Special places hold very special experiences. The Everglades is one of America’s last pristine areas to fish, hike, bird watch and getting closer to exotic wildlife. We here in Southwest Florida are blessed with access to this treasure and enjoy sharing it with our guests. Every trip to the Glades is a learning experience for guides and clients as it reveals its secrets to the careful observer. I never return home without a renewed vision of just how rich and varied the “River of Grass” is.
Although my trips are focused on fishing, getting to the secluded water is, at times, at least as rewarding as the angling. The paths to the many canals, creeks, and swamps expose you to a myriad of flora and fauna. If you tread lightly you’ll encounter the critters as they forage or hold up in the hammocks, landlocked swampy islands for want of a better description.
Over the years the Corps of Engineers have dredged out the major meanders and formed a number of canals and quarries that offer great habitat for gamefish and exotics. You’ll find plenty of hungry bass, snook, tarpon and a wide variety of exotics that will happily eat your shiners, plugs and flies.
On our outings we carry a bucket of golden shiners with a little ice to cool the water and a bubbler to keep our livebait kicking. If you’re a plug or fly guy you can forgo the bait bucket and bring along a smallish kit of your top bass lures and bass flies, perhaps the best option. Snook, tarpon, redfish, and fat sassy cichlids will jump a flashy minnow plug or softplastic jerkbait with great oomph! I like to travel light.
If you get your kicks outa farm-pond fishing we’ve got the mega cousins of the bluegill here that’ll double over your light spinning outfit. Firemouth cichlids, oscars, and tilapia are always hungry and bait-competitive. Scented soft plastics and mini bass plugs are the top artificials for these colorful and feisty exotics. It can be a kiddy pool with fast action. Small red wigglers worms are available at local tackle shops; I like to bring along a package or two of frozen shrimp, it’s the gourmet cichlid bait. These bully panfish can make for an epicurean delight fried, broiled or grilled. Don’t forget the traditional Mexa-Cracker side dishes of black beans, rice, and, if you’re really up on it, locate some cornbread, it’s the best.
Here’s a short tutorial on the kit you’ll want to carry on your Glades walkabout. Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up. An old pair of running shoes or tennies will suffice as starters. If you're so inclined, knee-high sport socks or very light fishing pants will keep your legs protected from brush and such; you can tough it out most of the time with just light cargo shorts. The big pockets come in hand to carry a box of lures or flies and maybe some leader material.
A web belt or other style belt will be convenient for securing a tool holster for pliers, scissors, and such. A plastic water bottle that can be hung off your belt is a good idea along with a six-packer with plenty of bottled water at the site.
Light long sleeve casting shirts are great but a loose cotton tee will do just as well. I wear a bonnie brimmed hat and carry a bandana. Get in the spirit and maybe wear mom's gardening straw hat.
Sunglasses are a must, polarized, better yet secured on a glasses lanyard; there aren’t any near by shops if you come up short.
There’s plenty of fishing on the roadside rest stops and culverts; be careful as there’s fast traffic on the one road. We park off the main drag and often fish the roadside oversized drainage ditches and canals, good fishing all along trail. You’ll need a fishing license; you can get em at any tackle outlet.
Tackle is simple a one- or two-piece spinning outfit with 15-20 lb. braid, a small spool of 20-30 leader material, and your or your guides’ favorite artificials. We provide all the fishing gear on our trips, fly or spin.
Contrary to popular belief daytimes are not that buggy, but it's good to carry bug spray and dose yourself ahead of time. A digital camera is essential; save those memories and take notes. Ring us up when you’re in town, Capt. Ron Kowalyk 239-267-9312, firstname.lastname@example.org
See you on the water, or the River of Grass.
Capt. Ron Kowalyk