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Patience Means A Big Snook For Pam Stowers

Capt. Butch Rickey
October 4, 2014
Sanibel - Saltwater Fishing Report

Week ending 9/27/14.........

The wet weather continued during this week, and made it hard to get in a day of fishing. I was on the water three days.

My dear friend Frank Faust had flown in on the 15th, from Council Bluffs, Iowa. I usually pick him up at RSW and get him to his condo on Estero Island. But, I wasn't able to pick him up this trip because I had to deliver some very precious cargo to MIA. I had Frank's Hobie 12 Inflatable on my patio for some time awaiting Frank's return, and that was the first thing I wanted to do that week. He'd developed a leak in it, and had to send it off to Hobie. He has the stuff he buys, etc., when he's not down here, sent to me, as there's no one at his condo to take deliveries. We didn't try to fish that first week, because the tides were deplorable.

We had our first fishing outing schedule for Monday, the 22nd. I got everything ready and loaded, and went over and spent the night with Frank at his condo. We have a lot of fun. I usually do the cooking. We have cocktails and bench fish, if you know what I mean. It's boys' night out. Monday morning we were up and at 'em, and were close to our launch spot. We were going to launch near the water tower, and fish the many islands and bars in that area. Frank had fished it before a time or two, but I had not. I was excited about hitting some new water, as I usually fish out of Lovers Key Marina, which I love.

We weren't in a big hurry to get out there early that morning, and were on the water by around 9 AM. It's actually a pretty good spot to launch. As we launched Frank again commented on how much he liked the Ultimate 14.5, and lamented on how much he'd love to be able to have one at his condo.

We were in the water pretty quickly, and on our way. We fished our way down the cut to the launch and then out to a myriad of mangrove keys and small islands. It's a beautiful area, and very fishy looking.

We fished for a couple of hours, and had some bumps, but no hookups. The silence was finally interrupted by the sound of thrashing on the water that only big jack crevalle or giant schools of tightly packed snook raiding bait schools on the beach in the summer can make in these parts. It was like thunder from an approaching tidal wave. Frank was close by, and had immediately moved toward all the commotion. I was much farther away, but the sound was plenty loud. Frank was immediately hooked up, I watched him fight his fish as I made my journey toward the angry school. But, by the time I got there the school was long gone, which is so typical for the Gypsy fish we call jacks. They never appeared again. But, Frank had his jack or better to open. But, he never drew another card.

As the tide came in and approached full high, I finally tagged a nice, very scrappy redfish, which I immediately invited to dinner. We called it a day then, and headed in around one o'clock. It's a beautiful area, and lots of places for snook and redfish to hide, and best of all, very little traffic. I'll be going back to explore and learn more of the area.

*********

Tuesday, I had a trip with a couple I just love, Wayne and Pam Stowers, of Marietta, Georgia. We'd been having a lot of weather coming in off the gulf, especially in the morning hours, and Frank and I had gotten lucky the day before. Wayne and Pam only had two days we could fish, as they were returning home on Thursday. So, I was up very early Tuesday morning looking at the radar and forecasts. There was a bunch of weather just offshore coming our way. Arrgh! As I watched the weather, I could see that it appeared to be falling apart as it approached landfall. I prepared for the trip, and met Wayne and Pam at Bowman's Beach. By then, the weather had cleared out. I figured that was probably the end of it until the afternoon.

We did a lot of chatting as I got the boats ready, catching up on things since last year, and that can be dangerous. When I get to running my mouth when I'm doing my launch routine, I'm probably going to forget something! Launching is a little tricky with three boats, as the ramp area is barely wide enough for two kayaks. But, we got underway, and sure enough once down the waterway I realized I'd forgotten the hand towels for each boat. I guess it could have been worse.

We were at our first fishing area within a few minutes. It was a beautiful morning, and Wayne and Pam agreed the the area was indeed beautiful and peaceful. Between the three of us we were throwing silver and gold spoons, and white, Stark Naked, and Arkansas Glow DOA Cal gigs, trying to figure out what was going to work. We were all getting hits, but not connecting. The fish were just not at all aggressive. But, I know there are plenty of fish in this place, and they were letting us know they were there, too.

I watched both Wayne and Pam, trying to size up their casting skills. This is different fishing than we'd done in the past. Their bass and other fishing skills were certainly evident, and they were both making beautiful casts to the shoreline, which for the most part is lined with either mangroves or oysters. Wayne would get in the bushes once in a while, but we have a saying around these parts that is, "If you ain't getting hung in the bushes oncet in a while, ya ain't throwin' clost enough!" And, that is certainly true.

I decided to break off and let Wayne have that shoreline, and take Pam to another area. The irony of that was that most of the big snook and redfish have come from the area we were fishing, but the area I took Pam to gives up more fish.

As we approached the area, I suggested that Pam and I troll the shoreline to our final destination, which can be very productive. Most times we catch snook, redfish, snapper, and even some gaftop catfish trolling the shoreline. It's littered with fallen wood and oyster bars, and you know the "Oyster" BarHopp'R be lovin' that.

By the time Pam and I got to our actual destination, I realized the sky to the west was looking very angry. I quickly pulled my Smart Phone, or is it the Phart Smone, from it's holster and clicked on my radar app. Don't you just love all these apps for everything under the sun? Damn! The radar was very angry looking.

I haled Wayne on the radio and told him what I was seeing on the radar. We agreed that we should at the very least meet up, and get closer to home. So, Pam and I took off to rendezvous with Wayne. I kept watch on the radar. It was looking worse and worse. And, so was the sky! Once we were back with Wayne and I showed him the radar, and asked him what he thought about the situation, he agreed with me that we should call it, and head for the ramp. It was a really big, angry looking system coming on shore. We cranked up our trolling motors, set them on #5, and headed home.

The weather continued to look very threatening, as did the radar, but son-of-a-gun if by the time we'd gotten the boats broken down, gear put away, and boats on the trailer, the sky had cleared. Yep! It fell apart as it came onshore, and disappeared. We agreed that we'd meet at Bowman's again Wednesday morning, and give it another try. I couldn't let my friends go home fishless, or without another attempt to get a full day of fishing in. But, what about the weather?

*********

I got up really early Wednesday morning, and began doing my weather thing. We were in the same weather pattern, and there was again weather offshore, but it looked better than the day before. We were a go. We met again at Bowman's Beach, and would fish Clam Bayou, again. I hoped we would be able to get a whole day of fishing in.

It turned out to be very similar to Tuesday's trip. We'd gotten lot of hits Tuesday, and opted to give the fish another chance to redeem themselves this day. But, it was more of the same. Neither Wayne nor Pam mess around. They fish hard. The fish didn't want to play. Wayne stayed on the same shoreline he'd fished Tuesday, as Pam and I moved on ahead to troll another shoreline. Trolling that shoreline can be very productive.

Pam and I set up our troll down the shoreline, which is littered with fallen wood and oyster outcroppings. Stuff the fish love. Pam hooked into something big, but it got away. I caught a descent snook. But, that was it. We reached our destination, and I showed Pam where and how to fish, and moved a short distance away to check out another area that usually gives up redfish and snook. I wasn't long before she was on the radio telling me she had something really big on her line.

I immediately pulled my pole and "High 5'ed" it over to Pam. I was turning my GoPro Hero 3 on as I went. I made all the appropriate beeps. I got a safe distance from Pam with the camera going. When Pam turned the fish over the first time I saw it's big greenish/yellow tail lift out of the water. Visualize me putting my hands palms down and thumbs crossed, fingers extended. That's about how that tail looked. I knew she had a very nice snook on. The fish made some great runs, but Pam eventually got the wind out of it, and had it beside the boat. The look on her face was priceless when she realized how big it was. I helped her with the fish, got it measured and resuscitated, and the silver spoon out of the corner of its mouth. After some TLC, the big Sal lazily swam away to fight again another day.

I thought I had the whole experience on my camera, but through some freak happening, the recording started right after we let the fish go, and Pam and I were sitting there talking. I was very upset, and couldn't explain how it happened. I know she was disappointed, but we did get pictures.

Wayne was equally thrilled with Pam's accomplishment. He said he'd rather she'd caught that 35 inch snook than him catch ten big reds. There were only a couple of other small fish that day, and after having been out the day before, Wayne and Pam were pretty well burned out by early afternoon. We packed up, and trolled part of the way home, but with the heat and poor tide there was nothing doing.

We proved that a slow day can be a great day, too.

Target Species:

Snook and redfish

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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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