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Prowling The Everglades

By William "Ex-Capt Bill" Rogers



There is something special about the 10,000 Islands in the Florida Everglades. It is sort of a Mecca for paddle fisherman and when Gary “Skeeter” Robinson invited me to join him on a recent excursion to Chokoloskee to fish the Everglades National Park, I jumped at the chance. You see I had just taken delivery of my new Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 and what better place could there be for the maiden voyage?

Chokoloskee is the southern most point that a person can drive to on Florida’s west coast and from there, well nothing but a myriad of mangrove lined islands, a wilderness waterway all the way to the Keys and an abundance of fishing opportunities second to none. A veritable paddle-fishing paradise!

The weather forecast was calling for strong winds and a rising barometer so when we arrived in Chokoloskee at Ted Smallwood’s Store Museum around 7:00 AM to launch we debated the best route. The wind was blowing north and was not expected to let up. With the tide near low, we decided that paddling out to the gulf was not an option so we decided to stay in Chokoloskee Bay. It didn’t take long to realize how much I was going to appreciate having a rudder installed on my new Prowler. I had never used one before and I was surprised how it made navigating the low, fast moving water easier than I anticipated.

At first there wasn’t very much water in the bay so we stayed near the channel that would have eventually led to Chokoloskee Pass. I worked the points and edges of numerous exposed oyster mounds but there wasn’t much going on. I did manage a couple of small trout for my efforts but the wind, cold water and high barometer contributed to a slow bite. I worked my way around the bay as I drifted along. At this point I had begun to feel very comfortable in my new boat and it felt as if I had fished with her before and we were old friends. As the tide started to fill the bay, I found a few deeper holes and waded the edges. I figured that if there were any fish in the bay, they would have to be in the deeper holes so by wading the perimeter of these deeper areas, I was able to slow down a little and work them over well. By the end of the day I managed an inshore slam of snook, redfish and the highlight of the day, a respectable trout of 25 inches.

After Checking into our accommodations for the night, we met Charles and Vicki Wright for dinner at the Captains Table in Everglades City. Since we had planned on fishing one more day and the weather forecast was not expected to improve Chuck recommended that we fish a creek that eventually dumped into the Barron River. We arrived early to where we intended to launch and it was immediately evident that the wind would not be as much of a factor as it was the day before. In fact as we paddled into the creek, it was actually quite pleasant. It wasn’t long before we started to catch a few Snook. All of my Snook were caught on a gold original 4 1/2 inch Rapala fished slow and close to the mangroves.

I was very pleased with how well my Prowler maneuvered the tight confines of the mangrove lined creek and by the end of the day we ended up with around 15 Snook between us, the biggest around 25 inches. Those Snook in that creek were the highlight of the trip and contributed to a memorable maiden voyage. Even though the weather wasn’t exactly to order, fishing the western 10,000 island region of Everglades National Park in my new Prowler 13 was a very enjoyable experience and one that will most certainly be relived over and over again.

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