An E-mail from Eric Wickstrom

A true fishing testimonial from a HAPPY BarHopp'R client. Read about Eric Wickstroms's experience with Capt. Butch Rickey, one of the top native Florida fishing guides, backcountry fishing and flats fishing in the waters of Pine Island Sound around Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, Pine Island, and occassionally, Sarasota Bay.
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Capt. Butch,

Wanted to thank you for another two days of fantastic fishing and tutoring. Fishing with you on the BarHopp'R seems to just get better and better. I think I have my fish count right, and I know I have my recollection of the total experience right: it was fantastic!

Early on the first morning we found a large school of surface feeding Ladyfish. For the next couple of hours, using light tackle and simple jigs, we just killed 'em! My count was about 40 Ladyfish to the boat, of which we kept a dozen or so for bait for the rest of the day. Included in that couple hours were a couple of really nice Trout, about a half dozen Jacks and even a Whiting. After leaving the Ladyfish feed, we headed for your favorite Redfish grounds. Using Ladyfish fillets for bait, we boated nearly 20 Redfish (actually, I think it was 18), some of which were real hogs.

Your teaching and coaching on the proper techniques of using light tackle (8 lb test, if I recall correctly) to work those Redfish were invaluable, both for the moment and as something to take away from the day.

The second day, however, was truly phenomenal in my experience. Our dawn patrol to look for bait (really just another reconnaissance run for future trips, since we still had enough for the day) took us back into the area where we found the surface feeders the previous morning. And did we encounter an amazing thing: the water was being whipped to a frenzy, for hundreds and hundreds of square yards, by both Ladyfish and Jacks. The Ladyfish were so thick that as I tried to retrieve one flopping around the deck, my jig would occasionally dip back into the water (note my well-learned lesson on never putting the rod/reel on the deck, but keeping it tucked under my armpit!!), only to be slammed by another Ladyfish right at the boat. What a couple of hours.

Moving a couple of hundred yards put us into what must have been hundreds thousands?) of Jacks on the surface, tearing schools of baitfish to pieces. Using the same jigs, we boated some 30 Jacks in short order. Finally, tossing the jig in near the mangroves I nailed a sweet 30-plus inch Snook. What a couple of hours!

Back at the Redfish hole, my count was upped to 26 additional total hookups, with 20 of those in the boat. Using a couple of lines, I went through a stretch where I was getting really arm-weary, trying to handle multiple hookups, bring one to the boat, revive it, release it and dive for the next line. What a day! Not to mention the 6-foot shark that stayed connected for... oh, maybe five seconds before going his own way. Light tackle goesonly so far...

Finally, on the way to and from lunch, we watched 100 lb tarpon playing all around us (even though they wouldn't take bait), and we got within a 100 feet or so of a couple of manatees doing their best to make baby manatees. Great addition to the trip.

Gotta tell you, Butch: just as important as the fish count (which is always nice, but not the only reason to be out there) was your continual, usually patient (except when it was appropriate to be a little more forceful) coaching and instruction on technique. I just can't emphasize enough how important a part of the total experience that was. I have learned more from you in a handful of charterdays than I have picked up on my own over many years of trial and --mostly -- error.

Thanks, Butch, for a terrific time. I can't wait to hook up with you again soon (no pun intended).

Sincerely,

Eric Wickstrom

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