Saturday, December 16, 2017
Outdoors

Take it Outside Planner: Wilderness Waterway, how to catch redfish

CHICKEE MAGNET: WILDERNESS WATERWAY

When the Seminoles wanted a place to hide, they'd head to the Everglades. The Wilderness Waterway, 99 twisted miles of country most Floridians would consider wasteland, runs from Everglades City to Flamingo on the state's southern tip. There are lots of alligators, mosquitoes, no-see-ums and hardly any people. Long before the Seminoles came to Florida, Calusas in dug-out canoes ruled this River of Grass. They thrived on mullet, deer and oysters. Remnants of their feasts can be seen today in shell mounds that now provide most of the high ground for hundreds of square miles. Today, the National Park Service maintains a series of campsites on these isolated patches of high ground. But if you are feeling adventurous, you can head deep into the Everglades and camp on a platform called a "chickee." Winter is the most popular time to go, so start planning now. One or two more cold fronts should knock the bugs down, but just in case, don't forget the repellent.

AROUND THE CAMPFIRE: SOME MORE S'MORES

Whether you're camping in a chickee or a less adventurous way, this classic campfire treat is easy to make. Start with a bag of marshmallows, a box of graham crackers and a package of chocolate bars. There are two ways to prepare this camp delicacy. Method 1: Toast the marshmallow until it is a delicate golden brown. Then gently place the marshmallow on a graham cracker, add chocolate and cover it with another graham cracker. Now squeeze the crackers together, wait until the marshmallow has cooled and then eat carefully. Method 2: Stick the marshmallow in the fire and wait until it's aflame. Now wave it around in the air like a torch, eat the chocolate bar. Forget the crackers.

HOOK THIS: BIG RED

Fish the grass flats this time of year and you can't help but hook a redfish. One of the state's most popular inshore gamefish, red drum are prized for their fighting prowess and value as table fair. Whether caught on artificial lures, live bait or fly rod, these tacklebusters are well worth the effort. One of the easiest ways to find redfish is to spot its tail as it roots in the grass beds and bottom for crustaceans. After identifying prey, a redfish will lower its head and raise its tail as it tries to capture the food on the bottom. Its tail often will break the surface in shallow water. The tails can be spotted from a great distance in still water. Most of the "reds" found inshore are juveniles. A long-lived species, some specimens have been aged at more than 40 years. These fish spend most of their early lives in inland bays and estuaries before moving offshore to spawn, usually in the fall when daylight hours decrease and water temperatures begin to cool. Redfish can reach lengths of 45 inches and weigh up to 80 pounds. Fish caught on the Atlantic Coast are usually larger than those caught on the Gulf Coast. If you are thinking about trying your luck, use a stouter rod than for trout, preferably a 7-foot medium/heavy action rod with a fast taper and a line weight of 8-17 pounds.

 
Comments

Captainís Corner: Look for that strong speckled trout bite on grass flats

The speckled trout bite has taken off nicely after the first good cold front last weekend. You will find a consistent bite along the grass flats from Apollo Beach down to Pinellas Point. The sweet spot seems to be 4-6 feet of water. If you can find s...
Published: 12/15/17

Captainís Corner: Drop in gulf water temperature means itís sea trout time

The gulf temperature has dropped significantly since our first real cold front last week. One day the water was in the mid 70s, then after the front, it fell to the low 60s. That caused speckled sea trout to become a reliable target. Redfish have bee...
Published: 12/14/17

Captainís Corner: Good time for shallow-water flats fishing

Shallow-water flats fishing can be very exciting this time of year. Trout and redfish are available in good numbers, and the opportunities to catch some gator trout have made recent trips very rewarding. Some of the largest trout have been in very sk...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/13/17

Captainís Corner: Seek clear water for bottom fishing as temperatures plummet

The great weather, calm seas and exceptional fishing we experienced at the end of November and beginning of December came to a screeching halt with the cold front that came through. Surface water temperatures plummeted from an unseasonable 71 degrees...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17

Captainís Corner: Sheepshead action lively in cooler weather

Conditions after the cold front are cool and are going to be for a while. That doesnít mean you canít or shouldnít fish. Many anglers get stuck on snook, reds and trout and forget how fun it is to catch sheepshead. Many reefs are already holding good...
Published: 12/09/17
Updated: 12/10/17

Captainís Corner: Fishing will return to normal, but when?

The severity of this cold front will determine the fishing forecast for the next several days. Bait that had been abundant inshore will scatter. Nearshore gulf waters will muddy, and water temperatures. at least temporarily. will plummet. How cold, h...
Published: 12/08/17
Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

I canít believe we are in the last month of the year. And while this is one of my favorite months to fish, it will be controlled by weather. As cold fronts become more frequent and harsh, planning your trips around them will make the biggest differen...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/09/17

Captainís Corner: Strong results for redfish, speckled trout

This is a great time for variety. Combined trips for speckled trout and redfish are achieving excellent results. With the correct approach, great catches of both species are a reality now. The best anglers use the lightest tackle. Light rods and reel...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Captainís Corner: Take advantage of abundant gag grouper before season ends

Gag grouper fishing and spearing is hot. The season for these grouper in the Gulf of Mexico is winding down, with a slated closure at the end of this month. The cooler water has the gags moving closer, and they are happy when the bottom temperatures ...
Published: 12/05/17

Captainís Corner: Bait schools near shore drawing kings, mackerel, bonito

Nearshore fishing is still going strong in north Pinellas. Bait schools are roaming just a couple of miles offshore, attracting kingfish, Spanish mackerel and bonito. The beaches are still holding sardines for cast netting at sunrise. I like to have ...
Published: 12/03/17
Updated: 12/05/17