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Everglades City, Chokoloskee and Everglades National Park

Capt. Charles Wright
July 1, 2004
Everglades City - Saltwater Fishing Report

Summer Evenings in the Everglades

June brought in the really nice weather of summer and summer brought in the start of really great fishing! July holds the promise of the same. Big snook, big permit and big tarpon are the games to play.

The summer months of June, July, August and September represent, at least to me, the best fishing of the year. Winter here is fantastic compared to just about anywhere else in North America …we can fish comfortably in sheltered waters year round. Fall snook fishing in the backcountry and tarpon in the rivers and creeks is spectacular. Spring, well, it is spring … what else do you need to say?

But the summer, with the predictable weather and those spectacular mornings is absolutely a dream. Summer, is primetime for kayak fishing. The calm mornings mean top water action is at its best One of my favorite types of summer time fishing, a type that is productive, all year round, is sight fishing With the abundance of fish and calm conditions, summer mornings are also great for wade fishing. The mornings on the grass flats can be thrilling. But, for sheer quantity of big fish, live baiting has to be the choice, especially on a morning rising tide.

Summertime is the time for the split day. We will fish from sunrise until late morning. After that, it begins to get too hot and the bite slows. We return to the dock for a hearty lunch and a good long nap in the air-conditioning. Along about four-ish, subject to the thunderstorms, we head back out for the evening trip.

The mornings can be a blast, and there are many choices to make about how and where to fish. The backcountry, like the river system is a whole different world to discover, but, what about the second half of the day?

Perhaps my favorite fishing of all is sight fishing big permit. Massive schools of these fish show up here in February and stay until late fall. We fish these speedsters with eight pound spinning gear and seven foot rods to make the very long cast sometimes needed. These fish, in the summer, are very aggressive. When all other fish are taking their mid-day siestas, the permit are sunning themselves doing daisy chains on the surface. The difference is that these fish will readily feed in the heat of the day.

When the permit takes a bait, he will often swim tight with the school. Sometimes it appears as though he does not even know that he is hooked. However, once he figures it out you will need all 225 yards of string on your spool. It better be full!

It usually goes something like this. We will see a school of fish to target and then hopefully, we can position the boat up wind and in front of the school. If using a live crab and your cast is accurate, you will see at least one fish roll up on the crab. You can feel the bite and set the hook and then … nothing. Sometimes he may even circle the boat with the rest of the school. Sometimes he may actually swim towards you. However, once he is done with that game or the school bugs out, he is going to beat-feet away from you … fast and hard.

There is absolutely nothing like the look on an angler’s face as he looks out at a permit racing towards the horizon, then down on his screaming spinning reel then back at me wondering if it will ever stop running! The look is priceless. These fish average about 18-20 pounds and take 35-60 minutes to put in front of the camera. Bring lots of fluids to drink, you will need it!!!

The evening storms can drop the temperature by 15 to 20 degrees. The surface water temperature cools also. Once the storms cease, the air often goes still and the water’s surface calm. This cooling triggers a great bite in the back country. There are places that we must pass through the mangrove canopies into back country salt water lakes. These lakes are completely sheltered, shallow and full of snook, tarpon and trout.

It is a perfect place for the long wands. The sheltered area and smooth waters makes fly casting easy. In the evenings the sun is low in the sky, so sight fishing, in it’s purest since is not an option. However, in the extremely calm waters you can see every push of a snook under the mangroves, every roll of every tarpon and hear every fish that crashes a shoreline. You can’t see the fish directly, but you sure know where to cast.

We pole silently through the shallow, black waters of these back country lakes looking for “sign”. Blind casting while moving along produces it share of fish. However, in the cooled air and water, every creek mouth and ambush point will hold fish. Getting them to eat is our job. They are there. One cast can be a redfish, the next a snook. The following cast it may be a tarpon. Here most of the fish you catch are not the big bruisers that we get on the “outside”. Most of the snook are under six pounds and the tarpon are under 45, but the thrill of watching crash your bait in still water makes up for any lack of size!

Summer evenings also means a concentration of big tarpon in the passes. Big fish can eat big baits. Tarpon will eat flies, yes, and elephants like peanuts. Summer evenings in the passes and river mouths, we are not fishing for elephants or the tarpon that eat small stuff. These are big fish in big currents and they like a big meal!

A medium running plug, 12” or bigger is the name of the game here. Add a little rattle, fish the natural ambush points and you are bound to be successful. However, the way most of my anglers prefer to play is dead sticking very big live baits on the surface. A big bait, a mullet the size of a small dog, is the bait of choice.

There is a place we call the “War Zone”. It is in natural pinch point in a river that forces all big fish to pass by. Timed right with the tide, the tarpon are almost always there. A big stinking submarine sized mullet is hard for a big tarpon to pass up. Fished close to the boat you can see a 150 pound dinosaur come up and gobble your bait twenty feet away. The sight is spectacular.

As impressive as it is to see these fish eat a bait and then soar into the air, perhaps the best part is that this setting is very easy to film!! You are fishing close to the boat in an area that you know has fish, you can easily keep the bait in focus, but most importantly, you have a built in strike alert system to tell you when to “roll camera”. That three pound stinker mullet knows it is going to happen before we do and he is going to do everything he can do not to be a part of the film … including jumping straight up in the air. When he sees it coming, he will launch first...saying “roll camera”!!! When he hits the water the second time, it is usually followed by an explosion on the surface. (I just love to watch these big dinosaurs feed!!)

Take care, however, live baiting is live baiting and it is summer. The last trip, we had seven very large over stuffed mullet to offer. Everyone was gobbled by the big bull sharks roaming the area…back to the plugs!!

Whatever you choose to fish for or however you choose to fish, summer and early fall is the time to be here. Everglades National Park and the Ten Thousand Islands are right in your back door … Experience it!

Tight Lines!!!

If you would like to book a trip with Capt. Charles Wright, contact him @ CaptWright@ChokoloskeeCharters.com or (239) 695-9107. For more information, visit www.ChokoloskeeCharters.com and www.EvergladesKayakFishing.com

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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

Contact Info:

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