|Mark Fleischhauer of Illinois shows off one of many spotted seatrout that he caught while drifting 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.
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