the BarHopp'R Times

by Capt. Butch Rickey

Volume 1, Number 3, November 1995


I hope you enjoyed reading the first two issues of the "BarHopp'R Times". I've had nothing but positive feedback from my readers.

Who Caught `Em?

September started out with a tournament. I was invited to fish in the FOWA (Florida Outdoor Writers Association) tournament. My party of three were the organizer, a field rep. from Shakespear, and an outdoor writer. I went prepared to fish live bait, but found that it was supposed to be artificials only. My party disqualified themselves from the tournament since they were the organizers, and we fished artificials.

I took them skinny water fishing for tailing reds. I poled quietly through lots of reds for 2 hours, but my guys couldn't get them to eat. They threw everything in their boxes, but hooked only one red. It got away! So, I finished the four hour stint with snook fishing in the mangroves. They got 6 snook, a trout, and a jack.

Red tide persisted in Sarasota Bay, so the next day Terry Bair of Sarasota, and I, caught some nice reds in Bull Bay, in Charlotte Harbor.

Next up was a Pine Island trip with Doug Maskill and his lovely wife of Kansas City, MO. Red tide had moved into the Sound the day before, but didn't seem to have an effect on the fishing. The Maskills flirted with around 60 snook, and landed around 20. Two were over 5 pounds, plus they got one 15" trout, 1 snapper, 2 gag grouper, and 3 jacks. Good job!

After the Maskills, I took Gene DePoris, a local stock broker, and his client Leon Bloom on a snook trip. But, by this time the red tide had run all the bait and fish off. They only landed one snook. They broke off several nice ones, but the action just wasn't there. They got 2 snappers and 4 gag grouper, but I felt bad that the snook action was so slow, and offered them a free trip whenever they want. I'll show `em!

Shortly after that trip, my cousin and fishin' buddy Terry Middleton, of Ft. Myers, and I, spent a day fishing for food for a party. We castnetted 36 mullet in 5 throws of the net. Then we went exploring for some new snook spots. We landed lots of fish that were just undersized, and I broke off several hogs in the mangroves. I did land a 10 pounder on 8 pound test, though. To round out the day we went redfishing, and got 10 large reds out of a school we found feeding in less than a foot of water. We followed them along on the flat, catching them as we went. What fun!

The next day Chester and Carol O'Bara were down from St. Pete again for some more snook action. While they got 10+ snook, a 16" trout, 3 small gag grouper, 4 jacks, and 1 redfish, it wasn't the fast action they had on their last trip. I think the red tide and weather had moved the fish. What's worse? We were parked next to my cousin Terry for part of the morning. His guys were catching lots of reds, but Chester and Carol only managed one. In fairness, though, they did miss 6 or 7 hits.

Next up was my long time fishin' friend, Ted Sparling. His brother-in-law Stan Stivers was in town from Decatur, IL, and wanted to try Florida fishing. I took them snooking off Sanibel Island and they boated 20 to 25 snook, 1 red, 4 trout, and 6 jacks. I'm sure they missed more than they caught. On the way home we looked for tailing reds, but found schooled jacks, instead. They were big jacks that fight like hell. We hooked two that made 100+ yard runs, and took a long time to land. Stan said he'd never had anything on his line that pulled like that. We had a good time!

On the last day of the month my old friends Jeff and Lisa Stafford came to town to fish. It's a great woman that buys her hubby a fishing trip for their anniversary, right? Back to Sanibel for snook, and snook we caught. The Staffords landed around 30 snook, missed lots of hits, and Jeff broke off lots of big ones in the trees. They also got 2 reds, one of which wore Lisa out, 6 nice speckled trout, 4 jacks, and a couple of cats. Lisa introduced me to Zima, a sort of dry wine cooler with lots of kick, and coined the phrase"minner dinners" that I will use from hence forth to describe our whitebaits. We had a great time, and it sure was good to see them again.

October started off with lots of bad weather that kept me off the water for almost a week. First up after the weather cleared was my best friend Col. Jim McDaniel, from Springfield, VA. We've been close friends since high school, and it was good to see him. His sister Aleda joined the snook fishing. They managed to land more than 20 snook, 2 big redfish, and 3 jacks. There were lots of breakoffs and misses.

Next up were Wilbur Witton of Sarasota, and his friends. It was Wilbur's first trip with me and I wanted it to be a great one. But, the bait just vanished. We only managed a few fish, so a gave Wilbur a makeup trip for the cost of fuel. They had a good time in spite of the slow day, but I though it was the thing to do.

Two days later I had David Middleton of Ft. Myers. By noon Dave said he'd caught all the snook and reds he could handle, and we went home. Go figure!

Next day I had a really important trip. It was a referral from another guide out of Bradenton. The Gods smiled on us. Rick Grossman, from Tampa, his brother Ed, and a friend landed around 30 fish. They took home 3 nice snook, 4 reds, 5 trout, and 1 snapper. Rick said he had never caught so many, or such big snook. He got married the following day!

Following Rick was another trip with Wilbur Witton, with his friends John and Don. This was a much better trip than the first. They landed 4 nice reds, 10 or so snook, a big 24" trout, a ladyfish, and 2 jacks. And the boys missed lots of hits.

The next day, Sunday, I took Nigel Morkel, of Zimbabwe, Africa, on his second trip. He landed 6 reds to 30 inches, around 30 snook to 7 pounds, 10+ trout to 22", and 2 big jacks. Nigel said it was the best fishing he'd ever had in his life.

The next dawn brought pothole fishing on the low tide with Bev Kaczmarek and her brother-in-law Frank, and son Troy. We had a great day, and they caught 10 reds to 30", around 20 snook to 5 pounds, 5 trout to 22", 2 nice flounder, a 14" snapper, and 5 jacks.

The next day Judge Richard Kochanski was down for another trip. The Judge got 3 redfish to 27", 10+ snook to 7 lbs., 15 trout (3 were 24-25"), 3 flounder, and a lady. The Judge said he had a great day, and that makes my day.

Ending the month my old friend Lee Dugger of Kissimmee came for a day of pothole fishing. He and son Matthew got 20+ snook, including a 12 pounder, his biggest ever, 10 reds to 27", 10+ trout to 5 lbs., and 5 big jacks.

Finally, my old friend and fishing buddy Ted Sparling treated Joe Ford to a day of pothole fishing. The two got 10 reds to 25", 20+ snook to 24", 20 trout to 25", and 2 flounder. A good day indeed!


This month a special thanks to Craig Wildasin of Outboard Motor Connection in Venice for the fantastic service he always deliver when I'm in a pinch and in a hurry. He always keeps me on the water.

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