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See also Buddy Fishing Trips

2018 Kayak Fishing Challenge

 For all 2018 kayak fishing events, the lucky kayak anglers that catch the largest Spotted Seatrout, Snook, Redfish or Largemouth Bass will win a high quality fishing shirt embroidered with the Marco Sportfishing Club logo.

Any of four fish species caught during both scheduled and impromptu kayak fishing events, will need to be photographed, measured and recorded.
  Measurements need to be made to the nearest ¼ inch using the pinched tail method and rounded up or down as appropriate. At the end of the year, the kayak anglers with the largest Spotted Seatrout, Snook, Redfish or Largemouth Bass will be awarded the aforementioned prize.  Only one shirt prize will be awarded to any individual angler even if the angler catches more than one of the largest target fish species. In the event that the winning angler does not want the shirt prize, an optional cash prize of $50 can be claimed.

The general membership will be notified of upcoming scheduled kayak fishing events by MSC newsletter, MSC website or by email. On occasion, notices of impromptu kayak fishing events will be sent by email to kayakers who are on the MSC kayak list. These are members who have previously indicated an interest in kayak fishing. These impromptu kayak fishing events are outings that are organized on the spur of the moment taking advantage of water and weather conditions and other circumstances. Fish caught during impromptu kayak fishing events are also eligible to be entered in the 2018 Kayak Fishing Challenge.

Additionally, since some kayak fishing events (ex; Port of the Islands freshwater canal) are held outside of MSC backwater fishing boundaries, the aforementioned boundary restrictions are waived only for the sanctioned MSC kayak fishing events. Therefore, fish caught outside of the MSC backwater fishing boundaries are only eligible to be entered in the 2018 Kayak Fishing Challenge contest and are not eligible for entry in the Leaderboard or Fish of the Month (FOM) programs.

Victor Ordija
Kayak Fishing Event Leader

From Sept 2012 to date.   (Click on pictures to enlarge)

Kayak Fishing the Imperial River
February 22, 2018

Two above slot Snook were caught today in the Imperial River located in Bonita Springs. Both Mike Larsen and Dave Dodd had an exceptional day. Mike caught a 35.75'' Snook, a slot Redfish, several trout and a number smaller Snook. Dave caught a 33.5'' and a 26.5'' Snook and a 21” Spotted
Seatrout as well as several smaller Snook. 

Ken Robertson ( 26'' Snook) , George Stein and Victor Ordija made up the rest of the group and everyone caught fish including a number of large Jacks, smaller Snook and trout.

This was the second trip to the Imperial River for the kayak group and we had an exceptional day that took us down to Fish Trap Bay and back to the launch just off US 41; logging 10 miles in our kayaks.

The Imperial River is a fairly wide river with numerous docks and large homes. Surprisingly, the river holds a good number of large Snook.

Kayak Fishing Hell's Gate
January 11, 2018

A trout bonanza awaited a large contingent of Kayakers that set out on a bright cool morning from the Goodland Bridge. The eleven kayakers that participated in the event caught over 100 Spotted Seatrout. Most of the fish that were caught were undersized, but several legal trout were also caught. The largest trout was an 18.5” fish caught by John Baker.

Other than the trout that were caught only a few Snappers and Ladyfish were reported. No Snook or Redfish were caught; probably due to the recent cold snap and resulting cold water.

Kayak Fishing in McIlvane Bay
December 14, 2017

A small group of kayakers comprised of John Baker, Ron Linn, Mike larsen, Ken Robertson and Vic Ordija set out to fish McIlvane Bay on a cold but sunny day. On this day the water was crystal clear but cold and the fishing was slow.

The group initially tried fishing upper McIlvane Bay with no luck expect for a 26'' Snook caught under the 951 Bridge by Ken Robertson. As the morning wore on, the anglers moved into the lower part of the bay and a few more fish were caught including a couple of small Snook, Trout, Jacks and Ladyfish.

The group quit fishing around one o'clock, expect for Ken Robertson who continued fishing at the 951 Bridge. Ken's persistance resulted in a good catch of Sheepshead on Mangrove Crabs. The largest Sheephead registered 20.25'' and placed Ken on the 2017 Leaderboard.

Kayak fishing in Mainsail Lake
August 10, 2017

Our small group of kayakers encountered tough fishing in Mainsail Lake; a landlocked freshwater lake containing Snook, Tarpon and Largemouth Bass. Jay Jones caught the only fish that day; a 15.5” Largemouth Bass caught on a plastic worm.

 While the four member group only had a few strikes on this day, two hook-ups were Tarpon that were large enough to qualify for the Morgan Stanley Triple Crown. John Baker lost his fish when his line broke and Victor Ordija had a nice Tarpon that dehooked after several jumps. Gary Costley, the fourth member of the group lost a big Snook that also threw his lure after the initial strike.

 Mainsail Lake is a beautiful lake with a good population of fish as well as numerous alligators. In fact a twelve foot alligator was spotted during the outing. The reptile was given wide berth.

 Access to the lake is along Mainsail Drive through several gaps in the Mangrove vegetation. It does not receive a great deal of fishing pressure.

Kayak Fishing at Lovers Key State Park
July 24, 2017

Howard Laskau, Mike Larsen and Victor Ordija set out on a calm and sunny morning to fish the waters of Lovers Key State Park in Estero Bay. Lovers Key State Park is a popular 712 acre recreation area made up of four barrier islands which includes a pristine white beach and numerous tidal lagoons. 

Fishing on this day was slow but a few Spotted Seatrout were caught and Howard Laskau lost a good size Snook along the banks of New Pass. Of particular interest to the group was how clear the waters were in Estero Bay. While fishing we encountered extensive areas of sea grasses which are now mostly missing in the Marco Island area. This was especially surprising since this area is surrounded by highly populated communities.

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Kayak Fishing in McIlvane Bay
June 15, 2017

This kayak fishing event, originally scheduled for June 8, 2017, was postponed a week due to heavy rains and unsettled weather. On this day the small group of kayakers enjoyed a calm morning but had to deal with swarms of mosquitoes.

While the bite was moderate, a variety of fish were caught including several small Snook, lots of Mangrove Snappers, Jacks, a Black Drum and a small Redfish. Two larger Snook were reported hooked but lost.

The launch at McIlvane Bay is an excellent facility and is drawing an increasing number of kayakers. Several groups of touring kayakers were encountered during this event.

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Kayak Fishing in Chokoloskee Bay
May 18, 2017

Six kayakers faced windy conditions in Chokoloskee bay on Thursday morning, May 18, 2017 when the group left the newly constructed kayak ramp at the ranger station in Everglades City . Sea conditions during the paddle out were good, but as the morning wore on, winds picked up and wave action increased to a point where fishing was no longer comfortable and so the outing was completed by noon.

Nevertheless five Redfish were caught, three of which were landed by Jay Jones along with a small Snook. Several Snook were also reported hooked but not landed by Mike Larsen, John Baker and Jay Jones; some were big fish. Gary Costley and Victor Ordija each caught a Redfish.

George Stein did not have a good day as a wave caught him by surprise and flipped his kayak. George lost a rod, tackle box and anchor. Kayak fishing can be challenging at times.

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Kayak Fishing the Faka Union Freshwater Canal
April 13, 2017

We had our most productive day to date at the Faka Union freshwater canal with a tally of 63 Largemouth Bass caught by the group of seven kayakers. On this day we had good weather with only a mild breeze, relatively cool conditions and some cloud cover.

The water level in the canal was down two feet with almost no submerged vegetation, but the bite was on.

John Baker and Jay Jones each caught fifteen bass, but Dave Dodd recorded the largest fish at 19.25''. Most fish were caught on plastic worms. With very little submerged vegetation, Vic Ordija switched to a deep diving crank bait and was rewarded with a 29'' Snook and Jay Terzis, a newcomer to kayak fishing, caught a Tilapia also on a crank bait. An unusual catch since Tilapia are not often caught on lures or live bait.

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Kayak Fishing Hell's Gate
March 9, 2017

Ten kayakers fished the Hell's Gate area which is a pass between Goodland Bay and Palm Bay. During a strong tide, which was the case on this day, the current rips through the narrow passage and requires constant attention by kayakers to potential hazards in the waterway.

Water clarity was good this day even after several days of windy weather. The kayak group had another successful fishing outing with over 15 Snook, 12 Spotted Seatrout and 2 Redfish caught by the participants. Mike Larsen had an exceptional day catching 8 Snook. Dave Dodd recorded a 25.75” Snook, the largest caught that day and Jay Jones had the largest trout measuring 18.5”.


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Kayak Fishing the Imperial River
February 14, 2017

Six kayakers fished the Imperial River located in Bonita Springs. This is a fairly wide river with a depth averaging around five feet with numerous docks and pilings. During this time of year the river is more brackish and the group caught a variety of fish, including Snook, Redfish, Trout and Snappers.

On this day, Mike Larsen had the best catch recording a 28 inch Redfish and a 19.25 inch Spotted Seatrout. Mike also reported losing an above slot Snook. Most of the fish were caught in the lower stretch of the Imperial River primarily in the meandering section located in the isolated Mangrove forest. Several fish were also caught in Fish Trap Bay.

Both Mike Larsen and Vic Ordija registered a Southwest Florida Slam; a fish trio consisting of a Snook, Redfish and Spotted Seatrout.

The Imperial River is a new venue for the kayak group and required the group to paddle slightly over ten miles to complete the trip. While a significant amount of boat traffic was encountered during the event, everyone caught fish and a return visit is warranted.

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Kayak Fishing in Rookery Bay
January 25, 2017|

On this day, nine kayakers set out from Shell Island Road to fish Rookery Bay. Breezy conditions a couple of days before had subsidded and water clearity had improved. The group decided to try fishing Stopper Creek. Several Snook were caught at the entrance of the creek and Dave Dodd lost a big Snook in the same area and in the process lost one of his favorite Uzuri lures.
In addition to Snook being caught, kayakers caught several good size Spotted Seatrout. The largest trout was caught by Mike Larsen and he now leads the 2017 Kayak Fishing Challenge with a 17.25'' fish.
While fishing was still a bit slow, the group had a nice day on the water travelling about seven miles in the bay.
The next event will take the kayak group to the Imperial River.

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Kayak Fishing McIlvane Bay
December 27, 2016
by Mike Larsen

On a balmy Dec. morning, 8 MSC kayakers drove into the Shell Island entrance for the highly anticipated final event of the season only to find the gate locked. After waiting an hour with the gate still not open, the group called an audible and proceeded to the Capri Paddle Park to fish Mcllvaine Bay.

The group caught numerous trout, snook, snapper, and at least two redfish one of which was 24" landed by John Baker. John Moore and Jay Jones also caught and released legal flounder. In the final 10 minutes of the event, a 17 1/2" seatrout was landed by John Baker which moved him into the lead for the trout category in the year-long kayak fishing challenge.

The weather could not have been nicer for our last event of the season, and despite the last minute change of venue everyone enjoyed a beautiful day on the water with a nice variety of fish caught.

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Kayak Fishing in Chokoloskee Bay
November 21, 2016

Eight kayakers participated in November's kayak fishing event which was held in Chokoloskee Bay. The group was faced with cold and  windy conditions in the morning which slowed our crossing of the bay. Once the group entered the maze of mangove islands with protected waters, the
eight anglers were able to fish and everyone caught Seatrout. A total twenty fish were caught along with a few small Snook.

Winds died down by early afternoon and the paddle back to the launch point at the ranger station in Everglades City was markedly easier. Chokoloskee Bay is a popular venue for the MSC kayakers and rarely disappoints the group. The next and final kayak fishing event for 2016 will be held at Rookery Bay.


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Kayak Fishing in Faka Union Freshwater Canal
October 25, 201

Due to windy conditions in Chokoloskee Bay, the kayak fishing event at Everglades City was postponed until November, and the kayak group fished in the more protected freshwater canal which is bordered by thick vegetation and mature trees.

 On this day, the bite was slow for the six kayakers that participated in the event. Only a total of five Largemouth Bass and two Mayan Cichlids were caught. Nevertheless, Dave Dodd picked up a 19.75 inch bass which placed Dave into the leadership position in the annual kayak fishing challenge.

Kayak Fishing the Turtle Island Area
September 23, 2016 

This kayak fishing event focused on the Turtle Island area. There are several isolated bays that are accessible by kayak from an unnamed tributary that connects the Big Marco River to Addison Bay. Both the tributary and bays are know to hold Redfish, Snook and Trout.  

On this day water temperatures remained high and no fish were found in the small isolated bays. Snappers and Jacks were caught in the main channel and John Baker landed a 23.5 inch Snook and a Goliath Grouper. This area may be more productive during winter weather when fish are looking for warmer backwaters.

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Kayak Fishing in Mainsail Lake
September 3, 2016

On September 3, 2016, four kayakers fished the landlocked freshwater lake located within the Hammock Bay Complex. While Mainsail Lake contains Tarpon, Snook and Largemouth Bass, the target specie on this day was the Tarpon and specifically Tarpon larger than 30 inches; the size needed to qualify for the Morgan Stanley Triple Crown Tournament (MSTCT).

While two Tarpon were caught, both were undersized and did not qualify to be entered in the MSTCT. In addition to the Tarpon, the group also caught small Bass, Snook and Mayan Cichlid. Also, at the upper end of Mainsail Lake near the Marco Island Airport is a population of alligators, some which are sizable but have not shown any aggressive behavior.

Access to the lake is from Mainsail Drive approximately one mile from County Road 951. This is good option for kayakers looking to fish a quiet and serene freshwater lake environment.

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Kayak Fishing in Hell's Gate
July 18, 2016

 This kayak fishing outing, originally planned for Lover's Key, was moved to Hell's Gate as a result of the outbreak of blue-green algae that has significantly affected water quality in Estero Bay.

Eight kayakers were able to make the event and fished the winding channels of Hell's Gate. The kayakers had to deal with warm and humid summer weather, but the cloud cover and light breeze kept the anglers reasonably comfortable. In fact by midday, winds picked up and kept the kayakers out of the open bay.

 Many Mangrove Snappers were caught by the group, but most were undersized. A couple of Snook were caught with the largest being 25 inches and landed by Mike Larsen who now lead the the Snook category in the Kayak Fishing Challenge.

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Kayak Fishing in Chokoloskee Bay
June 14, 2016

Ten kayakers turned out for this June event which took us back to Chokoloskee Bay. We launched from the Gulf Coast Visitor's Center and paddled deep into passes and bays surrounded by Mangrove islands until we reached the upper point of Russell Pass. This day we had calm but hot weather and by midday the group was ready to call it a day.

Jay Jones caught a nice 25 inch Redfish, but the fish flipped out of his kayak before Jay was able to get a picture. A variety of other fish were also caught including Snook, Spotted Seatrout and Mangrove Snappers.

Mike Larsen recorded a 20 inch Snook and John Marchetti added a 16.75 Spotted Seatrout for the 2016 Kayak Fishing Challenge. Mike also took home a limit of Mangrove Snappers ranging in size from 11.25 inches to 12.5 inches in size.

Kayak Fishing the Estero River
May 12, 2016

The Estero River is a beautiful winding waterway that drains into the
  Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve.  The upper portion of the Estero River is heavily overgrown with large Oak trees and has fresh but murky water that reportedly harbors Largemouth Bass.

Our small group of six kayakers tried unsuccessfully to catch bass using freshwater shiners purchased at the Estero River Outfitters.

The river meanders for another 3.5 miles down to the bay and several small Snook and Snappers were caught during the paddle down to the lower portion of the river. Two large fish were hooked but were not landed. The lower portion of the river has excellent structure, good flow and clear water and likely has large Snook and Redfish.

Afterwards the group stopped at the CanCun Bar and Grill in Estero for lunch and refreshments.

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Overnight Kayak Fishing trip to Pavilion Key
April 13-15, 2016

Early Wednesday morning on April 13, 2016, four kayakers; John Baker, Mike Larsen, John Moore and Vic Ordija set out from Chokoloskee Island on an overnight kayak fishing trip to Pavilion Key. Following an outgoing tide, we paddled down Chokoloskee Pass, then crossed over to Rabbit Key Pass, then behind Lumber Key and out to the Gulf.

The open Gulf is the most challenging part of the trip as it required a four mile crossing to get to Pavilion Key. Fortunately we had calm weather and the crossing was completed with little difficulty.

By early afternoon, we met up with the two supply boats captained by Allan Bristow and Ron Linn and crew members Howard Laskau and Jay Jones. They had reached Pavilion Key earlier in the morning and had the camp set up by the time we had reached Pavilion Key.

The afternoon was spent fishing for the next day's dinner. A few fish were caught in the afternoon, but more would be needed to have enough for tomorrow's dinner. That evening the group enjoyed an excellent chili prepared by Mike Larsen.

At night we built a fire, had a few beers and kept watch for marauding raccoons.  A few raccoons showed up early, but were chased off. Unfortunately, more turned up after we retired and managed to swim to Linn's boat where they got into Ron's cooler, ate all his sandwiches and cookies and adding insult to injury, they proceeded to thrash his boat. Ron was not a happy camper.

After an early breakfast of eggs, ham and fried potatoes, the campers set out to catch fish for dinner. Surprisingly water quality was poor at this outer island and fishing was slow. Nevertheless, enough fish were caught to supply the group with enough filets for the evening's dinner. A variety of fish were caught including Snook, Trout and even a Permit.

Lunch consisted of sandwiches prepared by John Baker and the afternoon saw the campers began to take it easy and enjoy the comfortable weather and environment of Pavilion Key. A light breeze kept the bugs at bay.

As the afternoon wore on, the fish that were caught were cleaned and the filets were seasoned and blackened in cast iron pans. Fried potatoes and the remaining chili were added and the group enjoyed an excellent meal.

That evening we built another fire and took additional precautions with our supplies so that the raccoons could not get to our food. We left some uneaten fish for the raccoons and found the next morning that the pests had come back but at least they had left our stuff alone.

Early next morning after breakfast we broke camp, loaded the boats and prepared for the trip back. Ron Linn and Jay Jones left first. Allan Bristow and Howard Laskau and the kayakers departed later in the morning.

The trip back for the kayakers was comfortable due to the wind and tide pushing us along. The only incident that marred our return trip occurred when John Moore attempted to extract a lure from a Ladyfish. The fish flopped and sent a hook into John's right thumb. We were still three miles out from Chokoloskee Island and somehow John was able to paddle the remaining distance with a lure dangling from his right hand. A quick trip to the emergency room was required.

All in all it was a great trip with great weather and almost no bugs.


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Kayak Fishing the Faka Union Freshwater Canal
April 20, 2016

Bass fishing got off to a slow start for ten kayakers fishing in the Faka Union freshwater canal. Water was exceptionally clear this day and many fish were were observed lurking in the abundant submerged vegetation.

The bite improved later in the morning and eighteen Largemouth Bass were caught by the group. The largest bass measured eighteen inches and was caught by Vic Ordija. Most of the fish were caught using plastic worms. Top water lures such as weedless frogs did not produce this day.

Kayak Fishing in Rookery Bay

March 17, 2016

On a foggy but calm day, eight kayakers set out to fish Rookery Bay. Water clarity was marginal, but the group managed to catch a variety of fish which included several small Snook, Snappers, Trout, Jacks and a number of Ladyfish.

Jay Jones hooked into something big that got into the Mangroves and broke off. Vic Ordija was dragged around by a large Stingray that took about 10 minutes to get to the boat.

While no fish were caught that qualified for the kayak fishing challenge, the group enjoyed fishing along the established canoe trail

in Rookery Bay.

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Kayak Fishing in McIlvane Bay

February 23, 2016

Poor water clarity and windy conditions presented a challenge to the ten kayakers that set out to fish McIlvane Bay on Tuesday, February 23, 2016. Nonetheless, John Baker was able to snag an above slot  29 inch Redfish and Dave Dodd took home a couple of 16 inch Spotted Seatrout.

A number of smaller trout and and small Snook were also caught by the group, along with lots of ladyfish, jacks and catfish.

Additionally, several members of the group also encountered an approximately seven foot saltwater crocodile as it swam across one of the secluded backwater channels.

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Kayak Fishing Goodland and Palm Bays
January 21, 2016

Due to unsettled and rainy weather for a good part of January 2016, scheduling a decent fishing day was difficult. However, the kayak group managed to get out and fish Goodland and Palm Bays on Thursday, January 21, 2016 with nine hardy members participating in the outing.

While the weather conditions on Thursday were OK, the fish did not cooperate. The group caught a number of ladyfish and small jacks, and only one undersized Spotted Seatrout was reported caught. Water temperatures were down in the lower 60's and neither Snook nor Redfish could be enticed to strike.

The most interesting sight to behold was John Baker trying out his new sail. We had a bit of a breeze and John was challenged trying out the new equipment.


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Kayak Fishing in Chokoloskee Bay
December 21, 2015

After a two day delay due to windy weather and a small craft advisory, the kayak group was able to venture out and fish Chokoloskee Bay. The group started out from the Everglades National Park ranger station in Everglades City on a calm sunny morning. However as the day wore on winds picked up again and the return trip to the launch point proved somewhat challenging having to head into waves with white caps and against the tide.

Nevertheless even with choppy seas, fishing proved to be productive with almost all of the seven kayakers were able to catch nice size Spotted Seatrout. Also a Snook and a Redfish were caught as well as several other fish species.

The day was capped off with beers at the recently reopened Seafood Depot. The restaurant appears to have new ownership and the group was surprised to
learn that beer prices have risen to $5/glass. John Baker wondered if we were still in Everglades City and not at the Marriott.

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Kayak Fishing in Halfway Creek
November 12, 2015

A good size group of nine kayakers set out on a beautiful fall day to fish the secluded Halfway Creek located in the Big Cypress National Preserve.

Halfway Creek is composed of numerous shallow inland lakes that drain into Chokoloskee Bay. The water is classified as brackish, but was clear and fresh during the outing.

Approximately a dozen Mayan Cichlids were caught by the group. The Mayan Cichlid is a nonnative species from Central and South America that has become well established in South Florida. It is reported to be excellent table-fare.

Other than a good catch of Cichlids, only a couple of small Snook and a small Redfish were caught and Mike Larsen landed a large Jack.

Two new kayakers; David Dodd and Lee Konecke participated in the kayak  fishing event this day and it is expected to see the guys at future kayak fishing events.

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Kayakers do well in the No-Bait Tourny
August 11, 2015

A small group of kayakers participated in the MSC No-Bait Tournament held on August 11, 2015. The group was composed of Mike Larsen, John Moore, Howard Laskau and Vic Ordija.

The thinking was that we could be successful by fishing Chokosloskee Bay (Everglades City) with it's numerous oyster beds and mangrove islands. The strategy proved to be successful as two of the three prizes were claimed by the group.

Mike Larsen claimed the $60 cash award by catching a 22.25'' Spotted Seatrout. Mike also caught a total of ten trout and a 22'' Snook. Victor Ordija caught a 23.75'' Snook which was the largest Snook caught in the event and he would have won the Redfish prize, except for the fact that the 25.5'' fish was caught 15 minutes after the close of the event. The Redfish prize went to John Baker with a 20 inch Redfish. John fished with Ron Linn in Ron's Pathfinder.

One of the benefits of fishing from a kayak is the ability to approach fish in a stealthy manner. As an example, the attached photo is of the endangered Florida Sawfish which was spotted during a recent kayak outing in Chokoloskee Bay.

Kayak Fishing in Wiggins Pass
July 10, 2015

Six kayakers set out to fish the Wiggins Pass Estuarine Area. This is a new venue for us and we launched our boats from the Cocohatchee River Park. The actual pass is a short paddle from the launch point and the group initially fished the area with only one hook-up; a small Snook that got away.

With no further action taking place, we explored the waterway north of the pass. Fishing continued to be slow until mid morning when action picked up and several small Snook were caught. Two legal size Flounder were caught and one Flounder over 20 inches was hooked but lost. The Wiggins Pass Estuarine Area exhibits an extensive sandy bottom which is favored by the Southern Flounder. This extensive waterway which connects to Estero Bay to the North is a popular boating area and kayakers need to be alert as the waterway allows boat to cruise at speeds up to 30 mph.

While the group did not catch many fish, large fish are known to be present and a future trip to the area during the off season is probably warranted.

Kayak Overnight Camping and Fishing Trip
April 22-24, 2015

In the early morning of April 22, 2015, six kayakers set out for Pavilion Key; John Moore, Mike Larsen, Ron Linn and Victor Ordija from Everglades City and John Baker and Jay Jones from Chokoloskee. The thirteen mile paddle from Everglades City took only 3.5 hours with both the tide and a light wind being in our favor.

At approximately 2:00 pm, we met up with the mother ship (Sandee-Lee) carrying our equipment and supplies and captained by Allan Bristow and first mate Howard Laskau.  A suitable camp site with a good distance away from the Mangroves was located on the south side of Pavilion Key.  Our equipment and supplies we transferred from the boat and our camp was quickly erected. Pavilion Key is a large outer island located near the mouth of the Chatham River.

The plan for this two night kayak camping trip assumed that the group would be successful in catching enough fish for dinner the second night. Earlier in the day, Mike Larsen, the newest member of our little group caught a 35'' over-slot Snook which was released, but in the evening Mike brought back more fish, including a Flounder and Redfish to be used the next day.

That evening, the group heartily ate an excellent white chicken chili previously prepared for the outing by Bobbie Ordija.

With a cool evening breeze which kept the bugs away, the guys had a few beers while recounting the day's events. Too tired to build a fire, everyone retired early. Unfortunately, the campers were awakened later by marauding raccoons pilfering through our food supplies and had to be chased off by Captain Allan.

Thursday morning we had a breakfast of eggs, sausage and fried potatoes along with a hot cup of coffee. Fishing however had to be postponed for a couple of hours as strong winds and rain threatened to disrupt the camp. In fact our two canopy tents had to be physically held down to keep them from blowing away.

By late morning, the rains passed and we were able to resume fishing followed by afternoon refreshments under the shade of our canopy tent.

A few more fish were caught mostly by Mike Larsen which we later learned is an accomplished Musky fisherman. That evening we feasted on the previously caught fish prepared with Chef Paul Prudhomme's Blackened Redfish Magic seasoning. Fried potatoes and fresh corn completed an excellent meal.

A light breeze in the evening kept the mosquitoes and no-see-ums at bay. A campfire was built and the group engaged in a game of horseshoes before retiring for the night.

A few no-see-ums appeared Friday morning but quickly disappeared. A breakfast of eggs, pancakes and sausage was quickly eaten and the group proceeded to break camp. By 10:00 AM the Sandee Lee was loaded and Captain Bristow was headed back to Marco Island.

Sandwiches prepared by John Baker and Jay Jones were distributed and the kayakers began the long paddle back. The return trip proved to be considerably more difficult due to stronger winds and an oncoming tide.

The crossing in the open Gulf from Pavilion Key to the temporary stop at Turtle Key was slow and difficult. Ron Linn with the help of  his sail helped John Baker by towing Baker's heavier kayak back to Chokoloskee where Baker and Jones had previously departed. 5.5 hours later, Linn and Ordija completed the trek back to Everglades City. Our average moving speed was only 2 mph, approximately half the speed going to Pavilion Key. John Moore and Mike Larsen arrived a half hour later in the slower moving paddle kayaks. We were all tired but happy to have successfully completed the long passage from Pavilion and all enjoyed an interesting camping and kayak

Kayak Fishing in the Faka Union Freshwater Canal

April 9, 2015

 On a beautiful spring day, six kayakers set out in the Faka Union freshwater canal to catch Largemouth Bass. Unfortunately on this day, the bass did not cooperate and only three bass were caught; the largest was 15.5'' which was caught by Mike Larsen. A number of different baits were tried to no avail.

On a positive note several Snook were caught with the largest fish measuring 29.5'' and also caught by Mike who now holds the lead in the 2015 Kayak Fishing Challenge.


Kayak Fishing in Hell's Gate

March 13, 2015

On a cool and sunny day, eight kayakers set out to fish Hell's Gate; a meandering channel that connects Goodland Bay, Lighter bay and Palm Bay.

Water temperature had warmed into the lower 70's but water clarity was marginal.

Early on the bite was a bit slow, but a number of Mangrove Snappers, several small Snook and a couple of Spotted Seatrout were caught by the group. Towards midday, winds picked up and fishing conditions deteriorated.

On the return trip, Mike Larsen hooked into a big Jack that provided a good battle and Victor Ordija landed a 26 inch Snook.

Kayak Fishing in the Faka Union  Freshwater Canal

February 16, 2015 

On a cold and crisp February morning, ten kayakers fished the Faka Union freshwater canal located north of the Port of the Islands. Unfortunately the cold water resulted in a sluggish bite and only nine small Largemouth Bass were caught. Winds picked up midday and fishing conditions deteriorated further.

Nevertheless, the group had an enjoyable outing in this scenic waterway that drains a large portion of the Picayune Strand State Forest.

2014 Kayak Awards

2014 Kayak Fishing Shirt Award Winners. From left to right; Allan Bristow, MSC President, George Stein-largest Spotted Seatrout, Victor Ordija-largest Snook, Jay Jones-largest Largemouth Bass, and John Baker-largest Redfish.

Kayak Fishing in Chokoloskee Bay
December 18, 2014

Thirteen kayakers: our largest group to date set out to fish Chokoloskee Bay at Everglades City. Weather was ideal with calm conditions and a beautiful clear day.

Fishing was excellent with 66 Spotted Seatrout caught by the group. Jay Jones had an extra bonus and boated a nice 27 inch Redfish but lost a bigger Redfish right at the boat. Several small Snook were also caught.

On a sobering note, one of the kayakers did not return at 2:00 PM; the designated return time. At approximately 3:30 PM park rangers from the Everglades National Park were dispatched to look for the missing kayaker.
Fortunately the missing kayaker was found and returned at 5:15 PM.
Apparently, our missing boater had entered an area that isolated him when the tide went out and he could not return in the same path that he took going in.
In future kayak outings, participants are urged to maintain visual contact with others so that the potential for becoming separated and lost is minimized.

Kayak Fishing in Halfway Creek
November 24, 2014

After three weather delays we were finally able to get on the water. Unfortunately half of our original group were not able to make the trip and only four kayakers fished the beautiful and secluded Halfway Creek located in the Big Cypress National Preserve. Halfway Creek is composed of numerous shallow backwater lakes that eventually drain into Chokoloskee Bay. The water is reportedly brackish, but on this day the water was very clear and fresh to the taste.

Several Snook were caught with the largest being 21 inches. A small brightly copper colored Redfish, a large Jack and a Mayan Cichlid were also caught.

While the fishing today was slow, probably due to the previous unsettled weather, the group experienced a beautiful and relaxing day on the water.

Kayak Fishing in the Faka Union Freshwater Canal
September 9, 2014

Five kayakers set out on a clear morning to fish for Largemouth Bass in the Faka Union freshwater canal. As anticipated, we had another successful outing with twenty one (21) Largemouth Bass caught by the group. Most of the bass caught were in the one pound class but a good size fish measuring 22 inches was caught by Jay Jones. The Largemouth Bass is one of our target species and the fish caught by Jay will likely earn him one of the shirt awards.
Two good size Mayan Cichlids (11.5 inches) were also caught; both on artificials. Mayan Cichlids are a non-native species that have become well established in South Florida and are reportedly very good tablefare.
Ron Linn took this opportunity to try out a sail and outriggers on his kayak. He reported that the equipment worked well, however the sail did interfere with casting a couple of time. The outriggers provided considerable additional stability such that Ron was able to stand up in his kayak.
The only downside to this venue is the lack of a suitable nearby establishment that sell refreshments. There are no bars in the Port of the Islands.

Kayak Fishing in Lighter Bay
August 20, 2014

A small group of four kayakers set out from the Goodland Bridge ramp on a warm and humid day in August in search of Snook and Redfish.
A couple of small Snook were caught early on around the bridge pilings and
as the morning wore on, the group continued on into Goodland Bay focusing on Mangrove edges that jutted out into the bay. On one of the points, John Baker landed a small 20” Snook on a Rapala lure. While attempting to unhook the fish, one of the treble hooks imbedded in John's hand. John is a tough fisherman and managed to remove the hook and kept right on fishing.

At the height of the tide, the group paddled through Hell's Gate and into Lighter Bay.As the tide reversed, fishing picked up with numerous Mangrove Snappers being caught by all. At midday, the foursome began the return trip fishing the Mangrove edges, when suddenly John Baker hooked into a large Redfish. Hollering for a net, John struggled to keep the large fish from darting back into Mangrove roots while trying to keep his kayak in position. His efforts paid off and the fish was netted, measured and a photo taken before being released. John had an exceptional day.

On the return trip, the group encountered some breezy weather in the open areas of Goodland Bay. During the traverse, John Marchetti hooked a Catfish, and while leaning over to dehook the fish, John lost his balance and upset his kayak. Fortunately, the mishap only resulted in the loss of a landing net. John also had taken the precaution of keeping his cell phone in a water proof case.
A enjoyable day was had by all.

Kayak Fishing in Chokoloskee Bay; June 20, 2014

Five kayakers set out from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center in Everglades City on a calm Friday morning to fish Chokoloskee Bay. We caught a variety of fish. The day’s tally included two Redfish, several large Spotted Seatrout and a few small Mangrove Snappers.

George Stein recorded a 19.5 inch Spotted Seatrout and a 21 inch Redfish. Jay Jones also caught a 21 inch Redfish. Both fish are presently registered in the 2014 Kayak Fishing Challenge. Anglers who catch the largest Snook, Redfish, Spotted Seatrout and Largemouth Bass in the kayak fishing events will receive a fishing shirt award at the end of the year. Participating anglers are eligible for one shirt award.

We topped off a wonderful day on the water with cold beers at the Seafood Depot in Everglades City.
In the group picture from left to right; John Baker, George Stein, Vic Ordija, Ron Linn and Jay Jones. We are having beers at the Seafood Depot in Everglades City.

Kayak Outing in Rookery Bay

Eight kayakers set out on a picture perfect day to fish Rookery Bay. We set out from the drop point located at the end of Shell Island Road and fished at various locations along an established canoe trail in the Rookery Bay Preserve.
A variety of fish were caught that day including Snook, Flounder, Snappers, a Redfish and the usual thrash fish. Jay Jones was a bit unlucky when he lost a keeper Snook while trying to haul the fish without a net into his kayak. One of the difficulties of fishing out of a kayak is trying to land a big fish;often times without a net. Additionally, there is very little room in a kayak to secure a large fish.
Victor Ordija recorded a small 19” Redfish for the 2014 Kayak Fishing Challenge.
We ended the day with some nice cold beers at the Island Gypsy Cafe and Marina Bar.

Overnight Kayak Fishing; Rabbit Key

March 21, 2014

Early Saturday morning on March 21st, 2014, four kayakers; John Baker, John Moore, Ron Linn and Vic Ordija set out from Everglades City on an overnight kayak fishing trip to Rabbit Key; a small outer island located in the heart of the Ten Thousand Islands. While we had to navigate through a thick morning fog, we encountered no difficulty following a route established on a hand held GPS. Following an outgoing tide, we paddled along Sandfly Pass to the Gulf, across Chokoloskee Pass, starboard of DemiJohn Key and finally on to Rabbit Key. The trip took three hours and we traveled 7.25 miles where we met up with our mother ship (Sandee Lee), captained by Allan Bristow and mate Jay Jones.

Sea conditions were ideal and the Sandee Lee carrying most of our camping gear and provisions made the nineteen mile trip from Marco Island in a little over an hour. Low tide conditions around Rabbit Key that late morning made unloading a bit difficult in that all the equipment and supplies had to be carried a fair distance to our campsite. Nevertheless, the camp was set up quickly and enough time remained for the group to catch fish to complement a chili dinner brought by Captain Bristow. Baker and Jones both caught a nice Redfish and a couple of Grouper filets brought by Ron Linn were added to the evening meal which was cooked by Baker and Bristow.

After an excellent dinner, we played horseshoes and as night fell, we built a big fire and sat around drinking beer and telling stories. A light ocean breeze kept the bugs away which made for a very comfortable evening.
Allan Bristow decided to sleep under the stars; probably not the best decision as the breeze died towards midnight, the mosquitoes appeared and made sleeping quite uncomfortable. Morning brought more mosquitoes and no breeze, but as the sun rose, light winds dissipated the bugs and allowed the group to enjoy a breakfast of bacon, sausage, eggs and coffee.

Due to a dropping tide, the decision was made to break camp early, load the mother ship and head back home. Captain Bristow headed out by 9:00 AM, while the four kayakers remained and fished around Rabbit and Lumber Key. Both Redfish and large Spotted Seatrout were caught and released.

As the morning wore on, the group caught the incoming tide and paddled back to Everglades City, fishing along the way back. By 3:00 PM, the kayakers were back to the ranger station, completing an interesting and eventful kayak fishing trip.

Freshwater Kayak Fishing for Largemouth Bass
Thursday, February 27, 2014.

Six kayakers participated in an impromptu kayak fishing event for Largemouth Bass. We fished the freshwater canal that drains into the Faka Union Canal located at the Port of the Islands. The lower portion of the freshwater canal is approximately 200 feet wide and 8 to 10 feet deep with very clear water and lots of submergent vegetation. There appears to be a good bass population and the group caught 35 Largemouth Bass in the outing. Most of the fish are about one to two pounds and were caught on weighted plastic worms. Some of the kayakers used night crawlers but the bass did not want live bait. We did catch numerous Mayan Cichlids on crawlers. These fish put up a good fight for their size. They are reportedly a non-native fish that have become well established in South Florida and are well regarded as a food fish.

Several small alligators were spotted during the event. Undoubtedly there are larger reptiles in these waters, however none were seen and since it was not mating season we had no expectation that the alligators would be aggressive.

This outing was a change in pace for us and the group experienced a fun filled event.


Kayak Fishing in Chokoloskee Bay

February 7, 2014


Eight kayakers ventured out on a foggy morning to fish Chokoloskee Bay. The fog was so thick that three of the members got separated and it took two hours before the fog lifted and the group reunited. Shortly thereafter, Ed Brown alerted the party that his boat was taking on water and was in danger of sinking. Ed managed to get the kayak to an oyster bar that had just emerged above the water line and he and John Baker tried unsuccessfully to drain the water from the boat. Finally enough water was removed from the vessel that John managed to float the boat to a nearby mangrove island with a small sandy beach. There, the kayak was fully drained and the group was able to resume fishing.

Fortunately, while only two hours remained for fishing, a large school of Spotted Seatrout was found and the fish were hungry. Approximately 50 fish were caught; most were undersized but a few trout were of legal size and kept for the dinner table.

While this day was one of many challenges, the kayakers experienced an interesting and rewarding event.



Kayak Fishing in Hell's Gate

January 9, 2014


On a cloudy and breezy day eight kayakers ventured out to fish Hell's Gate; a meandering channel that connects Goodland Bay and Lighter Bay. A cold front had just passed through and while some light showers were expected, none materialized.

The bite was expected to be slow, but the group was surprised with some good fishing activity. Several small Snook and Seatrout, two Redfish, an 18” Black Drum and lots of Mangrove Snappers were caught.

George Stein registered a nice 18 inch Spotted Seatrout and Ron Linn recorded a 16 inch Snook making their catch eligible to possibly receive at the end of the year, a high quality shirt monogrammed with the Marco Sportfishing Club logo.

While George had a good fishing result, he experienced a bit of a mishap and 

capsized his kayak while trying to retrieve his fly-rod which had become entangled in some mangrove trees. Fortunately he was able to recover with  no loss of equipment or injury other than being bit cold as the water temperature was below 70 degrees.

The kayakers ended the day with refreshments at the quaint Little Bar in Goodland.


Kayak Fishing in Chokoloskee Bay

October 26, 2013


On a cool and windy morning, six kayakers ventured out to fish Chokoloskee Bay. A cold front had moved through the area which negatively impacted fishing in a normally productive area. While several trout, a redfish and a snook were caught, fishing was generally poor. Nevertheless the group had a good time getting together.  A benefit that is not often recognized in kayak fishing is the significant amount of cardiovascular exercise that is experienced in this activity. In effect you get the enjoyment of fishing and wholesome exercise at the same time.


After fishing, the group got together for a couple of low calorie beers at the Oyster House in Everglades City. 




Kayak Fishing in Chokoloskee Bay

August 29, 2013


Seven kayakers participated in an impromptu kayak fishing outing in Chokoloskee Bay on August 29, 2013. Fishing was very good and a variety of fish were caught that day including Redfish, Snook, Spotted Seatrout and Mangrove Snappers. Vic Ordija improved his position in the Kayak Fishing Challenge by catching a 24” Redfish.  The largest Snook and Redfish caught in the kayak fishing outings will receive a $100 cash award at the end of the year.

Jan Sadlo joined the group for the first time and indicated he thoroughly enjoyed the outing. Jan is an experienced fly fisherman and exhibited exceptional skill fishing with a fly rod from his kayak.

The group topped of the day with cold beers at the Seafood Depot in Everglades City.

Kayak Fishing in the Backwaters of Johnson’s Bay 6/18/13

Six kayakers set out to fish the secluded backwaters of Johnson’s Bay on a beautiful Thursday morning . On this 18th day in June, Tom and Rose Kraemer joined our group for the first time in their Hobie Tandem Kayak. Tom reported that fishing in the tandem kayak proved to be quite challenging requiring continual coordination in order to maintain the boat in position especially as tidal flow increased in strength.

While the bite was considered to be slow, a variety of fish were caught and Ed Brown (AKA Lucky Ed) managed to catch a 21.75 inch Redfish. Ed now leads the 2013 Kayak Fishing Challenge in this category. The largest Snook and Redfish caught in the kayak fishing events will receive a $100 cash award at the end of the year.

We finished the kayak outing with lunch and beers at the Island Gypsy Café in the Isles of Capri. The next kayak fishing event will be held in September, 2013.

Kayak Fishing in Chokoloskee Bay; May 17, 2013

Kayakers had one of our best outings fishing Chokoloskee Bay on May 17, 2013. Six kayakers set out from the Gulf Coat Visitor Center in Everglades City on a calm Friday morning. We caught a variety of fish over the oyster bars. The day’s tally included two Redfish, eight Snook, ten Spotted Seatrout and two Blacktip Sharks.

Ed Brown recorded a 20 inch Snook and Vic Ordija had a 21 inch Redfish. Both fish are presently registered in the 2013 Kayak Fishing Challenge and eligible to win a $100 cash prize. The largest Snook and Redfish caught in the kayak fishing events will receive a $100 cash award at the end of the year.

We topped off a wonderful day on the water with cold beers at the Seafood Depot in Everglades City.

Kayak Fishing in the Turner River April 18, 2013

Nine kayakers set out on Thursday, April 18, 2013 from a launch point on the Chokoloskee Causeway to fish the Turner River. We fished the oyster bars in the lower portion of the river and worked our way upstream to Hurddles Creek. While the bite was generally slow, several Spotted Seatrout were caught. John Baker had the largest; a nice 20” trout. Howard Laskau was a bit unlucky. He lost two Redfish; one was about 22 inches which broke off when his line got tangled on a rod holder. All in all , a very nice day on the water.

Kayak Fishing in McIlvane Bay; March 15, 2013

After a one day delay due to windy weather, eight kayakers ventured out in search of Snook and Redfish in Upper McIlvane Bay. Fishing in the upper bay this afternoon proved to be a disappointment as only Ladyfish and Jacks were caught.
As the afternoon wore on, Ken Robertson and John Petretti decided to fish another area of the bay and were rewarded with several Snook; the largest landed was eighteen inches. A good sized Snook, approximately 30 inches was hooked by Ken but lost.

 Kayak Fishing in Johnson’s Bay
Feb 12, 2013

Nine kayakers set out from the Blue Heron Restaurant to fish the backwaters of Johnson’s Bay. Fishing was poor possibly due to Red Tide as dead fish, primarily Mullet were sighted during the event. Nevertheless, a number and variety of fish were caught with George Stein catching a nice but undersized Gag Grouper.

Veteran fisherman Ed Brown decided to try kayak fishing and managed very well using John Baker’s Pro Angler Hobie Kayak. Bobbie Ordija and Harvey Brion, both relative newcomers to kayak fishing also joined the group today.

Jay Jones had a bit of a mishap as he attempted to dismount his kayak, slipped neck deep into a drop off and had to be pulled back into the shallows. No harm done and Jay was able to quickly dry off in the midday sun.

According to Jay, the group traveled 3.8 miles during the event. The group had a great day on the water followed by beers at the Island Gypsy Café.

The next kayak fishing event will be held on 3/14/13 at a location to be determined.

Kayak Fishing in Johnson’s Bay
Kayak Fishing in Upper lighter Bay
January 10, 2013

Four kayaks traversed Goodland Bay and ventured into Hell’s Gate which is an entry point into upper Lighter Bay. The channel has good depth and many ambush points favored by game fish. Conditions were tough today due to a low tide and strong winds which made it difficult for our kayaks to hold their position. We fished the Hell’s Gate Channel and upper Lighter Bay. A variety of fish were caught with Jay Jones catching the largest fish; a 27” Black Grouper which was measured, photographed and released.

Today we skipped lunch and headed over to the Crazy Flamingo for beers and fried fish caught during the Ed Brown’s trout scramble. A fun day was had by all.

Kayak Outing in McIlvane Bay
December 13, 2012

This kayak fishing event, originally scheduled for Tuesday 12/11/12, was postponed until Thursday due to strong thunderstorms that passed through the Marco Island area.

As a result of the date change, our group of four kayakers were faced with an extremely low tide which challenged our ability to reach some of the upper portions of the bay.

While conditions were far from ideal, we managed to catch Redfish, Snook, Trout including a Gag and a Goliath Grouper. We even did a little exploring and found a narrow channel not shown on published navigation charts which connects McIlvane Bay to Johnson Bay.

We ended the day with a late lunch and beers at the Island Gypsy Café; a very attractive waterfront restaurant located in the Isles of Capri.

Kayak Outing Rookery Bay
Nov 13, 2012

With many MSC members returning to Florida, we had a eight kayakers setting out into Rookery Bay. It was a picture perfect day and a variety of fish were caught; Redfish, Snook, Snappers, Jacks and the usual trash fish. Unfortunately, no keepers .

Bill Welter, a newbie to Hobie Kayaks had an opportunity to try one out and was favorably impressed with the pedal drives that quickly propel the kayak . Additionally the system allows the fisherman to fish unimpeded by not having to constantly deal with a paddle.

We followed the canoe trail and fished along its course. There were several tight channels that we traversed and with a strong incoming tide, several areas required quick and precise maneuvering. Unfortunately, Jim Picone lost his hat and a spare rod which got caught in one of the mangroves.

We ended the day with a late lunch and beers at the Capri Fish House. A fun day was had by all.

The next kayak fishing event will be held on 12/11/2012 and we will set out into McIlvane Bay.

Kayak Event
Sept 12, 2012

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