Monday, December 27, 2010

Green Herons on the Turner

While the northern states are getting buried in snow this most southern area of Florida in the Everglades is getting some of the effects with some fairly cold weather. I skipped going fishing today and went and checked out the Turner River area in Big Cypress. The area usually doesn't disappoint with the amount of activity with wildlife and today was no exception. There is always a chance of seeing otters, a mink, deer and maybe black bears in the area. Being as cold as it was many of the different bird species of the area were there this morning and hunkering down trying to stay warm. The only bird that was somewhat active and feeding were the Green Herons. They are probably my favorite heron around here. Maybe it's because of the fisherman in me but I've watched many times these birds fishing by standing on low overhanging mangrove branches dropping insects in the water to lure a fish for their dinner.   

Friday, December 24, 2010

Begining of Winter in the Everglades

Weather patterns are somewhat predictable during summer in the Everglades. Typically most everyday there are the rain storms in the afternoon and you try to be off the water by early afternoon. Getting into the winter season it's considered the dry season and there is a slim chance of rain.
My son Rich Jr had just returned from Vermont and along with another friend, Mike, we headed into some back country waters to do some kayak fishing. Launching early we headed in with a beautiful sunrise and calm waters.There was a chance for some rain and by late morning it clouded over. We were a couple of miles from where we launched when the rain began and then... all hell broke loose and we were in the middle of a torrential downpour. We all had our rain gear and decided to stick it out and continue to fish (along with having to bail out our boats every couple of minutes). The monsoon lasted for about an hour. The real incentive I think was the bite was on and during the course of the storm we had a lot of fun catching a bunch of snook (maybe two dozen or so) and five redfish among us. There were some tarpon there but they ignored us as they appeared to be feeding on the small ladyfish that were around. The storm passed and the bite slowed so we worked our way back. A crazy and wet but awesome day! 

During the course of the week I fished a couple of other areas in the back country. The water temperatures have dropped considerably with these cold fronts that have come through and the catching  has slowed a bit but I still hooked up a few times fishing for the juvinile tarpon along with catching a few snook.
With the cooler nights there have been many birds around in the protection of the back country where they can sun and find protection from the cooler winds. 

 Standoff ?

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Early Bird gets....

...An awesome sunrise and a few nice fish !

Checking the weather forecast for the week on Saturday it looked like Sunday would be the best day to get out and do some kayak fishing. There was another cold front coming through on Monday and it would be pretty cold and windy for the following couple of days. I proceeded and headed to the backcountry and had fun for a few hours catching a couple of nice juvinile tarpon and a bunch of snook, the last one of the morning measured a little more than 30". I was back home by late morning making breakfast.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Everglades Winter Fishing

Traditionally I would always go trout fishing on opening day of the season during April in Vermont. The weather didn’t always cooperate with freezing temperatures, maybe it was snowing and there still might be ice blocking access to many of the mountain streams and creeks. Not as drastic down here in the Everglades, but there are cold fronts that come through and it can cool things down quite a bit. This was one of those weeks. I didn’t bother going out across the bay or any other areas where there is open water because of the cold winds and headed to a couple of places I kayak fish up in the backcountry where it is much more sheltered. The first day right after the cold front came through where it was in the 30’s early on and yesterday which was a little bit warmer but it was also raining.

It probably wouldn’t have mattered where I went but there were slim odds of seeing anybody else out, which I didn’t. The first day out I went to one area that offers a lot of protection and found a nice sunny spot where I found some snook and tarpon feeding. I caught a few decent size snook and played with a few smaller tarpon (actually, I think they were playing with me). Probably comical to watch, but early on my fingers tips were numb and it was tough to make any kind of accurate cast. Moving on later I paddled to and checked out a different spot and I’m not sure if it was some kind of fluke but I actually caught a few smaller largemouth bass where I have never seen them before. The area I was in had previously been inhabited by exotic Mayan Cichlid fish where most died off during the drastic cold spell we had last winter.

Yesterday was a bit tougher fishing. My buddy Mike joined me and we went to a different area in the backcountry and we played around with the fly rods. It was slower with the catching but I caught a redfish, we both caught a couple of snook, jack and ladyfish. Again I think the tarpon were playing with us but if anything it was a new place where I hadn’t seen them before and I will be returning there soon again.

I am still seeing a lot of different migratory birds back in these areas. More uncommon I’ve seen quite a few American Bitterns and also a couple of Short Tail Hawks. Pictured at the bottom is a photo of a Short Tail hawk I had previously taken.

Fairly common Green Heron

Short Tail Hawk

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Everglades Chill

This turned out to be a fairly exciting week. The first real cold front has come through and temperatures have dropped considerably, day temps in the low seventies and at night into the forties. I fished two days this week, one day in the backcountry and one day in the bay. Fishing in one of the backcountry areas I go I happened upon a spot, the mouth of a small creek that I had never fished because it is so overgrown with roots and overhanging mangroves. The tide was very low at this point. Passing by I noticed there was some activity with baitfish and figured I would try and skip one of the small plastic swim baits I use. Getting the bait in there was easy but getting it out was another story. On the first cast I immediately hooked up with a large snook that proceeded to break me off as he took off into the mangroves. I knew it would be pretty difficult to get a fish out of there but I re-rigged and stepped up the leader to the largest I had with me which was 40lb. It was still to no avail and for one reason or another, whether getting cut off or just getting wrapped up in the roots I think I maybe lost a half dozen or so larger fish. I did manage to get a couple of smaller size snook out of there. It was pretty exciting to know that more larger fish are up in these areas. By chance if I’m at this spot in the future when the tide is higher I think I will have a better chance to catch some of these fish.

I kayak fished the bay the day the cold front came through. The day started out with it being dead calm but around midmorning the front came through a lot earlier than predicted. If anything it was a nice (hard) workout paddling the mile and a half back across the bay directly into the twenty plus mph winds. Fishing was pretty good while it lasted with some snook, trout and a couple of smaller redfish. I caught a few snappers and a gag grouper also. There seemed to be more sharks around than usual.

Two different articles I had written were published this month so please check them out. Native Watercraft one of my main sponsors published a short article I wrote about the Everglades and you can read this at Native Watercraft. I am now writing a monthy article on kayak fishing for Coastal Angler Magazine, a Florida fishing publication both online and printed copies and you can read my first article for them at Coastal Angler, page 35, Thanks

I joined up with Ranger Bob Martin and Joseph Taboada to test paddle one of the trails, Halfway Creek, to see if it was passable through Big Cypress Preserve. We did the whole trail from Hwy41 back to Glades Haven marina in Everglades City. It was a real nice trip through that area and it ended up being around a 12 mile trip. I didn’t have time to fish much but there are many opportunities along the way.

Yesterday I met up with Ira Silverman visiting from Cape Cod. The plan was to paddle the other main trail through Big Cypress, The Turner River. The original plan was to paddle the whole trail back to Everglades City also (which is also 12 miles plus) but we spent too much time in the upper area of the river and there wasn’t enough time to do the whole trip. This trip was the highlight of the week. This trip was one of those “magical” trips. I don’t remember Ira’s exact words but he spoke of in all the years of coming and going to different places in Florida he has never experienced or seen anything like this and I agree, it was one of those days. It was incredible to see all the different wildlife, especially the many different birds and to be in that environment with them.

Ranger Bob and Joseph leading the way

In the Turner River Tunnel

Everglades Banded Water Snake (non venomous)

Local Anhinga