Florida trip report- beach, offshore, Everglades

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Posted by Randy R on 2018-08-01 14:17:29

Just got back from a 10 day trip to Florida, something I've done in the summer for 15 years. Usually I purchase a ticket, book my offshore guides early, but the main focus of the trip is walking the beaches for snook, and I usually don't book my hotels until I get sense of which side (gulf or Atlantic) is fishing better. Saw too many pictures of windrows of red tide dead fish floating on the west side, so east side it was. Beach fishing was tough for me this year. Water was flat (rare on the east side) and clear. Had a hard time finding bait, and when I did, there usually weren't fish with it. When I did find lots of fish, they were boogers. Lots of turned up noses. Did have an intersting experience early on, fishing a section of beach with some high rocks (not cliffs) but 20 feet above the water. Kept spotting fish from way above, and then by the time I could make my way down, they would be gone. Finally saw a group of half a dozen snook, and decided I would cast from above, and worry about the consequences later. Of course, the biggest of the group (a solid 12lbs or so) ate, and then I was in trouble. Tried to climb down the rocks, but the fish wore through the 35lb bite tippet before I could do it. Did find a rock later, just about four feet above the water, great to spot fish from, but still able to hop off it if needed. Spotted a big shadow, could see it following, lost it in the wash, but it ate with the leader in the rod tip, and then went right into the backing on a pretty stiff drag. Landed it, eventually, a really nice, thick, bright 37 inch fish. The best of the trip. A nice bonus this trip was huge schools of jacks in the 8-12 lb range that would come screaming down the beach. If you could get your fly in front of them, 15 would peel off to chase it, and then right into the backing.
Went offshore for two days, one day with Dino Torino, and the second with Scott Hamilton. Both excellant offshore guides that really work to get you into fish. Albie fishing was good, as it almost always is during the summer. Lot's of bull sharks after your fish, I was using a 12wt, with the drag on my Nautilus Monster cranked down as far it could do, 20 lb tippet, and I still had fish running 100 yards into the backing, the power of those fish was incredible. Had some blackfin busting with the albies, but couldn't keep the fly away from the albies. Pulled out a 16wt and took a swing at one of the bull sharks and that went like it usually does. Been trying to land one for ten years, but I only try one a trip.
Went into the Everglades with Captain Eric Herstadt, who I cant' say enough nice things about, last Thursday. Maybe there is someone in the Everglades as good, I can't imagine there is anyone better. The bigger tarpon were MIA, and my wife wanted her first tarpon, so we went looking for babies. She must have hooked eight or nine before getting one to the boat, I caught a couple, and jumped off a few others. Then we went looking for sharks, but the lack of wind was making it tough. I did finally land a nice 90 pound lemon shark, after about 50 refusals from blacktips, lemons, and one 300 pound bull. Great trip as always, and miss Florida so much as always.

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