GAFF note: Throughout this week we've been bringing you stories
that highlight the great fishing waters of Florida. This next story was
written by Capt. Pete Rapps. He's not a Floridian by birth, but like
many, he'll never call anywhere else home.
moved to Southwest Florida in 1989 from a cozy little town in the Pocono
Mountains of Northeast Pennsylvania. I'd graduated from college with a
degree in building construction, and was looking to relocate to an area that
was experiencing rapid growth and had opportunities in the residential
construction field. I saw an article in Money Magazine that had just rated Naples, Florida as the #1 town
in the US for growth. It was then that I made the move.
1989, not long after arriving here in Collier County, I researched and
read a little about the fishing villages of Everglades City and Chokoloskee.
These quaint little towns nestled in the 10,000 Island area of the
Everglades National Park perked quite and interest, and I had to check them out
in person, ASAP!
rented an old 2-bedroom trailer and a 16' Carolina Skiff for a weekend at Chokoloskee Island Park–an RV park and
Marina, which by the way, is now a nice clean place with new rental units and
RV sites. It was then that I made the "no brainer" decision that
Chokoloskee Island and the Everglades National Park were my kinda place!
is a small Island of just 150 acres. It is believed that native Indians
had inhabited the island more than 1,500 years ago. The first modern white
settlers came in 1874, and by1882 there were 5 families living on the island.
Ted Smallwood established the first post office in 1891. The road
connecting Chokoloskee to the outside world via Everglades City was built in
1956. There is a lot of interesting history down here, which ads to the
mystique of this close-knit, eclectic, and quaint community.
day I go fishing is different than the day before. There are literally a
million places to fish and just that many things to see as you venture into the
Park. For those wishing to experience the Park, I highly recommend hiring
a guide to give you a little knowledge on navigating the area. One thing
you will notice right away is the absence of channel markers. It
takes years of experience before one becomes comfortable navigating these
waters. In the beginning, I used to go an additional mile or two each day
I went out, until I gradually became comfortable with the lay of the land
(oyster bars, that is).
my charters, there are some days we travel only a couple of minutes from
Chokoloskee and get into incomparable fishing action. Other days, and at
different times of the year, we travel further north or south either in the
backwater rivers, or along the near shore coastlines. Our primary targets
here are snook, redfish, trout, and snapper. Depending on the time of
year, we also set our sights on tarpon, sheepshead, shark, tripletail, permit,
cobia, mackerel, bluefish, and many more species of fish.
now been fishing out of Chokoloskee for 21 years. My wife Jill and I
purchased our permanent property here in 1999. I do visit and fish other
areas around the state throughout the year, but nothing will ever compare to
this end of the Everglades National Park. It is amazingly pristine, and
so spread out, that there are days when we never even see another boat on the
wishing to visit the area have many choices of places to stay and things to
do. Feel free to drop me an email if I can help answer any questions or
make any suggestions for you.
Rapps offers expert guided, light tackle, near shore, and backwater fishing
trips in the Everglades National Park out of Chokoloskee Island. He is
happy to accommodate anyone from novice to ******** seasoned pro. See
online availability calendar, booking info, and his custom blended seasonings