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Welcome to Chokoloskee Charters
Fish Everglades National Park & 10,000 Islands
Light Tackle and Fly Fishing in the Pristine Waters of the Everglades Backcountry
Over one million acres of sheltered waters, excellent year round weather, fine accommodations, a richly diverse fishery ...

Yak, Yak, Yak in the Backcountry

(Woods-n-Waters -- Feb 2004)

February in the Everglades National Park can be absolutely awesome. This time of the year that it seems something is always pulling on your line, but you never know what it may be. February means the “Winter Mix”.

The grass flats are alive with loads of trout, ladyfish, bluefish, jack crevalle, baby groupers and Spanish mackerel.  Every oyster bar holds redfish, snapper, sheep head and the occasional black drum.  The islands are garnished with all these species plus resident juvenile goliath grouper and snook.

The traditional popping cork and shrimp is a sure way to full day of action on the grass flats.  With a piece of shrimp, fished on the bottom near the oyster bars and islands you can count on fish.  But, a light colored buck tail jig worked slowly on the bottom is hard to beat. 

The fish are plentiful in February, so deciding where to fish is perhaps the hardest part of the trip.  But it is February and it can be cold and it can be windy; neither of which am I particularly fond of. So for me, February is the time for the backcountry. 

With a pocket full of jigs, jerk baits and small plugs, or better yet, clousers minnow flies for the long wanders, you can count on some great snook action.  February is the time when 15 snook can be a disappointing day and days when over 50 are jumped are common.

But, perhaps the best way to do the backcountry, anytime of the year, is with a properly outfitted, fishing kayak.  They are extremely stable, easy to paddle and deadly silent. There is no stealthier way to fish the shallows for snook than in a yak.  It is one of the fastest growing segments of the sports fishing industry.  Few know about it and fewer have done it.  The fishermen who have experienced it know what an extremely effective fishing platform that the outfitted kayak really is.

There is great fishing within an easy paddle of all the launch sites in Chokoloskee with more islands, passes, oyster bars and bays that you can fish in several days’ time.  The Park is an extremely vast fishery of sheltered waters and natural beauty.  The Wilderness Waterway alone covers 99 miles of some very productive waters between Chokoloskee and Flamingo.  Seeing and access this fishery by a fishing kayak is something very special.

However, the multi-day paddle needed to get to these prime areas is more of a commitment than most have the time for.  For most, we use a mother ship to transport the boats and gear to these productive fishing grounds.  The paddling is basically limited that required to get to and from the mother ship and the “fishing hole” … less than a few hundred yards in most cases.  

Chokoloskee Charters maintains a fleet of State-of-the-Art, Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 kayaks completely rigged and ready for the fisherman.  On your next trip to our fishing paradise, I would encourage you to try one of our outfitted fishing yaks.  Whether you rent one on your own, take a guided fishing trip or catch a ride on the mother ship, the experience could very well change your fishing lifestyle.

The Mother Ship schedule is posted on the website.  Seating is limited to six on the schedule trips, but anytime that you have group of three or more anglers, we can fire her up!

On a recent mother ship trip we fished the Lostman’s River area.  A few anglers had to cancel at the last minute, so there were only three of us.  We loaded up in Chokoloskee about 8:30 and headed south about 25 miles. 

We put out twice, once to fish the rising tide and once to fish the falling.  The first drop, we fished a small bight on the outside, sheltered from the light easterly breeze.   We were pretty early in the tide so the water was quite shallow.  My intentions were to be in place when the bait and the redfish moved in. The “cup” of the bight was a bit slow, John Ehrlund, Premier Cabinets in Ft. Lauderdale, hooked a couple of  reds and other a few ladyfish.

I had positioned the boat at the end of our paddle (about 3/8’s of a mile away from the put out) and paddled back towards the point of the bight to meet the guys.  As I came around the opposite side of the point, the glass minnows were already beginning to spill around the corner.  Lady fish and jack crevalle were in them pretty good, so the point should be very good. 

Tom Windram, out of Orlando, was the first to hookup.  He boated and released a nice 24” redfish.  Minutes later, I did the same with a twin of the first fish.  Tom was fishing a buck tail jig, something he apparently, does not use very often.  Those who fish with me know exactly what I was throwing.  John got a slow start, until he switched baits… very soon he was in the mix also.  John and Tom pulled out eight reds, along with a stray sheep head … surprisingly, no snook.  We were fishing the glass minnows, so we had to fish thru the countless lady fish and jacks. 

Tom was not in a yak this trip. He brought along his Hobie Float Cat.  Rigged with a trolling, motor, anchor, rod holders, tackle basket and the kitchen sink, he was really set up for fishing. Tom travels seven states in his work and this little beauty calls the top of his SUV “home”. 

As things slowed, we loaded back into the “Captain Morgan” (a.k.a. the Blue Bird Daze), ate some lunch and eased down to Lostman’s River.  We pulled into a little bay just as the tide was beginning to fall.  We were after snook this drop.    Tom power “paddled” to fish a nearby trough and shoreline.  John went straight for a pair of islands surrounded by oysters.  After positioning the boat, I paddled up to a little creek mouth. John was first to score with another redfish and a sheep head. My first cast into the mouth of the creek produced a small snook.  The next 20 casts, however, produced about the same number of ladyfish and jacks.  Tom had it tough with but a few fish. 

I called the guys back and sent them down a small pass that I had pointed out as we moved into the area.  I had put us out upstream, upwind of this area.  This little pass is a haven for piles of snook … most of them slot sized.  We had timed the tide perfectly as the guys entered the pass.

The hot area in this pass is just out of sight for me.  Jjust before the guys moved out of sight, I saw John hookup.  They were in them! I had visions of grandeur and big smiles, so I loaded back in the boat to reposition on the downstream side for their pickup.

As they emerged, there were big smiles, but no snook!! John caught redfish, sheep head and trout.  Tom said he released six different species in less then 200 yards.  All-in-all, a good trip, but the big snook would have to wait for another day. 

Call us to Plan Your Next Adventure!

For more information or to book a charter with Capt. Charles Wright:

CHOKOLOSKEE CHARTERS
"Not Just Another Boat Ride"
P.O. Box 824 Chokoloskee Island, Florida 34138
Phone: 239-695-9107     FAX: 239-695-9108
Email: Captain Charles Wright
Click here to book your charter