My Long-time friend, fishing buddy, and customer Andy Mount, of Conshohocken, PA, was on Sanibel for a week. His family had not been able to make it down last year. Andy was ready for some time on the water.
I picked Andy up at Caribe at 6:30, and drove to to our launch. We were in the water by 7 AM. A ways from the launch we put trollers in the water. We trolled our way to the first spot, anchored up, and went to work. We got some snook and jacks there.
While we were at our first spot two kayak anglers approached on their Hobie 12s, and one asked if I was Capt. Butch Rickey. I admitted that I was, but told him whatever it was, I didn't do it. He laughed, and introduced himself as Patrick Gallagher, who had tried to book me during the summer while I was out of town on vacation. We chatted for a while, and they said they were enjoying some good fishing. He shocked me when he told me that for his friends back home in New Jersey I was the go-to source on kayak fishing. Wow! It was good to have met Patrick.
Later, we moved to a spot I love about half a mile away, and got more snook there. While Andy was working on that spot, I went scouting the shallows to see if I could find any redfish. I got one nice red in a shallow, then another smaller in deeper water off some bars. That was it before the bite stopped. Our total for day was Andy 8 snook, some jacks and ladyfish, and I got 7 snook, 2 reds, 1 nice trout for the SLAM, and 3 jacks. It was a pretty good day of fishing, and good therapy for Andy. We would return on Wednesday if the weather held.
Tuesday, I had my second trip with Johnny Dee, From Newton, MA. We met early at the launch, and Johnny was already there with his own kayak. It didn't take me long to get my boat ready, and we were off.
Two days of strong south winds had filled up the bays and totally changed the tides in Ding. The water was already as high as it was when Andy and I left in the afternoon the day before. John moved about a hundred yards away from the launch to wait for me to park my van, and got his first snook ever on a large topwater plug, and missed another strike. John's second snook of the day was 27". Johnny got a few jacks.
I had moved on to check a hole for snook. I got a beautiful redfish just short of 27", and 2 keeper trout, as well as several jacks. The bite stopped about half way thru the morning when the tide was up more than normal. It was a strange day, but good one, and Johnny Dee loved the area and the fishing. Getting off the island was another total nightmare!
Wednesday, I again met Andy Mount and his daughter Rachel at the Caribe at 6:30. They were early, as was I, so we sat in the van a chatted while I ate breakfast. Once I was fueled up, we headed to our launch site. We could see that it was really blowing by watching the tops of the surrounding trees. I wondered just how bad it might be. When we got to the launch I noticed Johnny Dee's car parked there. It was the only one. I knew Johnny Dee was already out there chasing those snook.
By around noon the wind had kicked for the second time to a good 25 mph, and I'd been cold all morning long. The water was so much warmer than the, air it was amazing. I just wanted to dive in an warm up. The wind was kicking yet again, and given the conditions three jacks, a ladyfish, a catfish, a keeper trout, and half a dozen snook wasn't such a bad deal. We decided to head in and get a head start on the traffic, which so far had been atrocious.
Thurday's trip with Dr. Bob Collier was a hum-dinger! As bad as the wind was on Wednesday for Any, Rachael, and me, it was much worse for Bob and me on Thursday. Ding was about the only place you could fish in relative comfort in such a post front north wind and have a reasonable expectation of catching anything at all.
I met Bob at Circle K at Summerlin and John Morris at 7 am, and we were off. I actually like picking my clients up and driving together to our launching destination, as it gives us a chance to chat and get to know one another, which is much harder to do in the kayaks than it is in a flats boat. As soon as Bob and I spent some time chatting, I knew we would have a good time, no matter how the fishing turned out.
We were launched by around 7:30, and on our way. I decided that it would make more sense for us to go north from the launch and fish our way back on the wind. It was already howling, and it took a 4 throttle setting on the trolling motors to make progress against the north wind. Once we got to our destination, we seperated about the distance of a good cast, and went to work. This would not be an easy day. But, to our advantage, the fish in Ding don't always play by the same rules the fish out of Ding do. And, at least we could fish.
Over the course of the next few hours we caught 7 snook to 24", a 20" trout, and a nice redfish for the SWFL SLAM. Around 1:00 PM the wind kicked it up a couple of notches to the point that we could hardly control our boats, but Bob put one more beautiful redfish in the boat. In all the years he's been coming here and fishing with guides, he told me that was his second redfish. And, it was lure caught!
I met Tom Yarcho and his life-long friend Tom Tiffany at the Circle K near my fishcamp at around 8:30 am, and we headed out to Sanibel to fish the waters of Ding Darling. Upon arrival, I was surprised to see that the water was still way low. Yes, it was low tide when we got out there, but the water had been blown out of there by two days of hard north winds after the last front. Tom and Tom had fished the day before with a boat guide and managed two or three redfish under harsh conditions, and we went into this trip without high expectations.
We got our boats launched and headed to our first spot. We had to find some deeper water than the mean depth, and that's where we went. Once there, I staged my Team Tom-Tom a long cast from each other with the wind at our backs, and I then went up ahead of them to try to find some fish. Our Tom-Tom fishing team managed to catch a few snook to 24", and a sheephead.
Check back soon for videos of this trip!
With my Team Tom-Tom working on that hole, I told them I was going to go hunt for more fish about half a mile away. We would stay in contact over the radios. Things were slowing down there. I would call them to me if I could find a bite. And, I did. I caught a 24" and in rapid succession 3 smaller snook. I told them to come on, and directed them in to where I was stationed.
It didn't take them too long to get to me. I got Team Tom-Tom stationed to fish those fish, and we went to work. I watched. We made some moves and adjustments, and they caught some snook and jacks. Long story short: We finished the day with 14 snook to 27", 1 redfish, 1 sheephead, and 3 or 2 jacks. Not a bad day behind a kick-butt cold front that dropped the water temperature some 12 degrees in two days.
I had a great time with my Tom-Tom crew, and I hope they did, as well. And, that was the week. I actually got in a five day week, but had to work a Saturday to do it because of weather. That's fine by me!
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