After a long work week on the road I made a last minute decision to go fishing on Saturday morning. Since I'd been so busy working I hadn't paid any attention to any upcoming weather forecasts until after I had invited a new neighbor to come along. Bill from Jersey bought a house down the street from us a while back and recently brought his new to him Grady White walk around console down from Jersey to Port Charlotte. Soon we will take his boat off-shore but this trip was to be on my Classic Mako flats boat.
I was shocked when I saw the coastal weather forecast called for 25 MPH winds, 7-14' seas, bays and inland waters rough. It seems a weather front was due to come through the area on Saturday, bringing sudden chilly temps and high winds to Southwest Florida. I decided to not cancel my plans, instead opting to get up early and check the weather buoys (via an app) for live readings before making my final decision.
I awoke a half hour before my alarm was set to go at 4:30 AM. Outside it was 61* and calm. The Wind Alert app showed coastal winds in the low 20s but the rivers and bays were experiencing just 3-5 MPH. Sure, there was a small craft advisory, but I figured we could launch out of a nearby ramp, into the Myakka River and judge the conditions live. If it was rough, we could easily abort but if it was doable we would fish close enough to run to safety if needed.
We launched at 6:30 in total darkness but the water was calm. We worked top water lures with no success for the first half hour. The best part was the beautiful 60 degree temperature and view of the coming sunrise.
Does this look like a small craft advisory is needed?
We moved into Tippycanoe Bay and switched our lures to suspending jerk baits and my favorite, the Storm Twitch. Jersey Bill really cast with skill, dropping his lure very close to the mangroves. We only had to retrieve a couple of errant throws. At about 8 AM my guest was the first to hook up, landing his first ever Red Drum. Although it was a baby I convinced him to pose to celebrate his first of the species. The golden red scales showed even brighter in morning sun. We released him to fight another day.
We continued working along the mangrove shorelines until I found a creek I'd never explored before. The incoming tide allowed me to enter the shallow finger channel confident I'd be able to get back out. The depth was 1-2 feet coming in but dropped off to 4' as we passed the mouth. This would be a good spot for predator fish to lay and ambush bait being swept in by the tide.
Sure enough, in no time I was hooked up with a nice fighting Redfish. He hit the Twitch Stick as well. He measured 20" and had some nice meat on him.
We worked that creek for another half hour but had no action. I figured the commotion created my my hookup spooked the other fish away so we moved on. We went into one of my favorite areas, the Myakka Cutoff. Bill really enjoyed exploring these area and commented that he understands why the flats boats are so popular here.
Just after the turn of the tide the wind and the waves followed suit. When white caps start appearing in the normally protective Cutoff you know it's going to get rough. We agreed to call it a day and head for the ramp. I couldn't help but snap a final picture of my neighbor with the now building seas behind him as we entered the wide Myakka River.
We made it to the ramp without incident and spotted other boaters launching to start their day on the water in these conditions. Don't people know enough to check the weather forcasts?
Before the day was done we were getting gale force winds in Port Charlotte but by then I was comfortably napping in bed and my Redfish fillets were chilling in the fridge before being served for dinner.
(The cold front will bring morning lows in the 40s! This could make tomorrow's victory splash more like a polar plunge. The 6-1 Cardinals play at the 5-2 Cowboys. We get the game at home so we're very excited.)