Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Wind and rough water couldn't stop us from catching fish

Bonnie Hickey of Bozeman, Mont., battles her first beach snook.

We were able to catch a decent number of fish during May -- despite strong wind, rain and rough and dirty water.

Weather certainly has been a major influence on fishing throughout southwest Florida so far in 2018.

 We're hoping things settle down and we can get back to "normal."

This unusual brown peacock bass was impressive.
Early in the month, we made a number trips to The Everglades where we walked in and did quite well on peacock bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, oscar and Mayan cichlid. Despite our success, those trips are over until the next dry season. High water, heat, thunderstorms and mosquitoes will keep angling action in The 'Glades to a minimum for a few months.

That being said, it could be the time to think about an Everglades trip down the road. If you've never caught a peacock bass, you might want to seriously consider this trip.

Over our last four outings down there, we caught and released more than 200 peacock bass. It's some great fly fishing, for sure.

Most of the fish were caught on Junior's Craft Fur Minnow, a creation of Junior Burk, an Indiana fly tyer. We also caught peacock bass on Gibby's Myakka Minnows.

Gibby's Myakka Minnow was effective on peacocks.
I did get out on a couple of beach snook trips in May. Conditions were not good, but we still encountered snook. Mike and Bonnie Hickey of Bozeman, Mont., joined me on a marginal day. We first tried Manasota Key, but encountered rough water and quite a bit of red algae (not red tide) in the surf. We drove north to Casey Key and found better conditions.

At Casey Key, Bonnie Hickey landed a 23-inch snook (the fish broke loose as I was holding the leader). She and Mike also hooked a few others. In all, they got maybe 15 shots at snook, including one fish we estimated at 10-12 pounds.

Jeff Marshall of Venice and Sherri Soper of Arizona spent a day with sight-fishing the surf in trying conditions. The water was calm enough, but the sky was overcast  which resulted in extreme glare on the water, making spotting snook pretty tough.
This over-sized redfish was sight-fished in 18 inches of water.

Still, Sherri  hooked a 24-incher and had a couple of other s take her fly. Jeff landed a decent spotted seatrout and lost another.

John Weimer of the Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers in Sarasota joined me on a trip to Lake Manatee. We launched at the Verna Road Bridge on the east end of the lake. The results were fair. We landed 25 mostly hand-size bluegill on popping bugs and Gibby's Snymphs under strike indicators.

Weimer also fished with me late in the month around Buttonwood Harbor off Sarasota Bay. We caught and released five snook, two redfish to33 inches, a number of spotted seatrout and a few ladyfish. Snook were caught on Gibby's Snook Shrimp, while the reds went for MirrOlure Lil Johns on light jig heads. Fish of the day was one we didn't land. While casting for trout over deep grass, I jumped a 60-pound tarpon that put on quite a show before I lost it!

Marshall  Dinerman of Atlanta caught spotted seatrout to 18 and ladyfish on MirrOlure Lil Johns on light jigs around Buttonwood Harbor. We also landed a fine, late-season pompano on a MirrOlure MirrOdine.

JUNE FORECAST: I can tell you what it should be. Snook should be plentiful in the surf  and willing to hit a Gibby's D.T. Variation. This is the best sight-fishing around when conditions are right. All we need are a light easterly breeze, calm surf, clear water and sunshine! Around Sarasota Bay, I look for decent snook action at night around lighted docks. Spotted seatrout should be plentiful over deep grass. And I think redfish action is beginning to (finally) pick back up after four sub-par years. I've already caught and released more reds this year than in the last four years combined.
If you want to get in on some of this exciting action, please give me a call (941-284-3406) or email me (steve@kayakfishingsarasota.com).

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Despite the wind, April produced a variety of fish

Marshall Dinerman of Atlanta had a reason to smile after landing his first redfish in nearly six years.

April continued where March left off -- windy.

Extremely windy.

John Weimer shows off a fine peacock bass.
In fact, I have yet to walk the beach in search of snook in the surf. I hope it's not too long before the windy subsides and conditions get right for my favorite form of saltwater fly fishing.

That doesn't mean we didn't fish in April. Au contraire! We got out many times and did pretty well.

In salt water, we fished Sarasota Bay, catching a variety fish. Marshall Dinerman of Orlando caught a 28-inch redfish on a Live Target pilchard in Buttonwood Harbor. He said it was his first redfish in nearly six years! In addition, we caught snook, spotted seatrout and ladyfish.

Dave Marshall of Port Charlotte caught a pair of snook on MirrOlure Lil Johns on light jigs from a Longboat Key canal.  Later, he added his largest redfish ever -- a 30-incher. He used Lil John on a jig. We also landed another snook and one of the largest mojarra I've ever seen.

Todd Dawson of Bradenton fished Sarasota Bay off Stephens Point and did well. We caught 25 spotted seatrout to 17 inches and a small gag grouper, using D.O.A. CAL Jigs and gold grubs.
Dave Marshall and his Sarasota Bay redfish.

I got out on a solo trip and had a very good day. Using an 8-weight fly rod, I bested five snook to 26 inches around dock lights. I used a small, white shrimp imitation. After daylight, I caught a pair of redfish, six spotted seatrout and four more snook to 30 inches on a MirrOlure topwater plug and MirrOlure MirrOdines.

I fished Buttonwood Harbor on another occasion and caught 12 snook, 10 spotted seatrout and two redfish on flies, jigs, MirrOdines and topwater plugs.

Peacock bass action was extremely hot in April. John Weimer of Sarasota joined me for two trip to The Everglades . We walked in to a small lake and caught 130 peacock bass to 4 pounds on Junior's Craft Fur Minnows and Myakka Minnows. We also caught largemouth bass to 3 pounds, oscar, Mayan cichlid, hand-size bluegill, gar and tilapia.

The walk-in trip (the walk is easy) is one you won't want to miss. However, I expect conditions to be right for the trip for only a few more weeks. Once the rainy season (June through August) begins, the walk will be impossible because of high water and mosquitoes.

I also fished Lake Manatee on a couple of occasions, catching bluegill, largemouth bass, shellcracker, speckled perch and shellcracker on popping bugs, nymphs and Myakka Minnows.

MAY FORECAST: I look for beach snook action to take off once we get conditions conducive for sight-fishing the surf. For this, I used 6-8-weight fly rods, intermediate sinktip lines and 20-pound fluorocarbon leader. My fly choice is my Gibby's D.T. Variation, a creation I've used to catch more than 5,000 snook in the surf over the years. Bay fish should remain good for spotted seatrout, snook, redfish, ladyfish and jack crevalle. We'll continue to fish The Everglade for peacock bass, largemouth bass, oscar, Mayan cichlid, bluegill and other species until conditions get too tough. Locally, Lake Manatee, the Myakka River and Webb Lake should produce good results (largemouth bass, bluegill, speckled perch,  channel catfish, sunshine bass).

My beach snook trips are filling up quickly. So, it might not be a bad idea to book ahead of time. Call me at 941-284-3406 or email be at steve@kayakfishingsarasota.com.

As always, thanks to my generous sponsors: NuCanoe, Aqua-bound, MirrOlure , Temple Fork Outfitters and D.O.A. Lures.

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Junior's Craft Fur Minnow great for fresh- and saltwater fish

Junior's Craft Fur Minnow is easy to tie and very effective on fresh- and saltwater fish.
Every once in a while, I stumble upon an idea so simple that I wonder why I didn't think of it?

Joe Mahler, a fly-fishing guru in Fort Myers, Fla., turned me onto a fly created by Junior Burke of Indiana. It's a classic takeoff on the Clouser Deep Minnow created by Bob Clouser of Pennsylvania. 

The original Clouser is tied with bucktail.
Peacock bass are suckers for Craft Fur Minnows!

Burke's minnow is tied with select craft fur that's readily available in most fly shops. In my hometown of Sarasota, I purchase craft fur at The Compound (4063 Clark Rd., http://www.compoundboardshop.com/). The Compound arguably has the best selection of fly-tying materials in this area. (Note: The Compound will be moving into its new building in Sarasota in late February.) You can call The Compound at 941-923-0430.

Back to Burke's amazing minnow!

The fly is easy to tie. I'd estimate I can crank one out every couple of minutes. So, as you might imagine, I have a good supply.

The fly was originally designed for smallmouth bass in Indiana. Burke advises to fish it on a sinktip line with a fluorocarbon leader.

The fly paid big dividends for John Weimer.
It's his "go-to fly."

Mahler, a good friend of Burke's, advises letting the fly sink, then use short, sharp strips with long pauses.

While Mahler uses the fly to fool largemouth bass, I've found it's an incredible fly for peacock bass. Over our  last four trips, we've totaled 125 peacock bass  to 5 1/2 pounds. In addition, we've caught largemouth bass, monster Mayan cichlid and oscar.

While driving home from a peacock bass trip in south Florida, I began to think about using Junior's Craft Fur Minnow in salt water.

Why not?

If I tied it on a saltwater hook, there's no reason it shouldn't work.

Tying a few on No. 2 Mustad  S71SNP-DT hooks, I set out to find out how marine species liked the fly.

I can't say I was surprised. They loved it!

For freshwater fishing, I tie my Craft Fur Minnows on a No. 6 White River 004 that I get at Bass Pro Shops. Most any strong freshwater hook will work.

Tying the Craft Fur Minnow is simple.

Hook: No. 2 Mustad S71SNP-DT (salt water); No 6 White River 004 (fresh water)

Thread: White flat wax nylon

Eyes: Bead chain (your choice of size and color; I like black)

Body: White extra select craft fur

Flash: 2-3 strands pearl Krystal Flash

Beard: I like red, but Mahler prefers pink. Your choice!

First trip out in the salt with the Craft Fur Minnow was remarkable. I tied a few on No. 4 hooks so that I could use them on my 5-weight TFO BVK rod. I caught several trout from 20 to 24 inches before the wind came up. When that happened, I switched to a 7-weight TFO BVK. I caught trout up to 28 inches.

Next trip, I took John Weimer of the Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers in Sarasota. We had another good day. In fact, Weimer beat his personal best trout seven times! His largest trout went an impressive 27 inches. He also added a 5-pound bluefish.

The shallow-water pattern ended, so I opted for a TFO BVK 6 weight with an intermediate sinktip lne the next outing. I caught trout to 26 inches. In one spot, I caught 15 from 16 to 22 inches.

The fish of the day, however, was a 5-pound blue that I caught when I cast into a school of breaking jack crevalle. I hooked a jack on my first cast, but lost it after a few seconds. The fly was immediately eaten by a healthy blue!

On another trip, I caught several trout from 20 to 26 inches and a 28-inch redfish.

I have no doubt the fly will appeal to a variety of saltwater fish. I believe the fly is easy for the fish to see and ever-so-sexy in the water, with the craft fur forever pulsating to entice predators.

Junior Burke may have designed his fly for smallmouth bass, but I'm not sure he realized the wide appeal of this easy-to-tie fish-catcher!

December was a potpourri of action: peacock bass to large spotted seatrout

John Weimer of Sarasota shows off one of the may large spotted seatrout he caught from Sarasota Bay. 
For the past two months or so, we've been concentrating our efforts around the freshwater lakes and streams of southwest Florida.

First, we like to catch fish. And we've found that the state's lakes and streams result in bent fly rods!
Second, there's much more to Florida than salt water.
The author and a fine peacock bass caught on 5 weight.

We've been fishing the state's salt waters since 1971. We began fishing the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay around Fort Walton Beach. I was in the Air Force then, and stationed at Eglin AFB.

We moved to Sarasota in 1975 and have been here ever since.

What we've discovered is that the region's lakes and rivers often are overlooked and underfished. That's a good combination for those who want to catch fish on fly.

For the most part, we target hand-sized bluegill, shellcracker, largemouth bass and channel catfish. That's particularly true when we're fishing around Sarasota. Our favorite spot to fish in Lake Manatee, a 2,400-acre reservoir located 9 miles east of Interstate 75 on State Road 64. This lake is lightly fished and chock full of bluegill, speckled perch (black crappie), shellcracker, largemouth bass and channel catfish.
John Weimer's bluefish put up quite a battle.

We also fish the Manatee River, Myakka River, Upper Myakka Lake and Benderson Lake.
For this, we use .5- to 6-weight fly rods. I like to cast No. 12 Gibby's Snymphs  (simple nymphs) under a strike indicator on my .5-weight TFO fly rod. I'll rig my 2-weight with tandem Myakka Minnows. I'll cast a small popping bug on a 3-weight TFO.

Best time of year to fish Lake Manatee and other nearby waters is November through May.

I also love to travel south to fish Alligator Alley and the waterways around Naples.

At Alligator Alley, I target oscar, but also catch bluegill, largemouth bass, Mayan cichlid, peacock bass and stumpknocker. I most often cast a 3- or 4-weight rod loaded with floating line and 8-pound fluorocarbon leader. My fly of choice is my Myakka Minnow in gold, copper, brown or black. If you don't get cut off or lose your fly to a snag, often you can fish all day with one fly.

When fishing Alligator Alley, we often catch more than 200 fish each. I estimate that 60 percent of the catch will be oscar, an exotic that was unintentionally introduced into south Florida waters in 1954. Oscar are extremely strong and readily take a fly.

The waterways around Naples can be even better -- not in terms of numbers, but in quality. All species (oscar, peacock bass, bluegill, shellcracker, largemouth bass) seem to run a little larger than average.

I fish Naples from May through December. I've found the colder months to be a little slow.
Peacock bass there range from just a few inches to more than 5 pounds. My largest on fly is a 5 1/2 pounder that I caught in November . We usually cast 5- or 6-weight rods, floating lines, 8-pound fluorocarbon leaders and JR's Craft Fur Minnows or my Struttin' Peacock Fly. I've also caught plenty of peacock  bass on nymphs, Myakka Minnows and popping bugs.

Peacock bass are very strong and will test the skills of any fly angler.

Butterfly beacocks were introduced into south Florida waters by the state in 1984 and have thrived. Maximum size of butterfly peacocks is about 10 pounds, but the average size is 2.

I've found peacocks like to hang out around docks, rocks and aquatic vegetation like hydrilla.

Saltwater fishing shouldn't be overlooked. After the onset of cooler weather, the pattern changes and fish can actually perk up.

One of my favorite spots to fish this time of year is Palma Sola Bay. I find spotted seatrout to 4 pounds will pile up in holes and canals. I've had some fantastic days there over the years. We average 40 fish per outing, but have topped the 100-fish mark on several occasions.

For this fishing, we use 6-weight fly rods with an intermediate sinktip line, 10-pound fluorocarbon leader and a variety of flies. Clouser Minnows and Bob Popovics Jiggy Fleyes are good choices.
In addition seatrout, we also encounter snook, redfish, ladyfish, jack crevalle, flounder and pompano.
Around Sarasota Bay, spotted seatrout are the main catch, but snook, pompano, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, flounder, ladyfish, black drum and (occasionally) redfish also are available.

We like to get out an hour or so before daylight to target snook around dock lights, using an 8-weight rod, floating line and 20-pounding fluoro leader. Fly choices include Gibby's Snook Minnow or Gibby's Glass Minnow.

At daylight,  we will target snook,  redfish and black drum in canals with fly or spinning tackle.
We'll spend the rest of the day on the flats or over deep grass, targeting redfish, snook, spotted seatrout, flounder, pompano, bluefish, ladyfish, jack crevalle and Spanish mackerel.

When fly fishing, we'll use Clouser Deep Minnows or baitfish patterns. On spinning tackle, we like the mini MirrOdine by MirrOlure. We also like to cast MirrOlure Lil Johns on 1/16-ounce jig heads.

We encountered some very good spotted seatrout action during the month. In fact, John Weimer of Sarasota obliterated his personal-best seatrout several times during one outing, catching and releasing trout to 27 inches. Fly of choice was Junior's Craft Fur Minnow.

I did a solo trip and caught a bevy of trout to 28 inches on Craft Fur Minnows. In addition, I managed bluefish, pompano, snook, redfish and jack crevalle.

Jesse Ehrlich of Sarasota joined me and a great tide, but we didn't have a great day. We caught about a dozen spotted seatrout to 23 inches. In addition, we lost a decent redfish that went for a Craft Fur Minnow.

Another solo outing resulted in a bunch of trout to 26 inches. Most were taken on chartreuse-and-white Clouse Deep Minnows. I also caught jack crevalle, ladyfish , bluefish and pompano.
Marshall Dinerman of Atlanta, Ga., caught a pair of snook from a Longboat Key canal on Clouser Minnows.

JANUARY FORECAST: Usually this is the month for big snook in the Myakka River. The action hasn't been great the past two years, but then again the weather hasn't been cold. And cold is the key to pushing the big snook up the river. We'll see what the month has in store. We look for excellent night snook around lighted docks, plenty of spotted seatrout in deep holes and canals and along the edges of the flats. In fresh water, we anticipate good action on bluegill, speckled perch, channel catfish and largemouth bass in Lake Manatee. Of course, Alligator Alley is a prime spot for oscar, Mayan cichlid, bluegill and largemouth bass.

We're approaching "The Season." That means the demand will be high for kayak fishing services. Be sure to book your trips early to assure you get in on the action!

You can call me at 941-284-3406 or email me at steve@kayakfishingsarasota.com.
Happy Holidays!

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing

Friday, October 6, 2017

Photos of dead fish should be a thing of past

Three oblivious charterboat anglers pose beside their bounty of dead fish lined up on the cleaning table at the dock.

I realize I'm not all that smart.

Perhaps that's why there are many things in life I don't understand.

Like meanness. Cruelty. Insincerity. Rudeness.
This fine redfish was photographed quickly, then released.

I don't understand why some people who enjoy the great outdoors don't respect it. They throw trash out of the windows of their vehicles. Cut across shallow, fragile grass flats in their boat, gashing out ugly prop scars with their outboards.

Daily, I see people driving down the road smoking cigarettes and flipping them out the window when they're done.

There's a common thread here: selfishness. They want to so therefore they do.

What's the big deal?

One of my pet peeves is photos of dead fish. I don't mean photos of fish killed by pollution, red tide or some other natural disaster.

I mean fish that have been caught by humans, deposited in an ice chest and then later hung up, lined up or held in front of a camera.
Actions photos are better options than dead fish.

In most cases, the fish corpses are colorless and stiff.

What I see when I view photos of these dead fish is people saying, "Hey, look at me. Look at what a big man I am. Look how many fish I killed."

It's all ego-driven.

While littering, destruction of natural resources and other acts are illegal, taking photos of dead fish is perfectly legal.

But here's the rub: Sometimes what legal isn't necessarily right. It could fall under the auspices of outdoor ethics. If you make your living off the great outdoors, then you have an ethical responsibility to respect it and protect it.

If you want to see what I'm talking about, you'll see it on most any social media if you have any outdoors friends. I see it all the time on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I was a professional outdoors writer for 35 years. And over the last 25 years of my career, I did not use a photo of dead fish. That practice was quite common in outdoors publications around the country in prior to 1985. But it slowly changed over the years. And you'll rarely see a dead-fish photo in any reputable outdoors publication these days.

I like to think I was ahead of the game.

Just recently, I saw a photo on the Facebook page of a local charterboat guide. His party of three smiling anglers posed beside 14 dead spotted seatrout and two Spanish mackerel lined up stiff and colorless on a cleaning table at the dock.

I also saw two local charter guides in a photo on television each holding dead snook. The fish were long dead, stiff and had their throats slashed.

I am offended by these pictures. They make me sick. They show no respect whatsoever for the fish, fisheries or great outdoors.

Why in hell are people still focusing on catching and killing limits of fish? Some might argue that I am against people catching fish and taking them home to eat.

Not so.

I am against the philosophy that you have to kill all or the majority of legal fish you catch.

It doesn't make much sense. It especially doesn't make economical sense. You pay $700 for an all-day charter to take home five pounds of filets. Care to figure out how much that 80 ounces fish flesh costs you?

If eating fish is the main goal, save the charter money and take your significant other out to a fine seafood restaurant.

You'll come out way ahead.

With that in mind, I don't mind if an angler wants to take a fish or two home. No big deal. But rather than posing with a fish corpse back at the dock, take a photo of the fish right after the catch while it's alive and vibrant.

I was watching an outdoors show on television recently where the host and guest were fishing for redfish in shallow water. They did pretty well, too.

They released most of the fish, but kept a 25-incher.

"That one's going in the skillet," the host grinned as he lifted the lid to the color and dropped the red in.

That didn't have to be in the video. It could have been edited out and no one would have be the wiser.

One practice that really annoys me is gaffing. I watch fishing shows on TV and they'll stick a gaff in a large fish, then haul it aboard. We as viewers have to watch as the fish struggles and bleeds.

I don't watch many fishing shows any more (especially those who seem to delight in killing fish), but sometimes you can't avoid it.

I'm just amazed at the number of dead-fish photos I see today. They're on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other media.

They annoy the crap out of me. I hope you feel the same way?

There are many things that were common practice 40 or 50 years ago that aren't cool today.

Some day photos of dead fish will be a thing of the past.

I certainly hope so.

We survived Irma and even got out a few times to catch fish

The author lands a nice peacock bass on fly rod while fishing a small lake near Naples. (Photo by John Weimer)

We are alive and well after Hurricane Irma. The nasty storm devastated a good portion of Florida.

Irma did heavy damage in the Florida Keys, Chokoloskee, Everglades City, Marco Island and Naples. When she hit the Keys, Irma was a Category 5 storm. She was still quite a bitch when she hit Chokoloskee and Everglades City.

Fortunately for our area, Irma moved inland and started to lighten up a bit. She was a Category 1 hurricane as she passed Sarasota.

Kathy and I evacuated the Wednesday prior. Our thinking was that if we waited, we might not be able to get out because of traffic and a lack of fuel. Still, it took us 18 hours to get to Atlanta, a drive that normally takes about eight hours.

We stayed until the following Wednesday, and we weren't certain we could back then. Even though it had been three days since Irma wreaked havoc on Florida, there was little gas available along Interstate 75, and the traffic reportedly was terrible.

I decided to take U.S. 19 back.

Good decision.

We had no problem finding gas. And traffic was light along the way. It took 14 hours to get home, but I think it was quicker than it would have been on I-75.

When we got home, we had a lot of debris in the yard, but no damage. Even our electricity was on!
I did get out fishing a few times in September. I spent a day around Buttonwood Harbor on the west side of Sarasota Bay and did well. I started fishing a couple of hours before daylight and targeted snook around dock lights. I caught and released five snook to 30 inches on my Gibby's Snook Shrimp.

At daylight, I paddled to Redfish Key where I encountered several schools of mullet -- normally a good sign for redfish.

However, redfish have been scarce for the past year or so around Buttonwood Harbor. So you can imagine my surprise when I hooked into a feisty red. I knew it was larger than average, but we impressed when it measured 32 inches.

I paddled north to Crabclaw Key and caught three more reds on five casts. They were all 27 inches or larger.

After that, I targeted spotted seatrout to complete my Slam. In addition, I landed bluefish, ladyfish and mangrove snapper.

John Weimer of Sarasota accompanied me on a trek south to Naples where we hoped to target peacock bass and large Mayan cichlid. We did well. We caught six big Mayans to 15 inches, six bluegill to 12 inches and eight peacock bass to 17.

We caught the bluegill and Mayan cichlid on popping bugs and Gibby's Snymphs under a strike indicator. We caught all of the peacock bass on chartreuse-and-white and olive-and-white Clouser Deep Minnows.

It will be interested to see what the look likes like following Hurricane Irma.

I fished Fort DeSoto on a shark trip and had fair success. I landed four small blacktip shark on ladyfish chunks. I'm hoping to get back up there soon and try catching a shark on a fly rod.

John Weimer and I fished Lake Manatee late in the month and caught 43 mostly hand-sized bluegill, a nice speckled perch and a 6-pound channel catfish. We used popping bugs and Gibby's Snymphs.

Interestingly enough, I caught most of my fish, including the speck and channel cat, on my new TFO Finesse .5-weight fly rod.

OCTOBER FORECAST: Should be great. October is the best month of the year as far as weather goes. Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right. In salt water, I anticipate good action on snook, spotted seatrout and redfish around Sarasota Bay. I predict Buttonwood Harbor and Little Sarasota Bay to be the hot spots. There also should be some good action off Stephens Point. I like to fish southern Tampa Bay this time of year.  Snook, spotted seatrout, redfish and flounder will be the featured fish. Shark, jack crevalle and ladyfish should also make their presence known. In fresh water, I anticipate good action on bluegill, bass and channel catfish in local lakes. Further south, I anticipate good action on peacock bass, Mayan cichlid, largemouth bass and bluegill.
Looks as if the fall is shaping up to be for great fishing. I'm starting to book up, so get in touch and secure your outing.
Call me at (941) 284-3406 or email steve@kayakfishingsarasota.com

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing


Monday, July 31, 2017

Beach snook cooperated for fly-fishing anglers during July

Beach snook action hit high gear in July after a fairly slow start.

Stewart Lavelle shows off a fine fly-rod snook.
I had several clients fishing with me who caught their personal best snook on fly. Top of the chart goes to Stewart Lavelle of Sarasota, who bested a 28-incher. Ironically, Stewart hooked and lost a bigger snook on his next outing, losing the estimate 38-inch behemoth to a straightened hook.

In two trips, Steward hooked 28 snook and landed 18 -- not bad for his first two beach outings!

John Mallia of Buffalo, N.Y., isn't a fly fisher per se, but he did well on a beach snook trip in early July. John hooked 18 snook and landed 11 to 27 inches. Not only did he catch his largest snook on fly, but also his first snook on fly!

John Weimer joined me for a beach walk and a slow day. However, we found the fish late in the morning and landed five out of nine fish.

I got out by myself on July 11, and the stars were aligned. I hooked 30 snook and landed 22. I had an estimated 35-incher eat my D.T. Variation, but was only tight for a second.

I attended ICAST (International Convention of Allied Sport Fishing Trades) in Orlando and had a very good time. I worked the NuCanoe booth most of the time, but did get to tour the show for a few hours.

A lack of fly-fishing experience didn't hinder John Mallia.
NuCanoe unveiled a pair of new products. First up is the new Flint, a lightweight kayak that is less than $1,000. The new kayak is slightly less than 12 feet in length and has a myriad of features. It drew raves at ICAST. NuCanoe also debuted its new H2Proped Pedal Drive system. The system fits both the Pursuit and Frontier lines.

John Kis, a regular client from New Rochelle, N.Y. experienced his first day on the beach and did well. He landed two of three snook he hooked. There were very good numbers of snook on the beach, but they weren't exactly in a feeding mood.

For beach snook fishing, I use a 6-weight TFO BVK Rod, BVK Reel and an Orvis clear intermediate sinktip line. My fly of choice is none other than my D.T. Variation.

John Kis battles a snook on fly rod.
I have put together a couple of videos on beach snook fishing. You can check them out on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLNWJwIcGNA and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9LCQ-PjzJg. In addition, I did an instructional video on how to tie the D.T. Variation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvKVHgAB8I0.

 There are plenty of snook in the surf and they should remain there for the next month or so. All we need is weather conducive for sight-fishing.

I spent a couple of productive days fly fishing in fresh water. First time out, I launched at Benderson Park and caught 30 bluegill, four bass and a hefty channel catfish. All fish were caught on Gibby's Snymph under a strike indicator.

John Weimer and I headed out to Myakka River State Park, but found little going on. So, we loaded the kayaks back on the trailer and drove to Benderson Park. We caught a few fish  on Gibby's Snymphs, but things didn't get hot until we tied on tandem, No. 12 and 14 Myakka Minnows. We ended the day  with more than 180 bluegill and five bass. We caught two at a time on about 12 occasions. John lost the fish of day. We're not sure what it was, but speculate it was a fairly large bass or channel catfish that was able to get back into the vegetation and break his tippet.

We also discovered hand-sized bluegill in deep water and were able to get them to hit our tandem Myakka Minnows. This lake is not heavily fished.

AUGUST FORECAST: I anticipate very good beach snook action as look was the weather cooperates. August normally is the peak month for this exciting activity. Large fish have been pretty common throughout the summer. In Sarasota Bay, look for decent action on spotted seatrout, snook, ladyfish and mangrove snapper. In local lakes and rivers, expect good bass, bluegill, channel catfish and shellcracker action.

If you'd like to experience some of the best sight-fishing Florida has to offer, please give me a call or email me: steve@kayakfishingsarasota.com.

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing