Friday, May 31, 2013

May fishing was among the slowest in the history of Southern Drawl

A happy Norm Ferris shows off the first of his oversized redfish that he caught on fly rod.

May fishing might have been the worst in the history of Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing.

It was a tough month for sure.

I report this in an effort to keep things as accurate as possible. I don't think there's any benefit to exaggerating fishing reports or embellishing them to make them look good.

When the fishing's good, I will say so in my monthly reports. When it's bad, you'll get it first hand from me.

Now, this doesn't mean fishing was bad for everyone. I'm sure other anglers had decent days. I had a couple myself.

But I'm speaking overall.

The month started out well. I took fly angler Norman Ferris out on May 1. Ferris, an accomplished caster and determined angler, caught spotted seatrout, ladyfish and a pair of hefty redfish on Clouser Minnows and Dupree Spoon Flies. We fished the Buttonwood Harbor area off Sarasota Bay. Both of Ferris' redfish were 29 to 30 inches.

It wasn't the easiest day. We had to work extremely hard to succeed. We must have fished at least 10 spots before finally finding the reds. We were work our way south after spending time fishing the shallows behind White Key. When we came around the west end of Crabclaw Key, we found a lot of mullet activity on the outgoing tide. So, we anchored and began casting.

Ferris hooked up almost immediately with a 29-inch redfish. He fought the oversized redfish (maximum size limit is 27 inches) for a good while before finally getting it close enough to land.

Three casts later, he was into another oversize red. This fish might have been an inch or so larger than the first.

Redfish can be easy. They can be tough. There are days they make you look like a hero. The next you're a zero.

You'll most often find success on spinning tackle because you can make longer casts and cover more territory with a variety of lures. My favorite lures include Zara Super Spook Jrs., MirrOlure Lil Johns on light jig heads, gold Johnson Silver Minnow Spoons, D.O.A. Airheads and MirrOlure MirrOdines.

When it comes to fly fishing, anglers should consider it a good day if they hook and land one red. Anything more should be considered a bonus.

Now, that doesn't mean it's always that way. There are days when the redfish will make you think it's very easy.

My usual rig for reds when fly fishing is a 7- or 8-weight rod, full floating line and 10-foot leader. Flies of choice include DuPree Spoon Flies, Puglisi Mullet and Gibby's Duster Minnows. Clousers work well when the reds are in sand holes.

I fished southern Tampa Bay on a couple of scouting trips are did fair. I caught several nice snook and trout on topwater plugs and jigs on one trip. The next day I slammed with several decent reds, snook and trout on topwater plugs and jigs.

One of the neat things about fishing southern Tampa Bay is the expanse of sand bars which offer superb sight-fishing. You'll like encounter redfish, snook, trout and sharks on the bars. Sharks were the dominate fish on the bars during May.

My brother, Bob, and his two sons, Pat and Mike, fished with me for four days at mid-month. The trip was a graduation present for Mike, who recently received his degree from The Ohio State University.

First day we fished Buttonwood Harbor and did fair. We caught a number of spotted seatrout to 22 inches and flounder to 16. Most of the fish came on D.O.A. CAL Jigs with copper crush paddle tails.

The next day we fished the deep grass off Stephens Point in Sarasota Bay. We caught 15 trout and small flounder on CAL Jigs.

Tampa Bay was slow for us. We caught a few trout and flounder. We did have at least a dozen shots at bonnethead and blacktip sharks on the sand bars, but didn't hook up.

For our final outing, we returned to Buttonwood Harbor. We caught a variety of fish, including trout to 18 inches, flounder, bluefish, jack crevalle, ladyfish and bonnethead shark.

Paul Cannon of Utah spent a day fly fishing with me. We started out in Bowles Creek, targeting snook around dock lights.  Snook were plentiful, but finicky. Cannon, an excellent caster, caught and released a 23-incher . He hooked a couple of other snook, but lost them.

We pulled the kayaks out of the water, loaded them on the trailer and drove to the west side of the bay. We launched at Buttonwood Harbor and had a tough time. Cannon caught a few trout and ladyfish. He lost a small redfish that would have given him a Slam.

We started looking for snook in the surf. First outing along Manasota Key found the going tough. We only saw a few snook. We hooked one, but lost it. We also hooked (but lost) a hefty jack crevalle.

Next day, we walked along Casey Key. We landed a 23-inch snook and got to cast at a couple of schools of large jack crevalle.

Trevor Dean of Colorado joined me for a beach snook outing and had a few shots. O verall, we saw 20 snook. He hooked two and had another eat his fly. We used Gibby's D.T. Variation and Gibby's Snook Duster.

Beach snook action should improve as the weather and water heat up. I looked for increased numbers of snook in the surf almost daily.

I have been writing a few articles for Sport Fishing Weekly. It's a new site that you might want to check out:

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing

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