It feels like South Florida again!! With temperatures approaching 80 degrees and the water warming fast the Everglades National Park is once again alive. The baits have returned, the birds are fattening up and the predatory fish are feeding.
Throughout the cold in January and February, the fishing was generally good on the inshore areas with consistent trout and sheep head action. The offshore bottom fishing never really fell off. However, there were many times, when sight fishing, we would just look at the snook and they would simply look back. We just could not get them to feed in the unseasonably cold water. However, as soon as the water warmed AND the baits returned, from wherever they were, the place "went off "... immediately.
Last Friday, I had both a morning charter and an afternoon charter. We managed a bag of trout in the morning, but things were so slow that I rescheduled the afternoon launch for another date. Instead of fishing, I took the afternoon to fly the Cessna over the Park and do some scouting. The water was pretty churned up from the winds so I could not see much more than a few schools of snook in their typical residences. However, just offshore was a vision of pure love. BAIT FISH!! More importantly, bait fish moving into shore!
The next morning, with Ed Able and his engineer associate, Frank, both from Ocean City, NJ, we scooted out to where I expected the baits to splash the shore. Fishing one of the river mouths, we saw a mess of snook ... snook with lockjaw. Frank did pull a couple snook out of the thickets, however, and Ed landed a nice sheep head. The jacks and ladyfish were back strong ... there is finally forage around.
When the tide became too high to sight fish, we headed to a grass flat. What a refreshing site, birds diving, mackerel jumping, ladyfish slicing into baits, trout slurping on the surface, pompano skipping and schools of jacks showering bait fish. Needless to say, that was a long deserved and refreshing change. The Park is back!. Whew, it has seemed like a endless winter. Though we did not set the fishing world on fire that day, things were like they are "supposed to be". The guys caught trout, redfish, snook, sheep head, ladyfish, jacks, and mackerel. What a difference a day makes.
Sunday, with Lisa Dargavage of Campbell & Rosemurgy Realty (Deerfield Beach) on board, we set out for a few hours of trout fishing. We were having a fish fry that evening!! Quick success. Big nice trout were amongst the bait. We did have to fish thru a thousand jacks and ladyfish, of course. We had to measure every trout caught to make sure that they were not oversized. All the trout that we kept, were barely under the 20" limit. These guys had just followed the bait in from offshore.
It was a nice, relaxing three hour trip. We harvested a nice dinner and Lisa even managed to get in a nap!! We brought home five nice trout for dinner, but we could not resist adding a few fresh Spanish Mackerel to the pot. Nothing is better than fried fresh mackerel. At the dock, Dale tossed in a redfish and dinner was served for twelve!!
Yesterday, I had the pleasure to fishing with Dave Kadison and his 10 year old daughter Sara. Dave is an excellent fly rodder, only surpassed by Sara's casting prowess. The turbid water from the southerly winds combined with the overcast sky, made sight fishing all but impossible. Blind casting the snook and redfish holes proved to be a fruitless. Sara, after getting some good close up photos of Wally Gator, caught us some small ladyfish to use later ... so into the live well they went. We had hoped to tease up a cobia to Dave's fly later in the trip.
We stopped in the bait schools for a little exercise. Sara, after about 15-20 fish in a row, tired, so we headed off to the near-shore structure for the cobia. Mackerel were rocketing on the surface and blue runners were streaking below. We dropped a live volunteer down on some light tackle to do a little looking around. It was just a few minutes before the little ladyfish was gobbled. Goliath grouper!! Dave did an excellent job digging this fish off the bottom on such light tackle. Although it was only 20lbs, he landed on a trout rod!!
While Dave was wrestling with the Goliath, Sara had real nice run on her eight pound spinner. Unfortunately, we never saw the fish, but from the way it was fighting, it was either a big snook or a cobia. We never did not get a positive I.D., nor did we get to toss a fly at the "gummers". Maybe next time Dave.
Things are red hot now and should continue to improve. I expect the fly fishing to get better and better. Everglades fly fishing is some of the best. Rather that be in Naples fly fishing urban areas, try the Park. Like Mikey, you will "like it".
The latter part March and April begin the tarpon migration, the permit season and are the last months of snook season. This represents some of the last time our winter guest get to fish before they head back to the north lands. There some bookings left for those interested in these early season fish, but please book early or you will miss out.
In my opinion, May and June provide the best fishing of the season. Those that have fished with Chokoloskee Charters during those months turn into regular "Choko-holics". If you would like to book a charter with Chokoloskee
Charters, contact The Captain @www.ChokoloskeeCharters.com; (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call him @ 239-682-9920. Tight Lines!
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