Fishing report, Biscayne nights, Everglades days
<p>These past 10 days have been busy, with both day and night bookings that found me running up and down the road. I did two days out of Everglades City, one day out of Flamingo, and one night in Biscayne Bay. The one factor in common everywhere I fished was the weather was bad - but the fish were hungry... Here's a brief summary...
The only night when water temps were even close to what they needed to be for tarpon (it's been like this almost the last two months...) we got out on the water and went after the baby tarpon with light spinning gear and live shrimp. The water was cold enough that I had serious misgivings, but the tarpon didn't seem to mind and they were a bit bigger than I expected. The usual winter time "baby tarpon" are in the 20 to 40lb range on average. Our first fish that night was between 60 and 80lbs... just a bit big for the gear we were using.... We had 8 or 9 bites, put five fish in the air, but only one stayed attached long enough for a photo..
The fish that night ranged from 30 to 80lbs and we had one shot at a fish in the 100lb class. As good as the night fishing for tarpon in the urban areas of Biscayne Bay can be, this year I've cancelled four or five trips when water temps were just too cold... If it will only warm up a bit the night fishing scene should be as good as it gets. Nothing like clear shots at fish - right at the surface... my next booking for them will be on the fly - I'm looking forward to it.
There's been lots of reports this year about how badly the snook population was hit by extremely cold weather in January, with lots of photos of snook kills everywhere... The good news is that we're continuing to find, catch, and release lots of snook in the backcountry from Flamingo all the way west to Everglades City in the Ten Thousand Islands. I did two trips out of Everglades City last week, both resulted in backcountry slams for my anglers- snook, redfish, and speckled trout for every angler each day. Last Thursday we actually caught and released about 20 snook the first hour of the trip in just one spot, along with two small redfish... all on lures worked slowly. The snook weren't monsters, ranging from 15 to 25", but they mean that lots of small snook did survive the winter kills that left many claiming that they'd been wiped out. Along with the snook and reds, there have been lots of speckled trout up in Gulf side rivers. I've actually had to leave them biting at a few spots and all are healthy 16 to 20" fish and larger. All of this on a day when the wind was just howling out of the northwest at 20 to 25mph...
Yesterday, out of Flamingo, it was more of the same bad weather with howling winds, cold water, and many spots just not fishable. After finding lots of ladyfish, jacks, and small mangrove snappers at one spot we went hunting for big fish up shallow in protected coves with soft mud bottoms where fish go to warm up on cold days. We didn't find many fish in Whitewater Bay but every snook we found was slot sized or above (in two cases the fish looked to be over 20lbs, laying in 18" to two feet of water. In the morning every fish we found was in full spook mode. In short, they ran from everything we tried. Going to plan B we made a long run to the north up into areas where the water held only a trace of salt. At first we struck out and I thought the long run was a wasted effort - but we finally found them, lots of snook in a short stretch of shoreline that were very hungry. They ranged in size from six to ten lbs. and just jumped on a small lure worked into the cover where they were holding. My angler, Alan Lewis from New York, hooked five and released three at the boat. The biggest fish, nearly 10lbs broke off after a fight where she was at the boat, twice. All of the action was in water barely 60 degrees... I just can't wait until it warms up! Yesterday we were actually fishing in 20 to 30 mph winds (thank heavens for sheltered spots out of the wind...)
Now for some photos...
That first tarpon, the look says it all, second shot was taken just before we released a nice 30lb fish...
Dave Johnston with a nice winter snook, we caught and released a bunch in one spot to start our day...
Alan Lewis with the first of several nice snook, this was the smallest.... All on light spinning gear with a small lure worked slowly in cold water.
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.