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Flamingo/Whitewater bay Questions

Went to everglades city two weeks ago with no luck so going to try whitewater bay next.
What time does the boat ramp open to buttonwood canal launch?  How much is it? Anything else i should know?
Boat is a 13 whaler with no trolling motor or push pole. Thinking about getting a push pole for this trip, but not trying to pay the 200 for it. Is it necessary or is the water easy enough to navigate in the bay? Don't have the money for a guide. Thanks. 

Replies

  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 4,186 Captain
    I wouldn't venture into the backcountry out of Flamingo or Chokoloskee without a pushpole (even if all you have is a big wood dowel - the size you'd use to hang clothing in your closet...)... and not down into Florida Bay from Flamingo either... 

    There are two ramps at Flamingo - the outside ramp (some call it the saltwater ramp) to go out into Florida Bay and the inside ramp in Buttonwood canal to go up into the interior (some call it the freshwater ramp..). Both ramps are open 24/ 7 and the only fee you'll ever pay is at the front gate... There are other things you'll need to know about the Park.   You can find them here... https://www.nps.gov/ever/index.htm

    I've been a full time guide in the Park now since 1996.  It's my favorite place in this world....
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • cranker789cranker789 MiamiPosts: 337 Deckhand
    Thanks LeMay, guess ill be buying a push pole, better safe than sorry. Any kind you recommend? I'll probably go with a superstick telescopic pole from basspro. 

    Looking at the digital passes because they say that's the preferred method and can only find 7 day pass for $30, can you get a one day pass? If not the annual pass for $55 looks like the way to go if you'll be there more than once a year. 
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 4,186 Captain
    Can't help you with the cost of passes since I'm not a visitor - if it helps though my guide permit costs me $550 per year (and that's just for the Park....).  

    The cheapest pole around is that simple big wooden dowel from Home Depot or Lowes... Get one that's about 1 1/4" diameter and just about as long as your skiff.  Yes, it's heavy and a real pushpole will do it all better - but you'd be surprised how many bonefish guides in the islands are still using a simple wooden pole to get around with.  In the 'glades though - with all the shallow areas, running aground, even if you didn't mean to will require a pushpole of some kind just to get you un-stuck. On the Florida Bay side of Flamingo it's all soft, soft mud so if you step out of your skiff you sink into three feet of mud - no matter how shallow the water is (just about everyone I've known wound up in the mud their first trip if they weren't careful - the ones without a pole sure wished they had one...).

    Hope this helps... "Be a hero... take a kid fishing"
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • 2times2times AlvaPosts: 132 Deckhand
    edited February 5 #5
    My first push pole on board my 14' Gamefisher aluminum boat was a 2" diameter PVC pipe about 12 feet long reinforced with a 1 1/2" PVC pipe shoved in it and glued together.  I glued on a end piece on one side and "T" piece on the other.  It was heavy as hell but I was young and strong and it bent like a wet noodle but it never broke and worked for 2 or 3 seasons.  
  • tarponbro1tarponbro1 jacksonvillePosts: 296 Deckhand
    The easiest thing for you to do if the weather is calm is to go to Cape Sable and drift fish, then anchor if you find some speckled trout. There may be some tarpon a couple hundred yards offshore and you can try to drift fish for them 
    See if you can save up enough money to get a saltwater safe trolling motor for your boat. That and/or a good push pole is basically necessary to fish Whitewater Bay. If you fish the flats of Florida Bay Bay you'll need a push pole. 
  • cranker789cranker789 MiamiPosts: 337 Deckhand
    $550 for a year as a guide?! you'd think they'd let you all in for free.  

    I found some push poles for good prices on offer up but they are the fixed kind around 14-15 ft. My boat has a bimini already so it will be difficult to mount a pole to the gunnel. I like the idea of the telescopic kind from 9 to 17 ft, that way i can store it for transport inside the boat and then extend to 17 ft to cover a lot of ground. 

    Whitewater bay doesn't look too bad as long as i keep an eye on my gps (my phone), and go slow.  I'll have a push pole as well. Is it really dicey in there?

  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 4,186 Captain
    Actually it's pretty much four to six feet deep everywhere until you get near an island (lots of islands and they all look the same...).  There are parts of Whitewater though -particularly the far eastern portion where it is shallow, very shallow - but doesn't look like it... 
    Actually up in the backcountry your biggest problems are just two... it's very easy to get "turned around" and not know how to get home (locals never get lost - we just get "turned around").  The oldest, most experienced guide in the Park (at that time) Bill Curtis, got turned around a few years back and wasn't found until three days later...

    The other problem, and the biggest reason it pays to hire a guide your first day or two..., is that every bit of the interior looks like the best fishing spot you ever saw... but it's a very big place and most days 90% of the fish are in 10% of the area - and it changes from day to day... Whitewater Bay alone is ten miles long (I've verified that with my gps day after day...) and six miles wide.... it's a big place.  My average day in the backcountry will involve a round trip of sixty to seventy miles...
    On the Flamingo side of the Park the oysters died off years and years ago so you don't have to worry about a single oyster bar -the balance of fresh and saltwaters needed for oysters was messed up by flood control for all the cities on the east coast... Chokoloskee by comparison is very different, with oysters everywhere.. The one real hazard for motor boats in the interior near Flamingo is submerged trees and logs - mostly very close to islands.  The ones that show near the surface are no problem at all - ones you can't see under the water are motor killers... 

    Hope this helps.   Years and years ago the standard advice for newcomers to the interior was always to go with two boats together (motors weren't as good as they are today - and this was years before gps, chartplotters, etc.).  My best advice is to never go into the backcountry unless your boat and motor are in good shape - and always bring a chart and have a compass onboard...  If you break down up inside - no one is coming to get you (at least not until a day or two has passed...).  Probably more adventure than most are looking for... 
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • Fishin' MusicianFishin' Musician Posts: 92 Deckhand
    Take Capt. Lemay's advice as gospel. My buddy Capt. Chris and I got "turned around" on my first trip into the back of Whitewater. Took us two hours and the help of fluorescent tape tied to mangroves to get out!!
    It is the most wonderful place on earth though...
    Dave
  • cranker789cranker789 MiamiPosts: 337 Deckhand
    Thanks for the advice LeMay! Appreciate it. 
  • Laubscher_TalesLaubscher_Tales MiramarPosts: 47 Deckhand
    I've been two times now in the new boat. Before that, use to go with my parents giant CC. Well giant for the area.  lol
    I have had beginners luck or so people are saying.  I have gone on the inside both times but I have a FMT chart to follow which helps big time.  I have been to the same spot twice as I have learned the tide there and done well.  I doublt I will always do well at this spot but I am learning it big time.  Good luck and post up once you go.  
  • Rebait2003Rebait2003 Posts: 122 Deckhand
    If you wind up going anyway, some good advice to remember is to keep one of the main markers that go thru the middle of whitewater bay in sight.  I haven't been down there in several years and I know a lot of those markers are no longer there.  The coast guard used to maintain them, but they no longer do it and it's up to the park.  If you have one of the good mapping chips on your GPS like Florida Marine charts or Navionics chips for the area, the markers are marked where they are and where they used to be.  The middle of White water is pretty open in areas and you can fish the islands for snook, reds, and trout and sometimes drift out in the open area for trout over the grass.  Until you learn your way around try to keep one of those markers in sight.  We started off using the old Florida Sportsman chart of Whitewater bay.  We learned it by that chart and keeping a marker in sight, venturing a little farther each we went there always knowing how we got into where we were and retracing our track.  Good luck!!
  • cranker789cranker789 MiamiPosts: 337 Deckhand
    Thanks laubscher tales. Are u that name on YouTube as well? If so I have ur flamingo video in my watch laters lol. I have navionics which has been great for me. Got turned around in Everglades city two weeks ago and got right out with it. I’ll let y’all know how I do, thinking about doing a charter first if I can get someone to split costs. 

    Thanks for the advice rebait. I’ve been studying the navionics charts but I know how things can change once u get out there. Easy to get lost and weather can sometimes make things not fun or even dangerous. 
  • Laubscher_TalesLaubscher_Tales MiramarPosts: 47 Deckhand
    Thanks laubscher tales. Are u that name on YouTube as well? If so I have ur flamingo video in my watch laters lol. I have navionics which has been great for me. Got turned around in Everglades city two weeks ago and got right out with it. I’ll let y’all know how I do, thinking about doing a charter first if I can get someone to split costs. 

    Thanks for the advice rebait. I’ve been studying the navionics charts but I know how things can change once u get out there. Easy to get lost and weather can sometimes make things not fun or even dangerous. 
    Yes sir I am!  I have my 2nd video coming up as I am working on it now.  Flamingo is awesome!  It's far but so worth it!  
  • cranker789cranker789 MiamiPosts: 337 Deckhand
    Nice ill check that video out. Nice trout in the first one btw. 

    So I'm going in a different direction now and going to go by kayak first into snake bight. I'll be out there Wednesday hopefully. That way i can get to know the area first before taking the boat out. 
  • Rebait2003Rebait2003 Posts: 122 Deckhand
    If you are going to go into snake bight, take the boat.  You can cover more ground and learn the area a little more.  It's easy to get around there to snake bight in the boat.  Launch outside and follow the markers south to the end.  It's deep water out there and you can turn and go east.  Your GPS will show the entrance and it is lined with markers showing the channel.  There is tarpon, reds, trout, black drum, kitties in the channel.  Fish the runoffs for reds and trout.  Remember it is no motor zone if you go up onto the flats and you will need to pole or trolling motor around and to get back off.  My suggestion is to find a runoff and stake out or stakeout along the edge of the channel.  Fish the edge with shrimp on a jighead on the btm bouncing it slowly back to the boat.  Mirrodines work well for trout there also or gulp shrimp or jerk shad in new penny.
  • cranker789cranker789 MiamiPosts: 337 Deckhand
    edited February 10 #17
    Thanks Rebait ill remember your advice for next time im on the boat. Still don't have a push pole, but will be buying one soon. 

    Took the kayak out today. Was a long peddle to the edge of snake bight and very shallow in places so i had to paddle a lot. It was very busy out there and it seemed like everyone was catching fish all around me and i was getting nothing. I was using a weedless gulp shrimp. I think others were using live/dead shrimp. Eventually i hooked up to my first ever red, 21''. And that was about it from about 8 am to 1 pm. Happy about the red, but it was a slow day overall. 
  • troutbomtroutbom Posts: 313 Deckhand
    https://mgs4u.com/product/boating-push-poles/?v=7516fd43adaa

    Cheapest decent pole you can get. The good ones are closer to $1000 than the 200$ limit you mentioned. Bare minimum would be 16'. I pole al ot and the graphite Stiffy is worth every penny but the cheap ones in site above will work.
  • cranker789cranker789 MiamiPosts: 337 Deckhand
    Thanks but i already got one from bass pro. I like the quality so far but havent had the chance to use it. It's a telescopic pole from 9' to 17' so its pretty long when fully extended. 
  • EngguyEngguy Posts: 194 Deckhand
    I always carry a paper chart with me and I have been fishing down there for 40 years...there still places I have not been..Yes very easy to get turned around.
     
  • cranker789cranker789 MiamiPosts: 337 Deckhand
    Nice, very organized.
  • cranker789cranker789 MiamiPosts: 337 Deckhand
    Anyone fished **** bay? Bringing the kayak out again maybe next week. Boat trim and tilt keeps falling back down when i raise it so will be restricted to areas close to launch points. 
  • cranker789cranker789 MiamiPosts: 337 Deckhand
    Didn't know that was a bad word?? lol the bay before whitewater...
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 4,186 Captain
    Take a moment with that motor and improvise a fix that will allow you to hold the motor in
    the right position as though you’d trimmed it up as high as possible while still being able to draw cooling water... The fix?  A short section of board the right thickness to hold your motor where you want it when it’s placed between your transom brace and the lower unit...
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • cranker789cranker789 MiamiPosts: 337 Deckhand
    edited February 22 #26
    Thanks ill give that a try. I have an apt at the mechanic in a couple weeks. Been having trouble with the trim and tilt for a while now. Couldn't trim the motor up while i was moving so i'd have to set the trim before taking off. Filled the fluid up in the system and it was running smoother but still wouldn't lift while running. After filling the fluid up, the outboard keeps falling back down to tucked position anytime i try to trim up.  Must be a leak or bad motor.
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 4,186 Captain
    Your trim/tilt unit needs to removed, torn down, and re-built.  Your dealer or mechanic will know of an outfit that specializes in re-building them - but it won’t be a cheap fix...
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
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