Tuesday, April 01, 2003
March 20 – John Horstmeyer (Naples) fishing with his son, David and grandson Mike (St. Louis, Mo.) battled the 25 mph winds in search of snook. It was an all around tough day, but we managed quite a few bites. As it turned out, getting the fish to feed was not this issue, getting them to the boat was!! I figured I had better stop counting when the tally reached 4 of 17 snook strikes!! We fished Wizard Creek about 20 miles from Choko. There were plenty of snook, but this place was also home to every small goliath grouper-ette on the planet. Being only 12 inches long, the term goliath is not really ppropriate. Mike had four snook to the boat and Dave muscled a 13 lb juvenile goliath out of the trees. Unfortunately, all the big fish we hooked are still in the trees!!!
March 21 – Tom Stevens and his son Jason from Medine, Ohio had a good day of snook fishing. Fishing a creek under the mangrove canopy on a windy day proved to be the ticket. Each caught several snook, small goliaths and other “tree fish”. Jason latched on to a big “black water” snook that took him to the trees. The fish ended up so far back in the bush we had to organize an extraction team to get him out, but after about 10 minutes of grunting, pushing, pulling and acrobatics we captured the beast. You guys are great and are welcomed back anytime. Vickie had a great time at dinner and told me to tell you to hurray back so she can try out another snook recipe … she needs guinea pigs!!
March 22 – I was able to fishing with Tom and Jason again today. The early morning snook bite was a bit slow, we manage just a few small fish. Mustering up our courage, we blasted off the near-shore tructure. Well, actually, we blasted out of the back-country and then slowing plowed off-shore!! The water was very rough and turbid on the outside, but just as we came near our spot the water cleared up nicely. It was not long before the action started. After several misses, Tom was bowed up on a cobia using eight pound spinning gear. Two other, large fish were trailing his hooked fish, but we did not get them to eat. On the light tackle and rough water there was quite a show as Tom followed the fish around the boat and followed Tom around. In the middle of all this Jason gets slammed by a much larger cobia … Laurel and Hardy lives!!! Just to make things more challenging, the light graphite spinning rod snapped in two leaving Tom with a stubby ice-fishing rod to finish the fish. I am not exactly sure how or why, but the fish did come over the side for a photograph! We headed back in after that fiasco for a beach lunch. We hunted for snook in several other spots picking up a fish, here and there. Several did freight-train up into the corn showing no respect for us personally or our tackle. We ended the day with five nice fish out of one tight little hole. All in all we had a pretty good day in tough conditions.
March 23 – Absolutely perfect weather condition because I was not fishing. Aghhh!!
March 24 – Two dedicated hardcore fisherman from Palatka, Fl, Calvin Close and George Mitchell after a hearty Vickie breakfast, braved the 20 mph north wind with me for a day of snook fishing with artificial. The wind shift, the cooler air, the heavy rains the night before, the war in Iraq, something drove the baits to parts unknown! The bite was off and the fishing was tough. Fishing eight pound spinning gear hard, George boated his first snook a nice 27” fished. We dedicated this fish to Wednesday night’s table fare. George had the smorgasbord for this tough day with redfish, jacks, ladyfish, snapper and grouper to round out his day. Calvin, however, had top honors with a very nice 17lb fish jig up on the light spinning gear. That fish made the day in these tough conditions. Tomorrow has to be better!
March 25 – Another breezy day. Fishing withCalvin and George again, we started off fishing a few miles off shore. I was hoping to get the guys a shot at some early morning tarpon, but they were not around. We did jig up jacks, blue fish, blue runners, lady fish and speckled trout none stop before heading on to snook fish. We fished swimming shad tail jigs and bass assassins on the shoreline catching a few snook here or there. As Calvin said, it is “not much to write home about”. Bait was scare and the fish were not concentrated. However, we entered a small river mouth and that was packed with a gazillion baits. One cast and were “filled to the brim”. The bait fishing started slow, but as the tide picked up in the afternoon, so did the fishing. We had boated another 15 or so fish by day’s end. George had his shot a trophy sow snook on the “Magic Tree”. We thought he had her whooped, but she had other plans and freight trained him into the corn. Can’t win them all!!!
March 26 -- Calvin, George and I ventured out to the land of the giants. The jacks and blue runners were plentiful of course, but it was too snotty to find the permit. Two pods of permit did flash the boat, but by the time I saw them, we did not have a chance. There were plenty of fish around. A large goliath grouper tried to eat one of Calvin’s jacks. That was it; Calvin could not help himself. He caught a “volunteer” and sent him near the bottom on a reconnaissance mission. Within minutes the giant grouper gobbled the poor little jack fish and then headed back to his lair. He left Calvin and George with nothing but big eyes and broken string. Two other attempts end the same. These pigs simple were not going to be photographed. George, using eight pound class spinning gear and a “gold thing”, did jig up a nice cobia. We moved to several other spots in search of permit, but conditions were just too poor. We did catch a pile of Spanish mackerel, speckled trout and even a “prince fish” (small kingfish) and countless jacks, bluefish and blue runners though out the rest of the day.
March 27 -- On the last day the Palatka Boys were here, it again blew pretty hard and we were after tarpon. We knew having bait fish would make a difference on this day. It took quite a while to net bait this morning; every spot that we tried just did not produce. However, in a small cove, we managed to net enough to start fishing. Things started out slow as the shifting winds seemed to follow us every where. Nearing the end of the high tide and with still a strong water flow, we moved up to the end of one of the remote rivers. At the mouth of one of the creeks, we spotted saw a small tarpon rolling. We set up and before long; George jumped off a fish about 35 pounds in the trees. Soon thereafter, he jumper off a large snook in the trees. (Notice the pattern developing here!) Neither the snook nor the tarpon would be photographed, but George did get to photograph two nice redfish. George did not catch an Everglades Slam, but he certainly had his chance in that creek mouth.
As we moved out of the river, it began to rain and blow pretty heavy, so I tucked us up under a mangrove canopy, put up the bimini top and we had lunch to wait out the blow. George heard what he thought were boats coming up the river, but I told him it was the wind … wind it was. Wind in the form of a water spout crossing the river mouth where we were going to fish. After that bit of excitement, we fished the mouth of the river on the way out and picked up another half dozen snook and a small redfish.
Both these guys are excellent fisherman. They caught some nice fish in some pretty tough conditions. There are plenty of fish in this wonderful fishery, but their catch is solely a testament to their skills. I only hope you guys come back when the weather is not as bad so you can really see what this place has to offer!
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