Backcountry Everglades report, 12 January
<p>I've only had one day on the water so far this week so this will be a short report... We fished light spinning gear in places where an 8wt fly rod would have been a great alternative, mostly.
We fished out of Flamingo yesterday in very foggy conditions (something that only happens occasionally down here in south Florida, thank heavens). Aboard were local angler John Pazienza and visitors Scott and Armand Addonizio (their first time in the 'Glades..). The run across Coot, Whitewater, and Oyster Bays was very difficult even with gps assistance but we hit a few spots in the whiteout conditions until the fog cleared just before 11 Am. We'd barely entered Whitewater (for those that don't know it, Whitewater is very large - roughly ten miles long and about six miles wide...) when we found large schools of small ladyfish tearing up glass minnows. We quickly hooked almost twenty on lures but only got a half dozen or so to the boat, where they were added to the livewell for later use. The ladyfish were everywhere we went in the morning, we only began to find some nice trout at our third stop. With water temps at nearly 64 degrees first thing in the morning it was a pretty sure bet that by afternoon things would get very interesting. In the meantime we moved around a bit finding small redfish, lots of small trout, but never getting into anything of size. We made a point of livebaiting several big fish spots without so much as a nip, then ran back inside. Along the way we caught and released snapper, grouper, more ladies and trout, then headed back into Whitewater Bay where water temps had risen dramatically (almost 70 in a few spots). We finally found more reds, this time a bit larger... Here's a few pics of two that came home with us...
this one measured right at 25", note the slick calm conditions in the background... looks like a pretty happy father and son team.
this one, a bit smaller, ate a lure on very light gear right at the end of the day....
Between these two we moved a few hundred yards to an area that might hold tarpon this time of year and shut down to take a look.. after a few minutes I was ready to give up since the conditions were marginal at best. One last look and we saw a big fish with just the tip of its dorsal and tail fins showing at the surface... This is something I wait for every winter - the moment when the first giants come inside where it's warmer than out in the Gulf where they've been enduring winter's cold weather. It's like magic when the big tarpon come inside (usually a few months before they show up down in the Keys...) and they were there in force. We had fish up to about 150 lbs all around us, floating, loafing, occasionally rolling a bit. What we didn't get was one bite, but that's early season tarpon. Of course today, as I write this, another cold front is on top of us and the big fish will scoot back out into the Gulf where they'll remain until it warms up a bit again.... Winter tarpon heaven when it happens. We could actually pole up to fish within 20 to 30 feet without spooking them at all... When it's on they'll take a fly, a lure, or one of those ladyfish like they were starved-- and they should be around the next two months in Whitewater when it's warm enough.
About The Author: Captain Bob Lemay
Company: Captain Bob Lemay Fishing Guide
Area Reporting: Biscayne Bay and Flamingo
Bio: Capt. Bob LeMay began his south Florida fishing career almost thirty years ago. He has worked for area tackle shops, mated on charter boats, but the highlight of those early years was winning the Lauderdale Billfish Tournament in 1973 with two anglers who had never fished for billfish before!
By the end of the seventies he was guiding part-time and tying flies commercially. In 1995, he began guiding fulltime. Through Umpqua Feather Merchants his fly patterns are now sold in shops around the world and in catalogues like LL Bean and Westbank Anglers.