Saturday, February 8, 2014

MirrOlures appeal to a variety of saltwater fish and are quite productive

The author used a Lil John on a 1/16-ounce jig to nab this hefty Myakka River snook.
We all have our favorite lures.

I have mine.

In fact, I could carry my arsenal of favorites in my shirt pocket.

Dave Robinson shows off his largest snook ever.
When I head for a saltwater fishing trip, I carry an assortment of MirrOlures: MirrOdines, Lil Johns and She Dogs.

That's about all I need.

I believe the MirrOdine just might be the best lure for big trout that I've ever used. In 2012, my clients and I landed 56 spotted seatrout of 5 pounds or more, including a large trout of 9 pounds. 

That might not raise eyebrows on Florida's east coast, but I consider it impressive here on the west coast.

Tarpon love Lil Johns, too!
I had a morning when the smallest trout I landed weighed 6 pounds.

I don't know what it is about the MirrOdine, but it certainly is a fish-producer.

I prefer the "mini" MirrOdines. I'm sure the smaller version was designed to be fished when the new batch of white bait shows up each year. But I've found the "mini" model works well year round. I've also taken my share of big trout on the regular model.

When I'm targeting big trout, I use a light Star spinning rod, Shimano Stradic Cl4 reel and 5-pound test PowerPro. I employ very little drag on the reel, preferring to use my fingers and palm to add drag as need. My reason for doing this is that trout have a "soft" mouth and the violent struggles of a large trout often are enough to rip the hooks right out of its mouth.
Vinny Caruso used a MirrOdine to nab this redfish.

So, I've found a soft rod, light line and light drag to be essential. It takes a soft, delicate touch when it comes to large trout.

One of the most important factors for me is to work the MirrOdine slowly. I hold my rod horizontally over the water to my left side (I'm right-handed). After casting, I retrieve any slack in the line, then twitch the lure with the rod tip. I repeat the procedure throughout the retrieve. I may vary the retrieve, twitching twice, then once.

Most of the strikes take place during the pause.

That's the beauty of a suspending lure. When you pause, it won't sink to the  bottom like a lead weight. It suspends tantalizingly in front of the fish.

This pompano ate a MirrOdine.
While the MirrOdine certainly appeals to large trout, I've found that pompano can't resist it, either. Over my last two trips, I taken 20 pompano from Sarasota Bay on MirrOdines.
In the past, I've always used jigs when targeting pompano. I don't think many people will argue with that logic. And I've got to admit that I wouldn't typically use a MirrOdine when it comes to pompano.

But my thinking has been altered. I think the MirrOdine is a great pompano lures.

And last summer, I landed two permit from Sarasota Bay on the MirrOdine.

Of course, other fish love them, too. I can't tell you how many redfish I've taken on MirrOdines. I've caught redfish on them while casting for trout. I've also taken many redfish by casting the lure into mullet schools on the grass flats. Redfish love to hang out around mullet. And they love the MirrOdine.

Snook absolutely go nuts over MirrOdines. I love to wade along the edge of a grass flat at low tide, casting parallel to the dropoff. That's where I hook a majority of snook.

And, of course, you'll catch bluefish, jack crevalle, Spanish mackerel and many other saltwater species on the MirrOdine.

If I'm targeting redfish on the flats, I like to rig with a 1/16-ounce jig head and Lil John.

I have to admit that when Eric Bachnik of MirrOlure sent me a pack of them a few years ago, I was suspect. Lil Johns are rather non-descript pieces of plastic. But they come in a variety of fish-catching colors and, most importantly, they catch lots of fish.

I usually use one of several colors: golden bream, watermelon with red glitter, watermelon with copper glitter and purple demon.

I've found that I can use that combo in even very shallow, grassy water. I take a majority of my redfish on the Lil John.

The Lil John also is great when it comes to prospecting for redfish in potholes.

Now when it comes to monster snook, the Lil John is money. I taken clients to local rivers in winter to pursue giant snook. Every rod has a Lil John and light jig head tied to it.

For river fishing, I love the watermelon with red glitter Lil John.

The trick for big snook is to target deep water and to allow the lure to get to the bottom. I try to bounce it slowly along the bottom.

We have taken snook up to 44 inches and many of more than 30 inches.

When targeting redfish and big snook, I use a medium-heavy Star Rod, Shimano Stradic 3000 Cl4 reel and 15-pound PowerPro. I use 30-pound fluorocarbon leader in the river for big snook. For redfish on the flats, I use 20-pound leader.

When the topwater bite is strong or when I'm "prospecting," I like the She Dog with the chartreuse back, chrome body and orange throat (CRGR).

When using any topwater lure of this sort, it's imperative to know how to "walk the dog" correctly. That's a retrieve in which the lure works side-to-side during the retrieve.

I like to hold my rod horizontally to my left side (I'm right-handed), and "twitch" my rod during the retrieve in a steady rhythm. It's much like patting your head and rubbing your stomach, but becomes second nature with practice.

As with any topwater lure, it's imperative not to set the hook on the strike. Just keep working the lure until you feel the weight on the fish. Then set the hook.

My association with MirrOlure goes back to the early 1970s when I was just starting out in the newspaper business. I heard shortly after I moved to Sarasota to begin work as the outdoors editor of the old Sarasota Journal that Harold LeMaster was the man when it came to tarpon along Florida's west coast. I mustered up some courage and called Harold at his plant in Largo. I was terrified.

But Harold was very nice and agreed to drive down and fish for tarpon with me.

It was one of several trips I made with him over the years. He even took me to Homosassa, the tarpon Mecca, long before the work got out about the great tarpon fishing there.

He wouldn't tell me where we were going. He just called it "Hog Heaven."

As with any lure, I don't use MirrOlures because I get them for free or at a reduced price. 

I use them because they produce fish for me consistently.

What more do you need?

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