The Everglades is a wild and beautiful place. For the last 20 years I have been fortunate to live nearby and visit frequently, sometimes camping for several days, and always bringing a canoe or kayak to fish in the remote canals and ponds. Sometimes it’s just a daytrip, as it was recently with fishing buddy Joe Jones, this time in search of the many exotic fish that inhabit the area.

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Limited accessibility means hiking the kayaks in

We started out early and watched the sun rise over the Everglades. During the winter months, the Glades dry up somewhat and the fish migrate towards the canals ponds that line US41 between Naples and Miami. As we got closer to our target area I could see the bowfin popping the surface in the canals along the road. We arrived, loaded our gear into the kayaks and after somewhat of a hike, we launched into the clear water of the lake we were fishing.

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These toothy guys are all over the place

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It’s a good sign when the birds are catching fish

The water was warm, just the way the exotic species like it, and the fish were everywhere. I started out with a fly rod and almost immediately landed a fat oscar. He destroyed my fly, so I switched to a topwater lure. Joe was using a small jighead and paddletail combo and landed an oscar right away as well. For their size, oscars are very strong fighters and will frequently take a little drag. They are very slimy when caught, but supposedly taste great.

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These guys are everywhere

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Joe with a hefty Oscar

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Oscar on fly

We were using the kayaks to scope out an area, and then jumping out to wade or fish from the bank. The water was so clear the fish could see the kayak coming and would spook. I landed several nice largemouth bass using the topwater spook that was custom painted by Steve Woosley to resemble a peacock bass. Joe and I worked our way to an area covered with lily pads that I originally thought was too shallow. We beached the kayaks and walked over to the area to find it was deep and loaded with fish.

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Working the shoreline

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Deep holes hold fish

There are not many things more exciting than working a lure across the top of the water and watching a peacock bass shoot out from under cover to slam it. Joe casted a paddletail, then used a spinnerbait to catch peacocks, oscars and mayan cichlids to earn himself a Florida exotic slam. We ended up covering quite a bit of area on foot and had a nice hike back to our kayaks.

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Picking up peacocks

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Beautiful colors

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Fishy places

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It was a great day

There is no doubt this area is remote, but very much worth visiting. Alligators, otters, snakes and many different bird species call the Everglades home and are readily available for pictures. Then there are the year round world class fishing opportunities. If you decide to make the trip, bring a GPS and don’t forget to hydrate!

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Hiking out

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Endangered Wood Stork

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He came in for a closer look