The Riddler

Kayak Fishing Florida For Dummies

43 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

I think its time we start a thread for referral since most of us here hit this fishery it will help others with making decisions on gear selection and beyond. 
 

I'll start it off and talk a little about Budget and will use my over a Dozen Trips down here since 2003 with a kayak in my possession. I would like to see other members contribute to this thread since our experiences will vary. 
 

I started kayak fishing in Florida in 2003. There was a kayak fishing tournament series at that time called "Extreme Edge". On this leg it was in Tampa Bay and a year later in Orlando. I went to both. 3 of us flew down from Boston and rented a mini van. It was January in Tampa which I know now can be pretty chilly. Even the fishery back then was just coming out of a Red Tide. In places off the Skyway bridge like Miguel Bay, CockRoach Bay and several other bays I can't remember all the names it literally filled the beaches with dead fish. So let me be the first to say, when you plan  Florida? You have to factor in Red Tide. Especially from Just North Of Tampa Bay to the Everglades. Back then we were 600 dollars a piece which covered rental of mini van, food, motel, misc. fishing gear. Very inexpensive. I am here to tell you today in 2022 running solo now, this trip I am on is pushing high over 3000. To be honest it is starting to make more economic sense to try an attempt a DIY trip to foreign lands. It just makes sense at logistics . Lets take a look at cost:

 

Destination: Everglades City

 

Flight: Spirit Airlines from Manchester, NH to Fort Myers. Includes 65 dollar fee for one checked in bag 40lbs or less. 300 bucks.

 

Parking Airport: 7 days 100 bucks.

 

Lodging: Ivey House. 7 Days 1200 dollars with tax.

 

Vehicle Rental: Mini Van with full insurance protection. 600 dollars with tax. 7 days

 

Hobie Outback Rental: 7 days 480 dollars with tax. 
 

Food and drink/snack: 300 dollars

 

Gas for vehicle, misc tackle, other costs: 200 bucks.

 

Now we are looking at 3200 for a weeks fishing SOLO on a DIY budget. That is pretty pricey now with inflation. This includes decent accommodations in a nice AC room clean. You have to be careful when coming to the Everglades. Believe me when I tell you. You can rent a 1200 dollar a week place with smelly mold and they will smile at you and hand you the keys. That is exactly what the Ivey House tried to do to me and I made them do me right. 
 

More later......

 

 

 

 

Edited by The Riddler

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So there are ways to cut down the costs. You can trim your stay to 5 days. You can rent a paddle kayak and you can rent a compact vehicle. There alone to shave over 500 dollars on a trip but there are certainly trade offs. 

 

The best trips I have ever had coming down here is bringing my own vehicle, camping gear, kayak, one piece rods, food etc. But what you do need is time. From Boston? I would say you need 2 weeks or longer. But it is strenuous. I once made the trip coming back from Orlando in 22 hours cannonball style and was not right after that for two weeks. If you plan on going to the Everglades and Back? Thats 4 days of driving plus the driving you do around the state hoping around. 
With a V6? That is 500-600 dollars in gas. 
So lets look at cost:

 

Gas: 600 dollars (no trailer car top)

 

Food and ice:  300 dollars

 

camping: Florida has outstanding parks. 50 bucks a night for a tent. So lets say 8 days 400 bucks. 
 

Misc. costs , tackle, maybe grab a motel one or two nights? Lets say we carry another 500 bucks. Thats fair.,

 

So if you have 2 weeks? You are looking at 2000 grand or less. 

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Great cost breakdown.  Hope you slay some snook and tarpon down there.

 

As you mentioned DIY in foreign lands, i will offer this for comparison. Waterfront hotels in Belize = $150 to $200/night.  Plenty of DIY wading options.  Also places rent crappy tourist yaks for $50/day.  Food and booze can be as cheap ($20/day) to expensive as you want.  Full day guided flats trip $400 to $600 depending on guides.

 

I typically DIY daily in the morning for bonefish and then do 2 to 3 guided trips for permit, tarpon amd bones over a two week trip.  There are also plentiful bottom fishing and pelagic opportunities.

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Great post idea and write up. I did a week long trip to Chokoloskee last December. I drove down from Delaware with my kayak and fishing gear so my main expenses were gas and lodging. I rented a camper on AirBNB that was $850 for the week, and the gas cost round trip was around $450. Plus whatever I spent on food, tackle, clothes and misc. stuff everything was under $2000. The camper was located in parkway marina on the water so I was able to keep my kayak tied up at the boat slip. I didn't have to worry about launching/landing or transport, I could pedal right out into the 10,000 islands every morning. It was an awesome trip I'll definitely try to do again sometime.

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1 hour ago, SneakyWeakie said:

Great post idea and write up. I did a week long trip to Chokoloskee last December. I drove down from Delaware with my kayak and fishing gear so my main expenses were gas and lodging. I rented a camper on AirBNB that was $850 for the week, and the gas cost round trip was around $450. Plus whatever I spent on food, tackle, clothes and misc. stuff everything was under $2000. The camper was located in parkway marina on the water so I was able to keep my kayak tied up at the boat slip. I didn't have to worry about launching/landing or transport, I could pedal right out into the 10,000 islands every morning. It was an awesome trip I'll definitely try to do again sometime.

Right here. Bring your own stuff! 3 piece rods are ok but after a while you miss the one piece. Hobies are at the higher end now. The price to rent is getting up there. Speaking of my Hobie rental the seat was broken and the drive is crappy. I never used the kick up drive but knew something was wrong as soon as I started drifting in the current. I was constantly pulling the Forward Cord and the drive would work again. You know what they told me  when I called? They told me to just use a 5/32 allen key and tighten it up. I am in the middle of the Everglades with a hardware store that is just opening again and does not have everything. If you rent a hobie check it out first and make sure its up to snuff. This drive saw zero maintenance. Because of this they will give a sizable discount when I go back Friday. 
 

 

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I am going to mention some safety tips and mention a 3 mishaps I had. 


1)  Gafftopsail Catfish-  If you fish the gulf of Mexico you have seen these things. I have caught em 2lbs and some over 6lbs. 
Let me be the one to tell you. Do not touch this fish. Treat this fish like it is dangerous. I even treated this fish careful and it still stuck me in the middle finger. Its shive broke off. I was in Grand Isle Louisiana. I was told to get to hot water as soon as possible. The venom entered my blood stream and I was in Burning pain. I stayed in that hot shower for hours. 
After 10 hours it just started to feel better. These fish thrash and will stick you. Even its mucous if it gets into an open cut? Can wreak havoc. My best advice is do not put this fish in the cockpit. Keep it outside. What works for me is putting the fish between the paddle and kayak. Then put the pliers on it and take the hooks out.  Trap it so it can't move. Yesterday I caught 3 of these critters that battled similar to redfish. I have the upmost respect for these fish. That finger that got the shive I had to pull out took a full year to heal.  If these fish are numerous and there is more real estate to cover? I would move. Avoiding these fish is a good thing if you can. 
 

 

 

 

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2) Getting Lost- Imagine getting lost in the Everglades? Well it happened to me. Up the Lopez river.  Way up the Lopez river.  I was fishing and have a great time with the snook. The wind must have blew me in a circle. I thought I was going the right way. Well, I wasn't.  I just kept fishing. Around 4 pm I knew I was in trouble. At 6pm the keys gets very dark. Black!  With no moon it was pitch black. The GPS I had bought? Did not work. No signal! I swear, I could look up at a satellite in the southern sky. A red blinking light yet, this Garmin would not work. I tried using my hand held radio. I can hear but not transmit. I needed to get higher. Cell phone? Nope. You are on your own. Around 1am I could see a faint Chokolskee Glow and what a sigh of relief to see what I believe was a light off a dock. Today I carry Spotify. Its supposed to work in the event of an emergency. Even with the spotify? Help is still hours away if not longer. 
 

Lastly if I am heading out I always let the front desk know or a trusted person in my network a float plan. If something happens they will know where to look. 

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Posted (edited)

Saltwater Catfish !

I grew up in Mobile, AL fished gulf of mexico all summer. Riddler is correct, be careful with those saltwater cats. Kind of like sea robins but worse and no good to eat. Riddler’s technique seems awesome.

I am also unfortunately familiar with the poke from the fins.

I use two pliars: grab fish wth one and hook with the other. 

Edited by Tom Angler

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On 11/24/2022 at 4:32 PM, The Riddler said:

2) Getting Lost- Imagine getting lost in the Everglades? Well it happened to me. Up the Lopez river.  Way up the Lopez river.  I was fishing and have a great time with the snook. The wind must have blew me in a circle. I thought I was going the right way. Well, I wasn't.  I just kept fishing. Around 4 pm I knew I was in trouble. At 6pm the keys gets very dark. Black!  With no moon it was pitch black. The GPS I had bought? Did not work. No signal! I swear, I could look up at a satellite in the southern sky. A red blinking light yet, this Garmin would not work. I tried using my hand held radio. I can hear but not transmit. I needed to get higher. Cell phone? Nope. You are on your own. Around 1am I could see a faint Chokolskee Glow and what a sigh of relief to see what I believe was a light off a dock. Today I carry Spotify. Its supposed to work in the event of an emergency. Even with the spotify? Help is still hours away if not longer. 
 

Lastly if I am heading out I always let the front desk know or a trusted person in my network a float plan. If something happens they will know where to look. 

Terrifying!

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On 11/26/2022 at 6:09 AM, Tom Angler said:

Saltwater Catfish !

I grew up in Mobile, AL fished gulf of mexico all summer. Riddler is correct, be careful with those saltwater cats. Kind of like sea robins but worse and no good to eat. Riddler’s technique seems awesome.

I am also unfortunately familiar with the poke from the fins.

I use two pliars: grab fish wth one and hook with the other. 

Tom, what are thoughts on gloves? Is there a glove option that would help? 

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Good stuff! We're looking at going down this winter. Going to drive and bring our own stuff with us. I hate driving, but it is what it is.

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Renting Kayaks:

 

I have rented kayaks and got loaners from friends all over Florida. Obviously, a standard paddle kayak is going to be a no brainer as far as worthy for a trip. You want to check out the hull and if there are no holes you are good to go. Hatches as well. Has to be water tight. Honestly up till this most recent trip? Never had a problem with a rental. Now, Hobies have  more at stake with failure because of the drive and seat. As a matter of fact, in Naples I rented from a Hobie Dealer for the 3rd time. They do have a new owner from the last time I was there. They seemed trusting and educated and they knew I was going into the Everglades so I rented one for the week. 
 

Mistake number one. I never went over the kayak. Did not realize the problems until I drove one hour south and every day had another issue. When calling telling them of one issue another popped up. Here is the list of issues.

 

1) Kick Up Fins:  I own two Hobies. None have the new kick up fins. For fishing the oyster bars and shallow? This is great. I have destroyed turbo fins hitting stuff and had to pay Naples a new set of turbos. With the kick up its a game changer.  The problem? I get to the everglades, put the drive in head down river with the current 3 miles. The drive is not lubed. Squeaky and not taken care of. The kick up fins are loose as a goose in the current while drift fishing. As soon as you stop pedaling to cast into the mangroves and set up drift? You have to pull the drive forward again. Looked into the side pockets for tools. Nothing. Do you think I thought of bringing an allen key set with a 5/32?  Do think Naples should have done all this and maybe gave some tools for the Everglades?  Here is my advice for Pedal kayaks in the Everglades. Bring tools and parts! Inspect drive before you leave. Thankfully a member here at SOL who lives down there had a 5/32 allen key but guess what? The Plastic Piece is stripped. Worked for 1/2 a day and then the Allen screw backed out of their was too much wear in the piece. Pain in the ass the entire trip.

 

2) Hatches-The center hatch t handle was broke. Rigged with a wire. Well, that broke. Now the center hatch with tub is unsecured. Not only will you see Gators there, there are bullsharks in those Mangroves. I saw one or two in the 4-5' range. Can you imagine flipping in the Everglades mangroves or anywhere really and your kayak hatches can't close and your yak sinks and you have to swim back?  Eff that. Next trip? It may be worth stopping at walmart and buy pool noodle. Cheap insurance. Speaking of insurance, my Sea Tow for my boat does not work with kayaks. 
 

3) Hull Crack- The top of the hull was cracked. I saw it when going over the hull

with Naples. The woman was nice. She called the owner and they gave me a full refund. I didn't have to ask. To be honest I was still able to limp the kayak around for a week but risky because of the hatch. I think Naples and myself learned a lesson. When a kayak angler says I am going to the Everglades for a week or even a day? You make sure its good to go and I need to make sure its ready to go. Lesson learned. 

 

 

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4 hours ago, The Riddler said:

Tom, what are thoughts on gloves? Is there a glove option that would help? 

Maybe, but the fins might punch through?!

I have a technique for grabbing them if needed but those fins are sharp. I am kind used to them because I grew up with them. I have grabbed them with the spines trapped sticking out between my fingers and my hand closed tight holding still, but it is risky and two pliers is a better solution.

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It is getting tough to travel cheaply. A couple other ways to save money is to fly Allegiant. You can usually fly from Providence to Punta Gorda for a decent price but they only fly there a couple days a week. 
For rental cars use BJs travel website to compare all the rental companies and vehicles. I have found lately that renting a midsize pickup truck is the cheapest. Usually from Alamo or Budget. It still ends up being around $500 a week though with all the taxes and fees. 
Taxes and fees on everything travel related are out of control. They nickel and dime you for everything. 
I prefer a VRBO over a hotel so that you have a full kitchen to cook some meals, at least breakfast and lunch. Groceries are expensive in Florida but it’s still cheaper than eating out every meal. 
Like Riddler said figure around $3-4K a week all in. 

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We had 2 great trips to Pine Island last year renting paddle boats for the week for like $175 each and staying in an AB&B. Dunno the housing cost, wifey deals with that, but it wasn't bad. The flight in April 2021 was like $200 round trip!

 

In April we were right on a canal in St James City with a boat lift. Little tricky getting used to it but it worked great! Dec in Bokeelia we were a few blocks from the town ramp.

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This was my solution to the gear transport problem, a hard golf case I bought cheap on CL. Fits 8' 2pc rods, my nice paddles and PFDs, tackle boxes, and I modded my net to fold. Golf bags are not subject to oversize fees, just keep it under 50#.

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Here's my solution to the 'boat on rental car' transport problem. Rent via Turo where you can see the actual car you're getting and get one with roof rails. Then buy a 10x2x4 at HD and cut it in half.  Bring lots of straps. If you get one with actual raised rails you don't even need to go through the cabin.

 

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