Fishing Chokoloskee, Everglades National park with David McCleaf, Fly fishing Tarpon Snook and Alligator.

Note: This will be my first of hopefully many “Destination” type report. Destination report is my idea of giving readers as much detail as possible about what’s important to the fisherman if they decide to travel there themselves. From what I have read, I feel many travel website does not cater to the fisherman. So it will be kind of a fishing report/travel suggestions for the fisherman. You know things like..

-can I park my boat at this hotel
-how far is it to fishing grounds
-Where do I eat? is the food good? is the food cheap?
-Where do I get fuel?
-Where do I launch?
-What kind of gear should I bring?
-What kind of lure? What kind of fly?

I will do my best to share information like, boat ramps, lodging, food, what kind of fishing to expect that time of year, recommended gear and apparel to optimize your fishing fishing adventure. If you don’t want to do the work or has traveled from out of state and don’t have a boat and gear with you. I will have recommended guides that I’ve fished with. This list is long but I’ll do my best to cover most of it. I can’t put up all the information in one edit so book mark or check back on this report as I add and share many of the experiences.

Dec 20th 2009:

Towing the ECC Caimen, I drove down the night before to meet up with my old buddy David McCeaf down in Fort Myers Florida.  We met up with another old buddy of mine and another MIA Saltyshores contributor Rick DePaiva for dinner at the Ale house next to Basspro on exit 128 on I-75. (btw: for the price of $8.95 can’t beat the crab and shrimp quesadillas).  After some catching up and a couple of Miller light we made our way back to David’s place to rest and pack for tomorrow’s adventure.

I say adventure because it’s always and adventure fishing Chokoloskee .  It’s near the Everglades National park and it’s pretty remote as remote can be when you’re fishing Florida. If you look at the Google map you can see there’s like  thousands of small island, coves, estuaries easily getting you lost if you’re not paying attention. So if you are planning on heading down there I suggest a GPS and this time of year(winter) a shallow draft fishing vessel.

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David and I showed up at the ramp about 8:30am. Since it was going to be cold this morning there was no hurry to be there 1st light. Florida fish are use to the warmth most of the time, so when’s cold many times it takes a bit for the fish to get active. Loaded with food and drinks for the afternoon, we launched the boat and started to heading south.(I brought along a extra 6 gallons just in case we ran out of gas). I also made sure my gps was working well before leaving the house. This is very important down there if you’re not good at reading maps. Once you spin around and loose your bearings everything looks the same.

Today we wanted to just explore. I didn’t want to revisit any place I’ve fished before.(believe there’s lots of it down there) David and I looked at google map the day before and just picked a few places we wanted to check out. There were some disappointments but some were really really good. Lots of dead ends and over grown mangroves blocking out way. We ran for almost 1.5 hour before we even started to fish our first spot. Besides fishing the same area over and over gets a bit boring to fish and to read about.

Since there was no sun due to the overcast skies, we worked the shore line blind casting. Today we ue used white Doa jerk bait and Sebile plugs to find the concentration of fish. Once we did we put the spinning rods away and worked the fly rod. I brought along a 8′ 8 weight GLoomis cross current and a Loop 8wt reel with a short leader. I know we would be working tight quarters for the most part so an 8′ foot rod with short leader would be more accurate and easier to manage.

We worked the shoreline and for the most part it was hit and missed. The only consistently productive area were creek mouths. We got into lots of baby snook and baby tarpon which was a blast on fly. We found some great area and many dead ends that kind of wasted lots of our time on the water but hey, that’s what exploring is all about. My gps was hit and miss as well. Staying on the main part of the channel it was fine..but when started to get off the beating path it was way off. (never trust gps 100%, things changes out there..especially in the Everglades).

We ended the day landing 6 Tarpon and lots of small snook, I only got a picture of the smallest one because it was the smallest snook anyone of us has ever seen caught on hook and line. We hooked a bunch more baby tarpon up to about 8lbs but the kept on loosing them. I’m glad to say we got some video of some cool eats on the fly that hopefully I will have some time to edit here shortly. We made the long run back just as as the sun is about to set. These days in Florida it gets dark at about 5:30pm and we got to the ramp at 5:15pm. The fishing was good today consider we were just exploring the weather definitely was not optimal. As I type this I’m looking at Google maps already for my next trip back to explore more places I’ve never been.

  • Launch – Outdoor resort because it’s easy access to the south side of Chocko, on the main road and seem to have good security. The cost is $20, nope not cheap but they’re almost the only game in town.
  • Eats – The restaurant next to Captain’s Table. Why? Cheap and the food is ok. I mean you can get the buffet for $7.95.  Hint: you’re not going to find a 5 star restaurant on this island.
  • If your fishing back country 8 wt fly rod or 15 pound spinning gear would be fine. 7 foot or shorter rod for better accuracy. Lots of guys likes to use bait casters as they are more accurate and you don’t have to case long distances.
  • Lures, Jerk baits or suspending plugs. Leave the deep divers at home. It might look deep due the dark tanic color but for the most part the places we fished were 3′ or less.(I’ll recommend some plugs and plastics as I re edit and make this report more detailed like colors etc.)

These are the photos I got since I was actually fish most of the time. David got some action shots and some cool Alligators shots once he gets a chance to edit them. I’m also working a clip or two of the video we got yesterday.