Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fishing was far from dry during wet September

Bob Parrish of Plant city caught this redfish on a MirrOlure Top Dog while fishing around Buttonwood Harbor.

Fall is our favorite time to fish along southwest Florida.

It's a time when a wide variety of fish are available in Sarasota Bay, surrounding salt waters and area 
Parrish also landed some nice bluefish.
freshwater lakes and rivers.

September, one of the wettest months we've had in quite a while, was a month of diversity. Anglers fishing with me caught a plethora of species, including spotted seatrout, snook, redfish, flounder, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, permit, flounder, ladyfish, blacktip shark and bonnethead shark.

Dave Cyr, a repeat client from Maine, got things started off on a fine note. We fished the Buttonwood Harbor area off Sarasota Bay and did well. We totaled 40 spotted seatrout to 21 inches, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, jack crevalle and mangrove snapper. Most of the fish were caught on MirrOlure MirrOdines and D.O.A. CAL Jigs with gold paddle tails.

Mike Esposito of Kentucky battles a blacktip shark.
Dr. Everett Howell of Nashville, Tenn.,  had a decent outing in the same area. We managed 25 trout to 20 inches, jack crevalle, mangrove snapper and a redfish on MirrOdines, jigs and D.O.A. Deadly Combinations.

Bob Parrish of Plant City received a four-hour kayak fishing trip from his dad. But the action was good enough that he increased it to a six-hour outing. Parrish caught redfish to 28 inches, trout to 23, bluefish, ladyfish, jack crevalle, flounder and a bonnethead shark. He used MirrOdines and D.O.A. CAL Jigs.

Michael Esposito  of Louisville, Ky., fished Buttonwood Harbor and had a tough but rewarding day. Even though the fish weren't exactly jumping in the kayak, he caught trout to 18 inches, jack crevalle, ladyfish,  mangrove snapper and a blacktip shark on D.O.A. Deadly Combinations and MirrOlure MirrOdines.

Dr. Everett Howell of Tennessee enjoys the morning action.
Steve Manning of Sarasota joined me for a trip to Tampa Bay. We caught 40 spotted seatrout to 19 inches on MirrOdines and D.O.A. CAL Jigs. We also landed a pair of blacktip sharks.

Vinny Caruso of Bradenton fished with me on a number of occasions. We targeted sharks in Tampa Bay. Using live ladyfish, dead ladyfish, pinfish and bonito strips, we hooked a number of sharks over three outings and landed blacktip sharks to 50 pounds. We had 21 pickups over the three trips and landing a half dozen fish. In addition, we caught spotted seatrout, mangrove snapper, jack crevalle, Spanish mackerel and mangrove snapper while waiting for sharks to home in on our baits.

On our first trip to Tampa bay, we landed snook to 25 inches, flounder to 21, 15 trout to 18, ladyfish and gag grouper. We also encountered a bunch of sharks, but didn't have the tackle to handle them.

I fished a few different areas on scouting trips. I tried the Vamo area of Little Sarasota Bay and caught snook and spotted seatrout on MirrOlure Top Dogs and MirrOlure Lil Johns on light jig heads.

We had record amounts of rain during September. Although we needed the precipitation, we're hoping that October is just a little drier!

We're looking for good action in October. Redfish and snook should please on the flats. Spotted seatrout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, pompano, ladyfish and jack crevalle are expected to cooperate over deeper grass in four to six feet of water.

Shark action should continue strong in Tampa Bay until the first cool snap.

October is a great month to fish. It's one of my favorites times to be on the water.

If you're interested in a fun day on the water, please give me a call or shoot me an email.

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Parrish has a pretty good day of kayak fishing on Sarasota Bay

Bob Parrish of Plant City gets ready to land a bonnethead shark while fishing on Sarasota Bay.
Bob Parrish of Plant City, Fla., experienced his first kayak fishing trip with me. He'd fished from a kayak on an occasion or two, but never with me.

Parrish landed a 28-inch redfish.
He had quite a day.

The morning began when we found a school of bull redfish on a flat along the west side of Sarasota Bay. We were able to coax a 28-inch red out of the school. The big fish blasted a topwater plug on the second twitch.

We found the school a second time, but a long cast against a stiff east breeze prevented us from reaching the fish.

We then moved out to deep grass and had a blast, catching spotted seatrout to 23 inches, bluefish to 5 pounds, flounder, mangrove snapper, jack crevalle, ladyfish and bonnethead shark. We caught a few other species that gave us 13 different types of fish on the day.

Big blues are busting lures around Sarasota Bay.
Most of the fish came on D.O.A. CAL Jigs with gold or copper crush paddle tails. We also caught fish on MirrOlure MirrOdines.

Our modus operandi was to anchor (the wind was too much to drift) and fish an area until the action slowed. We'd then only move 20 or 30 feet and re-anchor.

The action was consistent.

Parrish came within a hooked snook of a Sarasota Bay Slam (redfish, seatrout and snook). But he couldn't quite get the hook set after the fish blasted his topwater plug.

Fishing in Sarasota Bay is getting better by the day. I'm looking forward to October and November, which traditionally are great months in the bay.

To book a trip, please call me (Steve Gibson) at 941284-3406 or email me at

Visit my website:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Shark fishing has been hot on Tampa Bay

The author battles a blacktip shark from his Jackson Kayak Cuda 14 on Tampa Bay. (Photo by Steve Manning)
I've been thinking about fishing for sharks from my kayak for quite a while. It was just a thought until Vinny Caruso and I visited Tampa Bay a couple of weeks ago.
A small blacktip during the fight.

We didn't plan to fish for sharks; it just happned.

We'd caught some nice flounder, snook, spotted seatrout and ladyfish when we first encountered the sharks. The toothy critters not only were hitting our MirrOlure Lil Johns on light jig heads, but also intercepting our hooked ladyfish.

So that got the proverbial lightbulbs burning in our heads.

We planned to purposely fish for sharks the next time we visited the bay.

I read up on shark fishing in Tampa Bay and found out it's one of the top bodies of water in the world in which to shark fish. You'll most likely encounter blacktip sharks, bull sharks, bonnethead sharks and maybe even a hammerhead. And there are some lesser-known species in the bay.

We encountered bulls and blacktips. And that was plenty of fun.
The battle in nearly  at end.

The next time I visited the bay, I tried shark fishing for about 45 minutes. I hooked three sharks on live pinfish and landed two. Both were blacktips. One was about 15 pounds. The other I estimated at 30.

When Vinny and I fished the bay a few days later, I hooked a much larger shark, but lost it after it peeled off about 150 yards of line.

We hooked five sharks, but landed just one. Vinny landed a 20 pound blacktip on light tackle. He used half a ladyfish.

That trip resulted in slower action. The only thing I can figure is that tide wasn't quite right. Our best results have taken place on a strong incoming tide. The action slows on the outgoing.

For shark fishing, you'll needed a rod and reel capable of handling these toothy critters. Since there are sharks that will reach six feet in length or more, I use a 7-foot Redbone rod with a Shimano TLD 20 conventional reel. I use 30-pound PowerPro braided line, 60-pound wire leader and a 7-0 circle hook.

When the action is going on, it usually doesn't take long to hook up.

Because I have detachable anchors on my kayaks, it's best to release the anchor when you hook a shark. That way, you can go on a "sleighride." The sharks will actually tow your kayak around the bay.

Since we don't plan to kill sharks, we carry wire cutters and cut the leader near the hook once we get the sharks to the boat. That way, the shark can swim off no worse for the wear.

Our top bait is a live ladyfish. Usually there are plenty out there and they're easy to catch on light tackle.

If the ladyfish is too big, you can simply cut it in half and toss it out.

Pinfish and grunts also work well.

I haven't done any chumming, yet. But that might change if the going gets tough.

As far as I can tell, shark fishing remains strong during the warmer months. And in Florida, that's May through September.

It will be a while before I started offering shark charters. I want to know the ins and outs of the sport. I want to give clients the ultimate shark experience. I plan to iron out all the kinks before hand.

If you're into shark fishing, keep it in mind. Let me know and we can book a shark trip for next summer.

No doubt it will be an outing that you'll never forget!

The Cool-Cat Pro is a must for outdoor enthusiasts

I tried a Cool-Cat Pro the other day. I'm glad I did.

The Cool-Cat is made by really cool cats up in Georgia -- Matt and Carolyn Womack. The Cool-Cat Pro basically is sun protection for the face, neck and head if you're out on the water. It has other uses, but you can visit Cool Cat's website:
Cool-Cats' Matt and Carolyn Womack

I wear lots of sun protection when I'm on the water. I wear a cap or hat (I love my new Tilley Hat), sunglasses, sunscreen and my new Cool-Cat Pro. I also wear gloves to keep the  back of my hands from getting weathered and sunburned.

But we're discussing the Cool-Cat Pro here, so we'll stick to the topic.

I have a white Cool-Cat and a gray Cool Cat. The company offers several other colors, including  orange, blue, yellow, pink and black. I'd be interested in Cool-Cats with some sort of outdoor-oriented pattern, but that's not offered -- yet.

I just slip my Cool-Cat Pro on before I leave the house and I'm good for the day. If the sun is particularly brutal (which it often is here in Florida), I can pull it up over my face to give myself some extra protection. They're made of polyester micro-fiber and carry a UPF 30 ratings. What that rating means is that you will be protected 30 times longer than if you went out unprotected.

The Cool-cat also has snaps on the back which can be used to tighten it up when folded and used as a headband or wristband. It's the only gaiter that comes with snaps as far as I know.

We don't have to worry about cold weather much in Florida, but in those rare instances we can pull the Cool-Cat Pro up over our face to provide some warmth. I remember my days in bass tournaments, running 60 miles per hour in the stinging cold.

I do all of my fishing from a kayak these days, so I don't think I'll have that problem again.
Women love Cool-Cats because they can be used as a head cover or head band.

The possibilities are limitless.

Do yourself a favor. Get yourself a Cool-Cat Pro . You'll protect skin and you'll be glad you did!