After two days of wrangling all the gear into compact masses and lashing it down, we took the empty trash container and filled it with buckets of boat wax and chain saw oil, battery chargers and the odd anvil and unused metal (vice!) for weight, lashed it to the pilons under the house along with the skiff, (tied nine ways sideways,) all the other miscellaneous ephemera from under the house we stuffed into flooded canoes, filled the few remaining boats we couldn’t tie down with water and cement blocks, got the generator into operating position and inflated it’s tires, lashed down a few skiffs at Ted’s on Chokoloskee, trailereed Vicki’s golf cart to high ground, tried to buy a flashlight at the hardware store, (none left,) and made sure the Florida Panthers had one last meal, there’s nothing left but to sit back and watch the show. The cats are in the rafters, under the deck and in the engine compartment of my truck. Don’t try this at home!
August 18, 2008
August 14, 2008
August 9, 2008
Captain John Stark and I went on a reconnaissance mission yesterday morning. We left my dock way before daylight and in the absence of the moon, we had to creep along in the darkness. We ran the ditch behind the Chokoloskee causeway and by the time the sky was showing the slightest light of dawn we were through Hurdles and flying south across Sunday Bay and into the backcountry. Our objective was a tarpon search, there was no wind at all and the water was mirror smooth, when the conditions are that smooth, and all boundaries are indistinct, it feels more like flying than anything else.
The first few spots we checked weren’t showing any fish but as we pushed further south we began to see a few tarpon, a couple of nice ones in a spot John had seen them in before, nice easy rollers about eighty pounds. But we were looking for something more substantial, we were hoping for a big school, a wad, a bunch that we could really work over and we pushed on.
We stopped in one spot a few minutes later and immediately saw skipping baits and the unmistakable signs of feeding snook. We broke out the light rods and the small flies and before we left that lake we landed probably twenty snook between 17 and 25 inches and two, jet black, spotted sea trout!
It was tempting to stay and enjoy the fun, but we were on a mission and decided to move on. We checked a lot of water without much success and as the morning waned and we were losing hope we began to steer for the Gulf and a straight shot back to Everglades. When you’re searching for something it seems you always find it in the last place you look and so it was for us. Tarpon, lots of them, rolling in the stillwater of upper Lostmans River. We spent a couple of hours messing with those fish and finally got one in the air, a sixty pounder that took one of my Black Voodoo flies, ‘tarpon on fly, Everglades style!’
When we got back to the dock the tripmeter was approaching eighty miles, we were sunburnt, wasted from the heat, and already planning our next recon!
August 5, 2008
August 2, 2008
Gulf temperatures are approaching 90 degrees, there is a lot of rain and blackwater is pouring out of the Everglades. Couple that with a five foot new moon tide and you have flood conditions on the flats, and in places, with all the blackwater and heat, you have to question the relative levels of oxygen in the water. There is bait though, in very specific places, lots of it, but for the past few days we haven’t seen many reds or snook on them. Tarpon however, love this and there are lots of tadpoles rolling in all the right places. This is not unusual for the ‘Glades in the summer and it can change rapidly, already we’ve had a couple of rainless days here this week, if we get an off shore wind, things (salinity,) could change in a hurry bringing the snook back in.
After a couple of years of relative drought we need the water. Sheet flow in the Everglades means good nursery habitat for juvenile fish and maybe we can hope for an upturn in snook and tarpon numbers a few years down the road.
Gov. Charlie Crist, on behalf of the State of Florida has made an agreement with Big Sugar to buy back a significant portion of the land south of Okeechobee, if I understand it correctly, 187,000 acres, roughly half of all the Florida cane fields. The impact this would have if incorporated into the Everglades Restoration Plan would be phenomenal, it could become the cornerstone of the whole process, it would be a huge step toward restoring sheetwater to Shark River Slough and Florida Bay. See, www.riverscoalition.org