It was Monday, and I was back at it after Sunday off of the last seven days. My customers were Bob Taylor and his lovely daughter, Katie, of Aurora, Ontario. I had been corresponding with Bob's wife Karen for some time, as we made arrangements for this trip, and she was as nice as she could be. We had originally planned to launch at ten o'clock and fish the incoming tide, what there was of it, and then wrap up at around 4 PM. But, with the spring break traffic being as heavy as I've ever seen it on Sanibel, I moved our start time up to 8 AM. I was at the launch at 7:30, getting the boats ready, which included a 14.5 Tandem Ultimate that I don't normally use as a solo. It's a slick ride though, and the new Ultimate TX tandem is even slicker.
As I was prepping the boats, the Taylor family showed up, and it was great to meet them. Bob and Katie were full of anticipation about the day, and Karen was every bit as sweet in person as she was via email. I knew already that regardless of how the catching went, we would have a fun day on the water. We chatted for quite a while before launching, and waving goodbye to Karen.
We had the possibility of rain and even thunderstorms in the afternoon, which was also a contributing factor to my moving our start time earlier. I looked at the radar again that morning, and there was a large system of rain and storms with lots of orange and red on the radar, stretching from around Tampa to Ocala. I knew I'd have to keep an eye on the radar while we were on the water.
I normally write a trip report the evening of the trip using an App called Evernote, which I have become very fond of. However, I failed to do that Monday evening, and didn't realize it until I went to grab the text for this report. My memory is a bit sketchy of the details a week later.
We wound up at a spot that I've been fishing a lot, that is deeper than most of the surrounding area. Every day I've fished the area there have been juvenile tarpon rolling, usually within 20 to 30 feet of our boats. However, they have rarely been interested in eating. Well, true to form, Katie stole the day. She jumped a tarpon of about 3 ft. on a Mirrodine, and as is always the case when a woman is along, she and her little Mirrodine caught the most fish on that day! I think the poon startled her, and she'd never hooked anything like that. Bob and I both saw the Silver King jump, and I'd say she cleared the water five feet, at least. It spit the lure.
We fished our way from one spot to another after we left the first area, and we got fish as we went. But, I don't remember numbers. I know that Katie got 2 reds, snook, and I think she also got a jack, I remember that Bob got a trout at the end of the day which gave Team Taylor the SLAM, and I don't remember what I caught while I was poking around trying to find a bite. Katie had the Grand SLAM in her grasp! I know we had fun and did better than I though we would on a very weak tide and bluebird skies.
But our fun wasn't over. I think it was around 1:30 that I took another look at the radar, and the system was getting close. It was time for us to get closer to home. After discussing it with Bob and Katie, we decided to put our motors on "Scat" and get closer to the launch. The skies opened up on us before we got back. It rained hard, and we were all drowned rats by the time we got back. I stopped at a spot that looked just too beautiful not to have a redfish on it now that there was water on it, and immediately hooked a big redfish. I hooked it on a silver Mirrodine. I got it right by the boat, and from my standing position I could see that she was over 30 inches. She managed to get that lure out of her mouth before I could get her landed.
I knew instinctively that there were bound to be more redfish there, and quickly launched another cast into the rain. On the next cast, "Bang!" Another redfish on, and she was a brute. That fish ran me all over the place and did not want to come to Daddy. After ten or more minutes I had her ready to land, as I prepared to land her she made another hard surge and the line went limp. I thought she'd broken me off at first, but quickly realized that she had indeed straightened out two of the hooks on the Mirrodine. I never have liked lures with small treble hooks on them, and am going to refit all of those lures with high quality single hooks.
Karen met us at the launch, and we got the boats unloaded and gear put away in the downpour. We were all freezing, as the rain was like ice. And, every time I went to put gear in the back of the van, it was like standing under a small waterfall as the heavy rain shed off the back of the van. What a finish to the day. I think that's the wettest I've ever been!
Bob and Katie were just delightful folks to spend the day with, and I look forward to seeing them, again. Our decision to leave and return earlier was a good one. The parking area wasn't nearly as bad as it is later into the afternoon, but of course the rain had run off most of the folks by that time.
I met my old friend Joe Colarusso and his friend John at the launch at 8 AM Tuesday morning. Joe is an inspiration for me at age 70 this June, as Joe is 84, and like a Timex, just keeps on ticking! He does have a rotator cuff that hampers his ability to lift, but other than that he's in great shape. We were fishing on a slow falling tide, and behind a cold front that passed through Monday afternoon and soaked us to the bones. I knew it wasn't going to be an easy day.
We went to a hole that has been very good on lower water, and is full of tarpon in the 3 to 4 ft. range, with a few stops along the way. For the second morning in a row that tarpon were rolling all over the place, but they weren’t interested in eating. Typical!
The three of us worked the place over, and managed a handful of snook, but they were small. The big girls very glaringly absent for the second day in a row. I left Team Colarusso there working on that hole to go and try to find a bite nearby. I couldn't buy a bite, and couldn't see any movement of the water! So, I moved on to one of my favorite areas that has been a consistent producer of snook redfish, jacks, trout, etc. It was also dead, and there was no perceptible movement of the water there, either.
Joe needed to be in no later than 2:30, so we headed back at 1 PM. I figured that with travel time, getting the boats stowed, and getting out of the parking circus, it would probably be pretty close to that by the time we were rolling. I thought to look at my watch, and it was about 2:25!
It was a great day of fishing, but a tough day of catching, as they say. We had managed only 8 snook, and they were small. John was new to all this, and has had limited use of spinning gear, and had never fished from a kayak. He had his problems with making line messes and got line wrapped up in the trolling motor, but at the end of the day there was nothing that was not repairable. And, actually by the end of the day, things had come together pretty well for him, and he looked like he was relaxed and confident with the anchor system and motor, and was making some nice casts. You have to cast well in this sport, or even when there are plenty of fish and a good bite, you'll go home empty.
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