My first time inshore fishing in Florida left me with a great impression. Let me tell you about it and how I think our fisheries and angling techniques compare.
I don't get to see my Marine Corps comrades a whole bunch anymore. We are scattered to the four winds and if we want to get together we have to plan our own reunions.
So, we made some plans and I was able to visit one of my brethren, John Swanson, in Crawfordville, Florida.
We had spent a lot of time in Iraq together and I was excited to see him.
It's funny how we are both inshore addicts from our respective areas, mine in Louisiana and his in Florida.
He had been fishing once in Louisiana with me and this would be my first time fishing with him in Florida.
Actually, it was my first time inshore fishing in Florida ever.
Given the circumstances, I was only able to fish one day, but seeing that John is a licensed captain, tournament angler and fishing guide, he wouldn't have any issues showing me how they do things.
He also operates a non-profit called Fishing For The Brave where he takes our nation's war veterans out to experience inshore fishing. Honestly, I think it's the best thing anyone can experience.
The wind was nearly perfect first thing in the morning, with a light breeze from the north. The seas were flat calm and John took it upon himself to immediately run offshore to some shoals.
It was there he had been on piles of bull reds and successfully putting his clients on fish. It was there I caught my first Florida red.
My Initial Impressions
We had plans to fish all day, until the sun went down. These are some of the things I observed.
Florida is Beautiful
The whole time I was amazed at how beautiful everything was. I had been to Florida a few times before and the scenery never gets old. It is easy to see why so many women fish in Florida but not in Louisiana.
If they came to Louisiana dressed the way they did in Florida, an attack squadron of mosquitoes would pick them up, carry them over the horizon and we'd never see them again.
It's no wonder so many people want to live there (20 million vs our 5 million) or visit on their free time. It's the perfect place for someone to go fishing while the rest of the family hangs out at the beach.
Sadly, there is no beach in Pointe a la Hache, just curious alligators and the kind of mosquito that could survive an attack from a surface-to-air missile.
The Tide is Way Different
The tide range was about the same as ours, but the type of tide was different. They have a semi-diurnal tide, or two tides a day. I explain this more in Mastering the Tide.
So the tide range is the same, the water just moves more frequently and can leave you high and dry much faster than it would in Louisiana.
You have to be on your A-game and definitely apply "fishing smarter".
Floridians Have a Near-Phobia of Baitcasting Tackle
I did not see a single baitcaster. Nada. I even had a girl tell me they are pointless.
I wonder what Jordan Lee would think about that as he is cashing his $300,000 check he won from the Bassmaster Classic?
I believe in "fishing smarter" and feel that every piece of tackle is merely a tool in the toolbox. I should master them all. Did I have spinning tackle with me that day?
Duh! I had it rigged exactly as John dictated because he is a subject matter expert for that area.
Gotta maintain an open mind.
There is a lot to do in a relatively small area
There is all kinds of water from fresh to salt that we could fish. We sighted triple tail along floatant then we went into the marsh and poled around for redfish. That, to me, is classic Florida fishing.
Some other things I learned
- fish will move onto flats that were once dry land
- for whatever reason, ocean swells and chop don't come onto the flats
- redfish will appear more "silver" in the water than they will "red"
- use a heavier jighead to make long casts, the redfish won't mind
- when triple tail spook, they will move down the line connecting the float to the trap
- single PVC pipes are most likely marking something your lower unit won't like
Why did I go inshore fishing in Florida?
I really went to catch up with John, but I also went so I could cross-train with another experienced inshore angler, very much in the same way our military cross-trains with other militaries.
I wanted the experience and I wanted to learn. I want to become better at what I do and be unstoppable.
At the end of the day, I can say that I enjoyed fishing and catching in one area of Florida's waters. I understand there is a lot more to do and see. I also understand that I only fished one day.