Here it is near the end of January and I'm trying to entice a sizable snook into striking. I can see her and she can see me in the clear water.
Sweat drips down my back and into my eyes, along with no-see-ums now in my eyes, ears, nose, throat, and shorts.
I turned to comment while checking my watch to make sure it is, indeed, near February. I took a deep breath and got two or three in each lung.
Capt. George Tunison
After years of this physical and mental abuse I admit I can take a lot. My hide has toughened to the point fire ants gave up trying to bite me. Mosquitoes typically break their beaks and I'm still fishing while other hard core anglers try to fit themselves into a live well to escape a full on assault by the Bug Air Force.
Pine Island/Matlacha mangrove dwelling no-seem-ums are a special hybrid variety. Years of aerial spraying and other bug eradication techniques, plus nice cozy warm winters, have resulted in a super vicious, insatiable no-see-um hybrid killer.
Typical repellants, sprays, lotions and potions only draw them out of the mangroves from longer distances. Constant reapplications of popular commercial products may cause early mental confusion, hair loss, and valuable body parts to fall off!
I can attest to that fact as I suffer from the first two conditions.
DEET products only! Anything else is a no-see-um perfume attractant.
When a client asks what to bring on their trip I always recommend lightweight long pants and shirts, socks, neck scarf, hat, sun gloves, and even some cotton for the ears.
Odd to be talking hot weather and bloodthirsty bugs near February, but if you're new to the area year-round biting bugs, some carrying nasty viruses, are always a possible threat in SW Florida. At the very least able to ruin your day's fishing hot spot if you aren't carrying proper clothes in your storage compartment or accessory bag.
The offshore fleet is fueled up and ready to go. Both nearshore and offshore numbers are producing the typical bottom fish like snapper and grouper. Keeping a chunky live bait out ready for a kingfish might pay off in a sizzling run, greyhounding jumps, and delicious table fare.
If you got a brand new shiny boat this year and want to venture offshore obviously make sure all safety gear and communication equipment is in top working order and readily available, and wear life vests.
If you are not experienced do yourself, your family, and rescue services a favor and don't overestimate your ability as a captain because the sea will win.
Another tragic mistake is to overestimate your boat's ability to handle bad conditions. In bad weather and high winds on the open sea your new 25-footer suddenly feels very, very small.
For the new boat novice looking to go offshore, take an experienced salty friend or hire a licensed guide.
For the new boat novice that likes to hunt fish in shallow water, hiring an experienced guide or captain to show you around will pay off big time. Lots of water in our area is less than a foot deep.
Do it yourselfer? Fine, just stay very close to the marked channel. In some cases venturing mere feet outside the marked channel will put you in tow boat land. If you're going fast then maybe the hospital or worse.
Not having tow insurance is foolhardy. I recently renewed my policy and added trailer road breakdown insurance for a small additional fee.
At the very least have a full understanding of tide charts and never forget it is not the final word. It's only an estimate. Local conditions (wind) can alter the estimated tide depths considerably, as in three inches of water where there should be a foot.