An unexpected chop, even on the inland waters greeted me as I throttled up the motor and the boat began to plane for a weekday charter with first time clients on a Wednesday morning. They wanted to fish for tarpon, and the cloudy and generally stirred up water was going to make it difficult for what I wanted to do.  I picked up the eager group of 3 before sunrise and we set up some drifts not far from the ramp on the swift flowing outgoing tide. Bait was a combination of perfect large sized bait crabs, and dead baits caught the day and week before, consisting of large threadfin herrings, ladyfish, and pinfish. The only bites as the blazing sun started its ascent were a couple of giant size sailcats, so I decided to take a look off the beaches, where a substantial swell along with a nice chop made me stop and ask the group if we should turn and try something else. As serious fisherman with boating experience, they said no big deal, keep on, and so we did. I found some bait activity via some diving terns and we set up a drift through the area. I started to see some mackerel feeding and jumping through the bait, and then a large eagle ray launched itself for a brief show that only 2 of us saw. About the time I’m ready to give up in the rolling near shore waters I spot a large tarpon free jump within a half mile or so of us. We head that way and set up another drift, but the conditions just make it impossible, so we decide to change up and look for other species.

It turns out to be a good decision. On the way back in to more protected inshore waters, we happen upon a frisky group of dolphins that are willing to play in the wake of the boat for a few minutes, to the delight of all of us.

Next stop is to investigate some diving birds, where we are able to add some whitebait, pinfish, and mojarro to the livewell, and release pipefish, and a cool sea urchin all caught after several throws of the castnet. The first mangrove shoreline we fish yields a bite before too long and dad gets a decent snook to the boat to get things started.

A few fish are biting on the end of the outgoing tide as everybody gets a fish, including a good sized jack that rips some drag, and a nice team effort flounder by dad and daughter.

Everybody gets a fish or 2 before the bites, as the tide, slow to a stop. The young lady aboard had enough at that point, so we ran her back to the ramp, and the boys got to fish the start of the now incoming tide.

As we head to another area I see there is not just 1, but 2 boats fishing the spot I was heading to. So I quickly rethink about where to continue our day and find some nice clear water and lush sea grass to see if some trout are home.

They are, and we go through the bait fairly quickly catching one after another, along with a few small jack crevalles and ladyfish.

Most of the trout are fairly small, although we catch a few in the slot that were not kept, and we do get one nice one over 21”.

We save a few prime baits for a nearby creek mouth for the last spot of the day.

A couple of stolen baits are all we get until I pin the largest whitebait I had saved for last on to Brent’s hook. He makes a nice cast and the bait gets hammered as it drifts around the point. The fish stayed down ruling out a snook, leaving us hoping for redfish, but the nice jack shows itself before long enough. As the water temperature rose to over 91, we figured we’d end the day there. It was a tough start, but everyone was pleased with another great day and experience on the SW Florida waters.