Archive for the ‘Fishing Journal Entries’ Category

An insider’s guide to Key West bars

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Yeah, it’s a fishing site, but into each life a little booze must fall. And what better place to sip a few cold concoctions than sunny Key West, Florida? The name alone evokes a feeling of adventure, escape and, well, debauchery. Those who have been feel its draw long after they’ve left the island behind. Those who have never visited are missing out on a remarkable experience. (more…)

In like a lion…

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

I’ve been remiss in my posting…my apologies to steady readers. Been busy, but I did get out last Sunday with Joe, back into ENP. Was a slow day for quite a while. We managed 10 or so small snook, all of them under slot, and a chunky little jewfish. But down the stretch we did well, with a nice redfish, a big ole snuke on a topwater plug and scores of missed opportunities. We had to hoof it for the ramp as the sun fell, leaving the hottest bite of the day. Grrrr. I’ll be thinking about the mammoth redfish that were trying to ingest our plugs for some time. The highlight of the day? Drifting into a quiet cove and finding a 100+ lb. tarpon laid up in the shallows, casting to it with light tackle, and hearing my spool erupt like a dentist’s drill gone mad. We didn’t have a camera ready, but I can still see the big ole gal frozen in mid-air before she spit the lure back at me. My hands have stopped shaking and my pants have been cleaned, but I still flinch at quick movements. :-)

Slim pickings in paradise

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Headed into the Glades this past Friday with MoJoe and his two brothers Kevin and Marty (Notre Dame grads, all). Marty hopped on my little skiff, which I hadn’t taken “down south” in a number of years. I was sporting the two new custom rods Joe built for me and my wife – the boy makes some sweet sticks. On the trip down, Joe was gracious enough to keep his 21-foot teleporter under light speed, so he and Kevin stayed within sight. We had precious little action – probably 12-15 smallish snook between us, and one frightened-looking little redfish. (Marty had a shot at a hulking red that sawed at his plug a couple of times, but no dice – lots of muted cursing ensued). In the end, a mounting wind chased us off the water, but not before we had lots of laughs, a beer or two and some of the best damn pork tenderloin sandwiches this angler has ever ingested. (We can’t fish worth a lick, but we can eat with the bets of ’em). Post trip Joe and I admitted, as we always do, that we are hopelessly in love with the Everglades…even when she’s difficult and moody.

Hot and Cold

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

I headed deep into the Glades last week with MoJoe and his brother Danny. We suffered on the long ride down, running 40-50 MPH in 40-degree weather. Brutal. We saw numerous large snook early on, but they had lock-jaw and moved about listlessly in the cold shallows. But the day warmed up nicely, and by mid-afternoon the fish thawed out enough to feed. We enjoyed a banner afternoon from that point on. Joe caught everything that moved and posted a backwater slam (snook, redfish, tarpon), I was one unbuttoned tarpon away from doing the same, and Danny caught snook as fast as he could cast his plug. We feasted on dry salami, Parmesan cheese, spiced olives and Papa Sullivan’s spectacular soft-bread sammies; released over 40 snook and several reds; and basked in crisp, sunny weather. Beat that. I dare you.

Seeing spots

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

My wife and I headed out yesterday for a quick trip to a local bay. Extreme low tides had exposed most of the bottom, forcing schools of hungry speckled trout into narrow channels. We had a ball catching them hand over fist on light tackle. We stopped counting at around 45 “specks.” Other fish occasionally joined the party – including jack, bluefish, gafftopsail catfish and ladyfish – and we hooked a beautiful starfish and a funky sea cucumber that sprayed the deck with fluorescent purple ink. Raccoons, diving ospreys, a host of water birds and a group of bald eagles added some visual spice. The chilly weather gave way to a warm sun, the perfect backdrop for a great day together.

Going solo

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Had a chance to sneak in a quick solo trip to a favorite bay this morning. A seriously low tide exposed many areas that are normally under water, forcing fish into narrow channels. I found two nice snook, scores of chunky speckled trout and a lone bluefish along channel edges, all of which were released in good shape. By mid-morning it was dead still and hot, and boat traffic had tripled…my cue to head for home. Alas, the quiet little bay I’ve fished for so long now sustains a crush of people at this time of year. Despite the mounting pressure, it still yields healthy fish…and moments of fragile beauty.

Slow day down south

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

Headed way down south below Chokoloskee on Saturday with MoJoe, hoping that a recent bout of warm weather would kick some life into chilly fishies. Alas, the tides were much weaker than anticipated, and we saw sparse action. (Note to self: focus on tides above all else). But no complaints here. The sky was a glorious blue, birds were about in great numbers, things warmed up nicely by mid-morning and – between laughs about rigging a weedless pickle – we managed to scare up a dozen snook or so on flies and small plugs in God’s Country. With friends freezing their keesters off up north, I’ll take a warm day among the mangroves and run.

Chills and Thrills

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Joe and I snuck out early this past Friday. The normally packed parking lot at Outdoor Resorts in Chokoloskee was completely deserted – the first time we’ve witnessed that despite years of fishing the Everglades. We unloaded the boat in silence, and on the water a thick sheet of fog added to the spooky atmosphere, small twisters rising into the air from the dark surface. Running across bays at 50 mph was to-the-bone cold, and we willed a gold sun to rise over Sunday Bay. A school of bottle-nose dolphin were the first signs of life we saw, languidly rolling at the smooth surface near a deep shoreline. Further down we saw a few gators hunkered down on muddy shorelines, obviously suffering ill effects from the recent cold front. (more…)

The Joe Show

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

This past Friday Joe and I head down into the Glades for the first time since May. A steady breeze kept the oppressive heat at bay, and made for a glorious late-summer trip. There were a number of memorable moments. A big gator tried to swallow a snook I was releasing, and had Joe not hollered he may have swallowed far more. Deep in a backwater creek Joe hooked a dark snook that had a large crawdad stuck in its, well, craw, and then it spit up half of a digested water moccasin along with his lure. But the story of the day was my lesson in humility. We’re seldom competitive, but we did spark up a good-humored competition to keep things interesting. He switched from plugs to a jig early, and I scoffed at his choice like a smug dry fly angler disdaining the use of a nymph. Wrong move. (more…)

Luck of the Irish

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008


Hurricane-in-training Fay is bearing down on us in SW Florida, with tornado warnings blaring on the boob tube and the wind starting to bend the trees in our back yard. The crappy weather gives me time, though, to document a recent post-work trip to DependaBay with my buddies Joe and Marty Sullivan. Marty — a walking comedy routine — seldom gets out anymore, so we were hoping he’d score. And score he did. He and Joe bagged two 30+-inch reds on softbaits, pulling them out of a school that was rednecking its way across a big grass flat. (more…)