|Today's kayaks are outfitted with more comfort, balance and big fish-catching capacity than ever before.|
Most of my experience with marine fishing vessels was from pushing skiffs with a pushpole since 1962, it was clear that a gaping hole in my shallow water stealth arsenal was the mastery of kayak fishing — so I came to Grande Tours as a student.
Grande Tours is a perfect angling travel destination that has something for the entire family. As they state, "We have something for kids, anglers, photographers and eco-tourists." There are Dolphin Encounters and trips to nearby islands. And this marvelous facility sits right near Boca Grande, the Tarpon Capital of the World.
I was in the best of hands: Captain Marian Schneider, the owner of the facility, and Mary Cordero, the resident general manager put me in the hands of their finest kayak guide, Dave Loger. The weather featured bluebird skies with light northerly winds. However, a cold front had cooled the waters to the point where fishing would have a bit more of a challenge.
On the night of my arrival, Captain Dave took me out for my first kayak fishing experience in the wee hours. Under star-filled skies, we traveled through mangrove creeks, tunnels and intersections. The silence of the night was occasionally broken by the plop of a large mullet jumping, the cranky croaks of blue herons, and the welcome pops of feeding snook.
Within the first hour, using a DOA shrimp and a white SPRO bucktail, I (respectively) caught an 8-pound redfish and a 12-pound snook. I also had an excellent surprise as I jigged the channel in front of Grande Tours with my SPRO when I hooked and released a nice goliath grouper around 15-pounds: this is a fine catch on 8-pound spinning in such close quarters to oyster bars and mangroves. It would have been easy with an expert like Captain Dave to have a guided "paddle" into the Sound at dawn and nail a seatrout to complete my west coast slam, but the beckoning of a hot shower and warm bed proved irresistible.
I'll be reporting much more on this experience, which proved to me that a sit-on-top kayak is the apex of flats fishing access-creation and stealth.
Check out Grande Tours