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Only had one booking this past week worth reporting on, fishing visiting angler Adam Cox and his 11 year old son Bennett into the backcountry out of Flamingo and across to the Gulf coast. Last week water temps continued to rise as we found ourselves in a warming trend - (that will end in a day or two). The big tarpon have shown up in Whitewater, taking advantage of the good early season water temps - but all that will end on Thursday night when we drop back down into more typical winter weather with a low side down into the fifties that night....


We fished spinning gear for young Bennett and his Dad - finding fish in Whitewater Bay at the first few spots we tried - mostly speckled trout, ladyfish and jacks. Here's a pic of Bennett with his first trout...

Everywhere we went an Equalizer float with a leadhead under it was the ticket in the shallows...while his Dad worked the same small lures without a float... After prospecting a few more spots, looking for redfish and snook we moved out to the coast where we found a variety of snook, redfish - and more speckled trout. I was a bit disappointed since we couldn't seem to find any big fish until young Bennett hooked up with what I thought was a shark (we'd lost a few baits to them already...). In short order the fish came up and gave a quick jump -showing a big snook... Young Bennett did everything right and a few minutes later he had his first snook in the skiff for a quick photo and then a careful release... it weighed in at 13lbs on my Boga Grip - an outstanding catch on relatively light gear - and it was his very first snook ever... Here's a pic

as you can see - it was so big his Dad needed to help him for the photo...

We made sure it was in good shape before carefully releasing it for someone else to tangle with (this is the closed season for snook - but in any case she was too big to keep even if the season were open).. Whenever another angler comes across her -she'll have to be released again (big snook are almost always females...) since she's clearly well over the slot size limit already...

Looking forward, the next few weeks will be ruled by whatever the weather is... If it stays cold we'll be poling up really shallow looking for redfish and snook sunning themselves in really shallow places with a soft mud bottom. If it warms up (the way it did last week) then the big tarpon will flood back up into Oyster, Mud, and Whitewater Bays... It's hard to beat Flamingo or Chokoloskee this time of year - even on days when the wind is blowing strong....

Be a hero... take a kid fishing.
 

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Great report. I am headed down to Flamingo weekend of the 22nd. Is there a water temp threshold I should look at to determine if the big tarpon will be in WW bay? Guessing it takes a few days for them to travel so I'll be watching daytime temps in the week leading up. Thanks for all these reports, they are quite epic.
 

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Bob,
You’re reports are awesome. The insight and knowledge you give us all is truly helpful.
Thanks for all the great info, tips, and knowing that we could all pass along a little bit if we were comfortable with our own abilities and knowledge. I continue to learn from you daily.

Thanks
Tim
 

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Most assume that when the those big silver girls aren't around that they're a long ways off... Me, I figure that they're offshore a bit and the first sign of warmer waters coming out of the 'glades will have them moving back inside...

I've found big tarpon up inside when the waters are only 70 degrees -but they're not open for business until water temps are at least 74 degrees... Here's a tip on how to track this kind of info -without being on the water every day...

Simply go to the National Data Buoy Center on the 'net.

ndbc.com for nationwide listings

or https://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/maps/Florida.shtml for our state's specific data buoys...

This site is part of NOAA and is used by water scientists everywhere needing to know specific info on water salinity, water temperature, and a variety of other data needed for environmental research...

Since I'm barely adequate with a computer (except for the writing part...) it took me a while to learn how to use the site... Your first screen will show a map of Florida with all the places that have the buoys, places with many buoys will have a box you'll need to click to see what they have for the region or area you're interested in... Click it and you'll see your area... At this point (as far as the 'glades go...) you're still not done.. Select any of the listed buoys and you'll get a second screen with lots of buoys or stations that are hidden initially (that's the way it is for stations in Everglades National Park...). The small map area doesn't have names on any of the little boxes shown - you only get that by clicking on the box...for each site.

Once you have he station or buoy you want you'll be able to track water temps and other data hourly for the past 24 hours - very handy indeed...

I was once part of a five or six boat charter (a busload of visitors coming to Key Biscayne for a half day bonefish trip). We were all there early so I made a point of going to each skiff guide and asked them what their electronics showed for water temperature at the dock... and found that no two machines showed the water temperature the same... This was some years ago so these days everyone might be getting good data from their machines (Lowrance, Simrad, Raymarine, take your pick...) but I'd not be sure whether to trust them. If you fish an area that actually has a station - at the end of the day (or the next day) you can go to NDBC and get a quick check of you electronics reliability... Don't be foolish like I was... believing that your machine is reading true and all those data buoys are not accurate.. The stuff for scientists has to be on target (and I never would have realized that my machine reads four degrees cold....).

Hope this helps...
 

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This is the nicest, most well thought out response, and is extremely helpful. Sincerest thank you!

I know my temp reading is bogus on my aftermarket transducer, so good call going to ndbc. So funny you mentioned it too as I always check the stations there for surf and temps, and wondered, if there were a few stations in the glades? Started poking around within minutes of asking and found exactly what you’re talking about. Interesting that 74 also seems like a magic temp for cobia, flood tides and basically every kinda fishing I like to do. Thanks again!
 

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All of my buddies are killing it down there. I've been staying between Everglades city and Marco because my motor is really old. While working the mangroves in this area the snook seem a little thin? I'm finding a bunch of trout instead?
 

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A few friends and I are going down next week. Wind looks like it'll be too challenging for a couple LT25s out front in Snake Bight. I guess we will have to figure out the mangroves down there. I know I want to hit up Hells Bay, to say I've fished it, but anyone want to share some ideas of where we should try?
 
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