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"
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!
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 @
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
PO Box 670
Everglades City, FL 34139
Email the Captain
Visit his Web Site
Browse Photo Gallery
Display Find-a-Guide Listing