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Flamingo First Timer Report

duke6543duke6543 Senior MemberTavares, FLPosts: 336 Deckhand
Before I start let me say thanks to the guys that gave me some advice about Flamingo. As a first time Flamingo, ENP visitor, I had no idea what to expect other than what I read about. All advice was great and useful.
A great friend of mine, Tom and I scheduled this trip to kayak fish Flamingo only a month ago. So we both did a lot of research ahead of time. We were going to tent camp two nights and return home Sunday evening. The more I read, the more anticipation built up, and the big question of why do they have a peak season and an off season in ENP. Our first indication was when we pulled up to the gate to pay the entry fee and we told the ranger our intention was to camp till Sunday and he looked at us like we were aliens. He was friendly enough and also gave us some great advice. The best being be in your tent thirty minutes before dark because of the mosquitos. So thirty eight more miles and we arrive at the camp ground, we have the place to our selves. Set up camp and head out to launch the kayaks.

The fishing report is simple, "awesome". It got better each day as we figured out our plan of attack. When there was a falling tide the bait fish were everywhere by the millions. Rising tide you had to search for any activity in deep water. Friday was a bit slow, with a little barracuda and a small trout and one heck of a porpoise show literally next to my kayak, airborn mullet and dolphins on a feeding frenzy. Saturday morning produced some nice trout with Tom catching one about 23 inches. We spotted some cruising reds but did not produce one. Saturday afternoon we fished deep water till the tide started rushing out and it was time to be back on the north side of the flat so we could get back to the launch site reasonably fast. Someone told me on my other thread about not getting caught on the flat when the tide drains all the water because you can be stuck for hours in knee deep mud. They were not kidding. The tide drops fast and there would be no dragging a kayak for a long distance. So we positioned ourselves for the tide fall and the incoming mullet run. It was cool just to see the amount of bait coming through the small pass we were fishing on the edge of the flat. Within the last couple minutes before we needed to head to shore I saw Tom in one heck of a fight so I started paddling that way. I could hear him cheering with excitement so I knew it was something good. A 33 inch snook slammed a zara spook not three feet from his kayak. After a few back and forth drag screaming runs he had it boat side and this hog of a skinny water snook in his hands. A darn good snook for Tom's first and it was the highlight for this trip.
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Sundays plan do to the rising tide was to paddle straight out to deep water and start blind casting and hope for the best. Within minutes of dropping the anchor it was one after another. Gulp shrimp was a good producer for trout and mangrove snapper and when the lady fish showed up and sacrificed themselves to allow us to use fresh dead bait the fishing took a turn for raising the excitement level. We had some pretty good battles with some really nice sharks. One in particular while playing a large ladyfish, she was in a mid-air leap as a big shark launched and grabbed the ladyfish. That's when I pulled up the anchor and went for a sleigh ride. I'm not a shark expert but I think they were black tips. The three we caught were all about thirty to fourty pounds. One that Tom hooked up with came airborne three times in a matter of seconds at close range. That fish was headed out of the county and couldn't be stopped.

Our plan was to fish till about 10:30 and head back, clean up and hit the road. Well, we could not leave good fishing so we stayed out till noon and made a relaxing drift all the way back to shore thanks to a southerly wind. Back at the camp we grilled a few burgers and had lunch. We had everything broken down and packed in no time due to the biting insects that make you speed up any outdoor activity while on land. We hit the road and headed to Florida City. We took the back way through sugar cane country for a different view and connected back with the turnpike at YeeHaw Junction. We pulled in the driveway at 8:30pm after 307 miles from the camp. First thing I did was go inside and tell my wife how much I missed her. Unpack, hit the shower, and crash in a fresh bed.

A few lessons learned for next time;

1. Don't drive on any grass, not even to unload your kayak. The rangers don't like it. I thought well there is no one here, I could see someone else has already driven on the grass before me and there was an elevated pavillion deck almost down to the water so what the heck it was either drag the yaks about a hundred yards in 98 degree weather or launch waterside. Common sense said waterside. I didn't get a quarter mile away and I heard a constant horn blowing, looked back, there's the ranger in a white truck waving me back. Yep, he said I could not be on the grass, which he drove on to tell me I couldn't. I guess it was too hot for him to walk.

2. If you are going to do any grilling make sure it is in the middle of the day. It would be almost impossible to tend the grill at sun down.

3. Be in the tent thirty minutes before dark with everthing you need so you don't have to go out for any reason and that includes a bucket for taking a leak in. Sounds bad but it is a must.

4. Take a battery operated fan that you have checked and make sure it works. Mine is in the dumpster at the camp site.

5. Pack a no see um head net so you can sleep. I picked up two at Walmart just in case and I was glad I did.

6. Secure your food even in the tent. Ricky Racoon came in and helped himself to our oatmeal cookies and a whole bag of assorted chips. I cleaned up after his feast.

7. Don't worry about getting on the water till after the sun comes up for the simple reason the insects lighten up a bit after day light. Once on the water there are none to speak of.

After all is said and done the fishing was great and was well worth fighting the insects. It was an awesome experience to see that part of the Everglades. We are already talking about next time.

Thanks again to Bob Lemay and the others that offered advice.

Replies

  • NickNutNickNut Senior Member Hollywood, FLPosts: 230 Deckhand
    So glad you guys had a good trip. I've only done a handful down there myself, and every time I leave thinking about when I'll be able to head back. It is a very special part of this world that so few get to appreciate at all, let alone fully as you have done from the water. Tight lines, sir.
  • duke6543duke6543 Senior Member Tavares, FLPosts: 336 Deckhand
    Thanks for the comment. I can't say how many times I've looked at it on the map and thought how bad I wanted to fish it.
  • TommTomm Senior Member North Miami Beach, FLPosts: 359 Deckhand
    Thanks for the report....Flamingo is indeed a special place. .
    2016 Sea Hunt 225 Ultra / 250HP Yamaha

    2014 Sea Hunt BX 22 BR / 250HP Yamaha **Retired**
  • duke6543duke6543 Senior Member Tavares, FLPosts: 336 Deckhand
    Flamingo is for sure a special place. Every fisherman has their favorite places to fish and now I have a new one.
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Senior Member Posts: 4,804 Captain
    It's actually nice to hear there's still a raccoon or two left down there (the pythons have greatly reduced the small critters in that portion of the Park....). Just think... you actually made some ranger's day since they don't have lot to "enforce" around Flamingo... They do run radar on that road from the gate, down the 38 mile stretch every day (on a road where the only accident is someone running... you guessed it - off the road...).

    Glad you enjoyed your trip, Flamingo caught me my first time down there (around 1974 if memory serves....).
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • duke6543duke6543 Senior Member Tavares, FLPosts: 336 Deckhand
    Yes, thanks again Bob. That **** was well fed while we were there but not on purpose. I did see where people have drove off the road and I will admit gazing off in the distance at the vastness of the area. Awesome place.
  • The Cat's EyeThe Cat's Eye Senior Member S. FlaPosts: 1,718 Captain
    Your trip reminds me of many trips i once did many years ago when i thought i could tolerate the bugs. (I would add 30 minutes to the time to set up your tent before dusk).

    P.S. if it wasn't for the bugs the coast from Flamingo to Chokoloskee would look like Miami Beach.
    Giimoozaabi
  • HeartNShoalHeartNShoal Senior Member Redland, FLPosts: 937 Officer
    Then thank god for the bugs.
  • dpdashdpdash Senior Member Posts: 5,359 Admiral
    great recap, I still can't believe you camped in this weather lol
  • duke6543duke6543 Senior Member Tavares, FLPosts: 336 Deckhand
    Your trip reminds me of many trips i once did many years ago when i thought i could tolerate the bugs. (I would add 30 minutes to the time to set up your tent before dusk).

    P.S. if it wasn't for the bugs the coast from Flamingo to Chokoloskee would look like Miami Beach.

    Yes, thank god for the bugs. I have taken the inland waterway from Chokoloskee to the Broad River and back around on the outside a couple times and fished all along the way and don't remember anything like the summer time insects. My fishing buddy Tom and I are pretty used to mosquitos but nothing like what we saw down there. It's a triple wammy, from yellow flies, no see ums, and skeeters and to top them off the gnats get pretty thick. Then as soon as you shove off it's like you forget all about them.
  • duke6543duke6543 Senior Member Tavares, FLPosts: 336 Deckhand
    One more heads up guys. My wife just read the report and I got five brownie points for the nice comment at the end. Forty five more to go and I'm scheduling another trip. Thank god my wife understands my fishing addictions.
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Senior Member Posts: 4,804 Captain
    One last thing to ponder about the 'Glades.... long before the Park was established in 1948 there were actually a few homesteads there -Graveyard Creek was one of them. I can't imagine being tough enough (or desperate enough) to live in that world without any modern conveniences -much less to farm a bit and fish commercial when all you had was smoking or salting your catch to be able to sell it...
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • R.BoonfieldR.Boonfield Senior Member Posts: 128 Officer
    Next time you go, you should look into yaking out to the shark point chickee and camping there. When I went, the bugs were much less of an issue. I and some buddies were able to be outside, toss the cast net, soak some bait etc. There was a nice breeze that kept the bugs away until about 5 AM. At that point I wished that I had ear plugs because they were so loud.
  • duke6543duke6543 Senior Member Tavares, FLPosts: 336 Deckhand
    lemaymiami wrote: »
    One last thing to ponder about the 'Glades.... long before the Park was established in 1948 there were actually a few homesteads there -Graveyard Creek was one of them. I can't imagine being tough enough (or desperate enough) to live in that world without any modern conveniences -much less to farm a bit and fish commercial when all you had was smoking or salting your catch to be able to sell it...

    I could never imagine living in that region. It is hard to believe that someone would make it that far into that area and then deside to stay. I have read the book about Toch Brown a few times. I always read it before going to Chokoloskee. Those people were tough.
  • duke6543duke6543 Senior Member Tavares, FLPosts: 336 Deckhand
    Next time you go, you should look into yaking out to the shark point chickee and camping there. When I went, the bugs were much less of an issue. I and some buddies were able to be outside, toss the cast net, soak some bait etc. There was a nice breeze that kept the bugs away until about 5 AM. At that point I wished that I had ear plugs because they were so loud.

    That would be a cool destination by kayak. Sunday mid-morning while fishing out front of the camp grounds I saw someone headed south from the marina in what looked like a peddle kayak. It appeard he was headed to Catfish key. It looked like he went between Murray and Friend Keys. I watched him until he was out of sight. He definately went a long way and hopefully he was rewarded with great fishing.
  • The Cat's EyeThe Cat's Eye Senior Member S. FlaPosts: 1,718 Captain
    I have read that the indigenous people in the Glades were thought to have used the seeds of the Papaya plant (Carica papaya) to make an effective insect repellant from the oil they extracted from grinding up the seeds found in the fruit.

    When i was much younger and into studying survival skills. I actually came up with a plan in the early 1970's to film myself on an deserted island that had a good supply of coconut palms. I was planning on being dropped off on Elliott Key for a week with nothing more than a knife, a flint & steel striker, some mono and hooks, and a plastic sheet for making a solar water still. I shared my idea with several people and everyone thought i was nuts !! I was a professional camera guy at the time (Still & film), but never actually went through with it. Had small video cameras been available, i would probably have made a documentary film about survival on a deserted island. My biggest fear was bugs, so as a prelude to my planned adventure i experimented with eating a lot of garlic and not bathing for several days, except around my privates, during a solo camping trip in the Glades. When i finally reached a strong aromatic state, bugs stopped biting me. Mosquitoes would follow me around in a cloud, but would never actually land on my skin. Then a took a bath and the bugs ate me alive.
    Giimoozaabi
  • duke6543duke6543 Senior Member Tavares, FLPosts: 336 Deckhand
    I have read that the indigenous people in the Glades were thought to have used the seeds of the Papaya plant (Carica papaya) to make an effective insect repellant from the oil they extracted from grinding up the seeds found in the fruit.

    When i was much younger and into studying survival skills. I actually came up with a plan in the early 1970's to film myself on an deserted island that had a good supply of coconut palms. I was planning on being dropped off on Elliott Key for a week with nothing more than a knife, a flint & steel striker, some mono and hooks, and a plastic sheet for making a solar water still. I shared my idea with several people and everyone thought i was nuts !! I was a professional camera guy at the time (Still & film), but never actually went through with it. Had small video cameras been available, i would probably have made a documentary film about survival on a deserted island. My biggest fear was bugs, so as a prelude to my planned adventure i experimented with eating a lot of garlic and not bathing for several days, except around my privates, during a solo camping trip in the Glades. When i finally reached a strong aromatic state, bugs stopped biting me. Mosquitoes would follow me around in a cloud, but would never actually land on my skin. Then a took a bath and the bugs ate me alive.

    I think there could be some truth to this. There was something that kept the insects from draining all the blood from the indians.
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