Kayak Fishing Florida’s Captiva Island

Inshore kayak fishing in southwest Florida with Hobie.
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Tough Assignment

Hobie Kayaks recently invited members of the sport-fishing media to join them fishing the Captiva Island area on lovely Sanibel Island for three days (sadly I could make only two of them). The assignment required journalists to grab a yak and go fishing. Also in the evenings we had to sample local cuisine, like that of Key Lime Bistro. It was torture, I tell you, sheer torture. But we got through it — and here are some photos to show you how terrible it was. Here, Keeton Eoff, with Hobie, sizes up his first redfish of the trip, fooled with an Egret jig and plastic bait. Courtesy Jeffrey Fortuna / Hobie
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Kayak Ferry

The 45-foot catamaran Playtime has been loaded up with nine or 10 various Hobie kayaks and has ferried all kayakers over to Cayo Costa just north of Captiva for a morning of fishing. Courtesy Jeffrey Fortuna / Hobie
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Prep Time

Yak anglers get things set up to fish the eastern side of lower Cayo Costa. Doug Olander
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Hungry Redfish

It doesn’t take long for Jerry McBride of Jensen Beach, Florida, to score, using a VuDu Shrimp. McBride, who has to be one of the best inshore kayak fishermen in this state, often uses his kayak to access spots where he can hop out and wade fish. Doug Olander
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I’ve learned the hard way to give manatees a wide berth when kayaking in shallow, murky waters. More than one kayaker has been flipped by the power in the tail of a startled manatee. There are tons of the sea cow things around Sanibel/Captiva. Courtesy Jeffrey Fortuna / Hobie
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Tricked-Out Sailing Yak

Several participants brought their own rigs. Butch Newell is not only a skilled angler, but an accomplished kayak-sailing racer who recently completed the Everglades Challenge, Tampa Bay-to-Key Largo adventure race in this Hobie Mirage Tandem Island. Doug Olander
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Walking the Walk

When not working on PR for Hobie or playing den-mother to a bunch of wild and/or crazy kayak-fishing enthusiasts on events like this, Ingrid Niehaus of California enjoys some quiet time on the water, here in a Hobie Revolution. While smaller than the Outback or Pro Anglers most used, the Revolution still utilizes the Mirage Drive pedal system for hands-free fishing. Doug Olander
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Pole Down to Anchor Up

Taking advantage of some early morning light, freelance journalist Todd Kuhn of Gulfport, Mississippi, clicks some pics. The long upright pole at the stern is the Power Pole Micro — a version of Power-Pole’s Micro Anchor made to fit on Hobie yaks. For those who had ’em, these proved an invaluable tool to help anglers instantly lock themselves in position while casing the mangroves along windward shores. Courtesy Jeffrey Fortuna / Hobie
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Working docks proved a good bet for small snook, in particular. Courtesy Jeffrey Fortuna / Hobie
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Mangrove Wilderness

Long stretches of pristine mangroves characterize this area. Courtesy Jeffrey Fortuna / Hobie
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Spooky Red

Kayak enthusiast/author John J.D. Donahue, fishing a Zara Spook from a ProAngler 16, offers a quick look at a red before its release. Doug Olander
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Prep Time, Part II

On this morning, we headed not to Caya Costa but to Captiva’s J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Once again, kayaks are unloaded and anglers work on organizing whatever they need for a morning of fishing. Doug Olander
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Early Trout

Right off, I found a hungry seatrout, which hit a Savage Manic Shrimp. Courtesy John Donohue
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Mangrove Alleys

As long channels through the mangroves offered 18 inches or so of water, our yak anglers could pedal through ‘em (though if things shallowed up much more, they could always grab a paddle and keep going). Courtesy Jeffrey Fortuna / Hobie
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Fly Gal

Tucked into a corner of a bay in the refuge, Polly Dean, representing Fishing Tackle Retailer magazine, works the long rod from a ProAngler 16. Courtesy Jeffrey Fortuna / Hobie
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Snook King

McBride strikes again, one of many snook he released in the quiet waters of the refuge. Courtesy Jeffrey Fortuna / Hobie
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Can’t I Just Have a Hot Dog?

Dinner at the end of day three: scallops, shrimp, grouper and redfish with a secret seasoning — to die for! Courtesy Jeffrey Fortuna / Hobie
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Happy Birthday!

There were an amazing number of birthdays during this event. The post-dinner celebration for Ingrid takes place at a lovely three-story house that served as our HQ for this event. Courtesy Jeffrey Fortuna / Hobie