It was Easter Sunday, and my first trip with Frank Coffey, of Boundbrook, New Jersey. I met Frank at the Circle K near my home at 7 AM. He had taken a taxi from the Hyatt on south 41. We headed out to Sanibel as dawn was breaking, and the causeway was filled to capacity with people attending the sunrise service there. It looked like there was a rock concert going on. We were able to get to our destination without any delays, though.
We were on the water at 8 AM. Frank is an avid angler, and has fished all over the world. He kayak fishes, but had never had the pleasure of fishing from a Native Ultimate. I'll tell ya now, he loved the boat.
I was bummed when he told me that morning that he had to be back to his motel by 2 PM to make a commitment. we finally reckoned that we'd have to head in by noon in order to get him back on time, and hope there were no traffic delays along the way.
Now knowing we had a time constraint, I opted to go straight to a spot that has been very good most of the time for the last few months, especially when the water is low. It was low and would do nothing but get lower.
We went to work, and as we fished I kept thinking how tough it had been the day before with Team Armstrong. We worked the area thoroughly, and when the buzzer rang at noon we had boated 3 redfish, a jack crevalle, 7 snook, and jumped a tarpon. It had been a beautiful Easter Sunday, and we had only seen 2 other kayak anglers all morning long.
Frank loved the place I took him to, loved the boat, and the fishing. I felt bad about him having to leave basically at the half way point of his trip, and promised him a half price trip next time he comes down. And, he said he would definitely be coming back.
It was Monday, and this was my first trip with Brandon Barniea, down from Maryland. He hadn't fished since November, when their season closed, and he was ready to rip some lips. I was up at 5 AM and in front of the Sandpiper Beach Condos to pick Brandon up at 6:50. Brandon brought along one of his rigs and some gear. We loaded up, and took off for our launch.
There was no one around, and the dawn brought us a beautiful day. We were in the water and on our way by 8 AM, full of anticipation of the day. Brandon was amazed at my Ultimates, both old and new. He's a kayak angler, and had never seen anything like these. Once he was in the boat and fishing, he just loved the Ultimate. He was thrilled that he could easily stand up and fish. I first took him to a spot that has given up some brute redfish, and instructed him to fish the small area with a Mirrodine. it wasn't long before he broke the ice with a nice snook. That was his major goal for this trip. He'd never caught a snook, and now he had his first.
We moved on and stopped at a beautiful spot to work an edge that extended from the mangroves. We were quickly on fish, and caught 2 reds and about 8 snook there. When that slowed we moved to another nearby spot that has been productive, but didn't find any action there this time. We moved on once again, and trolled our jigs as we moved. We picked up a 25 inch snook.
We had a falling tide until around 11:00 AM. Once it turned we moved to a favorite incoming tide spot. We fished it hard, but only managed to dig 2 snook out of there. Things just seemed to shut down once the slow moving tide began. We caught one more snook as we began to work our way back to the launch. At around 1 PM, Brandon told me his already sunburned feet were now well done, and he thought he'd better get out of the sun. They were indeed bright red, and had to be hurting. We put our MinnKotas in 5th gear and headed for home.
Back at the ramp if was another total goat screw! But, once I was able to get my van to the boats, we were loaded and out of there pretty quickly. I dropped Brandon back at Sandpiper, and we had a chance to chat about the day as we drove. Brandon was happy to have caught his first snook (snook is plural of snook), and sees a Native Ultimate in his future for both fishing and hunting, since he could carry his rifles and all his decoys in one. He told me he'd really enjoyed the day, and I certainly enjoyed spending it with him. We finished the day with 13 snook and 2 redfish. It was a JAPDIP day! (Just Another Perfect Day In Paradise).
Thursday, I fished with Mike Hall and Mike Kaczor, of Manhattan, Illinois. What had been a pretty tough week in terms of catching was about to get tougher. We had a long, lazy outgoing tide, which will work where we were going to fish, but once again we had a steady south wind that just stopped that water in its tracks, and that pretty much shuts down the bite in tidal inshore waters.
There wasn't anything we could do about it except fish hard and have fun trying. Usually, if you're willing to do that you wind up catching a fish or three. So, we did exactly that; we fished hard. Fish weren't the problem. There are plenty there. Mother Nature just wasn't letting the dinner bell ring. But, by the end of our day, we had managed 6 snook and 1 jack crevalle. Mike Kaczor got the best snook at 27". Mike Hall never managed to connect with a fish, and I always feel awful about that. But, to be honest. It was a miracle we caught what we caught with the water laying dead in the face of that south wind.
Team Mike seemed to take it in stride and understand that's how fishing can be, and we did enjoy a beautiful day on the water in a wildlife infested, secluded area. When you're fishing from great kayaks in a place like that, catching is just the icing on the cake!
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