Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer heat didn't deter the action for snook, trout, redfish or shark

This Tampa Bay bull shark towed the author's NuCanoe Frontier for quite a while.
The summer heat usually doesn't have an adverse effect on fishing. In fact, it often results in good action.

A small snook caught fly fishing in the surf.
We switched out location somewhat, spending a majority of our time in southern Tampa Bay.

First, however, we took a break and spent a week in Michigan. Kathy and I rented a waterfront house on Diamond Lake near White Cloud, Mich. The weather was wonderful, with lows in the 50 and highs in the 70s.

Fishing was superb in the lake. I fly fished several mornings and evenings and caught a variety of fish: largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, yellow perch and crappie. I caught fish on poppers, Myakka Minnows (yes, the Myakka Minnow works outside of Florida) and nymphs.

I spent several mornings on the nearby Muskegon River. Following the advice I received from the staff at the Muskegon River Fly Shop in Newaygo.
The author with a Tampa Bay topwater snook.

I'm not a very adept at cold-water trout, having spent a majority of my life in Florida. But I'm not adverse to asking for guidance.

The folks at the fly shop set me up with a good selection of flies and gave me a few locations to try.

I did pretty good, catching and releasing a good number of rainbow trout and brown trout.

It was a much-needed elixir.

If you're ever in that neck of the woods, take time to visit the Muskegon River Fly Shop, 8382 Mason Dr., Newaygo, Mich. Phone number is (231) 652-5386.

On our last night in Michigan, we got to watch our beloved Tampa Bay Rays beat the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. The Rays took three of four on the road against the Tigers.

I was on the water the first morning after returning to Florida. I launched on Tampa Bay and caught a variety of fish. I started out before daylight, casting a Zara Super Spook Jr. in the backcountry. I caught spotted seatrout, redfish and a number of snook.

Snook action has been the best bet in the backcountry. Most of the fish have been 25 inches or less. However, there are some larger fish around. I hooked a snook I estimated at 15 pounds, but lost it when the fish wore through the 20-pound shock leader.

I found a couple of schools of redfish on successive days in front of Joe Island. The first day, I caught and released three oversized reds on topwater plugs before losing the school. I caught one red the second day.

In addition, I managed jack crevalle, mangrove snapper, ladyfish and cobia along the sand bar in front of Joe Bay.

The real news is the shark action in Tampa Bay. There are good numbers of blacktip, spinner and bull sharks in the bay.

Shark fishing from a kayak is a thrilling experience. We stress safety and won't hesitate to cut the line if we sense any danger.

Most of the time, we encounter blacktip and spinner sharks from 20 to 50 pounds. Every once in a while, we'll hook up a larger shark that is more than we choose to handle.

Beach snook action really improved during July. I took Mike Hodges of Tampa out twice and we encountered a number of fish.

Hodge has walked the beaches of Pinellas County on several occasions without great results. He said there's "no comparison" between the beaches of Sarasota County and those further north.

On the first outing, we combined for 12 snook. That's a decent number, but not all that impressive. The highlight of the outing was a hefty snook that ate Hodge's fly. As Hodge was trying to set the hook, the big girl (we estimated her at more than  15 pounds) suddenly took off and broke the 20-pound leader.

We returned to the same spot a couple of days later and didn't fare as well. We landed four of the 10 small snook we hooked.

For this activity, we use 7-weight fly rods, floating or sinktip lines, 20-pound shock leader and D.T. Variation flies.

I anticipate very good snook action along the beaches in August.

This is a sight-fishing endeavor and very exciting.

Night snook action also should be good around lighted docks.

We also spent a morning on the Braden River, casting poppers and nymphs for bluegill. But the action was very slow. We caught and released about a dozen panfish. Surprisingly, bass were not cooperative.

AUGUST FORECAST: We look for increased redfish action on the flats of Sarasota Bay and Tampa Bay. The oversized fish should start schooling up in preparation for their annual spawning migration. The big schoolers will hit most anything cast their way, including flies, spoons, jigs and topwater plugs. Spotted seatrout, jack crevalle, ladyfish, bluefish, flounder and mangrove snapper should be plentiful along the flats. Shark action should continue good around southern Tampa Bay and at Fort DeSoto.

If you're worried about the heat, don't fret. We get out on the water early and usually are finished by mid-day.

August fishing signals the start of excellent action. Please feel free to give me a call or email me at your convenience.

I was fortunate enough to attend ICAST in Orlando. The show is where all the associated fishing businesses unveil their new products for the upcoming year. I worked the NuCanoe booth for a couple of days.

I was in the company NuCanoe owner Blake Young and Pro Staffers Joe Mahler, Drei Stroman and Danny Barker.

If you get the chance to check out a NuCanoe, please do yourself a favor. You can read out NuCane here:


You can visit the NuCanoe website at

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing

(941) 284-3406

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