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solo tarpon trip in the glades

I'm a S. Fl native from the late 50's and relocated to Hernando County in 98. I don't get to fish this region nearly enough anymore. Nowadays, if I make my way down here 2-3 times a year I consider myself lucky. Anyway, I figured I'd post my report in the TT section instead of my usual BB region. I hope you locals don't mind the intrusion. :)

I put a video together with most of the same stuff I'm posting here. Onliest difference is all the fish **** is in the video. I wasn't able to bring any fish to hand for hero shots, but the "we were there" stills are much better quality as direct links.
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Got a late start out of town to get my daughter to cheer leading practice and after a 4hr tow didn't get the boat in the water at Chokoloskee Island Park until well after 6pm Wed evening. So I decided to sleep aboard the skiff in that little cove on the S. side of Pavilion for the night before heading down towards Lostman's and beyond. Here's some shots exiting the island...
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Morning after camp shot. Got rained on twice and darn near blown ashore and had to reset position and anchor.
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Shook the rain out of my stuff, stowed it and headed south about a half hour after daybreak. You'll have to watch the video to see the fishing part at this point.

Camped at Rodgers chickee Thurs evening after dodging thunder storms for 3 1/2 hours to get there. I had them to the NE and SE of me from out on the coast. I buried my skiff up in some thick mangroves at one point and then about an hour later mad a break to the Broad river ground site, tied up the skiff and sat under the picnic table to ride out the other lightening storm. The gnats were really bad, skeeters not so much, but this was 3:30-4:00PM in the afternoon. Nightfall and through the evening might have been life threatening tho. :)
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Fished a mile or so around the chickee before sun down, but other than a few ladyfish it was like ground zero back there. But that's not uncommon for the dead of summer.
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I notified the park service about this on my way out, but there's a pretty large gator that appears to have been fed pretty regular there. He all but tried to jump up on the platform to join me for dinner. To avoid tempting fate, I moved my cooking operation to the skiff and finished my meal about 400yds or so out into Rodgers bay and cleaned the frying pan out there too. As I returned to the chickee about 45 minutes later I encountered the gator about 100yds out in the direction I left, since he wasn't near any islands I can only guess he was trying to find his way out towards my skiff. He then followed me back and hung near the chickee until I dozed off and was there when I woke up too. I've been fishing, frogging and hunting all over the glades since the mid 60's or so and never seen a gator in the wild quite like this one. He is absolutely fearless of man and will most likely need to be dealt with before the busy season a few months from now. The rangers called me today to ask some more questions but I missed the call. Not sure what they're going to do, but anyone planning on heading out to that chickee should know they may have some unwelcome company.
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Day break and some shots around the gulf when I got out there.
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Jumped one more tarpon and called the trip by 11:30am Friday to take advantage of dissipating storms between me and the ramp some 35-40 miles to the north. Fishing solo out there was both invigorating and stressful at the same time. The magnificence of it all through day and night is like few places on Earth, but disaster is lurking at every turn too. I've made this trip many times before, but usually with at least one other person and sometimes one or more boats. Doing the solo thing was very different to say the least. I probably blew some shots at landing a few of these fish trying too hard to get some video of the action, but no regrets. Jumping and breaking them off after a few minutes is the best part of tarpon fishing anyway. Plus they're not very tired when they swim away. :grin

It was hot, bug's not too fierce for the dead of summer, thunderstorms were scary and the tarpon accommodating in lieu of my efforts. Hoping to get one more trip in before hunting season kicks in....
"impossibility cannot be concluded from a sample of failed efforts" - Edsger W. Dijkstra

Replies

  • polepositionpoleposition Posts: 1,053 Officer
    One of the best reports ever. Had a great time watching it...thanks,
  • Supafly-snookerSupafly-snooker Posts: 17 Greenhorn
    Great read makes me want to find a chickee now. Is there a way to reserve them or a map of them all? Really cool! Great report!
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 3,734 Captain
    Great report, nothing like being out there solo - particularly when living in the city gets to be a bit much.....

    Supafly.... here's the map link to that area.

    http://www.charts.noaa.gov/OnLineViewer/11432.shtml

    You'll note that every chickee/campsite is marked on the chart as you zoom in to one area or another. The chart number listed is the actual one you'll want with you on the water (don't even think about heading into that area without a chart and a compass.... To reserve any campsite... that you'll have to do on the day you come to the Park (go to ENP.gov for addtional info)
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • angler18angler18 Posts: 2,037 Captain
    great trip, thanks for sharing. My wife would have no part of me doing that trip alone.
  • Supafly-snookerSupafly-snooker Posts: 17 Greenhorn
    Thanks Bob! I have a chart hand held garmin and a compass. I cant wait to get out there! Great info!
  • RollinRollin Posts: 1,546 Captain
    Deerfly, that's a great report, very inspirational !!!!
  • nightflynightfly Posts: 504 Officer
    Very nice pics. I will be doing something like that in late October early November
  • Cat173Cat173 Posts: 106 Officer
    Great report. You are a brave man for doing it in the summer !!! Camped on Rodgers River last November and can't believe that the chickee is still not finished. As for the gator was he missing an eye?
  • BobberBobber Posts: 943 Officer
    **** fine report, thank you. Last time I camped at Rogers in August I watched an afternoon storm blow the outhouse clear off the dock back to the shoreline,talk about sheeite hitting the fan....yes its buggy and hot but there is no finer cure for what ails you than a solo trip in the glades.
  • marleydogmarleydog Posts: 58 Deckhand
    Great report! Thanks.
  • IndianoutlawIndianoutlaw Posts: 550 Officer
    Loved the report, very nice job on the pictures as well!
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  • RobARobA Posts: 55 Deckhand
    Thanks for posting this! Great report.
  • JI SnookJI Snook Posts: 676 Officer
    Very nice pictures. Looks like a good get away trip.
  • FishinMcNutFishinMcNut Posts: 536 Officer
    I see my boat as a white spot in the background! It was the one to your right as you idled out front Friday morning.
    Great report from a very impressive trip. You certainly have your priorities in order!
  • blewitupsirblewitupsir Posts: 774 Officer
    Great report with some very beautiful pictures. . My favorite times are when I stay on a key or in the boat out there by myself. It helps me find my "center".
    http://hopefishing.comFishing the Florida Everglades National Park with Hope Fishing Adventures.
  • rickinflarickinfla Posts: 3 Greenhorn
    Thank you for the report and photos. I have not seen that area for far too long. Nice rig as well.
  • deerflydeerfly Posts: 768 Officer
    thanks everyone, glad you enjoyed the report. I certainly enjoyed the opportunity to be able to share it. :)
    Cat173 wrote: »
    As for the gator was he missing an eye?

    Well, as I recall from spot lighting him/her a few times at night there were two pink reflections. However, the right eye did appear to have some type of deformity or injury. There's also some sort of yellowish/orange growth on the forward side of the socket too. What ever the case may be, the right eye anomaly doesn't appear to be affecting it's ability to eat. As a casual observer I would say this is a very healthy looking animal. It's really too bad he's been habituated to humans like this and is a perfect example of why its such a bad idea to feed them. It's just a matter of time before someone get's seriously injured a long, long way from emergency medical care. For me, one of the most unnerving aspects of his behavior is pretty much every time he disappeared he'd emerge again from under the chickee. So it's not hard to imagine someone that may not realize he's under there rinsing their hands in the water or cleaning a fish etc and drawing a very dangerous strike without seeing it coming.

    I see my boat as a white spot in the background! It was the one to your right as you idled out front Friday morning.
    Great report from a very impressive trip. You certainly have your priorities in order!

    yeah, that is funny. Bob and I had a good laugh yesterday once he figured out it was me. That spot you guys were on is usually a good bet to pick up a dinner trout or red on fly before and after the crowds are there. I threw a few casts in that creek about an hour before you guys got there, but the tide was still a bit too low. I seem to do much better there when the tide is high enough to flow through mangroves to the right.

    ***********************

    update: One of the park rangers just called me about the gator and I shared pretty much everything mentioned here. They were out there closer to midday Saturday and didn't see him, but that may have had more to do with the time of day. After our conversation it sounds like they will be returning much earlier and/or later in the afternoon/early evening to try again as needed to determine what steps need to be taken. Anyway, after not hearing back from them since Saturday I wasn't sure whether they were taking my report seriously or not, but clearly they took it very serious and were out there the following day. I know a lot of us don't think twice to complain about the park rangers from time to time, but I'd like to give them props for getting right on this gator issue. kudos
    "impossibility cannot be concluded from a sample of failed efforts" - Edsger W. Dijkstra
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 3,734 Captain
    There are several spots up in that area (Broad/Rogers) where the 'gators are a nuisance (understatement)... Clearly someone has either fed them or allowed them to eat hooked fish.... We work around them whenever I'm up that way (most make the run south from Choko - I make the run west and north from Flamingo...).
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • deerflydeerfly Posts: 768 Officer
    lemaymiami wrote: »
    There are several spots up in that area (Broad/Rogers) where the 'gators are a nuisance (understatement)... Clearly someone has either fed them or allowed them to eat hooked fish.... We work around them whenever I'm up that way (most make the run south from Choko - I make the run west and north from Flamingo...).

    Right, there's plenty more of them out there in that category. Here's one that came all the way across from the north side of the river to keep me company at the Broad River ground site while I was waiting out the thunderstorm sitting over Rodgers Thursday afternoon.

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    I didn't bother mentioning this one, because unlike the gator at the Rodgers river chickee, this guy was not bold or fearless enough to come within a few feet of me, the skiff or the dock. Instead, he chose to stay somewhat concealed about 15' away under the mangroves while I was there and kept his distance the whole time, but is showing signs of human contact/feeding for sure.

    Part of my conversation with the ranger this morning was trying to explain my distinction between gators I consider aggressive vs dangerous vs a nuisance and let him decide whether he needed to do anything further. I didn't consider the Rodgers chickee gator to be aggressive because he was still somewhat cautious when closing his distance between us. I did consider him to be dangerous though because he demonstrated absolutely no fear of me when he closed the distance to only a few feet. He didn't flinch, no matter whether I stomped my feet on the platform, clapped my hands, yelled at him and so forth. To me, that makes him dangerous vs a nuisance gator that may try to snatch a caught fish or wait for a handout, but all the while keeping it's own fight or flight distance away.
    "impossibility cannot be concluded from a sample of failed efforts" - Edsger W. Dijkstra
  • tailchaser16tailchaser16 Posts: 655 Officer
    deerfly wrote: »
    ,
    He didn't flinch, no matter whether I stomped my feet on the platform, clapped my hands, yelled at him and so forth.

    He was your Wilson!
  • SirSnukeSirSnuke Posts: 17 Greenhorn
    What an awesome post. I've always wanted to try a trip like that but would never have had the guts to give it a shot in August! Think you just proved me wrong. Thanks for sharing.
  • dtobiasdtobias Posts: 733 Officer
    Great report. Love fishing the glades. Braver than I to head out there solo. And in August.
  • quiet flightquiet flight Posts: 2 Greenhorn
  • wonderboywonderboy Posts: 66 Deckhand
    There's nothing else than fishing Solo in the glades. Great report.
  • ShottShott Posts: 203 Officer
    I regularly fish that area and have noticed many more gators in the past 2 years than in years past. Most keep their distance but a few have come right to the boat and sit there. Makes me kind of nervous as my skiff sits very low to the water. Any ideas why we are seeing more than in the past?

    Fishing 2 days down there this weekend and will count the gators and take pics.

    Great post BTW.
  • eeekbackupinthereeeekbackupinthere Posts: 75 Greenhorn
    Your post makes me want to pack my **** and move to Chok.. I love that place. Awesome report! Semper Fi
  • dbraves8dbraves8 Posts: 239 Officer
    any places like this with campsites from englewood to pine island area. I fish the charlotte harbor area and this would be cool. I know there is places similar to this in bull bay but they are owned by individuals
  • BCPhantom01BCPhantom01 Posts: 45 Deckhand
    Love the hook up!!! A few jumps and off..... My kind of release when by yourself. Be down there tonight and tomorrow, hope the wind cooperates. Great report!:thumbsup
  • AlwaysAbuAlwaysAbu Posts: 476 Deckhand
    Awesome Report but I would have not been able to get a minute's sleep knowing the G-man was looking for a handout.
  • chandler315chandler315 Posts: 68 Deckhand
    Was thinking of you the whole time I was reading this Marley. THIS is what we need to do, stop the talkin and start the walkin..lol.
    Thanks for the stoke, the post is the best I’ve read on here.
    I always cast to where the fish are. :crossed
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