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

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