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Life Throws Me A Curve Ball To End Spring!

Capt. Butch Rickey
May 17, 2015
Sanibel - Saltwater Fishing Report

I started the week off with an old friend from Newark, New York, Bill Schrader.  We've been friends and fishing buds for at least eleven years.  He and his wife Nancy didn't make it down last year, but Bill always stays in touch.  I picked Bill up at 6:30 AM at the Sundial on Sanibel, where they usually stay, and we were in the water by a little after 7 AM.  Last time Bill was down, we had a fantastic day of redfishing in the Sound in the Buck Key area, which I'm told is dead, now.

With the rising sun, came rising wind.  As usual, the weather folks spoke with forked tongues.  We had 20 knots plus from the get-go.  Out of the launch we hit a couple of nearby spots, but had to action.  We moved on down to the areas I like to fish.  We began with fishing along some edges that usually produce good fish.  Nothing doing.  We had a very slow do-nothing tide that the wind stopped in its tracks.

Sometimes when the fishing is tough, it's a good plan to troll in the kayaks.  It allows you to get your bait in front of a lot more fish, and increases your chances of getting it in front of a fish that might decide to eat your bait.  So, we put our lures out and trolled.  Bill struck the first gold, with something that stopped him in his tracks.  It was stripping line off his reel at an alarming rate.  From the way it fought it was almost surely a big redfish, but in all the confusion of a first time trolling hookup, Bill lost the fish.  Bummer!

My first fish trolling was a 24" snook.  Bill's first snook was also 24".  He later got a 26" snook and a 14" flounder.  Knowing what a challenge we had because of the wind and conditions, I left Bill in an area where there are always plenty of fish, and went looking for fish in other areas. We kept in touch by radio.  I never found a "bite" that I could call Bill in to fish, just a fish here, a fish there, with no kind of pattern.  Eventually, Bill joined me just as I found my best snook of the day, which was also 26".  But, the fish were scattered and few and far between. By the time Bill had had enough sun for his first day in Florida, we had collectively caught8 snook, 2 keeper trout, the nice flounder, a good sized ladyfish, a hard-head catfish, and no redfish to the boat.

All in all it was a good, fun day in spite of the weather and tide challenges.  Bill had a great time, and loves fishing from the kayaks, and it's always good to spend a day on the water with old friends.


My customer for Wednesday was my old friend Marty Dietz.  We've known each other since 1998.  We did my single best guide trip (in term of fish caught) together way back when.  There was a tropical storm sitting offshore, and I didn't think he'd even show.  Long and short of it is that they did, and we went out in a 45 mph wind and had six hour of total mayhem.  Talk about great memories.

Well, with a very poor tide I knew this day would be different.  But, Marty was so happy to finally have a vacation and be on the water, and has matured as an angler as most guys do as they get older.  He wasn't concerned about how much we caught.  He was just thrilled to be out on a beautiful, private saltwater fishery with an old friend, as was I.

He drove up from Marco Island that morning and we met at the Circle K near my house at 6:30 and headed to Sanibel.  I hoped that the weather would actually be calmed down from Monday and Tuesday's weather.  Tuesday, my good friend from merry ole England, Jonathan Tipples and I decided to postpone our trip based upon the weather Bill and I endured on Monday.  Turned out it was the right call.

I won't say the fishing was hard for Marty and me, but I will say that we fished hard.  We kept at it and hit spot after spot that normally give up good fish.  The water was laying almost dead in our fishery until middle afternoon, and we were fishing under blue-bird skies now behind a front.  The conditions just had the fish shut down.  We finished the day with one snook, 1 trout, and 2 catfish!  But, perhaps the best thing about kayak fishing is that it's a blast when the fish aren't biting, too.  You're never bored.  There's nature everywhere you turn your head.  And the serenity is wonderful.

We fished hard and didn't have a lot to show for it in terms of fish, but we had a wonderful day on the water together, and it was just the therapy my old fishin' buddy needed.


My trip Thursday was with Bill Adomania, from Lindenwold, New Jersey, and his friend Greg Bader, of Williamstown, New Jersey.  They were pretty pumped about getting out in the kayaks and chasing some of our fish.

My friend JT, volunteered to shuttle me back and forth from the Henderson Rd. ramp so that we could fish the waters around Buck Key.  I was very excited to fish it although I had heard rumors that it was dead.

As arranged, I called JT once the boats were unloaded and ready to go, and told him I was on my way.  Once parked at his place, he ushered me back down to the launch, and wished us well.

It was certainly good to see those waters from a kayak again.  We had a beautiful day with a long, lazy incoming tide that would move about 1.3 ft. of water over 6 hours.  It would be quite high, but not strong.

We used the early part of the tide to travel.  Once we'd reached our destination I positioned Bill on a spot, and took Greg with me to another nearby spot.  There were many boats on the water.  It appeared that most were guide boats, and the ones that were close enough to see well weren't catching.  Neither were we.

We continued to work the area as the water slowly moved.  Most of the boats were gone now, and I made a move.  I knew exactly where I wanted to be, and when.  I led the boys to our spot across and expansive, shallow flat with good visibility.  I stood in the FX 15 as I ran along with the trolling motor.  The flats became a feast for the anglers' eyes as we went.

First I saw a very large single snook!  I'm talking pushing 4 ft.  Then I began seeing single redfish.  I pointed them out as they pushed.  I saw a second very large female snook.  The place was alive with fish, and I wasn't quite at my destination, yet.

When we did arrive at my spot, there were lots of redfish.  I stationed Bill at a spot, first, and then Greg a d short distance away.  i moved on down from them and pushed more reds.  If we didn't catch, it certainly wouldn't be for lack of fish.

As I tried to figure out how to get them to eat, I had lots of follows and bumps.  The bumps where they mash your weedguard down on your lure.  They were definitely all over the place, and the first redfish caught ate a small silver Mirrodine, that I had replaced the small treble hooks with 2/0 circle hooks.  Finally, a redfish had eaten.  I called the guys down to me, and explained how the three of us were going to work those fish.

We had lots of redfish cruising that flat, but we weren't catching.  They just didn't want to eat.  I worked my way down an edge and found myself sitting in the middle of a school of big reds.  It was like being in an aquarium.  They didn't spook.  There were more follows and such, and then I realized they had suddenly disappeared!  As I made a short move to try to find them again, I found my reason; a 6 ft. blacktip shark!  They'll blow the school off the flat every time, as they are very indiscriminate feeders, unlike dolphins.  Damn!  It was time to move on.

The breeze had now flipped over to a westerly direction.  A seabreeze, which opened up another opportunity.  The three of us set up on a beautiful spot and went to work.  That spot gave up 3 redfish.  Most of the boats were long gone and the water was covering everything nicely, now.  Greg and I left Bill there trying to catch another red, and moved on to a spot that usually has very good snook and redfishing on it once the water is nice and high.  As we made the approach from about a hundred yards away, a couple of guys in a Carolina Skiff pulled in on the spot, knowing darned well that's where we were going!  I guess the just desserts are that I never saw them catch anything.

We detoured to another spot where Greg and I got into some action.  Bill radioed that he'd gotten one more red off our previous spot and was coming to join us.  I parked him on a nearby spot, where it didn't' take long for him to bag a nice snook.  We also put a 27" redfish on the stringer.  It was a great way to end the day.

Back at Henderson I called JT who quickly came and fetched me and took me back to my van.  I was quickly back at the ramp where Bill, Greg, and I began breaking the boats down and putting them away.  But, it's here that I have to take a detour in this report.

While on the water, I had something very strange happen to me; so strange that the last time it happened I was a baby in diapers.  Without any previous warning or sense of urgency, I lost control of my bladder, and COULD NOT stop it.  Twice!  I couldn't imagine what was going on, but I knew it wasn't going to be good.  Now, back at the ramp with the boats almost ready and fish to clean, it happened again.  But, this time it came from the blue as before, but went on and on.  I totally wet myself.  I almost dove into the water with a redfish to get myself wet and rinsed off while I was cleaning the fish, all the while hoping Bill and Greg hadn't noticed what had happened.

Things got worse from there once I was home and cleaning everything up.  I'm going to stop here, however, as I'm sure most of you guys have no interest in reading about my new medical problems.  Any of my friends that want more information can drop me an email, text, or call, and I'll be happy to answer.  For now, know that I will be leaving for Las Vegas to have surgery and be with my bride on Tuesday morning, May 19.  Depending upon the outcome, I may be there all summer.

It has been a nightmare trying to clear off my schedule, and very upsetting to have to disappoint my friends Don Marano, Jonathan Tipples, Mark Lucas, Patrick Drennan, Glen Truesdell, and new folks like Marc Kalish.  But, it's life threatening, and can't be ignored, as well as very painful.

Thanks to each and every one of you who have fished with me in the Natives these last five years, and who have made this spring the busiest yet, in spite of the poor economy. I'm very grateful to all for your business, your friendship, and the happy memories.

Until I return,


Sanibel Fishing Forecast:

I will be off the water until further notice.

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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.

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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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