Spent Monday through Thursday of last week spraying exotics. I despise them now and I cringe every time I see Cogan grass, even when it’s not on state land.
My dad came down Tuesday evening to stay through the week. He fished during the day while I worked and then we both fished in the evening. I was able to show him around the WMA too.
Thursday after work we took off for the Everglades. We made the horrible mistake of trusting the GPS navigation to get us to the Tamiami trail quickly and it took us down I-95 directly into Miami. The interstate was 12 lanes of chaos and a trip that would have taken between 2.5-3 hours on the Turnpike ended up taking 5. We fished the Tamiami for a short time then drove down to Homestead to the hotel.The next morning we went back to the Tamiami to put the kayaks in a canal. I fly fished for a few but had little to no luck. I then switched to a good ol’ fashioned worm. We were worried that the Cichlids had all died over the winter fish kills and I broke out the worm rod just to check. After only a short period of time, I landed a Mayan Cichlid. Soon after I got a Jaguar Guapote and these other Cichlids (Honestly not sure of their name. They look like a cross between a convict and a discus). We noticed some storms heading our direction so we paddled back. I didn’t have a cooler on the yak so I put my fish on a stringer. Once at the launch, I tied the stringer off to a bush to keep the fish alive in the canal. We loaded up the kayaks and put everything up in the bed. I walked down to the water’s edge and began untying the stringer from the bush. Suddenly, there was a flash and I felt a shock run up my arms to my elbows. A lightning bolt had struck the water VERY close by. WAY too close if you ask me. My hands tingled for about 10 minutes afterwards.
We then drove down to the Everglades National Park to do some fishing in ponds we’d had luck in during previous years. We launched the kayaks and quickly got to fishing. I used strictly top water and soon had tarpon exploding underneath the lure. None, however, could hook themselves. It was the perfect fishing evening…The kind fishing dreams are made of. Not a breath of wind, cool weather, the water was like a mirror, and HUGE fish chasing your lure. If only I could have hooked one. I counted during the trip and missed a total of 15 strikes from both Tarpon and Snook. I landed one bass and my dad landed a nice Snook.
Went back the next morning to the same pond. I paddled right back to where I had so many strikes and after about 10 casts, hooked up on a fish. It dragged me around the pond for over 15 minutes. I figured it was a juvenile Tarpon, but had never seen it jump. I finally got the fish up to the boat and had the best surprise of the trip. It was a monster Snook. I pulled the fish to the boat’s edge, reached down to lip him, the fish shook, and lodged the hook right into my finger. The thought of having myself attached by the hand to such a big fish made me rip the hook out instantly, ignoring the barbs (ouch). My second lipping attempt worked and I hefted the ogre into the yak. Before this fish, my biggest Snook may have been 18 inches. I was grateful for bringing my camera for this 40 inch, 30lbs fish.
My dad caught a small tarpon later (which I didn’t get a picture of) and that was that. We drove back to the Tamiami trail and there were a ton of people fishing it. We didn’t launch the kayaks again. Sunday morning we went back to the Everglades National Park again, but caught no fish in the ponds. On the way out, we stopped to look in a canal. To my surprise, it had cichlids in it. Lots of them. We launched the kayaks and I was determined to catch one on a fly. It took over 30 minutes of casting and maneuvering the boat in 20 mile/hour winds but I finally had a fish on. It turned out to be an Oscar (my favorite Cichlid by far).
A few casts later landed myself a very nice Mayan…
Ended the day with 4 Mayans and an Oscar on the fly. I’d never caught Cichlids on the fly before so the combination of a huge snook and cichlids on the fly definitely made my trip.