This article is the second part of a series on the Wild Fish Wild Places crew’s visit to Florida during ICAST. Click here to read the first part.
Our three-hour stint on Fishing Florida Radio with Steve Chapman, Capt. Mike and BooDreaux was a laugh from start to finish and our time on-air just flew by! Do yourselves a favour and catch up with the Three Amigos on www.fishingfloridaradio.com and listen back to their podcasts which I can assure you are pure entertainment! After the show, we all went for a leisurely breakfast with Les, our minder, who had kindly chauffeured us to the studio at 5:30 that morning.
The four hour drive to Marco passed uneventfully with producer Greg at the wheel. We had piled an impressive array of gear into our compact rental car and with me in the back–accompanied by tackle, holdalls, camera cases and a heavy duty tripod–we resembled three refugees relocating to a new homeland with all our worldly possessions!
We were warmly welcomed by Desiree at the Boathouse Motel on Marco where we were “throwing the bags” for the next five days. The Boathouse Motel proved the ideal choice for our stay, it was located right on the water with their own dock facilities, the rooms are large, spotless and with large comfortable beds and all conveniences.
Once we had settled in, Wright Taylor dropped by and it was really great to give him a good Irish hug and catch up on his fishing news!
Next morning saw us at first light at the boat ramp where we met with Wright Taylor and his friend Capt. Keith Goodman (a good skin) who had generously offered to run the camera boat.
The waters around Marco were looking decidedly murky this first morning due to a recent procession of severe tropical storms having passed through, dumping enormous amounts of rain in their wake, with the knock-on effect on water clarity and salinity. The bloody kiss of death!
Now, anyone who comes in contact with me soon discovers that I am an eternal optimist and luckily for me, Denis too is endowed with a sunny outlook! With our excitement and anticipation bubbling like froth beneath a weir, our two skiffs headed out for the maze of mangrove islands and channels that Marco is famous for. The place is just beautiful.
Wright opened up the motor on the Hell’s Bay Skiff and soon we were skimming across the bay to a great looking area–grassy flats with oyster bars pock marking the sandy bottom, and to cap it all, we were on a flooding tide! If optimism was a tangible thing, you could have opened a bottling plant and sold our fizzy brew to Europeans, such were our spirits that morning!
For “openers,” Denis opted for a 4-inch white Gulp shrimp tail on a 7-foot medium spinning rod while Wright teamed me up with a white 4-inch Gulp Jerk Shad. We had some nice reds from among those grassy pockets and with the tide flooding, Wright called for a move to the mangrove islands in search of Snook. Within a couple of minutes, we were twisting and turning through countless, mangrove-lined channels and neck-down areas that caused Denis and I to lose our bearings completely! Wright knows these waterways and channels intimately and his uncanny ability to say at any given spot “there is a good fish to the left of that stick” or “cast back in there under those branches, at the mouth of that tiny creek and there will be a nice red or two!”
Wright’s knowledge and guiding skills coupled to his attentive and caring nature shines through in all that he does for his guests. He is an outstanding guide.
The snook remained elusive as water conditions were simply awful, resembling milky grey dish water due to the incredible rainfall over previous weeks. However, we stuck manfully to the task with the slow fishing punctuated by high speed excursions to new and promising honey holes and jokes a-plenty among the crew.
Denis decided to give the fly rod an airing and rigged it up with a white and chartreuse baitfish imitation. I thought this more delicate approach might just be the ticket. It was! He caught a couple of ladyfish, a Florida trout and a couple of baby reds for his efforts!
I had a nice Jack inhale my 5-inch Super Fluke which put up a great fight, pulling my string for all its worth! Then it was up with the power pole and off once again to hit another of Wright’s special spots. We were no sooner on our way and clipping along at full belt, when suddenly without warning we had no drive and the skiff just sat down. It quickly became obvious that a serious problem had occurred with the motor’s lower unit. When Wright tried to put the motor in gear, the prop did not engage. The shaft had broken off without the lower unit hitting anything! “Feckin unreal,”as they say back in Bunnyconlon!
Luckily for us, Keith was on hand to tow us back to the launch just in time too, as the storm clouds were building and lightening crackled across the deep mauve sky to the south.
By the time we arrived at the dock, Wright had made arrangements for a replacement skiff to cover our filming schedule. We were in good hands and we knew it.
The following days, we hit the launch at first light and Wright, accompanied by Terry Metzger, owner of Cypress Cycles near Naples, had kindly offered to run the camera boat and for which we owe Terry a ginormous Westmeath/Nevada THANK YOU!
Over the following days, fishing continued to be difficult with only modest success. On our third morning, we were greeted by a torrential tropical rain and lightning storm that caused us to abandon the early start. In the afternoon we reconvened for what we hoped would be an afternoon/evening bite. Wright pulled a lovely redfish out of a particularly difficult spot–from deep heavy cover. Great job! Denis scored with some meatier reds, a couple of micro snook and a trout. I managed to lose a couple of nano-sized line-siders that if landed, would have certainly broken into double figures–perhaps 10–12 ounces! There then ensued a debate among us as to the value or otherwise, of a crusty rime.
That night we all headed to Porky’s Last Stand on Bald Eagle Drive where Wright had arranged with Toni the manager to have our large bag of redfish fillets from the day’s catch entrusted to chef to work his Porky’s magic that this great family restaurant is famous for! We feasted on fabulous Porky’s fare of blackened nuggets of redfish that were absolutely to die for, broiled filets and hand breaded and fried goujons that were the sweetest, most succulent seafood that I have eaten in a restaurant. Take a bow…no visit to Marco Island would be complete without a visit to Porky’s Last Stand.
The crew snored rhythmically and soundly that night, bar Greg! A 4:00 am start next day witnessed a refreshed and excited Wild Fish Team take the coast route northward for two hours, headed for Captiva Island to meet up with a fantastic fishing family that are fans of the show.
Marcella Pereira and her brother AJ, owners of Elusive Tails fishing apparel, had contacted the show and invited us to come and fish with them when we were in Florida. The early morning slivers of light revealing the vermillion and pearl sky all merging with the waters of the gulf were an exquisite sight to witness and heightened our sense of excitement as we arrived at the agreed rendezvous–Jensen’s Marina on Captiva, where we were warmly welcomed by Marcella, AJ, and Dad, Adolfo Pereira.
After the introductions were made, the humorous jibes and witty remarks started up, setting the tone for the rest of the day, where we laughed and guffawed to the point where I had a stitch from laughing! I felt very honoured that we had been invited by this die hard fishing-mad, fun-loving family to share a day with them on the water. Just before heading for the wide blue yonder, Marcella took us all by surprise when each of the Wild Fish team were handed a goody bag containing samples of Elusive Tails Performance Tees in both long-sleeved and regular, each with an SPF of 50+ and made with their renowned high performance moisture-wicking and quick-drying properties. We put on our Elusive Tails tees onto which Marcella had embroidered our Wild Fish Wild Places logo! Very cool!
Out on the water, Adolfo brought us to some grassy banks about a half mile off shore and set up a nice drift. Marcella was soon into a ladyfish, followed by some nice trout. My jig remained unmolested while Denis eventually caught a trout. By now Adolfo was getting in on the act while AJ and friend aboard his skiff were fishing for snook and reds, casting right up into the mangrove-choked shore with great success. They managed eight lovely reds from beneath the trailing branches where the fish were holed up.
We enjoyed a fantastic day out with the Pereira family and we wish them every success with their fabulous Elusive Tails range of performance fishing clothing. I just know that AJ and Marcella will be a great success story both on and off the water! See www.elusivetails.com for more about this super gear.
We headed back late that evening to Marco for a night fishing trip with Wright and Terry. We motored out from The Boathouse Motel dock in darkness and sped across the water with only the stars and waterfront lighting for navigation. The warm balmy air and the pitch black of night made for a different sensory experience. I marveled at how Wright and Terry were able to work their boats safely around oyster bars, buoys and pilings in complete darkness and steer at considerable speed toward the intended target without incident. Local knowledge…you just can’t beat it!
The following three hours of fishing were some of the most exciting hours I have ever put in chasing fish! Wright positioned the skiff using the bow mount so that we could side cast our jerkbaits and shads under docks and boat lifts in pitch darkness. Oh what fantastic, explosive, heart attack-inducing excitement this nocturnal snooking is!
Denis hooked up immediately but lost a nice Snook. I for my efforts, got a rod-wrenching take, way in the back under a large dock and the boys called out that it was a biggy! The bloody fish went ballistic and wrapped me around one of the pilings before slipping the hook. To say I was gutted…well you know the rest! It was really difficult for us to gauge casting distances in the black darkness and more often than not, our wayward casting resulted in our lures lying up on the dock or in an unintended area of the cavernous structure we were fishing under! Oh but what excitement, what adrenaline-pumping excitement! You will have to watch Wild Fish Wild Places – Florida 2 episode to find out how we did that exhilarating night hunting snook in total darkness.
Sincerest thanks to Wright Taylor and Terry Metzger for looking after Team Wild Fish and giving us such a great time and providing us with hilarious memories, during our time down at Marco Island.
If you are planning a trip to SW Florida, give Wright a call on 239 821 9203 or go to www.flyfishmarco.com for information about his guide service and the fishing packages that he will put together for you.
Images courtesy Wild Fish Wild Places