Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Experiences in The Everglades

There's no doubt it has been, or so it seems this has been one of the warmest summers since I have been living here in The Everglades. Then again, I think I have these same thoughts every year around this time. I am looking forward to some cooler weather.  

As far as the fishing goes, it has actually been pretty good but that's with getting the kayaks out as early as possible while the fish are active. By noon the bite has been pretty much done when the temperatures are back up again.  

I'm often asked, especially by clients about my experiences with spending so much time and kayak fishing out in The Everglades. I have my share of stories to tell along with some unusual experiences but rarely have I ever felt threatened being around alligators, sharks and other wildlife, including manatees, but there have been many exciting times.

A few years back around this same time of year I was out exploring an area for places to fish a couple of miles south of Chokoloskee and I found myself in at a large shallow bay surrounded by some small islands. There were a few different kinds of birds wading and feeding and a few alligators around so I decided to go in and check out the area. It was fairly shallow and the water was pretty muddy. As I made my way in I ran aground and assumed I ran onto an oyster bar because I couldn't see into the water. I decided to stay put and take a break for a few minutes and take in the happenings going on around me. After deciding to move on after around 15 minutes I stuck my paddle in to push myself off of the "oyster bar" when actually, I had been sitting on top of a large gator who explodes out from under my kayak lifting the kayak and me up out of the water as it takes off. Surprised is putting it lightly how I felt. Why that gator never moved when I first ran on top of him I'll never know.

Obviously that was probably a once in a lifetime occurrence but I have to say that most every trip is unique, what wildlife you will see and some days what kind of fish you will catch even when targeting certain species. If you have never been to The Everglades it is definitely a place to visit, fish and experience for yourself. I still have many days available for the upcoming winter season for day trips so if your planning to visit the area, please look me up.             

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Rainy Day, Dream Away

I woke up to storms again this morning. A normal summer for the most part here in The Everglades; hot, very humid and daily storms. This year there seems to have been many storms come through earlier in the day rather than the afternoon or maybe it's just me. Many mornings this summer when I had plans to get out early to kayak fish only to be interrupted by rain storms. I have no problem with fishing in the rain and rather enjoy it but when there is lightening it will tend to make it a bit nerve racking. Obviously you can't outrun the storms in a kayak and having to find a place in the mangroves to hide and wait out the storm with the mosquitoes is not the most enjoyable. I can attest to that.    

All and all the fishing this summer has been fantastic. There have many nice size snook being caught which is awesome to see that they are rebounding from the devastating fish kill a couple of years ago. I still believe that there should be no open season and only catch and release of these fish for now. Along with the nice snook catches there are a lot of redfish around and seen some nice ones caught also. Other fish being caught around the area right now are Trout, Pompano, Flounder and of course, Tarpon. You will probably find out fairly soon when fishing out there that there also are many sharks around right now, especially bull sharks so even though it's fairly warm out it's not a very good idea and I highly recommend to skip the wade fishing or dangling your feet or hands in the water from your kayak.     

One late afternoon last week I met up and fished with Jack Shealy and had fun catching a bunch of snook with him. Jack owns and runs a local company called "Everglades Adventure Tours"; offering pole boat tours and other types of Eco trips. For a unique Everglades experience this is something you need to check out. See his website at Everglades Adventure Tours

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Everglades Heat Up

Since my return from my trip to North Carolina I don't believe the temperature has gone much below 80 degrees here in the Everglades. By noon and for the rest of the day it's been 90 degrees plus, the humidity is way up and storms have been coming early many days. The bugs are another story. I've been planning my trips by the weather only and not bothering with the tides or moon phase. When there's a window to go fishing I go. It may not sound very inviting but the fishing actually has been very good, especially fishing for snook and young tarpon in the backwaters. 

When I've been going, it's been an early start before sunrise and finished by noon when it's super hot and the bite is basically over because of it. I've had a few very successful mornings recently fishing with both the fly rod and a spinning rod and using mostly topwater plugs and flys.
Anyway, I do look forward to some cooler days.

Looking at the upcoming winter season I have decided to offer and concentrate more on just fishing in the Everglades backcountry. This past winter due to so many windy days it was tough to get out in the bay and more open waters of the gulf and I don't want to put clients through the long paddle to get to my fishing areas. Instead, for any fishing in more salt waters where I would fish for reds and trout along with snook, tarpon and other species I will offer to kayak fish more around the Marco Island and Naples areas. I have many places up that way that I know very well and some awesome fishing with a lot shorter paddle.
I've booked a few trips already for the upcoming season and if you are planning a trip to the area and are thinking about fishing with me, contact me to reserve your day sooner than later so you are not disappointed, Thanks. 

This is Phil who fished with me just before I left for North Carolina with his very nice snook that he caught with me.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Lowlands To The Highlands

Well, I'm back from my annual pilgrimage to Western North Carolina to visit friends, fish and take a short break from The Everglades.    

To compare the two, it's like night and day, from the lowlands to the highlands. I first visit my old friend from Vermont, Brian Brace an accomplished and fellow furniture maker friend who has his shop in Black Mountain, NC. I use this town as my home base and fish the surrounding areas from here. After a couple of years of visiting the area I know a couple of local guides and others who fish the area and learn what I can from them and where I should fish.

I still consider myself somewhat of a novice fishing these creeks and small rivers but my success rate gets better each year I come back. Having really no clue on what flys to use when I arrive I stop at the local fly shop in Black Mountain, One Fly Outfitters to have them set me up with a selection to use.

Over the course of a couple of weeks I fished seven different creeks, a couple of these twice and it was pretty challenging I must say. I was told when I arrived it was after the "delayed harvest time" which means apparently  the creeks were basically fished out from all the local fisherman catching all the recently stocked fish which, really didn't matter to me because I would be fishing mostly in the upper sections higher in the mountains.

I fished hard thru some rough country. I hiked and bushwhacked up and threw many of these creeks where in many places were surrounded or overgrown by Rhododendron and other underbrush and trees. A good thing is I never came upon any bears or snakes which are fairly common in the area.

The fish are mostly native brook trout in these places and can tend (or seem) to be scarce. Most are not very big fish which never grow big because of this environment and the average fish was around 3 to 5 inches. It's very challenging fishing. Just about any catch here was a time for celebration.

The Blue Ridge and Smokey Mountain areas of North Carolina is stunning to say the least and if you have never been to this part of the country it's certainly a place to visit and check out. The fish I caught were just a bonus to being here and I look forward to return again next year.

My largest Brookie around 10"

A nice Brown Trout

My go to setup on most of these trips this year was a 5wt 7'6" TFO Professional Series II rod with a Lamson reel. The line was Royal Wulff "Ambush" series which was awesome for it's ease of roll casting. I had a short tapered leader with a tippet either 4X or 5X,
  and I used a variety of dry and terrestrial flys. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Snookery in The Everglades

It's still been kinda tough to kayak fish out in the bay and more open waters because of the windy conditions so I haven't even bothered. I'll continue to mainly fish many of the more (somewhat) protected areas in the Everglades back-country. Some mornings have been glass calm and I try to take advantage of that by getting out very early and then fish till around noon. The mosquitoes and horsefly's  have been pretty brutal when launching on a few of these last days but it's been a small price to pay for the good times and good fishing.

Nothing beats being out in the wilderness of The Everglades to explore and fish, totally unlike most any other place in Florida. Some day's the fishing is very challenging as anywhere but recently everything seems to have come together and the fishing has been very rewarding for everyone I've brought there. Above is a very nice sized snook I caught this last week. Fish that we have been catching have been mostly snook and juvenile tarpon, jacks and a few reds along with some exotics.   

So, speaking of the winds, this past Sunday I got a call from a good friend Dan Decibal around midday who was headed over this way with another friend Jason Fernandez to fish and asked if I would like to join up. I usually never turn down an opportunity to fish so we met up and fished a couple of different places where we could find shelter from the winds. We had fun exploring and at the one Dan caught this beautiful snook on his 6wt. An absolute awesome catch!
 Please check out this short video that Dan put together of our adventure called

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spring (Summer ! )

So much for spring. Temperatures are already up in the upper eighty's right now during the day. I've been pushing myself and clients to get out early before sunrise while it's a bit cooler. I know it's theoretically spring, birds are nesting, Swallow tail kites have returned and our rains haven't really started yet. I know it's now spring when bull sharks show up in a couple of back country places that I kayak fish. I found out the other day as a bull shark came up and ate a nice snook I had just released. Usually it's the gators that sometimes want to eat my fish but this time of year the sharks may show up for whatever reason. Another challenge to fishing some of these Everglades waters and knowing now that they are back, I'll avoid fishing these areas for the next month.
Every day is different but there have been a few days recently where we've been getting into the juvenile tarpon. They can be so finicky but we've managed to hookup with many, both on fly and spinning rods, and boat a few of these crazy fish.  

Dumber than a pelican (sorry pelicans)  to all fisherman who has kept and killed a snook during this past open snook season here on the southwest coast of Florida. With exception to some visitors and tourists who may not have known any better any fisherman living in Florida knows of the devastating fish kill we had a few years ago. I support most all things that the FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife) does but in this case it's a big fail. The FWC reopened the snook season from political pressure for fishing tourism reasons and The FWC also claimed that scientifically and through studies the snook fishery has rebounded enough to open the season again.
 I wasn't here 30 years or so ago when there was a much more abundant snook fishery, but I know it has declined over the years and the freeze we had a few years ago definitely devastated the snook population. With spending a tremendous amount of time fishing the area waters and talking almost daily with many area guides and fisherman the general consensus is the snook fishery has not rebounded to the point to justify opening a snook season, any fisherman that has fished the area waters over the last few years cannot deny it. Although there are some larger fish around there is no where near the population that once existed.

The keeping of these snook in the slot are or are about to become the breeding stock for the fishery. Whether through ignorance or somehow not knowing about the fishery, educate yourself and please in the future reconsider and think twice about keeping a snook. There are plenty of other fish species that are very good to eat, just ask a pelican.        

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spring Arrives!

Spring is here. I can't believe how fast the winter flew by. Other than being very windy it was a fairly mild winter here in The Everglades. Due to the winds most of the time was spent fishing in many of my back country areas. This winter season has been my most busiest so far and even though things are slowing down I will still be fairly busy through the next month or so before I take an extended break. Many of my clients this year were repeats from years past but also many newcomers and it has been a joy to introduce them to my Everglades and to fish with me. I have some great memories of these trips and I'm sure they have them also.   

The fishing this winter has been generally pretty good. Of course there have been some slower days. Not many trout this winter but I haven't gotten out in the more open waters where I have my trout spots. Most fish caught this winter has been snook and even though there are tons of smaller fish around quite a few larger fish were caught. Most of the redfish caught have all been a good size this year. Being mostly in the back country of course there have been tarpon around and though not many in the boat but there were some nice hookups with a few nicer size juveniles up to around 30lbs. Miscellaneous other fish caught were jacks, mangrove snapper and ladyfish.     

I've been kind of off the grid getting involved with anything to do with the kayak fishing world recently because of being so busy with my kayak fishing charters but I try and follow whats going on. The sport has become very popular from what I can see throughout the country (and world) and is continuing to grow. Along with the growing sport comes a multitude of related new company's, Kayaks, accessories and tackle to name some. My little rant this week is about many of the "Pro-Staffers" out there. Along with those who went out and caught a few nice fish and decided they were worthy to become a guide comes the pro-staffers. There has always been those that were sponsored and those that were on pro staff's. It has become a lot more popular and a great marketing strategy for many company's to get the word out there about their product but, there appears to be as of late many new pro staffers out there who appear to be confused as to what a pro staffer is and what the Pro stands for, it is Promotional and not Professional. I believe a true pro-staffer is one who believes in a product enough to help promote it and not one who is on a pro-staff only for the benefits of getting free or discounted items. I've turned down many company's to promote their product only because what I already use I know works for me. On the right side of the page are some company's who sponsor me and who I am on the pro-staff with such as, Native Watercraft as an example which I used years before I was accepted as an endorsed guide. I use their kayaks because they work for me and the terrain I fish in. I promote them because I believe in the boats...