Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Begins in the Everglades

According to the calender it's winter now. About my only hint was catching a few snook up in a couple of my backcountry areas that were still lighter in color meaning they had recently migrated to these areas from cleaner open waters. So, the winter migration has begun. I haven't seen any of the juvenile tarpon I would normally see in these areas which I find to be a bit unusual but I'll just give it that I've been in the wrong place at the wrong time or they just haven't started their migration yet. There have been a couple of cold fronts come through making it a bit cooler for a couple of days but it hasn't been enough to cool the waters that much. The water temperatures are still in the seventies.
Fishing the last week or so has been pretty good and the species of the week is the snook. I caught a few nice fish, a few pushing 30" and a few over, one around 34". Pretty much wherever I fished there were also many smaller snook.
My redfish catch this past week was down but I attribute that to spending most of my time in the backcountry where they are not very common. While fishing the bay I did catch a couple around 22". 
A guarantee catch in the bay is the trout. They were in all the usual places and the majority caught were 17 to over twenty inches. Flounder, Jacks, snapper and ladyfish are also around. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Amazing Everglades

I was on the water four times this past week. Twice kayak fishing and twice paddling through parts of the Turner River in Big Cypress Preserve.
Being just about winter we are beginning to have some cold fronts come through the area. Had a little rain one day and temperatures in the 70's, It's really nothing to complain about I know compared to many other parts of the country and it's actually a nice break from this past summers temps that averaged in the upper eighties.
I fished two different areas this week, one morning up in the back country and one day in Chokoloskee bay. I wanted to check out and see how the water levels were in the back and they are still fairly high making it still a little difficult to fish many of the areas. I fished this area on one of the colder mornings (in the 50's) and very windy. I managed to catch a few nice snook but didn't see or hook up with any Tarpon.

Kayak fishing Chokoloskee bay was another winter kind of fishing day. Three of us went out and fished till midday. It was a full moon negative outgoing tide and it rained on us most of the time. Everyone caught a few decent fish but had we stayed to fish the incoming tide it would probably  have been much more successful. We caught reds, snook and some trout along with ladyfish and jacks.

When the opportunity comes up to paddle in Big Cypress Preserve on the Turner River it's hard for me turn it down. I had the opportunity twice this week. The water levels are good right now as later during the winter months this area could (almost) dry up making it difficult to access and right now mosquitoes are almost non existent. This is one amazing place and there is no other like it anywhere. It's different each time going in here so you never know what you will see with all the different fauna, birds and other wildlife of the Everglades.

Here's a few photos from this week paddling on the Turner River.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Surprising Everglades

It's been a fun and interesting week although the winds again made some of it a bit challenging. I've heard it from some locals and other guides who will tell you about the fishing in the Everglades that when you think you have it all figured out then everything changes and you have to start over. Well, this was kind of one of those weeks. Where I would normally find my fish there were none and places I wouldn't expect them to be is where they were. Anyway, I still caught a few nice fish during the week.

Mostly fishing in the bay, I caught a few nice redfish, got spanked by a large snook but caught a few others in the upper 20's and most all the trout this week were at least 18" with a couple around 22". Also caught a couple of flounder.  

This photo above of a shallow (low tide) muddy pond I spotted while exploring an area to stay out of the wind. I saw this place through a small opening in the mangroves off from a river near the bay. The pond while nothing much to look at but I spotted fish movement in there, not mullet but a couple of redfish foraging in the mud and about ten feet in front of me. Of course, I made my way in dragging my kayak over the oysters and through the opening. There was no way of getting in there without making noise and spooking the fish and did I mention the noseeums were horrendous. Once in I waited awhile for things to calm down and lo and behold the redfish swam back to just a short ways in front of me. I made a couple of short casts and finally, score! Redfish on! I caught two fish this same way and after that I caught another one at the far end of the pond, all fish were around 24". A couple of surprise catches today!

This is Chris coming from South Carolina who fished with me one day this past week with his father shown with a nice Redfish that he caught.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Endless Everglades

I've been kayak fishing here around the Everglades for probably the last six years. I'm usually on the water a few times a week kayaking and fishing the area. I've acquired a fairly long list of some great places I like to fish where it can be very productive. This last week I decided to concentrate on a new area to explore and do some fishing in an area that I have not visited that much near Chokoloskee bay. With not the greatest tides this week and some very windy weather I ended up being pretty successful in finding some nice fish in a small area of small mangrove islands and many oyster bars. When conditions are a little better I can only imagine how good the fishing will be there. I've added a new place to my list and I'll be heading back there in a day or so.

One other day this last week I also did a trip taking out John Johnson and his son, John, from Punta Gorda, Florida. Having never really kayaked before or fished with artificial baits a few nice fish were caught by them. It was a real nice day and I believe these guys are sold on the sport and will be fishing out of their own kayaks soon.

Little Blue

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Windy Glades Again

Well, what can I say, The winds are still blowing. Seems like it's been nonstop for at least the last month or so. At least the day temperatures are now more moderate in the seventies and eighties and low humidity which has been nice.It's been tough fishing the bay areas because of the winds but the couple of times that I managed to get out there were some decent fish caught, including mostly Snook, trout and a couple of nice redfish.
I kayak fished some of my places in the backcountry which offers a lot of protection from the winds but that also has been a bit challenging. From all the recent rains that we've had has kept the water levels very high. Fishing around mangroves has been almost impossible. I still managed to catch a few decent size snook and a couple of juvenile tarpons. Fishing these areas will improve again when the water levels drop and air temperatures as we move into the winter months.  

Below are a couple photos of Ken and his son Tim. They fished with me last week on about the only day it wasn't windy. A nice day and a few nice fish were caught.

Ken with a very nice Speckled Sea Trout
Tim and his nice Redfish

A new issue of "Flats Pirate" Magazine came out the other day and has a new article I wrote. You can check that out at Kayak the Glades .

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fishing the Everglades, Winds or not

These north winds this past week or so have made things difficult but it looks like they are subsiding only there may now be some other weather headed this way maybe from a tropical storm down in the Yucatan. Hopefully it's just a little rain. The weather doesn't normally stop me from going out to kayak and fish and I've gone out a few times to fish. From the previous rain we had the bay was very muddy from all the run off from the back country. It's now clearing up to it's normal tannin color. I had assumed the fishing would be terrible but even though it was a bit slower we caught all our normal species including some trout, reds and snook. Most fish were not of any great size but some nice fish were caught.
I made it back to one back country area where it's usually less affected by the weather and this one day I had fun and caught a few decent size snook. I saw a few rolling tarpon but had no takers.

A  nice backwater snook

Visiting Red Shoulder hawk

Reddish Egret

I had ordered new kayaks for the upcoming season from Native watercraft in Greenboro North Carolina and decided to take a ride and go and pick up my new boats there the other week. I decided to head to the western part of the state first to visit a friend where we took a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It just so happens that it was their peak foliage season and the tree colors were awesome to see in the area and mountains, quite a change of scenery from the Everglades lowlands.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Everglades, Big Cypress and the Blackwaters

This turned out to be quite an interesting week. I attended a couple days worth of classes and seminars at Big Cypress National Preserve. There has been bit of controversy around for a long time with allowing or not allowing the public into the preserve involving certain activities. The park is coming around slowly and now allows some concessions to operate such as swamp buggy and canoe/kayak tour company's on a limited basis. Anyways, we can all attest how our government works a lot of times. Most of these classes were very interesting and informative and the biologists and rangers that spoke are very knowledgeable on a multitude of subjects. Big Cypress offers free classes through the winter on a variety of subjects and they will post them on their website should you be interested and be in the area during this time.   

Later in the week I had my opportunity to get back on the water. The forecast for the remainder of the week was calling for windy and stormy weather so I again concentrated on the backcountry. The one day I did a solo trip to one of the lakes and had fun catching a few snook who were hanging deep under the mangroves. I switched off to a fly rod after seeing some juvenile tarpon out in more open water and then had fun with a few of these crazy fish. I caught a nice size Mayan Cichlid in this lake also, the first in a couple of years since the freeze we had which killed most of the exotic fish in this area.

There was planned to be a group of us kayak fishing on Saturday. Everybody cancelled because of the bad weather forecast so it was just me and my son, Rich. The weather turned out to be great for the most part and we ended up catching a ton of fish. Mostly snook of every size. Again proof in a year or so I think will be banner years in catching a lot more larger snook in this west coast area.  

A pretty colored blackwater redfish

 Blackwater Snook

I spotted this cool little guy, a Florida (Everglades) Box Turtle swimming out in the open water. Normally a land turtle I thought it was weird to find him out there.

Green Heron on the Turner River in big Cypress