Saturday, December 31, 2011

December started slowly, but heated up with trout and snook

Dick Badman of Pennsylvania shows off a fine Myakka River snook, one of seven caught and released on the day.

December was one of the more memorable months in Southern Drawl history – although it certainly didn’t start out that way.

The month included some of the best spotted seatrout, flounder and snook fishing we’ve ever experienced. Bluegill and speckled perch action wasn’t too bad, either.

The month began with repeat client Dave Sutton on Michigan pursuing his passion – bluegill on fly rod. I’d scouted Lake Manatee the day prior and done very well, catching hand-sized bluegill, shellcracker, speckled perch and channel catfish on my Myakka Minnow, nymphs and popping bugs.

I’m not sure what happened, but the next day was really tough. We caught fish, but not nearly as many. We had to work extremely hard and ended up with a fair catch of bluegill, including several hand-sized fish. Best flies included the Myakka Minnow, poppers and nymphs.

Regular client Dick Badman of Pennsylvania fished with me in early December and we did well on spotted seatrout, flounder, redfish and sheepshead. An avid fly fisher, Dick caught more than 30 trout, plus a hefty flounder and a sheepshead on my Big Eye Baitfish. Sheepshead are rare on fly. We fished Palma Sola Bay.

Dick joined my again and we fished Stephens Point in Sarasota Bay. Using the Big Eye Baitfish Fly on a 6-weight TFO TICRX, Dick caught a plethora of spotted seatrout, ladyfish, Spanish mackerel and bluefish.

Repeat client Jason Beary of Pennsylvania had a banner day. We fished Buttonwood Harbor along western Sarasota Bay and experienced some of the finest spotted seatrout action I’ve ever seen. We caught and released more than 50 trout between 3 and 5 ½ pounds. In addition, he landed Spanish mackerel and bluefish. Jason hooked a big redfish late in the day, but lost it after a 5-minute battle. We used Big Eye Baitfish Flies, Gibby’s Duster, MirrOlure MirrOdines and D.O.A. CAL Jigs with gold paddle tails.

Dan Byers of Colorado was next. We tried Buttonwood Harbor, but found slow action. A cold front had moved through and evidently moved the fish. We loaded up the kayaks and headed for Palma Sola Bay. It was a good move. We caught plenty of spotted seatrout to 16 inches, flounder to 15 and ladyfish. Action was very fast. Our lure of choice was the CAL Jig with gold or copper crush paddle tails.

Dick Badman joined me the next day. We opted for the Myakka River. Because the temperature had been dipping into the 40s at night, I suspected snook might have made their way up the river.

I knew after two casts I was right. We launched at Snook Haven and found most of the action about a mile down the river.

We caught and released seven snook to 36 inches on GIP Flies and D.O.A. 4-inch jerk worms on 1/16-ounce jig heads.

River fishing isn’t fast, but often produces large fish, including snook, redfish and largemouth bass. The action should be good through February and is a favorite of mine.

I’ve found a pattern than I’m not sure if anyone else has discovered. And it has produced good catches of all three species over the last year.

We have taken snook to 36 inches, redfish to 28 and largemouth bass to 6 pounds – all on the same lure.

This is the coldest time of year in our area, but it often means hot fishing. When the daytime highs reach the upper 60s or low 70s, it’s time to hit the river. We dress in layers, and usually remove our jackets by mid-morning.

In addition to fine fish, the river offers really gorgeous scenery.

We anticipate good river action on snook, redfish and bass in January. In addition, the deeper grass areas of Sarasota Bay should produce trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and pompano.

January also is a great month for freshwater fishing in The Everglades.

Upcoming seminar schedule:

Jan. 21: Redfish Tactics and Techniques, 12:30 p.m. – 2 p.m., Flying Fish Outfitters, 820 Albee Rd., Nokomis.

Feb. 11: How to Tie the Myakka Minnow, 10 a.m. – noon, Flying Fish Outfitters, 820 Albee Rd., Nokomis.

Happy New Year to all. May fish and fun be in your future.

I would like to thank my sponsors: Native Watercraft, TFO Fly Rods, Go Fish! Sportsman Sunscreen and Peak Fishing.

I hope 2012 is as good as 2011.

Hope to see you on the water.

Steve Gibson

Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing

(941) 284-3406

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Redfish, trout and flounder action heating up around Sarasota Bay

Sarasota Bay redfish on a D.O.A. CAL Jerk Worm
Redfish action is heating up along the east and west sides of Sarasota Bay.

I recently caught and released 19 reds from 15 to 24 inches on D.O.A. CAL Jigs with gold paddle tails, D.O.A. 5.5-inch jerk worms and gold spoons near “The Elbow” in north Sarasota Bay.

In addition, I’ve been picking up pompano, snook, loads of spotted seatrout and a surprising amount of flounder.

I had a great outing near Buttonwood Harbor on the west side of Sarasota Bay. While paddling through the Longboat Key rim canal, I noticed a bunch of mullet on a flat to my north. So, I altered course and started to fish. I caught and released 25-inch reds on gold spoons.

After that, I headed out into the bay and fished a grass edge on the south side of Whale Key. I caught at least a dozen trout from 20 to 24 inches on the MirrOlure MirrOdine. The great trout action was interrupted by a fast-approaching storm. Since discretion is the better part of valor, I paddled back to the launch.

I took Graham Peterson and Bill Rittle of Sarasota out on a windy day. It wasn’t too bad in the morning, but kicked up significantly by 10:30. Prior to that, we caught spotted seatrout, ladyfish, gag grouper, redfish, snook and a few flounder – all on CAL Jigs.

We paddled back south and fished a channel heading into Bowles Creek. We anchored on the lee side of a mangrove island and cast jigs into the channel. We landed snook, spotted seatrout, ladyfish, flounder and pompano. We encountered some toothy fish (mackerel, bluefish), but didn’t land any. The “razor cuts” on our leaders were the giveaway.

Freshwater fishing has been good. Two trips to Lake Manatee produced 110 bluegill (at least 50 were hand-sized), shellcracker, speckled perch and channel catfish. Fly choices included No. 10 poppers, No. 12 nymphs and my Myakka Minnow.

This action should heat up in December, with speckled perch taking the forefront.

Flounder action has been very steady. In fact, I believe you could catch 20 or more -- if you targeted them. D.O.A. CAL Jigs with gold paddle tails bounced slowly across the bottom of sand holes and sand bars have been producing flounder to 21 inches.

When we fish the deep grass off Stephen’s Point and Whale Key in Sarasota Bay, we’ve been getting bluefish, pompano, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, gag grouper and plenty of spotted seatrout.

Buttonwood Harbor has been producing steady redfish action – especially when mullet are abundant on the flats. When that happens, a gold Johnson Spoon has been producing reds to 26 inches.

Spotted seatrout action has been hot on the southside flat at Whale Key. Two trips there produced 50 trout from 2 to 5 pounds. Most of the fish were taken on the MirrOlure MirrOdine. The MirrOlure MirrOmullet also has been working.

Steve Gibson

Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing

(941) 284-3406

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Little tunny: Love at first bite!

Capt. Rick Grassett of the Snook Fin-Addict in Sarasota shows off a fine fly-rod little tunny caught in the inshore Gulf of Mexico.

There are several wonderful things about fall in Florida: The air and water begin to cool; The rainy season is over and a tri-named fish shows up in the inshore Gulf of Mexico.

When little tunny (also known as bonito or false albacore) are around, Capt. Rick Grassett of the Snook Fin-Addict ( in Sarasota is a happy camper. LT’s, as they are sometimes called, are one of his favorite fish.

“They’re everything you want,” said Grassett. “They are strong, make fast and exciting runs and they’ll eat an assortment of lures and flies.”

When Grassett has a rare day off in the fall, he’ll head into the inshore Gulf of Mexico and begin scouting for little tunny. He prefers the area south of old Midnight Pass, but he has a number of spots which can and often do produce. Top areas include Point o’ Rocks off Siesta Key, just north of the Venice Inlet, the area between New Pass and the Colony Beach Resort on Longboat Key and just north and south of Longboat Pass.

“They can be spread out or you might find them in a particular area,” said Grassett, who operates out of C.B.’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key. “You just have to find them.”

On a recent trip, Grassett launched his Action Craft flats skiff at Ken Thompson Park on City Island near Sarasota and headed out New Pass.

“I heard there were some little tunny in this area yesterday,” he said.

Grassett slowly motored north, looking for signs of fish along the way. He looks for baitfish on the surface and/or diving birds.

“I’ve been getting into fish south of Midnight Pass,” he said. “Let’s try there.”

There were no diving birds or baitfish along the way. But as he neared the northern tip of Casey Key, Grassett saw a flock of diving birds about a mile away.

“There they are,” he said. “Looks like busting fish below them.”

Those busting fish were little tunny and Spanish mackerel. Although you might find both species mixed together, that’s not always the case. It wasn’t in this instance. Under one bait school it was mackerel. The other had little tunny.

“You can tell by watching the busts,” said Grassett. “Mackerel don’t make much of a disturbance and they’ll often jump.

“Little tunny really disturb the water.”

For this action, Grassett prefers fly tackle. He advises 8- or 9-weight rods and sinktip lines (to get the fly down a little. The reel must be capable of holding 200 yards of backing.

Leader should be at least 6 feet of 20-pound fluorocarbon. No need for fancy tapered leaders here.

“I’ll use a short length of wire if there are a lot of mackerel around,” said Grassett. “That keeps the bite-offs down. Plus, it doesn’t seem to bother the little tunny.”

As far as flies go, he uses his Grassett’s Snook Fly. Most any small baitfish imitation will work.

“Size is important,” Grassett said. “Sometimes the little tunny get keyed into a certain size bait and won’t even look at your fly if it’s too big or too small.

“Figure out what they’re feeding on and adjust accordingly.”

Of course, spinning enthusiasts can get in on the action. Grassett advises medium to medium-heavy rods and reels in the 3000 to 4000 sizes.

“You need at least 250 yards of line and a smooth drag,” he said.

A ¼-ounce white bucktail jig is about all you need. However, plastic-tailed jigs and Diamond Jigs also will work.

“You can use an assortment of plugs, but there’s really no need,” said Grassett. “It’s not much fun breaking off a $10 lure.

“Keep it simple.”

Little tunny aren’t considered great eating, so Grassett releases all he catches. That they aren’t prime food discourages some folks from pursuing them.

“That puzzles me,” said Grassett. “Little tunny are among our sportiest fish.”

Grassett said recently he suggested one of his clients give them a try, but got a strange reaction.

“I told him they were around and that they’re great fly-rod fish,” he said. “But all he said was ‘Didn’t you tell me they aren’t good to eat? Why would anyone want to do that?’ “

To each his own.

Tarpon and bonefish aren’t considered food fish in the United States, but that doesn’t stop a legion of anglers from pursuing them.

We only have occasional bonefish. And tarpon season is over.

But we do have little tunny. And they’ll stick around until the water gets too cold. That’s when they’ll head for their winter waters in the Caribbean. They’ll return in late winter or early spring.

“I wish we had them year round,” said Grassett. “They’re really great fish.”

Spotted seatrout have a lot of fans around the Sunshine State

Spotted seatrout action has been hot and heavy around Sarasota Bay and other area waters.
Snook arguably are Florida’s most-popular backcountry fish.

But spotted seatrout aren’t far behind.

Trout are plentiful, usually very cooperative and fairly good on the table.

They’re every man’s fish.

Fortunately, those of us who reside in or near the Sarasota-Bradenton area are smack dab in the middle of some of the finest seatrout fishing around. When other species have lockjaw, you can usually count on trout.

The outlook wasn’t so good just a few years ago. Red tide, a pesky algae bloom which periodically invades area waters, killed thousands of trout in Sarasota Bay and adjacent waters. The dreaded tide showed up in December of 2004 and lasted until January of 2006.

Many local charter operators put self-imposed moratoriums on killing seatrout for at least a few months. As a result of that moratorium and the fact that trout are very prolific, the species rebounded with gusto.

Tackle for spotted seatrout should be relatively light. Most often, I use a light spinning rod and 8-pound test braided line. I employ about an 18-inch length of fluorocarbon for a shock leader.

My No. 1 lure is a D.O.A. 1/16-ounce CAL Jig with a gold or copper crush paddle tail. D.O.A.’s Deadly Combination is a close second. I also use the MirrOlure MirrOdine and the Rapala Skitter Walk on occasion.

I most often fish Sarasota Bay. Favorite spots include the deep grass off Stephens Point, the deep grass off the sand between the Ringling Mansion and Whitfield Avenue and the deep grass off the southern side of Whale Key near Buttonwood Harbor.

I prefer to drift those areas and I avoid anchoring – unless the wind is strong.

Most often, I’ll start randomly casting with a jig to determine where the fish are located. Experience tells me to concentrate on edges or holes in the grass. I will target areas of broken bottom or sand holes within a grassy area. I don’t like to fish bottoms of solid grass.

To see the grass, a quality pair of polarized sunglasses is necessary.

Tide really isn’t a key factor when fishing over deep grass. As long as it’s moving one way or the other, I’m fine.

I prefer to use the lightest jig head possible. I don’t want my jig rocketing to the bottom and tangling in the grass. I want a slow fall.

I’ll cast my jig out, allow it to sink, reel in the slack and work it. Jigging and reeling are two separate actions. Many people make the mistake of reeling and jigging at the same time.

Trout (and other species) will hit the jig as it falls 99 percent of the time. That’s why using braided line and a sensitive graphite rod is important. When you feel the slightest hit, it’s time to reel up any slack and set the hook.

I’ve fished with anglers who insist on using monofilament. I don’t have any problem with their choice, but I’m convinced it’s not nearly as sensitive and I am sure a lot of hits go undetected. In addition, monofilament stretches so much that it’s often very difficult to set the hook. There’s no stretch in braided line.

One of the keys to successful trout fishing is to fish where there’s a food source. I constantly scan to water to look for baitfish. Inevitably, whenever I find glass minnows or pilchards on the surface, I find spotted seatrout below.

I also look for predator fish blowing up on minnows.

This past year has been very good in terms of large trout. Florida’s southwest coast is not considered prime territory for “gator” trout. That honor goes to the east coast. However, my clients and I have taken several trout from 6 to 7 ½ pounds this year.

One angler, Chuck Linn of Oklahoma, managed three behemoths in one morning. His first trout was a 4-pounder and we thought that might be the catch of the morning. So, I took a photo of Linn and his fish.

His next trout was a 6 ¼-pounder that he caught on a topwater plug. I took his picture and then walked back to the kayak to put the camera up. But I didn’t get 20 feet away when Linn said he had another monster trout. This one weighed 6 ½ pounds.

I took his photo again and began walking back to the kayak. He hooked another gator.

His third monster trout of the morning weighed 7 ½ pounds.

All of that action took place on the grass flat along the south side of Whale Key on the west side of Sarasota Bay. I’ve taken several impressive trout (although none as large) since that time.

I also managed to catch a 7-pounder over the deep grass off Stephen’s Point in September.

I don’t keep spotted seatrout because they’re not my favorite fish to eat. I find them rather soft-fleshed. However, if you want to keep a couple for dinner, remember the bag limit is four per person per day. Slot limit is 15 to 20 inches. One fish in the limit may be more than 20 inches.

The season is closed in this part of the state in November and December.

Tides are important, but not the panacea of saltwater fishing

A tailing redfish searches for food a low tide.
Good tide, bad tide. High tide, low tide.

The only really bad tide around these parts is one that’s preceded by a rosey color.

Last time we had a hint of that rojo demon in these here parts was back in 2006 when the infamous bloom lasted 13 months and virtually wiped out the trout population in Sarasota Bay. But that was then, and the trout have rebounded quite well, thank you.

While our daily tides are important when it comes to fishing, they’re not the end-all some might think.

I was talking with Capt. Jack Hartman of Sarasota Fishing Charters and he said he doesn’t really care what the tide is doing when he heads out to fish.

“All I care is that it’s moving,” said Hartman.

And that is the crux of the matter. A moving tide is a good tide.

I’m not saying tides aren’t importantl. However, I do think many anglers put too much emphasis on the tide. In fact, first thing most clients want to know when we head out on a kayak-fishing trip is what the tide is doing?

And when I talk to various groups around the state, the No. 1 question without a doubt is about the tide.

“What’s your favorite tide?”

I think an understanding of the tide is important. In this area, we usually have four tides each day: two high and two low. They’re called “semi-diurnal” tides.

Tides are caused by the gravitational interaction between the sun and moon. We have the biggest tides around the new moon and the full moon.

That’s really all you need to know.

Think of the tide as a large conveyor belt that moves food. When the tide is moving, food is flowing with it. And fish are feeding.

Conversely, when the tide is slack, there’s no or little moving food. For the most part, fishing slows.

Additionally, when the tide is strong, fishing often is better.

The bane of fishing is the one week a month when we have only two tides a day. They are lengthy and seemingly take forever to ebb and flood. The flow is slow and not much food is moved. Fishing action usually slows down accordingly.

Of course the tide is important when you head out to fish. What the tide is doing has a bearing on where you’ll fish and for what species you’ll target.

If I want to try my luck on tailing redfish, I’m not going to do it unless we get a negative low tide. There can be redfish all over a particular flat, but you won’t see any tails piercing the water’s surface if the tide is high.

I try to avoid super high tides. It’s my feeling that those big tides allow the fish to swim most anywhere. The fish spread out and are much more difficult – in my opinion – to find. Fish such as redfish and snook likely will be 20 feet back in the mangroves, making them extremely tough to coax out (without the use of live chum).

On a perfect day, I like to fish the last couple of hours of an outgoing tide and first couple of hours of the incoming. And I wouldn’t mind at all if that low tide was negative. If I showed up at my favorite flat to find parts on it high and dry, I’d smile.

I think reds, snook and trout stage in deeper water at the edge of a flat and wait for the tide to flood. When it does, they’ll swim onto the flat and begin the feed. They remain on that flat until the tide begins to ebb. That’s when the fish will work their way off the flat and back to deep water.

So, I try to start fishing along the edge of the flat when the tide’s going out or beginning to trickle in. As the tide rises, I’ll move up on the flat.

This works for me and others.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is the tide doesn’t read the tide chart. Just because it’s supposed to be high at 10:31 a.m. doesn’t mean it will.

A few years ago, I was the guest speaker at a fishing club in Bradenton. Just before my talk, the club conducted its business. One of the items on the agenda was to set a date for the club’s monthly tournament.

Naturally, one of the members pulled out a tide chart and began searching for the best tides.

“March 20 looks pretty good,” he said.

Club members unanimously voted to hold their tournament on that date.

I asked why?

“Because there will be a strong incoming tide that day,” I was told.

I looked out the window at a great view of Sarasota Bay and asked what the tide was supposed to be at the moment?


I said, “Look out the window. It’s dead low.”

So much for tide charts.

A strong, northeast wind had pushed the tide out and kept it out.

How many times have you been on the water and the tide was supposed to be flowing one way but was going the opposite?

I’m going fishing regardless of the tide. Makes no sense to me to plan a trip, ready the equipment, relish in the anticipation and then get up that morning, look at the tide chart and decide to stay home because of a bad tide.

And more times than I can remember, I’ve had some really exciting days when I wasn’t supposed to.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Social media a good way to keep informed

Social media is a relatively new phenomenon. It’s fun and can be very informative.

I am on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook is pretty cool because it allows you to find friends from the past, classmates and relatives. It also allows you to connect with those with similar interests.

Twitter is cool because it’s pretty immediate. In addition to following athletes, anglers and personalities, I get the latest news – right now.

If you’re on Facebook, please send me a friend request.

You can follow me on Twitter @gibby3474.

I often “tweet” up-to-the-minute fishing reports right from the water.

Here are the lures that will produce for you in salt water

Client John Meuschke caught this fine Sarasota Bay redfish on a D.O.A. CAL Jig with gold paddle tail.
Most anglers carry way too much tackle. I’m quite guilty.

At the end of most fishing days, I could put all the lures I used in my shirt pocket.

That probably applies to you, too.

What I do now is to carry one small Plano plastic tackle box with the lures I might use that day.

Lure fishing is quite effective. I haven’t used live bait in so long that I have no clue what the price of shrimp is? I saw a bumper sticker a few years ago that summed up live bait quite nicely.

It read: “Fishing with live shrimp is like sleeping with your sister. It was OK when you were 5 years old.”

While I have nothing against live bait or those who use it, I just don’t feel the need to do so. I catch plenty of fish, and all are taken on artificial lures.

Here are my favorites. They work for me.

D.O.A. CAL Jig: This is my No. 1 lure. It’s a great fish-producer and excellent prospecting lure. I prefer the red, 1/16-ounce head. I like D.O.A.’s paddle tails in gold and copper crush. The paddle tails are very tough and you’ll only use two or three over the course of the day.

D.O.A. Shrimp: I prefer the 3-inch size. It’s very versatile and appeals to a variety of fish. My favorite colors are night glo and gold flake. These artificials work very well when fish alone or a part of D.O.A.’s Deadly Combination. The Deadly Combo is a popping cork, leader and D.O.A. Shrimp. Leader length depends on the depth of the water. You can buy them pre-rigged or construct your own. The Deady Combo also is very easy to use. Cast it out, allow the shrimp to sink, pop the cork and repeat. When the cork goes under, reel in the slack and set the hook.

Using the shrimp alone is not for everyone. You need to work is extremely slow. I find it really effective on calm days. It’s also a great sight-fishing lure. I also like to use it when work under and around docks and other structure.

D.O.A. Jerk Worm: The 4-inch jerk worm is my go-to lure in winter when I’m targeting snook, redfish and bass on local rivers. I put the worm on a 1/16-ounc jig head. Will take a variety of fish. I use the 5-inch jerk worm on the flats when I’m look for redfish and snook. I most often put it on a 1/16-ounce jig head or rig it weedless on a slightly weighted hook.

Zara Super Spook Jr.: You don’t want to hit the flats without a topwater plug. The Spook Jr., casts easily and is simple to work. You want to “walk the dog.” I produce that action by keeping my rod tip low. I real and twitch the lure. Key to success is not setting the hook when a fish strikes. You don’t want to set the hook until you feel the weight of the fish.

MirrOlure MirrOdine: A great lure when fish are feeding on white bait. I like to use it on a light spinning rig. I cast it out and work it erratically. Has wonderful action. Last time I used it, I caught a bunch of seatrout from 20 to 23 inches.

Johnson Silver Minnow: It might be marketed as a “silver” minnow, but I like it in gold. Works great for redfish. It’s also a great prospecting lure. It’s easy to cast and work. Simply cast it out, start your retrieve just before the lure hits the water. Just reel. If there are reds in the area, you’ll find them. Will also entice snook and seatrout. I like the 1/8-ounce version in colder weather when the bait’s smaller. I go to the ¼-ounce spoon during the warmer months.

There you have it.

Let me tell you where the action is

The Mighty Myakka Minnow is a go-to fly when fish are feeding on small minnows.
This Everglades bass fell for a Myakka Minnow.
I started fly fishing when I was in junior high school. I didn’t have a fly rod, but I’d somehow cast a popping bug far enough with a spinning rod to catch a few panfish.

I got my first fly rod a few years later and fell in love with the sport.

For many years, my arsenal consisted of a light fly rod, floating line, leader material and several white or chartreuse popping bugs. I caught plenty of fish. When bluegill, bass and other species quit hitting the poppers, it was time to go home.

Although I mainly fish saltwater these days, I still get out to a nearby lake or river every once in a while. And I’ve learned a that when the topwater bite subsides, it’s not the end of the day. In fact, it’s only just beginning – if you go subsurface.

Sometimes the topwater bite will last most of the morning. I’ll stick with it as long as the fish are willing to rise and take a popper. There really is nothing quite like a topwater strike! But you can’t force the fish to take a popper.

When that bite ends, I will switch to a No. 12 bead-head nymph under a strike indicator or my Myakka Minnow. The results often are amazing.

The nymph (I call it Aunt Sara’s Homely Daughter) is simple to tie, easy to cast and extremely effective. I use a strike indicator for a couple of reasons: 1. to keep the fly off the bottom; 2. to detect strikes.

Although fish occasionally will pull the strike indicator under, most often strikes are subtle. Sometimes the indicator will just twitch. At other times, it won’t move when you work the fly.

If it does anything out of the ordinary, set the hook.

The Myakka Minnow, a fly I created a few years ago, is most often tied on a No. 10 hook. I tie it in a variety of colors, including gold, black, copper and silver. It’s a very, very effective fly whenever fish are feeding on small minnows.

There are days when it’s the only fly I use.

Last year, I was fishing a client on the Manatee River. He wanted big bluegill. Two casts into the morning, I landed a really big bluegill on the Myakka Minnow. I caught several over the next 15 minutes.

My client was using a popping bug and getting no action. I suggested he use a Myakka Minnow and he agreed. So, I tied a black Myakka Minnow on his leader.

He made two casts, cut it off and tied on the popper.

Meanwhile, it kept producing for me.

He had no confidence in a fly he’d never fished before.

The Myakka Minnow was created after a frustrating day on the Myakka River. I caught a few fish on poppers, but not many. Bass and bluegill were feeding on small minnows along the edge of the river. Every time they’d send minnows flying, I’d cast the popper in the fray.

And every time I came up empty.

When I got home, I sat down at my tying desk to come up with a small minnow imitation. I came up with a prototype and used it the next time I fished the river.

It worked very well.

I’ve refined the design over the years. The fly is one of my top producers. It works extremely well in The Everglades.

No matter what fly you use, just remember that when the topwater bite ends it’s not time to head home.

Put on a subsurface fly and watch the action improve.

Fishing good in fresh and salt waters

Redfish action has been good in Sarasota Bay.
I have been fishing so much that I haven’t had a lot of time to write.

Since today’s a weather day, I’ll make time.

Fishing has been very good – when the weather allows.

On Thursday, I launched my kayak at Buttonwood Harbor and experienced very good action. As I was paddling along the Longboat Key rim canal, I noticed a lot of mullet on the grass flat just to the north. I interrupted my plans and detoured to the flat.

Casting a 1/8-ounce gold Johnson Silver Minnow, I caught a pair of upper-slot redfish and lost a couple of others.

Mullet are one of the most important keys when it comes to finding redfish. I don’t think the reds feed on the mullet, but I do think they feed on anything the mullet stir up: shrimp, crabs, worms, baitfish. Whenever I’m prospecting, I won’t even fish a flat if there are no mullet around.

When that bite subsided, I headed out into Sarasota Bay to fish an edge that has been very good to me over the last six months. I started out with a few small trout, but quickly discovered a pattern that resulted in several really nice trout.

Rather than position my kayak in deeper water and cast to the edge of the grass, I moved up onto the flat and cast out toward the deeper water. I was using a MirrOlure MirrOdine, a real trout killer. I caught and released 20 spotted seatrout of more than 20 inches. They ranged from 20 to 23 inches and were just clobbering that lure.

My success was interrupted by a storm that was heading my way. Discretion was the better part of valor, so I paddled back to the launch.

Earlier in the week, I spent a couple of days on Lake Manatee, one of my favorite bodies of water. It’ lightly fished and usually yields good catches.

On Tuesday, I landed 80 bluegill on No. 10 poppers, No. 12 bead-head nymphs and my Myakka Minnow. About 25 percent of the bluegill were jumbo. I also caught shellcracker, speckled perch, largemouth bass and channel catfish.

The action fell off drastically the next day – even though conditions were virtually the same. I cast a popper for about 30 minutes and didn’t get a hit. I started catching fish on the nymph (I call it Aunt Sara’s Homely Daughter), but really had to work for them. I landed a nice channel cat that nearly took me into the backing of my 1-weight fly rod.

I only caught 30 bluegill, but at least half of them were large. I didn’t get any bass, shellcracker or speckled perch.

The beauty of Lake Manatee, which is located 9 miles east of Interstate 75 off State Road 64 is that it’s very lightly fished. I suppose that’s because there’s a 20-horsepower limit on outboard motors or because it’s a tough lake to fish for those who aren’t familiar with it.

I launch near Lake Manatee Fish Camp (23745 State Road 64 East) and most often paddle under the bridge and fish the eastern end of the lake. I’ve found over the years that anywhere you find trees along the shoreline is where you’ll find the fish. In addition, you’ll catch some really nice panfish around most of the docks.

On Monday, I fished the east side of Sarasota Bay and paddled nearly to Long Bar. I caught and released 7 redfish from 15 to 23 inches, 15 trout to 18 and a nice pompano. The fish were taken on a 1/16-ounce D.O.A. CAL Jig with a gold paddle tail.

I had fished the same area a week early and caught 12 reds to 25 inches and some very nice seatrout. In addition, I found good numbers of snook in sand holes. I didn’t get any snook, but I stored the information in my mental notebook.

I look for some good action over the next month. Seatrout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and pompano should be in good supply on the deep grass along the east and west sides of Sarasota Bay.

Redfish should cooperate

on the flats and the edges.

Snook will begin moving up creeks and rivers as the water temperature cools.

Starting in late December, I will begin fishing the Myakka River. Last year, I did well on snook to more than 30 inches, redfish to 25 and bass to 6 pounds. Best lure was a D.O.A. 4-inch CAL jerk worm on a 16-ounce jerk worm.

Bass fish is also good farther up the Myakka, with catches of 30 or more fish a day common.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October fishing included a variety of species in Sarasota and Tampa bays

Redfish cooperated fairly well in October in Sarasota and Tampa bays.

October is a great month to fish in Florida, offering a variety of saltwater species. In addition to spotted seatrout, redfish and snook, other species arrive to add flare to the catch.

Flounder action was surprisingly plentiful around Sarasota and Tampa Bays. Best locations included Buttonwood Harbor and southern Tampa Bay. D.O.A. CAL Jigs with gold or copper crush paddle tails provided a bulk of the action. However, we picked up a few flatties on Clouser Deep Minnows.

Speaking of flies, I came up with a new baitfish pattern that I created using Enrico Puglisi brushes. I named the fly Gibby’s Duster. The Duster was spectacular in its debut on an outing into the Gulf of Mexico with Capt. Rick Grassett of the Snook Fin-Addict in Sarasota. I caught and released four false albacore to 9 pounds. Rick landed four on his white snook fly.

The fly also did well on a couple of outings in Tampa Bay, producing some fine spotted seatrout. Fishing a channel on the outgoing tide, the fly interested trout to 21 inches. I had caught a good number of fish on Clouser Deep Minnows, but the Duster accounted for the largest fish.

I participated in the 7th annual Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers/Coastal Conservation Association Fall Fly Fishing Challenge. Rick Grassett and I co-founded this fine event in 2004.

During pre-fishing, I landed fly-rod slams the two days prior to the event. A fly-rod slam is snook, trout and redfish. The first day, I caught maybe 50 trout to 21 inches and a 22-inch snook out of a Tampa Bay channel on the outgoing tide. The fish took Clouser Deep Minnows and Gibby’s Duster. Six hours later, I completed the slam with a 24-inch redfish on a Dupree Spoon Fly.

The following day, I returned to the channel and caught five dozen trout to 22 inches on Clousers, Dusters and Todd’s Wiggle Minnow, a topwater fly. I had hoped the get a snook and redfish there, too. That didn’t pan out.

As the outgoing tide stopped, so did the bite. So, I paddled into Mose’s Hole (you can only get there via kayak) and spent an hour casting a Dupree Spoon Fly. I caught a 24-inch snook and 28-inch redfish.

I was confident heading into the tournament.

Of course, the weather took a nose dive. The wind was blowing 12-16 mph out of the north. The sky was overcast and it was drizzling as I arrived at the Tampa Bay channel. I caught 35 trout to 16 ½ inches, but no snook or redfish.

I paddled to Mose’s Hole, but couldn’t find any snook or reds. I did managed several trout, including a 20-incher that increased my total inches of the species.

I ended up winning the Trout Division of the tournament with 156.75 inches. It wasn’t what I had envisioned, but I was satisfied.

Last year, I won the Snook Division with more than 100 inches.

Nate Swartz and Sam Swartz fished with me earlier in the month and had a good day, despite strong wind and trying conditions. They caught a good number of spotted seatrout, ladyfish and flounder – all on D.O.A. CAL Jigs with gold paddle tails.

This month, we look for good action on trout, redfish and snook. In addition, pompano, bluefish and Spanish mackerel should show up in increased numbers. We’ve been catching the latter trio, but sporadically.

Best spots have been the deep grass patches off Stephens Point and Whale Key in Sarasota Bay.

November gets very busy, so we encourage early bookings to assure you get in on the action.

As always, I’m available for fishing and fly-tying seminars. I spoke to the Englewood Fishing Club on Oct. 13 before a good turnout of enthusiastic members.

I have been in contact with Flying Fish Outfitters in Nokomis (a great fly/tackle shop) and I am planning a couple of fishing seminars and a fly-tying session.

Steve Gibson

Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing

(941) 284-3406

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September was good month; October prospects look better

John Mallia of Lancaster, N.Y., paddles through a mangrove tunnel on the way to Mose's Hole off southern Tampa Bay.

Randy Honaker Jr., of Tampa shows off a hefty trout.

September was a very good month for Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing.

Redfish, spotted seatrout, flounder, bluefish and snook were consistent and provided thrilling action.

Regular client John Mallia of Lancaster, N.Y., had a couple of good trips early in the month. We fished Sarasota Bay off Stephens Point the first day and Bishop Harbor and Mose’s Hole off southern Tampa Bay the next.

Day one in Sarasota Bay yielded quite a few spotted seatrout, ladyfish, redfish and flounder. Trout ran from 13 to 19 inches. Redfish went from 17 to 22 inches. Most of the fish were taken on D.O.A. CAL Jigs with gold or copper crush paddle tails.

The trout were caught in the deep grass off Stephens Point. Redfish came from the channel leading into the Crosley-Horton Estate just north of the Ringling Mansion.

That area has been providing steady redfish action on topwater plugs and CAL Jigs.

The next day, we fished Bishop Harbor and Mose’s Hole off Tampa Bay. Mose’s Hole is a seldom-fished remote area only accessible via mangrove tunnel. Mallia caught a bunch of spotted seatrout to 18 inches and a redfish. We also managed snook and ladyfish.

Most of the action took place on Bomber topwater plugs, CAL Jigs and Rapala Skitter Walks.

Randy Honaker of Centerville, Ohio, his son, Randy of Tampa, and Justin Pfaff caught spotted seatrout, ladyfish and sugar trout on what turned out to be a very slow day off Stephens Point. The fish were taken on Gibby’s Big Eye Baitfish flies, Clouser Deep Minnows, CAL Jigs and D.O.A. Deadly Combinations.

Gary Herbert and Dean Panse of Michigan had an outstanding day in Sarasota Bay near Buttonwood Harbor. They combined to catch 35 spotted seatrout to 19 inches, 13 flounder to 17, five redfish to 24, ladyfish, croaker and sugar trout.

CAL Jigs and D.O.A. Deadly Combinations produced all of the fish.

The highlight of the day came at mid-morning when a mama manatee and her calf swam up to Herbert’s kayak and allowed him to pet them.

We have been encountering manatees on most every trip to the Buttonwood Harbor area.

On solo outings, I have been catching and releasing redfish to 32 inches, spotted seatrout to 7 pounds, flounder to 19 inches, bluefish to 5 pounds, croaker, ladyfish, sugar trout and snook to 30 inches.

The weather is beginning to cool. The water temperature is dropping and fish are starting to feed.

I look for very good action through October and into November.

Pompano, Spanish mackerel and bluefish are here, but their numbers will increase daily as the water cools.

I have openings in October, a great month to fish. The best thing about October is there aren’t many people around and there’s little competition.

The Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers and the Sarasota Chapter of Coastal Conservation Association will hold their 7th annual Fall Fly Fishing Challenge Oct. 29.

The catch, photo and release event will feature an Open Division, for guides and anglers fishing with guides (all anglers are eligible to compete in the Open Division), and a Fly Angler Division (no guides).

In the Open Division, eligible species include snook, redfish and spotted sea trout. Those in the Fly Angler Division will fish for a variety of species, including snook, redfish, spotted sea trout, bluefish, ladyfish, flounder, snapper, jack crevalle, pompano and permit based on a point-per-inch system.

Entry fee is $50 and includes an awards BBQ at the Ken Clark Auditorium, 3000 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota. Applications are available at area tackle shops or on line at and

Call Rick Grassett at 923-7799 or Steve Gibson at 284-3406 for information.

Steve Gibson

Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing

(941) 284-3406

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Snook, redfish and spotted seatrout provide fun

John Meuschke of Sarasota shows off an oversized redfish that he caught on a D.O.A. CAL Jig.
John Meuschke's flounder.
Despite very hot and humid conditions, fishing remained steady.

Fishing before daylight and early morning in Sarasota Bay, Bishop Harbor and Tampa Bay, clients managed snook to 32 inches, redfish to 25 and spotted seatrout to 26 ½ on a variety of lures and flies, including D.O.A. CAL Jigs, D.O.A. Deadly Combinations and Schminnows.

John Meuschke of Sarasota had a good day in and around Buttonwood Harbor, catching a plethora of different species. He caught spotted seatrout to 19 inches, flounder to 18 and redfish to 32 on CAL Jigs.

Redfish are schooling on the flats and can make for fast action – if you can find them. These fish are mainly oversized and will hit most anything tossed their way.

Snook, spotted seatrout, flounder, ladyfish and redfish have been cooperating in Mose’s Hole, a secluded spot off Tampa Bay only accessible via a mangrove tunnel. This is a fun spot that has been providing steady action on both the incoming and outgoing tide.

We traveled south to Charlotte Harbor and launched at Ponce de Leon Park. Our target was tarpon. We found them and jumped a 125-pound fish on a D.O.A. Baitbuster.

We returned to the harbor and fished with Capt. Rick Grassett of the Snook Fin-Addict. Tarpon were plentiful in the Peace River and adjacent canals, but not very cooperative. We jumped three fish on D.O.A. TerrorEyz. We anticipate tarpon fishing to improve this month.

Tarpon in the harbor, canals and river range in size from 10 to more than 100 pounds. You never know what size tarpon will hit your lure or fly.

Action has been steady in Sarasota Bay off Stephens Point. We’ve been getting snook and spotted seatrout before daylight on flies around lighted docks.

After daylight, we’ve been drifting the deep grass and getting spotted seatrout to 26 ½ inches, pompano to 3 pounds, bluefish to 3, ladyfish and flounder on CAL Jigs, D.O.A. Baitbusters and Gibby’s Big Eye Baitfish Fly.

The sand bars along southern Tampa Bay have been yielding redfish, spotted seatrout and a surprising amount of flounder. Top lure has been the D.O.A. Cal Jig with copper crush or gold paddle tail.

Sight-fishing can be very productive on the sand bars. The water is clear and shallow and the bottom is white sand.

In addition, there are bonnethead shark and blacktip shark available on the sand bars.

We’ve also seen a few tailing redfish at low tide.

Bishop Harbor off Tampa Bay has been producing decent numbers of snook, redfish, flounder and spotted seatrout.

Temperatures should start to drop later this month. And that should result in a flurry of action. We anticipate schools of large redfish on the flats, spotted seatrout over the deep grass, snook around dock lights and flounder in sand holes.

Steve Gibson

Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing

(941) 284-3406

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fall Fly Fishing Challenge set Oct. 29

Co-Tournament Director Rick Grassett

The Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers and the Sarasota Chapter of Coastal Conservation Association will hold their 7th annual Fall Fly Fishing Challenge Oct. 29.

The catch, photo and release event will feature an Open Division, for guides and anglers fishing with guides (all anglers are eligible to compete in the Open Division), and a Fly Angler Division (no guides).

In the Open Division, eligible species include snook, redfish and spotted sea trout. Those in the Fly Angler Division will fish for a variety of species, including snook, redfish, spotted sea trout, bluefish, ladyfish, flounder, snapper, jack crevalle, pompano and permit based on a point-per-inch system.

Entry fee is $50 and includes an awards BBQ at the Ken Clark Auditorium, 3000 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota. Applications are available at area tackle shops or on line at and

Call Rick Grassett at 923-7799 or Steve Gibson at 284-3406 for information.

Monday, August 22, 2011

August heat can make for some hot fishing

Last August yielded this Charlotte Harbor tarpon via a D.O.A. TerrorEyz.

The humid, sultry days of August scare off most Florida anglers.

Don’t let the heat beat you down.

There is some fine fishing this time of year – if you’re willing to get up early and hit the water before daylight.

I have been fishing Bishop Harbor for the last two weeks and doing pretty well. I’ve been getting some nice snook, redfish, spotted seatrout and a surprising amount of flounder on topwater plugs and D.O.A. CAL Jigs.

Best bet is to hit the water early and cast a topwater plug anywhere you can find mullet and/or baitfish. The morning bite usually lasts until about an hour after dawn.

On several occasions, I’ve taken Slams (snook, trout and redfish) very quickly.

I’ve also been fishing Mose’s Hole, a pristine area only accessible via kayak. To get to the hold, you have to paddle through a picturesque mangrove tunnel.

First time I fished Mose’s Hole, I caught six snook and four redfish. Since, then I’ve taken a number of redfish, bigger trout, flounder and some monster ladyfish.

I also have been fishing in Tampa Bay and poling the productive sand bars. The white sand and clear water can make for some exciting sight-fishing! I have caught a few redfish, spotted seatrout and flounder. There are plenty of bonnethead shark cruising the bars, but I haven’t hooked up.

I plan to drive to Punta Gorda to look for tarpon in Charlotte Harbor. If I get a calm day, I’ll bet I can find them. First trip down a year ago, I was met by tarpon all over the place. It was strange. I saw tarpon tails and fins in almost every direction I looked.

The tarpon there run a variety of size. Many are 20 to 40 pounds, but you’re also likely to hook into one of 100 pounds or more.

I use medium-heavy spinning gear, 20-pound braided line and 50-pound mono shock leader. Lure choices include D.O.A.’s TerrorEyz, Baitbuster and Swimming Mullet.

Flies also work well when conditions are right. When I get a fly-fishing opportunity, I use dark flies on a 9-weight rod with a sinktip line.

We should start seeing schooling redfish any day. They group up this time of year in preparation for their spawning migration into the Gulf of Mexico. I often find schools of 100 or more redfish, most of which are well over the slot limit. All it takes to hook up is to get your fly or lure near the school.

Beach snook fishing this summer has been, um, crappy. We’ve had a lot of west wind and rough conditions along the beach.

My best day has been seven snook.

I did take newcomer Jim Asaph of Englewood out and he caught two of the nine snook he hooked. They were the first snook he’d ever caught.

Asaph, a spin angler, caught his fish on a D.O.A. Shrimp.

The heat really doesn’t get to me. Usually, I’m too busy fight fish.

Anyway, I’m most often off the water by noon.

Friday, July 22, 2011

July fishing has been productive on a variety of species

Josh Milby fishes near Buttonwood Harbor just as the sun begins to rise over Sarasota Bay.

Jim Asaph of Englwood shows off a Button Harbor seatrout.
The Southern Drawl Family took a two-week vacation at the end of June. We visited family in Michigan and spent several days in New York City.

It was the first vacation in a long, long time in which I did not take a fly rod or spinning rod. I didn’t fish the entire two weeks.

But I certainly was refreshed when we returned.

Business made a surprising upturn in July (normally a slow month). And the fish certainly were cooperative.

I fished Jim Asaph of Englewood and he had a good day on his first kayak fishing trip. We fished Buttonwood Harbor off Sarasota Bay and caught spotted seatrout to 22 inches, flounder, ladyfish and redfish. We caught a surprising amount of slot trout (15 to 20 inches). Most of them came while drifting the deep grass in front of Whale Key.

We caught most of our fish on D.O.A. CAL Jigs (1/16-ounce head), with gold or orange crush paddle tails. The D.O.A. Deadly Combination and MirrOlure MirrOdine were also effective.

Mike Milby of Washington, D.C. and his son, Josh of Lakewood Ranch, joined me for a 6-hour outing in the same area. We totaled more than 50 trout to about 20 inches, four flounder, ladyfish and three redfish. All came on CAL Jigs and Deadly Combinations. We fished a grass edge just south of Whale Key and the deep grass in front of Whale Key.

Joe Bradley of Michigan made his kayak-fishing debut a couple of days later. We anchored on the north side of the Buttonwood Channel and caught spotted seatrout and ladyfish on CAL Jigs with orange crush paddle tails. We then fished the grass edge just south of Whale Key and did well on trout and ladyfish. The Deadly Combination also produced a few trout.

I did a solo scouting trip in the same area and totaled 60 trout to 25 inches, ladyfish, jack crevalle, bluefish and flounder, using CAL Jigs, Deadly Combos and MirrOlure MirrOdines. My biggest trout came from just off the north side of the Buttonwood channel.

Tarpon are starting to show up in and around Buttonwood Harbor. I’m seeing them every trip, but haven’t hooked any.

In addition, there are at least four manatees in the Buttonwood area. They like to “investigate” the kayaks.

Beach snook fishing has not been great – for a variety of reasons: rough water, dirty water and low tide. I’m hoping things improve because I’ve get several trips in the book.

Freshwater fishing is on the back burner. Our rainy season has started and local rivers are running high and fast.

Next month, we anticipate bull redfish to begin schooling. Last year we found them in the Buttonwood area and in southern Tampa Bay. When we find a school, it’s usually automatic. The fish will hit most anything you cast.

As always, I’d like to thank m sponsors: Native Watercraft, D.O.A. Lures, Go Fish! Sportsmans Sunscreen and Peak Fishing.

Also, just wanted to let you know that I’ve begun writing for the Sarasota-Bradenton edition of Coastal Angler Magazine ( My first article is scheduled to appear in the August edition of this growing publication.

Steve Gibson

Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing

(941) 284-3406

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Snook the best bet in the surf; trout cooperating in the bay

Dr. Craig Amshel of Apollo Beach battles a bonnethead shark at boatside. (Photo by STEVE GIBSON)

We’ve been fishing mostly Sarasota Bay or fly fishing along the beaches for snook over the past month.

I would rate the fishing a 5.5 or 6 on a scale of 10.

In Sarasota Bay, we’ve mainly been concentrating around Buttonwood Harbor and
Stevens Point.

In Buttonwood Harbor, we’ve been getting spotted seatrout to 23 inches, flounder to 16, bluefish to 3 pounds, Spanish mackerel and, of course, plenty of ladyfish. All are being caught on D.O.A. CAL Jigs with gold paddle tails and D.O.A. Deadly Combinations.

At Stevens Point, we’ve been fish dock lights before daylight and getting snook to 24 inches and a few spotted seatrout trout on flies (Schminnows and Gibby’s Duster Minnow). After daylight, we’ve been fishing the deep grass off Stevens Point in Sarasota Bay and getting spotted seatrout to 25 inches, ladyfish, flounder and a few bluefish. All are hitting Gibby’s Big Eye Baitfish Fly and D.O.A. CAL Jigs with gold paddle tails.

Steve Legore of Anna Maria Island joined me on an outing in Buttonwood Harbor. We caught plenty of fish, but most were small. We managed to catch spotted seatrout, flounder and ladyfish on D.O.A. CAL jigs with gold paddle tails and D.O.A. Deadly Combinations.

Todd Dawson of Manatee County and Dr. Craig Amshel of Apollo Beach joined me for an outing in Buttonwood Harbor. The action wasn’t spectacular, but it was consistent. They caught spotted seatrout to 19 ½ inches, ladyfish, flounder and a 3-foot bonnethead shark – all on D.O.A. CAL Jigs with gold paddle tails.

Mike Texidor of Miami did a beach snook trip with me along Casey Key and caught his first saltwater fish on fly rod. Mike, a repeat client, caught a snook and a ladyfish on my D.T. Variation and Tom’s Greenback. The fish were plentiful, but very tough. Mike probably cast to more than 300 snook in calm and clear conditions.

Beach snook action is improving. I fished with Ken Taylor of North Port this morning and did well in trying conditions. We combined for nine snook on Gibby’s D.T. Variation and D.O.A. Shrimp. All of the snook were small. We fished the surf along Manasota Key.

I did a freshwater outing on the Manatee River and had a good time. We caught a number of largemouth bass and bluegill on Myakka Minnows. We also hooked seven larger channel catfish and landed one – all on Myakka Minnows.

I do tie D.T. Variations and Myakka Minnows commercially. They’re $48 per dozen (plus postage).

They’re great flies and I’ve been using them for years. If you would like to purchase them, please let me know.

I took a busman’s holiday this week and fished with my friend Rick Grassett of Snook Fin-Addict Guide Services. We fished the inshore Gulf of Mexico and had shots at 300 tarpon or more. Rick hooked one and fought it for 25 minutes before the hook pulled. He also had a couple of other tarpon eat the fly, but didn’t hook up.

This is fantastic tarpon fly fishing. I encourage all of you to book Rick if you’re desire to hook a tarpon on fly.

You can reach him at (941) 350-9790. You need to book him at least a year in advance for tarpon season (May-July).

I am sending this report out early because Kathy, Morgan and I and leaving on a 2-week vacation. We’ll spend part of it in Michigan and some in New York City. Kathy (our travel agent) has our NYC trip already arranged. We’re staying on Times Square and we’ll see Mary Poppins on Broadway, tour the NBC studios and take a bus/boat trip around the island.

As always, I would like to thank my sponsors: Legacy Paddlesports, D.O.A. Lures, Go Fish! Sunscreen, Temple Fork Outfitters, Peak Fishing and Economy Tackle/Dolphin Dive.

If you’re on Facebook, please send me a friend request. You can also follow me on Twitter @gibby3474.

Steve Gibson

Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing

(941) 284-3406

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gibby's Myakka Minnow is one Mighty fly

Gibby's Myakka Minnows appeal to a variety of fish.
I am really astounded by the success of my Myakka Minnow.

It’s a fly that looks really good, casts extremely well and, most importantly, catches fish.

I took Randy Honaker of Centerville, Ohio to The Everglades late in May and he caught a load of fish – most all on the Myakka Minnow. Honaker caught a few bass and panfish early in the day on poppers. But he made the switch to the MM when the topwater bite ended.

It was fish after fish after fish.

I created the Myakka Minnow about six years ago.

Here’s the story:

The Mighty Myakka Minnow was born out of frustration. I’m sure you’ve been there.

Imagine a day on the water with fish busting minnows throughout the morning. But after several hours, you still have nothing to show for your efforts. You cast into the spray of minnows, but your offerings are ignored repeatedly. The fish are so keyed into the tiny minnows that they ignore everything else.

Although the scenery is nice and weather gorgeous, it sure would be nice to feel the tug of a largemouth bass or hand-sized bluegill.

This happened to me several times while fly fishing on the Myakka River near my home in Sarasota, Fla.

After one unproductive outing, I decided to try and come up with a fly which would imitate the minnows the fish were so excited about.

I knew that the fly had to be no more than an inch long. It had to look like a minnow. It had to sink. It had to have large eyes.

After a few hours of trial and tribulation, I came up with a workable prototype and couldn’t wait to give it a try.

Next time out to the river, I had several Myakka Minnows in my box and one tied on my 4-weight fly rod. It didn’t take long to realize that I’d hit a home run. I picked up bass, bluegill, stumpknocker and tilapia while blind-casting. I kept my eyes open for scattering minnows. When I saw fish attacking minnows, I’d cast the Myakka Minnow into the fray.

Success is so sweet!

Over the years, the fly has worked very well and achieved a national reputation of sorts. It’s a pattern the Flymasters of Indianapolis featured in their Intermediate Fly Tying Class last spring. I’ve had email inquiries about the fly from interested anglers all over the country. I’ve even sold hundreds of them.

The fly isn’t a magic fly. But it does work very well when small minnows are the main food source. Then, it seems to be magic.

In fresh water, the fly has produced bass, bluegill, shellcracker, stumpknocker, redbreast sunfish, speckled perch and tilapia. Capt. Rick Grassett of Sarasota caught a nice brown trout on the Myakka Minnow in Montana. I have caught barramundi on it. You can tie it on larger hooks and go after saltwater fish. It has resulted in spotted seatrout, snook, redfish, mangrove snapper, jack crevalle, ladyfish, Spanish mackerel, tarpon and little tunny.

Capt. John Hand of Ruskin took a couple of No. 1 Myakka Minnows with him on a trip to Nicaraugua. He was targeting guapote (rainbow bass) and mojarra. He caught both.

“The Myakka Minnow was the only fly they’d hit,” said Hand. “And my guide said he’d never seen either species caught on fly.”

I’ve discovered exotic species in the Florida Everglades absolutely love the Myakka Minnow. Used to be that I’d catch oscar and Mayan cichlids on poppers. But when the topwater bite ended, that was the signal to go home. However, I’ve learned it’s really the signal to tie on a Myakka Minnow. The fly has taken thousands of exotics over the years.

It’s a fun fly to fish and an easy fly to tie.

I’m sure there are similar flies out there somewhere, but the pattern was born in my head. I’ve never seen a fly like it in any shop or catalog.

Tie and few and see what you think.

What works best for me is to cast it out, let is sink for a couple of counts, then work it in erratically. I like a couple of 2-inch strips and a pause. But you’ll figure out what works best for you.

If you do not wish to tie them, I gladly take orders. I sell them by the dozen. They’re $48 per dozen, plus shipping.

Give me a call at (941) 284-3406 or email me at

Myakka Minnow

Hook: No. 10 WR-004 White River Nymph Hook (from Bass Pro Shops)

Thread: Fine mono

Tail: Clipped marabou

Weight: 6-8 turns of .20 lead wire

Body: Bodi-Braid by Spirit River

Eyes: 3D Prism Stick-On

Coating: Devcon 2-Ton Epoxy


Step 1: Put hook in vice and attach thread on the hook shank near the point of the hook.

Step 2: Tie in a small amount of marabou and clip to about ¼ inch.

Step 3: Tie in .20 lead wire and wrap 6-8 turns.

Step 4: Tie in Bodi-Braid at the hook point and wind up to just behind the eye of the hook. Wind back to about mid-shank, then forward again, building up a minnow-like body. Whip finish.

Step 5: Add eyes, coat with epoxy and allow to dry.

I have a fly rotisserie to turn my flies while they dry.

The reason I use Devcon 2-Ton Epoxy rather than 5-minute epoxy is that it allows me to do about six to eight flies at a time. If you use a 5-minute epoxy, you can do one fly at a time.

It’s a quick and easy fly to tie. And it will result in fish.

My favorite color combinations are gold body and chartreuse tail, black body and black tail, copper body and charteuse tail and silver body and chartreuse tail.