Late Season Techniques for Fishing Rivers in the Everglades

Late Season Techniques for Fishing Rivers in the Everglades

By Capt. Mark Bennett

Mark Bennett Tarpon

Most people that know me know my target species is usually the tarpon. I chase them all over the West Coast of Florida, from Charlotte Harbor to the Florida Keys. During the fall months I can usually be found fishing the Florida Everglades.

Down here in the Everglades, we have countless rivers and creeks that drain over 1.5 million acres of backcountry bays and wetlands. I work large stretches of these rivers and creeks – focusing on where creeks feed into rivers and bays, as well as directly into the Gulf and Florida Bay. The question I am asked the most is, how do I decipher and find fish in an area as vast as the rivers of the Everglades?

In days past, the only way to know if tarpon were there was to look for the signs: fish rolling and feeding on the surface, big pods of bait, etc. Now with MEGA Side Imaging from Humminbird, I don’t have to wait for them to show up. I can effectively search these places by looking above and below the surface. MEGA Imaging allows me to quickly find the areas that are actively holding fish and dismiss areas that aren’t. Thanks to the incredible detail, I also can identify the exact structure that is holding them. It might be a drop off, hole, rock pile or submerged tree. The proverbial spot within a spot. Sounds great, right? Until you have seen MEGA Imaging in action first hand you have no idea how great it looks. It is an absolute game changer.

Mark Bennett SI

With close to a 6 foot tide swing on the moons, the massive amount of water movement while triggering a multitude of species to feed it also makes working these areas very difficult. Working lures with the tide flow is key. Positioning the boat down tide and casting swimbaits and flies up tide of the structure is the preferred method. Anchoring in these locations is counterproductive for a multitude of reasons.

First, anchoring in this extreme current flow requires lots of scope on an anchor line. This puts your anchor right on top of where the fish will be. Not to mention the many fallen trees and other rocks and snags that can take your anchor for keeps. Enter the Minn Kota Ulterra and i-Pilot Link with Spot-Lock electronic GPS anchor.

This allows me to hold and work these key areas quickly and efficiently with none of the issues that come from using a traditional anchor in these locations. The new Spot-Lock Jog feature lets me fine-tune my location on the fly for complete coverage of the structure. When the wind or tide flow changes I can adjust in 5 foot increments in any direction to get in the perfect spot to hook the big ones.

Mark Bennett Riptide Ulterra