Day 5 – Exploring more ground

Moving day again. Only one night’s stay is allowed at any chickee. There are a number of through canoe and kayak travelers who all need a new campsite every night. The chickee platforms serve the purpose well. We were back at on the original campsite in no time and ready for the day. Our last full day would be spent closer to the campsite checking out likely looking snook ground. The encounters we had been experiencing so far had us singing Randy’s favorite tune, It’s Nothin’ but snook for me. We were thirsty for more and we actually had a game going that seems to be working.
So we studied the chart and began poking into likely looking haunts. We found our share of unproductive water but still managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat every now and then. Just enough, leading us to believe we’re on the right track but maybe at the wrong station.
It could not have been a more beautiful day, just like the others, with no other anglers to compete with. As a matter of fact the only other boats we saw actually fishing were guides with customers looking to fish were we already were. That made us feel like we were sniffing around in good water.
At one point around mid-day we heard an odd sound that kept getting louder. It turned out to be a mega flock of swallows that covered the sky as far as you could see. Many flew in a choreographed swallow dance you might see on a nature show. You just stop everything with your mouth flopped open in awe. Very cool stuff if I must say.
So we pressed on knowing at the end of this track is a station where we saw a very big redfish the other day laid-up on the edge of a channel at low tide and it wasn’t alone. The kind of fish you hope you might bump into again. The stars were lining back up for another go at that very area now not far from where we were.
Before that could happen we still had a bit of good water to try while the tide was still moving. There were the usual participates, ladyfish, jacks, and snapper. Then a couple of 4 foot sharks showed up to join in on the bounty and things got interesting real fast ending when Steve’s lure showing up with just the head of a ladyfish left. Like I said “Everyone is a bit lower on the totem pole than someone else.” You begin to understand why everyone is a little jumpy.
We eventually rounded the corner were we would conduct our last hunt of the day. Everything was perfect when I made a cast along an edge out ahead of the boat. Steve’s comment was “ There she is beside that branch, she just moved out.” Before the out was finished she exploded on my jerk bait right at the rod tip and missed. I now knew big snook often immediately return to their original point of ambush. Randy’s tip # 10. I’d been listening. A flick of the rod tip and the jerk bait landed back by the branch. The blow-up was bigger than before and this time the deal was sealed. Before I knew it she was jumping on one side of the boat while I was on the other. I don’t mean to let the cat out of the bag but chaos almost always enters into the equation when big aggressive fish show up. You can’t react fast enough. You only hope it goes well as you attempt to manage the situation the best way you know how. Things eventually went my way and a grip and grin moment ended my day. I turned her loose, gabbed the little brown bag to bring me back around then gladly offered Steve the bow.
It goes without saying how things went around the campsite on our final night. We weren’t the only one with fresh fish stories. Randy had zeroed in on a snook banquet. I’ll only say he’s been playing this game for some time and it had gone very well. You end up waking in the middle of the night with a big smile plastered across your face. You know it would be nice to get more sleep but you can’t stop thinking about what might be in store tomorrow.

Day 6

Randy is packed and ready for the trip out bright and early. He had family obligations that evening and an early departure would allow him enough time to check in on a couple old, super secret spots on the way out. One of course would be a spot where he had the biggest snook of his career almost in the boat. You don’t blow by a spot like that.
We on the other hand decided we had some time to spare so we’ll break camp then fish for a while before the twenty-five mile trip out. We visited some prime snook water but found none. The consolation prize was two nice redfish, which tend to hangout around snook water. Happy with the week we bailed before the tide fell below the no return point. The final chapter in this year’s learning curve was we almost beat the low tide in Chokoloskee Bay that met us upon our return. We only had to go at idle speed across shallow water for a mile instead of three.

We also put together a video of the trip. Click on the link below to have a look.