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Monthly ArchivesMonthly Archives: November 2013

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Slammin’ at the Bar

It was the best possible morning. The foggy morning air was crisp and the negative tide was just beginning to come in. Jim VanPelt and I were on foot today and the plan was to wade Burnt Store Bar, a long, shallow sand bar the runs from just south of Charlotte Harbor to Matlacha.

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The area is accessible by a couple of remote trails through wooded preserves. Once we arrived at the water’s edge we were greeted by calm water and signs of fish moving across the grassy flats. Jim began casting his Riptide paddletail and I was using a Gulp shrimp. The trout bite was immediate and we landed several right away. They were tucked in and around mullet schools.

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As we made our way further out we began seeing a tail or two indicating the redfish were present. Some carefully placed casts brought us a few undersized reds. They seemed to be hanging out at the edges of the sandy holes that dotted the grass flat. A time check revealed it was only 9 o’clock and we were doing well.

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We waded north along the bar to the mouth of a little bay where there seemed to be more fishy activity. My lure was slammed by a nice fish. As I fought it closer I realized it was a very large trout. When it unhooked itself, I got a close look at it and it would have easily been the largest trout I had caught. But it wasn’t to be.

We worked this area for a few minutes and paid special attention to a school of mullet being harassed. Our patience paid off and we both landed snook. Jim’s snook approached slot size and produced some good action shots.

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We were off the water by 10:30 and had both slammed. It was a great day of wade fishing the bar. Fishing the right tide is paramount here as it the presence of baitfish schools. If you go, remember to bring everything you need, including hydration, because walking back to your vehicle is not an option.

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Reds on Foot

“Get him Joe”, I called across the bay as I tried to get in position to take a picture. Joe Jones was working a big redfish that just smashed his topwater lure in about 6 inches of water on a negative tide. “I got him” Joe called back just as the big fish flipped over, spit the hook and took off, pushing water as he propelled himself off the flats. It was Joe’s first cast of the day and it wouldn’t be the last fish we tangled with.

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Joe and I were fishing with Jeff Gabrick, the President of the Southwest Florida Kayak Angler’s Association. The area was a shallow back bay near Black Island just south of Ft Myers Beach. We were on foot and it was a difficult journey to get on the flats. The area is surrounded by shallow bars of deep mud and every step resulted in sinking up to our knees. As soon as we arrived on the tail end of the outgoing tide we saw redfish pushing water and chasing mullet. Soon after Joe lost his red, a nice fish made a bid for my Skitterwalk only to have me pull it away just in time. I came up empty and the fish swam away confused. Jeff’s Spook was taken by a redfish big enough to break his 20lb monofilament leader, then spat out and floated out over the target area as if mocking him. It was a great beginning to the morning.

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With all of the sudden activity, the fish began moving slowly further away. We followed and slogged our way through the mud out onto the flats. Joe positioned himself at the mouth of a creek that feeds the bay and Jeff and I approached an exposed area of sand. Between the three of us we were covering the better part of the lower bay. There were fish moving all over, mainly mullet, with redfish tails quietly breeching the fairly calm water. Joe called out “fish on” and I could hear his drag screaming. He was using an Unfair Dogwalker and had managed to convince a nice redfish it was safe to eat. He called out to me “there’s one coming at you” and I could see a big push of water coming toward me. I cast my lure in front of the fish and it was attacked viciously. I played the fish in and noticed he inhaled my Skitterwalk lure. I landed him and as I looked up at Jeff, he was standing in knee deep water with a big smile on his face holding his own red. It was a triple hookup and triple landing!

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After about two hours, we started back. Jeff had to work and I had a new 26.5” friend I invited home to dinner. The tide had just begun to rise and I knew the flat would become more active, but my day was made. It was a banner morning spent with friends and ending just in time to get a cup of coffee. With our area’s wintertime negative tides, I look forward to many mornings like this in the upcoming months.