It's big... it's flat... it's beautiful, but what a ride!
FLYC Trip Report 2/19/03
What is the mark of a real yakfisher? How bout getting up at 4 am (couldn't sleep), to be at Joe's house at 5:30, to arrive at the end of the Fla. penis just after Sunrise. And that's just for starters.
If you've never been Flamingo is at the southern tip of mainland Florida, a healthy drive SW of Miami/Homestead through vast flat agricultural lands and the great Florida Everglades.
On the way you pass a number of launch points: into the glades, and several fresh, brackish, and saltwater lakes. BTW, these are really unspoiled and NOT accessible to stinkpotters. In addition to West Lake (rec. by Fla. Sportsman Mag.) is Coot Bay, notable for it's kayak only access, teeming with underfished pods of reds, snook, tarpon et al.
We should have done Coot, but the chance to see and fish the often spectacular Snake Bight and teeming flats was our priority. The flats off Flamingo are simply huge, going for miles, and bisected by a handful of channels and the usual small keys.
We paddled east along the shore to Snake Bight in the early am., 2 hrs. into a falling tide. Drawn by the Bight, but tempted sorely by the many muds and spooked fish we encountered. Following my surf and ocean experience, we sprinted toward several areas of diving pelicans, out near the main channel.
This area produced a nice trout and feisty sea cat for Joe, using a chartreuse Terror-Eyz. Promising so far. We then decided to drift west across the flats south of Joe Kemp Key, following a guided flats boat. Here we had a number of "hits", saw a number of 4 to 5 ft. sharks but caught nada. Reassuringly neither did the guide.
Deciding the water was too cold, and with the receding waters threatening to leave us stranded in deep (unwadeable) mud, we escaped to the main channel just outside Flamingo. This too was productive as I finally killed the skunk with another hard fighting sea cat on my comfort white bucktail.
Took an early pm. Flamingo break, then another very hard paddle east into 15 kt. winds, and drifted back at 2+ kts. in our first rising tide. But the water was still cold and no soap. But Joe did have the scare of the year when, drifting close to the mangroves, "something" literally exploded under and lifted his yak (!), close to an upset.
Give Joe credit. After I confidently suggested it was probably a submerged tree, I suggested he go back and check (while I naturally stayed at a safe distance, hehe). Couldn't find a thing. Our guess: BIG tarpon, shark (they explode when surprised) or the Loch Penis Monster. Still think it was a tree limb, at 2+ kts...
Summary: Flamingo was worth the trip. The vistas and unending flats are stupendous. Channels are well marked and worth fishing in cold water. But MUCH better would have been to do Coot Bay. Next time...
PS. On the way out you will encounter a large fruitstand and "pick-it-yourself" strawberry patch. Think it's called "Here is Richard" or the like. The selection of home grown, very ripe fruit of all kinds, plus jams, old-fashioned cider, etc. is fantastic. Joe and I ordered one of their Free Times award-winning real fruit shakes (we had cantalope, but you can order almost anything... mango, starfruit, etc.). Made from scratch in front of you and you gotta wait.
We both had no issue in noising slurping the last few mouthwatering dregs of this surprise treat and end to a great day...
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