Big Joe and I took a day off this past Friday with plans to fish Pine Island Sound, far to the north of our normal haunts. However, predictions of mild winds gave way to 15 knot gusts, so we headed into the Everglades, instead. I’ll take that consolation prize any day.
On the last few trips, I’ve tried to capture some of the peerless beauty of the Glades in photos. On this day, photos took a back seat to fishing. We began with the long rods, Joe poling us slowly along while I cast to likely looking spots. At one point a nice redfish traveled a long way from the shore with its nose on the fly. Joe, who had a high vantage point and a great view, couldn’t believe it didn’t take. Closer inspection revealed that the fly had fouled, negating its flowing action – and putting some doubts in the head of that rojo. Grrrrr.
We switched to plugs as the sun rose, and Joe soon had a thick redfish to the boat, which he quickly released. That fish was followed by scores of small-to-medium-sized snook. Joe noted that most of the fish were holding next to structure, especially fallen logs. At one point his plug was whoofed by a huge snook that, with a quick thrash of its head, sent the plug spiraling back in our direction. I saw the back on that fish, and it was t-h-i-c-k. After a quick lunch, Joe missed the hookset on another big snook that inhaled his plug next to a sunken log. He proceeded to set a new standard in swearing, at one point speaking fluent Klingon. I quickly cast back into the same spot, knowing that big snook seldom strike again after feeling a hook. Whether it was the same fish or its partner, a big mouth sucked in my plug and the fight was on. Joe gunned the trolling motor away from shore to give me leverage and to keep the snook away from the structure, but I was clearly out-matched. Seventy-five yards of line disappeared off of my reel in seconds, and my line was audibly pinging off of mangrove roots. It never parted though, (all hail Power Pro) and I somehow turned the fish and brought it to the boat after a see-saw exchange. It was a sea-bright bruiser of about 34 inches, which we carefully revived and released to fight another day.
We headed home as the sun began to fall, weary from wind, sun and hundreds of casts along empty shorelines. A celebratory beer or two took the edge off, and capped another amazing day “down south.”