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Old 12-21-2008, 09:47 AM   #1
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Default Fishing report, Everglades backcountry

This past week I only had two days on the water. It's the time of year when a lot of folks are concentrating on the upcoming holiday, after Christmas I'm booked almost every day... I'm spending more time in the shop, with a half dozen rods and a few reelsto repairfor customers. There's also lots of fly tying and lure making to catch up on so every day is busy.My first day on the water was last Wednesday out of Everglades City, fly fishing the interior. This time of year it should have been solid, but the fish had other ideas.... We did find one large snook up in very shallow water but couldn't make a decent presentation. Ijust couldn't pole fast enough for a proper intercept before the fish worked into a shady area and disappeared on us. We did run back outside in the afternoon and founda few nice reds, that weren't hungry and some very large sheepshead that were tailing like bonefish at the bottom of the tide. Some of the sheepies were well over 20" - that's pretty large for the shell crunchers. All we could get them to do was follow a fly... pretty frustrating in crystal clear water. I have some ideas of what we'll need in the way of a fly for the next winter encounter. A really big sheepie on a 7wt. is something to work for.On Friday it was back to Flamingo for an "everything" day with the accent on fish for the table on lures or bait. I quit counting when we had boated more than ten different species including speckled trout (season closed now, we released 20 or more slot sized fish...), goliath grouper (all released since they're still protected, we got them up to about 12lbs), spanish mackeral, bluefish, one redfish, king mackeral (little ones), snapper, blacktip shark, and a half dozen gag grouper, mostly on the small side. We ended the day with our two best eating fish, gag grouper from 24" all the way up to our best one at 28". Both were caught with fairly light gear in a river mouth. Here's a photo of our best one....[img][img]It was taken on 15lb line by Allistair DeVertueil from Jamaica (hope I've spelled the last name correctly). A while back he got one that was even bigger. That's a very nice river grouper.... After Phillip Dalley caught a 24" grouper he picked up a light spinner and began tossing lures at some small tarpon that just happened to like our grouper spot. He jumped off three before we moved from 10 to about 20lbs. That's a pretty good spot..... Both Alistair and Philip grew up in Jamaica but live here now.They can usually teach me a thing or two about fish forthe table. Alistair's wife Pamela was also aboard that day. She can hold her own with the guys...We also found one "un-stoppable" at another spot. From the way it picked up the bait in shallow water I'd guess it was a very big sawfish in the 300+ range. If that's what it was it would have to be well over 12' long. I see them periodically up to around 20 feet long in some of the places we go, but mostly in the warmer months. Although they're on the endangered species list now they're still quite common in the 'Glades if you know where to look and you'll see them in every size from less than 18" to much bigger than your boat. When a big one picks up a bait, they just never stop or slow down. I don't think the really big ones even know they've been hooked... We treat them very carefully when brought to the boat, both for their health and ours since that bill is studded with very sharp teeth.There's just nothing like the 'Glades on good days or bad.
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Old 12-21-2008, 05:34 PM   #2
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Default Re: Fishing report, Everglades backcountry

Nice! What river? I have tried my luck at the Shark River or Little Shark River or something. I can not remember what it was called. It was not too far from the Little Joe River however - that much I do remember.

I did not catch diddly. I was using live shrimp. Wrong bait maybe?? I always thought that for the mangroves live shrimp was a good staple??

My boat is about as large as the park recommends for the wilderness waterway. It is kind of cool because last time I was there (a few years ago) I never encountered a large boat. And I was in my old 18 footer. I have a 20 footer now. Not exactly what one would consider a "flats boat" but I can still get around pretty good. Mayne not in the really shallow areas - but whatever.

And when Whitewater Bay is choppy - no big deal
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Old 12-22-2008, 04:23 AM   #3
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Default Re: Fishing report, Everglades backcountry

If you'll look at a chart of that area you'll see numerous tributaries off of the Little Shark River. All of them hold fish but you'll have to experiment a bit to find what works. Here's a tip, look for deeper spots on bends and points then fish straight up and down in the calm areas right next to where the current is. Bottom fish in rivers like to be where they can feed without having to fight the current.... You have to fish absolutely vertical since the bottom is all rock with lots of cavities and potholes... The next thing to look for, particularly on a falling tide, are tiny and not so tiny creeks that drain into rivers on a falling tide. Most are only so-so but if you find one that's crowded with birds don't pass it by since everything is probably in there feeding on the falling tide. A small bucktail jig tipped with a tiny (no bigger than the end of your little finger) bit of shrimp will tell you very quickly what's there. The birds know to the minute when a creek mouth is on. They'll work one drain for 20 or 30 minutes then re-locate to a more productive one and you should follow their movements on the falling tide...

One last item. In the 'Glades everything's on the menu every day. That means that every fish is food for other fish. Right at the top of the list is the ladyfish. Everything that swims eats them, live or dead, in little pieces or great big chunks... Any ladyfish that we catch go into the livewell. The big ones are used as chunks. the smaller ones (10 to 13", roughly) are used as live baits. Big tarpon and snook will rarely pass up a live ladyfish. That goes also for the big grouper, either gags or goliaths, and everything (particularly redfish) will eat small chunks fished on the bottom.... Ladyfish don't keep well. I won't use any that weren't caught that day.... Good luck. I have more than a few local customers with their own boats that fish with me so that they can learn how when working on their own... Of course I see them fishing every spot I've showed them, but in the 'Glades there's always somewhere else...
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Old 12-22-2008, 05:09 AM   #4
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Default Re: Fishing report, Everglades backcountry

Thanks for the info! I very rarely get into the Wilderness Waterway area. For me it is easily an all day trip - with only a few hours of fishing. I have to trailer a long way. At least an hour each way. Probably closer to 1.5 hours each way. And then there is the fairly long idle speed / slow speed zone getting to Whitewater Bay.

Plus my boat is not really a flats boat. Not that this is a huge deal or anything - I can get around back there.

But between the long day, the distance, my lack of knowledge of the area (I have paper and electronic charts....but still....) - I just do not get back there too often.

Ill keep what you said in mind next time I am down there. But who knows when that will be. I like the area because of its seclusion - but I dislike all the other aspects of going there.
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Old 12-22-2008, 10:54 AM   #5
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Default Re: Fishing report, Everglades backcountry

Every day that I fish Flamingo I tow my rig 97 miles each way.... I've been doing it so many years that it's perfectly natural...
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Old 12-24-2008, 12:33 AM   #6
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Default Re: Fishing report, Everglades backcountry

This just in!!!!

Some non-fishing friends may do a few days on the Wilderness Waterway with me me!!!!!!

Of course this means fishing time for me. Screw what they want to do! Not my problem!! I want to fish!!!!

Anyhow Ill keep what you said in mind. Since I am not going to be in a canoe the Little Shark River will be in range. Ill bring some live shrimp and whatever I can catch to use as bait!!!

Wish me luck!!! Ill need it. I fish for fun - not food. If I catch something then great! Fresh fish is always good.. If not well at least I managed to have a few beers. So all is good. In theory!!!

Anyhow thanks a lot for the tips!! I will try my best to put them to use!
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