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Fly Fishing the Everglades

Capt. William Faulkner
January 21, 2009
Everglades City - Saltwater Fishing Report

Fly Fishing the Everglades
Jan. 20, 2009

Despite a few really nasty cold fronts, fishing in Everglades National Park has actually been quite good.

The unseasonably warm weather during the Christmas holiday rush found my clients and I plying the waters both north and south of Everglades City in search of the snook, reds and the possibility of a shot at a stray tarpon sunning himself in a shallow cove near the coast.

First time Everglades angler and teen flycaster extraordinaire, James Garretson, had a heck of a day casting to big snook and reds in the northernmost reaches of the Park just a few days before the New Year.

With bright sun and light northwest winds, James had several chances to beat his biggest snook ever on fly, but the day would ultimately end with his first ever redfish on fly.

After catching more than a dozen snook between 16 and 24 inches in a single creekmouth, James had an encounter with a whopper redfish I'm sure he'll not soon forget.

After rebuilding a leader worn, trimmed and retied all the way to the butt section, we changed spots. Having missed two shots at a snook in the 30-inch class, James was a bit miffed. But, before either of us could get around to complaining about his failure to perform under pressure (Ha!), I pointed out another long dark shape just a few meters down the oyster-encrusted shoreline ... After a more than eventful stalk and some pretty tense moments involving about 15 yards of fly line backing and several mangrove islands, guide and client were left jumping for joy as I happily hoisted James' first redfish over the gunwale for a few snapshots.

After removing the nearly 8-inch ramora from it's burly shoulder, James grabbed the 29", 8-pound bruiser by the head and tail and posed for a picture of his proudest fishing moment!

It didn't require much zoom in order to fill the frame full of big, dark backcountry redfish and we immediately slid the bull-headed bomber back into the off colored water and watched him swim away.

Coupled with a few shots at some pretty uncooperative laid-up tarpon earlier in the afternoon, I'd say James' first Everglades fly fishing experience made a BIG impression!

I'm certainly looking forward to our next outing later this year!

Other notable catches during the holiday season included a few encounters with some really rambunxious backcountry tarpon and a pair of 36-inch snook caught on back to back days with one of my favorite fly casters from Chicago.

But, not all my trips have been such smashing successes!

As they always do this time of year, my two favorite highly skilled, yet incredibly unlucky plug casters Scott Singleton and Eric Alexander meandered down the dock in search of a big snook or a vaguely promised shot at one of these so-called late-season tarpon they'd been hearing about.

Everything was perfect. It was warm, calm and sunny. All the ingredients of an epic wintertime fishing day were there ... except the fish.

We visited some of my favorite winter haunts in search of a few snook to bend our rods, but no suck luck.

It seemed things were too perfect, so we headed outside for a change of venue.

We did manage to catch a few decent snook and a couple of reds near the mouth of Lostman's River, but to be honest the first part of our day was a bit unfulfilling.

But, the afternoon incoming tide in the backcountry would prove to be a little more interesting!

Of course, we didn't catch either of the 20-pound snook we saw. Nor did we so much a tickle the lips of any of the more than 100 tarpon between 60 and 140 pounds by which we were surrounded for two hours.

However, the day still seemed a like a success, at least by our standards!


On the way back to the dock, I lamented, "It just wasn't meant to be."

Apparently, that bit of existential philosophy doesn't go far in treating a wound so deep as the one left by tens of dozens of gigantic tarpon mocking you incessantly for hours whilst your tear your tackle bag apart trying to find anything of interest to them!


Fortunately, it's not the first time my number one tarpon team has faced disappointment in their quest for a 200 pounder.

Despite the dejected looks on their respective faces, the boys will be back in May for four more days of torture ... Let's just hope the fish will be a little hungrier next time!

Until then ... Please remember the immortal words of famed Everglades plug fisherman Gerald A. Newgent ... "It's all about the presentation!"

Everglades City Fishing Forecast:

Recent cold snaps and more than a few recent encounters with some really light-colored whopper snook assure me that, despite unusually high water levels in the backcountry, February, March and April
could be be banner months for catching a monster linesider on the fly!!!

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Specializing in Fly and light-tackle spin and plug Fishing in the Everglades National Park. Sightfishing the most remote reaches of the ENP for snook, redfish and tarpon.

Contact Info:

Gulf Coast Guide Services, Inc
2316 Pine Ridge Rd.
Suite 318
Naples, FL 34109
Phone: 239-994-8600
Alt. Phone: N/A
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