The waters of Everglades National Park (ENP) are an untamed wilderness wonderland for both the sport fishing enthusiast and the nature loving outdoorsman.
Nowhere else in the world can you reel in trophy catches of redfish, tarpon, bonefish, permit, snook, trout, grouper, sharks and more; while at the same time admiring a truly diverse wildlife ecosystem consisting of porpoises, alligators, salt water crocodiles, manatees, sea turtles, bald eagles and roseate spoonbills.
The best way to experience ENP is with a professional backcountry guide who knows the area and is an expert at targeting the multitude of different species you will encounter during your trip.
One such guide that I highly recommend is Captain Pablo Rodriguez of Slamtime Charters in Marathon. Over the past few weeks Pablo has been making the run over to the ENP waters nearly every day, and reports that the fishing (and the sightseeing) has been nothing short of incredible.
For targeting snook, Pablo says to cruise the shoreline and fish the deeper water pockets and creek mouths where there is a good amount of water flow. Pablo’s favorite method for targeting snook is a D.O.A. Terror Eyz fished on light tackle with a 30-pound fluorocarbon leader.
Pablo says that the snook fishing has been “awesome,” with handfuls of snook being caught on almost every trip (with a few in the slot), and that now is the ideal time to pursue these strong and spirited game fish.
In addition, Pablo also reports having caught good numbers of speckled trout (using D.O.A. shrimp on a popping cork); goliath grouper up to 100-pounds; keeper gag grouper; tarpon up to 40-pounds, slot redfish, big mangrove snappers, and blacktip, lemon and bonnethead sharks on the flats.
What an amazing fishery!
One memorable event that took place last week occurred while Pablo was fishing with his clients Dan and Kathy Langdon. Dan was jigging a D.O.A. Terror Eyz in a deep pocket of water when he thought he had snagged the bottom. Slowly, Dan began to reel up what they suspected was a log—until that is, the log began to move.
Sure enough, after a few minutes a five-foot alligator appeared on the surface and the group was able to cut the line and snap a few photos before it was released unharmed. It just goes to show that you never know what you’re going to catch or see while fishing in the Everglades.
To book a trip with Captain Pablo Rodriguez, visit his website at www.slamtimecharters.com, or call 786-319-7244.
Out in the Atlantic the strong winds we experienced last week made it difficult to head offshore. On most trips aboard the Best Bet we stayed inside the reef and took advantage of an excellent yellowtail and mangrove snapper bite.
For targeting yellowtails we have had success fishing between 80 to 100-feet of water, catching everything from throwbacks to fish over 22-inches. Remember to always keep your bait moving on the flat line and to keep a constant and steady flow of chum. And be patient if you’re not catching the big fish at first. On some drifts you may only catch small fish, but on the very next drift you may end up hooking into a big flag.
While anchored up and yellowtailing it’s also wise to drop a live bait down to the bottom where we’ve been catching large mangrove snapper up to six-pounds. My favorite setup for targeting these mangroves is to fish a live pilchard on a 3/0 hook with 30-pound fluorocarbon leader.
On nearly every trip to the reef I have been seeing free-jumping sailfish so hopefully when the wind dies down I’ll be able to get out and run a few down. The ballyhoo are still thick, so look for the next cold front to really turn the sailfish bite on.
Your Best Bet for the Week Ahead: Head to the Backcountry
Book a trip with Captain Pablo Rodriguez or one of the many excellent Florida Keys backcountry guides and enjoy a memorable day of fishing and sightseeing in the majestic waters of Everglades National Park.
Pablo Dan: Dan Langdon (left) and Captain Pablo Rodriguez with a nice Everglades snook.
Snapper: Fish a live pilchard on the reef bottom for large mangrove snappers.