I took a few days and drove up to Matlacha and Pine Island to Kayak fish and explore, other than Everglades National Park it’s on the top of the list for places I love to fish. I know the Matlacha area somewhat and have fished there in a couple of tournaments and have done quite well. The Bridgewater Inn is where I stayed, an old stilt fish house converted to the motel. It’s literally right on the water surrounded by docks so you can launch the kayak right from there and be in the backwaters fishing in less than 5 minutes. The managers, Matt and Janet were very accommodating and set me up with a nice room. I would recommend to anyone that’s going to be staying in this area to check this place out.
The fishing in this area on the other hand was a little slow. I did manage a nice snook and a couple of redfish but it was tough going. Site fishing was hard as there seemed to always be a breeze obscuring seeing into the water, spooking a lot of fish running over top of them. Most of the fish I caught were blind casted using topwater plugs early and late and weedless jigs with softplastics.
On my third day I decided to go over and Kayak fish and do a little exploring around Pine Island. I know that the flats fishing can be phenomenal in this area but I had never fished Pine Island before. I found a place on the western shore the previous day near the Pineland Marina to launch and got a real early start. Heading south it was pretty much mangrove shorelines and miles of grass flats away from shore. Being before sunrise I decided to cast topwaters along the mangroves and literally on my first cast catching me off guard I’m hooked up to a real big fish that I believe was a snook. With the fish running I get cut off trying to turn it. Not sure if there was a nick in my leader or the fishes gill plate cut me off. What a way to begin the day, disappointed and exited at the same time about the prospects. After regrouping I continued on down the shoreline as the sun was rising and hook up again this time with a juvenile tarpon, getting him to the boat where he throws the hook. There were tarpon all around rolling and I managed to hook up two more times before they developed lock jaw. One tarpon was larger probably around 50lbs.
Later in the morning I drifted out on the grass flats a couple of miles down the shoreline to see if maybe site fishing was a possibility and have the wind blow me back towards the launch site. It turned out I had the same situation as Matlacha, the slight breeze made it difficult to see, I saw some larger sharks and a loggerhead turtle swim nearby which was cool. I did manage a couple of trout and ladyfish, in the process spooking a few more reds. By mid afternoon it was super hot out there and the tide was super low so it was time to head in. I had a good eight hours out there anyway.
The next morning I was back before the sunrise after deciding to fish before the drive back to Chokoloskee. I was exhausted but how could I pass this up. I threw topwaters on the flats and ended up catching a couple more trout, a snapper and two real nice redfish! Saw a couple more tarpon roll but they weren't interested in my lures. It was a nice way to end the trip. By ten I was loaded up and headed home. The battery died in my camera so no pics of these fish. I’m so looking forward to when I can get back to Matlacha and Pine Island to fish again.
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