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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

South Florida shore fishing February 2024

Back from a few days visiting my daughter and her family in South Florida, namely North Miami beach. Of course, my plan of action is to get in as much Florida fishing as I possibly can. With her and her husband working full time, and their kids in school, I pretty much had an 8am to 4 pm schedule open to fish as I pleased.

As opposed to past trips there, my plan was to work the area around her home on foot, all fishing from shore. Didn't even bother to rent a car during my entire stay.

The first spot I planned to fish, was the snake creek trail which runs along the Royal Galdes (or is it Glades?) canal. I've fished their in the past, and though it has been quite tough fishing, the peacock bass always intrigue me, as we don't get them up here. In addition, I've spotted some grass carp in there, and as we don't get those either, I brought along some very basic gear to help me try to target the grassers as well.

Day 1:

Woke up bright and early, in order to make the first morning prayers at the local synagogue (Bais Menachem) before sunrise. First time I can ever remember needing to wear a sweater in Miami, I think it was a chilly 9C.

Warmed up ever so slightly on my way home at sunrise about 1 hour later...

After the 12 minute walk back to my daughter's home, we had breakfast together. They headed off to their days at work/school, and I grabbed my 2 rods, a backpack of mixed tackle, and enough water to last a while. 

The first segment of the canal that I planned to fish at has a fitness trail and circuit, where most of the locals go for scenic walks, jogs and bike rides.

I proceeded to chum a spot with half a bag of frozen corn, hoping it may attract some grass carp. I then worked my way casting the entire segment of the canal on both sides, using a variety of lures. The only ones that garnered any interest at all, were a #3 and #4 spinner. About 2 dozen follows from juvenile peacock bass, but no hits at all, just chasers. That took about 3 hours.

I then proceeded to stop and fish the spot I chummed for carp, using a variety of frozen corn, popup chilli lime corn, and peanuts. No carp in sight, I went on to do another 3 hours of casting, spotting some more peacock bass. Still no hits, and I ran out of drinking water after around 7 hours, so I headed home, skunked.

Day 2:

Warmer weather had me in a t shirt. Switched plans for the day. After seeing kids off, I decided to start at the spot I had chummed, as I had dumped in the second half of the corn before leaving the previous day. Set up my rods, and while they were fishing, I took advantage and got a good workout in the warming sun amidst the palm trees. Mix of callisthenic, isometric, aerobic, ending with a bit of yoga and stretching. Still no carp in sight, seemed the ducks and other aquatic birds were more interested in the corn, and that segment of the canal is loaded with all sort of these birds.

I decided to try a bit of sight fishing, and spotted the biggest grass carp I have seen there to date, probably pushing 20 lbs or so. It spooked real quickly, but I decided to chum that area with a bag of corn again.

I then proceeded to head out exploring another segment of the Snake Creek trail, on the other side of Miami Gardens. 

The segment of the same canal turns into Sky lake on one side, and there is a small lake across with a few secluded casting spots. I couldn't find it's name on Google maps, but it seems to be called Pickwick lake based on the homes/estate at the road entrance.

After casting Sky lake with a couple more follows from peacock bass, I tried Pickwick lake. Seeing a nice topwater splash from my first spot, I made my way through some pine trees for a better shot at casting to the fish. Sure enough, first cast with my topwater lure (walking mullet) was money, and I landed my first fish of the trip, and decent little largemouth bass. 

I eventually made my way further down past I-95, and started fishing a new segment of the canal, but was getting tired from all the trekking in the heat, and starting to run low on water. Before calling it a day, I headed back to try to fish the area I chummed for carp again. This time, the flock of birds that came when I had chummed, basically ate all the corn I put out, and when I cast, one of them dived and nearly got hooked trying to steal my bait. 

So much for "wasting" any more time with carp. Truth is, that grass carp are put in those types of waterways to eat the overabundant grass, so throwing in some corn does not have the same effect that it would on common carp. With very few grass carp there (I only spotted 1 in 3 days), and insane amounts of ducks, geese, turtles, and other aquatic birds, it's little wonder that I wasn't able to have any success. I headed home and planned to fish Sky lake hard the following day.

Day 3:

The hottest day of my trip. I had a bit less time to fish as it was Friday, I decided to beat up both Sky lake and Pickwick lake with a large variety of lures. Topwater, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits a spinners in various size and colors each. 

I was always wondering how accurate these signs were.

Sure enough, I finally found out, as I spotted a couple manatees, a big 8-10 foot mother and it's calf swimming near the surface.

A bit after noon, I saw a splash on Pickwick lake, tossed a small spinner, and landed my first peacock bass of the trip. 

Nothing big, but very welcome.

Minutes later, I saw another surface splash, this time on Sky lake. Again, the small spinner did the trick, this one a bit better in size.

Tried sight casting a few lures to some cruising largemouth bass, but no takers, and I called it a day about an hour later.

Day 4:

This was to be the big highlight of my trip. An afternoon going into night of shore fishing for giant sharks, namely hammerhead, tiger and bull sharks, near Jensen's Beach Florida, with one of my childhood friends that now lives in South Florida

Unfortunately, the guide that I booked (No Name charters / Jake Barker) through a web site called turned out to be one of the worst / unprofessional guides I've ever booked.

Without going into all the details of the failed outing, results were no hammerheads, tiger or bull sharks, despite the guide promising the moon before I booked him. We were lucky to avoid the skunk with this decent blacktip shark.

Day 5:

After getting home a lot earlier than planned from the previous days shark outing, I was originally thinking of saltwater fishing for my last day in Florida. My thoughts were to have my daughter drop me off at the Sunny Isles Pier for the day on her way to work, and then pick me up at days end. Between not wanting to overburden her, and still being a bit groggy from a night of drinking with my friend after the failed shark outing, I decided to stay on foot and do more exploring further down the Snake Creek trail.

I got a later start than usual, got to my first spot at Sky Lake around 10:30 AM or so. After a bit of casting to some inactive bass there, and a bit at Pickwick lake, I made my way further West along the trail, to a new segment of canal I hadn't fished yet.

Made my way down casting spinners, was getting a decent amount of hits from tiny largemouth bass without any hookups. After fishing the entire length of that segment of canal without anything to show for, I tried working my way back up casting another topwater lure, the Berkeley Choppo. Unfortunately, the wind was blowing tons of drifting grass towards the side of the canal I was fishing, so I couldn't get a clean retrieve. I switched to a small spinner, and not long after, I caught my first Florida Bluegill sunfish. Decent size for the species, and it hit at the end of my retrieve, about 1 foot from shore.

Kept working my way East using the spinner, until the point where drifting weeds were no longer an issue. I switched back to using the topwater Choppo, and sure enough, it got crushed by a nice peacock bass. During the entire fight, another peacock bas of identical size kept chasing the one I hooked, and twice, it tried to steal the lure from the first one's mouth. Would have been totally nuts to catch the two peacock bass on the same lure at once, but it didn't happen.

I landed the first one, a nice 15 inch fish that put up a great fight for it's size, and now my biggest of that species. 

As well, it was my first topwater peacock bass, as all the previous ones I have manage to land over my past few trips to the area have all been caught on spinners.

I kept casting the area for a while, hoping for the other one to come back, but it likely took off to an other area. They seem to do that more than largemouth or smallmouth bass once they miss a lure, most often giving you only one shot at catching them.

As the day went on and I kept working my way East towards my starting point, I made my way back to sky lake. I ran into two other guys fishing the same stretch of shore line. They were locals, and it was their first time fishing the area. We got to talking a bit, and they were very excited to hear that I had landed a peacock bass, as they hadn't had any success all day.

I showed them the picture, and then the lure I was using. Just as I was demonstrating how the lure worked, I nice largemouth bass swam right up to us, and stopped about 8 feet from where I was standing on the shore. I tossed my lure next to it, and within 2 to 3 twitches, it nipped at the lure, and I was hooked the nice bass. 

Managed to land in right in front of them, and my demonstration of the lure could not have worked out more perfectly!

I didn't bother weighing it, but I'd guess it was pushing the 4 lbs mark, about 20 inches long or so. While quite small by Florida bass standards, it is my biggest largemouth bass landed in Florida, as most of the fishing I have done there in the past was in saltwater.

Kept seeing more bass cruising the shallows at Sky lake, but unfortunately, none were active enough to hit my lure, and I ended up heading home about an hour or so after that.

As it was my final outing of the trip, after a quick shower, I sat down for a self celebratory drink. One of all time favorites when visiting the USA, pity we don't get these here in Quebec.

For those of you old enough the remember their TV commercials, thought I'd share one of my favorites:

Gotta love them Aussies!

Got back to the warmest temps I have seen here in February, I was even wearing the same clothing in Miami and Montreal on he same day. Hoping to find some safe ice to fish up North next week.

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