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Southwest Florida on the Fly

Posted by on January 25, 2015

A few days ago I got back from a family vacation to SW Florida where I of course made some time to go fishing.  I’ve visited this area my whole life and since picking up a fly rod I’ve looked at it very differently.  My dad used to own an offshore boat that we would take to some reefs and fish live bait for grouper and snapper.  We had fun and occasionally brought home some good fish for the frying pan, but as I grew to appreciate the sport more than the food I was drawn toward the backwater fishing near the Everglades.  In these brackish waters you can find some of the finest game fish in salt water.  The snook, tarpon, and redfish are year round residents while many other species are always coming and going.  Shallow water and endless mangrove shorelines in one of the most remote wilderness areas in the U.S. make this a fly fishing paradise.  I still don’t have the right boat for exploring the 10,000 islands and Everglades National Park, but there is still a way to get a chance at catching some of these fine game fish.  Along the Tamiami Trail there are miles of canals and small ponds that have fresh water creeks and tide water bringing bait and predatory fish in from the everglades marshes and the gulf of mexico.  The most common and arguably one of the best game fish on the gulf coast is the snook.  The snook are like the bass of the everglades.  They’re ambush predators that stay close to cover and hit a well placed fly with aggression.  They like poppers and are strong fighters that almost always give you a jump or two.  Pulling off the highway you can find these fish in pockets of water sometimes only 30 feet across.  Moving water always seems to help, but you really never know where a small group of baby tarpon or a 15 lb snook could be hiding.  The first 2 bridges my dad and I had pulled off to fish I caught a nice little snook and my dad caught a snook that was close to 10 lbs.  A respectable fish anywhere in the ‘Glades and we found him in a small bit of water with traffic whizzing by us about 15 feet away.  Over the week we landed quite a few little snook along the Trail but my dad got the one that we won’t forget.  I’m glad it was him and not me because I enjoy almost as much as catching fish when other people see first hand when everything comes together in fly fishing and they get rewarded.  There is more effort to getting a fish on a fly but the look on his face when he held up that fish said it all.









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