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Bob and nephew, Dr. Eric Carter laugh in the
face of Mother Nature and her bite of a 40 something degree
Here Bob shows the rewards of patience and persistence with a
beautiful backcountry tarpon.
seems to bring out the best in me. My mornings are often greeted with a
bite of coolness and a lil' slap in the face with some type of gusty
wind from the northern quadrant. My days are shorter. I throw my cast
net longer and the levels of flood water on the inside flats are the
lowest of the year.
I used to dread these days in my
youngest days as a fishing guide. However, I soon learned that you
have to make hay when the sun is shining. When life is this way,
you become better at figuring out how to make everything work to
satisfy your clients as well as to continue with your
self-supported livelihood and responsibilities.
After 13 days of November 2006,
all in all, it has been a classic and perfect November. The fronts
are passing with a January frequency of 5-day intervals. However,
the water has been slow to cool. We took a huge drop in water
temperatures in the third week of October. Water temperatures fell
from the mid 80's to the mid 70's. With a passing front, we'll
slip into the upper 60's and then settle into the lower 70's on
the warming trends. For how much longer? Don't ask...just go with
This has gelled
a full swing frenzy of many opportunities that exist
virtually every day. For now, if you can find them, you will catch
them. Kingfish, Spanish mackerel, grouper, cobia, bonito, snapper,
redfish, snook, trout, tarpon, pompano, ladyfish, blue fish and
flounder are typical catches.
Rob Klingel with 1/4 of his grand slam
(snook, redfish, trout and tarpon). We landed 3 tarpon, but Rob
was not content until he got one on his own. Good things happen to
good people and so it did. Nice job in reaching the pinnacle of
Florida Gulf Coast flats fishing, Rob!
Jumbo jacks are terrorizing the
shallow flats. There is no mistaking it when a brigade moves through or
across a shallow gin-clear flat. Interestingly enough, this is a rare
time when encountering them as they may actually pass you without
biting. The snook have significantly slowed down on the outside. Savvy
snook anglers willing to put in their time will find the fish (and often
over-sized) in their favorite winter oasis. The gator trout made a
decent showing late this last week. They and the redfish are the "bread and butter" species of winter flats fishing. Nearshore, with
decent winds and seas, a short trek into the "promise land" will
yield world class Spanish macks, smoker kingfish and keeper grouper in
just 6 feet of water.
Good bait can be somewhat challenging
on the Suncoast flats at this time. Those willing to put the time,
effort and their lower back into it, will "black out" 50
gallon live wells with the staple "crickets". Be sure to keep
all medium pinfish catch. On some bluebird days, the fish do not react
very well to the sardines and the pinfish gets the nod. As the finned
baitfish migrate off the flats, the offshore to inshore shrimp migration
will commence. Pro anglers will follow suit.
Oh what am I am talking about? Let's
get on with the pictures!
to our dialup users for the long download.)
young David Dallman proudly displays what some grown men have waited for
their entire angling life, a big snook and a redfish. The tarpon eluded David
by becoming unbuttoned. Unfortunately, the silver king only gave him one
chance at his grand slam. "Not a problem" says David, "my
grandparents will just have to bring me back, how about tomorrow"?
Greg and wife, Patti O'
Donoghue celebrated their anniversary with me on a recent trip.
Greg made fast work of the snooks and tarpon. The tide got high
and we got our reds in short order. We made a "on the way
back" and "last and only stop" attempt for a trout
to complete the grand slam by my suggestion. Greg kept his promise
of a "last cast" to Patti but the trout eluded us. I
think that will work out well for all of us in the future ;-o).
Long time friends Adam Bresovits and
"Jungle" Jim braved the winds and took some "nice
fish" as a result. Plenty of reds were had and Adam had an impressive
catch of some bonus doormat flounders, each caught in a different spot!
Jungle jumped three tarpon and landed one. Even in the most adverse of
conditions, we always seem to pull it off together. Good times! Good
times! (Thanx Adam! Jungle: my party recovered your 39-inch dock bruised
snook on the following Monday, they wanted me to relay to you a
Enter the newlyweds: Brett and Lisa
Bal were celebrating their honeymoon and what might be Brett's last
fishing trip (just kidding Brett). An over- sized snook was quick
work first thing in the morning. The first and most difficult prong of
four was complete. The reds started out tough as the tides were very low
and the winds were strong out of the northeast. With some persistence, I located
them and off to work the newlyweds went catching upper slot reds. Later,
we lost our water and I suggested a 10 minute stop for a trout about a
half mile away. One the first cast Brett landed a "keeper" trout
. I pulled anchor immediately after a picture and left to close the deal
with a tarpon. The fish were not showing and were difficult to find, but
then it happened. A tarpon broke bad and was landed. Brett's dream came
true and Lisa was there to participate in it. What a forever and memorable
way to start off lives together! Thank you for allowing me to be a part of
it and congratulations!
Long time friend Bob Greenwald was
back last week to spend some quality time with his son, Robert. It was
"jacks or better to open" and "luck be a lady tonight"
(Bob's classic jingles when the jacks and/or the ladyfish show up)
on the start of day one. We caught the first of the "gator
trout" to show this fall with each taking several fish averaging 3.5
lbs. We got on a casual redfish bite as well. For 2 hours and 40 minutes
we sat on a single drop of the anchor and caught over 50 reds. We left
them biting so they could be on time for their flight back to Atlanta.
Naturally on the way home we skipped a huge school of pompano. It was one
of those glory schools that skip so hard, they nearly jump in the boat. It
was an impressive display, but we had to go. In two days we jumped 5
tarpon and landed 4. It is rare in this modern era to catch fish on
virtually every cast, especially over two days. "It's all about
you", Bob! :-o) I appreciate your invitation for Thanksgiving-I hope
to one day join the Greenwald family for that-I'll carve!
Too often in life I catch
myself taking things for granted. How fortunate I am to live the life I
live and too, to do so in some of the most pristine aquatic playgrounds in
I write these reports and
look at all of the images I have captured here and in my mind. I reflect.
Some are fishing related and some are just good times with great people.
Like Santiago, I too, "dream about the lions".
Last March I was in
Austin, Texas for a long time friend and client's wedding, Greg and Dawn
Crouch. When I walked into their home, I saw throughout the rooms and
walls, many images of us together and even some of the fish we have caught
throughout the years. I realized what an impact I had made on their lives
and that I was forever a part of them. I flash back to many of the times I
have shared with so many special people throughout my career and think how
fortunate I am to do and to have done so. In my life
I have truly learned that the fish are just a catalyst in the forever bond
At this season of
gratefulness and "Thanksgiving", thank you all for giving me this
Drags and Tired Arms!
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Past Florida Fishing Report