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Pine Island, Florida
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Captain Butch Rickey
Posted: Sep 3 2006, 05:37 AM


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Group: Members
Posts: 15
Member No.: 147
Joined: 1-July 06



Like most everyone I've talked to, I had only one trip again this week. The weather
was threatening and the tide was outgoing, but my first trip with Steven and
Stephanie Keith was a blast. Read on!

We were still under the threat of tropical rains and onshore thunderstorms for three
days after the passing of Ernesto. I talked to Steve Thursday night and told him
that if the weather looked dangerous I'd call him before he was up and dressed, and
we'd try for Saturday or Sunday, instead.

I couldn't sleep and was up very early looking at several different radars on my HP
zd8000. There were some storms scattered about offshore, but nothing that appeared
to be organizing into anything threatening. I kept an eye on the weather radar
right up until I left the fishcamp. We were a go.

Stephanie had booked this trip for her Dad Steve, long ago. It was a Father's Day
gift. Now there's a gal that loves her Dad! Steve was very personable on the phone
Thursday night, and I sensed that we were cut from the same cloth, and would have a
good time no matter how the fishing went. What made this interesting is that Steve
had spent a few years here in this area as a kid, and during his college days at
EJC, back in the late 60's and early 70's. He did a lot of fishing, and has always
loved the area. But, it had been many years since he'd fished here, and he was
excited about this trip.

We met at 6:30 and were off to catch bait. We headed right across the river from
the ramp to the flats off Fisherman's Key. I figured it was as good a place to
start as any, as there had been mixed bait there in the past. It wasn't long before
several other boats appeared close by.

We were chumming before the sun came up. As it began to get light, I began tossing
the net. The first half dozen throws netted us nothing but a few pins and small
shiners. Certainly nothing to get excited about. We had a hard outgoing tide and a
west wind. Basically, both were running in the same direction. We were dropping
the chum about amidships from the port side, and it was crossing the bow to the
starboard side as it swept away. I had thrown all along the chum line trying to
find where the bait was holding. I wasn't having much luck.

But, as it got lighter, I saw a flash and some dimpling out to the left of the chum
line. It seemed a strange place for the bait to be holding given how the water was
moving, but when I pursed the net, I could see it light up in the tannin water with
big shiners. Wow, what beautiful bait! I threw two more times with equal results,
and we were loaded for a day of fishing.

What I didn't know as I pulled off the flat was that no one else had gotten bait. A
friend who was out scouting told me that the others had struck out. I could have
called them in to where we were if I'd known. But, I'd been pretty preoccupied with
catching bait and keeping an eye on a storm brewing to our west, which meant we'd
have to deal with it. As I got the boat cleaned up and ready to ride, it had began
to drizzle.

I headed up the river and down Miserable Mile in an effort to skirt the worst of the
rain cell. We did avoid the worst, but we did get soaking wet. I was concerned
that Stephanie might be wanting to turn around and go home, but she assured me she
was fine. Still, raindrops really sting at 40 MPH!

We arrived at our first stop after skirting two showers. It was a spot that has
been full of snook on the big summer tides, and I was hopeful that the fish would
eat on the falling tide we were forced to fish. The prevailing breeze, feeding the
storms as they moved through the area, switched twice before we could get set up.
Once we were, Steve and Stephanie quickly had a double snook hookup in the boat for
our first pictures of the morning.

The fish were there, all right, but they weren't in much of an eating mood. Steph
and Steve managed about a half dozen snook before they slowed down. Oh, they missed
a few, too, which is to be expected. But, it seemed the snook just lost interest in
our minner dinners after a while. We moved on.

By the time we'd traveled the five miles or so to our next spot and gotten baits
into the water, we heard the crack of thunder back to our west. Another storm was
coming, and this time with lightning. After having been caught in several bad
thunderstorms in my career and thinking I would not survive them, my rule is if I
can hear thunder or see lightning, it's time to get to cover. So, we headed back
toward the ramp, electing to fish close to home in case the weather got nasty.

At our first stop the action was good right from the start. Steve and Stephie
caught and released a number of snook that were over 26 inches, but not quite at the
new 27 inch keeper mark, here on the first day of the new snook season. And,
Stephie caught the snook of the day with a beautiful 11 pound, 35 inch snook that
was out of the slot. There were several get-aways, too, but the put 8 or 9 nice
snook into the boat before we moved on.

At the next spot, only about a hundred yards away, there was no action. I was
shocked, as the spot usually has lots of activity of some kind. Again, we moved on,
to a favorite spot of mine in Matlacha Pass. The spot has been good to me for the
last couple of months, giving up lots of big jack crevalle, mangrove snapper, snook,
and the occasional redfish.

But, as we arrived we saw porpoise working over the whole area pretty well. It
seems the porpoise had put the fish on the run, as we were only able to catch 2 or 3
snook, and a snapper, if my memory serves me correctly. We did have some blowups on
my chum, and some misses, but the action just wasn't what it had been.

By this time the weather had all fallen apart, and we decided to head back up into
the Sound for one more stop at another of my favorite falling tide spots. I knew in
my gut it was a long shot, as it was nearly noon, and hotter than blazes. The
fishing usually dries up during the heat of the day during the dog days of summer.
And, that proved to be the case, as we were only able to manage one more snook for
our efforts.

We ended what had been a great day with some great folks, at the Waterfront
Restaurant. In the summer time, it's like finding an oasis in the middle of a
desert. Of course, Stephanie was worried that she looked awful after being wet and
wind blown all day long. She is a beautiful gal, just a bit younger than my
daughter, and I assured her that she looked fine. But, the gals never seem to
believe us.

We had a great lunch and great chat before making that final leg of our journey back
to the ramp. To our surprise, the wind had really kicked out of the west, feeding
inland storms, and the Sound was full of whitecaps. That choppy water really gave
the Talon a chance to show her stuff, and Steve and Steph were amazed at how it
hopped over the chop and wakes, and didn't get them soaking wet or beat them to
death.

Steve had told me at the outset of our trip that he'd been wanting to fish with me,
and had been following my career and reading my fishing reports for years. He said
that the primary factor in his desire to fish with me was the honesty he found in my
reports. He noted that whether the fishing sucked, or the fishing was stellar, I
always told it how it was. Of course, I worried all day long that I would live up
to his expectations, but based upon Steve's comments I believe I did. And, I
believe I'll be seeing my new friend again. I sure hope so, cause I sure enjoyed
the day with him.

Next week is Labor Day week. Again, it's a one trip week for me, but this one will
be very special. My trip is with my old friend Marty Dietz, who owns the single
best day of fishing with me at well over a hundred snook and redfish as we fished
the approach of a tropical storm years ago. We'll never duplicate that feat again,
but we've had some great times since, and I'm expecting nothing less next Wednesday.

Stay tuned.

 
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