fun. Anyway, as much as I’ve fished and as many great days I’ve had myself and with clients this father/son combo had to be most memorable and inspiring. I can’t wait to fish them again.
What’s the funniest thing you’ve experienced while guiding?
I was guiding a nice family, two men and two women. One of the men was a good with a fly rod, while the others didn’t have any experience so I put them on spinning gear. I was showing the fly guy’s fiancé how to cast for about an hour; she was pretty athletic and really throwing the baits a long way. Feeling like she was doing well enough to fish on her own I told her it would be ok to walk toward the bow and fish with her fiancé. So on her first cast she hauls back to really let one fly towards some stripers that were a long way from the boat. Problem was she didn’t have the bail open and so she spun around and dug the hook in my arm. She got so anxious that instead if just stopping everything she decided to start reeling with only me on the other end of the line. This was hour one of a 6 hour trip and I bled like a tuna for the next 5 hours. Every time she’d see blood on the deck she’d ask if that was from me or a fish and unfortunately the blood was always mine.
What makes your guide service great?
I’m not sure about great but I always try my best to put my clients on fish. I don’t stick to a particular schedule but more so try to judge tides and times where an when the fish are most likely to be caught. It costs me some double bookings on some days but I think it’s well worth it to be sure my clients can “catch” and not just “fish.” Guided trips are expensive for the clients and I think I owe it to them to suggest the best times and tides to fish. Doesn’t guarantee catching but certainly increases their odds.
If you had one day off where would you fish and what would you target?
If I had a day to fish myself I’d likely choose Harker’s Island and fish for false albacore. The fish there can be BIG. I get fish there at and over 20lbs every year. Albies are such a thrill to catch … they don’t have any quit in them and they are perfect for a 9 or 10 weight fly rod. Heaven must be like Harker’s Island in November!
What are your three favorite flies?
My favorite flies aren’t too exotic but they are what I catch most of my fish on. #1 would have to be a pink and white Deceiver. Day in and day out that’s my “go to” fly for everything. Size can vary but for me pink and white is the color. #2 would be a tuti-fruity colored Clouser. When the fish are running a little deeper the Clouser is the way to go for me in Connecticut and in North Carolina. #3 would have to be an albie whore. Albies can be picky and when they won’t eat anything else that’s what I pull out. Hard to know what the fish thinks they are although I suppose squid is what they resemble most which is why they work on everything that swims. They are time consuming to tie but they really do the trick when the albies, and other game fish, are fussy.
What’s the one piece of gear you wouldn’t want to leave at home?
Besides a good life jacket the one piece I don’t want to leave without would be a good pair of pliers. I prefer a simple wire cutter style. I can cut line, close up barbs, repair the boat, get hooks out of fish, cut fingernails and a hundred other uses. Good pliers are a “need to have” not a “nice to have.”
Do you have any other passions?
Besides guiding and fishing I have several other passions. Showing Great Danes is a hobby/lifestyle I’ve enjoyed for 30 plus years. We’ve had some fantastic champions over the years and I really like showing and the companionship of our Great Danes. For me and my family there’s only one breed of dog. Beyond the dogs I really like investing and studying equities. I spend hours every week reviewing stocks and studying our portfolio. I also like traveling with my wife and enjoy NYC immensely. We lived both in NYC and at our home in CT for many years and while we only have our Connecticut home now we get to NYC often for shows, dinner and sharing time with our friends.
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