Thursday, October 19, 2017

2017 DOA Outdoor Writers Festival - Day One

Doubling Down on Jacks with DOA Lures 
Fellowship at meal time is always grand
The 18th annual DOA outdoor writers festival on the East Coast of South Florida did not miss a beat in 2017, with a Can Do attitude from saltwater guides that came to fish the mangroves up and down the Indian River. The fishing conditions on Day One were flat calm and our group of anglers put in at Little Mud boat ramp and fished the nearby inlet at dawn, and while a decent topwater dust up was going on, we did not get any strikes. The forecast was for tough fishing and I was very fortunate to be paired with Captain Andy Cotton, a determined redfish tournament angler from Sarasota. He simply would not take NO for an answer from the fish, and we went on to record eight species of fish including snook, redfish, trout, mangrove snapper, jack crevalle, barracuda, ladyfish and a catfish. All our fish were caught on CAL jerk baits by DOA Lures.

A cool Speckled Trout in 90-degree weather
It was especially gratifying for this blogger to return to DOA camp after missing the 2016 event due to Hurricane Matthew hitting the Lowcountry. I can report that the Port St. Lucie area looks to me like it suffered very little ill effects from both Matthew and then from Irma in 2017. But the locals told me that they have grave concerns about the Florida Keys after Hurricane Irma, regarding the degree of damage found there. The increased precipitation from these tropical systems over the past few years has kept Lake Okeechobee full, and runoff from that Lake continues to pollute and degrade the fishing at the St. Lucie Inlet. I am sorry to report that the fishery here remains under duress, and it is not clear when relief will be coming. Until then, we can rely on Mother Nature to stay the course and bring the marine life back to previous levels. One positive sign is that baitfish were thick this year, and whatever fish are present should be growing stronger with each day with this ample food supply.

Mangrove Snapper with a nice deep coloration
Captain Mark Nichols is always keen to thank his longtime sponsors for sponsoring the event including Costa sunglasses, Danco pliers, Eagle Claw Hooks, Shimano reels, Hummingbird / Minn Kota, Engle Coolers, Tailin' Toads, Hoo Rags, and the DOA staffers like Capt. Ed Zyak that hustle to complete all the final details. An attitude of teamwork permeates this crowd of outdoor industry veterans (and a few newbies) so that when we deploy onto the water to chase some fish with the artificial lures dubbed Deadly On Anything, everyone knows to share information so that the storytellers and photographers can have the best chance to get on some fish. For example, the fishing was tough and when Capt. Cotton spied diving birds we made a run toward that position to probe it for fish. After a productive drift that yielded a mixed bag, we called Capt. Rick Grassett and writer Ron Pressley to come on over and supplied the exact lure and color that we were having success with. This buddy system takes place over and over at DOA camp, and I am very heartened to share that this is event is catch and release only, always allowing for the fish to get bigger and to teach others to cherish this precious ecosystem that needs our stewardship now.

To view past blog entries from the DOA Writers Event click 20152014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 -2010 - 2009 

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