Fishing the Glades

By: Capt. Travis Freeman

Happy New Year and here’s some local knowledge about fishing in this beautiful area known as the Everglades National Park, located in SW Florida about 30 miles east of Naples and 20 miles east of Marco island. I’ve been catching and how I’ve been catching redfish, snook, sea trout, mangrove snapper, pompano and many more species. For starters it is January and the water temperature is down in the mid 60’s which is cold for the Gulf of Mexico. Sea trout are all over the grassy areas along the near shores of the gulf and I like using an 1/8oz jig head with a 3 or 4 inch short plastic paddle tail bait. Colors don’t seem to matter when targeting these sea trout, and they are always a blast to catch and super satisfying for the kids. Redfish like to hangout around structures and oyster bars especially this time of the year. I pretty much always use live shrimp with a popping cork. Use 30 to 40-pound mono leader with a #4 J hook and make sure you make the leader about 3ft. You don’t want it any longer cause your bait will drag the bottom and which defeats the purpose of using a popping cork. You can always cast jigs or soft plastics all along the mangroves or different structures and you will have success. As for snook this time of year, I like to fish in the backcountry of the Everglades throwing mirror lures and jigs all around and under the mangroves. I always have successful days throughout the winter while using this technique. I usually have live pilchards or finger mullet 3 to 4 inches in length hooked on a #4 J hook with a 1/4oz sinker just above the hook, tide to 40lb monofilament leader again about 3ft of leader. I will also use a popping cork at times for big snook if I am fishing in 3 to 5ft of water. When fishing around the oyster bars it seems I am always in 5ft of water or less. Let’s not forget about sheepshead and mangrove snapper because they are all over right now. Any type of rocks, channel markers, oyster bars and so forth will have plenty of sheeps head and snapper to catch. The trick to catching them is using very light monofilament leader(20lb) also it is very important to use a small hook. I like the (#2 J hook) with a small 1/4oz egg weight just above the hook and for bait use live or dead shrimp. Take a smaller shrimp or just a piece of the tail and put it on the hook and you will get a nibble before you know it! Let’s not forget about the environment and the beautiful surroundings we get to see while cruising and fishing though the 10,000 islands, beaches, sawgrass and so much more that the Everglades has to offer.