I have two Jackson Kayaks boats I enjoy fishing from. One is the “Big Rig”, which in my opinion is a great platform for fishing shallow water. The waters around Flamingo scream, “Take the Big Rig with the Micro-anchor from Power Pole!” My other kayak is the “Kraken”. This is a great paddling kayak for big water. The area around Flamingo has huge bodies of water that are shallow, but the need to travel from one area to another checking for feeding fish makes the Kraken an option as well. So, asking for help with the decision from YakAngler.com made good sense to me; why not let the users of the forum site help me decide. I had suggestions to take both the Big Rig and the Kraken, but most suggestions were to take the Kraken so that was my fishing platform for the Boondoggle.
My buddy Dayne doesn’t fish much. He does enjoy a great paddle, though, and the Everglades are a great trip for doing some paddling and a little fishing in his kevlar Eddyline touring kayak. Having my buddy along for the trip gave my wife, Marian, some comfort in safety on this great adventure to the Everglades. xxxIt was somewhere between eleven and twelve hours’ worth of road trip to Flamingo. Because we preferred to have the ability to set up camp in the daylight we departed Charleston, SC at 3 AM Thursday.
The trip did not take twelve hours, but it 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 located Jameson Redding, as well as Jim Sammons, who was there to film an episode of The Kayak Fishing Show. We visited for a while, talking about fishing plans. Dayne and I decided that we would go check out Snake Bight on Florida Bay on Friday. A "bight" is actually a bay (Snake Bight) within a larger bay (Florida Bay) - at least that is what I was told by the rangers in the Everglades. We decided to only use lures on this exploration trip.
We got to the boat ramp Friday morning, and decided to launch from the least busy side. We soon discovered that the ramp that we launched from was only for the Buttonwood Canal. 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 on to Snake Bight.
Once out in the Bay, the first thing I noticed was the water was quite shallow. It probably was a little deeper than 2’, but the sea grass was thick like a tightly woven carpet. While I fan casted the flat, Dayne worked the mangroves along the shoreline. We eventually paddled across a deep channel into Snake Bight. While out in the bight I spotted four flamingos flying overhead, which was very exciting for me. We fished the huge flat, and then towards the shoreline of a mangrove 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, but we experienced a dolphin feeding frenzy where they were corralling the fish. 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 dolphins 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 had some insight into this area from their experience from the 2014 Adventure Fishing World Championship (AFWC). While Mark and 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 kayak, while Mark was still battling his fish. He managed to land a crevalle jack that looked about 6” – 8” longer then jack. For both of us this meant that we weren’t skunked for this - we managed to catch a fish.
We headed towards Snake Bight, following Tony. Along the way, we would stop and fan cast or look for head wakes of fish. One Boondoggler in our 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 8-ish to head to the boat ramp. According to the Floridians, we needed 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 was a group of Boondogglers from Virginia having a great time fishing for mangrove snapper using live shrimp. When Dayne and I 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”. I managed another hookup on what felt to be a bigger jack, but the fish managed to break off by dragging my line along the concrete pilings and dock edges.
Day two of the Flamingo Boondoggle was successful for Dayne and me. Day three was a fishing trip into the back country in the search of fish, manatees, alligators, crocodile, and birds – but that’s a story for another time…