Everglades backcountry report, 9 Feb
I'll keep this short and rely more on the pics than the words. Lots doing now for fly and lure anglers out of each end of the Park, either Flamingo or Everglades City/Chokoloskee. The big news out of Flamingo is that the giant tarpon have shown up since (so far) we've had a relatively mild winter. They've been in Whitewater Bay now for a few days, but rarely showing very much. Instead they've been laying up quietly in out of the way spots, just warming up. You have to see one of these fish laying quietly in three or four feet of water to believe it. When one takes a fly or lure it's heart stopping. Our last big fish was on Monday and we didn't hook up properly but watching that 100lb + fish eat the fly less than 20 feet from the boat was well worth the trip. Nearby in Whitewater Bay are lots of slot sized redfish, nice speckled trout, the occasional snook, and good sized grouper (the grouper are actually in the nearby rivers now). The best snook action we've found has been all the way up into freshwater areas to the north of Flamingo or over in the Ten Thousand Islands area out of Everglades City. Now for a few pics...
here's a typical Whitewater trout, they're eating flies, jigs, and small plugs (mostly Mirrolures for us) wherever you find them
Lots of slot sized reds now in the interior, note the dark red brown colors. Justin Silver and his wife caught and released their share that day. We're also seeing and getting shots at some much larger reds but they're not easy at all in the very clear water condtions.
These two are typical gag grouper caught and released by local anglers, Andre Beach and his partner Greg, on lures in the rivers that drain out of the 'glades... They're very aggressive and will occasionally chase a lure or fly up to the surface to strike. Later that day each caught and released their first snook on fly (of all things on a tiny 2wt fly rod ..,)
Our last day on the water was over in the Ten Thousand Islands area out of Everglades City (I've been towing a lot of miles up and down the road this past seven days alternating between each end of the Park with different anglers). We caught and released at least 20 snook (mostly small) on both small lures and flies. Our best fish were found way up inside where the water is almost completely fresh instead of salt.
Here's Jeff Rasband, a med student from the Tampa area, with a nice one on fly. He and his partner Keith alternated fly and spin gear all day long to fish that were tight to heavy mangrove cover...
If the weather remains mild the giant tarpon will get active and we'll finally be away from the very cold conditions that existed in the previous two winters... Tarpon heaven in Whitewater!
Many have been concerned that the snook population took a bad beating last during last winter's cold fish kills but you'd never know it up in the interior areas we've been running. Lots and lots of small snook, very nice sized larger snook (as usual being very careful what they eat...) and one or two in the monster category, fish at or over the 20lb mark. I'd say that fish in the interior of the 'Glades that had access to deep water creeks survived quite well. We'll know for sure towards the end of May when they'll be showing up outside again preparing to spawn...
This coming week I'll be fishing folks that work at the Boat Show in Miami Beach at night. The tides then should be just right....
Capt Bob LeMay
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.