Saturday, February 14, 2015

Flamingo Boondoggle – Snake Bight

At the Boondoggle in Merritt Island in October 2014 it was announced that the President’s Day Boondoggle will be in the everglades national park at Flamingo. The organizers of the Boondoggles also announced the location of the third Boondoggle X which will be in Mandeville, Louisiana. For the immediate time I will be making plans for fishing the everglades.

The Boondoggle event in February is structured to be fashioned like the Boondoggles of the past. There is no program of seminars, no BBQ, no shirts designed for the event and no venders’ village. This Boondoggle will be just some fishing, maybe some catching, adult beverage drinking, socializing from campsite to campsite and a potluck on Sunday evening. There will be one special event for this Boondoggle.
The special event will be a visit by Jim Sammons. He will be filming an episode about the Boondoggle for his television show called ‘The Kayak Fishing Show’. Saturday night will be a meet and greet Jim Sammons at his campsite. Before I can tell you about these unplanned events I need to explain my choice of the Jackson Kraken for this Boondoggle.
I have two Jackson Kayaks that I enjoy fishing out of. One of the Jackson Big Rig which in my opinion is a great fishing platform for fishing shallow water of which the waters around Flamingo scream take the Big Rig with the Micro-anchor from Power Pole. My other kayak is the Jackson Kraken. This kayak is a great paddling kayak for big water of which the area around Flamingo has huge bodies of water that is shallow but the need to travel from one area to another checking for feeding fish makes the Kraken and option as well. So asking for help on the decision from YakAngler dot com made good sense to me why not let the users of the forum site decide for me. I had suggestions to take both the Big Rig and the Kraken but the most suggestions were to take the Kraken. So with the help with my buddies on YakAngler I decided that the Jackson Kayak will be my fishing platform for the Boondoggle.
My fishing buddy on this trip will be Dayne. He does not fish much but Dayne does enjoy a great paddle and the Everglades are a great trip for doing some paddling and a little fishing. His kayak choice for the trip will be his Kevlar Eddyline touring kayak. With my buddy along for the trip gave my wife Marian some comfort in safety on this great adventure to the Everglades.
It is estimated somewhere between 11 – 12 hour road trip to Flamingo, Florida. Because we preferred to have the ability to setup camp in the daylight we departed Charleston, SC at 3 AM Thursday morning. The trip did not take 12 hours but was close. After setting up camp we drove around the camping area look for other Boondogglers to determine if we could find out some plans for an outing on Friday. Our excursion around the huge camping area revealed Jameson Redding, was there also with Jim Sammons; who will be filming one of his episodes for “The Kayak Fishing Show”.
We visited for a while talking about the plans for fishing the Boondoggle. Dayne and I decided that we would go check out Snake Bight on the Florida Bay for our trip on Friday. So one might have to ask what a “bight” is. A "bight" is actually a bay (Snake Bight) within a larger bay (Florida Bay), at least that is what I’m told by the rangers in the Everglades. So we decided to only use lures on this exploration trip.
We get to the boat ramp and decided to launch from the least busy side. We launch and soon discovered that the ramp that we launched from is only for the Buttonwood Canal. Uff da!! We decided to load up the kayaks and launch from the ramp into a small harbor that would give us access to Florida Bay and then onto Snake Bight. Once out in the Bay we headed to the left towards Snake Bight. The first thing I noticed that the water depth is less than 2 feet. It probably was a little deeper than 2 feet but the sea grass was thick like a tightly woven carpet. While I fan casted the sea grass flat, Dayne worked the mangroves along the shoreline. We eventually paddle across a deep channel into Snake Bight. While out in the bight I managed to spot four flamingos fly over head which was very exciting for me. We fished the huge flat and then paddle towards a mangrove island. We fished the shoreline of the island with nothing for our time. We finally made it back to the launch site and headed back to the campsite for lunch.
After lunch we decided to launch from the Walk-in Campsite area to fish Bradley Key. We did not catch any fish at this but we experienced a dolphin feeding frenzy where they were corralling the fish. Then the fish would start jumping out of the water and the dolphins would jump up after the fish attempting to escape the corral. A couple of pelicans decided to take part in the scraps but the dolphin would nose the birds out of the scrap area. As the sun set in the distance we decided to head back to camp.
On Saturday, we found ourselves fishing with Mark, Tony, Jean, and a couple other Boondogglers paddling back to Snake Bight. Mark, Tony and Jean have some insight into this area from their experience from the 2014 Adventure Fishing World Championship (AFWC) when this event was staged from Flamingo. While Mark & I waited in the small harbor by the Visitor Center we decided to cast towards the sea wall and the floating docks. Mark hooked up on a hard fighting fish. Then I had one on the line. I managed to get a small crevalle jack into the Kraken. Mark was still battling his fish in the Jackson Cuda LT. He managed to land a crevalle jack that looked about 6 – 8 inches longer then my jack. For both of us this meant that the shunk for this Boondoggle was not in our favor. We managed to catch a fish. A little side note about Boondoggles in most cases participates are not always catching. Fish appear to be a rare commodity for Boondoggles.
Following our group leader Tony we headed towards Snake Bight. Along the way we would stop and fan cast or look for head wakes of fish. One Boondoggler in out group managed a small jack and tossed it back into the water where a pelican decided to have the fish for brunch. I did not mention but the water temperature was in the range of the mid-50s – high-50s so we would wait till about 8ish to head to the boat ramp. According to the Floridians we need for the water to be much higher in temperature then what we had. That did not make much sense from a guy that fishes for redfish in the winter around Charleston where this time of the year we would be searching for a mud flat that might be in the low-50s. As we arrived at Snake Bight we just kept paddling. In my mind it felt like Tony was taking us to warmer waters to the keys but we were going to paddle there.
Jean, Kwanza, and I stopped at a small deepwater trough that cut through Snake Bight in the hopes for a red or something. Casting into, parallel, and across the trough I managed a bite. My reward was a small gafftopsail (sail) catfish that I managed to unhook and release without any seeing me catching this fish. We decided to head across Snake Bight to fish the shoreline of mangroves back to the landing. Dayne managed to catch up and reported that he had caught a nice sail catfish that he released as well.
When I got back to the mouth of the harbor there were a group of Boondogglers from Virginia having great time fishing for mangrove snapper using live shrimp. When Dayne managed to catch up we headed into the harbor. I decided to see if we could have some fun with those jacks. Dayne managed to hook a small jack. I also managed a nice jack that measured 19 inches. I managed another hookup on what felt to be a bigger jack but the fish managed to break-off when dragging my line along the concrete pilings and dock edges.
Day two of the Flamingo Boondoggle ended in a success day for Dayne and me. Tonight will be the meet & greet at Jim Sammon’s camp site and tomorrow what fishing adventure can I come up with to another story that will be slightly different. I think a fishing trip into the backcountry in the search of fish, manatees, alligators, crocodile, and birds that Dayne & I will discover.

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