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My last night on the water was the night before the Super Bowl... and we probably should have stayed home... Not much to report - only jumped one tarpon on fly - and most of the docklights we looked at had folks enjoying them - so... we didn't even attempt to fish them... More to the point we never saw the first shrimp in the areas we fished - which might just have been why we saw so few fish up under the bridges between Miami and Miami Beach that night... My next night trips are a few weeks away so hopefully my next night report will be a bit better...


This is the time of year when the backcountry of the Everglades comes alive - and last Tuesday was a great example. My angler that day was Kevin Desmond a visitor from Rochester New York, who has been fishing south Florida for many years... That day we used light spinning gear mostly (actually the lightest rods on my skiff, loaded with 10lb braid) and caught fish after fish on small lures. It was speckled trout everywhere we fished along with the usual jacks and ladyfish (a few ladyfish went into the livewell for use as tarpon baits later on that day...). I knew that we had the potential for a great day when one of the small (only 1/8oz). leadheads got picked up by a giant tarpon... while we were trying to catch a few small ladyfish.... "Big Surprise" doesn't describe what happens when the lightest rod on your skiff is bent double by a fish that was over 100lbs... We did get a jump or two out of her before coming undone - but it set the tone for the rest of the day...

A few hours later I poled us up into some very shallow waters where we found small sawfish (less than five feet long) working finger mullet in around a foot of water. Just a hundred feet away we found another pod of small mullet getting worked over by a good fish that had turned the clear waters muddy trying to feed on them. Kevin tossed one of those little jigs with a Gulp tail in the area and we were off to the races with a big fish that pulled drag like it was nothing... Kevin did everything right and in a few minutes we had a very nice snook at the skiff for a quick photo and a careful release... Here's a pic or two...


This is one of the leadheads we used that day - mostly with Gulp shrimp tails...

This girl
(big snook are females mostly) weighed in at 10.5lbs on the Boga Grip... a great catch and release on only 10lb braid in very shallow waters, up inside the 'glades...

We continued to catch and release lots of trout and other species then around noon moved back to where I hoped to find a few big tarpon... We set up with two small ladyfish as live baits off the stern of my skiff while Kevin, using a bit heavier rod tossed an artificial where we believed the fish were holding. He did have one big boil on the lure (right at the boat, of course...) but no hook-ups... A few minutes later our smallest live bait rod bent double and we were off to the races chasing after a big fish that did it's best to spool him on that first long run... No two big tarpon behave the same - and this fish only jumped once at the beginning of the fight - then simply stayed down in around five feet of water - the entire fight.
For anyone that's ever tangled with a big tarpon that won't jump -the fight is just brutal (and usually your gear simply wears out before you win..). Kevin stuck with it and worked a big girl to the boat after about 30 minutes of slugging it out. The fish was a solid hundred pounds, nearly seven feet long, and in perfect condition... here's the only pic I took worth showing (I was busy at the time...)...


We leadered her several times before the leader finally gave up - an outstanding catch - and my first big Everglades tarpon for this year....

A perfect finish to a perfect day on the water.. and no wind at all, the entire day...

I expect more of the same if the weather stays mild - and a lot more big tarpon since they show up inside Whitewater Bay long before you find them in the Keys and other nearby areas - just because the water is warmer there... We'll be after them this weekend with fly fishing gear...

Be a hero - take a kid fishing!
 

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Great report, as usual. Myself and a few friends have one of the new houseboats rented out of Flamingo. We got it for three days and plan to hit it hard from Bass and Snook way up in the Rookery Branch, the river mouths, and out to some wrecks. We’re all very pumped. I haven’t done this since way before Wilma took the old houseboats out, and my partners have never done it.
 

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Great report Bob! It makes me want to spend a week in the Glades with both spinning and fly gear. One of these years!
 

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Just nothing like the 'glades this time of year.... and yes, the new houseboats really look great. The new concessionaire is really bringing some nice gear down there. I'm hoping for cabins as well....

Contrast that to the Park that hasn't even attempted to replace the cutting tables in the months since hurricane Irma... You won't find one garbage can at any boat ramp either...
 

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Great report! We were just down there for our annual trip, which is usually between January and March, just depending on schedule. We caught a lot of fish but now I am wishing we had waited a little longer. Ah, but not to fret, next week I'll be in Mosquito Lagoon all week. The week after that, fishing for Peacocks in Ft. Lauderdale and then in March.... Bahamas. That is why my schedule didn't work out. Your tarpon story reminds me of something that happened last year. We were polling off Plover Key and something boiled to our left, so we cast over there and hooked into a trout. We ended up pulling about 40 trout out of this hole. One time, we had a triple hook up. Anyway, one of the guys is bringing in a smaller trout and BOOM, it gets swallowed by a huge poon. This thing starts taking line, so I jump off the platform onto the motor trying to get some line back. This was a good solid 80 pounder and of course, it is not hooked. It has only swallowed a trout that is hooked. 1st jump and that trout comes flying out of its mouth. So we puled out the big rod and baited it with another small trout and we got another hook up. But that one came undone before we ever saw it. I love it down there and I always look forward to your reports. You are blessed man to live near such an amazing place. Never take it for granted, which I am sure you don't.
 

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Just nothing like the 'glades this time of year.... and yes, the new houseboats really look great. The new concessionaire is really bringing some nice gear down there. I'm hoping for cabins as well....

Contrast that to the Park that hasn't even attempted to replace the cutting tables in the months since hurricane Irma... You won't find one garbage can at any boat ramp either...
They just started construction on their platform tent cabins down by the walk in beach camping area. I spoke with the people at the entry shack to the RV camping area and they said that they will be ready by summer, which means no customers till mosquito season is over.
 
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