Fishing report - Everglades backcountry, 30 March

Time for a long overdue report. This time of year most guides are booked continuously wherever they fish down here. We started off the month looking at nice warm weather but high winds came with it (for almost two weeks) so we were hunting for sheltered spots (that might also hold fish....).... Early in the month there were very few local anglers on the water (figure they were seeing the same weather forecasts I was....) so at least the backcountry had very few anglers anywhere you looked most days. Finally with a break in the weather the big tarpon were easy to find and laid up perfectly for fly and lure anglers. All told it was pretty frustrating since everywhere we found them... they weren't eating flies at all. In fact most were spooking away just as any fly line landed nearby - long before they ever saw the fly..... On the other hand big fish in nearby rivers were eating live baits and lures just fine.... Here's a series of pics from one day on the water with local angler Andy Hessen and his two sons Chris and Brad.... Chris struck first with this nice snook on a small lure in Whitewater Bay right at dawn....
After loading a few small ladyfish in the livewell we were off to one of the many tributaries that drain from the interior of the 'Glades out into the west coast near the Shark River area, setting up in one that usually held fish..... At first we didn't see any tarpon then one or two rolled and we decided to set out a bait or two. After a few minutes I was a bit discouraged and considering re-locating when one rod went off and we were in business with Brad on the rod. That big fish fooled me since it didn't jump at first so I thought we'd tangled with a bull shark.. Finally it showed and it was much over 100lbs of big tarpon -and a real problem since it didn't jump much at all.... I was taught, years ago, that a big tarpon, smart enough not to jump - was almost impossible to beat. After almost 30 minutes on the rod Brad finally got the leader into the rodtip - but the fish was clearly a long way from being ****.... It went on to finally wear through an 80lb leader.... That fish kept me so busy trying to keep it from getting under trees from one side of the river to the other that I was never able to manage a single photo... Since it was Brad's first tarpon he was worn out (at least for the moment...). Time to run to another river -and it was loaded with tarpon. Andy started the action hooking one of about 70lbs on a small jig (look at the pic of the snook to see what we were using....). Here's are two photos of that fish....

We went on that day to jump eight fish from 70 to well over 100lbs bringing two to the skiff on lures and three on bait. The action simply never slowed down. To add to the action we had a small goliath grouper come off the bottom right up to where we could see him attack a bait meant for a tarpon... Here's Brad ready to release the fish...

Along with tarpon, snook, and everything else going on the spring run of roe-fat speckled trout is also well underway.... Find one and you'll usually find a big enough school of fish to keep every rod in action until you've caught your limit (four per person) or gotten tired of releasing them. The very good trout fishing should remain on tap for at least the month of April -great action for all ages (and pretty good table fare as well).

I expect the tarpon fishing to actually get better in coming weeks all the way through the first two weeks in May... after that the big fish will move out on their way down to Islamorada to spawn (leaving nothing but "small tarpon" -up to 60lbs or so behind to take up the slack). All in all these next weeks will be a very good time to be on the water....

Be a hero, take a kid fishing!
Tight Lines
Bob LeMay
(954) 435-5666


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