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Flamingo - Everglades National Park

Capt. Ariel Cabrera
November 22, 2001
Flamingo - Saltwater Fishing Report

A long awaited fishing excursion began Veteranís weekend from Chokoloskee Island when we put the remains of our camping equipment into the skiff. The winds of change directed me to lead my party to the Gulf coast where we would spend the night on a somewhat distant island. It didnít take long to erect the tent and take off on our fishing adventure.

The west coast of the Park was teeming with baitfish. In fact, it took less than three throws of the cast net to fill the bait well. I chose to fish shorelines of mangrove islands where bait was fluttering and the action started with a bang. Immediately after catching and releasing jack crevalle to 4 pounds. Jeremy Yong caught a 24" redfish. These fish were hitting shrimp-tipped buck tail jigs.

When the bite appeared to cease near the islands we began heading south in the direction of Lostmanís River to take advantage of the flood tide. Diving birds near the boundary markers lured me and we ventured into the melee. While casting jigs we caught a gulf flounder, a 6lb. Jewfish with a tag, and Spanish mackerel. We also used live pilchards to catch some more mackerel. These mackerel were husky critters averaging between 2 and 4 pounds.

A school of big cobia was also hanging around and grabbed a buck tail jig on an 8-pound test outfit. This excited another cobia to strike a jack that was being retrieved back to the boat. We had a double hook-up on cobia when a third one slammed Pedro Sanchezís mackerel as it too was being reeled back in. This was too good to be true I thought and indeed it was. Unfortunately, only one cobia was brought boat side. The good news was that at least we had some fish for dinner.

Sleeping near raccoons was quite an adventure in itself but awakening to find surprises is devastating. These mammals managed to swim and creep up into my boat during the night and steal a bag of crackers and a box of guava paste. They also unzipped my tackle box and opened a zip bag of flavor-enhanced plastics.

The boat looked as if a category IV hurricane swept through. When embarking on any camping trip be sure to do everything possible to keep food and important equipment at the highest security levels. Before making it back to the ramp we caught a bluefish, two mackerel, and released a 24" snook all on fly.

Next weekend looks promising for pelagic species such as cobia and mackerel. If cold fronts continue to move in so will the snook. Sheepshead and black drum will be dependable bottom feeders. Use the wind in your favor and youíll find the big ones!

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Fly fishing and light tackle in Everglades National Park (Flamingo) and south Florida. Veteran guide and boating author. Offering a No-Fish, No-Pay guarantee. Instruction and group trips, a speciality. Charter rates vary according to location and type of vessel used.

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