By Capt. Pete Rapps
The past week has proved some fantastic fishing here in the 10,000 islands and the Everglades National Park. Although water temperatures have been a little cold ranging in the upper 50’s to low 60’s, our typical winter fish have been biting great when fishing for them on the correct tides.
Tides are key when fishing the back country and near shore areas. Certain fish prefer to feed on incoming tides, and others on outgoing tides. Either way, be sure to fish when the tide is moving. Since the fish move around and feed with the moving current, the slack tide is time for them to take a siesta and rest up for a while. When you find yourself fishing an area during a tide change (slack tide), and the current is not moving, go ahead and get out that picnic lunch and take a little siesta yourself.
When fishing the back country and shallow water areas, I like to set up in the drop offs where the water is rushing over an oyster bar. As the tide is moving over the oyster bars, small little critters like tiny crabs, juvenile fish, and other types of bait are being washed over the oysters, which is why most fish like Speckled Sea Trout, Redfish, Snapper, and others will be waiting ready to attack on the other side. It is fun to fish here with something like a DOA Deadly Combo which is a rubber shrimp under a popping cork that rattles when you jerk on it. Also little shiny tail jigs like a Don’s Potbelly tipped with a small piece of shrimp work great. Another favorite is a 3” Berkley Gulp Shrimp in “new Penny” color on a 3/8 oz red jig head. Of course you can’t go wrong with a nice live shrimp under a popping cork.
If Sheepshead are your target, again, a moving tide is the key. You will find them in deeper holes and drop offs against the mangrove roots in the rivers and near shore areas. I like to live line a shrimp on a small 2/0 circle hook into these likely areas. Sheepshead fishing is an “art” that requires a lot of discipline and finesse. When you feel a nibble, forget that natural born instinct to set the hook! Let him nibble! Reel in a half a crank, let him nibble some more! Keep reeling in a half a crank or so until you feel him grab that shrimp and run the other way. It takes a lot of patience and discipline, but once you get the finesse down, the fruits will come.
If you would like some lessons, I am happy to teach! Check out my website below and let’s get out there on the water together!
Hailing out of Chokoloskee Island Park Marina, Chokoloskee, FL, Capt Rapps has been fishing the Chokoloskee area for just over 20 years. He offers expert guided, light tackle, near shore, and backwater fishing trips in the Everglades National Park, and is happy to accommodate anyone from men, women, & children of all ages, experienced or not, or those with special needs. Pete is extremely patient and loves to teach. You can book a charter right online 24/7. See his online availability calendar, booking info, videos, recipes, seasonings, and first class web site at www.CaptainRapps.com or call 239-571-1756.