Some long time friends that live in Naples invited us to spend the xmas holiday at their place. Initially I planned on towing the skiff down, but haven't fished it since my solo tarpon trip back in August and with a very busy work schedule wasn't able to do enough prep in time. So I threw my beater canoe on the truck and grabbed a couple fly rods thinking I'd putz around the drainage ditches or make a run to EC or Choko and noodle around out out there weather permitting. Got to Naples late Saturday evening and a late start out of our hosts house on Sunday morning too. Since I was late I decided to cut my drive time in half and put in at Goodland and fish the upper bay towards POI to see what was happening out there. The weather was awesome following the frosty morning, but the fishing was pretty darn slow, at least where I was anyway. I did manage a few short, but chunky 9 7/8" snapper and also a handful of feisty but equally runty jacks. The snapper were well fed and while fighting them I was sure would be keepers, that is until I measured the damn things. Oh well as they say. Lot's of fun on a 6wt, but I was hoping to find something a little bigger.
Xmas eve morning I was able to get to Chokoloskee by daybreak. Hit a few spots fairly close to the island that I've done well in the winter months in years past and was pretty sure I'd get into something, but apparently the fish didn't get the memo. After poking around about an hour without seeing anything I decided to make a move to another area that was a pretty good paddle away. Still plenty doable, just a bit more effort than I was hoping I'd need to burn to find some fish. This particular area had a lot more sun warmed mud bottom with enough oysters and spoil mounds scattered about over the fist spot that I figured was a good bet too. Turns out it was. I spooked three fish just easing up on the first flat. I don't think I went another 25 yards and saw two more reds working along up ahead of me. Little did I know I was about to experience some of the best spot and stalk redfishing I've ever done within 3 miles or so of the island. I ended up catching 6 reds over the course of about 3 hours and blew shots at as many or more. Smallest was about 21" and the biggest was almost 27". Total hoot for sure.
Went back xmas morning too thinking I'd mirror the banner day before, but the water was a bit dirtier for some reason and the fish were holding in a little deeper water than the day before, which made seeing them a lot harder before I was right on top of them. I did manage one hook up but the hook pulled at the boat. Went from decent shots at a dozen fish and half as many to hand the day before to maybe 3 legitimate shots and one hook up the day after. No complaints though, 6 reds on fly on a solo trip in a beater canoe before noon was epic by any measure. Here's a pic I managed to take of the fish I lost xmas day before the hook pulled...
have a happy and safe holiday