Drove down to Chokoloskee/Everglades City, Florida for a weekend of friends, fishing, and (on the way home) some exploration in Picayune strand state forest/Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park.
Fishing Report for Chokoloskee Bay: sea-trout were biting pretty good, i was using a yozuri plug, we had no luck with shrimp. warning, all local bait shops are selling SMALL shrimp, its just that time of the year, so i'd learn how to use a cast net. Caught ladyfish on the same plug as well. Sharks were biting great on but ladyfish and cut mullet. had 4 on the line, brought all 4 to the side of the but then cut them off except the Sharpnose shark you see in the photo. great weather for fishing. no luck with snook or reds with plugs, shrimp, finger mullet, or shad (all organic bait was live).
Fakahatchee Strand/Janes Scenic Dr Report: Roads are COVERED in potholes. I wouldn't drive a car down it. 4x4 or AWD is not necessary, any SUV/Truck will do even if its 2wd. It is very wet off to the sides of the road and the undergrowth has covered the edges. viewing wildlife is very limited. beautiful landscapes however due to the lush green foliage.
Picayune Strand- VERY WET. generally this is a very dry area, however, even the main gravel/"paved" roads are now under about 8" of water. there are alligators/fish crossing the roads in some areas regularly, so take things slow to not disturb or injure wildlife. I recommend 4x4/AWD vehicles. although the ground is generally solid, some all sideroads have mud or soft bottom. You do NOT want to get stuck out there this time of year. The bugs are terrible and the gators are in every body of water (any depth, even 1' or less, in some areas) relaxing. Just pack water, make sure you fill up before you drive, have a map/gps to get out before nightfall. its an awesome drive even though its a grid system. Some roads are beginning to get blocked off, metal barricades are being installed as part of the Resto Project. some roads will be completely closed, so far there are only 5 side roads i've seen closed off. the first road on the left as you enter the strand from the east is now closed. It was the best road to see alligators and the only marked/legal road that actually gets hairy.
http://www.evergladesplan.org/pm/pro...j_30_sgge.aspx <--- more info on the restoration project.