Well winter is coming. The first front of the season brought a big blow to the Park. Though short lived, the wind stirred up the water AND the snook. It had been unseasonable warm and the brief cool snap was a welcomed relief to me and the fish!! The snook bite had slow for the week or so prior to the front, but just after drop in temperature, the fish really turned on.
Redfish, snook and trout are biting excellent, as are the tarpon when you can find them. Mackerel, blue fish, jacks and pompano are in great numbers. However, I am still awaiting the arrival of the big pods of brown marlin! I keep saying, it should be "anytime now" for the cobia pods, but the fish are still sporadic.
Just before the front, I was to fish with Jay Metcalf of Palm Springs, Fl. again. Jay is an excellent fisherman and a pleasure to have on the boats. Snook fishing was pretty tough, though, we were able to catch a few fish throwing bass assassins. We were fishing one of the bait schools when we spotted some large fish working the area. I guess the anticipation of the cobia run had clouded my mind. What I originally thought were cobia, turned out to be tarpon feeding in amongst (or on) the jack, trout and mackerel. It was not long before Jay jumped a nice 100 pound silver king on a rattletrap using 10 lb spinning gear. Unfortunately, the rattletrap was new and I had not changed the hooks and split rings, so the front spit ring gave way and we lost the fish. We got the trap back, unlike Jays brand new Yosuri! Jay' partner had not experienced digging big grouper before, so drifted a big bait over a small piece of structure. After a couple of misses, we hooked up a very nice Goliath Grouper estimated to be close to 250lbs. This is about the upper limit your can expect to handle with standup gear in a small boat. Doing the Palm Springs Tag Team, the fish came along side to pose for a photo. That is my hand in the photo ... yes, it is still attached to my arm!
Dan Staube of Largo, Florida brought his colleagues down from the Boston area for a couple days fishing. The guys raised six snook the first day and a couple of redfish, along with the obligatory selection of jacks and trout. However, Murphy was all over the boat and most of the snook broke us off in the trees. They caught some very nice Jack Crevalle on light spinning gear. These fish are some of the best fighters you will see. A battle with a VERY large mystery fished left us with nothing but sore backs!!. The guys wanted to catch permit the second day, but permit fishing was just that ...permit fishing, not permit catching. I caught a fleeting glance of a nice school but the fish were moving fast and getting out of Dodge ... we never got a good shot. There have been 281 permit released by my anglers so far this year. If this keeps up, that number is not going to change!! However, the guys did get some nice mackerel, redfish and flounder for their dinner.
I had several days off and had a chance to work on the new rental units at Seaboard Villas. The two bedroom/two bath homes have been sheeted and dried in. They should be ready for booking in January. For those interested in owning a piece of paradise, one unit is for sale. . Find out more ... Seaboard Villas
Tom Eschmann of Islip, NY fished with his cousin Mike Eschmann of Miami had a nice day fishing the Everglades National Park. Tom had fished the week before with Capt. Al Lorenzetti and boated a nice 40lb+ striper. A nice fish, but they needed to see the Everglades striped bass. The guys boated an estimated two dozen snook in the morning falling tide. However, we raised just one big fish ... I guess Al's striper still takes top bass honors ... deservedly so!! A stop at a small piece of structure known to hold mackerel kept me busy. Both Tom and Mike were catching fish non-stop ... toothy fish. I couldn't rig fast enough to even think about hunting permit. The choices you have to make!! Our last stop was a place that holds snook in the 20lb class along with a nice resident popular of tarpon. I had just finished telling the guys that they would very likely jump a tarpon here when a nice 50+ fished exploded on the bait. Six jumps later he had worn through the leader, but had given us a spectacular show. I know that this can be frustrating for the angler, but I still like to see the big fish show off their acrobatics and the have a gentle LDR (Long Distance Release), as Tom says. It is so much easier on the fish when this happen if you are fishing light tackle as we do.
David McDonald, a very good friend from Tampa, came down for the weekend. David, his wife Mary, my wife Vickie and I went out for a sunset excursion. While the gals ate stone crabs and drank champagne, David was busy busting up the mackerel. Keeping track was impractical, but I do know that my first seven casts produced seven fish. Time for stone crab claws!! David and Mary had to leave early in the day, so David had to be back at the dock by 11:30. We left pretty early and fished one of the remote rivers. The morning ended with 12-14 snook and a couple of redfish for David. Hopefully they will bring Nicholas next time!
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