Sometimes I realize how much I take for granted that I live in beautiful Southwest Florida.
I’m convinced that there’s no better place for fishing in terms of abundance of fish and spots to do so in the entire world.
In my immediate location there is the Pine Island Sound and all the little bays and mangroves around it, not to mention the world-famous tarpon fishing of Boca Grande pass.
In Fort Myers Beach you can choose to fish in the Estero Bay or fish directly in the Gulf of Mexico.
There are also Sanibel and Captiva, places well known for tourism but the fishing is the true gem.
A little further south is Naples and the Ten Thousand Islands.
All of these areas are prime inshore fishing spots perfect for kayak fishing, where you can catch fish in excess of 100 pounds at any moment.
If you are planning a fishing vacation, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t consider Southwest Florida as one of your options.
It was too windy to fish in the river so I stayed in the lagoon by where my friend lets me keep my Wavewalk kayak on his floating dock. I had been out in the morning about 7:30 AM and caught a small snook about 14 inches – a beautiful fish and since I got him on a small foam rubber “gurgler” fly it was fun to see a fish take that surface fly less than a foot from the mangroves in about eight inches of water. It took a little while reviving him in the water before releasing him before I could go looking for his big brother.
Fished until about noon got a couple of hook ups but nothing came to the boat.
I went back just about 7 PM and staked out at the corner of a nice grass flat in the lagoon next to the mangrove creek that feeds in from the Indian River.
It was low incoming tide one of the best times for the bigger fish to get in close to the flat in about four to five feet of water, they slip up on the grass flat and raid the little mullet fingerlings and grass shrimp and can dash back into the deeper water for cover.
So I fished different flies and different sides of the flat for about an hour… fifteen minutes after sunset I was making my “last cast” for the night and bang a freight train hits my fly about thirty five feet from the kayak I am standing on my platform on top of the center tunnel and all the line starts to shoot out of my striping basket and (for once it is not tangled up) whiz all the line is out of the basket probably 125 feet or so and I am on the reel and it is buzzing. First time I am down to my backing line it is still going out to open water in the lagoon
(not back to the mangroves like sneaky snook usually do). So I let him go
I mean he is too big and hot to horse in with an eight weight and 10 lb
tippet. Three good runs, a couple of tries for the mangroves and 15 minutes later I have him in the boat.
26″ snook WOW the first really nice fish I have ever caught out of the “W” and it was a beauty it took me almost 10 minutes to revive him pushing him through the water next to the boat.
But finally he swam off before I was eaten to death by Florida mosquito’s it was almost dark but I was as high as a tree frog just paddling back to the dock whistling Dixie.
I have caught a few smallish fish in the lagoon but started to think that all the nice ones are in the river.
Oh yeah all you northern woodsman who are wondering why I released a five pound snook instead of eating him, there is a limit here we call “slot” fish, 28″ to 32″ inches if they are in the slot then they are keepers but he was a little shy of the slot. And after one of the best battles I have had on fly since my Trinity river steelhead days, I figured he deserved a second chance anyway.
I love my Wavewalk… when that fish was on I was thinking he went 360 degrees around the boat did three really long runs and in general made 15 minutes feel like about three. I honestly don’t think there is any chance that this old man could have landed that fish in any other kayak but the Wavewalk fishing kayak. I mean I fish with a friend who has five kayaks SOT and Sit in type and he is an athlete, but I have seen how little room to
move and how cramped it is and if your line snags on anything when you have a big fish on a fly (even just for a moment) it is good by fish.
I bought my Wavewalk a couple of months ago and I stood up my first time in less than five minutes.
I fly fish on the Indian River Lagoon in South East Florida where I live and the “W” fit my needs almost perfect, but at 64 years old I wanted more stability and such a higher vantage point when I needed it.
It really makes it a one man fishing machine and I absolutely love it.
I had labored over my decision to buy a stand up fishing Kayak for months reviewing almost everything including the [build-in outriggers kayak] line of boats that are sold at our local fly shop here in Stuart Florida.
I knew I wanted the stability of “W” and I wanted to be able to take a passenger on occasion.
I’m going to outfit my W kayak with the cockpit hooks and bungee as I don’t think there is a better more affordable way to keep my boat dry will it is sitting on the floating dock waiting for me to use it. Plus I love the idea that I can deploy it when caught out here in our rather numerous summer rain storms and hide under it until it lets up.
I paddle the boat standing on the platform, and use it that way a lot in the back creeks and small mangrove lagoons.
Pictures of my “W” outfitted with a leaning post and outrigger pontoon system:
Says Art, one of Gary’s fishing buddies:
-”Each time I’ve been out with Gary good things have happened: super snook; super trout; and now, Gary’s surprize…He never expected that the large “Red” he was fighting (and it did give him a fight) would turn out to be his first pompano…Gary’s comment:”that’s one more off the bucket list”…
Photos: Art Myjack
In Gary’s own words:
-We had perfect conditions today so we paddled to the open Gulf and fished around a moored crabbing boat named the Viagra Express (we thought we better not peek through the window). We got some nice trout and I got my first pompano which was more amazing since I got him on topwater, which is really rare. What a great fighter for a not-so-big fish. We also ran into a school of rays, a couple of manatees hosting a bunch of remoras, and a disappointed osprey who crashed into the water near my W only to come up empty. What a great day!