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Pine Island, Florida
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Captain Butch Rickey
Posted: Jul 17 2005, 03:12 AM


It was a short workweek this week, with only trips run. They were fun trips,
though, with new friends and old.

First up was David Boyd, an MAI appraiser from Palm Beach Gardens whom Iíve talked
to for a long time online. Heís doing a lot of work over here now, and I finally
got to meet him. Dave wanted this to be an educational/instructional trip with the
emphasis on learning the how, where, when, what to look for aspects of fishing our
waters. I had already warned Dave that it was a good day for learning, but a poor
day for catching, as the tide was very poor. It was falling, and slowly at that.
In addition, I didnít know what the effects of all the weather associated with the
near passing of hurricane Dennis there might be. David didnít care. He was ready
to go.

Even though Dave and I are both native Floridians, I was surprised to learn that he
had only caught one redfish in his life. I knew we had a small window of
opportunity where there would be good water on the flats, and wanted to catch bait
as quickly, and then try to put a few fish into the boat. Once the tide slowed, we
could do the instructional part. So, I headed up to the bar at marker 32, hoping
the bait would still be there. There were lots of small pinfish, and tons of small
shiners, but only a couple of big pins, and one big shiner. We also caught some
ballyhoo, which I kept.

We headed to my chosen area to begin. The bottom features were very hard to
distinguish because the water was still very dark with tannin. I parked close to
the area I wanted to fish. I just wasnít exactly sure how close. Dave and I soon
found we'd gotten it right the first time, as the first bait I threw out, a live
pinfish under a popping cork, was quickly inhaled. We had our first redfish in the
boat. Shortly afterward, another live pin was eaten. By then Iíd gotten a mix of
baits out, including cut ballyhoo and cut pinfish. We caught a couple on the
ballyhoo, and several on the pinfish before things slowed down. It was great to
have had immediate action.

From there, we spent the rest of the morning riding, and showing Dave the kinds of
places I like to fish, and the features that make them good fishing holes. We spent
a lot of time running along shorelines on the trolling motor. Unfortunately, the
water was still so dark that it was very hard to show him the underwater features,
and nearly impossible to see any fish other than scooting mullet.

It was a fun day, and Dave said it was just what the doctor ordered. Weíre hoping
to get out for one of those big redfish days this fall.

On Friday, it was my old friend John Hitt, who was over for some R & R. John had
just had his Coastline serviced and was ready to fish. We met at his dock at 6:30,
and headed down the river, and to the flats near Wulfert Keys, to see if we could
luck upon some descent bait. Although we caught a ton of big and small pinfish, we
didnít see the first shiner. We headed on up to marker 32, feeling sure the small
bait would at least be there. But, we didnít catch the first one. Plenty of
pinfish and ballyhoo, but that was it. Knowing we again had a very early tide, I
urged that we move on and try to get on some redfish while the getting was good.

We returned to the same area the I had fished with Dave two days before. Again, I
put out live bait under a cork, but no one was interested. I prepared a cut
ballyhoo and cut pinfish, and put them out. Soon, we had two redfish in the boat on
the cut bait.

John had cleaned out his freezer of several bags of ladyfish steaks, some of which
were a year or older. His wife Martha was very happy to see them go. John wanted
to use some of the ladyfish for bait, but it is very hard to deal with once it has
been frozen, and we had just caught two fish on fresh cut bait. I suggested that
maybe we use it for chum, never anticipating the results.

The ladyfish was pretty awful stuff, and it seemed that as soon as it was in the
water it called every catfish within a mile radius of us. We couldnít catch
anything but catfish from that point on. We moved on in frustration. We tried
another area within a half mile or so, and couldnít draw a strike.

I told John of my trip with my friend Bob Brockway the Friday before, and how much
fun it had been working those DOA shrimp. John loves to trout fish, as do I, and it
didnít take much arm twisting each other before we were headed to a nearby flat. We
set up a drift in four feet of water, and the action was almost instantaneous. The
biggest surprise was that we quickly had a couple of beautiful 19 inch trout in the
well. Thatís an average trout in the winter, but well above what we normally see
during the dog days of summer.

We didnít have but 3 of the DOA shrimp in the boat, and it didnít take too many
trout to wear them out. At that point we had 5 nice keeper trout in the well. John
tied on a rootbeer colored curly-tail jig, and the trout just ate it up. He seemed
to be catching trout on just about every throw. And, he put the count of keepers to
7, with the largest at 20 inches.

Neither of us had trout fished since early spring, and it was fun to let the little
boys hiding in us have some fun just catching fish. The light St. Croix Tournament
rods and Stella 2500 reels really make that kind of fishing fun.

We could see the weather effervescing behind us, and knew we would be in a race to
get back home, refuel the boat, and clean the boat and fish before the first weather
came through. We got a light sprinkle as we were rapping up, but the big stuff
didnít come until later.

You can bet Iíll be down at the local tackle store this weekend stocking up on DOA
shrimp. I never had the patience to work them as a younger man. I seem to have it
now. A sign of maturity, perhaps?

Well, it will be a long, hot week next week. The schedule is full if the weather
doesnít act up and send another hurricane our way. The tides are pretty good, but
they are full moon tides, so itís hard to say how the fish will eat. You can bet
Iíll be doing my best to open their mouths, though.
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