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Everglades City, Chokoloskee and Everglades National Park

Capt. Charles Wright
October 30, 2002
Everglades City - Saltwater Fishing Report

Everglades Fly Fishing

I had the pleasure of fly fishing with David Schultz and his business partner Jerry, who flew in from California last week.  Both are dedicated fly fisherman who have traveled to many world class fishing destinations in pursuit of their passion. David was lucky enough to fish all week, but Jerry was able to stay only three days before he had to be back.  David's wife Mary and his four year old son, Adam, finished up the week. They we staying in Marco/Naples fly fishing out of Chokoloskee.

We started out Monday morning with idea of catching some redfish, snook and tarpon on fly in one of the remote rivers.  We left the dock with perfect conditions, turned the boat northwest and blasted off.  We arrived right on time for the falling tide.  The tarpon and snook we sure to be on feed.  We eased up the river and while rigging the fly rods

the tarpon showed up just as we thought.  The fish we the perfect size, 25-60lbs and were holding in a deep swash in the turn of the river. This was going to be a blast.

We drifted back to the fish and using an Everglades Deceiver, (tied by John Drsicoll - Toxic Shark, Inc.) and started fishing.  With fish rolling all around usand flies all around the fish, we caught nothing!  David did have three fish roll up and bump the fly, but none took it in deep enough to be hooked. Swapping flies did not help. The fish were there and they were feeding, however, they were just not eating what we presented.

After we got tired of watching the tarpon "thumb up their noses" to us, we moved to the mouth of the river to fish the tidal current seams, oyster bars and flats for snook.  With the exception of the tarpon, the river had been relatively quite.  Too quite!  We saw only a very few snook bust the shoreline on the way out.  Sure enough, the mouth was quite also.  The place we were fishing is a classic setting for fly fishing snook and redfish. It has numerous bars, sand flats, mangrove canopies and tidal rips all very close together and within easy reach of each other.  An angler can fish all these different scenarios in arelatively small area and the actions is usually very good.  Not this morning!  We did not raise a single fish!!  It was frustrating.

The weather had just changed and the wind shifted to the southwest.  Though this direction is probably the worst for fishing the "outside" we moved out of the river to the front anyhow to find some fish.  The wind was just too strong for the outside, so we went back into the 10,000 islands and fished some passes and creek mouths after the tide switched.  We had some action on jacks, ladyfish and snappers, but the snook we not eating the fly.  The wind was up and dictating where we could fish in this area and we still had to find some fish ... time for a boat ride into the backcountry where the southwest wind is not a factor..We came back south past Chokoloskee and into deep back country.  It was beautiful as usual.  We did see a few nice cruising snook while poling, but in all cases too late for a good presentation.  The snook were not laid up in the places that we usually find them, so this "hot-spot" turned out to be like the others this day ... frustrating.  Gerry did manage one snook from out of the trees.  With our bottom lip hanging a bit we headed back to port just talking about the fish we saw!

 I got up early that morning and listened while drinking my coffee on the dock.  I could hear the snook busting the trees in the mangrove creeks within ear shot.  About three hours later and after sunrise, we left Chokoloskee and headed for the creek mouths.  By the time we arrived the snook had stopped feeding and all we saw were manatees!!  There was a late rising full moon and the snook were feeding at night.  We tried a few more "reliable" snook spots and made casts at more rolling tarpon before changed our


Today, we had left the 17' Roberts flats boat that we use for fly fishing at the marina and were in the 20' Super Dolphin to hedge our bets.  By mid-morning, it was apparent that this day was going to be a repeat of the last if we kept up this pattern.  So we pointed the boat south, netted up a couple thousand pilchards and headed off to for cobia and permit!!


We never got to fish for cobia.  Once Gerry and David got a taste of the permit, it was all over!!!  Another batch of permit junkies was born!  The fish were consistent in size running 15-20 lbs.  In and around the area were also schools of jacks in the 6-10 lbs range.  Gerry boated two nice permit using spinning gear and had several other fish on.  David stuck religiously to the fly rod.  He had 6-8 real chances with nice presentations that day.  As it turned out, Gerry and David had a double header on with permit.  Gerry on a spinning rod and David on the fly.  Thatwas exciting.  About 10 minutes into fight, David's fly pulled out of the fished mouth.  That, as it turned out, was the beginning of a trend.  Gerry landed his fish about 25 minutes later. Sorry David.  David did manage to land several nice jack crevalle on fly.  Pound-for-pound, this is one of the most underrated fly fishing targets you can fish for.  How many 8lb fish do you know that eat flies ravenously, are easy to locate and can run you into the backing of a 10-12 weight every time?  They are a blast on any gear!!!We had seen a bunch of fish this second day and it was very clear what were going to do on Gerry's third and final day.  We took off with a load of live bait for area offshore that holds cobia, kingfish, Spanish mackerel, etc.  This was a long trip, but I had visions of grandeur and David had visions of cobia on fly. When we arrived, there were turtles all around, birds and mackerel circling the boat. We manage some small grouper, snapper and a few of the mackerel.  We had three nice runs on the spinning gear of unknown species.  However, even with the live chumming, we were unable to bring up cobia from the bottom so David could get a should at them with the fly rod.  David did get a nice strike, likely a big kingfish, than blistered him deep into his backing, but the fly pulled. Sound familiar?With the loss of the David's kingfish, we moved back to the permit grounds.  On the way there, we saw the big jacks and could not resist.  The guys loaded up their fly rods and I positioned the boat along side the school.  When everyone was ready, I heaved a handful of pilchards at the wolf pack and the surface immediately exploded.  That sure is a tough time to be a pilchard.

David was on the bow and Gerry was on the stern.  Another handful of pilchards, more explosions and David's fly gets gobbled off the bow. Explosions at the stern.  I turn in time to see Gerry's fly get gobbled.  Another double!!  Back to bow ...  as the fish streaks off line David is clearing his fly and gets him on the reel.  He's okay. Back to the stern.  Gerry strip sets, the fish steaks, he is clearing line, the fish is on he reel.  He is okay.  But just as the fish runs gets on the reel, the fly pulls.  Remember this re-occurring theme!  That's fishing!   Oh well.

The permit were next.  They were everywhere.  Big fish and big schools.  At any one time we were looking at 2-300 fish.  Everywhere.  We caught several fish on spinning gear, but not one on the fly rod.  Not today.  David had probably close to 30 superb presentations.  We tried everything fly in the  box, but NOOOOO!  Not a single fish ate.  Aghhh!!  Though we did not get the fish to eat that day, I am very comfortable in saying that these two, well-traveled anglers, came away very impressed with this fishery.  I am sure that they saw more fish and had more permit opportunities in this one day than they likely have had in their entire permit fly fishing careers.  It truly is something special.Gerry had to leave, so David's wife Mary and their four-year-old son Adam came aboard.  As you can imagine, Adam dictated our action and as predicted, the aquarium/bait tank dictated Adam.  I believe this is a exact quote ... "I got to go see more stuff now!" and back into the tank he would dive.  We stopped by the live bait spot to add some critters to Adam's tank.  Our first stop on Adam's trip was a place we call Spider 2. (Yes, there is also Spider 1 and 3).  A couple of handfuls of pilchards and the surface was alive.  Adam (oh yes, David and Mary also) caught trout, mackerel, jacks and ladyfish non-stop.  Well, not quite non-stop.  In fact ... actually ... now that I think about it, Adam had his head in the bait well non-stop and looked up only catch fish ... sometimes.  Any way we all had a blast.  But it was time for the permit and cobia again.

What a difference a day makes.  Today the permit were much fewer in number, though there still were plenty of fish.  They were more shy and weary and tough to get to eat.  We needed "virgin fish".  Off to next spot.  This place is a transition area for the permit.  They never seem to stay around but just seem to pass through.  We just had to wait.  The area was quiet except for the jacks and mackerel.  I set out a flat line (Adam's) for the kingfish or cobia.  David spotted a school of permit coming right at us ... perfect.  Just as he said something, the flat line went off .... David cast perfectly and a BIG permit ate ... finally!!!  Another double. This time with a big permit on fly and a kingfish on spinning gear.  David's line clears  ...the fish is on the reel ... fly line and then backing  screams out if the reel ... David's okay.  Adam (with a little help) makes short order of the kingfish and we begin concentrating on David's permit. By now the fish is 250+ yards into the backing, but David has him in control.  Now all we have to do is settle down a bit a fight the fish.  But you guessed it, about 10 minutes into it, the fly gently pulls out of the fish ... again.  For those of you wondering, the hooks are sharp and David was handling things perfectly ... go figure!The next day we headed south.  David had yet to get a snook on fly.  We tried one spot.  David did catch one fish, but Adam was ready for more action ... permit action.  We fished a different area than the day before and it was a while before the permit showed up.  That's okay, the big jacks stretched the fly line nicely.  Once the permit did show up, Mary caught her first permit and David finally got one to the boat on fly.  And, of course, Adam, caught a real nice speckled sea trout on the way back in.We drove back through the backcountry so Mary could see this part of paradise.  It was a great week with some really good anglers. I made some good friends who I hope will be back.  I am looking forward to fishing with Adam (and, oh yeah, Mary, David and Gerry) in the years to come.

Saturday, I fished a 1/2 day with Ed Rumberger and his good friend Frank Perrotta, out of Naples, Fl.  We stopped at one spot and caught a mess of Spanish Mackerel and a slew of Jacks.  Frank had never caught a permit, so off we went.  The first school of permit turned into 8 lbs jacks, oh well.  However, after  couple attempts, Frank was tussling with a15 lb fish and 35 minutes later he was posing for photographs.  All-in-all it was a good half day fishing with a good mess of fish for the table.  Ed, say hello to the Mrs. and nice to have you back. 


For those of you who are traveling to the area, consider staying at our fishing villas.  These are actually two bedroom, two bath homes on the water available for booking Jan 1, 2003.  Take a look Fishing Villa and Cabin Rentals

For those who are attending the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show, I will be speaking at noon on Saturday Nov. 2 about fishing this area.  See ya there.

If you would like to book a charter with Chokoloskee Charters, contact Capt. Charles Wright @ www.ChokoloskeeCharters.com or call him @ 239-695-9107.  Tight Lines!

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Chokoloskee Charters.com and Everglades Kayak Fishing.com is your complete outfitter for fishing Everglades National Park. Fish the Everglades backcountry, the beaches, 10,000 islands, river and wrecks with the most experienced guides in the area. With flats boats, bays boats, offshore boats and even kayak transport boats for our fleet of outfitted fishing kayaks, we can offer a complete, multi-day, fishing experience. Capt. Charles Wright - Fishing the Park Since 1972 Catch the Experience

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Chokoloskee Charters
PO Box 670
Everglades City, FL 34139
Phone: 239-695-9107
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