Just one trip this week, and it was the last before I shut down for the summer. It's just too hot for kayak fishing during the dog days of summer!
My trip was with Noel and Michalene Pfeffer, some great folks I haven't seen since 1999. They were over from Ft. Lauderdale, and wanted to give kayak fishing a try. Noel has a kayak, but it's not a fishing kayak, and he wanted to see if it was something he might want to do. I told Noel when he booked it would likely be a tough bite because we are full on in the hot summer pattern, and we still have lots of seaweed floating and laying below the surface.
I was at Castaways Marina at 9:00, and not expecting Noel and “Mikie” until 9:30. That would give me time to have the boats put together and ready to get the bottoms wet. But, the pulled in shortly after I did. It was great to see Noel again after so many years, and to meet Mikie. I don't think I'd met her years ago.
Noel had only caught one redfish on his own in the years they've been coming over with their boat, and that rascal slipped out of his hands and off the cleaning table as he was filleting it! He said Mike was a great trout fisherman with baits under a popping cork, but she'd never done the kind of fishing we were going to do.....all lures all the time. Our goal was a limit of keeper redfish with some snook thrown in, if we could get them to bite before the weather turned on us.
We were in the water and on our way shortly before ten o'clock. It was fairly overcast with a whisper of air moving. I had attached my Mantis sunbrella for the first time since last summer. I figured I'd need it. We made our longest run early, while the water was low and incoming. We'd fish our way back toward home, and hopefully not be more than half hour from the ramp if the storms blew up.
At our first stop I positioned Noel on a hole that always has snook and reds in it on lower water, and has good current flow over it. I took Mikie with me, and positioned her to fish some blowouts along a shoreline. I went to another spot a few yards away to see if there were any redfish to be had. I got slammed 6 times in a row, with good hard hits that mangled the weedguard on my gold spoon, but the fish just weren't eating. It was as if they were trying to kill the bait, instead.
Finally, I went and rounded up Noel and Mikie and we made a moved to another nearby area, in hopes of finding plenty of reds. And, we did. I was pushing reds before I even got to their normal hangout. But! They weren't in the least bit interested in eating.
I had my lightning detector on and was watching the eastern sky carefully. I could see the seabreeze front building, and was pretty sure we'd have a seabreeze kick before long as the storms fired inland and began their trek toward the coast. I suggested we go ahead and move to another area closer to home.
As we arrived, I dispatched Noel to a great snook spot and instructed him to fish it thoroughly because this time of year it always has some big girls hanging around. Mikie and I went to see if we could get a redfish bite going. I stationed her off my port side about 50 feet, and we went to work. Before we left our other spot I had given her a casting clinic, promising her that if she would stick with it, and just keep working on what I'd taught her, it would all come together in an hour or so, and she's be casting much farther than she ever had.
Mikie continued working on her casting, and as she did I could see definite improvement, and every once in a while she would let a great cast go that would drop right where it needed to be. Before long, I had a wicked hit very close to the boat. I didn't see the fish when it rolled on my spoon, but it made a very large boil on the surface as it did. I struck it, and my Power Pro parted. Apparently, I'd gotten a nick in the line off an oyster or something, as Power Pro doesn't just break like that without some serious help. It was the first time I'd thrown a jig and managed to keep it clean, and it was eaten. Damn!
I re-rigged, and went back to work. I hooked a great snook quickly, and it did its aerobatics and gave me a great fight. As I brought her to boatside the leader parted. She had taken my jig deep in the bucket, and the leader was rubbing on that rasp of a mouth all snook have, and she swam away with my hardware. Soon afterward, I caught a couple of more snook. The fish were there and finally eating, so I called Mikie over to anchor where I was, and I moved away to check out another spot.
I quickly caught a nice redfish, which I stringered. I got reports on the radio from Noel that he had lost a snook, then put a keeper red on the stringer, and then caught another. It was as I had predicted, with the bite coming on the last part of the incoming tide.
All of a sudden my lightning detector began giving me alarms of lightning within twelve miles. Then, I heard a big thunder boom in the distance. It was time to get moving. I headed to Mikie and told her we needed to go. We headed toward Noel to pick him up and get moving. At this point the storms were mushrooming on the eastern sky very quickly. Big storms. As we got to Noel I instructed he and Mikie to put the motors on speed 5 and let's get home as quickly as possible.
Back at the ramp we got the Ultimate 12 cleaned up and on the top rack. Then I asked Noel to go ahead and bleed the redfish so that we could just throw them in the cooler, and I went to work on getting the other two Ultimates broken down and secured on the trailer. The weather was bearing down on us hard, and we were getting some raindrops. The booming was getting closer and closer.
Finally we were ready to take off. Mikie was thrilled with her new casting abilities, and even though she had not managed to boat a fish, she'd had a blast. Noel was also happy to have put some redfish in the boat, and was happy with the day. It had started off slow, but ended pretty well. The verdict was in; Noel and Mikie really enjoyed the kayak fishing, and want to do it again.
I drove the length of Sanibel in the storm. I made the mistake of not realizing that there would be heavy traffic, because a lot of people were here celebrating the 4th of July, yet. It took me an hour to get off the rock, but I had the storm to enjoy while crawling along.
There will not be any more reports until late September. I do hope to be caught up with the reports very soon. That's one of the many things I'll be doing while I'm off the water.
Capt. Butch Rickey
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