Estero Bay Fishing Report 07.14.11

Submitted by BarHopp'R Kayak Guide Service

Submitted on 07/14/2011
I ran four trips this week. All were good, but one didn't produce much in the way of fish.
The week began with Mike Burkee, who is the guy who bought my Talon. He's an awesome guy, and there couldn't have been a better, more qualified or caring owner than Mike. I'm happy to say we've become friends, and he and his girlfriend Lindee treat me like family. It's wonderful.
Well, Lindee called me a couple of weeks earlier, and wanted to know if she could hire me to take Mike fishing on his birthday, which was the weekend of the 18th. I told her that I couldn't because I would still be on vacation. Lindee told me that not only Mike had a birthday, but she did on the 29th, Mike's brother Jeff in Sarasota also had a birthday that week, and I'm forgetting someone else in the family, I think. She was bummed that I couldn't do a trip with Mike in the Talon, so I told her than my birthday was June 28th, and suggested we do a birthday party for the bunch of us, and I take Mike fishing on the 25th. She was all for it, and the plans were laid. I would come out to their place in St. James City around 5 PM on Saturday, and surprise Mike, we'd go to dinner and party, and then fish on Sunday. Great!
Lindee treated us all to a fabulous dinner at Red's, north of the center on Pine Island. They do a heck of a business even in this economy, make fabulous margaritas, and have a great menu of wonderful seafood treats. And, the portions are very large. It was a great night out, and in. We had a great evening, and finally retired around 11:00 PM, I think. O light 30 would come early.
We were up and gone the next morning at the crack of dawn. I opted to go to Chino Island flats for bait. There was bait of every description there, but the bigger shiners were not real plentiful. We finally had a well full of shiners, threadfins, ballyhoo, and ladyfish.
We headed to an area that I wanted to show Mike. It was a dark and overcast day, and the water was also dark and full of seaweed. It was all but impossible to see what we were doing, and find our spots. And, it also turned out to be impossible to get a bite! We finally caught a redfish using a small shiner under a popping cork. I thought maybe we'd finally figured out what they wanted, but it was the last fish we saw. We went to both sides of the Sound looking for better visibility, but never caught another fish. They were just shut down big time. I'm sure it was partly due to it being a Sunday, and we had a mid-morning tide, but there was something else going on.
Finaly, the best part of the falling tide was done, and so were we. It made little sense to keep banging our heads against the wall. We headed in. It was still a fun day. It was great to be in the Talon and with Mike again, and I was amazed at how much better she ran with the jackplate all the way down. It had stuck years ago on the 3 inch mark, and always ran and performed fine, but with the jack down she runs about 6 mph faster. We released our one redfish at Mike's dock.
I was back on the water on Tuesday with Ed Brill, and his lovely wife Marianne. By now, it was obvious that the whole week was going to be one of rain and storms at virtually any time, and I decided to fish with Ed and Marianne in Estero Bay out of Lovers Key. There is good fishing much closer than at most of the other areas I fish, with several good spots within the first half mile. We would be much safer there if the weather suddenly bubbled up and became dangerous. The Brills had come down from Palm Island the night before, and would do some exploring after our trip.
We met at 6:30, and we on our way by 7:00. We were at our first stop in no time, and as it turned out Ed and Marianne would spend most of the morning catching fish right there. We were on redfish right away. Ed also had a nice trout to the boat, where it got away. I hadn't realized that Marianne was new to fishing, although I thought she might be new to open face spinning reels. But, with a little instruction she did just fine. She did miss a lot of hits, but got her first redfish and ladyfish. Once I could see that the Brills were on a good bite, I told them I was going to go to another spot nearby and try to find the school of reds that always seems to be there, so that I'd have more fish for them to catch when their bite quit.
I had countless hits, especially on the spoons, and they won the day. You can always tell when a redfish has hit your spoon, because he will always mangle the weedguard on it. Usually, it will be mashed flat against the spoon, or way out to the side. Once in a while a red will manage to somehow get his nose under the weedguard and bend it so far out away from the spoon that it will break off when you try to bend it back.
Although bites were plentyful, it took a while to catch the first fish. Once I caught the second red I called Ed and Marianne to let them know I had found the school, but they were still moving around the spot they were fishing, and catching. I called them again on the third redfish, and Ed said that if I got one more they were coming, because their bite was slowing down. I called again on the fourth fish, and they said they would be on their way. I caught one more just as they arrived and got situated. Marianne had one or two reds on early, but didn't get the hook set well enough.
We may have caught some more reds if we had been able to stay, but the tide was done, More importantly, the weather was bubbling up quickly and my lightning detector was indicating lightning within 6 miles. It was time to get back to the safety of the ramp. We had to get the boats hopefully put back on the trailer before the storm came in. Happily, we did manage to do that.
We were fishing on my sixty-sixth birthday, and the Brills invited me to lunch for my birthday. I would loved to have joined them, but I was a mess, and really wanted to get the boats home, cleaned up and put away, along with everything else that had been used, and that's a couple of hours of work in the heat. I sent them out to Pine Island to explore, and to enjoy lunch at the Waterfront Restaurant. My favorite place. Ed and Marianne were great folks, and to lunch with them at the Waterfront would have been a great way to end a good day.
Thursday, I was back at Estero Bay with Andrew Clifton, who lives in Estero, and owns a kayak. But, by Andrew's description, he has a hard time catching anything. So, Andrew wanted to do an instructional trip. Again, we decided on the Lovers Key side of Estero Bay because of it's proximity to good fishing and safety from the still unpredictable weather. We met at 6:30, and were immediately greeted with a new crop of mosquitoes with big appetites. They even followed us out onto the water.
This trip would be the first half of the instruction. To do a proper instructional trip there must be some classroom work. We're going to that portion of the trip this coming Wednesday at a restaurant with wi-fi, so that I can show him how to use Google Earth as a great fishiing tool, and show him the nuances of reading the tides, so that he will know what days to fish and what days not to. The tides are the single most important element of inshore shallow water fishing.
It was overcast and cool, and the air was heavy with the moisture that would later create our weather. With the tides about 40 minutes later each day, the water was now lower than it had been earlier in the week. We made a longer run to a spot that was in deeper water looking for our first fish. I gave Andrew a quick casting clinic, because in the shallows every cast should be your best cast; long and accurated. There is a fact that I have found to be universally true in the shallows: He who casts farthest will catch the most fish. I also taught Andrew about fishing around mangroves and oyster bars; bait placement, what to look for, etc. We got plenty of bumps, but no takes. The fish were there, but just not ready to eat.
I moved to another spot nearby, and suggested Andrew stay and work that whole area, and I would call him if I found a bite. Although I did get more hits and bagged one redfish, I didn't find that bite I was looking for. But, the water was getting about right to fish the spots that had been very good to us Tuesday, and so many times in the past. I called Andrew to come join me, and once he did, I sent him to the spot nearest the ramp which had been so good Tuesday. I went to the other spot.
We were both on fish. Again, we had lots of bites that didn't connect, and I outright lost two outsized redfish before I could get them to the boat. But, we were catching. If we had put every fish in the boat that had bit us, we'd have easily topped the 30 redfish mark. As it was we boated around 15 /16 fish between us.
It was 11:30, and the weather was building quickly, and it was time to head in. It had been a good morning of fishing even though neither I nor Andrew were really on our game. Andrew said he'd had a blast and learned a lot, but we've still got the second half of the course next week.
Friday morning I was again back at Estero Bay with my long-time friend and customer John Wojdak. John sold his Coastal Bay last year, I believe. He's been very interested in my kayaks and fishing from them. John married well! His wife Vicky is pretty as a picture, as sweet as she can be, and sends her guy fishing every once in a while. Well, she picked up on John's interest in the kayaks, and got in touch with me about taking John on a fishing trip in celebration of Father's Day and their 11th anniversary. How cool is that?
So there we were at 6:30. The morning looked like every morning that week, overcast and muggy with a promis of thunderstorms anytime after around 11 AM. But the skeeters were gone. I guess they sprayed overnight. John and I were quickly in the water and on our way to the first hole, and full of anticipation about a good day of fishing.
And, it sure started off with a bang. We'd made no more than a cast or two when John and I both hooked up on redfish. John was tossing a Yozuri Walk-the-dog lure, and I a spoon. Visions of a hot bite mushroomed in my mind, and although we had a descent bite, it wasn't a hot one. As the tide moved, that bite came to a stop. We moved on, ready to fish the areas that had been so good all week.
We managed to catch fish everywhere we went, but at around ten o'clock a strange thing happened. As if by divine intervention, the clouds rolled back and disappeared and this bright orange orb appeared, and it gave forth heat. And, lots of it. I guess it was the first time we'd seen the sun in a week. It seemed to have gotten the fish's attention, as the bite slammed to a screaching halt right there and then. We managed to get a few more bumps along the way, but the catching was flatly over. And, it was brutally hot. I couldn't possibly have gotten any wetter if I'd bailed out of my kayak. It was projectile sweats for me!
John and I stuck with it until the tide was done, though. We finished the day with 10 or 11 redfish, 2 lost snook, and lots of misses. It was the slowest day of the week there in Estero Bay, but still a fun day with a great guy, and as John put it, a productive day.
And, that was the week. Summer is definitely here!
Capt. Butch Rickey/BarHopp'R Kayak Charters
Phone#: - 239-633-5851
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