Sunday, February 2, 2014

Fish cooperated in January -- despite wind and cold

Fly fisher John Garcia had a field day, catching spotted seatrout like the one he's holding.
January fishing was good when the weather allowed us to get out. Wind, rain and cold were the culprits.

When cold weather hits (it occasionally does in Florida), I like to head for Palma Sola Bay. Spotted seatrout there will drop into deeper channels and are usually in good numbers.

I fished there on an exploratory trip and did well. Using the new VuDu Shrimp from Egret Baits ( is Many, La., I caught a load of spotted seatrout and flounder. You can read my review of VuDu Shrimp at

I took John Mallia and Jim Hoffman of New York to Palma and we had a blast. We totaled 60 spotted seatrout and a 20 flounder. We also managed a few ladyfish, sugar trout and a Spanish  mackerel. We used D.O.A. CAL Jigs with gold and copper crush paddle tails and VuDu Shrimp.

Speaking of Spanish mackerel  ...

We had good numbers of large Spanish mackerel in Sarasota Bay most of the month. I figured they would leave during the cold weather, but they didn't. Neither did the bluefish. Perhaps both species willl still around through spring?

John Mallia joined me for a trip on the Myakka River and we did so-so. We totaled four snook to 26 inches, a pair of spotted gar, a channel catfish and four ladyfish. We also jumped a small tarpon, but it threw the hook at the kayak. All fish were taken on MirrOlure Lil Johns on light jig heads.

Myakka River fishing has been down this year in comparison with past years. I'm not sure how the latest cold front affected the snook, but I'm hoping it pushed a bunch up the river. Snook are not very tolerant of cold water and will move into freshwater rivers and creeks in search of warmer water.

Fly fisher John Garcia of San Francisco and I fished Palma Sola Bay and did well. John caught a load of spotted seatrout and ladyfish on brown Clouser Deep Minnows. We also caught a few flounder and ladyfish.

Patrick O'Connor of Rotonda and I drove to the St. Johns River where we joined Dee Kaminski of Reel Kayak Charters out of Melbourne Beach for a day of shad fishing. American shad migrate up the river from the Atlantic Ocean annually to spawn. They usually show up in December, with the peak fishing being January and February.

Patrick and I had never caught a shad, so this was a "bucket-list" trip for both of us. We can cross shad off the list. On the day, we totaled 40 shad to 4.25 pounds, 10 speckled perch to 13 1/2 inches, a bluegill and a small bass. Patrick and Dee used small jigs on light spinning rods. I used a pink-and-white Kiptail Clouser on a 6-weight fly rod. I also used a chartreuse-and-pink shad fly on a 4-weight fly rod with a full-sinking line.

We fished in cold and rainy conditions, but it was worth it. When you're catching fish, you forget about the nasty weather.

February is booking up pretty well, with quite a few trips already arranged.

I anticipate good action on spotted seatrout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, jack crevalle, flounder, redfish and ladyfish throughout Sarasota Bay. Snook action could be good at night around lighted docks.

In fresh water, I expect decent action on big bluegill, channel catfish, speckled perch and shellcracker on Lake Manatee, Manatee River and upper Myakka River.

Looking down the road, I expect the best redfish action in March and April.

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing

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