Sunday, April 29, 2012

Redfish, snook make a strong showing in April

Sue Swett is a happy camper after landing this fine Sarasota Bay redfish on a topwater plug.
The fishing pattern changed just as expect.

We transitioned from large trout to large redfish. The reds are on the flats and blasting topwater plugs, D.O.A. CAL Jerk Worms and gold spoons. Best time to hunt for reds is just as the tide begins to rise – either early or late in the day.

We’re still picking up a few large trout, but not nearly as many as in February and March. The largest trout are hanging out in sand holes at low tide and hitting D.O.A. CAL Jigs, Live Target Scaled Sardines, D.O.A. 4-inch jerk worms or topwater plugs.

Top spots include Buttonwood Harbor, Whale Key , White Key and Long Bar in Sarasota Bay.

Veteran angler Jeff Connor of Sarasota had a fair day early in the month. Connor wanted to target redfish. We totaled four reds to 28 inches on topwater plugs and gold spoons at various spots around Buttonwood Harbor. We also caught a few incidental spotted seatrout.

Annie Ewert and Lisi Ewert of Connecticut caught a mess of smaller trout on CAL Jigs and gold paddle tails just south of Whale Key. Annie caught and released a 24-inch red on a gold spoon just north of Whale Key.

The rim canal along Longboat Key has been yielding spotted seatrout, snook, flounder, sugar trout, silver trout, croaker and whiting.

Fly angler Terry Rychlik of Connecticut got in some night snook action near Bowles Creek and managed to release a 22-inch snook. He had shots at several others, but didn’t connect. After daylight, he caught and released a 23-inch snook and 10 spotted seatrout to 17 inches on a Puglisi Fly.

Night snook action has been good when the tides are strong. We’ve been catching and releasing up to 10 snook per out, along with a number of spotted seatrout. At dawn, we paddle out to a nearby flat where we’ve been getting snook to 32 inches and a load of spotted seatrout to 21.

Brad Cox of Sarasota and Sean O’Connell of Minnesota joined me for an afternoon outing at Buttowood Harbor. We caught and released 25 spotted seatrout to 22 inches, ladyfish, small jacks and a couple of flounder.

The next day, Yvette Cooley and Sue Swett of Parrish enjoyed their first kayak fishing trip. Action was slow and we had to work hard. We caught and released 15 spotted seatrout to 19 inches, 2 flounder, several ladyfish, jack crevalle and bonnethead shark. The best fish of the day was a 29-inch redfish that Sue landed. The fish hit a topwater plug in Buttonwood Harbor.

Yvette tried the topwater plug and had a number of fish follow and blast the plug, but she didn’t connect.

I’m offering night snook trips and combined night snook/dawn flats trips. It’s great for those looking for their first snook and for fly anglers.

Also, I’m going to get out on the beach this week to look for snook in the surf. I specialize in guiding anglers to some of the best sight-fishing for snook along Florida’s west coast.

I would like to thank my sponsors: Native Watercraft, D.O.A. Lures, Aqua-Bound Paddles, Temple Fork Outfitters, Economy Tackle/Dolphin Dive and Peak Fishing.

If you're on Facebook, please send a friend request. Also, follow me on Twitter @gibby3474.

Steve Gibson

Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing

(941) 284-3406

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Southern Drawl now offering night snook outings

George Scott of Massachusetts used a small shrimp pattern to fool this fine snook.

We’re now offering night snook trips at Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing.

It’s a fun way to catch fish – especially for those who have never caught a snook.

Last summer, Dr. Randy Ruskey of Illinois caught his largest snook ever while fly fishing for snook around lighted docks with me. Just a few days ago, Terry Rychlik of Connecticut caught his first snook on fly with me. George Scott of Massachusetts caught several nice snook while fly fishing at night with me.

Sometimes, it’s very easy: Just get your fly in the vicinity. Other times, its can be difficult, requiring pinpoint accuracy and extreme patience.

It’s all up to the snook.

I’m fishing a spot with plenty of light docks. Snook gather around the light to dine on shrimp and minnows. They’re usually voracious and quite willing to gobble up any fly tossed their way.

I went out alone recently and hooked and landed six snook to 28 inches. I also hooked and landed four spotted seatrout to 18 inches.

Ten fish hooked. Ten fish landed.

Doesn’t get much better!

For this type of fishing, I suggest an 8-weight fly rod with a floating line and 9-foot leader. Fly of choice is a small (No. 4 or 6) shrimp or baitfish imitation in white. The fly doesn’t have to be fancy at all.

In addition to snook, we sometimes get redfish, ladyfish and small tarpon. You just never know.

Guided night snook trips can be combined with daylight excursions. For example, could start at 4 a.m. and fish the docks until daylight. Then, we’ll head out on the nearby flats to fish for trout, snook, redfish and other species.

Or you can simply book a night snook outing.

Night snook trips are 4- or 6-hours. Four-hour sessions are $200. Six-hour outings are $250.

The average snook is about 22 inches. They do run smaller, but they also run larger. We’ve taken snook in excess of 30 inches.

For some reason, they seem to fight better in the dark.

It can be quite a chore to keep the snook from pulling your kayak under the docks. You have to learn to hold the rod in one hand and back-paddle with the other. You need to “pull” the snook away from the structure.

One important key is to be able to cast on a low trajectory to get the fly under the dock. To do this, you must alter your casting plane to total sidearm. You can’t get the fly under a dock using the traditional overhand casting plane.

Of course, it’s better to practice sidearm casting before you get on the water. It can be pretty tough to learn when there are a dozen hungry fish waiting for your fly.

Sidearm casting is pretty easy to learn and a very valuable skill.

Night snook fishing is good during stronger tides. The fish are usually available year-round. Only extreme cold weather shuts the fishery down.

Recently, we’ve been getting out on the water around 4 a.m. and fishing until dawn. We head for the nearby flats are first light to cast for trout, snook and other species. Rychlik caught snook and several nice trout on his outing.

If you’re interested in a night snook trip, please contact me at (941) 284-3406.

You won’t regret it!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Big trout, snook and redfish make March a successful month

Mark Fleischhauer of Illinois shows off one of many spotted seatrout that he caught while drifting Sarasota Bay.
Big spotted seatrout, fly-rod Slams and great weather highlighted March for clients of Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing.

Spotted seatrout action continued hot and heavy as large fish dominated the totals. Best day came on March 9 when I caught four trout over 6 pounds, including fish of 9, 8 ½, 7 ¼ and 6 ½ pounds. It was the best day of trout fishing I’ve ever experienced. All fish were caught on the MirrOlure MirrOdine, a suspending twitch bait that resembles a scaled sardine. In addition, I caught a pair of redfish.

Mark Allen, a beginning fly fisher from Minnetonka, Minn., had a fun day early in the month. He connected on a large ladyfish on his second cast. It was his first saltwater fish on fly. He later added a 23-inch seatrout. In addition, we caught a pair of pompano, flounder and a small shark. We were fishing the Buttonwood Harbor area of Sarasota Bay.

Denton Kent, a winter resident from Washington D.C., did well on a 6-hour outing. Using a fly rod, Kent managed trout to 18 inches and several ladyfish on Clouser Deep Minnows and Gibby’s Big Eye Baitfish. Buttonwood Harbor was the spot.

George Scott of Concord, Mass., joined me for three days of mostly fly fishing. On Day I, we fished Buttonwood Harbor. Scott caught spotted seatrout, redfish and flounder on Clouser Deep Minnows, Gibby’s Big Eye Baitfish and Dupree Spoon Flies.

On Day II, we fished dock lights along the east side of Sarasota Bay. Scott caught snook to 26 inches and seatrout to 16 on Gurglers and Norm Ziegler’s Shminnow. After daylight, we fished up the east side of the bay to north of Long Bar and caught trout to 18 inches, flounder and ladyfish.

Day III saw Scott get his fly-rod slam. He got a pair of snook to 25 inches on Schminnows under the lights. He hooked a couple of others, but lost them. He then cast at tailing redfish for the second day in a row, but couldn’t entice a strike.

We then paddled south and Scott caught a number of seatrout and a small redfish to complete the slam.

Catching a redfish on fly is one of the most challenging feats in fly fishing the salt around Sarasota. Most of the year, catching a red on fly is much tougher than catching a bonefish on fly in the Keys. I advise fly anglers to dedicate their day to fishing for reds. If they get one, it’s a good day.

There are days, however, when the reds are plentiful and hit any fly. But those days are rare.

I began experimenting with a new lure and it paid off on big trout. I found the new Live Target Scaled Sardine (suspending model) is a great twitch bait. I caught at least 20 trout from 4 to 6 pounds on the lure.

Mark Fleischhauer and his son, Matt, joined me for an outing. I’ve fished the duo for the last three years and enjoy taking them out. They’re from Illinois and don’t get the opportunity to fish saltwater very often.

We started near the launch at Buttonwood Harbor and caught trout to 5 pounds, flounder and ladyfish. We then paddled to the Buttonwood channel and caught a load of trout to 18 inches on D.O.A. CAL Jigs with gold or copper crush paddle tails.

We then switched to Whale Key. That’s where Matt landed a 4 ½-pound trout on a CAL Jig. When the action slowed, we moved to Helicopter Shoal and caught a number of trout to 5.5 pounds on CAL Jigs, Live Target Scaled Sardines and D.O.A. Deadly Combinations.

Stephen and Amy Voigt of Sarasota fished the last day of March in trying conditions. The wind was predicted to blow 5-6 mph out of the southwest. But the wind didn’t read the forecast. It blew 12-15.

We still caught fish. Stephen landed trout to 19 inches. Amy got trout and ladyfish. We also caught flounder.

I look for large trout to continue to cooperate. This game is best played when wading. We’ll paddle to the spot, then get out and wade.

When wading, proper footwear is imperative. Sandals definitely don’t cut it. Tennis shoes are the ticket. I like wading boots that are built for the purpose. They eliminate sand and shell in your show and don’t pull off in soft mud.

Night snook outings should come on strong. You can book a night of snook fishing or make it a night-day combination, fishing the lights for a couple of hours and then getting in on the dawn action in the bay.

And don’t forget the ever-popular beach snook trips. I’m starting to book up. Snook are showing up along the beach, but the action should heat up in May. These are walking trips and totally sight-fishing. On most outings, you’ll get to cast to at least 200 snook, some as large as 25 pounds.

I’d like to thank my sponsors: Native Watercraft, Temple Fork Outfitters, Aqua-Bound and D.O.A. Lures.

Friend me on Facebook. You can also get up-to-the-minute fishing reports by following me on Twitter @gibby3474.

Steve Gibson

Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing

(941) 284-3406