One of the very best things about kayak fishing is the opportunity to meet new friends. Most kayak anglers are friendly people and are very approachable either at the launch or over the web. Brad Hole and I met on social media, and when he advised me he was coming into town, I jumped at the chance to meet a new fishing buddy.
Brad Hole is an accomplished kayak angler. In addition to being a fellow Hobie Fishing Team member, he has Pro Staff positions for Ram Mounts and Kokatat. He and his fishing partner, Todd Switzer, recently founded Kayak Fishing Washington, a website all about kayak angling in the Pacific Northwest.
Brad has also been visiting the Southwest Florida area with family for 20 years. He is familiar with the fishing opportunities here as well, so there was no learning curve. This was just some enjoyable fishing. On the first day, we launched into Estero Bay at Hickory Pass. It was a negative tide and I had hoped the low water would give away the redfish. We moved into the pass and along some good oyster beds. Mullet were everywhere, but no redfish. Brad scored a small trout and Joe Jones caught a snook, but it was a rather lifeless day so we opted for lunch and a cold beer.
|Brad with a small Estero Bay trout|
|Joe with a lively snook|
Over lunch, Brad and I discussed fishing in the area. He indicated he had caught plenty of reds and snook over the years, so I suggested peacock bass. I told Brad I had a couple of options. We could catch them by kayak in Naples or we could hike through the Everglades to some forgotten lakes that I have been exploring with Jim VanPelt. Brad, with a true adventurer’s spirit, chose the latter and we made our plans for the following Monday.
We met early in Naples and began the hour long drive east. Brad was accompanied by his Dad Ed, and I brought along Joe Jones. We arrived near the location and hiked in the rest of the way. Right away Brad scored a tiny peacock bass, followed by an Oscar. Joe landed a big Oscar as well. It looked like the beginning to a great day. Ed and I began catching largemouth bass and we all were on fish. The bite seemed to slow, however, as we made our way around the lakes. There were many largemouth landed, but not many of the exotics we came for.
As we worked the edges for fish, I began to observe our surroundings. The Everglades is such a magnificent area teeming with wildlife. I captured a few images of the sights I was lucky enough to see. Around noon when the day began to really warm up, the fish started to turn on again. Still not the larger fish we normally caught here, but they were lively. Brad landed a mayan cichlid and completed his Florida exotic slam.
Lunch was at Joanie’s Blue Crab Café, back drop to several films including “Gone Fishing”. We talked about fishing and solved all the world’s problems over an ice cold beer. A perfect ending to a great day. I met two new fishing buddies with whom I know many adventures lay ahead.