Almost every place in Florida has changed greatly since I first started fishing in the Sunshine State, but that doesn’t apply to Chokoloskee in the southwestern portion of the state.
I was last there in March,1971, and don’t remember it looking any different. Paul Castelli spends most of the year in Atlantic City, N.J., but also has a winter home in Chokoloskee which Crazy Alberto Knie and I visited this week.
Fishing was off after the recent near-frost cold front, and a southeast wind didn’t help as we fished two half-days in Paul’s 24-foot Robalo flats boat. Fortunately, it’s possible to fish the Everglades area in almost any conditions as the multitude of mangroves break the wind and the shallow waters warm up rapidly. The cold front had dropped the waters into the 50s, but were back up over 66 by the time we left. Yet, the fish still seemed to be in shock.
Crazy Alberto stuck to casting a small paddle tail and kept picking away at small spotted sea trout (including one keeper) plus ladyfish, while I stuck with bait in hope of finding a bigger fish which I did with a 23 1/2-inch redfish (red drum) on a ladyfish chunk. Crazy Alberto turned those keepers into a gourmet fish dinner better than anything I’ve ever had in a restaurant.
Tommy Cox is visiting in Florida this week, and joined a neighbor in his small boat to catch a 32-inch redfish in Lemon Bay at Englewood.
Vinny D’Anton found some active sea trout near Sarasota on Tuesday and caught seven up to 17 1/2 inches on a Mirrolure.
The forecast for NY/NJ Bight is for northeast winds at just 5-10 knots before changing to southeast in the afternoon. Seas are down to 2 to 3 feet.
Paul and Al with redfish (Alberto Knie photo)