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A Great Sanibel Vacation From Jim Cromer

Capt. Butch Rickey
July 20, 2015
Sanibel - Saltwater Fishing Report

Here is a great fishing report from my friend Jim Cromer. He had some great fishing and a wonderful vacation in late May and early June. Worth the read.

Hi Butch!

I was in Sanibel when I received the email about your illness. I hope that your treatment is going well and that you are well along the road to recovery!

I used my kayak to fish Pine Island Sound and the water in Ding Darling over the latter part of May and the first week of June. My kayak is a Wilderness Systems 120. It is all manual and not equipped with a trolling motor like your kayaks, but I love it.

I had some slow days and some great days. The first week of fishing, I caught lots of snook, but all of my redfish were under the slot. They all were between 16 and 16.5 inches and I started thinking that there were nothing but "shorties" around. My best day that week I caught 13 snook and one red.

The next week, I caught my first keeper red (23.5 inches). I also hooked a large tarpon inside Ding that I believe had to be in the 125 to 150 lb. range. I never saw him nor was I able to turn him. I was anchored when I hooked it and it started peeling off line. I pulled my stick pole and followed hoping to gain back some line. He ran for a long while and finally buried himself up against some mangroves. I paddled up to within 15 or 20 feet of him and tried to apply pressure to get him up and moving again. I was only able to pull him about a foot and he wallowed back in. I pulled again with the same result. On my third pull, oysters on the mangroves cut the line. Oh well! That was serious fun even if I didn't get him to the boat!

The last day that I went fishing was Thursday, June 4th. I was fishing in the sound and caught 4 snook, 2 trout, and a 26.5" redfish. Early in the day, I saw a 7 foot black tip shark working the shallows and moved on figuring that I wouldn't do well with him around. I caught my nice redfish about an hour before high tide and he put up a great fight, representing himself well.

The first time I fished with you, I was most excited about catching snook. You shared that you preferred redfish in that you love the way they fight and the way they taste. I have been won over. We ate blackened redfish; grilled redfish with capers, butter, and lime; and redfish soup with kale & cannelloni beans. All are awesome ways to eat redfish. As for the fight, I believe that redfish are one of God's greatest creations. They fight like you have a bull on the end of the line but when they realize that they have lost the battle, they become very docile and completely surrender not even flopping once boated. We could learn a lot from a redfish! I measured my fish and put him on a stringer. They are so hardy on the stringer! I believe that they could stay alive for days and they behave like a well-trained dog on a leash. That part makes gutting them at the end of the day a bit harder for me. After about thirty minutes on the stringer, I was making my last cast of the day when a shark attacked and ate 2/3 of my fish in one bite. The water underneath my kayak was a cloud of blood. I pulled the remains into my kayak and paddled home. The good news is, I didn't have to gut him and I still got 2 pounds of fillets from what was left.

My time in Sanibel was great! I hope that you are back to health quickly and hope to see you next year.

Bon Secours!


I just sent you pictures.  I hadn't considered that it might have been a snook.  I had seen two large tarpon a couple days earlier so my thoughts went to tarpon.  I caught all of my reds and snook on red 1/4 oz jigs with stark naked doa cal shad. I caught a few trout on the same but also on poppers.  The tarpon or big snook was on a piece of cut ladyfish.  Would a snook be inclined to eat that?

Target Species:

Redfish and snook

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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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