Saturday, June 8, 2013

Casey Gawthrop shows off the first of many redfish he caught from Sarasota Bay.

(NOTE: This is an article I wrote for

 "Slow down, you move too fast ... "

Those lyrics from Simon and Garfunkle's 59th Street Bridge Song (1966) are certainly apropos when it comes to fishing.

I've spent most of my life on the water and the biggest mistake I see is people fishing way too fast.

What's the hurry?

Realize I'm a full-time kayak-fishing guide ( in Sarasota, Fla. Since all I have is paddle power, I can't get anywhere fast. So, I'm forced to fish slowly.

It pays handsome dividends.

A couple of weeks ago, I was fishing Buttonwood Harbor off Sarasota Bay when I witnessed a fellow kayak angler scurrying about like a rat sniffing for the elusive cheese. His kayak not only was equipped with a pedal system, but also an electric trolling motor.

He was here, there and everywhere in just a matter of minutes.

I didn't think anything about it until I got back to the launch spot. He was putting his kayak atop his vehicle as I paddled up.

"How'd you do?" I asked.

"Terrible. Caught a small trout and a pinfish," he said. "Been that way for me lately."

I understood. The fellow fished so fast there was no way he could figure out patterns or what the fish were doing.

While he was struggling to catch fish, I was doing quite well. I fished one grass edge for a couple of hours and landed 22 spotted seatrout to 21 inches and a 26-inch redfish. I moved atop a nearby flat and landed a trio of reds to 27 inches and a fat, 28-inch snook on a topwater plug.

And I caught bluefish, Spanish mackerel, pompano, jack crevalle and a few more trout over some deep grass patches before I decided to call it day.

Scoreboard: Me 39, Mr. Speedy 2.

The result had little to do with fishing skill. I'm sure my associate in the "go-fast" kayak had the necessary attributes to catch fish.

But it had everything to do with speed. He was fishing way too fast.

My approach goes back to my bass-fishing days when I was into tournaments. My philosophy was that if I was "on" fish, I wasn't going to leave them. Many days, I'd pound a grass edge or other area for hours at a time.

I see saltwater anglers catch a fish and never slow down. Five minutes after they land a nice red, snook or trout, they're a few hundred yards down the bay.

If there's one redfish on the flat or along the mangroves, there are likely others. So, I continue to work the area after I land a fish.

And many times it pays off in additional bounty.

There are reasons fish hold in certain area. It can be because of the cover (mangroves, grass, san d holes). It can be because of a food source.

When I paddle onto a flat, I look for signs of life: mullet, baitfish, crabs, stingrays. If that quartet is present, it's likely I'll find predator fish. If there are no mullet, baitfish, crabs or stingrays, I'll move on.

And I'll keep moving until I find the right area.

But when I do, you can be that I'll slow down.

After all, my slogan for success always has been to slow down for fast action.

Try it.

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