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Thread: Both coasts of Florida

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Default Both coasts of Florida

    I spent the past week in Florida fishing with two different kayak guides - one on each coast. Mark, John Rentch, and I fished on the east coast (in Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon) on Tues and Wed with Dee Kaminski of Reel Kayak Fishing. The bite was slow there both days. Due to the failure of a National Park Service employee to open a key access gate, we could not fish at our planned location on Tues. The alternate location was not highly productive. Strong winds on Wed clouded the shallow flats where we were and turned off the fish. We were scheduled to fish again on Thurs, but the winds were even stronger that day. The guide cancelled that trip. I managed to catch one nice 20" speckled trout and a tiny redfish on Tues.

    P1030377.jpg 2003-08-01 01-48-06.jpg


    Mark and John can add their own commentary and photos. The next day they headed home, but I drove across the state to Tampa to fish with my usual kayak guide -- Neil Taylor of Strike Three Kayak Fishing. Although the winds were howling on Fri, Neil knew a spot where we could anchor and drop live shrimp onto a rock pile. Despite rough conditions, I managed to catch 7 strong sheepshead. At 16" and several pounds weight, these were the largest sheepshead I had ever caught.

    IMAG0409.jpg

    Neil does not normally use live bait for his clients, but he felt that shrimp would offer better opportunities given the high winds and cold water. We fished shrimp again on Sat on a rock pile in a different location. This spot also produced sheepshead, but added five other species too (porgy, lizardfish, gag grouper, pufferfish, and squirrel fish ).

    For our final day, we fished a series of docks using shrimp. The shrimp were rigged on small circle hooks with a split shot a few inches up the line. I anchored up and dropped the shrimp to the bottom in 7-12 ft depth and held it still on a tight line. As soon as I felt any change in pressure, I set the hook. These fish are quite good at bait stealing. I missed quite a few, but by the third day I caught plenty too. We finished up before a large storm moved into the area. I caught nearly 30 sheepshead, 5 gag groupers, and 3 pufferfish on Sun morning. I had a great time catching some fish I do not normally get in that area.

    IMAG0413.jpg IMAG0414.jpg 20180128_155221_resized.jpg 2003-08-01 00-00-03.jpg 2003-08-01 02-03-53.jpg
    John Veil
    Annapolis
    Native Watercraft Manta Ray 11 and Slayer Propel 10
    Member - Pro Staff team for Native Watercraft

    Author - "Fishing in the Comfort Zone" - light tackle fishing techniques for kayaks and small boats

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
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    Baltimore-Annapolis
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    John,

    Glad to hear the luck improved! What size tackle rod/reel/line were you targeting the sheepshead?
    First Lady: Hobie Ivory Dune ProAngler 14 Lowrance Elite 7 ti TotalScan

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    We used the same gear we use for casting on the flats. 7' medium power, fast action St Croix Inshore Avid rods, Daiwa Ballistic reels in 2500 size, braid (I think it is 15-lb Tufline), and a leader (I do not know the strength of the leader). The hook was an offset circle hook roughly the size of a dime. That setup was easily enough for fish of that size.
    John Veil
    Annapolis
    Native Watercraft Manta Ray 11 and Slayer Propel 10
    Member - Pro Staff team for Native Watercraft

    Author - "Fishing in the Comfort Zone" - light tackle fishing techniques for kayaks and small boats

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    OC Area
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    Congrats on the sheep! They sure are quite adept at nibbling bait right of the hook. And you never can tell how big they are they hit so lightly sometimes until you set the hook and it doubles your rod over.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Burke, VA
    Posts
    302

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    Congratulations John! Any trip you get to catch a new specie(s) is always a successful one.
    -manny

    Hobie Outback
    Wilderness Systems 130T

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Pasadena, MD
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    Default

    As John Veil said, John Rentch and I joined him on the east coast portion of the trip. It was frustrating to say the least...from dealing with the government shutdown to the weather, it was indeed my least enjoyable trip to FL. I never sensed we were on the water with catchable fish. I'm sure you've all had that feeling at one time or another. It has happened to me locally in the Chesapeake. It's less tolerable when you travel 1,000 miles to fish! Not that I'm crying the blues. After this miserable Maryland January, it was good to merely be paddling somewhere. But certainly, the Space Coast of FL did not meet any of our expectations.

    The three of us fished the first two days in the Indian River Lagoon. Wind was a factor each day but something unseen and unfelt played a larger role. Something put the fish down. The barometer perhaps, or FL's recent cold snaps. Even though it was near 70 degrees each day we fished, I suspect the fish were subdued by lingering the effects of the cold or changing air pressure. Whatever it was something was wrong when three experienced kayak anglers caught only six fish between them in a combined 33 hours on the water.

    I actually hooked up first. I got a small speckled trout to hit a Heddon Spook Jr. in bone color. Our guide, Dee Kaminski who tried very hard to find fish for us wanted to take a photo. But I told her it wasn't worth the pixels. I wanted a bigger fish. I caught another speck slightly larger on the Spook shortly thereafter but still not worth a photo. Then as we were leaving the water on day one (after 5 hours of fishing mind you) I hooked my third speck on the Spook. This one was 14 inches. Still no photo. I expected more fish on day two. That was not to be.

    Here are few photos from day one follow below.

    This was our launch site. You can see we used Native Ultimate 14.5 kayaks:

    P1030368.jpg

    Dee spent a lot of time standing and looking for fish. She never found a school on either day -- just single fish here and there.

    P1030373.jpg

    Here are Dee and the two Johns paddling to the next (unsuccessful) spot.

    P1030374.jpg

    But eventually, John Veil caught a pixel-worthy fish.

    P1030376.jpg

    If you notice the shoreline in the above photo, you'll see lots of dead vegetation. Dee told us that was the residue of last season's hurricane that traveled up the center of the state.

    On day two we entered the Canaveral National Seashore which was forbidden to us on day one by the federal shutdown. He were are at the launch:

    P1030392.jpg

    It was actually our second launch-site of the morning. We had started elsewhere on the Indian River but departed when we got absolutely no bites. Little did we know that that same condition was in store for us at the second site.

    We fished it hard, seeking shelter from the building wind behind various islands. Again, I threw the Heddon topwater Spook all day and got nary a swirl. The two Johns threw soft plastics. Out hope was that either top water or subsurface would work. Neither did. Like my compatriots, I put cast after cast into prime spots under the mangrove branches and worked the lure out. Or I turned around and cast to deeper water. Nothing was interested in our lures.

    Here are few shots of the areas we fished:

    P1030417.jpg P1030422.jpg

    Notice above the pelicans in the trees behind John Veil. In the second shot Dee was zeroed on a redfish she and John Rentch had spotted. It could not be enticed to bite.

    But the best was yet to come. While we stayed on the lee side of the islands the wind was building. Our trip back to the launch was a hard paddle.

    Here are John Rentch and Dee digging into the heavy water on the ride home:

    I.jpg P1030430.jpg

    I had mentioned in another thread this week the seaworthiness of the Ultimate 14.5. We put it to the test that day. We paddled 7 miles and much of it was in strong wind and whitecaps. As I mentioned in that other post that the Ultimate has no scuppers but it's a stable boat that traverses the waves very well. It will take on some water but it still tracks true. I've actually been in worse conditions with an Ultimate on the other side of FL. But the Indian River gave the boats and us a very good workout. I was drenched from waves when we got back to the launch.

    So ended our trip, a day earlier than planned because the winds built to even higher levels on the following day.

    Those are the chances you take when you travel to distant site to fish. I'm still glad we went. It was better than staying off the water here. But it was a disappointing trip based on previous successes I have had in the Sunshine State.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Mark

    Slate Hobie Revolution 13
    Hidden Oak Native Ultimate 12
    Red Native Ultimate 14.5

    Author: The Simple Joys of Kayak Fishing (Tips and Tales From an Old Guy in His Plastic Boat)
    Available on Amazon.com and via PM

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Annapolis, MD.
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    512

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    The highlight of the trip for me was not fishing, but an event that took place at Cape Canaveral Space Center on Wednesday. We were fishing in Eddy Creek (part of the Canaveral National Seashore) about 3+ miles from the launch site. All of a sudden this hugh roar erupted from a landing pad. I actually felt the rumble from the noise. I turned and saw this hugh plume of smoke rising into the sky. We found out later from conservations on the VHF radios we carried that they were testing the Space-X rocket for its launch that happened this past Thursday. Was kind of exciting, can't imagine what a rocket launch would be like.

    2018-01-24 13.29.49.jpg
    John

    Annapolis
    Native Slayer Propel 10
    Native Ultimate 12

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Pasadena, MD
    Posts
    3,002

    Default

    John,

    That was indeed the highlight for each of us on the Space Coast!

    Great photo.
    Mark

    Slate Hobie Revolution 13
    Hidden Oak Native Ultimate 12
    Red Native Ultimate 14.5

    Author: The Simple Joys of Kayak Fishing (Tips and Tales From an Old Guy in His Plastic Boat)
    Available on Amazon.com and via PM

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Chester, Md
    Posts
    16

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    I spend winters in Florida and summers on Kent Island. Gotta say that fishing conditions in January were absolutely terrible the whole month with rain, wind, and cold days throughout the month. But, Feb is off to a good start with mild temps and calm winds - went out in the yak yesterday on Charlotte Harbor and had a good day catching spotted trout on artificials. Looking forward to some good fishing from the yak when I get back to Kent Island in the spring.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Pasadena, MD
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    3,002

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    Quote Originally Posted by tarponguy View Post
    I spend winters in Florida and summers on Kent Island. Gotta say that fishing conditions in January were absolutely terrible the whole month with rain, wind, and cold days throughout the month. But, Feb is off to a good start with mild temps and calm winds - went out in the yak yesterday on Charlotte Harbor and had a good day catching spotted trout on artificials. Looking forward to some good fishing from the yak when I get back to Kent Island in the spring.
    Glad to hear your February is starting off well.

    Enjoy those specks. They can be great fun.

    I look forward to meeting you in MD.
    Mark

    Slate Hobie Revolution 13
    Hidden Oak Native Ultimate 12
    Red Native Ultimate 14.5

    Author: The Simple Joys of Kayak Fishing (Tips and Tales From an Old Guy in His Plastic Boat)
    Available on Amazon.com and via PM

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