Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Pre-Rainy Season

It's that time of year again as a transition is again taking place in the Everglades. Being somewhat predictable as to what to expect with the warmer weather and waters there is still the challenge of figuring out where the fish are going to be on a particular day, especially when fishing very large areas such as Chokoloskee Bay where fish have the tendency to move around a lot. Fishing out of kayaks and canoes definitely limits the areas that you can cover in a day so by doing a little research before launching the boats will help immensely in having a successful day. Learning about the tides and weather conditions here will play a very important part but I think as with anything else spending a lot of time doing anything and it will become second nature. I wouldn't say that this is the exact case here but after spending a tremendous amount of time fishing the waters out and around the bay I have gotten pretty successful in finding fish on any given day.

This past week I was on the water 4 days kayak fishing and exploring a few different places, twice in the bay and twice up in the backcountry. As mentioned above the bay can be very challenging  as in this week again being very windy and the water being silted up and muddy but there are fish around, some nice larger reds are making their appearence along with some nicer sized snook and again any trout caught have all been at the top or over the slot size. Spending some time up in the backcountry at two different locations I found there to be many snook around as I made my way. I didn't fish it hard but there were some big fish feeding on the baitfish back in the mangroves. You can be sure I'll be going back there soon.
A nice 20" Trout, average size this week 18 to 20" 

My son Rich Jr is getting it figured out, here with a nice 30" Redfish !

Rich with a nice 30" snook

I went and checked out the swamps (in Fakahatchee Strand) and they are just about dried up with not having hardly any rain for the last few months. Typical of most winters here. Our daily afternoon rains will be starting any day and this place will look a lot different soon.
Tri-Colored Heron in mating plumage.
Great White Egrets at their rookery in the bay

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Oyster bars

The Florida tourist season is winding down as we approach the warm summer season. Much of my guiding I do here in the Everglades comes from these visitors during the winter months and as much as I love showing and kayak fishing with many of these people around the area I look forward when the area turns back into it's sleepy fishing town. Being kind of hilarious I think this season I've seen no less than a dozen cars driving down on the wrong side of the road and at the small traffic circle in the center of town three different times cars driving around it the wrong way. I suppose they were foreigners but then again when I think about the mentality of some of the visitors from this country, I'm not sure. I can't count how many times I could hear or have seen motor boats run across or onto oyster bars in the bay because they just aren't aware how low the tides get here in the winter or just are clueless and decided to not read a chart or not to follow the markers. You can always tell the clueless ones as you paddle past them and they turn their backs to you because they are so embarrassed. Most of them try and act like they are busy doing something while they are sitting high and dry. I try and keep my laughter to myself as I paddle by. ( I'm not totally heartless and if I catch their eye and they are within throwing distance I offer a water or two because they will probably be spending the next few hours there before they can get a tow or have enough water to float off.)

Speaking of oyster bars, fishing around a few of them on the rising tides has been somewhat awesome. For there not being many larger snook around I have run across many of them in the last week. I managed to catch a few of them and hooked up and lost twice as many more. Fishing in these mostly shallow waters the go to bait has been topwater plugs and as many know there is no way to explain the excitment of a large snook hitting them.
I'm still looking to hookup with a larger redfish in the backwaters but most this past week I've caught have been the "rat" reds averaging around 18" to 20". They are still fun using topwater plugs but I've seen some larger fish in the murky water usually as I paddled over and spooked them.
Fishing a few of my trout holes this week they are making themselves more scarce. We caught a few but their numbers have dwindled since the waters have warmed up. Most of the trout caught have been more in the shallow waters, also on topwater plugs and a little larger than average around 20".
Other species caught during the week was a nice gag grouper caught by Paul who fished with me one day. Fishing mangroves for snook have resulted in catching a few nice mangrove snappers also.  

One of the clean-up crew

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Goodland - Everglades Fishing

It turned out to be quite a busy week. I decided to enter a kayak fishing tournament on Saturday after not doing any over the last few years. I used to enjoy doing them even though some were poorly organized but it was still nice to travel around to different parts of the state to fish different places and also to meet other kayak anglers. The last straw was doing one out of Port Charlotte that was very poorly run and I won't go into details but I swore it would be my last one. Anyway, this tournament would be a local one that was held in Goodland. There are not many of these types of tournaments in this part of Florida and after corresponding a little with the director of the event to get the details I decided to do it. This tournament was one in a series put on by Kayak Fishing Classics. What I liked about this tournament was everybody had to launch together and basically fish the same area putting everybody in the same playing field unlike many or most tournaments where you could fish anywhere or have the option of fishing a large area so many contestants would fish their honey holes in their home waters putting many anglers at a disadvantage.

I knew it would be a tough day for everyone fishing the tournament with some slow tides and muddied waters from the windy conditions. Pre-fishing there a little during the week the fishing was very slow. Many contestants caught fish but surprisingly the grand prize winner who was very surprised caught I think a 20" snook and a 20" red, not large fish by any means to win the tournament.I enjoyed doing this tournament and would consider doing another one in the future.

Fishing a couple of other areas (Everglades) during the past week it seemed much better than the Goodland area. In Everglades there are many snook and reds around along with some nice trout that are still running larger at the top or over the slot size of 20". 

A pretty multi-spotted Redfish
Rich Jr with a nice snook around 30"

Goodland Reddish Egret

I watched this osprey as he caught this mullet but struggled in deeper water to get himself airborne with the fish. He was completly submerged for a minute but was determined to keep the fish. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Out Like a Lamb...

"Going out like a lamb" sure didn't apply to March this year. This last week has been one of the windiest in a long time. It is warming up nicely with daily temperatures in the eighties which means the fishing will only be getting better only with the winds this week it has made it difficult to fish more out in the bay and other open areas. The couple of times I did get to fish this week was great. Nothing of any size was caught but we've caught some nice fish including reds, snook and a few trout, a flounder and a couple of snapper. Also of course there are still the ladyfish. Again I spotted a few sharks and tarpon around ! I'm praying the winds subside this next week.

For the birders and photographers the Swallow-Tail Kites are making their migration back from the south seeing a few of them over the last week or so. Along with the herons and egrets beginning their nesting I spotted a few Red-Headed woodpeckers beginning to nest in a couple of hollowed out tree trunks. I spotted an uncommon morph of a Great Blue Heron with some coloration called a "Wurdemanns" Heron but I couldn't get close enough for a photo. 

Foggy Morning

Local Black Snake

My Hawk Friend