Estero Bay Fishing Report 11.15.11

Submitted by BarHopp'R Kayak Guide Service

Submitted on 11/15/2011

I spent three days on the water this week with friends who go way back in my guiding history. They were for the most part great days with lots of fish.

The week began last Saturday, with my old friends Ron and Pat (Texas Waders) Hunter, from Palmetto. They came in Saturday afternoon, and spent Saturday and Sunday nights with me, and we fished on Monday. We had a great time visiting and partying, and rehashing old times. We decided to fish out of Castaways at Blind Pass, and were there at the ramp shortly before 8 AM. This was Ron and Pat's first time in a kayak. We were blessed with a beautiful day, but once we were on the fishing grounds it was immediately obvious we were going to have a real problem fishing artificials because the water was once again full of floating seaweed. Before the last big front which was now controlling our weather with a big high pressure, we'd had some red tide located up off of Sarasota and Venice, and at Boca Grande Pass. Although the front probably disbursed the bloom, all of the north wind had pushed it south, and I was hacking that dry hack that the bloom will cause. We had a great low tide perfect for fishing the potholes for big winter trout. Ron loves those trout, as do I, and I was eager to see if they would be staged in the holes yet. But, once we were out on the flats looking for the holes, things got tough. First, the front had rolled a lot of seagrass (like tumbleweed) into the holes causing some of them to just disappear. We were also overcast, and the water was stained from all the rain we'd had. Lastly, there was seaweed floating everywhere to the point that it was nearly impossible to get a presentation with your lure before it was covered with weeds. These fish are too fond of salads. We fished hard, and after being held back by days of north wind, the tide really came in with a vengeance once it got moving. The flow was also not normal, which I never figured out, but it came in hard, anyway. We got some fish. Ron struck first with a trout that was just short of the slot. I caught a redfish, and had lots of other hits that didn't connect. Pat caught a nice, fat flounder. But, the conditions at least where we were, were not good. But, it was a beautiful day to be out. Once the tide began to cover things up, I told Ron and Pat I was going to go scouting and see if I could find some willing redfish. I moved to a flat a couple hundred yards away from them. The area was covered with jumping mullet, and I knew the reds were present, but it was mostly cast, reel in seaweed, clean the lure, and try again. I finally tagged a keeper redfish, and called Ron and Pat to come to me. Pat anchored on my left, and Ron on the right. Almost immediately, Pat had a nice redfish on, but lost it after fighting it for a while. A cast or two later she had another one on, and it managed to get away, as well. They really had her rod bowed up, and appeared to be nice fish. We did get the SLAM, and took enough fish home for the Tws to eat, but the catching wasn't anywhere near what it could have been because of the seaweed problem. It was what it was, and we couldn't do anything about it. All is all, it had been a great visit with some close, long-time friends. I think Ron and I started fishing together back in 98 or so.

I had expected Russ Hubbard and his son David to be in late afternoon or early evening, but they were delayed and didn't arrive at the Fishcamp until around ten o'clock. We discussed the days fishing with the Hunters, and I suggested we go to Estero Bay to see if the conditions would be any better. We talked and had cocktails and turned in around midnight. We were up around 6:30 AM, and on the way to Lovers Key by 7:30, or so. It was quite breezy already. By the time we got to the ramp it was downright windy. The forecast had been for east 15. There was no water to be found in Estero Bay at the bottom of that tide. So, we decided to pass some time while waiting on the tide by trolling jigs along the deeper drops. We should find some trout. We did find a few trout and some ladyfish, and the wind continued to build. Finally, the water coming in hard, we were ready to move up into the flats and chase redfish and snook. By the time we got there it was howling. The fast currents one encounters in the narrow Estero Bay were running against the wind, and really picking the water up and making a nasty chop. I was glad Russ and David were already veterans of previous kayak trips with me. I was also glad I'd mounted the twin Whale bilge pumps in each boat long ago, and they stayed busy on this day. I told Russ and David that this spot had rarely let me down with redfish, and also gave up some snook. And, anytime a guide says something like that he does so at the peril of eating those words. But, almost from the first cast we were on fish. I believe David caught the first couple of redfish before we knew what was happening. And, we all caught. We had a good bite going, and most all were caught on spoons. Knowing we were on a bite, I decided to move to a nearby spot perhaps an eighth mile away to see if I could find more fish for when the bite stopped there. Before I really had a chance to get situated, David and Russ were on the radio telling me David had a big snook that had taken him into the mangroves, but he still had it on. I figured the big snook would win that battle, but David is no beginner, and he went in after it, and ultimately landed the snook. All 10.5 pounds and 32 inches of her. I headed back to them so I could take pictures and a little video of David with the fish. I was wishing I hadn't left. I would love to have gotten that battle on my GoPro. After some more fish things began winding down, and we all made a move to another spot. By this time we were nearing the top of the tide, and things were slowing down, but we did manage a few more fish. Russ got a snook, and David got another redfish, I believe. As the tide came to a stop we moved on to one more spot not expecting much, and soon headed on in. The boys had had a stellar day of kayak fishing with artificials. We'd had a great day with multiple SLAMS, but the wind and waves had worn us out. Dinner and margaritas at Pinchers Crab Shack was sounding very good. Over our great dinner we recapped the day's fun, and decided it was hard to argue with success and to go back to Estero Bay the next morning to see if we could repeat.

We started a little later because of the later tide. It was a totally different day, as the wind was gone. I wondered if that would change the fishing. We began with trout fishing, but instead of trolling our jigs we anchored up on a underwater point that jutted out into the ICW, and there caught trout after trout. I don't remember if we caught any keepers, but we had good action while we were waiting on the tide. Once the water was moving well and beginning to cover things up, we made our move to the previous day's hot spot, and sure enough, it was hot again. I knew the boys knew what to do and how to do it, and left them catching to go and explore another area while the water was still low enough to get the lay of the land. I explored and took some pictures and managed to catch a couple of snook on a silver spoon, but never found any hungry redfish. I headed back across the bay to rejoin the boys, and when I got there I was greeted with tall tales of David loosing another monster snook when yet another hook separated from a silver “The Secret” spoon, and of Russ's 33 inch snook that didn't get away. They got pictures. Once the bite slowed there we moved on, and did get on another late redfish bite not far from the ramp. It had been another very productive day for the boys, and it had been a lot calmer without the big wind. All in all it had been a great three days with some of my oldest and dearest friends that I've made in my years as a guide. It's hard to top that.

BarHopp'R Kayak Fishing With Capt. Butch Rickey


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