First time fishing sml in kayak tips.

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MrMasonsPop
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First time fishing sml in kayak tips.

Post by MrMasonsPop » Thu Apr 11, 2013 12:36 pm

First off I am a newbie on forums so I apologize in advance if I make any amateur mistakes. We are heading out on SML this Sunday for the first time on a kayak and was wondering if anyone has any tips for a safe trip. Our normal hunting ground is out of Devils Elbow but decided to try something new. I have read a lot about people coming across gators which normally wouldnt bother me as I I have lived in Florida long enough to know to avoid them . However with us sitting on a kayak a mere foot off of the water we are bound to get a bit closer then we ever have before which presents a new level of anxiety. Are there any certain areas that we should avoid so as not to disturb any hungry reptiles? For some reason I have a vision in my head of us hooking up on a monster red only to have Big Al come along and snatch it up. We have a live well on the back of the kayak so I am not too worried about it once we get it on deck. I always carry my 38 special and my buddy A 40 cal so at least we will have some sorts of protection should anything happen. ( not that I am sure that either one of them will be effective in turning away a gator). Is anyone has any advice we are all ears. Also does anyone have any advice on what rigs to use while out there. We have been having a lot of luck lately with Rapalla Skitterwalk top waters what were wondering live bait would be a better option. Again I apologize is this post is redundant I don't mean to annoy any long term forum users with any amateur mistakes. Thanks for any advise anyone has.

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DUCK-DAWG
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Re: First time fishing sml in kayak tips.

Post by DUCK-DAWG » Thu Apr 11, 2013 1:46 pm

I wouldn't stress over the presence of alligators in the lake. They're out there, you're aware of it, that's that. I've only been in Jacksonville for a little over 8 months, but I've fished and hunted around gators all my life and have never been in a position where I felt I was genuinely in danger of being "attacked". You stand a much better chance of being eaten alive by mosquitos and no-see-um's out there now that it's warmed up. In regards to carrying protection, I also carry "repellent", mine being of the .45acp variety, but I've never come close to using it on a gator. In fact, the only reason why I sometimes carry while kayaking is that I frequently fish/hunt alone, and often in some pretty sketchy places.

Now as far as actual fishing goes...be aware that water levels are loooow right now. It sounds like you'll be fishing in a 2-person kayak, and if that's correct, be prepared to drag bottom around SML, especially with a full livewell. Do a quick search and you'll see that there are quite a few fishing reports from that area, many of which list specific baits/lures used, some even have pictures. Good luck, hope you get on some fish.

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internetpilot
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Re: First time fishing sml in kayak tips.

Post by internetpilot » Thu Apr 11, 2013 7:15 pm

I've been almost solely fishing Guana Lake for just coming up on a year now. Before a couple of weeks ago, it was always in a 14' Coleman Scanoe with a trolling motor (and outrigger stabilizers). Starting this past weekend, I'm now going to be mostly fishing it in a 12' Perception Destiny (which is technically a hybrid kayak -- it's basically a deeper sit-on-top kayak without any scuppers). I've never had any really close encounters with the gators until the past weekend when I caught two 3 or 4 footers (or it may have been one that persistently went after my bait twice). Both times I reeled it in almost all the way to the boat and the gator spit out (likely just let go) of the paddletail. It surprised me more than I felt endangered, but I don't underestimate what a 4-foot gator could do to me. I was trolling a 5" paddletail that looks like a baby trout when the gator(s) snagged it both times. During that same trip I had an 8 or 9 footer "cut me off" from proceeding into a narrow channel -- he purposely did it, too, and was sticking most of his body out of the water the whole time that he was coming out to meet me. I just considered that his fishing hole, back-paddled quickly, and moved on.

The water there is VERY shallow right now as they're definitely drawing down the water to regulate the vegetation (or lack thereof), salinity, etc. It's to the point now that I couldn't take my canoe and trolling motor out even if I wanted because right there at the launch (SML) it's only about 1/2 a paddle length deep. There are deeper channels the more you go west across from SML, but you're going through some shallow water to get to those, and my loaded canoe is a bear to paddle and when it bottoms out in the mud, it's a real chore to get it going again. When your navigating around in the deeper channels, keep an eye on the mud islands that are now there, because I've literally come right up on dozens of BIG gators (one at time) sunning themselves on these muddy islands and they blend right in. You won't even mistake them for a log -- they just look like mud. A couple weeks ago when I was in my canoe one of them was about a dozen or so feet away from me before I saw it, and even then it was already in motion, diving RIGHT UNDER my canoe (don't know how it missed the trolling motor), but that really surprised the crap out of me. So just keep a keen eye on those islands and the shoreline (if you go close to either shore), because the weather is warm enough now that they're sunning themselves, they're warmed up, and they're ready to go. The last thing you want to do is be face-to-face with one of these 10+ footers.

Don't try to wade without testing the bottom first. Although the water may only be like a foot deep, the mud is like 3 feet deep below that. You'll sink to thighs with the first step. I have an 8-foot stakeout pole and in a foot of water at least 1/2 of it is in the mud with barely pushing.

All that being said, the gators haven't stopped me from coming back time and time again, and I will continue to do so. You just have to respect them, but not necessarily fear them. Just keep an eye out so that neither of you surprise the other and you should be fine.

As for bait, I've personally had the most luck using a variety of different paddletails, typically 1/8 or 1/4 oz, 3 to 5" long, natural colors/patterns. I've also had good luck with MirrOlure MirrOdine 17MR and 27MR. I've had some luck with DOA (or other) shrimp, too. The only thing I've ever caught off of cut bait is crabs. The only thing I've ever caught off crab is more crabs. The only thing I've caught off of fake (Gulp Alive) crabs is other real crabs. But my experience is FAR from the norm with live or cut bait out there. From talking to folks at the launch, a 1/4 crab, cut ladyfish, or a chunk of fresh mullet will typically guarantee you a big fat red.

It's a fun (my favorite) place to fish. Definitely keeps me coming back.
-- Chris :thumbleft:
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CJ_Tiz
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Re: First time fishing sml in kayak tips.

Post by CJ_Tiz » Thu Apr 11, 2013 7:27 pm

My luck at sml is head south and top water for the ladies. Cut them up as cut bait and hang on. Red Fish Crack.

Its shallow right now real shallow. So with that said I would not put in at sml but at the dam.

Good luck

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MrMasonsPop
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Re: First time fishing sml in kayak tips.

Post by MrMasonsPop » Fri Apr 12, 2013 5:34 pm

Wow! Thanks for all the tips gentlemen. The info y'all gave was exactly what I was hoping to get. With everything said it appears as if we will be launching from the dam as opposed to SML considering the draw down. I will report back with our results for the day. Can't wait to peruse the boards more to get some ideas for our next trip. Thanks again!

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Baronvonfatt
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Re: First time fishing sml in kayak tips.

Post by Baronvonfatt » Sat Apr 13, 2013 4:44 pm

All I can say is just be careful carring a firearm in guana it is a hunting area also. So if your carrying a firearm there with no hunting season open you could be up for some tough questions if stopped by the man. Just saying.
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Will
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Re: First time fishing sml in kayak tips.

Post by Will » Sat Apr 13, 2013 9:46 pm

Regardless of hunting areas or seasons it is legal in Florida to open carry a handgun while fishing, or going to or returning from a fishing trip. Also, concealed carry is legal with proper permit.
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 160i

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internetpilot
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Re: First time fishing sml in kayak tips.

Post by internetpilot » Sat Apr 13, 2013 10:10 pm

After today I definitely recommend launching at the dam rather than SML. Believe it or not, the water is actually even lower than it was a week ago. I couldn't even do a shallow paddle stroke without coming up with mud.

I also had a big fat gator get aggressive with me when I got stuck in the shallows. I was trying to push my way out with my stake out stick when I noticed him coming directly toward me pretty fast and steady walking/sliding across the mud. He was only about 9 feet long but very fat.

Really scared the crap out of me for the first time at Guana. They have the water just ridiculously shallow now and the visibility is so bad you can't tell if the water is 3 feet or 3 inches until you're already stuck (with a gator coming at you).
-- Chris :thumbleft:
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MrMasonsPop
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Re: First time fishing sml in kayak tips.

Post by MrMasonsPop » Sun Apr 14, 2013 4:22 pm

Baron we are fully licensed to carry, but like the other poster said, if you are fishing you can carry regardless. Anytime I am out I like knowing I have some sort of protection :-) Anyways My buddy and I got completely skunked today. I tried the recommended paddle tails on 1/4 ounce jigs in various colors. Decided to switch to a Rapalla Skitterwalk topwater, still no luck. went to doa shrimp on 1/4 oz jig still no luck so we decided to try south of the dam. Saw a lot of action in the water but just couldnt hook up. 7 hrs on the water and not a bite. Is the water in SML always really murky or is that because of the drawdown? Maybe we will have better luck next time.
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Baronvonfatt
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Re: First time fishing sml in kayak tips.

Post by Baronvonfatt » Sun Apr 14, 2013 4:57 pm

I agree you can carry anytime your fishing but guana is a totally different animal it is considered state property it is also a WMA. That's the only reason I was showing concern. Think I saw you leaving when I was walking up to get my truck. Sorry about your luck, stick with it Guana is a fickle beast. Also another good choose is try some gulp jerk baits rigged weightless in the flats.
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internetpilot
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Re: First time fishing sml in kayak tips.

Post by internetpilot » Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:14 pm

It has been really murky lately and fish have been rather picky. I've never had good luck launching from the dam though -- most of the fish I catch are within sight of SML. Unfortunately SML is currently a mud puddle about 3" away from being bone dry. It's just not a good time for fishing Guana Lake.

I'd try again when they raise the water levels back up to where they should be.

Be careful with the tides launching South of the dam -- the launch becomes completely inaccessible at or near low tide. You'll end up thigh deep in mud if you try to wade back in.
-- Chris :thumbleft:
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kirakirk
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Re: First time fishing sml in kayak tips.

Post by kirakirk » Mon Apr 15, 2013 12:46 am

Hi,
Does anyone know when the spring drawdown for the guana ends and water levels usually return to normal?
This is not related to fishing, rather my back yard wedding, I'm hoping you all have the expertise needed to help me- (although I'm an avid canoeist and have had similar gator encounters on the guana as mentioned here)- my parents live Neck Road. I live out of town and have returned home for some wedding prep. Imagine my surprise today when I arrived home to a big mud slick (and it smells!). None of us have ever seen water levels this low and we've lived on the marsh for 20 years. The big day is in mid-May. Any info on previous drawdown schedules or who may be a good person to call at the Conservation Commission to find out the plan would be greatly appreciated.
I have always wanted to get married with the beautiful guana as the backdrop, am hoping that the water levels come up in the next 5 weeks. Thanks all, please pardon this off-topic post.

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Re: First time fishing sml in kayak tips.

Post by bruce » Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:54 pm

the draw down is to allow the plants to grow to provide habitat for the wildlife.
you should call the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission for info on when they will re flood the area.

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dogyak
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Re: First time fishing sml in kayak tips.

Post by dogyak » Mon Apr 15, 2013 9:36 pm

Don't fret , while its easy to assume the worst when productive ponds go dry , but wetlands that periodically experience drought conditions are more productive than those that always wet . Nitrogen , an essential element for plant life , must oxidize and mineralize in the soil before plants can absord it . The process happens during dry periods . Wetlands need to dry up for full nutrient cycling to happen , lakes and ponds that are to wet or to deep for extended periods of time become decadent and can enter a lake stage-vegetation dies off and become anaerobic , which means the water lacks enough oxygen for the plant and invertebrate life fish need to survive , some plants and insects must experience occasional drought in order to reproduce . Their seed and egg banks hibernate along the marsh bottom , untill ideal conditions occur to grow or hatch . There you go , hope this explains why this needs to be done from time to time .

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