Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Sunday, August 15, 2021
Fishing the Everglades backcountry has been a dream for a while. I kept reading and hearing stories of loads of baby tarpon, whispers of the cornucopia of fish in the mud lakes, and I'm a sucker for a National Park, so the die was cast. As part of our series of epic DIY trips my co-adventurer David and I were supposed to do this trip five or six years ago, but then the Zika virus was threatening women having children and David's wife was pregnant so we bailed and went to Fernie, BC for bull trout and cutthroats instead (also an epic trip! - see earlier blog posts). But now we were back on our FL kick.
I left early on a Friday morning since I had some tasks to accomplish on the way to pick up David at the Miami Airport. I took my friend Tom's advice and took the back roads through the cotton fields and country lanes of Virginia for a relaxing drive on my way to Myrtle Beach. I was fulfilling my father's wishes to have a portion of his ashes deposited in the ocean setting where he and my mother spent so much time and that they cherished so much. 15 minutes out I called Mom and asked her if she wanted to FaceTime as I was depositing Pop's ashes. She said yes. So I parked the car at the condo they used to rent religiously for a few months each winter and hustled my way down the beach access dialing her number as I went. I got her on FaceTime and she was able to watch as Pop's ashes mixed with the surf and the sea and made their way out into the ocean that he loved so much.
Having seen anglers all along the Tamiami Canal, we were curious about the fishing opportunities so we stopped at one spot where we could easily pull off. the fish in the canal were very active on the surface. David got lots of follows, but it was hard to get takes on the mystery fish. After trying a couple of flies, I got lucky with a purple and black fly I had tied for fish in murky water in the Chesapeake Bay.
We started outside at a table overlooking the water, but the bugs drove us inside. We got a variety of fish tacos and some excellent cucumber salad as a side. We closed down the place as we discussed the coming day's guide trip, rod setups, etc. Back at camp, it didn't take long to fall asleep.
After lunch, we went way south into the backcountry in search of baby tarpon. We found fish chasing bait, but couldn't crack the code of the correct fly to pitch up into the mangroves so the afternoon was a bust.
I did my best to recall the general patterns of flies the guide handed us (and took back). One was purple and black, one all pearl and white, and the last was olive and orange. The last would become our go-to fly for the trip, we dubbed the last one the snook creamsicle.
Finally, we got the canoe off the top of the car, and we busily went about installing all the customized features:
- canoe seats with back rests
- duct-taped pipe insulation around the gunnel to keep rods from scraping against the aluminum
- cable-tied utility baskets for quick access to handy stuff
- Installation of a snag-free tarp to keep fly line out of the other supplies
- sewer pipe used as a makeshift rod holder
We paddled across to the mouth of the creek just NE of Chokoloskee and spent a few minutes casting into the outgoing rip that was flowing over a large oyster reef. I couldn't believe we did not hook into any fish there!
It was pitch black, again, when we arrived back at Flamingo. We put up the tent, indulgently showered again, brushed our teeth, and went to bed preparing mentally for the early morning departure to take David to the Miami airport.
- Always bring a travel vise and tying materials
- A canoe seat with backrest is essential for comfort and doubles as a camp chair in the backcountry
- Hire a guide in every new situation you fish.
- Carry a full plastic tarp into the backcountry to sit on or whatever
- Going to places that nobody goes is what adventure is all about!