Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sarasota Bay yields record trout day for this writer

This monster seatrout weighed in at 9 pounds and was 29 inches in length. The fish was caught on a MirrOlure MirrOdine.

Give credit to the kayak.

I discovered the mother lode of large spotted seatrout on an outing back in November as I was slowly poling along a grass edge in Sarasota Bay. As I was pushing my Native Watercraft Ultimate 14.5 down the edge, I noticed large seatrout.

A friend of mine in his 18-foot flats skiff was in the area, so I didn’t want to fish just then. I sat down and paddle off to another spot.

A couple of hours later, I returned. Casting a MirrOlure MirrOdine, I caught and released 17 spotted seatrout from 2 to 5 pounds. That’s a great catch anywhere.

I talked with my friend later that day and told him about the trout.

“Yeah,” he said, “we saw them, but we couldn’t get them to hit a thing.”

That’s pretty typical when you’re talking kayak vs. skiff. The stealthiness of the kayak usually wins every time. Those trout didn’t even know I was there.

The big trout have been in that spot since October. My clients and I have been catching and releasing large trout over the past 5 months. Jason Beary from Warren, Pa., had a good day with me the last week of December, catching trout to 4 pounds on MirrOdines.

Bill Koenemann of Fort Wayne, Ind., had a good day on big trout. Dick Combs of Bartow, Fla., didn’t land any monsters, but did catch five trout of more than 4 pounds.

Wade Collier of Longboat caught a 5-pounder – the largest trout of his life.

I’ve caught a number of trout, including a 6-pounder. But I knew there were larger trout at the spot. I hooked a monster on the last trip of a recent outing, but lost the trout when the hooks pulled after a 3-minute battle.

The heaviest spotted seatrout I’ve even caught was a 6 ½-pounder. I caught that fish in March of 2007 in Pine Island Sound. I used a jerk worm on a slightly-weighted hook.

A year ago, Chuck Linn of Oklahoma caught three monster trout in one morning. They ranged in size from 6 ¼ to slightly more than 7 pounds.

That, I told him, was the catch of a lifetime.

“We don’t catch three trout that size in year … let alone in one morning,” I said. “Make sure you buy a Lottery ticket on your way home.”

I had the catch of a lifetime on March 11. And it was almost by accident. I’d caught and released five redfish to 26 inches the day prior and I planned to target them again. But, as I always say, you can’t predict what’s going to happen on any trip by what took place the day prior.

I caught reds, but only two. And they were small, 15 and 18 inches.

So, I changed plans. I paddled to my big trout spot, anchored the kayak and got out. I began wading and casting a MirrOdine on a light spinning rod.

Didn’t take long before a monster trout grabbed the lure. I could tell this was no ordinary trout as it took line and made runs.

I backed the drag off. You don’t want a tight drag because that often will rip the hooks right out of a trout’s tender mouth.

When I finally saw the fish, I could hardly believe what I saw. It was the monster I’ve been look for in my 41 years in Florida.

I carefully slipped the Boga-Grip into the trout’s mouth and then removed the hooks. The fish measured 29 inches and weighed 9 pounds.

It was by far the largest trout I’ve ever caught.

After releasing the fish (it swam off right away), I began fishing again. Ten minutes later, I hooked another monster. I didn’t figure it was as large as the first, but it was hefty.

But when I got the first glimpse of the fish, I could see it was another impressive trout. This one was 28.5 inches and weight 8 ½ pounds.

I caught two more impressive trout, a 7 ¾-pounder and a paltry 6 ¼-pounder.

I’m not sure what’s going on, but it just might be an upswing in the cycle. A friend of mine caught a trout weighing more than 9 pounds a day earlier.

I believe I found a spot that is attractive to big trout. There’s a shallow, grassy flat where they can search for food. There’s deep water immediately off the edge for safety. The area also features a lot of bait and plenty of cover.

I think the trout must spawn in the area. The big fish that my clients and I have been catching are fat and full of roe.

The three monster trout Chuck Linn caught on March 24, 2011 were very thin and obviously roed out. What I caught were pre-span trout. Linn caught post-spawners.

No matter. The area obviously is a haven for big trout. It has been producing even since I found the fish last October.

The best days seem to be those in which there’s a low tide or negative low tide at daylight. The fish hit during the first few hours of the incoming tide.

I look for more big trout action throughout this month. I addition, redfish, flounder, pompano, bluefish and Spanish mackerel should cooperate.

It’s a great spot.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

February was gator trout month around Sarasota Bay

Dick Combs of Bartow, Fla., shows off one of the many 'gator' trout caught by Southern Drawl clients in February.

February was gator trout month around Sarasota Bay. Southern Drawl Kayak

Fishing clients caught a number of spotted seatrout to 25 inches or more.

Steve Coates had a good outing on Sarasota Bay. We totaled 30 trout to 5 pounds, 2 flounder and a pompano on MirrOlure MirrOdines and D.O.A. CAL Jigs with gold and copper crush paddle tails. Most of the fish came just south of Whale Key on the edge of a grass flat.

Fly fisher Dick Badman of Pennsylvania did well in the same area. We caught and released 30 trout from 2 to 5 pounds on Clouser Deep Minnows, MirrOlure MirrOdines and CAL Jigs. We also managed flounder and ladyfish.

Bill Koenemann of Fort Wayne, Ind., fished the same area with good results. We totaled 30 spotted seatrout to 6 pounds on MirrOdines worked along grass edges.

Jon Freyer of Ludington, Mich., had a fine trip. He landed four redfish to 28 inches, trout to 5 pounds and flounder. In addition, we caught pompano and ladyfish. Most of the fish came on D.O.A. 4-inch jerk worms on 1/16-ounce jigs head and CAL Jigs with gold or copper crush paddle tails.

Dick Badman joined me again and did fair. The action slowed down somewhat. Dick landed a number of spotted seatrout on Clouser Deep Minnows.

Daulton Roberts of Enid, Okla., a fly-fishing guide in Arkansas, had a good day, catching trout to 17 inches, flounder and pompano on Clouser Deep Minnows.

Wade Collier of Longboat Key had a monumental day, catching his largest seatrout (5 pounds) and largest flounder (22 inches) on MirrOdines and CAL Jigs.

Dick Combs of Bartow, Fla., landed five trout of more than 24 inches on MirrOdines, plus a plethora of smaller fish.

We also had a couple of trips to the Peace River. Dave Robinson of Sarasota caught snook to 26 inches, bass and gar on topwater plugs and jigs. On another trip, we landed snook to 30 inches, bass, gar and small redfish on topwater plugs and jigs.

We anticipate the large trout continuing to cooperate and will target them over the next month. In addition, we look for bluefish and Spanish mackerel to show up.

Beach snook season is fast approaching. The action should heat up in May and continue through August as snook to more than 20 pounds can be found in the surf.

The folks from Native Watercraft were in town and accompanied me on a trip on Sarasota Bay. They videoed the outing and produced a short clip on kayak fishing. Take a look at

We’re happy to announce that we’ve been added to the Pro Staff at Aqua-Bound Paddles. We really appreciate Aqua-Bound’s support.

Please visit to view their selection of great kayak paddles. For those who reside in Sarasota, you may purchase Aqua-Bound Paddles at Economy Tackle, 5018 S. Tamiami Trail.

As always, we would like to thank our sponsors: Native Watercraft, D.O.A. Lures, Peak Fishing, Aqua-Bound Paddles and Go Fish! Sportsmans Sunscreen.

Steve Gibson

Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing

(941) 284-3406