dad Tom were camped out in the front of a small dark powerless hotel; steaks on the grill, cooler and chairs set-up, and drinks in hand. Any erie feelings I had slipped away in an instant as I pulled into the parking spot in front of the room and promptly joined the party. Sitting in the cool night air with a breeze blowing just enough to keep the bugs away (and...well two thermacells on high), a slim trickle of moonlight trying to poke out from behind the clouds, and stories of past 'glades trip gave the night an instant feel of a camping trip twenty something miles in the backcountry. Luckily, we had a nice cool room to crash in; if the power ever came back on!
After a good round of BSing we crashed in the warm room, hoping the power would come back on and get the A/C going. At some point during a semi-sleep I heard the power click on, and smiled with the thought of electric juice flowing to the nearly depleted trolling motor batteries in Steve's boat...and the A/C. With the battery charges rolling, it was easy to fall asleep. And yeah I guess that A/C did help too!
Monday morning came with clear skies and almost no breeze. After a semi-restful night of sleep, it wasn't exactly a crack of dawn start. Steve and I loaded up a few things in the boat, checked the cooler, and rigged up a few rods. I tied on a 3.5" Vudu Mullet (a decision more than a few fish probably regretted later), while Steve went with some old Everglades faithfuls. A few gallons of gas, a quick gas station breakfast, and it was off to the boat ramp. We pulled up to Outdoor Resort (also known as "Kenny's Place" to Everglades regulars much like some people refer to Juno Bait as "Todd's place") to find only a handful of boat trailers in the parking lot. A quick splash and we were in the water.
The ride into the backcountry from Chokoloskee is one that every angler who enjoys inshore fishing should get to experience at some point in their angling career. The run is combination of visual beauty; and at the same time a white knuckle thrill ride through mangrove rivers, over shallow sandbars, across wide open bays, and around lower unit destroying oyster bars that requires local knowledge or years of experience. Luckily for me; Steve and his dad can make the run in the dark (something I can also personally attest to), so I was able to sit back and enjoy the ride.
We worked hard, but not nearly as hard as the trolling motor, to get out of the back bay and make our way back to the "ditch". The falling tide made it tough, but we sneaked out of the shallowest spots and made our way into some fishy looking spots.
As we fished a productive stretch of bank I was overwhelmed with thoughts of just how great of fishery the Everglades backcountry really is. I think at one point I said to Steve "There are a lot of places that I haven't been, and a lot of places I'd like to go and fish. But, I really can't imagine anywhere else in the world better than this." Not long after making that statement, a juvenile tarpon rolled in front of me and a well placed cast quickly had him all over my lure. A beautiful strike and hook set had the tarpon in the air, and in my head I was already planning where to a ask Steve to go and look for a trout and redfish to finish the slam after we took the pics, But, as tarpon do so well after a few jumps the Vudu mullet came back towards us with no tail and the tarpon went freely on his way.
As the day started to slip away we trolled back through Gopher, headed back to check a spot or two before heading out. The mouth of Gopher, we were greeted with a wide variety of life; snook popping minnows, rolling tarpon, lazy gator, feeding ladyfish, playful dolphin, and even a cruising shark.
The ride back to Chokoloskee was beautiful as the sun sank in the west and the thunderstorms pushed their way offshore. No better place to be, and in my head...
Still take on many different looks
And I'm gone again, home again
The time has come the walrus said
And little oysters hide their head
My twain of thought is loosely bound
I guess it's time to mark this down"
Thanks For Reading,