Florida Everglades

A day in the everglades...

Well--I was in the Miami area last week, and I had a couple of ‘play’ days available, so I decided to book a trip to fish the Everglades. This was a first for me. Although I’ve been down there a couple of times I had never fished any of the Florida waters. A friend at a local fly shop told me to contact Capt. Bob LeMay, a fly/spin guide who has been working those waters for a dozen years. Tarpon are just beginning to show up in the Glades, so any cold fronts that drop the water temps below 70 will send them back out to sea. Three days before I arrived the water temps reached 78 and Capt. Bob said they jumped five ‘poons’ over 100lbs. I wish my trip was a week earlier, because the next two days the air temps plummeted into the 60’s and the water temps followed suit.

The day that I went out the air and water temperatures were on the rise, however still much colder than normal. We launched out of Flamingo, heading through a series open bays joining tight ‘rivers’ anchored by mangrove bushes. As we arrived to our first fishing hole the water temp was only at 62 and Capt. Bob was not optimistic about finding any tarpon or snook in those conditions.

The first spot must be the place where he takes clients to ‘get the skunk off’, because after loading my 8wt with a floating line and simple black baitfish pattern, I proceeded to catch five fish in five casts: Two small jacks, two speckled trout, and a ladyfish. Fun for sure, and all new species for me, but all of these fish were overmatched by my 8wt. I wanted to fish them on my 6wt instead, but the Capt. reminded me that in the Glades you need a rod that will handle a double digit fish, because one is likely to show up on any cast. Sure enough, minutes later I had a monster strike from ‘a double digit fish’ but we never got a look at her.

As the weather warmed and the tide fell we headed to a spot that was know to hold a few nice snook. Under normal conditions snook hang deep in the mangroves acting as ambush predators. But, when the weather is cool they come out of the mangroves to bask in the sun. After we poled around for a few minutes, we spotted a pair directly 50 feet off the bow. One cast-one strip later-one amazing bite later, I was hooked into my first snook. He ran 20 feet for the mangroves to my left and then 40 feet for the mangroves to my right, before hanging out under the boat and thrashing around for a couple of minutes. A nice fish that pulled the boga to 8lbs; “A true trophy for this area,” said Capt. Bob.

After catching a few smaller snook we decided to search for tailing redfish to complete the backcountry slam (snook, redfish, trout). We poled around for hours trying to find reds, but the wind forced dirty waters into all of the likely spots making it impossible to see the fish. By now, the water temps had jumped dramatically and Capt. Bob mused that there was a decent chance some tarpon might show. We made our way to his favorite tarpon ‘river’ greeted by 72 degree water temps. “They should be here,” he said enthusiastically! “Let’s watch. If they are here we will see them within five minutes.” After rigging my 11wt with an intermediate line and 8” black fly, he took me through a mock run of ‘what to do when a fish strikes’. We waited for another 15 minutes and after seeing no tarpon we knew that they had not come back in yet.

We ended the day casting for more snook that were now tucked deep into the mangroves. Good casts deep into the mangrove bushes produced several nice fish to 9lbs. Bad casts, even those two feet short of the mangroves never rewarded fish.

All in all a good day on the water—I tought. Capt. Bob said that we made the most of tough conditions. As we were leaving the water he muttered, “You know the poons will be back by tomorrow.” I just laughed! That’s what keeps me coming back to fish another day.

Awesome report, thanks for sharing! Sounds like a great day on the water and like you really enjoyed it.

Sight casting for tarpon is incredible...next time.
Yup...great report. It's always fun to fish somewhere new, particularly for a species you've never caught. I'd call that a pretty productive day, especially considering the conditions.
Cool shots...went down there on biz in Jan. Didn't get a guide because the weather was bad but did get out half a day in a kayak and caught some of these sea trout. Cool fish and hard fighters!