Sunday, March 2, 2014

YakAngler a Great Networking Tool

How many trips have you taken where the plan might involve a little fishing from the bank, kayak, or boat? For me every trip that Marian & I go on will have some fishing. My wife knows and understands that fishing for me is very relaxing so she allows some time for my hobby. Besides fishing and maybe even doing some catching most of my trips provide me with the opportunity to try to cross something off of my bucket list. As most anglers these bucket list include species that they dream about from articles or watching some television show. So on the trip; we got an invite to spend some time with one of Marian’s college girlfriends that had a time share on Sanibel Island in Florida.

The first thing that I do is make a thread on yakangler dot com asking for any advice on possible fishing areas for my destination in the case it was Sanibel Island. You would be surprised with the amount of participates on yakangler how much advice you will receive on your thread. Also you might even have a new fishing buddy that will take you to his or hers favorite spot. In some cases you might need to rent or borrow a kayak as well.

The next thing that I do is research the World Wide Web concerning fishing opportunities in the area that we will be visiting. Looking for possible fishing spots, what species are available, and for my purpose is there any reports or videos of kayak angling. This research will provide me with a list of available species so that I can match against my wish list. After all if there is some species in the area that is not crossed off my list or a species that is not available in my home area this will be the fish that I will what to target.

So the Sanibel area provides access to saltwater and freshwater areas to fish for all types of species. Being for Charleston it is hard to beat the redfish that we have the opportunity to catch. We also have speckled trout. OK we do not have the world renowned gator trout that Florida is famous for so gator trout is always on the list. Occasionally here in Charleston a lucky angler will manage to land a lost snook. Since I do not play the South Carolina Lottery I still have failed to land a snook so this is one species that will be on the list for this trip. On the freshwater side this area also has peacock bass.

Florida DNR introduce the butterfly peacock bass and the speckled peacock bass in attempt to have the peacock bass to prey on evasive species like Oscars, cichids, and tilapia.  Although the speckled peacock bass has not flourished when compared to the butterfly peacock bass has done in the canals and freshwater waterways in southern Florida. According to some of the research that I did; the peacock bass is not a member of the bass family but a member of the Cichla family. They are native to the Amazon River Basin, Orinoco River Basin, and coastal Atlantic drainages of Guyana, Suriname, and French Guyana, in South America.

So in about a week or two I was in contact with Bob Bramblet (aka BonitaBob) flounder of Southwest Florida Kayak Anglers Association and also a participate on yakangler. The first time I met Bob was at the Chokoloskee Boondoggle. Bob had a spare kayak for me to use so I would not have to bring my Jackson Big Tuna. Our targeted species will be the peacock bass in one of the canals near Naples. According to Bob if the conditions are right; I might even get the opportunity of landing a freshwater snook. With the plan in place; I would meet Bob at his place at 7 AM.

With the gear loaded in Bob’s truck, a stop at the local bait shop for some shiners, and off to the launch site. When we arrived it was suggested that I swap the lure on one of my rods to a surface plug. According to Bob we were a little early for the peacock bass but maybe a snook or largemouth might take the surface plug. Within a short distance from the boat ramp, Bob had a nice male peacock bass on a surface plug. The jumping action of the peacock bass got Bob excited about his catch. That jumping bass even had me hyped up in the anticipation of my first peacock.

As we worked our way up the canal me along one bank and Bob along the other; I could see some bass beds along the way. Unfortunately there were no bass or peacocks guarding the nest. In a little while Bob came over and explained to me that there was a pair of peacocks guarding a bed that was situated under a dock. I carefully peddled over and started casting a DOA Shad on a jig head under the dock. No hits. Then Bob had me switch over to a live shiner. Surely either the huge male or the female would take a live offering. One of them would just push the bait out of the bed. Bob suggested that we let them rest and we would head up to a pond or lake that the canal drained into.

This area has a lot of docks and deep holes. According to Bob this area will produce some snook and trophy size peacock bass, most of the time these catches are a result of using bait and not plastics.  We fished this area for a couple of hours with no luck but we did get some tips from a landowner that was on his dock enjoying the weather. We decided to head back and check out the pair of peacock bass. I was really hoping that another angler or fishermen had yet discovered them.

While along the way I was working a live shiner along the back of the canal and bang!! It was fish on. It was not a peacock bass but a small largemouth bass. At least I would not be skunked on this trip. As we fished towards the bridge and then the dock that we knew held a treasure; I was hoping that no one else had discovered my opportunity for a huge peacock. When we got there only the female was guarding the nest. I once again made my presentation and again she would push it out of the bed. We tried several angles and presentations with zero results. We decided to leave her alone.

Bob traveled back to the boat ramp checking out other beds. I went the other direction checking out the beds for other peacock bass.  While I casted towards a bed or between beds I would let the free lined shiner do his work. After a bit I would retrieve the bait back and cast to another bed. On one of these sequences the shiner hit the surface on the retrieve and I noticed the head of a male peacock bass break the surface swimming towards the shiner. I stopped the retrieve in the hopes that he would take it. No luck!! So I casted again in the same area and this time I had a hard hit. I set the hook and the fish exploded out of the water. It was a nice peacock bass. I managed to get the fish into a net and in the kayak. I took a measurement and my first peacock was 16”. This guy hit it so hard that he had the hook almost in his stomach. I got a hold of Bob and he removed the hook with a pliers. We took a few photos of me holding my trophy. The sad part was that the fish did not recover. So instead he went onto a stringer for dinner.


Occasionally Bob would check him out as we fished on the way back to the launch but no chance for recovery. About half way back I got another fish on. This time there was no jumping and the fish did not carry the peacock markings instead the fish was a nice largemouth bass. This bass measured 17”; after a picture taken he was released to fight another day. This would also be the last fish for the day as well.
This was a great day and I would have to say that Bob worked really hard to help me get my first peacock bass. On this trip I managed to cross off my first peacock bass and my first southern largemouth as well. I did not get my snook but there is always another trip back to southern Florida to accomplish that species into the kayak.

So are peacock bass great to eat? After fileting out the bass, I noticed that there is a series of small ridge bones at the forward center of each filet. This reminded me of those small ‘y’ bones in a northern pike or pickerel. So you have to trim out these small bones as well to have a clean filet. The flesh is when cooked is white and sweet with very little oil. If you did not know it was a peacock bass you would think that you were eating snapper or grouper.

Thanks to yakangler dot com and BonitaBob for setting up this trip to fish for a species that I do not get the opportunity to battle every day. So I have a several questions for you. 
  • Are you a member of yakangler dot com?
  • If so; have you used this site as a networking tool to plan your next fishing trip?
  • If you are not a member of yakangler dot com why not join and become part of the yakangler family?


Fish on!!

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