Florida Backcountry Slam | Tarpon, Redfish, and Snook Fishing
As an angler, nothing is better than pushing your angling abilities and knowledge to the test. In the backcountry of Florida, anglers are doing so with fishing slams. A slam when it comes to fishing is when you catch a certain number of species in an area. While it may not seem daunting, it can be extremely difficult to complete.
In the Everglades of Florida, there are primarily two different kinds of slams. A Flats Slam and the Backcountry Slam. The flats slam involves catching a bonefish, a permit and a tarpon in a single day.
The Backcountry Slam is the challenge to catch a tarpon, redfish and a snook in one day. Especially when throwing artificial lures or when fly fishing catching a redfish, tarpon and a snook in the same day is not easily done.
Watch & Observe Your Water
When a hurricane comes through the Everglades, it can give a system a fresh start. Though right after a hurricane is not advised to go fishing, the weeks and months after one can be phenomenal as the storm brings in new nutrients and typically a good shot to complete a Florida slam— a secret experienced anglers know.
On any day of fishing, especially after a hurricane that changes the waterscape, it’s important to observe your environment first. From there, an angler can develop a plan for how to fish. Observing the water first is especially helpful for determining which species to chase and how you are going to target them.
The Backcountry Slam
Tarpon are a unique target in Florida’s Everglades and can grow from very small sizes to extremely large sizes. Especially when fishing with a flyrod, hooking and catching these aggressive jumpers can be an absolute blast. Even the small ones fight and behave the same way as a large tarpon would.
Smaller tarpon are more cooperative when it comes to biting and if you find one you are bound to find more as they are typically in big groups. Which in turn leads to multiple bites and an incredible day of fishing.
They come in handy when fishing for the Backcountry Slam as they do everything the big ones do without an hour-long fight—leaving you with more time to find and locate snook and redfish.
A favorable situation to catching is where current is coming out. If you move slowly and carefully on the water, the fish won’t feel you. In doing so, an angler can hit the mother lode right at the mouth of the creek.
If you come in too hard or spook the fish on the outskirts, those fish will end up spooking all of them. And then its game over for that area. Be patient and you will catch a lot more fish.
As the day progresses, and light becomes more overhead the tarpon may stop biting, providing the perfect chance to chase number two in the Backcountry Slam—the Redfish.
Redfish are usually found the same way all the others are by observing the water. Looking for baitfish, or for sandbars is a good way to locate redfish.
Though keep in mind after a hurricane it can be extremely important to adapt. Old sandbars could now be washed away by the storm surge, while new ones are formed in places they never were before. It provides a new learning experience as the topography has changed.
Snook are best caught last in your slam as many snook feed in low light as the sun is going down, and into the night. Casting plastic, especially plastic jerk baits along mangroves can provide success for snook but keep in mind that braided line is your best bet for landing one as large snook will run in and out of timber as they fight. Monofilament would break from sharp snagging branches and the power of a snook.
Covering ground is sometimes necessary to finding snook and the opportunity for both a small or trophy snook is there. As with the tarpon, not spooking the fish and being patient can provide the best results.
Fishing Arsenal to Get the Slam Completed
Fishing the backwaters in the Everglades can provide an experience like no other. Fishing the Slam for different kinds of fish species, however, requires an angler to be prepared and flexible.
Having different leader material on hand as well as good pliers are essential. Being on the water all day to complete the slam, you may find the need to switch up leader line weight and repair any that have frayed from usage. Keep an eye on your line and re-tie with any frays or nicks in your line or leader.
For fishing lures bring a large variety of plugs, jigs and soft plastics to find what each of the three species are eating on. Experiment with different colors to find what is working for that day and don’t be afraid to switch it up.
For fishing rods, the same is true. Bringing a variety of different weights and sizes ensures you have the rod to get the job done. Some of the best inshore fishing rods for this type of situation are the TFO Inshore Series. The finesse approach with light jigs is best suited for the TFO 2 power rod with a lighter tip comes in handy.
To cast for snook under mangroves with soft plastics a 6’9” TFO Inshore 4 power rod works phenomenally. This rod is great for detailed casting but also has the backbone to get fish out of cover. Also having a 5 Power medium heavy rod for bigger plugs is good to have onboard.
Keeping multiple rods on deck with different baits ensures that you are ready to go when the opportunity arises. Fishing and completing the Backcountry Slam is no easy task and any advantage you can get over the fish is vital to being successful.
Few types of fishing Slams are more challenging or rewarding than the Backcountry Slam in the Florida Keys. Persistence, patience and a little bit of luck leads to one incredible accomplishment.