Chock fulla nice grass 'n mud flats, potholes, bones 'n cuda!
FLYC Trip Report 2/19/03
What is the mark of a real yakfisher? How bout headin out on a Memorial Day knowing that rainy season is here and you will be carrying nice, tempting graphite rods at the ready and pointing, yup, straight up toward the thunder clouds.
Well, Joe, Ernie and I were s'posed to go for bones in S. Bay (Miami, S. Biscayne Bay). Why? Because the Florida Sportsman said so and even identified some groovy flats. Joe knew about a great FREE launch area at the Deering Estates which gives access to some prime territory. Unfortunately Ernie's wife set other priorities, and Sue Sea is off somewhere in Sue Sea land.
No matter. Joe and I were primed for top action.
The Deering Estates are located on SW 168 St. (aka Richmond St.) and Old Cutler. You get there by taking Rt. 826 south to the end, then US1 south just short of 5 miles, head east on SW 168 St., south on Old Cutler and you're right on top of it. Left just before the locks and head east to the water. NOTE: sharp rocks and coral everywhere...drive SLOW!
What a picturesque area! To the ENE is Chicken Key (our first goal). More prime mud and grass flats to the east and south. You'll find areas to the east with lots of nice potholes. Other super areas are both north and south of Chicken.
Joe had been here several times, and knew the area like the back of his hand. Almost. More about this later. Kept saying "Gee, I've never seen the water this low!". Hmmmm. We kept headin north and the water kept headin south. High was at 8 am., and we were out by 10 am.
The water east of the channel and south of Chicken was maybe 5 ft deep and we found it unproductive. Just south of Chicken was pretty low ("Gee, I've never seen it this low!"), so he suggested we head north of the key.
This was decidedly better. We found ourselves in about 2 ft. of water with numerous, deep potholes (now I know why them call em potholes). We both had two rigs, one with the typical flat skimming white bucktail bonefish jigs, and another rod with topwaters, i.e. Top Dog Jr. for Joe and and the fantabulous Yozuri topwater. Both got repeated hits by good sized cudas and who knows what else. Could certainly have been reds.
Joe had a great hit, great jump (at least 3 ft up) and immediate loss as the cuda bit thru his 30lb fluoro leader. I worked the Yozure real slow, teasing, bobbing, weaving and invariably got some very nice hits. Unfortunately I was missing part of my tail hook and I really believe that cost me. But it was fun.
At this point the day was movin on and the pm storms moving in, so we moved north to another productive area filled with potholes. We feel confident that it's important to look for water in about the 2 ft. range. Deeper is too cool, and shallower is noticeably too warm. I spotted two nice bones on the move and we spooked a sufficient number of serious fish to keep things interesting.
Now the winds were picking up and I thought we'd better get near shore to be safe. Joe immediately offered that he knew a nice creek with a tourist bridge that would be perfect to wait under, so we hightailed it north to beat the storm. And the water kept headin south. "Gee, I've never seen it this low..." Joe said again. Right Joe.
So picture this. We approach the north shore and Joe's hidey hole. The grass is showin more and more. The storm is showin more and more, moving in on us. And the water is leavin the area too. So we paddle - slower and slower - pickin up mud - now pushing on the paddles - now humping forward trying to slide - hump, push, slide - hump, push, slide - mud splashing everywhere, yaks full of it - and -
We stick. No more forward. No more backward. So "I've never seen it this low" Joe gets out and hippo's thru the muck. I make a valiant attempt and say "Joe, say I happened to bring a tow rope, no reason for both of us to get filthy...".
For some reason Joe thought I was kiddin. So I go, draggin my yak, and finally, finally we find a couple inches of water, back in, full of mud and paddle the last 50 feet to this mosquito infested mangrove clogged creek, sharing the bridge pilings with a bunch of crabs.
The walkway is a typical tourist bridge made of 2 by 8's, so plenty of water leaks through anyway. It smells. I take a chance and say "well, at least there aren't any gators around". Hmmmm. Now we were concerned. So I say "hey, Florida fishin Joe, sure doesn't get any better than this". And "..hey, maybe some fish got trapped in here too Joe...". We were laughing our asses off, only an hour till high tide.
Well long and short, we actually cast in the 50 feet of remaining water and darn if we both don't get hits by a trapped cuda...hehe. And finally weasled our way out. I won't mention the couple miles we had to paddle into storm caused 15-20 knot winds. etc, etc.
This is prime bone and cuda flats. I have no doubt you can visit Chicken and score nicely. Some caveats. Please, please go out after low on a rising tide. I'd suggest at least an hour after low. Prime depth is about 2 feet. Look for areas with numerous potholes. I particularly liked the north side of Chicken in this regard.
Tackle: med. or med. lt. but LOTS of line, at least 200 yards. Fast tip to cast light white or brown bone jigs, shrimp tipped hook up jigs (Hank Brown), and I can't say enough for the small topwaters. It is an absolute gas watching the wake as a predator approaches and attacks. Suggest 30 lb leader as you will hit cudas, though bones require no leader or a light one. You takes your choice!
We had a wonderful time despite the storms, real low tide ("I've never seen it this low.."), mud, etc. It is fun being out there and we sure had a lot of nice strikes, and this in the worst of conditions.
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