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Backcountry report, Flamingo Friday - Chokoloskee Saturday.... 23 November

lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 4,906 Captain
On Friday we fished out of Flamingo in windy conditions (seems like the wind has been blowing for weeks ...) with Nino Lenoro from Georgia and his partner Jack.  Nino was using fly gear and Jack with spinning gear... It was a tough day -but we still managed to catch  and release a few snook... Here's two pics of Nino's best snook... 

Note the fly, a Whitewater clouser - we catch a number of fish on this pattern when working backcountry shorelines year in and year out... 
Jack kept up his end as well - here's his first backcountry snook.. 

All of his fish came to leadheads with Gulp tails... 
The next day, finally the wind laid down and I was over at Chokoloskee, working off my angler's skiff (more about that later).  What a difference the weather made.  I was fishing with a couple wanting to learn a bit about how to fish the Ten Thousand Islands area and we had a ball... At our first spot we caught and released speckled trout on leadheads with Gulp tails - at times double header after double header... I quit counting when we'd released around forty - as well as a nice snook and a single redfish...   All of our best fish on Saturday came along the outside.... We did run back up inside but it didn't take long to figure out that the fish were mostly outside... that will change as water temps fall... 
Just inside a river mouth we scored with an upper slot redfish on a lure that got invited home for dinner as well as a nice snook that released itself at boatside - then it was time to move back into one of the passes near Chokoloskee where we used bait (live ladyfish) to tempt a goliath grouper or two into biting... That last spot was on fire... Our first fish just took us to school and shredded the leader on the bottom structure.  Once we got the hang of it we caught and released a half dozen of small ones up to about 8 or 9lbs - not bad on fairly light spinning gear... All in less than ten feet of water and along the way the lady tossed a leadhead over to a nearby mangrove tree and hooked another nice snook - and once again after a good fight the fish came to the boat and very quickly slipped the hook before I could reach it... 
Both my anglers that day caught and released a backcountry slam (snook, redfish, and speckled trout) during the day - not bad for a first time in the backcountry... They also brought two trout and one upper slot redfish home for the table...
Here's a tip for anyone wanting to learn to fish the backcountry and not sure where to start... If you can... book a guide for that first trip - it will greatly shorten the learning curve (wish I'd taken that advice all those years ago myself...).   I figure you'll learn more in a day with a guide than you will in a year on your own....  For a guide it's also a chance to fish on a variety of boats from big bayfishers all the way down to the newest technical poling skiffs while their usual ride stays home.... something I get to do a few times each year... Great fun - and I do my best to make it a learning experience - not hot spots, more a "how to go about it" proposition in my case...
These next few weeks the fishing in the backcountry should get better and better as water temps fall.  
"Be a hero... take a kid fishing".
Tight Lines
Bob LeMay
(954) 435-5666


  • 1outlaw1outlaw Posts: 1,887 Captain
    Great report Captain!
    Jason :USA
  • tarponhuntertarponhunter Posts: 501 Officer
    Great reports! Hoping I can do well out of whitewater this Friday :)
  • Jack HexterJack Hexter Posts: 5,642 Moderator
    Capt.  He Clouser looks like it's awful sparse Is it tied that way or did it loose some hair
  • EngguyEngguy Posts: 197 Deckhand
    Bob, I haven't fished out of Chokoloskee in years, where is the best place to lauch from? Or is there a place in Everglades City you recomend. 
    Looks like you had a great time. 
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 4,906 Captain
    Jack... that's what they look like when they're wet and had to be dug out of a fish's mouth... Here's pic of what they look like before you tie one on and actually start fishing it... 

    Note that the entire wing is on top of the hook - not the way Bob Clouser did his original Deep Minnow exactly... His pattern spawned an infinite number of variations and most of them pretty darned effective.  When Lefty Kreh wrote up the first article - all those years ago about the "clouser" as it came to be known, even he said he preferred the wing on top.... My version, on a 2/0 hook is a typical guide's pattern, quick to tie, minimum materials - and notice it comes with a wire weedguard which is a necessity if you're fishing mangrove jungle shorelines in my opinion... One of the big differences between older tyers (like me) and younger guys is that I'm still most comfortable tying with natural materials - younger tyers probably much happier using synthetics - which just weren't around 45 years ago when I got started tying... By the way I tie clousers for every use from tiny bonefish clousers, and a bit bigger - peacock bass...  all the way up to big versions meant for blue water... It's a very versatile pattern.

    For Engguy... there's no "best" place to launch from that area... I use the Rod and Gun Club's ramp on Everglades City if I'm going to fish to the north (and it's the best place for beginners since there's a properly marked route from the Barron River all the way out to Indian Key on the outside...).  Out of Chokoloskee you have two choices - Outdoor Resorts (the very first ramp you come to as you drive onto the island - it's on the left... or Chokoloskee Park (hope I have the name right) on the other end of the island... Outdoor Resorts is great to be able to run up the Turner River or up the Lopez River or out Rabbit Key Pass to the outside.. the other ramp puts you closer to the outside... For years I used the ramp at Glades Haven -the last place on the left as you leave Everglades City heading towards Chokoloskee but it's been closed (theoretically...) since the last hurricane tore the place up... Your last place isn't in Everglades City or Chokoloskee at all - it's Port of the Islands about eight miles west of State Road 29 (the road off of 41 that comes into Everglades City..... Port of the Islands is a real marina/resort with a very well marked channel out to the outside... The only downside is that three mile long "no wake zone" in the canal as you head south from the marina... but it's the place to be if you want to fish north of Everglades City in the Fakahatchee and other nearby areas... Last of all is Goodland, a bit west of Port of the Islands but I've never fished out of it so won't comment at all.... 

    Choose your ramp and get out there - no substitute for time on the water... 
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • EngguyEngguy Posts: 197 Deckhand
    Thanks Capt. Bob,, heading down to Flamingo in the AM with a grandson.. Dragging my flyrod with me and hope to catch at least lizard fish on it...LOL
  • Jack HexterJack Hexter Posts: 5,642 Moderator
    Thanks Bob.. I've never seen a clouser tied all on top.  Seems more like a bend back without the bend, but because of the bend, I lost too many fish until I talked to Chico who told me to reduce the angle I was using.  Do you use any thread under the wing to hold it up above the shank.
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 4,906 Captain
    Not at all... after a few turns of thread with each bunch of bucktail simply pull it away from the hook and flare it a bit at the same time... The only “finish” on the thread head is thin super glue ( I prefer Krazy Glue - original formula) which also helps that buck tail wing to stand up when the pattern is wet...
    Tomorrow I’ll add some additional info when I can access my desktop.  I’ll also include some pics of my own Bendbacks with the hooks bent just right...
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 4,906 Captain
    Here you go Jack.... the first photo shows the first amount of bucktail secured in place on a Whitewater clouser... it will be followed by 8 - 12 strands of pearl Flashabou on top - then a second clump of fl. green bucktail (or fl. yellow...).

    note the Flashabou wrapped around the bobbin ready to be slid up the tying thread into position on top of the bucktail...

    here's the completed fly - note the wire weedguard... We toss these into heavy mangrove cover and the weedguard keeps it from snagging... mostly... 

    As far as Bendbacks go, less it more when you bend that Mustad 34007 hook with two pairs of pliers (I've never seen a commercially sold bendback style hook that didn't have too much bend in it... ).  The following pics are my own Big Eye Bendbacks in several different colors.. 

    all are on 1/0 hooks, the last one has a half inch of .040 square lead wire under the body for a bit of weight... 
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • Jack HexterJack Hexter Posts: 5,642 Moderator
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