Day 2

We were introduced to our neighbors over happy hour last evening. They were the best of friends and have been camping and fishing in Everglades National Park for 35 years. They started camping in the Everglades long before it was ever considered as a park and when there were still cabins scattered around the backcountry. What a wealth of knowledge and the stories kept us entertained all evening. We were so fortunate to meet these guys, ages 71 & 73, who helped us tremendously. They were hardcore snook fishermen who had seen it all and their knowledge of the area was invaluable.
We planned our day with advice from our neighbors, packed a lunch and headed south along the trail. We had no problem finding fish anywhere we found current. It’s a simple equation. The tide comes in, then the tide goes out. Fish gather along eddy lines down current of any point and around thoroughfares between bays. Sink-tip lines and baitfish imitations swung crosscurrent found lots of feeding fish. We routinely caught sea trout up to 20”, jacks, ladyfish, and mangrove snapper.
One behavioral pattern that came to light in our travels regarded the alligators, and there were plenty who loved to sun themselves on shallow points of land facing the sun. Imagine traveling tight to the shoreline, rounding a bend, and seeing an explosion of water because you spooked a 10’, 400 lb gator. It makes your heart skip a bunch of beats. Backcountry gators are typically very shy, usually slipping into the water and disappear well before you get very close. When you accidently spook one and it blows out in shallow water you begin altering your flight path to give sunny points a nice wide birth so no one gets spooked especially us.
During the high sun of mid-day we found a quiet, out of the way bay with hardly a foot of water depth. It didn’t take long before we caught a small snook right where he was supposed to be and found redfish stocking the shoreline looking for a meal. We spooked a few at first, then slowed down our pace and had a number of shots at others. Sight fishing is a tough game with very spooky fish as the prize. If you make a perfect cast, two to three feet in front of a moving fish, they either spook or attack. We missed one by setting the hook too soon, hooked another and lost it, then hooked and landed a nice redfish. This stuff makes your day. The odds of pulling it off are stacked heavily against you. It boils down to good teamwork. Very rewarding.
We returned to our campsite after a great day in the Everglades with enough spotted sea trout for a fry and a double batch of ceviche to share with our neighbors. Bill and Joe, once again, kept us entertained with lots of Everglades tales. We asked them how come there were no raccoons? “We were warned by the park rangers they could be a real issue.” Their comment was “ We haven’t seen a rodent around here in 15 years. The BIG snakes ate them all. There used to be lots of mice and hogs too.”
“What about the BIG snakes?”
“It’s winter, you never see snakes during the winter it’s too cold. We don’t come here in the heat of summer when they are out and about. The bugs then are way worse than any big snake.”
We made sure our tent zipper was buttoned very tight when we called it a day.