Friday, November 18, 2011

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.

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