Thursday, January 28, 2010

Russel Pass Area

Today I went and checked out another part of the bay down towards Russel Pass to see how the fishing conditions are. Things are looking better not seeing a lot of fish that died. Fishing was pretty much the same as other parts of the bay I've been fishing. I caught one small red and a lot of trout fishing different spots. I did have one snook hit a topwater plug and saw a few snook hiding in an undercut in one creek, it was nice to see them. I launched at the Ranger station and they are working on the kayak launch which was nice to see and is a long time coming.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Choko Sunday 1/24

After Saturday with decent weather and catching a bunch of fish I decided to go back out Sunday and Chris and Mike joined me. The plan was to fish the same general area and just go out and have a good time. As with winter weather, today was different than yesterday with winds picking up blowing from the southwest, another front would be coming through. After making our way across the bay we concentrated in sheltered areas site fishing mudflats and oyster bars looking for reds. Chris found one small school and had a couple of follows but no hookups. After the tide shifted to outgoing we moved on to a deeper area that I know usually holds trout and had fun catching them for awhile. After the bite stopped there we fished a couple of other areas and went back to where I was catching fish on Saturday only the winds were now howling and it was tough going fishing in the open. It was a good day even with just being able to catch some trout. Didn't see any snook and as far as the fish kill there were hardly any dead fish spotted in this area.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Chokoloskee Bay 1/23

I launched early into the bay in a real thick fog. It was dead quiet paddling the mile and a half to get to some mud flats and oyster bars that I wanted to fish. Somehow I actually ended up where I had intended to go without being able to see anything on the way in the dark and fog. Of course again I had no expectations on the fishing because of the recent past. The water now is crystal clear so it was great for site fishing. There were bait fish around along with mullet and as soon as I saw something disturbing the bait I made a long cast and hookup and catch a red about 20". First cast and first fish, a nice way to start the day. The fishing was slow for awhile before the tide changed to outgoing but after that there was a lot of activity. No Snook but I caught another red and a ton of trout. All good sized trout 18" or more and one trout my largest caught here in the bay measured 26". Everything caught today was on a Zara Spook Jr topwater plug, even when fishing some deep holes, awesome! It was a nice morning with temperatures back to normal around 80 and the fish are back ! I'm heading back out there again tomorrow morning bringing Mike and Chris.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Goodland 1/21

I went up to Goodland today to see how conditions were since the cold spell. I headed into the back country to look for juvenile tarpon that hold up for the winter in a few deeper holes and also to see what other fish were around if any. I did a lot of paddling today but it was worth it. I did have one tarpon follow a plug in one spot then turn away which I was just glad to see one alive and the odds are there are more around that survived. I also saw a few reds together in a small cove that I couldn't get to eat but still nice to see. The fish of the day were trout. I caught a ton of them fishing in four different locations. One place was a fish on with every cast. Most of the fish were 14 to 16" and a couple around 18". So, I guess the best way to sum up the day is the fish are on the rebound and getting active again at least in that area. I spoke with two other guides fishing out of skiffs in and around the same areas and had basically the same story and caught only trout and a couple of ladyfish. As long as we don't get any extended cold weather again I don't think it will be that long before things are back to normal, other than snook fishing and maybe tarpon. In the morning I may head up towards Naples and see how fishing is there.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Darwins Place

Darwin's place, A ground campsite on the Wilderness Waterway in Everglades National Park is around a twenty-five mile boat ride southeast from Chokoloskee (the nearest civilization). It's one of the few sites where you can camp on solid ground as where most of the sites on the waterway are Chickie's, the elevated wood platforms built over open water. The site originally a Calusa Indian shell mound was later inhabited by different settlers and the last was Arthur Darwin, a recluse, lived there into the early 1950's growing bananas. He was the last inhabitant to live in ENP. It's now just a small clearing with a crumbling foundation from his house, enclosed by Gumbo Limbo and other trees including palms and is thick with ferns and vines. Surrounding the site are some mangrove islands and some large shallow bays connected by creeks and rivers. This was my fourth time camping there and it's one of my favorites mainly for the normally great fishing and the remoteness. The night sky there is beyond description. As awesome as it is to camp there for a few days, one can only imagine how one could have lived and survived there in that environment.

One of the reasons this campsite is chosen is that's it is protected from most any bad weather as was the case this time. Regrettably with this cold spell we've had a major fish kill throughout the state and this place was no exception. It was a very sad site to see so many dead fish, especially the larger snook and tarpon. This was a fishing camping trip and it wasn't for not trying by everyone but only a few trout and ladyfish were caught. (Since getting back yesterday I've already heard some good reports of good catches of trout and redfish again around the outside islands).

The guys on this trip were friends and family meeting here in the Everglades from four different states for a getaway break. So few get to see and experience the remote parts of the Everglades first hand and even considering the poor fishing I think everyone really enjoyed themselves being where we were.

Don checking out the birds as we fished our way through one of the creeks

Brian, Don, Ron and Charles

Ron thought for sure this clump of oysters was a fish

Heading out from camp to do some morning fishing

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Not Good (Fishing) News

I managed to get out for a couple of hours today around midday when there was enough water. Chokoloskee Bay was basically dry for most of the morning due to the tide and wind so there was no place to launch without dragging the boat through the mud. After not getting out for the last few days because of the weather I had to get out today and check things out for myself. I had to see how the area has been affected by the recent cold weather. The news is not real good, just as is being reported from all over Florida. The water temperatures are still in the forty's here and although I only saw a couple of dead snook there were a lot of other dead fish pretty much anywhere I went. I covered a couple of miles searching some small bays and coves for fish and tryed fishing some deeper areas to maybe find a trout and I didn't have a bite. The only fish I saw alive were a few mullet, catfish and needlefish and they were all struggling. Today I talked with a couple other guides who were able to get out over the last couple of days to fish and everyone had similar stories. Other than a couple of redfish caught out around some barrier islands no other fish were caught.

There is supposed to be a warming trend over the next couple days and I guess all there is to do is hope for the best and that conditions get back to some kind of normalcy.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Everglades Cold Front

I'm thinking tomorrow will be the day to get back out and do a little kayaking out in the bay towards the gulf and see how the fishing is. There have been some fish kills reported in the area but I don't think it's nearly as bad as other parts of Florida. Had it been a drastic temperature drop there would have been a lot more fish (especially snook) trapped in shallow water as in years past and die but I think with the gradual drop in temperature,even though it got very cold, the fish had a chance to migrate and find places (deeper water, etc.) to survive. Time will tell.

I took a little trip yesterday and drove up Turner River Road to see if there was any damage from the recent cold weather and other than a little frost damage on the vegetation and some dead exotic fish the place was alive with activity. Taking advantage of the midday sun were tons of birds. I also saw some whitetail deer, a couple of snakes (no pythons) and turtles. The gators were piled up in some of the areas on the shorelines as they normally do in the winter sun.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Choko January 4

I won't dwell on it, but it was pretty cold out today especially with the wind. When I launched around sunrise I had to paddle around a mile or so to get to a spot where I can usually find trout. My goal for the day was to catch a couple for dinner. I took my Redfish 14 with a rudder so I could cover more ground faster rather than using my Ultimate Kayak. The water temperature has dropped tremendously and is almost crystal clear now. Once I got to my destination I was able to anchor up and fish the outgoing tide with the wind at my back which helped to deal with the conditions. I fished the bottom with jigs and DOA Cal soft plastics and I actually managed around a half dozen fish of which I kept two 18 inchers. After an hour or so the bite died so I spent the next few hours exploring some areas in the super low tide.