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Event Article


Multi-Species Madness in the Mangroves, Fishing in South Florida


Date: 5/13/16
Event Dates: 5/9/16 - 5/13/16
Manufacturer: Navionics, Okuma, Savage Gear, Yo-Zuri, Cuda, Raymarine
Reviewer: Zander


Introduction: Prior to this week the extent of my Florida fishing adventures have all centered around bass fishing, so I jumped at the opportunity to join the 2016 Marco Island Mangrove Madness event with about 30 other outdoor writers. This event just ended this morning and was hosted by Navionics, Okuma, Savage Gear, Yo-Zuri, Cuda, Raymarine, and the Naples Marco Island Convention and Visitors Bureau.


Flying in to Ft. Meyers Airport everything looks very fishable


Most press events that I attend are put on by one manufacturer so it was quite interesting to see a group of manufacturers come together to put on a larger more encompassing event. This was the first press event for many of these companies and they chose the Marco Island location in South Florida to provide us with a wider range of applications in which to experience their newest products in a variety of fisheries.


The Olde Marco Island Inn, home base for the Mangrove Madness Event


Getting to Marco Island is relatively easy, even for someone like me traveling all the way from the West Coast. With one short layover I arrived at Fort Meyers Airport and it was less than an hour ride to the Olde Marco Island Inn, our home base of operations for the week.


My first stop, freshwater fishing at lake Trafford. There are many airboats as tourists come to see the many resident gators


Marco Island is the largest barrier island within Southwest Floridaís Ten Thousand Islands area. The name of the Island originates back to the 1500ís when Spanish explorers landed on the island and gave the island the name La Isla de San Marco after Gospel writer St. Mark. Development of the island as it is today really began around 1870 after Thomas Collier and his family founded the village of Marco and opened up the Olde Marco Inn, coincidently the very hotel we stayed in. Through the years the island had a major clam digging industry, and eventually in 1938 the first vehicle bridge was built to the island, then in the 1960ís the island saw major development making it a tourist destination.


Fishing Okuma's new EVX rods


That first evening we gathered in the dining room and was greeted by our host and primary event organizer, Paul Michele, National Sales Manager Americas for Navionics. Paul mapped out the exciting week and most of us would experience three very different types of South Florida fishing including freshwater, offshore, and inshore fishing (in that exact sequence for me).


Plenty of vegetation on this lake


After getting refueled with a very enjoyable welcome dinner we were provided all the gear we needed for the trip. Each of the manufacturerís custom tailored kit that we would need for the event. Reels and rods were all supplied by Okuma, all the soft lures were provided by Savage Gear, and the hardbaits were all outfitted by Yo-Zuri. Even after a full day of travel and a belly full of food I have to admit that I had a very hard time sleeping with fish on the mind.


Jim shows us a big sunfish, just one of the many fish that now inhabit Lake Trafford


The next morning Steven Bates, of Ontario Outdoors Magazine and I head out to Lake Trafford. Lake Trafford is a small lake at only 1500 acres and has bounced back from a low point about 12 years ago when the lake was not well managed. Today it has an abundance of vegetation and is home to not only largemouth bass, crappie, and redear sunfish, but also a very large population of alligators. This is definitely not a lake that you want to go wade or float tubing in!


A cold front made fishing a challenge but we still managed a few bass


We fished the lake with Jim, a local guide who has been guiding on Trafford for years. In many areas the lake fished similarly to the Delta, if you can get through the vegetation you can get the fish. Cranking was near impossible with the amount of vegetation and shallow depths so spinnerbaits and pitching plastics were the best options.


Splash hit on a worm...


We pounded the lake but unfortunately the cold front the day before still had the bass slightly off. By the end of the day we managed a total of 8 largemouth, but nothing over 3lbs but the biggest excitement for the day came not from green fish but a pitch of Savage Gear worm near the reeds when a 6 foot gator blew up on it and swam away with the lure, towing Steven in the process.


...that isn't a largemouth on the line


Once it realized that it was on the line it turned towards us, showed us itís not so pearly whites, and spit out the bait, but not before giving Steven quite a fight on the Okuma EVX spinning rod.


A gator swims away with Steven's bait

Next Section: Day 2 - Time to Go Offshore









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