Saturday, August 28, 2010

Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing photos

Here are some photos from various trips this summer.


Action is good and September should be a great month to paddle and fish

I was talking with one of my clients the other day and he said he liked my Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing motto: We take you fishing and not for a boat ride."
I have to admit, I think that's a great motto.
I have another of which I'm quite fond: "The worst day you're going to have with us will be pretty darn good."
That has been proven time and again over my years of guiding. We do want to catch fish, and we seem to always do that. And most of the trips are pretty darn good.
I took John Mallia of New York (in the photos) out on two trips this past week. We had a couple of wonderful days. On the first outing, we fished Sarasota Bay and caught a mixed bag of fish: spotted seatrout, bluefish and ladyfish. We also encountered (but didn't catch) Spanish mackerel, shark and tarpon. Action was steady throughout the day and dry spells were infrequent.
We caught a bunch of fish, but the highlight of the outing was when we were paddling back to the launch. We found a bunch of manatees that wanted to hang out with us. They'd swim up to our kayaks, put their noses against the plastic or swim under our boats.
They were literally close enough that we could have reached out an petted them if we had wanted.
It was John's first up-close encounter with a manatee.
Manatees aside, fishing has been very good. We've been getting trout to 24 inches, bluefish to 3 pounds, Spanish mackerel to 3, redfish to 33 inches, tarpon to 30 pounds and all the ladyfish you'd ever want.
Most of the action has been on D.O.A. CAL Jigs with gold paddle tails. The reds have been taking Bomber Bondonkadonk surface plugs, D.O.A. Baitbusters and the D.O.A. BFL.
We're expecting tarpon action to heat up in Sarasota Bay and Charlotte Harbor in September. We use D.O.A. Baitbusters, D.O.A. TerrorEyz and flies.
We anticipate excellent action has the days start to grow shorter and the water begins to cool. Slams (snook, trout and redfish) will be possible.
September is wide open, so you can pick your days.
Give me a call at (941) 284-3406 to book your trip.
You won't regret it.
I'd like to thank my sponsors for making all of this possible: Native Watercraft, D.O.A. Lures, Temple Fork Outfitters and Dri-Grip Sunscreen.
I appreciate their support and belief in me. And what makes it all especially wonderful is that they're great products.

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing

When the season's over, tarpon action heats up in Charlotte Harbor

I'm not much into cliches or fads. That's why I call a tarpon and tarpon. And not a, um, well, you get the picture.
Anyway, tarpon season is over.
As ESPN college football analyst Lee Corso is fond of saying, not so fast my friend.
Years ago, St. Petersburg guide Paul Hawkins told me that his favorite time of year to fish for tarpon was August and September in Charlotte Harbor. That's well after the traditional "season" has ended. By August, most tarpon hunters have long since stored their heavy gear in the closet.
Hawkins was right. Charlotte Harbor has a great population of tarpon and the action heats up in late summer.
I recently launched my kayak at Ponce de Leon Park in Punta Gorda. My goal was tarpon. I only had to paddle a few strokes before I was casting at tarpon. I found them rolling in the channel comping out of Alligator Creek. I jumped an fish I estimated at 80 pounds on my fourth or fifth cast, but my 40-pound leader was no much.
That action quickly subsided and I paddled to another spot. I found tarpon rolling on the surface over a large area. I jumped six more tarpon and landed one, a beautiful 30-pounder (in the photo). The fish was taken on a gold, D.O.A. TerrorEyz.
I returned to the area a few days later, but was met by wind and choppy water. We found a few tarpon, but they were tough to see in the chop. Dave Robinson of Sarasota was fishing with me and jumped two fish and had another go for his TerrorEyz at the side of the kayak.
A fast-approaching storm ended our day.
I took John Mallia of New York there recently and we found better conditions, but few tarpon. We did managed 45 spotted seatrout and a bunch of ladyfish, but only saw a couple of tarpon. They weren't visible in the harbor. We did paddle over to a nearby canal and also found it void of tarpon. I asked a woman who lives on the canal if she'd seen any tarpon and she said she hadn't in the last two weeks.
I remember a late-summer trip a few years ago. I fished with guide Brandon Naeve of Nokomis. We made the trip from Placida across a very rough harbor to fish some canals at Pirate Harbor. We got a shot at a few fish, but they weren't cooperative.
When we emerged from Pirate Harbor, we were met by a glassy-calm Charlotte Harbor.
"These conditions are perfect for tarpon," I said.
We hadn't gone more than 400 years when we spotted a large school of tarpon on the surface. Over the next two hours, we jumped nine fish on fly. Trouble was that the tarpon all were well more than 100 pounds, and our heaviest fly rod was an 8-weight.
Oh, well, it's fun jumping tarpon.
If we get some calm weather, I look for tarpon action to be good in the harbor.
It's that time of year.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fishing kayaks are made for anglers of all ages, shapes and sizes

I’m amazed at the number of anglers who think they wouldn’t be able to fish out of a kayak for various reasons:

Too old;

Too heavy;

Too uncoordinated;

Too tall;

Too short;

Too weak.

The list, it seems goes on and on.

Now, it we were talking about the kayaks that the Eskimos use or sleek racing kayaks , I might agree. But today’s fishing kayaks are wide and stable platforms that are perfect for fishing.

Most any can fish from them comfortably, providing they’re in reasonable good healthy and have the desire to catch fish.

Over the years, I’ve had anglers as old as 82 in my kayaks. I’ve had some as heavy as 280 pounds. I’ve had many, many first-timers.

All have done well.

I fish out of Native Watercraft Ultimate 14.5. They’re so stable that I often stand up when cast my fly rod. They’re fairly fast and track very straight. Check them out at:

I understand there might be a fear of the unknown. And they No. 1 fear is tipping over. That WILL NOT happen in a Native. I guarantee it. If I can stand and cast a fly, you will not capsize when sitting down.

By the way, the Natives have the most comfortable seat in the kayak industry. So, you can sit and fish quite comfortably.

Paddling is another fear. Many think they can’t paddle great distances. The answer is quite simple: Don’t. We rarely do. I doubt we cover much more than a mile over the course of a typical day.

Paddling, when done correctly, is quite easy.

Weather is hot, but so is the fishing in Sarasota Bay

Spotted seatrout have been the most consistent species over the past month, with many of the fish ranging from 20 to 25 inches. We’ve been taking quite a few “over-the-slot” fish on D.O.A. CAL Jigs with gold paddle tails, D.O.A. Deadly Combinations, Clouser Deep Minnows and Gibby’s Big Eye Baitfish.

Most of the action has been taking place along the west side of Sarasota Bay over grass patches in 4 to 6 feet of water and along grass edges.

In addition, we’ve been getting Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jack crevalle and loads of feisty ladyfish.

On calmer days, anglers fishing with Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing have been getting shots at tarpon. The silver kings are feeding around school s of ladyfish. It’s a case of where you have to be in the right spot at the right time. Most of the tarpon are running in the 30-pound class.

I fished the east side of Sarasota Bay on a scouting trip as fared well. I caught and released a 32-inch snook right before daylight. I drifted the deep grass and managed 15 spotted seatrout. Most were small, but two were above the slot. I also caught a 36-inch shark.

Cameron Knox, a detective from Scotland, joined me on a beach snook expedition and fared well. Knox had never caught a saltwater fish on fly, but that drought ended when he landed a 20-inch snook on Gibby’s D.T. Variation. He was very happy, but even more ecstatic when he later landed a 27-inch snook.

Randy Ruskey of Illinois, his daughter, Abby, and her friend, Stephanie, fished with me near Buttonwood Harbor. The tide didn’t move for most of the morning, but we still caught fish through hard word. We caught spotted seatrout to 24 inches, ladyfish and jack crevalle. The highlight of the day was when we got to observe a pair of manatees close-up near the launch at the end of the day.

Ruskey fished the beach with me the next day and caught his first snook on fly in terrible conditions. He caught the snook on a Gibby’s D.T. Variation. Persistency and desire were the keys to success.

Dave Barlow of Clearwater, Fla., and daughter Hannah (click on photo to enlarge) fished a half day in Sarasota Bay and caught a number of spotted seatrout to 25 inches, ladyfish and jack crevalle. All fish came on CAL Jigs with gold paddle tails.

Austin Lohmann of Lakeland, Fla., joined me for a half-day outing in Sarasota Bay. Lohmann, an architecture student at the University of Missouri, caught spotted seatrout, ladyfish and Spanish mackerel on Clouser Deep Minnows and Gibby’s Big Eye Baitfish.

We’ve got some good tides coming up, and that’s important. The more water movement, the better the fishing.

Spotted seatrout should continue to cooperate. For those who don’t mind getting out early, snook are a definite possibility in Sarasota Bay.

Beach snook action should really heat up this month. Last year at this time, I did extremely well, with snook up to 39 inches.

I fish out of Native Watercraft Ultimate 14.5s. They’re the best fishing kayaks around. I wouldn’t fish out of them if I didn’t think so. They’re roomy, comfortable, stable, track well and are fairly fast. Check them out at

I’d like to thank my sponsors. Without them, this would be a very tough business. They include Native Watercraft, D.O.A. Lures, Temple Fork Outfitters (fly rods and spinning rods), Peak Vises and Dri-Grip Sunscreen.

It has been very hot out, but we combat that by getting out early. When you’re catching fish, you don’t seem to mind at all.

Give me a call at (941) 284-3406 if you want to have some fun!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

D.O.A. Lures produce in the toughest of conditions

I am  lucky to be sponsored by D.O.A. Lures. I'm very proud and honored.
I've known the company's founder, Mark Nichols (right), for many years and I've always admired his innovativeness and determination. I've also marvelled at his fishing ability. He certainly is one of the best anglers with whom I've had the pleasure to fish.
Quick story:
Sarasota guide Rick Grassett and I drove to Palm Bay to fish with Nichols a few years ago. The first day, we fished a number of spots and caught spotted seatrout, ladyfish, jack crevalle and a snook or two. Nichols managed to land a small tarpon at a spot near some sort of plant.
The second day out was a bonanza. We fished the St. Lucie Inlet and worked D.O.A. Baitbusters off a ledge. We caught 12 snook to 17 pounds.
Grassett and I were thrilled.
Nichols wasn't so happy.
"Sorry about today, guys," he said.
"We didn't get a 20-pounder," said Nichols.
We laughed.
While the day might not have been what Nichols had in mind, it was the greatest snook outing of our lives. It was subpar to Nichols, but great for us.
It's all a matter of perspective.
Along Florida's west coast, you most certainly have to use live bait or fish at night to achieve a catch like that. But on the east coast, it's a sub-par day.
My spin clients and I catch a lot of fish on D.O.A. lures. Recently, we've been taking a load of hefty spotted seatrout on D.O.A. CAL Jigs and gold paddle tails. In addition, the gold 1/4-ounce shrimp has been producing nicely.
What I really love about the paddles tails is that they're tougher than a cheap steak. You don't have to go through many over the course of a day.
D.O.A. lures are quality. The perform well and last. Best of all, they catch fish.
Someone recently said, "I know why you speak so highly of D.O.A. Lures. It's because you get them for free."
Like ESPN college football analyst Lee Corso is fond of saying, "Not so fast, my friend."
I don't get them for free. And even if I did, I wouldn't use them if they didn't produce. They're the best soft plastics on the market.
'Nuff said.

Weather marked by rain, lightning and waterspouts

The weather hasn't been good lately. It has been raining nearly every day and the wind is creating problems, too.
It's imperative when you're on the water (no matter where you're located) to keep an eye on the weather.
I was out last week on a cloudy, rainy day. For the most part, it was calm and comfortable. The gentle rain was a welcome relief from the sweltering heat.
Just after noon, a squall moved in from the north. I was fishing just southeast of Whale Key in Sarasota Bay when it started heading my way.
What to do?
I waited a tad too long, but I started paddling west toward the launch anyway. You never know how much time you have. But it's never enough when you're in a kayak.
I didn't make it to the launch. However, I did make it to a small mangrove island and was able to wait out the storm under some mangroves.
When the squall cleared, I paddled out 50 feet and began catching fish. When another squall appeared to the west, I decided to call it a day.
I wasn't far from the launch, so I had time to spare. When I got to within 200 yard of the launch, I noticed a waterspout (tornado at sea) to the west. It was large and well formed. I took a few photos of it.
The waterspout lasted about five minutes, then dissipated. The sky was still ominous, but the danger had largely disappeared.
Fortunately, there was no lightning. Whenever lightning is around, I'm out.

Hefty spotted seatrout plentiful around Sarasota Bay

Spotted seatrout action has been as good as ever this summer.
I'm not talking about big numbers. I'm talking about big trout!
For the past two months, my clients and I have been taking hefty trout up to 26 inches. This is happening on virtually every outing.
These trout are plump, feisty and very aggressive.
If you've ever hooked a seatrout, you know they're not the best fighters. For the most part, they wallow on the surface and give up quickly.
Not these big dudes.
A big trout is a different animal. A 25-inch trout can bend a rod, pull line off the drag and make you think you hooked into a redfish.
We've been catching our bigger trout on D.O.A. CAL Jigs with gold paddle tails, D.O.A. Deadly Combinations and flies (Clouser Deep Minnow, Gibby's Big Eye Baitfish).
I won't go into detail as to the location, but I will reveal that Sarasota Bay has been the general area. It's not that I'm all that secretive about spots, but too many people kill fish and I'd like to think these big trout have a good chance of avoiding the fillet knife.
The trout are holding on grass edges and patches in 3 to 6 feet of water.
In addition to trout, we've been encountering Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, bluefish, ladyfish, jack crevalle and tarpon. Redfish were plentiful a month ago, but seemingly have vanished from the shallow flats.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Naked guy loves to boat "unrestricted" on Sarasota Bay

If you're fishing or boating on Sarasota Bay, be on the lookout for a man in a white runabout with a Coke umbrella on the bow.
Chances are, he's naked.
I've seen the son of a gun twice in the past year. And, believe me, it's not a sight you relish.
I saw him last week near White Key along the west side of Sarasota Bay. I was poling along in front of the key in search of redfish when he motored onto the sand bar that runs about 100 yards off the key. He anchored the runabout, then hopped overboard.
"He doesn't have any clothes on," I said to myself.
He was buck nekkid. Naked as a jaybird.
Apparently, based on my two sightings, this guy loves to enjoy Florida "au natural."
I don't really care, but what if I had young girls out on a charter? Or young boys for that matter.
I contacted the Longboat Key Police Department and asked for the marine officer. I was told he had the day off. I was transferred to his voice mail. I left a message and reported the naked guy's boat number. I also left my name and number.
Never heard from the LBK cops.
The naked guy's probably still running all over the bay, feeling the breeze like no other.