Between traveling and bad weather (including 100 degree temps, which I consider bad weather) I haven’t been on the water much since July, but the recent cool spell meant it was time to get back to finding some fish. I did manage to fish in Naples during the annual Florida Outdoor Writers Festival in the 10,000 Islands with Capt. Phil Deville and Sue Cocking, veteran sports writer for the Miami Herald. A fascinating place….miles and miles of mangroves, through cuts barely as wide as the boat. We were there when Irene was passing just on the other side of the peninsula so we got some bands of rain during the trip (in spite of the great sky in this pic). We fished the mangroves and avoided the gulf, which was stirred up by several days of high winds. Saw lots of tarpon, caught a nice snook on topwater, and we bagged a few small reds, some trout and using jigs with shrimp sweeteners, Sue got a number of small mangrove snapper. We also had a few tarpon to play with, but never managed to jump any.
This weekend, I had several trips fall through, but I needed to get out and look around so I went by myself (and left my clamp tripod at home). Went out at daybreak on Saturday morning, to find Deadman’s Bay on a low tide and full of whitebait, rainbait and varying sizes of mullet. I fished in 2 feet of water with my usual nickel SuperSpook and found several nice slot reds in the first hour, along with a number of trout of varying sizes. A little later in the morning I found one nice 22 incher that avoided the camera.
I ran to a bunch of my usual spots but after around 10 there were no baitfish, and no trout or reds. Water temperature was 77 degrees, better than it has been, but still about five degrees too warm. But early, there were tons of small fish hitting the schools of small whitebait, so that sounded like a good excuse to try some flyfishing on Sunday morning for a few hours. It always takes me about an hour to get my casting chops back (especially given that even at their best, they are novice in nature). Sunday was exactly the same, and I found a lot of action with smaller fish, catching a number of jacks, trout, and several decent sized ladyfish, which are always fun on a fly rod. This trout was gorged on whitebait.
There are still plenty of scallops present, although the traffic was minimal. School starting and a Gator football weekend kept lots away, but the scallop meats are huge and everyone I spoke to was limiting in an hour or so. The season is open until the 25th, and gag grouper season opens on the 17th. I anticipate some great fishing ahead. Even Michelle, the maitre ‘d at the Tiki Bar, knows the fishing is about to get better.