Fishing with Jason LeValley
- The first weekend in June, I participated in the Great Calusa
Blueway Fishing Tournament. I didn't exactly set the world on fire
with my catch, but I was lucky enough to win a 1/2 day kayak fishing
trip with Jason LeValley, from Angler's Outlet, in Cape Coral
(www.anglers-outlet.com/). We met monday morning, at 7am, for our
trip. Kurt, from the Sun and Moon Bed and Breakfast, in Matlacha, was
kind enough to let us launch from his property - thanks, Kurt! The
Sun and Moon was the site of the tournament, and he treated everyone
like royalty - just like his guests.
Jason offered to let me use one of his specially-rigged 13' Ocean
Kayaks for the trip. I already had my boat on the truck from sunday's
outing, and this is the boat I always fish out of, so I figured why
not save him the extra effort. I did use one of his fishing rods,
even though I had brought my own, and he said that we would use his
lures, so I left my tackle bag at the truck. He also offered to
provide cold drinks, but I'm used to providing for myself, so I did.
His fishing rods were actually very similar to my own. Shimano 2500
series spinning reel (NOT the cheap ones - 2500 covers a wide $$
range) on about a 7' rod, with 20lb. Proline, tipped with about a 3'
long 20 lb. flourocarbon leader. I use shorter rods - 5 1/2' to 6' -
that's the main difference between our rigs. The extra rod length
might give a slight edge in casting distance, whereas the shorter rods
are a bit easier in tight quarters, fishing around mangroves.
We launched from a little hole in the mangroves, right across the
street from the Sun and Moon. This put us on a large open area of
very shallow water, that was just loaded with mullett. Jason said
that quite often, redfish were found with the mullett, so we worked
the area with that in mind. He rigged my rod with a white bass
assassin minnow on a weighted hook, and instructed me to give the lure
plenty of action, by twitching it along the surface. We didn't find
any redfish hanging out with the mullett, so we left that area after
numerous casts, and only hooking up with a ladyfish - a small member
of the tarpon family - quite a jumper.
Jason told me that we would be working our way to a "lake" that
was hidden away in the mangroves. On the way there, he told me to
"streamline" my deck gear as much as possible, then he took me through
a twisting, turning mangrove tunnel, that was worth the whole trip. I
love that kind of stuff - Chubby Checker's "Limbo Party" playing in my
mind as we passed under and around the mangroves. The route wasn't
confused by possible side-routes, there being really only one choice
of forks along the way.
When we got to the "lake", Jason told me that snook could be
caught pretty much anywhere on the lake, from the mangrove shoreline,
to the middle of the lake. We paddled over to the windward side,
where there appeared to be two possible tributaries under the
low-hanging mangroves. I started working that area, after dropping my
small anchor, to hold my position. After making about a dozen casts,
fanning them around the area, I was just preparing to lift my anchor,
to move on to another spot, when I heard splashing among the mangrove
roots. It appeared that a snook had gone after something, and had
gotten tangled up in the roots for a few seconds. The spot was just
withing my casting radius, so I stayed put for a few more casts. In
my third cast to the area, I hooked into a snook. He put up a good
fight, splashing & head-shaking numerous times, and stripping some
line from my reel, despite the heavy drag. I measured him at 26", and
Jason's scale showed him to be about 4 1/2 lbs. He took a few
pictures with his digital camera, and promised to e-mail them to me.
I'll post them here, as soon as he does. We stayed in the lake for a
while - catching a couple more snook, and Jason joined in the fishing,
catching a couple of snook himself.
I was surprised that there would be sizeable snook in the lake.
It was very shallow - not much more than 3' deep at the center. There
did not appear to be many baitfish there either - certainly no schools
of them. We speculated that maybe they were there for shrimp, that
might be hiding in the mucky bottom in the daytime? I thought that it
might be interesting to go there at night, with a bright spotlight, to
see if there were a lot of shrimp in there (their eyes glow in bright
light). This time of year, though, you'd have to be part-blood-donor,
part-masochist, even with bug spray and a full bug suit!
Jason is a helpful teacher, answering all kinds of questions.
Besides being a kayak fishing guide, he also offers other guiding
services, and competes in area fishing tournaments regularly, keeping
his skills fresh. If you might be interested in his services, you can
contact Captain Jason LeValley at Angler's Outlet, in Cape Coral, or
go to their website, at: www.anglers-outlet.com/ , or e-mail Jason
directly at: captjasonlevalley@... . Angler's Outlet plans to
start a "fishing school" in the near future.