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