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A Busy Week, and Awesome Fishing!

Capt. Butch Rickey
March 1, 2012
Pine Island Sound - Saltwater Fishing Report

Report for the Week Ending 2/11/12......

The work week began Monday with Dr. Al Mushlin, of New York, New York. We met at the Circle K at John Morris and Summerlin Rd. at 7 AM, and headed out to the Castaways Marina on Sanibel. The weather report had changed late Sunday night from 30% chance of rain to a 50% chance of rain and storms. No time line was given. There had been a lot of rain cells around late Sunday, but the radar was fairly clear Monday morning. We would have to keep a sharp eye on the sky.

The sun was up and the sky was very overcast as we launched. Seeing our target areas would be tough if that persisted. I changed my plans accordingly, opting to fish areas where the visibility requirement wouldn't be quite as big an issue. We were at our first spot and ready to fish by 8 AM.

We went to work with our DOA CAL jigs. The area always abounds with redfish, nice trout, and flounder this time of year. We caught enough to prove the fish were there, but the fish just weren't in much of an eating mood. I realized I'd forgotten my radios, so Al and I had to stay within shouting distance, as we moved. I had already deployed my lightning detector, so that I would have warning of an approaching thunderstorm as close as 40 miles.

I wanted to get Al on a good bite, and knew just the spot. If the reds weren't going to eat early, we could catch trout. Large holes are usually easy to find, but the water was so murky and the cloud cover so heavy that I had trouble finding my hole. Finally, I did, and began catching trout on every cast. I called over to Al to come and anchor next to me. He had no more than gotten anchored and the bite quit. Arrgh. I have no idea why. So, I began the process of hunting, again.

The tide was coming in with a vengeance, and I wondered if it was too much of a good thing. We were having little luck finding a trout bite again, so I took Al to one of my favorite redfish flats, and we went to work. As we began to fish I noticed weather brewing far off to the east. I tried to keep an eye on it as we worked our flat. I heard one lightning strike detected early, at a range of 40 miles. But, it was the only one I heard. My detector remained quiet, but the storm seemed to be building. It was impossible to tell where it was headed.

I had pushed numerous single redfish going on to the flat. But, I was looking for a school, or at least a flat with concentrated redfish. I found the reds I was looking for a short distance from Al. I caught the first one. I waved Al to join me. The weather continued to build, but seemed to be sitting still. I caught a second redfish.

Suddenly, the wind changed to a westerly that was feeding the storm. The storm seemed to be rapidly spreading out and growing larger. We made a few more casts hoping that Al would hook up with one of those great reds. He yelled over to me asking if I though we should head in. I was already about to call him and tell him to pull anchor.

By the time we got underway, the wind was rising. By the time we'd gone a quarter mile the wind was howling, the skies growing black and ominous, and I could now see a solid wall of heavy rain coming across the Sound as we raced along as fast as we could with out trolling motors on 5. I had checked several times to make sure Al was drafting in my wake. He was. But, after a while in the waves, I thought I heard the distant sound of a whistle. Again. Again. I hadn't imagined it. I spun around to check on Al and he had dropped a couple hundred yards behind me. I headed back to him to make sure he wasn't having trouble.

He was OK. But, his motor on #5 didn't seem to be as fast as the Watersnake on my mothership. We continued our journey with the wind and waves at our port side, and finally got behind the treeline of Sanibel to calmer waters. As we made the last leg we began to get a few drops of rain as the storm surrounded us. The lightning detector never went off after that first time much earlier. And, apparently Moses parted the big storm and sent it all around us. We never got any rain. But, there was water standing all the way back to my house on the mainland, so everyone else had gotten a good rain out of the deal. Al was a bit relieved to know that I have 1,300 gallons per hour of bilge pumps in the Ultimates. It would take a major water even to actually swam one.

Although the fish didn't eat well, Al acknowledged that I had proven to him there were fish everywhere to catch. He had greatly enjoyed fishing from the Ultimates, and thought they were incredibly comfortable and stable boats, and a joy to fish from. It had been a fun day.

*

I was invited to fish with my friend Mike Burkee, who is the great guy who bought my Talon, along with his brother Jeff, who was down from Sarasota. Mike has recently repowered the Talon with a Mercury 150, new instruments, etc., and it's very nice, and runs and performs great. I wasn't the guide on this trip. We were just friends out to see if we could catch a few redfish for dinner. Mike and Jeff had been to an area Mike had found that he though looked very fishy the previous day, and wanted to go back and try it again. They'd only caught one red. Well, Jeff had caught one redfish.

We made our way out of the canal system in St. James City to the open waters, and took off. The Talon and the new Merc were sweet, and she ran along getting 5 MPG! As we made our way north to Mike's spot, I told Mike of an area I loved to fish that was in the same direction we were headed. As we neared his destination, I realized it might be the same place. Sure enough. It was. I congratulated him on finding it himself, and told him some fishing stories of big snook, trout, and redfish catches in there.

Mike and Jeff were going to use left over pinfish for bait. They'd caught their redfish on one the day before. I'd brought a short kayak rod with a Stradic CI-4 2500 on it, and a St. Croix Legend with a Stella 2500 on it. I wanted to stick with jigs.

Jeff soon had the first redfish. I had recommended they use the pinfish cut up into steaks, and showed them how to cut and rig them for high current waters. I wasted my jigs, and was giving them away to what was probably puffers, at an alarming rate. Then Mike got his redfish, which was another nice keeper. I put down my jig rig, and switched to a cut pinfish. I never got a take, but Jeff caught another nice redfish. That was three keepers in fairly short order.

We moved on back into the area looking for more action perhaps from trout and flounder. I did get a couple of flounder on the jig, and Jeff hooked something very large that just manhandled him right into the mangroves and never looked back. We finally broke it off. I'm reasonably sure it was a very large female snook. We had promised Mike's gal Lindey we'd be back before noon. So, at eleven o'clock I reminded Mike it was time to get going. We gave it another five minutes, and then took off for St. James. It had been great to get another ride in my Talon, and to spend a fun morning with good friends.

*

I had my first trip with Tom Olson, of Madison, Wisconsin, on Wednesday. We drew a tough day for the kind of fishing we were doing, as it was very overcast all day long, and windy in the first part of the day, making our potholes very hard to find and fish. But, we put together a very good day in spite of that. Tom was a lot of fun, a very interesting guy to talk with, and an avid kayaker.

We made our way from the launch at Castaways Marina out to the Buck Key flats, and began our hunt for fish. We were looking for speckled trout, redfish, and flounder. We did catch some very nice trout, and Tom also boated a nice redfish in that area. But, the reds weren't biting as they usually will there on low water. We moved on, looking for a good trout bite, and waiting on the water to get right to turn our attention back to redfish.

As the water began to get right for redfishing in the shallows, we made a move to find them. And, find them we did. Tom and I finished the day with 13 redfish, along with at least a couple dozen nice trout. The reds were of varied sizes, indicating that we had more than one school present on the flat. We took plenty of fish home to feed his gang and me.

*

There was no wind in the forecast for Thursday, on Wednesday night. My how things can change. It was very windy when I got to Circle K to get my supplies, and I hoped it would lay. When I got to the Castaways Marina, it was roaring. I met my customers, Bill Dzilenski and Paul Goscinski, of Warwick, Rhode Island, and we discussed the wind situation. I recommended we reschedule for Friday, and knew I could juggle my schedule to do so. They agreed, and decided to go to Matlacha and do some kayak fishing in the much more protected waters of the much narrower Matlacha Pass. We would try again, Friday.

I was glad to see the wind had blow itself out overnight, but Bill and Paul were nowhere to be seen. I got two of the Ultimates ready and waited. It was close to nine o'clock before they pulled in, and then out found out what had taken them so long. Not knowing the area well, they had gone all the way out to I-75 from Matlacha, and then down, which had taken them far out of their way. It was OK, though. It put us a bit behind on the first of the incoming, but we wound up having an unforgettable day out there.

We hit the potholes, first. The water was already coming in well by the time we got to the first stop, but it was still shallow enough that we got out of the boats for a while and waded the edges of the holes. We caught some nice trout, but no redfish. They just weren't interested, yet. As the water continued to rise, the bite stopped, and we moved on in search of another bite. We did find another trout bite, and caught quite a few trout, but it wasn't as intense as it can be.

With the water continuing to rise I decided it was time to go check a nearby flat for redfish action. I told Bill and Paul that I would call them in as soon as I had found reds. I was only about a quarter mile away. I pushed any number of single redfish moving on to the flat, but just couldn't get one to eat. With the water really coming in hard and covering things up, I decided to head to another area, and figured that by the time we got there the fish would be ready to eat.

Once we were at our new flat, I positioned each of us about a hundred feet apart, and we went to work. We were throwing DOA CAL jigs and spoons. It couldn't have been more than five minutes before we had the first redfish. And, once that one was caught, the bite was on. We caught redfish and big trout running 3 to 5 pounds, until we were blue in the face. I told my guys we would stay with them and catch them until the bite quit. It was Friday, and I wasn't on a schedule. I didn't want to leave the fish biting.

But, after a while it became more and more obvious that I might have to eat those words. The tide was full high just after 3 PM. I told the guys the bite would probably be over around 2:30, and it would be quiet for about an hour. Then we would head home. But, 3 PM, and then 3:30 came and went. The fish were still eating. We were catching big trout and nice reds in the 22 to 25 inch range on nearly ever cast. At around 3:15 things stopped cold. I told Bill and Paul that we would stay and wait for at least 15 minutes, as I'd learned decades ago that sometimes the fish will shut down for a few minutes, and then turn around and begin eating again a few minutes later, as if they'd just taken a little break. I left the boys there casting, and went to check a close-by area just to make sure the fish hadn't moved. I was pretty sure they hadn't.

As I approached the boys, Paul connected with another redfish, and the bite was on, again. This time it was even better than it had been before the break, and now we were not only catching doubles as we had before, but also had at least two triple hookups that I can recall.

Bill had brought his flyrod. I told him that if he couldn't catch a red on fly now, he never would. He went to work. In half a dozen casts he had two good takes, but didn't get hooked up. Then, bam! He had a nice fish on his fly which turned out to be a beautiful trout of around 5 pounds. It wasn't a redfish, but I think it was his best trout on fly, and he was very pleased with the fish.

It was now 4 PM. The weather was moving in with the approaching cold front, and I was concerned about what might be coming in with it. I had said we wouldn't leave the fish biting, but I had to go back on my word. The fish were showing no signs of letting up. We had had numerous doubles, had let many fish get off before landing them, had two triple hookups that I can remember, and we finished with 33 redfish, and I don't know how many big trout, but it was a bunch. It was a great day, and Bill and Paul were almost in disbelief of the whole thing.

It began to drizzle lightly as we made the ramp. As we got the boat broken down and back on the trailer, Bill and Paul paid me some very nice compliments on my guiding ability. That's something every guide lives for, I think. It's better than a good time, and they were very generous with that, as well. I just have to say that no matter how good the bite, you still have to have good anglers to rack up good numbers like that. And, I had some good anglers, not just Friday, but all week long. It was a fun and satisfying week for sure. Thanks to all involved.

Pine Island Sound Fishing Forecast:

Good if the warm weather holds.

Target Species:

Redfish and gator trout

More Fishing Reports:

 

Top Florida fishing guide, Capt. Butch Rickey has fished the waters of Pine Island Sound around Sanibel, Captiva, and Pine Islands, as well as Charlotte Harbor, Sarasota Bay, Terra Ceia Bay, and southern Tampa Bay, for much of his 65 years. He now offers guided kayak fishing trips, as well as sightseeing and bird watching tours anywhere that can be reached by kayak from southern Tampa Bay to Estero Bay.

Contact Info:

BarHopp'R Kayak Fishing
11520 E Palm Drive
Ft. Myers, FL 33908
Phone: 239-628-3522
Alt. Phone: 239-633-5851
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