Friday, January 02, 2009

Fly Fishing the Everglades

This was my third holiday season in a row spent in Marco Island, Florida with my wife's family. Marco is a great place to spend a few weeks in winter with warm water and fishing right out the back door. During the days we fished with Kevin Mihailoff out of Chokoloskee. After three years fishing with Kevin in the winter in the Everglades, I'm pretty convinced that he is the best fly fishing guide in the area. He works hard. Poles his butt off, and always, always, puts us on fish. We may not catch them all, but Kevin always gets us double-digit sight-fishing shots at good snook, tarpon and redfish.

That's right: sight-fishing. I think most fly fisherman aren't aware of the quality fishing to be had in the Everglades. In the vast network of bays, creeks, and mud flats there always seems to be a spot where we can find, spot, and cast to large fish.

The first day we headed south down Gopher Creek to a spot that Kevin thought would hold some fish at a point where two creeks come together. Suffice to say, the snook were stacked.

This is the spot.

The backside of the point (where the fish were) was being guarded by this gator.

Behind the gator, the fish were, indeed, stacked. The foam and swirls in this picture are from snook eating. If you have never heard a snook eat, you need to. Words that were used to describe snook eats during our trip included; roast, crush, chomp, smash, smack, pop, destroy, and crunch. All of these descriptions are pretty accurate. Snook eats are, to say the least, not subtle.

On another day I fished with my good friend from Business School and partner on last year's Christmas Island trip, Steve. I am slowly working on converting Steve from an off-shore sailfish kind of guy to a fly angler. With trips like the Cuttslam , Christmas Island , and this run to the Everglades, I should be successful. Here is Steve fast to a snook.

Me with a snook on from the same spot.

A decent snook.

One afternoon Kevin took my father-in-law and I looking for tarpon. We found a dozen or so laid-up in a small bay. I got a nice one to eat (guide estimated at 140 pounds+) but after eating the fly it swam right at the boat a jumped in a raging, thrashing fit and threw the hook. Roger, though, being a much more seasoned tarpon angler, was able to get one to eat and stay buttoned. This is the first jump (CLICK THE PICTURE TO VIEW IT IN A LARGER FORMAT).

Just after the second jump...

Guide Kevin getting ready to get soaked. This tarpon was medium sized for the Everglades.

On my last day fishing, in addition to catching a number of snook, we spotted this redfish in about 10 inches of water and I was able to get him to eat (there was a drop of water on the camera lens). Redfish always surprise me by how hard they can pull for their size.

There are lots of gators in the Everglades.


  1. Dave, Sounds like you guys had a great time with some nice looking fish. I've always been content trout fishing, but sight fishing for those bad boys would be fun.

    - scott c

  2. Dave,

    Looks like a nice change of pace.

    Can you drop me an email at

    Chris S

  3. Dave, I sounds like you had an awesome trip. Those tarpon pictures are insane! Quite a change from dry fly sipping native trout.

    If I could also get you to shoot me an email @ that would be great, I don't think that I have you right email address anymore.


  4. The Everglades can also be a terrific place for Large Mouth Bass on a fly line. My wife and I went with my father who was a Florida native and a guide. We happened to hit a peak part of the season and probably caught 300 Bass between us in a few hours. My arms were so tired, we needed to quit before the end of the 1/2 day we had booked with the guide. I'll never forget it.

  5. nice fish the everglades are the best to fish because of the diversity of the fishes you can catch. Bass,redfish,snook,tarpon, etc. You caught some nice fish there. great article.