Had my trip with Dave Rock that was rescheduled from last week to St. Patrick's Day. Dave was staying with friends right down the street from me, and met me at my place at 6:15. We made a quick stop at Circle K for supplies and coffee, and were on our way to Sanibel. We were in the water as it was getting light enough to see.
A short distance from the launch, I left Dave to work the shoreline while I went down to a great hole to check it out. The water was very low, and the breeze was out of the north. We both plugged away and managed a few snook here and there, and a ladyfish or two, and a couple of redfish. But, we just didn't have a strong bite.
Dave eventually caught up to me, and we both worked the hole for a while. I told Dave I was going to go and check out the next spot, and that if I hit fish, I'd call him in. I did hit some fish, but Dave was also catching a few snook. Eventually, he came around and joined me.
We fished our way down to another spot where we basically finished the day.. We caught more snook, and Dave finished the day with a beautiful redfish of 23/24 inches. Based on the last numbers Dave gave me, we finished the day with 21 snook, the largest at 32 inches, 2 redfish, 1 trout for the SLAM, and 2 ladyfish. At around 1 PM the wind really kicked from the north, and put the bite down. We stayed with it until around 3, and headed in.
It was a pretty good day for a north wind. Dave was great company and fun, and we took some redfish and snook home.
I was up at 4 AM Wednesday and on the road for Sarasota by 5 AM, to meet and fish with Coach Jesus Patino, of Memphis, TN. Coach is a basketball coach, and loves to fish. He's decided he wants to learn all about our brand of fishing down here, from a kayak.
Sometimes it's hard to get a feel for someone via email, but as soon as I met Coach and chatted with him a few minutes, I knew he was a good guy, and we'd have fun.
We met at around 7 AM. I had the boats about ready to go into the water. It wasn't yet light. When Coach showed up, we chatted in the dark, and he watched the fleet while I made a restroom run. We launched from Turtle Beach as it was getting light. I could not have imagined what lay ahead.
We made our way down to the Midnight Pass area, and I found a spot on the edge of the drop to deeper water on which to give Coach a casting and tackle handling seminar. While we were doing that, Coach caught his first snook of the day. We had quite a few bumps while we were doing the casting clinic, but Coach got the one snook. I think it went to around 9:30, before we actually began fishing.
I left Coach casting for more snook and went to explore a few spots. I had hopes of finding a bite. But, as coach fished, and I made my way down the pass, it turned into a 5 ring circus almost in the blink of an eye. I know spring break is a busy time, but I've never seen anything like what happened this morning. Boats were zooming up and down the ICW, making it all but impossible to fish the edge. I was akin to a freight train of boats, jet skis, big yachts, and literally herds, or maybe schools of kayaks just coming out of the woodwork (well mangroves). I've never seen anything like it. There wasn't a square inch of water in that whole area that wasn't run over and over time and time again.
I had found a bite on ladyfish and trout out at the mouth of the pass, and down along the edge of the ICW. Coach was at the mouth, and I was a couple of hundred yards to his north, on the edge of the bar. I heard the sound of a large boat coming from the north. I was pointed south, and on the outside of the bar along the ICW. I listened, and looked, and it was a 50-60 foot displacement hull yacht pushing a wall of water about 7 feet high as he blasted down the waterway at 25 to 30 knots, I'm guessing. They are required to slow down for small craft! I was sure he would. There were small craft everywhere, but most were up inside the bars. By the time I realized this smuck wasn't going to throttle back, I didn't have time to get off anchor and over the bar. He blasted by me like I didn't exist, not more than 60 ft. away. He launched a series of large wakes toward me, the first of which looked higher than I am tall. It came quickly. It slung me skyward as my Ultimate accelerated up the ramp, but it was such a tall wave that it broke over my gunwales, and once I had gone through the series of wakes he threw, I realized that my boat was full of water almost up to the battery terminals, and the bilge pumps were blasting water out both sides. What a smuck! He proved what I already knew, though. You ain't going to turn over a Native Ultimate. Best you could do is swamp it, and between the flotation in the boat and the bilge pumps, I denied him that. Later, after Coach and I met up, he told me that from where he was sitting it looked like I launched 8 feet into the air.
Coach and I finished the day with 2 or 3 snook, a nice keeper trout, a big jack, some ladyfish, and a story to tell. A tough, but good, fun day!
I was looking forward to Thursday with great anticipation. I was going to fish with Joe Trad, and his son Philip, whom I fished with for years back in the flats boat days. Must have been around fifteen years I've known Joe and Phillip. Haven't seen them in a few years, and Phillip is now a grown man of 23, and I teased Joe about Phil looking like a movie star. Check out his picture.
We met at the launch at 8 AM, and I had the first two boats ready to put into the water. We just had to get the Ultimate 12 ready, and we were off. To my surprise, once on the water and fishing, things were tough.
We had a north breeze for most of the morning. It was a beautiful day. But, the fish were not in a mood to play with us. We were a day before the new moon, and I would normally expect a good bite, but something had the fish off, and it frustrated me that I didn't know what! Oh, we had plenty of hits, and many of them were good, hard hits that mangled the weed guards on our spoons, or yanked the jig body off our jigs. But, the bottom line is the fish just didn't want to eat.
Throughout the morning, I would station Joe and Philip on a spot or area, and then move on to try to find a bite. Throughout the course of hunting a bite I caught several snook, but lost many after the hookup. Many of the fish we caught were small, but not all. It was a weird day. The wind did flip eventually to the west, but nothing changed with the bite.
Team Trad managed to catch 8 snook, but hooked many more, most of which were juvies, and also got 1 keeper trout, a big jack, and lost 2 redfish, and countless snook. I had a juvenile tarpon of about 30 inches roll within 20 feet of me three times. It wouldn't eat. It was just a weird day. Some of the hits I had were bone-jarring, spoon crushing hits, but with no hookup. It was as if the fish were in a kill mode, rather than an eating mode!
But, as days go it was a great one. I got to spend the day with old friends, and got to see Phil all grown up. Amazing. And, Joe still looks like I remember him, but he pointed out that my red beard was now white. He's right. It is indeed. It was great to spend the day with Joe and Philip after perhaps seven or eight years, and Joe was happy to find out that kayak fishing didn't involve anywhere near the work he thought it did.
Bottom line! It was a hard day of catching, but a great day of fishing with old friends.
I met Tom Miller and his son Ben at our launch spot at 8:30 AM. I hadn't seen them I think since 2008, when Ben was a high school freshman. Now, he's all grown up and a senior at Perdue! We used to fish together back in the Talon days, and Tom loved that boat. I was really good to see them both, but this trip was a spring break surprise for Ben alone. Tom stayed and visited until we had the two boats ready to go and in the water. I told him that I'd drop Ben off when we were done.
The fishing in this area is usually very good. The day before was very slow. The fish were hitting, but not connecting. It was as if the snook were killing the bait instead of eating it, as they often do after the summer spawn. But, this isn't summer! And, this is another day, and I hoped we would get things back to normal.
Ben and I made a few stops along the way, but I wanted to get to where I could see the water moving. Often I will station my customer on a spot where I know the fish congregate, and when the do it. If my customer isn't catching pretty quickly, I'll move to the next spot and see if I can find a bite. For me, one fish is not a potential bite, but two is. So we did some of that, and we also fished next to each other in some cases. I picked up a fish here, and a fish there, but Ben wasn't connecting to the bites he got.
Finally, as the tide got moving, I moved to a favorite spot that gives up lots of fish, and some very nice fish, as well, once the water is moving. I hit a redfish and a nice snook right out of the gate, and called Ben and told him to leave where I had just sent him and come and join me. He was quickly there, and I got him positioned to work the edge and moved off a bit from him. I wanted him to catch. Hell, neither one of us caught another fish there. I couldn't believe it.
I observed that Ben was a good caster, and gave him a few tips to increase his range, and on how to work his jig. Ben was a quick study, but still no bites. I went off hunting, and told Ben to hang there and keep at it, because that was a major thoroughfare for the fish coming and going.
Well things didn't change much. Eventually, we started fishing our way back toward our launch. By the time we were done, I had caught 2 redfish and 6 snook. Ben said he'd had a nice snook on, but it got away. I was not happy that he had not boated a fish, but Ben assured me that he'd had a blast, and that he absolutely loved the boat. I know that was true, but I told Ben the next time he was able to come down I would comp him a trip on me, and give him a chance to redeem himself!!
It really was a great day, with a fine young man that gives me hope for the future. He didn't tell me until the end of the day that he had never fished with artificials before! He'll catch 'em next time!
I met Jeff Kapingst and his cousin Kevin Erickson, from Bloomington, Minnesota, Saturday morning at 7:30 AM at the Circle K near my Florida home. Right out of the gate they broke the record for the amount of gear I've had a customer bring. I asked Jeff if they drove down, and was shocked when he told me they flew. I would have thought TSA would have had a big time with them. But, they told me that this trip was not a problem, but a trip in the past they checked ever compartment of every bag, life vest, tackle box, etc.
I hated to have to tell Jeff and Kevin that the fishing had gone into the toilet for the last couple of days, but it had. But, we resolved to go out there and give it our best shot. Besides! Kayak fishing is a blast even when the fish aren't biting.
There was a kayak sitting on the makeshift launch when we got there. I didn't recognize it. We began our unloading and launching procedure, and as I walked toward one of the boats we'd taken off the trailer, here comes Rob Bingeman out of nowhere with a big grin on his face. I thought I was hallucinating! I thought he was in Montana, where he lives. Turns out he is down for a couple of weeks, and was going to fish the same area we were. It was great to see him.
We launched the boats, and I suggested the guys start casting the shoreline immediately, as more often than not, the first snook are caught before I get back from parking my van/trailer. And, sure enough, when I joined the guys, they told me that Jeff had caught a snook right away, and I think lost another one. They were small, but they were snook, and fun.
From there it got tough, though. We fished a number of areas as we made our way to a hole that has been hot as of late. It wasn't hot this morning.
We moved on to another area where the currents are strong. We caught a couple of fish there, but not what I expected.
We worked our way down to an area that is always good to me with snook, redfish, jacks, etc., and it wasn't giving any milk, either. I moved Jeff down the shoreline a ways to fish for snook and reds, and I dropped off to a nearby spot in the open. I had a bone crushing hit, that a few minutes later revealed a beautiful jewfish that was 27 inches, and felt like he weighted 15 pounds. Maybe I was just worn out from all the trips I've done, but it was a beautiful fish.
We fished our way back to our launch spot, and managed to pick up a couple more fish. Kevin caught the last fish, which was a nice speckled trout. So. We wound up the day with 14 snook, 2 speckled trout, and a nice jewfish. It was another tough day of catching, but a beautiful and great day of fishing. And, Jeff and Kevin added two more species to their list of fish they had not caught.
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