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Everglades City, Chokoloskee and Everglades National Park

Capt. Charles Wright
January 31, 2003
Everglades City - Saltwater Fishing Report

Cold Days and Hot Fishing in Chokoloskee

Cold Times and Hot Fishing in Chokoloskee!!

This has been one of the coldest Januarys that I can

remember.  While the temperature only dipped below 40 degrees a few nights, this entire month was

significantly colder than our average January.  A local news station

reported that both the lows and the highs were a full eight degrees cooler that

normal.  Eight degrees does not sound like much, but Baby, at 35 mph it

surely is!!  On some of those cold mornings, I felt like I was being

punished for something I must have done in the past.  I never did figure that part out.

I think that I have been living right.  A few hardy (very hardy) anglers who

came in sandals and light jackets also felt the pain!!

Many sub-tropical species of fish, particularly snook, are very

sensitive to cold water. Rapid changes in temperature or water that get too

cold will send them spinning on the surface stunned if it does not kill them

out right. In the past, hundreds of snook doing have been seen doing simultaneous doughnuts on the surface

after a winter blast.  The old timers call them "Bay Grouper" and would net

up the spinners and sell them to local markets as groupers.  Hence, the

closed winter season.  Hopefully, that is a thing of the past.  Many in

the professional guide community thought that we would loose a

pile of fish, particularly snook, on several occasions this month when the

thermometer was expected to plummet.  However, it appears the sustained water

temperature drop over the last six weeks acclimated the fish enough so that they were

not "shocked" by the "colder" snaps.  That was good thing.

The cooler water definitely changed the pattern of fishing in

this area.  That was a bad thing. However, getting a handle on the new

pattern was a very good thing!  The cold water has driven the bait to

places unknown.  The fantastic mackerel fishing we had until late December

went away with the bait. The cobia went away with Mackerel.

However, the speckled trout fishing gathered steam as the fish

fell into the holes and deeper passes.  It is not uncommon to catch 50-60

fish in a single tide.  Sheep head, large sheep head, are all over the

place and easy to catch.  Small black drum and the redfish are plentiful

and predictable.  "Keeper" sized grouper are in the passes. The snapper

bite has been really good. with the inshore fish, plentiful but small. 

Offshore, however, it is has been pretty dog-gone easy to jig up a limit 17-18"

snapper.  The trick is too catch the weather right to get out there.

There are still piles of snook around but the cool water

temperatures has seem to curtail their appetite and made them very

finicky.  They feed, but not until "Sky Boss" sounds the feed horn and then

they tend to feed all at once.  On most trips, however, we are able to coax

a few fish to bite.

The outside has been producing some excellent sight fishing on

these schools of snook, especially for the "double-haulers" who have been fly

fishing.  The cooler temperatures have dramatically reduced the algae and

plankton significantly improving the water clarity.  You can definitely see

the fish laid up in the shallows, but they can see you to ... "Stealth Mode"

only!!

Fishing the inside has been excellent. On Chokoloskee Charters

annual New Year's Fishing/Camping trip the creeks really went off.  What

was planned to be a simple camping/fishing trip this year turned into quite a

"to-do" at Watson's Place in the Chatham River.  New Year's Eve, Bruce

Hitchcock, the "Wizard" and I slipped off to Wizard Creek.  Named for the

no-so-famous, Harry, "The Wizard", Ramsey from Tampa.  Throwing 12-Fathom,

gold metal flake swimming shad tail, dragged over by a Cotee red-headed Jig, we

managed to catch approximately two dozen snook, some approaching 20 lbs in about

an hours time. 

The Wizard was bowed up on a nice fishing about 12 pounds when

we heard them. They were moving down the creek, feeding hard. Boom, boom, boom

... black drum, lots of them, big ones for the back country ... coming

right at us.  I sent the jig to the bottom and swam it along the creek bed

slowly.  You could here the fish pounding around us ... it was

exciting.  On the second cast, I was wrestling a 25+ pound drum on

eight pound spinning gear.  After too many close calls with the mangroves,

we released the fish and within minutes Bruce had his turn.  We release

three nice fish, but the last drum

was but 13 pounds and fit into the live well.  The poor thing had to endure

handling and photos with about ten youngsters before were able to release it at

our campsite. Remember, always, I mean, always bring a camera ... it is much

easier on the fish!

As

a note, the first permit of the new year was caught by John Charleton of WPB. 

(Guess who forgot the camera?)  The permit fishing was excellent last year

with over 280 releases.  It looks as though it is starting again! 

Chokoloskee Charters is starting its permit release club this year.  John

is the starting member!!  

If the Weather Guessers are right, the next 10 days should be

in the mid 70's significantly warming the water.  This should really turn

on the fish both inshore and offshore. There is lots of action out there, but I

would still bring your jackets (and a camera)!!

If you would like more information or would like to book a day

on the water, please contact Capt. Charles Wright @

www.ChokoloskeeCharters.com

CaptWright@ChokoloskeeCharters.com; (239) 695-9107

More Fishing Reports:

 

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

Contact Info:

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