This weekend me and a bunch of guys headed down to Chockoloskee Florida to fish the Everglades national park for a couple days. The hitched up the Caimen picked up my buddy David McCleaf and headed south. After a night of male bonding with a game of poker and a couple beers were were off to bed so we could be up bright and early.
5:30am we were up and launching the boat after a cup of coffee. David and I were 1st ones on the water as some of the others had a bit too much and stayed up a bit too late. We idled out to wait for everyone and messed around some rocky shoreline. David was practicing his fly casting catching a few trout and mangrove snappers on this windless morning. I took a few photos as we drifted along and decided to join the fun. I put on my new favorite jig DOA CAL in Gold Rush color and started to catch trout as well. We drifted to marker and made cast past it and WHAMO.. a large snook breaches the surface and ripped across the what use to be still water. I screamed “BIG Fish!, start the Mortor!”, then I loosen my drag as the fish starts to make his run.
As David scrambles to take the fly line in the fish jumps and I bowed instinctively like I was fighting a tarpon. We gave chase to the large fish with a trolling motor but for whatever reason it quit on us. David started the motor and idled closer so I could a put more direct pressure on the fish. Leaving out too much line would on increase the chances of failure. More line means more weak link, more line to get cut, and rapped up on things.
When I hook a large snook using a jig 90% of the time the snook has the leader in the mouth. In more times than I care to recall, my story would end with heart break as fish eventually wears through the leader. With this in mind I lessen the drag even more and ridiculously baby the fight. Since it was low tide there were no mangroves to go under. 15mintues later and some scary moments near crab trap buoy we landed a trophy snook.
During the battle all the other boats found us and started wonder what we had on. Dph(David) and Hurricane(Gabe) was watching us and stuck around til the end. Since Daivd McCleaf and I both wanted to take photos we forced DPH to hold the fish for us. After all he was dressed the part and looking pretty spiffy with his orange Columbia shirt on. The lighting was perfect and David was an excellent model .. almost like he’s done it before.. thanks Dave!
After all was done everyone rendezvous at the mouth of the Barron River and decided to head offshore to a nearby wreck to see if there’s any action out there. After about an 8mile run and pretty much found it lifeless everyone spllt up to do some more inshore fishing. David and I headed strait to shore and just started to poling. To our surprise the water was quite clear. It looked like for a bit were fishing the keys. The bait was abundant and the fish were a plenty as we found a nice school of upper over slot reds. David hooks up on a mirror dine and got a nice 27″ red to the boat. After a couple photos we pressed on and found snooks, reds, trout, jacks, mackerel, blue fish and black drum. Later on that evening we even got into some large Black Tip sharks. We got one to the boat briefly before he broke us off. He was close enough several times for me to do some underwater shots before the sun went down on one of my best day of fishing in Chockoloskee.
After some dinner with the gang and some story(lies) telling, at the local “Captain’s Table” restaurant I was beat and was in bed by 930pm tonight. We anticipated some good fishing tomorrow morning as we planned on heading back to the honey hole 1st thing in the morning.
The next morning the winds were up noticeably. Being one to stick with the plan we made the 10mile run to our most productive area that previous day only to find the water churned up and murky. Then the winds started to pick up to a constant 15 then 20 then gusting to 25. The clouds got darker and the rain started to drizzle. Mother nature told us it was time to go. After a couple trout and snook we cut our losses and bolted back before the fun really got starts.
9:30am the boat was loaded on the trailer and were bolting back home out of Everglades City Florida. After a stop in Ft. Myers for lunch with friend David and friend Rick DePaiva I was home by 1:30pm.