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Date posted January 2, 2018 9:43 PM
Posted by Jillybird
Report location Traveling Angler > Beating the Cold Christmas Week Miami Style
Fishing method Boat
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I left New York early in the morning on Christmas Eve day to spend the week with my son in Miami and to escape the cold wave about to hit New York, however briefly. Well, it was good while it lasted.

While my son ran a bunch of charters on the Li'l Jillybird, I happily went out on one of the local party boats for some drift fishing.

Fortunately, my son's charter clients caught a lot more fish and a lot more interesting fish than I did.

Up until today, the weather in Miami had been gorgeous, sunny, and summer-like. That's made the bite a bit odd -- the strong cold fronts pushing down the winter sails hadn't really arrived in force (though today has changed things). So the offshore bite has been up and down -- when the current has been northbound and the blue water has been close to the reef, the bite has been good. But on plenty of days, there's been little or no current, or even south current and green water, and that's the kiss of death.

A captain has got to be flexible and have a bunch of usually productive spots to fall back on. On my son's Christmas Day charter, for a fellow Nor'easter and his two sons and friend, Capt. Wylie got them into a mangrove snapper bite (tricky bait stealers they are), and then chummed up an awesome almaco jack frenzy which kept the kids fighting as many of these hard fighting tasty fish as they wanted. They also picked up a red grouper and a nice bonito on the kite for a fun morning.

Very early the next morning my son and I trailered the boat to Flamingo, 38 miles into Evergaldes National Park, and the true end of the road. From there, we headed west and fished the Cape Sable area. We just purchased the trailer for the Li'l Jillybird, so even though we've fished Flamingo many times, this was our first trip on our own boat.

The Li'l Jillybird, a 2017 Robalo Cayman 246 bay boat, is a remarkably versatile machine. The day before, my son was kite fishing on the edge of the Gulf Stream in a couple of hundred feet of water, and on this day, we were skimming across 2-3 feet of water in Florida Bay and heading up backcountry creeks and canals, before heading into the Gulf of Mexico.

Our Evergaldes trip proved productive. Fishing a creek up inside the East Cape Canal, my son nailed a backcountry snook of a lifetime of close to 40 inches caught at 11 am on a bright sunny morning on a cork and jig with a live shrimp. Our exploration of the East and Middle Cape shoreline was less productive as our timing was off -- low tide, though we did catch some sea trout and catfish.

We ran across insane blitzes of small jack crevalles rampaging through enormous schools of glass minnows with every pelican on the East Coast joining in the frenzy -- truly National Geographic scenes. I told my son to run offshore in the Gulf a couple of miles where we'd find the stone crab pots and we could run the pot lines looking for triple tails.

Sure enough, as we bombed through the pots at 25 mph, we spotted some nice triple tails. This is fun sight casting to fish that don't spook easily. We picked out a couple of huge triple tails and cast our live shrimps just uptide and BOOM -- game on. These fish are great fighters on light tackle and are about the most delicious fish in the ocean. We caught and released many.

Then we headed back about 20 miles east through a squall and suddenly very nasty two foot choppy waters to the ramp in Flamingo. (Another good thing about the big Robalo compared to a 16 foot Hells Bay flats boat -- that ride would've broken your back and left you soaked and knocked your fillings out). If you want a fishing adventure of a lifetime, try a long day trip from Miami to Flamingo. It's really world class backcountry fishing in magnificent wilderness about as remote as you can get in the lower 48 and yet only 1 1/2 hours from Miami.

The next day, my son took a group of locals out for a full day charter. The clients wanted fish for a fish fry so my son took them to his secret deep drop spot in about 900 feet of water for delicious black-bellied rose fish and they loaded up. Then they hit the reef for great bottom action on mangrove snappers, strawberry groupers, cerro mackerel, yellowtail snappers, blue runners, and barracuda. The guys had a blast and enough filets for all their family and friends. For me, it was another day catching grunts and yellowtails on the party boat.

Now I'm back in the deep freeze in NY. The only good news is that we're off to a good start to the ice fishing season. I hit the Muscoot Reservoir the other day and the bays and coves had a good 4 or 5 inches of clear ice (should be up to 6 or 7 at least by now) and the open water should rapidly be locking up. In one of our usual hotspots, we caught about 10 small bluegills in a quick trial outing -- not the crappies we were looking for but a start.

Miami is in the deep freeze for the next two or three days, but things warm up nicely by the weekend. So if you want to get out of the freezer and enjoy some fun fishing, give my son, Capt. Wylie a call at 914-874-9697. Happy New Year to all.

Backcountry snook of a lifetime in the Evergaldes

Even I caught some huge triple tails

Jurassic Park Gulf of Mexico Triple Tail

Longevity Sportfishing
Southold NY Capt. Rob Spitzenberg

Restless Lady Charters
Ocean City, Maryland/Talbot St Pier
Offshore charters-Tuna Marlin Shark

Capt. Tony Cecco - 516 639-6767

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  Comments and Questions  
Author Message

Joined: 06/10/2008
Posts: 887
Location: E. Setauket, NY
 01/02/2018 10:31 PM  

Nice report Bob. Sounds like Wylie is turning out to be quite the charter captain! No surprise there. I'll keep him in mind if I am ever down that way.

Joined: 08/12/2012
Posts: 157
Location: Port Washington
 01/03/2018 07:34 AM  

Hi Bob, great report

As I started to read the report it warm me up and then I looked out my window and I got back to reality.

Thank you for posting Wylie's phone number, I will look him up next time I am down there.

Hopefully things will begin to warm up by March 1st! 87 days to the spring launch!

I trust you will continue to give us some more of Wylie's trips.


Joined: 04/18/2005
Posts: 117
 01/06/2018 06:20 PM  

Nice report and beautiful triple tails!


Joined: 09/18/2014
Posts: 29
 01/08/2018 08:19 AM  

for a moment ..JUST A MOMENT...I was back in the everglades...grew up down there...thanx
morning dew

Joined: 03/25/2002
Posts: 703
Location: Off the grid
 01/10/2018 06:17 PM  

You guys are getting soft, running off to Florida when we finally have an ice fishing season! Will be out this weekemd for slab crappie and jumbo perch on the fertile waters of N Westchestr.

I like Pearl in a can,and Jim Beam Black, and chewing tobacco from a mail pouch sack.

Joined: 04/17/2002
Posts: 733
Location: mass. cove
 01/10/2018 07:09 PM  

awesome report thanks for keeping your fellow winter land lubbers abreast of whats going on down south best to you and the captain

Joined: 09/03/2001
Posts: 2217
Location: Mamaroneck
 01/12/2018 12:17 PM  

Hey Morning Dew, I'd be careful about the ice in Northern Westchester this weekend after all this rain and warm temps. It's going to take a couple of days of the hard freeze to make the ice safe again. I'm hoping to get out on Monday if it is safe on Muscoot.
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