A Rare (for me) Flamingo Fishing Report

A Rare (for me) Flamingo Fishing Report

Ken Shannon and Bob Stearns were both on my mind a lot this week, as I fished out of Flamingo with my son Maxx (thus the Flamingo Fishing Report). It would have been nice to have either or both of those gentlemen with us. I’ve had many great trips down there with Ken, and learned more fishing there one day with Bob than I had in a dozen trips on my own. Great human beings, both of them.

And of course, a blessed Easter to all.

News of the Week
The year 2016 is shaping up to be the roughest yet for the Indian River Lagoon system. There was a total fish kill in the Banana River Lagoon this week. My understanding is that the biological collapse was nearly complete. Zero dissolved oxygen in the water asphyxiated everything there that needs to extract dissolved oxygen from that water to stay alive- all the fish and shellfish, all the other invertebrates, all the rooted plant life that had managed to survive to this point. Air breathers like dolphins and manatees won’t be faring too well either, as there is absolutely nothing left for them to eat there. Interested readers can get more information here: http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/local/environment/2016/03/23/what-we-know—-and-dont-know—-fish-kill/82163574/

A tragic bit of news.

Tammy had given me a glowing report of her Econ trip last Saturday. I went by kayak on Tuesday and managed two sunfish in almost five hours, an ill omen for my charter the next day.

On Wednesday Wisconsin fly fishers Vic Gulla and his son Daniel joined me for a St. Johns/Econlockhatchee trip. Fishing was embarrassingly slow. In an all day trip they got a few sunfish, two gar, and two small bass. These guys are good anglers, too.

Early Thursday morning I pointed the chariot towards south Florida with the Mitzi in tow, meeting Maxx in Florida City at about 930. At Flamingo we got our backcountry permit, although we could not do what we wanted, which was to set up a base camp on the Oyster Bay chickee for three nights. No, we had to break camp and move every morning, a big waste of time and fuel, but park rules is park rules.

Our first night was at south Joe River chickee. Fishing in that area we got a couple ladyfish, a couple snapper, a small trout, a trophy lizardfish that I wish I’d photographed (don’t have any lizardfish photos), a few puffers, and some big, ugly gafftopsail catfish. The catfish would be a recurring theme on this trip.

flamingo fishing report

Maxx casts as the sun sets at south Joe River.


flamingo fishing report

Be it ever so humble. And they just cleaned the port-o-potty, too.

In general the water down there looks terrible and Coot Bay, which in my experience had always been clear, looks how the Mosquito Lagoon currently looks. I’m glad our state government is doing everything it can to keep Florida’s water quality at its historically high levels. Anyway…

Day two was spent moving camp to campsite B. We fished along the way, nabbing several more handsome sailcats. While casting a shoreline along which I was poling, Maxx also got a nice 27 inch snook on a pot-gut jig Bob Sterns had given me.

flamingo fishing report

Maxx about to boat his snook.


flamingo fishing report

A happy young man with a handsome fish.

We dropped off our gear at the second campsite and went looking for tarpon, the main focus of our planning for this trip. We found some, big, happy, rolling fish. One soon nailed my black and purple streamer and tried to kick my ass. It took thirty minutes of straining and grunting but Maxx finally leadered and lipped it, after which we used the trolling motor to revive it enough until Maxx couldn’t hold it any more. Awesome!

Maxx jumped an even bigger one on a deep-running DOA Bait Buster but it only stayed on for a couple jumps before tossing the bait.

flamingo fishing report

Tarpon on fly, it does not get any better!


flamingo fishing report

Yes, it was a solid fish.

Night two was spent at the Shark River chickee. There Maxx and I experienced the heaviest no-see-um concentration that I personally have ever been fortunate enough to witness. I got utterly devoured while making supper. We jumped into the boat and rode around while eating our spaghetti and no-see-ums (I guess we got them back just a little bit there) just so we could relax, after a fashion of speaking, in bug-free comfort.

The bugs were waiting for us when we got back.

We got into the tent as fast as we could. So we would have something to do in there about 800 of the tiny bloodsuckers came in with us. It was about an hour until dark, and we killed diminutive, biting nuisances the entire time, actually ending up with a relatively bug-free sleep.

The bugs were waiting for us when we woke up. Several clouds of no-see-ums, each with thousands of individuals, hovered outside our tent. The diabolical midges knew we had to come out, I guess. There was no wind to disperse them, so they just bided their time.

We broke down camp in record time but in that time they bit the snot out of us. A fast boat ride blew them all away. All that was left were the welts.

We went back to where the tarpon were the previous day. Most of them were gone. We sat down to wait, a nice breeze keeping the bugs away. A school of fish came, obviously going someplace. We followed and fished them for about thirty minutes, without a bite, then gave up and returned to the “spot” and waited.

Another school came. Maxx jumped one on the Bait Buster. Two jumps and it was off. We followed and fished them fruitlessly for about 20 minutes, then returned to the “spot” and again waited.

Another school came. I got a bite on a Bait Buster, a big fish. One jump and it was off. We followed and fished them for about 20 minutes, then returned to the “spot” and again waited.

No more came. We eventually gave up, since we had to go to the Joe River chickee for our final night.
On the way we caught a few seatrout, keeping two 16 inch fish for supper. The catfish again made an appearance. No shortage of catfish down there, that’s for sure.

Joe River chickee has a double platform. Our neighbor this night was an 83 year old gentleman who was down there fishing by himself. Right on, baby! I can only pray that will be me in 20 years, and there will still be such a thing as wild fish to fish for.

flamingo fishing report

Joe River sunrise, Easter morning.

And that, dear reader, is this week’s Flamingo fishing report from Spotted Tail.

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short- Go Fishing!

John Kumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2016. All rights are reserved.

the everglades- an excerpt

the everglades

the everglades john kumiski

First Trip

My first trip to the everglades was a five-day canoe trip in March 1980. A friend from Massachusetts and I drove down for spring break. We dropped the boat into Coot Bay Pond and paddled to Cape Sable, then back to Flamingo. I think we saw four other boats during that time. It was a wild, unforgiving place- hot, no fresh water, bad bugs, hellish sun. There was no one around. If you had a problem you were on your own.

I loved it.

The birds were incredible. We caught a chunky fish with a big spot near its tail. We didn’t know what it was but we ate it. It was good.

the everglades john kumiski

the birds were incredible

We left the Joe River chickee at dawn one morning. We had to catch the last of the tide to the Gulf. We got to the mouth of Little Shark River just after sunrise, at almost dead low tide. Tarpon rolled everywhere. I’d never seen one before. Each fish we saw just added to the magic and excitement of the moment.

Three hit my Rebel. Of course, all jumped right off. It was a watershed moment for me in my fishing career, simply a spectacular, unexpected, amazing event.

In spite of all the fish we had to keep going. There were many miles left.

When we got to middle Cape Sable there was a small aluminum skiff beached there. The lone fisherman walked the beach, casting. Not much was said at first.

The moon must have been at the right phase because the current ran so hard off the point that a whirlpool had formed. You didn’t need to be Joe Brooks to know that fish were there. I cast a jig over and over but did not get a bite.

Read the rest at http://johnkumiski.com/the-everglades/

John Kumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2013. All rights are reserved.

Everglades, Naples Fishing Report

The Everglades, Naples Fishing Report from Spotted Tail 10/30/11

Upcoming Events- Last call! Show and Tell seminar on November 5 and 6. The 6th will be an on the water seminar. Details and the signup are now posted at this link- http://www.spottedtail.com/category/Schools-and-Seminars-13.

The Florida Fishing Road Trip- Installment 2

October 27
Dear Diary-
On the 25th we got up early and drove off of Sugarloaf Key at 6 am. Our destination- Flamingo, Everglades National Park.

We got there a little after 10 am, and launched the boat in the Buttonwood Canal. We ran to the entrance to Mud Lake, dropped the canoe in the water, and paddled through the creek into the lake. We were hoping to find snook.

Running through the Buttonwood Canal.

The water was high. It’s always dirty in there. So sight fishing was again going to be difficult.

We saw a redfish right away as it blew out when we ran it over. A while later Alex spotted a red, close to the canoe. Using a four weight TFO he smartly dropped a small chartreuse Clouser Minnow right in front of it and BAM, he’s on. Darn nice work by Alex.

Alex fights a redfish in Mud Lake. Look at the color of the water.

A short time later a crash along the shore indicated the presence of another fish. As it turned out there were two. They were swimming away, but Alex threw the Clouser in front of them and one immediately jumped on it for redfish number two.

Sight fishing in the high, stained water worked well enough for a couple of these.

We didn’t see anything else in Mud Lake.

We paddled through the creek into Bear Lake. Fish were crashing at the entrance. We got a couple ladyfish, again on the Clouser.

Paddling down the lake yielded no chances at snook or reds. Some baby tarpon were rolling. We changed to the baby tarpon gurglers. In spite of missing a bunch we got four between us, including a tarpon double, on fly. Nice! Yes, they were micro-tarpon, but they are still tarpon, my favorite fish. And we got them on surface flies. So we counted the trip as a success.

Your intrepid blogger got this micro-tarpon on a gurgler.

Alex also used a gurgler to get this slightly larger specimen.

On the way back through Mud Lake Alex was blind casting along the mangroves and that chartreuse Clouser got him a little snook. So he got two reds, two tarpon, and a snook on fly in one day, certainly some kind of Everglades slam.

The snook was small but it completed the slam, all on fly.

We camped in Flamingo that night. The mosquitoes were thick. But the stars were beautiful. We saw two satellites. Fireflies flashed intermittently. We were asleep by eight thirty. I slept like a log. Man, I miss camping.

On the 26th we fished some ponds behind Cape Sable. The water was really high and dirty. I spotted a redfish working some mangrove roots and Alex got it on that same Clouser. It was the only shot we would have.

We got back to Flamingo about four thirty, loaded the gear up, and headed to Fort Myers. The drive was fortunately uneventful.

Today we launched the boat at a public ramp near Wiggins Pass. Once on the Gulf we headed south. The hope was that diving birds would give away the location of feeding Spanish mackerel and little tunny.

The hope was not realized. Plenty of bait, plenty of birds, no fish.

Along the beach were loads of mullet, oddly enough swimming north. We hoped to find tarpon with them but what we found were blacktip sharks. Several bit the mullet we tossed at them, and Alex got one of 50 pounds or so to the boat. With the exception of a couple of ladyfish and a small jack it was all we would catch.

There were lots of sharks like this blacktip, right along the beach.

Blacktips are magnificent animals.

Reach in there and get that expensive hook out, will you?

I’d never been to this section of the Florida coast. It was quite nice and I would like to visit again.

October 28
Dear Diary-
Last night Rick took us to Café Brazil. They have Brahma and Antarctica now! I had Alex try both. Alex and I had muqueca. It was so delicious. Sometimes I miss Bahia, I’ll tell you.

The last day of our trip is here. Alex sleeps while I write this. Our intent is to head to Sarasota and see if the little tunny are along the beach there. It’s on the way home.

The weather forecast today is iffy at best. A tropical storm churns in the Gulf, headed this way. So if it’s pouring the deal is off. We can only go out there and see.

October 29
Dear Diary-
An anticlimax. We got to Sarasota and it was pouring water from the sky. I was all for going out anyway but Alex would hear none of that. So we drove home, cleaned up the car and boats, and put stuff away. The trip was over.

A day later it’s still raining. Alex made the right call.

Next week- back to the lagoons!

Embrace simplicity.

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short- go fishing!

John Kumiski

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2011. All rights are reserved.