Summer “Snook” Bliss
By Capt. Charles Wright, www.ChokoloskeeCharters.com
I am often asked, ‘What is the best time of year to be here?”. That is always a difficult question to answer. We have a year round fishing season here in the sub-tropics and some species or technique is almost always “hot”. Winter trout fishing can be wonderful with non-stop, high volume action. Snook in the back-country when it is cold are wonderful to sight fish. Many times we can put up 60 fish days, but the fish are smaller than in the summer months.
Spring cobia runs are wonderful and, yes, they return in the fall. The permit that show up in springtime are a wonderful line-ripping treat until November. The big tarpon begin to show in spring and can be fished until mid-December The spring is a time of transition from winter. There are tons of fish both large and small.
However, the late summer and early fall is the time for me. It is a time when you can really enjoy the Everglades. Very few people venture out on the waters during the week, it feels as though this vast Fishing Paradise is all yours.
The weather and fishing patterns are extremely predictable. It is hot in the mornings, even hotter in the afternoons and it will rain almost exactly at 2:00 pm to cool things down … perfect. The fish and their feeding habits are just as predicable. The snook are big, aggressive and easy to find.
This is the time of year that snook fishing dominates the minds of anglers. This is the time of year for big snook. In July, the fish tend to migrate to the deeper passes doing what they do this time of year (spawn). Baits worked deep in these passes will produce well. Very early morning is best, so we will many times leave before sunrise to catch the early bite. Wade fishing the edges, casting into the drop is arguably one of the most effective ways to get at these fish. The noise of a boat, hull slap trolling motor, etc, has a definite impact on the bite.
In most places, however, you can only fish only one side of a pass and you are restricted to the areas that you can wade. These areas, many times are all that you need to be productive, but many times you simply can not get to where the fish are. Toss the use of the fishing kayak into the equation and you have the tools to cover any the area where the fish may be.
As always, tides play an extremely important role as to when and where we fish. During the summer months, the major tide is in the evening versus the mornings during the winter time. This means that in many areas, there is plenty of water for the big snook to be up on the “flats” throughout a low tide period. While most do move into passes during these periods, the water remains deep enough to target these residual fish with the proper technique … fish that are almost impossible to catch without the kayak.
In these circumstances, we will launch the kayaks, up-tide, at first light. With the tide already fall strong, I will send in the anglers typically armed with big top-water plugs. The top-waters can really call in these top-end shallow water predators in the calm of morning.
Our most recent trip, with four kayak fishing newbies, produced snook to 33”, tarpon, over 100 lbs in air, redfish to 29” and trout to 22” in one drift/pass. There is something really special about being very close to the fish in a kayak, seeing them, positioning yourself and the watching them explode onto an early morning top-water bait.
Two of the four Texans on this trip used to live in South Florida and had fished this area for years. Both commented that “this (kayak fishing) is THE way that they will fish Chokoloskee from here on out”.
July is not all kayak fishing. Sight-fishing, snook, tarpon, redfish and, most of all, permit rank right near the top of my list of July picks. Fishing the inshore early and moving to the near-shore permit schools makes for a trip that most will never forget.
This is the second full year of running the “Yak Attack” mothership kayak trips. Things are going well and most who have taken the trips have really enjoyed them. We did some wonderful camping/fishing trips into some very unique areas this past year and plan to do even more this fall and winter.
Recently, we took the Yak Attack to the lower keys for some bonefish stalking from the kayaks … that’s right from the kayaks. The weather gods were not friendly to us while we were there and made conditions tough, but the anglers were even tougher and we managed fish to 8 ½ pounds off some remote, pristine flats.
We are planning to do the Lower Keys kayak fishing trip again in early October and fish South Biscayne Bay for bonefish, permit and tarpon October 17 – 20. We will also be planning camping/fishing trips to the No Motor Zones this fall watch the website for details.
The next quarterly drawing for a free trip will be October 1st. Please remember that you must register each time to be eligible. The registration info is on the website.
Until then, Tight Lines ….
Capt. Charles Wright
If you would like to book a charter with Chokoloskee Charters, contact Capt. Charles Wright @ www.ChokoloskeeCharters.com; (captwright@ChokoloskeeCharters.com) or call him @ 239-695-9107. Tight Lines!