Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fishin the "Glades"


Gary and I flew to Fort Meyers, then drove to Naples on Tuesday for three days of fishing with Capt. Jon Sebold.  Gary had fished with Capt. Jon several years ago and has been talking about going back ever since. A cold front, actually two, and strong winds prevented us from fishing in the gulf, so Capt. Jon got his flats boat and we headed to the Everglades. Each day, we dressed a little warmer and put in at Chokoloskee Island in the northwest part of Everglades National Park

  I have always pictured the Everglades as very narrow creeks flowing through the mangroves. The amount of open water, large rivers and bays really surprised me. The first morning after passing over several bodies of open water, traveling up wide and fairly wide rivers at nearly open throttle, we were going up a narrower creek at the required "no wake" speed and came up to two park rangers.  Capt. Jon showed them the required license, life preservers and throw cushion and then we were on our way to the next bay and some tarpon fishing.  If you are only interested in fly fishing, let me say right away that I left my fly tackle at home and was using spinning outfits.  After the three days, I've probably redeveloped all of my bad habits, not that I was ever a good caster.

The first day proved fun and eye opening, but was very slow. I think of it as a day of ones.  I saw one dolphin, one shark, one alligator and Gary had one very good hook-up. A very nice tarpon that unfortunately took one great leap and shook loose from the hook.  He left Gary with a souvenir, a scale that a half dollar would not cover up, perhaps not even a silver dollar. Both the captain and Gary guessed that the tarpon would have been in the hundred pound class.  Gary caught one that large last time he was down. That was the only hook-up on the first day. A few more tarpon were seen, a few takes, but no hook-ups.

Thursday morning was colder and windier than Wednesday.  We decided to target redfish and snook on this day. The Lady fish had a different idea.  It seems like every place we cast they were present. When the ladies took your lure they started shaking and dancing all over the water.  Although they are fun to catch, we were looking for snook and redfish. We also got into some sea trout and that is when I got lucky.  The Audubon book says the sea trout get up to 28 inches and this one that I caught and Capt. Jon is holding for me is very close to that size, if not larger.
 Thursday gave us many more fish than the previous day, but no redfish and no snook. We did catch lots of ladyfish and sea trout.  Lots of fun, but not what we were looking for.  We saw more alligators, pictures follow, and a couple of sharks.  The captain said he hit a bull shark twice on the nose with his pole when the shark came up to investigate.  Later we saw another large shark that was swimming on his side and not showing his dorsal fin.  Sick or injured, or just acting strange?

 The gator shown here followed us up this creek and kept cruising past us.  He was there when we were fishing and came to look at us when we were having lunch. In the last of these three pictures you can see him between the captain and Gary. He's not too far from the boat. Its possible he thought our bottles of water were fish and that's why he stuck around.
 Wednesday we were dressed even warmer.  I believe Gary and I each had two long sleeve shirts, a fleece vest and a rain jacket, we were also wearing rain pants to act as a wind breaker.  It was a very cold, for Florida, morning so we had decided to start a little later than the previous two days.

As on the previous day, we went after snook and redfish, but started with ladyfish and a couple of trout.  Then we finally found some snook.  They are definitely fun to catch; good, strong fighters and, yes, I speak from experience as I managed to catch a few nice size ones.  I believe it was some time after lunch when we finally found a couple of redfish and a few more snook. Wish I could describe what it was like to catch a redfish, but I still haven't experienced that yet. Gary landed one or two, but all I managed on Friday were snook, sea trout and, of course, a couple of ladyfish.

I really enjoyed the trip.  Gary is always fun to fish with even if he doesn't fly fish.  Capt. Jon was helpful and you could tell he enjoyed what he was doing. Good time, I'm sure I'd do it again, but perhaps when its a little warmer.

Now a few more pictures.

What I thought all of the Everglades looked like.