Thursday, March 10, 2011

Deep grass, canals and the flats are paying off for kayak anglers

Bruce Butler shows off an oversized snook that was taken on a D.O.A. CAL Jig and gold paddle tail in Sarasota Bay.
I am amazed at the productivity of kayak fishing. That’s probably why I decided to devote myself to the sport years ago.

On average, we catch more fish while fishing from kayaks than we would if we were out in a powerboat.

The reason is simple: The fish do not know we’re there.

Of course, it’s all variable.

Over the past month, we’ve been doing fairly well in a number of situations. When the wind allows, we’ve been concentrating on the deep grass areas of Sarasota Bay off Stephens Point, Bishop Point and Whale Key.

On these trips, we’ve been getting lots of spotted seatrout to 19 inches, pompano to 2 pounds, bluefish to 2 and Spanish mackerel to 3. Most of the fish are being taken on D.O.A. CAL Jigs (1/16 and 1/8 ounce) and gold paddle tails.

Fly anglers have been using my Big Eye Baitfish fly and doing well on the same species, too.

Randy Honaker of Centerville, Ohio scored the biggest trout of his life on fly near Buttonwood Harbor. He also landed his largest ladyfish and first-ever flounder on fly. In all, Honaker caught and released at least 20 trout.

Chris Bentsen of Redmond, Wash., wanted to target redfish on fly – and he did. We didn’t encounter any large fish, but he did land a 16-incher on one of his spoon flies near Buttonwood Harbor. Bentsen probably could have caught a decent amount of spotted seatrout and ladyfish, but opted to concentrate on redfish.

Dave Sutton of Michigan joined me for a freshwater outing. He wanted to target big bluegill on fly rod. We selected the Manatee River and launched at Ray’s Canoe Outpost. The day wasn’t fast and furious, but it was steady. We caught 25 bluegill to 10 inches on poppers, nymphs and my Myakka Minnow. We also landed a couple of bass to 1 ½ pounds.

Wind has been problem. That’s to be expected. It’s March! However, determined anglers can still catch fish.

Fishing with Bruce Butler of Ozello, Fla., we caught and released snook to 32 inches, spotted seatrout to 19 and a number of small redfish on CAL Jigs and paddle tails.

Regular client John Garrity and his son joined me on a windy day along east Sarasota Bay. The wind wasn’t too bad when we started and wasn’t expected to kick up until early afternoon. We figured we could get out, fish and beat the wind. But it started blowing much earlier than predicted.

What to do?

We anchored on the lee side of an island along Bowles Creek. We fished the channel and landed spotted seatrout, sugar trout, silver trout, Spanish mackerel and flounder. The flounder was the largest I have seen in a quite a while.

All fish came on CAL Jigs.

There has been quite a bit of interest in my Everglades trips. Unfortunately, I have decided not to book any – at least for this year. Last year’s cold weather killed a majority of the exotics – oscar and Mayan cichlid. We could catch plenty of bass, bluegill, stumpknocker, shellcracker and speckled perch, but we can catch those species closer to home.

We might start doing Everglades trips in 2012.

Beach snook fishing is just around the corner. We start walking the beaches and sight-fishing the surf for snook in May. The season runs through August.

On most mornings, my clients will see at least 300 snook, with many going more than 20 pounds.

We use 6-, 7- and 8-weight fly rods, sinktip or full floating lines and 12-pound leaders with 25- to 30-pound shock tippets. Fly of choice is Gibby’s D.T. Variation, the only fly you’ll ever need in the surf.

This is classic sight-fishing at its best.

Last year was expected to be down because of the snook kill caused during the 2010 winter. But the numbers of snook along the beach weren’t down at all in the areas we fish.

If you’re interested in a beach snook outing, I’d suggest you book your trip early in order to get prime times. Cost is $200. I will take an extra angler for $35.

I supply all fly gear, but you’re certainly more than welcome to use your own.

Steve Gibson

Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing

(941) 284-3406

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