Rich Jones - Everglades Kayak Fishing E-mail
Friday, 23 October 2009 07:56

Rich Jones – Everglades Kayak Fishing

By Jon Shein

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I first met Rich in the fall of 2007 when I made it down to the Everglades. We were both guiding for Everglades Kayak Fishing at the time. We actually didn’t fish together very much as he was a full time guide and was kept busy with clients. Rich guides full time with the outfit and does both Mothership and shore based trips.

How long have you been fishing?

I have been fishing most all my life. I think I was hooked when I was around seven years old and I won a trophy for catching the most blue gills, bass and other fish over the course of a summer at a lake up north where my mom ran a food concession (man, that’s like 50 years ago).  Growing up I fished mostly in freshwater lakes for bass. I also surf fished and fished on charter boats with my dad. Over the years I’ve fished up and down the east coast, fishing both fresh and saltwater. I also got to fish in different parts of Texas, California, and over in Japan while serving in the Air Force.

When did you start kayak fishing and why?

I’ve fished out of a canoe from time to time but really began kayak fishing about eight years ago renting boats and then  purchasing my first kayak, a Heritage Redfish 14 when they first came out several  years ago. I’ve gone through a few different kayaks since then but still have and use that boat.

I got the idea of kayak fishing when I stumbled upon a website about a group in California that fished out of kayaks. I had seen people here in Florida kayak fish but it was still kind of in its infancy, not anything like the craze that’s going on now. After trying it, I loved it. The list is endless as to where you can launch your kayak and fish, getting to places that motor craft can’t go or get to and the challenge of catching  bigger fish such as snook and tarpon are a few of reasons why I kayak fish.

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How did you start and what do you do working as a guide?

Well, Chris Boland the owner of Saltwatersports, where I purchased my first kayak in Naples, FL knew how much I was into kayak fishing and asked me if I would like to guide some trips for him. I did them and really enjoyed doing it. A year or so later I hooked up with Charles Wright as a fishing guide for Everglades Kayak Fishing and never looked back. Now I am the main kayak fishing guide for EKF doing the shore launched trips into Everglades National Park and surrounding areas along with the mother ship trips where we shuttle the kayaks to more remote areas of the national park. Also, which has been a real big hit, I guide the multi-day trips, camping and kayak fishing usually for three days in the park during the winter months.

As a guide here I can provide a few different services. For those new to the sport I teach basic kayaking and fishing skills plus different ways of rigging a kayak for fishing. I’ll teach the more experienced spin and fly fisherman techniques that I use to be more successful here along with just accompanying them so they can learn the area, it can be very overwhelming to the newcomer with how vast it is.

Tell us about where you fish and what kinds of fish you target?

First off, we are located at the end of the road as they say here in Chokoloskee. It is very rural and unlike most of Florida’s other coasts. The main attraction here is the fishing. Chokoloskee is on the lower southwest coast of Florida about 40 minutes south of Naples, it’s the end of civilization. From here is Everglades National Park, around 150,000 acres of coastal everglades wilderness, surrounded by Big Cypress National Preserve and The Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge to the north and east. Farther south is Flamingo and the Florida Keys.

There is a large variety of species that you can fish for here. The main ones targeted though are the game fish, Snook, Tarpon, Redfish, and Sea trout. Some other fish caught here are mangrove snapper, grouper, tripletail and flounder to name a few and these can all be caught inshore. Some people like to target sharks including bull and lemon sharks which are fairly common around here also.

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What type of fishing gear do you use?

Generally my set ups are light spinning tackle, Shimano Sustain and Diawa Sol reels in 2500 and 3000 sizes with St Croix Tidemaster rods 7 and 7 ½ ft. For fly fishing I use 8 and 9wt’s from TFO and a couple other manufacturers. I fish with all artificial baits; top waters are my favorite plugs using mostly Zara Spooks jrs, and jigs, my favorite made by Mission Fishin with a multitude of different soft plastics. One other bait I like to use is swim baits, a great search bait.

How can someone contact you for more information?

To learn more and also to book a trip you can find us at these websites, www.evergladeskayakfishing.com and www.evergladesareatours.com. You can also call 239-695-9107 or 239-695-3633. I have also started a blog recently which is a work in progress, but is basically a log of my trips and that address is: www.kayakfishingtheeverglades.blogspot.com

 

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