Every wonder what the FWC does with harvested fish? Well I manage to record one of the research session the other day at the boat ramp.
He explains what they do and what the Otolith is. (ear stone)
The otolith is like a tree ring. They can count the rings in the stone and tell you how old the fish is.
SaltyShores Close-Up: Naples, Part Two
The first few cold fronts of this season had reached South Florida. These cool plumes of air would certainly shift the populations of snook soon enough. On the west coast of the state, this entailed linesiders moving from the beaches and passes deep into the backcountry. Before this staging would fully unfold, develop, and end, I called Naples Captain Will Geraghty to make hay quite soon. Daytime snooking in the general Naples area tapers off as fall turns into the colder winter. Most fishing for winter time snook is done at night under the lights of the city. The cold fronts of fall had already begun to create baitfish migrations along the shores of Naples, bringing great tarpon, mackerel, bonito and shark action. The local snook and redfish populations were joining in the feast as well. But, inevitably, as front after future front would pass over this area, the migratory bait like minnows and mullet would swim southward. And with them would go the whitebait ( A.K.A. pilchards, scaled sardines) of Naples which were the major baitfish of the center console and bayboat guides and captains.
I was in luck that Captain Will was able to make two days available quite soon. The timing of those two days would give us enough remaining warm weather and a strong outgoing tide- both factors he felt were essential for the live baiting he would be doing from his spacious center console vessel. We decided I would meet him at 7:00 a.m. at Port O Call marina both days. After making those plans, I was able to get lodgings at the nearby- and very hip- Lemon Tree Inn.
I drove over the day before and settled into my lodgings. I spent the afternoon swimming and reading while speculating on the action to come the next day. I enjoyed the Lemon Tree Inn. It had a distinct Key West feeling with lots of gardens and woodwork in the center of the property. The place was immaculate, well-appointed and I spoke with some guests from Germany who really loved this great little spot under the Florida sun. I decided to enjoy the Inn’s complimentary breakfast before my first day of fishing.
The Fishing Begins-
The time finally passed from night into next morning and found me climbing aboard Will’s boat. We were soon underway and passed through beautiful Naples Bay.
Captain Will quickly got live pilchards and we went to work in the brisk outgoing tide. We would have four hours today for our efforts. Will fished three habitats- the pass jetties, the dock pilings and the mangrove roots and we were quite successful everywhere we went. Our tally was about 20 snook, plus Golaith grouper, gag grouper, big jacks and mangrove snapper.
After freshening up after the first trip, I explored the Fifth Avenue area and I dined quite well.
I postponed breakfast until after the trip. We were hoping to do some fishing over the near shore wrecks before snooking. Though the weather forecast called for the northeast winds to drop off, they remained at a strong 20 M.P.H. This made fishing one to five miles off the beach a lot of work but certainly not impossible. But all we were catching were jacks and an occasional mackerel. So we left the open Gulf to go “inside” for snook.
We immediately caught a few snook at the jetty pass rocks. Will decided to go further in to try one of his “pet” docks. This decision turned out to be the stuff of dreams. We did not move for the next few hours as we released about forty snook, the biggest of them around fifteen pounds. It was hard to say how many more of them accounted for missed strikes and cutoffs. When the action (almost blessedly) tapered off, Will declared it a truly epic morning and I could not have agreed more. Before saying farewell, we resolved to try some summer fishing for permit over the Gulf wrecks next year.
I was famished and headed for the Café on Fifth Avenue where I met a family member for an excellent brunch.
Captain Will Geraghty
Cell Phone- 239-571-2878
Lemon Tree Inn
Phone- 239- 262-1414
Naples, Marco Island, and the Everglades
So this is day 2 of my fishing Texas adventure. Today I fish with John West. I connected with John through a mutual fishing friend here in Florida, Kris Howell. We tried to get together before but circumstances just did not work out.
The day started off early for me. I was up by 4am to make the 1 hour 15minute drive over to meet John at his house in Beaumont. After quick stop ate McDonald for a chicken biscuit , a coffee and was actually on time. We loaded up the Ranger Phantom and was on our way in 15minutes. The drive was going to take us at least another 30 minutes. We were to be fishing Sabine Lake. Another random new place I have never fished so excited to see new scenery.
In the distance approaching the lake, I see lights high in the sky. I am thinking this looks like a big city, why have I not heard of this place? As we approach, it became clear these were not normal buildings at all, they were oil refinery structures. John explains, though the area has created a bunch of jobs for the locals the neighborhood itself however, is quite scary. Note to self: no hanging out in Port Arthur.
Driving through the structure it definitely is quite a departure from the boat ramps in Florida. I love it though, a change of scenery is always cool to see.
We arrived and there were a couple boats that had already a launched but definitely not busy day by any standards. With a surprising 5 to 10mph winds we were off as the sun came up.
The first thing we did after we launched was to look for birds feeding. Since fishing with Clint the day before I knew exactly what to look for.
We stopped at a point where the birds were feeding and we started to pull in small trout and reds. I had one blow up on the she dog and when I set the hook it took the top water with it. I must have had a nick in the line. I will never know how big that fish was. You know what they say “not makes a fish bigger than almost being caught.”
A few cast later John did that this slow red on the jig he was using. As the sun came up the bite slowed, the winds picked up so we decided to move on and fish the marshes.
The winds picked up dramatically as it went from 5-10mph to 15 to 20mph which made for some tough maneuvering in the mashes. We saw a few fish but I have to say, today the fish were a bit finicky. We would cast cast cast.. then we would drift over the spot and the fish would spook off. Quite frustrating knowing you cast there 5 times with out an eat right before.
Finally I found a small pod of fish that decided to cooperate. Success with the mirror lure Lil Jon.
The Lil jon worked out well for this flounder as well.
About noon we picked put the boat back on the trailer, grab some lunch and relaunched nearby . The tide at this point was slacked so we had to wait a bit. Since I had to be done by 3pm we were pressed for time. Once the tide changed though, the bite turned on quite nicely. John got 2 reds, miss a couple more and I landed my largest Flounder all in one stretch of shore line.
Logic lure jiggly wiggly jighead rigged on a gulp shrimp got this flounder to the boat and into the cooler.
After a couple photos it was time to head in … Thanks Jon for a great trip when I come back next time I promise to have more time to wait for the tide!
Usually in Tampa by when we see a fish feeding frenzy on the flats they are usually small jacks or ladyfish. Unless I am bored and want something to pull on the line, for the most part I avoid these things.
This day I got very lucky and the frenzy happens to be slot redfish. Though I have tried, but after that day I never saw it again.
Good thing I was wearing the Pivot Head glasses to capture the moment.
If you every used a truck bed extender then you are familiar with scrapping up your driveway and hitting speed bumps. Due to the design of the extenders under load the metal is sure to hit the asphalt sooner or later.
The guys at BooneDox Saw a need for a better bed extender so they came up with the T-bone. Again I say to myself “why didn’t I think of this!?”.
The concept is quite simple. Instead of heaving it squared off it curves upwards leaving plenty of clearance. It’s lightweight, compact and looks much better than the run of the mill bed extender.
One of the coolest thing about social media is the fact that you can network with almost anyone in the world. This networking came in handy when I was visiting Texas last week.
I was there for a week and did not really know the area. I message a few people I know in the fishing industry and in no time I had more fishing trips lined up that I had time for.
The first trip was kayak trip I got connected with was Clint. I got a hold of him through a fellow south east kayak fisherman Benton. Clint was super cool giving me tips and areas I should look this time of year to find fish in the Texas waters. This was very helpful when I fished myself later in the week.
Since we were kayak fishing I wanted to use a Hobie PA 14. With some help I found a place in Houston that rented them. Austin Kayak on Bissonnet had a PA14 bed extender and set up when I arrived. They had all kinds of gear inside for Kayaks I have never seen before. I wish I had more time to browse but time was wasting. I did buy a map of the area I was going to fish to get a better lay out of the land.
I drove from the Austin Kayak directly to the launch location to meet up with Clint. He tells me the area is good for big trout and that was what he was mainly targeting. Me I just wanted to catch anything.
It took an extra bit to rig up as this was the first time, but we manage to launch about 4pm. Clint tells me all he uses is She Dog, Corky and jigs with soft plastics. I always do what the locals tells me and add a couple of things I thought might work as well. This time I added a mirrordine and a doa shrimp.
It did not take long after the launch for us to start seeing life. Mullet everywhere and things getting chased. Clint tells me to look out for diving birds, this was a good sign for trout and redfish feeding on bait. Usually in Florida when I see that inshore I avoid them as they are usually lady fish or small jacks. He also tells me to look for slicks, as this was a sign of feeding activity. If I happen to smell watermelon this was also a sign of trout feeding. Wow the things you learn about species you thought you knew.
Not to be out done I catch a baby black drum on my DOA shrimp.
We did another drift with out any luck so we moved on looking for birds. Once the birds were found I peddle over and on the first cast got a nice slot red who was feeding under the birds. A few more cast resulted in more trout, but the small kind. We continued this strategy until we caught more trout and a couple more reds. Now it was time to look for schooling reds.
We drifted shallower and shallower. Clint manage to catch a couple more reds. The school of reds we were looking for was no where to be found however.
As the sun was setting we did a wading session that did not reward us. The sunset bite on the way in was pretty damn good though. The birds were all over and trout were feeding on top coming out of the water after my top water lure.
Almost every cast our lure was attacked. As we head in the mosquito came out and it was brutal. Wearing shorts proved a bad idea.
Thanks Clint for helping me out with shortening the learning curve fishing the Texas waters and showing me around. I will be back!
Stuff we used if you’re interested:
Today after fishing the Texas waters last week I was dying to get out and wet a line. The winds were blowing 20-25 mph so it was not pretty out side.
After a bit of contemplation I put my big boy pants on and hit the water in the Hobie PA14. Some times the weather man is wrong but he was spot on today with the 20-25mph winds forecast.
I drift the flats at hyper speed and stopped here and there at places that I thought looked promising but to no avail. I was running out of time since I know it will take me a bit to get back going against the winds and waves.
After 2 hours of casting and getting zero rewards and barely seeing any life on the flats I gave up and started to head in. I got to the point where the water was just too shallow for my mirage drive. I got out and tied the rope to my waist. Since it was sunny I could see in the shallow sand flats so I grabbed a rod rigged with a Logic Lure and a 1/4oz jig head.
To my surprise I started to see fish on the shallow sand bars where I was walking. First it was a small shark. Then a snook that was totally oblivious to me being there. I sight casted him while it was only 12′ from me and he did not hesitate.
The next fish not to long after I release the snook was my largest Florida flounder at almost 20″ on the same lure.
I packed it in so I could do some catching up. Some times it pays off to keep fishing when you head back in. Today was definitely the case.
This time of year I like low tide as the fish are concentrated.
I also like jigs as the fish are usually less aggressive and stay on near the bottom on cold days.
On the flats its 1/8th or 1/4 oz jig heads.
I like to fish 1 to 3′ of water, unless I am fishing canals.
These fish caught today were in less than knee high water.