|Another beautiful sunrise at Lake Manatee|
|One of eight channel catfis that hit the Myakka Minnow|
I fished Lake Manatee, perhaps my favorite Florida lake, the first day and did wonderfully. Things started out slowly, but picked up as the morning went on. Using the Myakka Minnow, I caught 60 bluegill, stumpknocker and shellcracker. In addition, I caught a pair of bass and landed two of the eight channel cats I hooked.
|Even little bass can't resist the Myakka Minnow|
The best morning, I met Dusty Sprague of North Port. We were going to fish out of his renovated Bass Tracker, a beautiful aluminum skiff. We launched at the Lake Manatee Fish Camp ramp and headed east under the bridge and along the north shoreline. Things started out slow, but we weren’t worried because it was that way the morning prior.
After an hour, we had only two or three small bluegill. In fact, the fish weren’t hitting the Myakka Minnow at all. I was getting them on a No. 12 Aunt Sarah’s Homely Daughter nymph under a strike indicator. Sprague was using something similarly small.
The morning was crisp and bright. Only a few clouds were in the sky, indicating that perhaps a high-pressure system had pushed into the area. The wind was out of the northeast.
|A nice bass on the Maykka Minnow|
We were protected along the northeast shore and quite comfortable. But things would have been better had the fish cooperated just a little better.
We started picking up a few more fish and then the Myakka Minnow began to works its charm. After both of us switched to that fly, we combined to catch 25 or 30 bluegill and a couple of stumpknocker. We didn’t land any bass or shellcracker. We didn’t hook a catfish.
It was 180 degrees from the day prior.
Most of the bluegill were small, with only four being “hand sized.”
We did encounter schooling bass. However, every time we approached them, they’d go down. Shouldn’t be too much longer before they begin to stay on the surface longer.
The day prior, I’d hooked eight channel cats and landed two. This trip resulted in no hookups.
|A typical Lake Manatee copperhead bluegill|
Channel catfish are trophies among freshwater anglers. They hit savagely, pull like an elephant and are tough on fly rod to land. The two cats I landed were only about 3 pounds, yet they took about 5 minutes before I couldn’t get them alongside my kayak.
In addition, channel cats are excellent on the table.
The main thing about fishing Lake Manatee is that you often are lulled into a false sense of what’s going on. You’ll catch a hand-sized bluegill and follow that with seven or eight smaller fish. The bites are all the same.
This will continue and then you get the familiar take of a bluegill and set the hook. But the water erupts, your rod bends deeply and line begins to streak out the rod tip.