Return of the Everglades Snook + Nautilus NV11/12 tarpon edition + Pet Peacock

The snook and bonefish have taken constant beat downs from cold fronts that have come into Florida back to back, not only bringing with them extreme record low temperatures, but also many cloudy days to follow rather then the typical blue bird skies.  As a result, there was a massive fish kill and multitudes of snook were found dead throughout Florida.   The bonefish in Biscayne Bay and the Keys have taken a beating too and many casualties were had.  Admist the horroific reports and many days off the water being snowed in without the need for snow to be present, many anglers still held onto hope.  This hope that even though many fish were killed, many have taken refuge in the deeper waters of the Gulf and Atlantic to weather out this cold. 

I am happy to report some great news straight from the poling platform and casting deck.  Big breeder snook are making their return to the inshore waters of the Everglades and schools of bonefish are moving through Biscayne Bay and the Upper Florida Keys once again as the weather is slowly warming back up.  I have not been the only one to observe this, as I have heard the same from many other anglers. 

I met up with my buddy Capt. Peter Babb again this past weekend and fished the inshore waters of Chokoloskee.  After we had missed our optimal tide for a particular group of redfish due to spending an extended amount of time looking for big tarpon (yes we did see one), we stumbled upon something that will be burned into my memory for a life time.  While poling down a random shoreline in gin clear water, I noticed some big fish under the boat moving off.  I thought “tarpon” at first but then we spooked more of these big fish as we moved further down and I got a good look at them… they were indeed schools of snook; big 30lb+ fish.  It was truley an incredible sight to see snook that big in clear water.  Of coarse, we threw at a few of these big giants and they wanted nothing to do with our artifical presentations.  Peter and I then stumbled upon schools of snook, each fish over 10lbs, cruising up and down a shoreline.  With the gin clear water, we could see the bright green backs from a mile away.  The first few groups of fish proved real finicky so I tied on a DOA CAL jig/shadtail combo.  This is the same setup I used in Pine Island Sound fishing with my buddy Capt. Rick De Paiva to sight fish the pickiest snook in shallows.  The next group moved in and I deployed the DOA CAL to a beautiful snook that accepted my offering and graced the air with the sound of a screaming drag.  After a short tussle, I had this very respectable snook posing for a photo.  Definitely my highlight of this entire year.

One of many Post-Freeze Gulf snook, ready to return to the Everglades

Earlier in the week, I had a chance to meet with the guys at Nautilus reels and pick up my new weapon of mass destruction for this next tarpon season.  Nautilus Reels has released the “tarpon edition” NV11/12 fly reel.  The special edition reels feature special engravings on the reel that serve both function and asthetics from a tarpon etching to indications to measure drag settings and backing capacity.  The Nautilus NV reels are all known for being light weight, which is perfect for today’s market as rod manufacturers are making much lighter rods these days as well as rod actions that balance out better with lighter reels.  The G Loomis Crosscurrent Pro-1 (which I have matched my NV with as a 12wt setup) being a prime example of this.  My black NV Paired with a Cortland Precision Tarpon Taper line, the rod/reel/line is as sexy as a hot Russian blonde and balanced like the ultimiate wet dream.  Here’s a little reel porn to get us through a time when we are all waiting for the poon…

Stay tuned for more of the good stuff… until then, keep on making those tarpon leaders and tying flies…