Well another year comes to an end in our version of Paradise. For Vickie and me, it has been a great year, but a year of change. We sold our home, completed the construction of another and finally moved in while managing to remain married. Some long time, very good friends, from the East Coast, moved here to live full time. Some other good friends have moved too far away. Many of our long time, regular anglers have become great friends, while others have succumbed to Father Time.
This past year’s fishing was all around as good as it gets. January and February of 2003 were very cold, averaging a full 8 degrees colder than normal. This certainly changed the fishing, but generally not for the worse. These months produced some of the best speckled trout and wintertime redfish that I have seen in years. Very few trips ended without a limit for everyone on board with many 100 trout days notched.
March was the best March that I could remember. It warmed up early in the month; the bait schools showed up strong and so did the fish. Perhaps, because it was so cold earlier, the snook, redfish and tarpon, that moved in were very hungry and aggressive. Anglers had more “slams” (snook, redfish and a tarpon in one day) last March than any other month last year.
April is usually a very good month. However, on April Fool’s Day the temperature plummeted once again and so did the fishing. It took almost three weeks for things to recover. But when it did, it recovered strong. The tarpon, however, were driven well off shore and seemed to pass right by preferring to stay in the warmer water. The permit were right on time, however.
May and June were fabulous. Many days, especially, in May, we were boating seven to eight cobia per day; the snook were big and aggressive. You could count on several very large fish practically every day and we jumped big tarpon on the flats just about every trip. Permit were caught just about anytime during the month.
July and August, were great months for the classic split day trips. Early out at sunrise, early in for lunch, air conditioning and a nap; back out after the thunderstorms for some snook fishing and dinosaur flying! These summer evening tarpon trips were spectacular. There is nothing better than launching a big silver dinosaur into the air at sunset!!
September and October produced some superb snook fishing with double digit days most every trip. The cobia showed up on schedule and the tarpon fishing was absolutely great. Redfish were something you could just about count on. The permit for some reason were hit-and-miss. This is my favorite time of year. The kids have returned to school, so most anglers who travel here are doing so on the weekends. The middle of the week, it seems that you have the entire Park to yourself. Essentially you do, you only see another boat if you choose to. But, most of all the fishing is at its best!
November and December continued to produce double digit snook days both in weight and numbers right up until the second cold front. The kingfish offshore, combined with the Spanish mackerel, cobia and some very nice snappers ended the year with a bang.
Vickie and I, along with many of our friends, camp every New Year’s in the Park. It is our anniversary on New Year’s Eve, so we celebrate where we enjoy things most … in the Park amongst our friends.
From both of us, we would like to wish you and yours a safe and joyous Holiday Season. We are looking forward to a great 2004 and hope you have as much fun next year as we plan to!!!
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