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Took a weekday off to take my old friend Captain Tom Ross out to Chokoloskee to fish the ENP and the 10K Islands. Tom is currently running a 74' Merritt for an owner out of Annapolis, but the boat is in the yard for some work through the end of the year. I recently helped Tom find a 2003 Maverick Master Angler that he is really enjoying. Some of you may have met Tom and his lovely wife Ann at the MOT. Tom is an accomplished blue water captain and pretty handy at the inshore stuff too! Weather report was favorable; the tides were big with the new moon but a little less favorable (8:19 a.m. low at Chatham River) as I tend to favor a falling tide in that area. We launched at OR at first light and ran south. Fishing primarily with soft plastics (Zman jerk baits in black and gold or Slayer or Down South paddle tails in several different colors; MirrOlure Lil John's in Watermellon Ice), we really got into the snook and trout but had trouble finding reds or tarpon. The snook were on the smaller side except for two slot sized fish that Tom brought to the boat. We got into some really nice trout on the low tide in a channel that runs parallel to a key. Over all, a great day with a good old friend in a magical place.
It was all about variety yesterday in the ENP. We launched early at OR (with 25-30 others from the Naples area who were entered in a Red/Snook tournament). Low tide at 6:43 a.m. so we would have incoming water all morning followed by a falling tide in the afternoon. Weather was overcast, but nice. Winds were calm. Fished with my buddy, Mike (InTheSlot12), who was injured in a boating accident back in June. This was his first time on the water since then. We caught just about every species--reds, snook, trout, jacks, ladyfish--but the capstone was this large tarpon that we caught at the end of the day along a shore line on the incoming tide. Most of the catch was on hard plastic sinking twitch baits or soft plastics. The tarpon ate a soft plastic jerk bait. I lost one after one jump that took a purple DOA Baitbuster; that would have closed the inshore grand slam for me. But Mike brought it home for the boat grand slam! The day would not have been complete without spending some time with Ranger John Kalafarski to hear his stories about snook otoliths, the importance of no see ums (ceratopogonidae) to the chocolate industry, and this Burmese Python skin.
Launched at OR on a high tide around 7:15 a.m. and was excited about the prospects of fishing the outgoing water all day. But, the weatherman lied again and winds were strong out of the ESE, so we stayed primarily on the inside, fishing the backcountry creeks and coves. The trout bite was on and we caught all we wanted, mostly on top water lures. Most of the fish were in the 12" to 15" range, but we did land a few up to about 20". We sprinkled in a few jacks and lady fish and a nice grouper, but no reds and no snook. Overall, a very nice day except for the wind. Going back again tomorrow so hope the weather cooperates. I'll post another report early next week.
Went with my buddy Captain Tom Ross on the madden voyage of his new to him 2003 Maverick Master Angler. We launched at OR at dawn, ran the twisty turn, out the pass and headed south. Early morning high tide, so we had outgoing water all morning. Light winds from the S-SW. Blue skies with some clouds during the day, but no rain (and even nicer, no lightning!). The water was murky in most places, but we were able to sight fish in real shallow water. We were throwing soft plastics paddle tails and GULP! jerk shads in new penny for the most part. Seems like dark colors with chartreuse paddle tails worked best. We probably caught 60-70 fish, mostly trout and snook, with the occasional jack, sail cat and snapper in the mix. The boat ran great, and plowed through the afternoon chop on the run back with no problem. A very nice day.