The Chokoloskee State of Mind
Most anglers long to be on the water, but few have the luxury to fish whenever and wherever they want. Most of us have to balance work, family, vacations amongst a host of other issues before a day of fishing is remotely possible. As such we need to make the most of every trip and get the greatest pleasure and rewards from that day on the water. We need to approach every trip with a Chokoloskee State of Mind.
What is the Chokoloskee State of Mind? Perhaps it is easiest to describe what it isn't. It is not waiting in a fast food drive through line for a burger that you have gobble up with one hand before you get back into traffic; but it is a nice turkey sandwich in the lee of one of the 10,000 Islands enjoyed with your everglades fly fishing partner. It is not obscene hand gestures and the aggravation of others riding your bumper in traffic; but it is slowing down enough to allow the dolphins to play in your wake. It is not the sounds of highway traffic, ambulance sirens and the roar of crowds of people; but it is the sound of silence broken by the shrill cry of an osprey as she fusses at you for fishing too close to her nest. Perhaps, most importantly, it is not about catching fish. It is about being here, getting away, being outdoors, seeing the wildlife and spending precious time with good friends or family.
The Chokoloskee State of Mind is not about catching fish; it is the appreciation of the whole experience. If you approach every fishing trip with this attitude ... this state of mind, you can not have a bad day on the water. Catching fish is just a bonus. I once asked my father one morning where he was going as he idled out of the marina. He said he was going fishing. I said, "But, you don't have any rods on the boat!". He simply replied, "I'll fish my way, you fish your way". It is not about catching fish.
This last weekend, I had the pleasure of fishing three generations of the Kline family from Miami ... Art, Kevin, Larry, Robert and Nat. They exemplified this "State of Mind". This trip was not about catching fish, it was about being together on a fishing trip. Nothing was going to interfere or spoil their trip.
The weather was forecast to be blowing 20 to 25 knots. As they were relatively close by, I had called earlier in the week to see if they would like to reschedule to another time. Nope, it was made clear that they were coming. Originally, they were to fish together on the "Blue Bird Daze", the 24' Morgan. I had a mechanical issue that could not be fixed before their trip. Not a problem, "we'll just fish on two boats".
The wind did blow and blow hard. The water was extremely murky and the fish did not bite well even though we fished hard. (Left ...even a little "rat" red extracted from a hidden creek produces a smile from Robert). However, because of their attitude, their Chokoloskee State of Mind, they had a great day together and I, and the other guide, Capt. Bruce Hitchcock, had a great day on the water. Their attitude towards the trip turned what could have been a miserable day, at least for me, into a great experience. Art, Kevin, Larry, Robert and Nat, you guys are welcomed back anytime!!!
The wind had been blowing hard for two days before Dan Beltramo and Andy Cohen (San Francisco) and George Labelle (Pompano Beach) arrived for the day. The water was still very turbid and the bite was way off. We did raise a few trout, ladyfish and jack crevalle, however, we could manage only two snook bites all day. Andy was decisively run into the trees both times, unfortunately.
The following day, Larry DeBauge (Naples) fished with me for a second time in this month. This time he brought along his son, Jeff, and his eight-year old grandson, Nick (Kansas City, Ka). I had hope to get a lot of action fishing shrimp "in the trees", but the first few places we went, the fish had lock-jaw. Nick, being the dominate factor on the boat, defined our next move by using the "B-word". The word that horrifies every fishing guide in the world. Nick said, "I am getting bored"!
Off to the flats we went. The water was still turbid, but the guys still managed to catch a mess of speckled sea trout, ladyfish and jacks. Larry and Nick were using live shrimp under a popping cork. Jeff was doing well with a red-headed jig dragging a 3" gold metal-flake shad tail. Nick caught his first trout on the popping cork making grandpa proud. Things had turned around. Nick was in the "lead" with the "most" and "largest" fish. Whewww!
The wind continued to lay down, so we eased off to small piece of near-shore structure. On the way, Jeff landed a triple-tail to start off the species smorgasbord. All in all, the guys caught a good winter mix on this trip. Sheep head, speckled sea trout, gag grouper, mangrove snapper, grunts, lady fish, red grouper, blue runners, jacks, triple-tail and a 24 pound goliath grouper ... 11 species and Jeff's personal "big fish". I expect to Larry back come permit time!!
Catching fish is great, but remember, the experience of being out the water with friends and family is what this fishing thing is all about. Live and fish with the Chokoloskee State of Mind!
The water is beginning to warm and the fishing should continue to improve. I expect the Everglades fly fishing to get better and better; it is some of the best to be found. Rather than be in Naples fly fishing urban areas, try the Everglades National Park.
The latter part of March and April begin the tarpon migration, the permit season and are the last months of snook season. However, May and June provide the best fishing of the season. Those that have fished during these months fully understand.
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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