Saturday, March 13, 2010

Take advantage of the days that will allow you to fish

It's difficult for those in other areas of the country to comprehend just how tough this winter has been for those of us who reside in Florida.
This winter has been brutal for a number of reasons: unseasonable cold, strong wind and many lost charters because of the first two. I was forced to cancel 15 charters in February alone. That's not good for business or the wallet.
I like to get out on the winter whenever I can; whether or not I have a charter. It's a good way to keep abreast of what's going on. If someone calls this afternoon and wants to go fishing tomorrow, I like to be confident about his or her chances.
I got out twice this week before the weather deteriorated. On Monday, I fished in southern Tampa Bay off E.G. Simmons Park, a neat spot that I've fish a number of occasions. I arrived at the launch at about 7:30 and was in my kayak paddling north by 7:45. I chose to paddle just outside the backcountry, but didn't see any signs of fish. There were no mullet in the area and there were no visible signs of snook or redfish. I then decided to paddle in the backcountry, a series of shallow bays that were separated from Tampa Bay by several cuts. Some cuts are deep and should be prime spots to target when the weather warms. But they were fishless this time. And even though the bays held good  numbers of mullet, predators were absent.
I returned to Tampa Bay and scouted a variety of locations: mangroves, shallows, grassy areas, sand holes and deep water. I didnt see any fish and I didn't see a couple of other anglers in the area hook up.
I was thinking it might be time to head home. On the way back to the launch, I decided to check out a canal-like stretch of water. I thought the canal's depth might hold some warmer water and some fish. I paddled about 100 yards into the cut and sent a cast under some mangroves. I was using a D.O.A. Cal Jig and gold shad tail. I bounced the jig once, and then let it sink. I felt a fish take the jig as it sank. I set the hook and was solid into a fish. Didn't know for sure what it was, but figured it was a redfish.
A few minutes later, I landed a 23-inch redfish. I took a photo and then released the fish.
The tide was incoming, so I set up my drift accordingly. I could easily cast under and around mangrove on the north side of the cut. I caught and released seven more redfish over the next hour. I landed one fish that went 26 inches. The others ranged from 17 to 19 inches. Didn't matter to me. I had a great time.
The next day, I decided to stay home and fish Sarasota Bay off Stephens Point. I launched at a spot nearby and paddled directly to a grass patch that had yielded a good number of spotted seatrout a couple of weeks ago.
The fish were still there. I caught a small trout in my first cast and ended up with eight trout in 10 casts. I simply kept fishing until the bite slowed. When it did, I paddled to the next patch. I fished for about three hours and caught more than 75 trout and one ladyfish. All came on the D.O.A. CAL Jig and gold paddle tail grub. I may have caught one legal trout (the slot limit is 15 to 20 inches). Doesn't matter. The good news is the trout population is healthy. And these 12-to-15-inch trout will grow!
On a side note, I want you to know just how tough and durable the paddle tail grub is. I caught 76 fish and used just two grubs. And the second grub is still in good shape and I'll use it the next time I have a spinning trip. In addition, when placed on the jig head with the paddle tail horizontal, the tail vibrates nicely when jigged or reeled.
I don't use a spinning rod often, but I will when I'm on an exploratory trip. My goal is to find fish. Once I located them, I'm confident that I and my clients can take them on fly.

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