Friday, December 4, 2015

Eleuthera was beautiful, friendly, but the fishing left much to be desired

A small Bahamian bonefish swims off after being released. The bone hit a Veverka's Mantis Shrimp.








My recent trip to Eleuthera in the Bahamas was actually a birthday present from my wife in 2014.

Kathy knows one of my passions is to fly fish for bonefish. And since there aren't many spots nearby to try, she allowed me to pick where I wanted to go.
Pawpaw Bay was beautiful, but not many fish.

I could have opted for a spartan bonefish camp on a sparsely populated island, but since I wanted her to accompany me I needed to pick a spot that would have some creature comforts for her and at least a few tourist-type things to do.

Last March after I had spoken to the Naples Backcountry Fly Fishers, the club president, Ed Tamson, handed me a copy of Rod Hamilton's Do It Yourself Bonefishing. The book covered most of the known bonefishing spots around the world.

After a quick read, I picked Eleuthera. One of the reasons is Hamilton gave it a seven (on a scale of 10) spousal rating.

That rating turned out to be true.

The fishing wasn't so hot. However, I chalk that up to strong wind (40-to 50 mph) during our stay, a strong high-pressure system and a full moon.

Still, I was able to catch a few bonefish.

High wind made fishing difficult. 
Because of the wind, all of the flats on the east side of the island were not fishable.
So, that limited my choices to the west side.

We stayed at the Sky Beach Club near Governor's Harbour in the central part of the island. I chose to fish spots south of our location.

Day 1 primarily was a scouting mission to determine where I'd spend my time. I visited Tarpum Bay, Winding Bay, Ten Bay, Savannah Sound North, South Palmetto Bay and Pawpaw Bay. The tide was high and I didn't spot any fish.

Because there was a decent tide the next morning, I decided to start at Ten Bay, a beautiful beach located just a few miles south of Governor's Harbour.  I had about 90 minutes to fish before the tide got too high. I didn't see anything for the first hour, but saw four or five tailing fish to the north. By the time I walked to the area, they were gone.

Pawpaw Bay was next. It's beauty far exceeded the fishing.

I found a few tailing bonefish at beautiful Ten Bay Beach.
I stopped at South Palmetto Bay and figured I was at another beautiful but fishless location. How wrong I was. I found a large school (I estimated it at 200 bonefish) two minutes into my visit. My first cast was a little off-target, but my second resulted in a hookup as soon as my fly hit the water. I landed a feisty small Bahamian bonefish.

After a few photos, I revived the fish and released it.

The school was nowhere to be found. The fish had moved off and I never found them again.

The next morning (our final day there), I decided to begin at Ten Bay again. The tide was a little better and figured I'd camp out in the area where I'd seen the tailing bonefish the morning prior.

No luck. Didn't see a single tailer this time.

After 90 minutes, I headed north to South Palmetto Bay. Didn't find any fish at first, but saw a school sitting on a grass patch. I waded to within a cast and hooked up quickly. The fish was a little larger than the day prior, but not much.
The bungalow at the Sky Beach Club at Governor's Harbour.

Veverka's Mantis Shrimp worked again.

I hit Pawpaw Bay on the way back to the bungalow, but didn't see any fish.

I talked with a guide on the island and was told I'd picked a poor time.

"The wind, high pressure and full moon are killing things," he said.

Eleuthera is the birth place of the Bahamas. The island is 100 miles long and little more than a mile wide at its widest point.

I didn't get a chance to fish the south end, but I'm willing to bet that's where some of the best bonefishing takes place. The flats there are a little more remote and probably don't get fished often.

I considered hiring a guide on Sunday (we were there Thursday through Monday), but the conditions made it easy to decide not to. Many of the better spots are on the east side of the island. Casting in 40-50 mph wind wouldn't be fun. And I can't imagine a ride in a flats skiff in that breeze!

I scoped out a large flat in Governor's Harbor that, according to Hamilton, has plenty of fish that have seen every fly known to man. However, I didn't see the first fish. I would have shown them a few flies if I had.

If you want to get away from it all, Eleuthera is the place. Make sure to get your fast-food fix before you arrive. There are no McDonalds, Burger Kings or Wendy's on the island. In fact, restaurants aren't plentiful. What few are there are also very pricey.

We had very good meals at the Rainbow Inn (highly recommended), 1648 and Tippy's.

The Sky Beach Club was perfect. It was located on the side of a hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on the island's east side.  Our bungalow was clean, modern and was air conditioned. It featured free WiFi and Direct TV.

Just a stone's throw out of the front door was a beautiful pool overlooking the Atlantic and a hot tub.
On Saturday, we drove north to the Glass Window Bridge where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Bight of Exuma. The color contrast of the two bodies of water is astonishing.

You can tell when you're nearing the bridge on a windy day because your windshield starts getting pelted by saltwater when you're a mile away.  When we visited, the eastern shoreline was being blasted by 15- to 20-foot waves.

It was breathtaking.

We then drove to the south end of the island. However, our trip was cut short by torrential rain.

The Queen's Highway (the island's main artery) was unlined and full of potholes. Driving on the left side of the road was pretty easy during the day, but night driving on the narrow asphalt was nerve-wracking.

We flew in and out of the North Eleuthera International Airport. We would have been better off flying into the Governor's Harbour International Airport. However, we changed our choice of room after we booked out flight. The 50-mile drive to the airport wasn't too bad.

If you're headed to Eleuthera to fish, make sure you have everything you need. There are no fly shops on the island.

For this trip, I took two rods (7 and 8 weight), two reels filled with floating line and a bunch of flies and leaders. I also carried a sling pack with pliers, lens cleaners, tippet, nail knot took, super glue and gloves.

I took an extra pair of polarized sunglasses, but (fortunately) didn't have to use them.

I wore flats boots while wading.

To get around, we rented a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee with 196,000 miles on it. It did the job. Gas on the island, however, is quite expensive, going for $4.49 a gallon. Over four days, we spent $120 on gas.

Earlier, I wrote that I picked Eleuthera after reading Hamilton's description. I read where he caught 20 bonefish in about an hour at a spot near a creek. After going back to the book, I realized (too late) that Hamilton didn't reveal the location of the spot. I found that very disappointing since his book was for do-it-yourselfers like myself.

That particular passage was what swayed me. After re-reading, I didn't have the same opinion about Eleuthera. In fact, Hamilton wrote, "Ten years ago the self-guided fishing on Eleuthera was terrific. The great fishing, combined with the beautiful beaches, quality rentals, and the ease of getting around, made it an ideal location for fishermen and non-fishing partners alike. Today, it is still a beautiful place to go, but the fishing has become significantly more difficult."

I'm glad we visited Eleuthera. We had a good time, caught a few fish and enjoyed ourselves. The scenery was awesome, hospitality wonderful and people very friendly. Our trip went off without a hitch.

We spent a few days in Grand Cayman a few years back and experienced better bonefish action. I would have been better off returning to Grand Cayman, not considered a bonefish destination by many.

Next time, I'll try Belize, Mexico or another Bahamian island.




Tuesday, December 1, 2015

November produced good action in fresh and salt water

Dean Gillispie of Fairborn, Ohio battles a feisty Spanish mackerel, one of several fish he caught on the day.
November action started out very good in Sarasota Bay, with snook dominating the picture. Over a four-day period early in the month, we caught more than 50 snook to 27 inches on a variety of lures. Best producer was the mini MirrOlure MirrOdine (http://www.shopmirrolure.com/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=mirrodine&x=0&y=0 ).

A healthy Sarasota Bay pompano taken on a MirrOdine.
Fishing the flats around Buttonwood Harbor, we also caught a variety of fish, including spotted seatrout, redfish, flounder, mangrove snapper, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and pompano. Most of the fish were taken on MirrOdines, but we also caught them on Zara Spooks and MirrOlure Lil Johns on light jig heads.

My brother, Scott, and his friend Dean Gillispie of Fairborn, Ohio joined me for a day and had a great time. They had delivered a motor home to Bowling Green, Fla.,  and had a free day before flying north. The action wasn't great, but we tallied snook, redfish, spotted seatrout, mangrove snapper, flounder, Spanish mackerel and pompano.

Blake Young of Belingham, Wash., fished Buttonwood Harbor with me on a slow day. We noticed a lot of floating dead fish, some dying fish and fresh dead fish on the bottom. That can only mean the dreaded red tide, a pesky algae bloom that robs fish of their oxygen supply. We fished hard and caught spotted seatrout, flounder, mangrove snapper, ladyfish, jack crevalle and bluefish.

Blake is the owner of NuCanoe (www.nucanoe.com). I use both the NuCanoe Frontier and NuCanoe Pursuit, both great fishing boats and fantastic fly-fishing vessels.

Since that time, red tide has invaded the bay, virtually shutting fishing down along the west side.

Latest report is that the tide is gone, but I don't know what an effect it has had on fishing. I will get a closer look this week.

There are still plenty of fish around. We just switch areas and move to locations that don't have red tide.

November is usually a great month for freshwater fishing. We tested Lake Manatee on several days and did very well. Using light fly rods, we caught a variety of fish, including hand-sized bluegill, largemouth bass, shellcracker, stumpknocker, speckled perch and feisty channel catfish.

I usually start the day casting No. 10 popping bugs. I'll fish poppers until the action slows, then switch to No. 12 nymphs and No. 14 scuds. I've found that when the surface action slows, it's just beginning sub-surface.

I fish the nymphs and scuds under a strike indicator. I have used the "Thingamabobber" by WestWater Products (http://westwaterproducts.com/thingamabobber.html) for my strike indicator for several years and have found it works well. It's easy to attached, stays in place and will signal the lightest strike. I usually use the half-inch Thingamabobber. They come in assorted colors. I usually opt for the pink or orange because they're easy to see.

I was fortunate to be invited to fish Lake X with the NuCanoe Pro Staff and Blake Young. The lake is a former quarry that is no longer being worked. It's located east of Fort Myers. To get there, head east. When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

We all fly fished and caught plenty of bass. I totaled 20 on bass poppers, my Gibby's Bunny Worm and a pink-and-chartreuse Clouser. Most of my fish were small/
NuCanoe Pro Staffer Drei Stroman landed a four-pounder to take big fish honors.

It was a slow day, according to the fellas. Typically, they catch upward of 50 fish per person up to 6-7 pounds.

DECEMBER FORECAST: I look for improved redfish, snook and spotted seatrout action. Snook will be best after dark around lighted docks. Redfish will be on the flats. Trout will cooperate over deep grass. In addition, December usually is very good for pompano, bluefish and Spanish mackerel in 4 to 8 feet of water over grass. We usually begin heading to The Everglades in late December to fly fish for oscar, Mayan cichlid and native freshwater species. The action usually heats up about the third week of the month.

Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing offers gift certificates. They're great for Christmas. Let us know and we can get them to you in plenty of time to place under the tree.
December kicks off the busy season. If you're planning a trip, please let us know as early as possible so that we can assure you a date.

Happy Holidays!



Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing
www.kayakfishingsarasota.com
941-284-3406


Monday, November 2, 2015

October produced plenty of fish in both fresh and salt waters

Author Steve Gibson battles a Lake Manatee channel catfish on light fly rod.  (Photo by Vinny Caruso)
We spent most of the month fly fishing in fresh and salt waters.

In fresh water, we fished Lake Manatee on several occasions. The lake, located nine miles east of Interstate 75 off State Road 64, seems to have rebounded nicely after a few slow years.

On a typical day, we use light fly rods (1, 2 and 3 weights) to cast popping bugs, nymphs and scuds. 

Lake Manatee channel cat on fly.
This method has been producing excellent catches of large bluegill, plus shellcracker, speckled perch, largemouth bass and channel catfish. You just never know what's going to eat the fly.

The bluegill have been among the largest we've ever taken on the lake. I'd say at least 75 percent of the bluegill have been "hand sized" or slightly larger.

We don't catch many bass, but every once in a while you'll hang a decent fish. On one outing, I was fishing a No. 12 nymph under a strike indicator on a 2-weight fly rod when I hooked, fought and landed a 4-pound bass.

Hefty bass on fly.
Channel cats are fun, too. I typically catch one and sometimes more on every trip. I catch them on nymphs and Myakka Minnows. These hard fighters will range from 2 pounds to more than you can handle. Trick is to keep them out of the vegetation -- if you can.

We launch at a dirt ramp off State Road 64 at Lake Manatee Fish Camp. It's safe and well maintained. From there, it's just a short paddle to several productive areas.

If you're into fly fishing for panfish, this is the spot. And it's likely you'll tangle with a feisty, rod-bending channel cat while you're at it.

In addition, November is THE month for speckled perch (northerners call them crappie). Specks at Lake Manatee average 1 1/2 pounds and often push two or three pounds. They're great fun on fly.

In salt water, we spent several days preparing for the 11th annual Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers/CCA Fall Fly Fishing Challenge, an event Capt. Rick Grassett and I founded. This is a catch, photo and release event that attracts up 30 anglers or more annually.

I've done well in the event since its inception. I've won a division nine of the 11 years. This year was no exception.

In preparing for the tournament, I spent several days on Sarasota Bay, fishing both along the east and west sides of the bay.

I launched at Buttonwood Harbor, one of my favorite spots, along the west side of the bay and fished a plethora of spots. I started out just before dawn at a lighted dock and quickly landed a decent snook. Once the sun came up, I headed out into the bay to scout. I was able to find decent numbers of trout.
Then it was time to look for reds. I figured that would be a chore since I hadn't seen a redfish in a couple of months. I wasn't wrong. I poled my NuCanoe Pursuit for several hours over some of the best flats in the area. Those flats have produced good catches of redfish over the years, but not lately.
I also caught mangrove snapper, large Spanish mackerel, bluefish and jack crevalle.

The next outing found me at Stephens Point on the east side of the bay. I caught snook around dock lights and trout over the deep grass. I poled the flats from Stephen Point north to Whitfield and didn't see a red. I did see some decent trout and snook in potholes, but no reds.

As the tournament neared, I wasn't sure where I was going to fish. I remembered a small tidal creek off the Intracoastal Waterway south of Venice. I've always been able to catch plenty of small snook from the creek. I hadn't fished there in a couple of years, but decided to give it a try.

I laughed the Pursuit and began fishing after paddling 200 yards. I wasn't disappointed. In just a couple of hours, I caught 15 small snook, plus some mangrove snapper and ladyfish.

I headed home at the point, confident I'd found my spot.

I didn't fish that area again until tournament day. I launched at 7 a.m. and began casting a popping bug along the mangroves. I didn't get a hit the first hour.

I was somewhat worried, but my luck changed when I switched to a small baitfish imitation that I tied on a No. 2 hook. I caught a limit (10) of small snook in a couple of hours. I photographed each and released them.

Even though we were allowed to fish until 3 p.m., I was heading back to Sarasota by 12:30 p.m.

I won the Snook Division, the fifth time I've done that I the tournament's 11-year history.

Interestingly, I was only one of two kayak anglers in the tournament competing against fly fishers in power boats.

NOVEMBER FORECAST: I'm predicting redfish action will finally pick up. I've been wrong for the past several months, but Novembers (traditionally) is a very good month for reds. I like fishing the last two hours of the outgoing tide and first two hours of the incoming for reds. Spotted seatrout action should be good, along with Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jack crevalle and ladyfish. November should also see a strong influx of large flounder. They like to lie in sand holes and will hit jigs slowly bounced along the bottom. They'll also hit weighted flies. Snook and small tarpon should cooperate around dock lights. In fresh water, I look for very good action on bluegill, speckled perch, bass and channel catfish in local lakes and streams. To the south, peacock bass, Mayan cichlid, giant bluegill and shellcracker should be cooperative.

I will depart the states on Thanksgiving morning and head for Eleuthera in the Bahamas. My target there will be bonefish on the flats. I've spent a few days at my vise, tying assorted bonefish flies for the outing. I will give you details in my next report.

Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone!

The weather in November usually is pretty spectacular in Florida. Come on down and go fishing!



Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing
www.kayakfishingsarasota.com

941-284-3406


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Peacock bass, monster Mayans and hefty bluegill topped August

Author Steve Gibson battles a fine South Florida peacock bass on fly rod.
August is a slow month for Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing for several reasons.

First of all, it's hot out there. Secondly, there are few people visiting Sarasota during this time of year.

That's OK with me. It gives me time to do what I like. And what I like to do is fly fish in fresh water.
A typical South Florida peacock bass.

Thanks to my friend  Joe Mahler, I was introduced to a spot in south Florida which offers very good fly fishing for a variety of species. It has the usual Florida freshwater fare (bass, bluegill, etc.), but it also has a few exotic species. The spot offers good action on peacock bass and giant Mayan cichlid.
Mahler is a fly-fishing pro who resides in Fort Myers. He's a fly-casting instructor and talented artist.

Check him out at www. joemahler.com.

Realize that peacock bass were introduced into south Florida waters by the state in 1984. Mayan cichlid weren't introduced by the state. They were unceremoniously and illegally dumped into southern state waters. No matter, they're both great species for fly fishers.

A monster South Florida bluegill.
In fact, the spot holds some of the largest Mayan cichlid I've ever caught. On a recent outing, I landed at least 20 Mayans, with most in excess of 12 inches. Several pushed 15 inches. If you've never caught a Mayan cichlid, realize that even the small ones will make you think you've got a monster. A 14-15-incher will actually pull the kayak and make you wonder if you will land it.

For Mayan cichlid, I use a number of flies. I usually begin the day with No. 8 or 6 popping bugs. I'll stick with it until the surface action subsides. When it does, I'll switch to No. 8 Clousers (pink and chartreuse, orange and chartreuse) or Myakka Minnows. Often, the subsurface bite is significantly better than the topwater.

This peacock bass fell for a pink Clouser.
When I'm using poppers, I catch Mayans, monster bluegill and a few peacock bass. The bluegill at this particular location are the biggest I've ever encountered. In fact, I caught my personal best bluegill (11 inches) at this locale, and I've caught a number of them more than 10 inches. These fish are large and thick.

When I'm casting to the shoreline and working a Clouser quickly, I usually catch good numbers of peacock bass. However, most are small. I usually get peacocks to about 12 inches.

If I want larger peacock bass, I'll look for bedding fish. That's where you'll find the larger specimens.

You can also find larger fish in open water, but I like that to trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack.
Another nice peacock bass.

The location also has snook and tarpon. I recently saw tarpon rolling in open water and fired a cast their way. I allowed the small Clouser to sink, then began slowly stripping in it. The line want tight after the third strip and I was into a "heavy" fish.  I could feel the fish shake its head. It started to take off, but that's when my 8-pound tippet broke. I'm fairly sure it was a tarpon. It could have been a large peacock bass.

For this fishing, I use 3-, 4- and 6-weight fly rods. I prefer 9-foot tapered leaders with 8-pound tippet.

I usually use full floating lines, but have done fair with a full sinking line.

Monster Mayan cichlid
Mahler created a fly called a Straw Boss which is also very good for peacock bass, largemouth bass and large Mayan cichlid. I highly recommend this fly, too
.
One of the neat things about this spot is that it's good during the summer. Usually, south Florida waters are not real good because of the heart, high water and bugs. But I've encountered no bugs, the heat isn't too bad when you're catching fish and the water level seems to be stable.

It took me several visits to figure things out. I'm not saying I have it down pat, but I feel much more confident than I did the first time I visited.

If peacock bass are on your bucket list, you might want to give this spot a try. Just give me a call (941-284-3406) or shoot me an email (steve@kayakfishingsarasota.com) and we can arrange a trip. 

And if you've never encountered Mayan cichlid, this is the spot. Of course, those who enjoy monster bluegill on a fly rod won't want to miss out, either!

Locally, fishing has been fair, with the best action taking place at night around lighted docks. We've been getting snook, tarpon and spotted seatrout on my Gibby's Snook Shrimp.  Once the sun comes up, we move onto the adjacent flats where we've been picking up seatrout, jack crevalle, ladyfish, snook and a few redfish.

Longtime client Dr. Everette Howell of Longboat Key joined me for an outing on Buttonwood Harbor off Sarasota Bay. We fished long and hard for out fish. Everette picked up a decent snook on a Zara Super Spook Jr. We caught a few trout on MirrOlure MirrOdines.

The day prior, I fished the area and caught 15 trout to 20 inches on MirrOdines and MirrOlure Lil Johns on light jigs.

I also fished southern Tampa Bay around Joe Island and did fair. I caught snook and seatrout on Zara Super Spook Jrs. I also caught trout to 18 inches on MirrOdines. I saw some redfish on the sand bars in front of Joe Island, but didn't hook up.

I've been using my new NuCanoe Pursuit, a great fly-fishing kayak that just debuted this summer. I was fortunate enough to test the Pursuit out back in March when NuCanoe owner Blake Young brought a couple to town. We fished Sarasota Bay and southern Tampa Bay.

I picked my Pursuit up at ICAST 2015 in Orlando after working the NuCanoe booth for three days. After I got it home, I rigged it and added an anchor trolley and a taco-style paddle holder on the starboard side.

I have been fishing out of it now for a little more than a month. What a great fly-fishing kayak. I've owned many kayaks over the years. This one is the best. It's the best because of it's simplicity and unencumbered layout.

In addition, there is out-of-way storage for four fully rigged fly rods! While you're casting on rod, the others are securely stowed.

The boat paddles easily and tracks very straight.

It's a pleasure to fly fish from such a well-designed kayak.

SEPTEMBER FORECAST:  Night snook and tarpon action should remain steady throughout the Sarasota area. Look for redfish, spotted seatrout and snook on the flats during daylight hours. Spotted seatrout, jack crevalle, mangrove snapper and ladyfish should please over the deeper grass. Peacock bass, monster bluegill, Mayan cichlid and largemouth bass should be good in south Florida lakes and canals. Closer to home,  anticipate decent bass, bluegill, shellcracker and channel catfish in Lake Manatee and the Manatee River.

Even though it's just September, it's not too early to think about those special to you for Christmas. Or you might drop a couple of hints to someone significant. You can get gift certificates from Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing for Christmas, birthdays or other occasions.


Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing
www.kayakfishingsarasota.com

941-284-3406


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Night fishing produced snook, tarpon, seatrout and beat the July heat

If July wasn't the hottest month I've experienced in Florida, it certainly had to be among the warmest.

Snook hang out around dock lights and often are easy fly-rod targets.
With that in mind, we switched gears a little and got out on many occasions a couple of hours before sunrise in order to avoid the heat and get in on some fine fly fishing.

We've got launches on both sides of Sarasota Bay near lighted docks. That's where snook, tarpon, spotted seatrout, lookdown and occasionally redfish like to hang out.

Dock lights attract small baitfish and shrimp. Those critters attract predator fish.

For this type of fishing, I've found the best action usually takes place on the stronger outgoing tides. If that's not possible, then I'm satisfied as long as the tide is moving decently.

I take a couple of 7- or 8-weight fly rods, loaded with full floating lines and 9- to 10-foot fluorocarbon leaders (20-pound test). My fly of choice is my Gibby's Snook Shrimp, a pattern that has proven to be very effective for night action.

One of the neat things about fishing from a kayak is that you can get pretty close to the fish. That, in effect, eliminates the need for long casts.

When I get to a dock that I want to fish, I'll figure out which way I'm going to drift and position the kayak. I prefer my kayak to drift with the bow pointing toward the target.

I recently obtained my first NuCanoe Pursuit, a kayak that perfectly suited for night fly fishing. The cockpit is open and uncluttered. In addition, the Pursuit drifts true and isn't affected by wind as much as other brands of kayaks.

As I'm getting ready to fish, I'll pull 10-12 strips of line off the reel, placing them in the cockpit in front of my feet. That's plenty of line if you position your kayak no more than 20-25 feet from your target.

When I'm drifting, I place the paddle across my lap. That makes it easy to make a bow adjustment if needed. I can simply dip the left or right blade in the water to fine tune my bow.

With only 20 feet or line out and being so close to my target, false casting is virtually eliminated. All I have to do is pick my line up on the back cast and lay it down on the forward. I see too many anglers false casting four, five and six times.

The speed of retrieve varies. I've found the best technique is to simply let the fish tell you. Begin with  medium speed and adjust accordingly.

Another key is to watch your fly. Sometimes, snook, tarpon and other species will follow it almost to the kayak. I've had fish take the fly within five feet of the boat. I've seen anglers lift their fly from the water to make another cast while a fish was frantically trying to eat it!

Most lights -- whether above or below the water -- light up the area in a circle. While you'll see many fish in the light, it's not wise to cast right in the middle. I begin by working the edges and into the shadow line. You can work your way toward the middle as you go. If you chance a cast to the middle early on, you risk spooking a majority of the fish.

It's good if you have multiple docks. When you hook a fish or the action slows, you can move to another. You can always return to a hot dock. Things usually will return to normal in about 10 minutes.

The biggest problem I've found is keeping a determined snook from taking you under a dock or around pilings. When I hook a fish, the first thing I do is try to prevent it from running under the dock or around a piling. And, if I'm able, I will hold the rod with one hand and paddle backwards away from the structure. I'm way ahead of the game if I can get the fish out into open water.

I've perfected a method of one-handed paddling. It takes some getting used to, but is very helpful in these situations. I'll usually hold the rod in my right hand and paddle with my left. The method consists of putting the paddle shaft through a triangle created by placing my right elbow on my right knee.  It takes practice, but it works beautifully.

We've done pretty well on tarpon this summer. These are smaller fish, averaging about 10-12 pounds. They put on quite an aerial show. Luckily, tarpon prefer to do their battle away from the docks.
Snook are another matter. Their first move usually is to get back under the dock or around pilings.

You've got to prevent them from doing so if you don't want to lose your fly or leader. Put the pressure on them! What do you have to lose?

I've been successful in landing snook to slightly more than 30 inches. I've seen snook which I'd estimate at 35 inches or longer.

A fly-fishing Super Slam (snook, tarpon, seatrout, redfish) is possible. It's pretty rare, but can be done. It's fairly common to get the snook, tarpon and seatrout around the docks. On occasion we'll get reds in the dock lights, too. I've had a couple of clients fall one species short this year.

Most often, however, you'll have to get one or more species after the sun comes up. I'll usually paddle to nearby flats.

I got a Super Slam on a recent trip, but my redfish and trout came on spinning tackle.

I spent a few days in July fishing local fresh water. I fished Lake Manatee one day and did fair. I caught and released several bluegill and one hefty channel catfish on my Myakka Minnow.

I also fished Webb Lake south of Punta Gorda and caught a number of bedding bluegill on Myakka Minnows.

Pro fly-fisher Joe Mahler of Fort Myers joined my for a day on the Manatee River. Our goal was to target channel catfish on fly. It was slow, but we each landed channel cats.

Matt Sheffer of Muskegon, Mich., and his son, Noel, joined me for a morning off Stephens Point in Sarasota Bay. They were in town for the annual AAU National Baseball Tournament. The action was fair and we caught spotted seatrout, ladyfish, mangrove snapper, flounder and a snook on D.O.A. CAL Jigs with paddle tails, MirrOlure MirrOdines and D.O.A. Deadly Combinations.

I spent three days in Orlando at ICAST, the sportfishing industry's annual trade show. I worked the NuCanoe booth. NuCanoe was showing its newest kayak -- the Pursuit. It's a great fishing kayak and especially a great platform for fly fishing. Check it out at http://www.nucanoe.com/pursuit-fishing-kayak/.

I expect August to be a carbon copy of July. One difference, however, is we'll find schools of redfish on the flats. They school up in late summer in preparation for their  spawning run into the Gulf of Mexico. If you can find a school, you're almost guaranteed a hookup! Trout action will be fair over the deeper grass, along with ladyfish, jack crevalle and mangrove snapper. The best action be snook and tarpon around lighted docks at night. Of course, beach snook fishing is expected to be good was the weather settles and we get easterly wind.

If you want to book a trip or have any questions, please call me at 941-284-3406 or email me at steve@kayakfishingsarasota.com.



Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing
www.kayakfishingsarasota.com

941-284-3406


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

NuCanoe's Pursuit should be a big hit in the kayak fishing world

The author's new NuCanoe Pursuit on its successful maiden voyage.
I've always wanted to design a fishing kayak, but I just don't have that talent. I'll leave that to the folks with that expertise.

This tarpon was the first fish out of the new Pursuit.
However, I've paddled quite a few different brands of fishing kayaks over the years, and I've had a few ideas that I would like to incorporate into a fishing design.

Most of all, I've always wanted an open cockpit, uncluttered and simple. I'm a fly fisher and I don't need knickknacks, gadgets and gizmos that would attract my fly line like lead filings to a magnet.  I've envisioned simplicity. Clean. Smooth.

I do need a place to stow a few things, but that area doesn't have to encompass most of the kayak.

Comfort is also a must. You could have a great kayak, but it does you little good if your rear end is sore or your legs uncomfortable.

Snook on fly.
I found my kayak last March when NuCanoe owner Blake Young brought his new concept to town for a few days or fishing and filming.

I paddled the prototype Pursuit and fished from it for two days. I was impressed.

However, I'm even more impressed with the finished product. Young has come up with what I consider the finest "fishing" kayak available today.  You can check it out at http://www.nucanoe.com/pursuit-fishing-kayak/.

The Pursuit is a well-designed, well-planned fishing craft that is characterized by simplicity and clean lines.

In the Pursuit's case, less is more.

Let's start out with the specs:

Length: 13 feet, 5 inches

Beam: 35 inches

Height: 12 inches

Draft: 3 inches

Hull weight: 82 pounds

Max load: 500 pounds
One of two oversized redfish.

At 35 inches wide, the Pursuit just might be the most stable fishing kayak available. I'm not overstating when I tell you I can literally tap dance on the deck.

What is particularly interesting is the kayak features a total of 82 inches of Freedom Tracks distributed from the bow to the stern. There 14 inches of Freedom Track in the bow, 54 in the cockpit and 18 in the stern.

The ergonomically designed high/low seat plugs into the track as do a myriad of accessories.  You can add as many -- or as few -- accessories as you want. If you choose, you can add rod holders, cup holders, GPS holders, speaker holders, depth finders and other gadgets to your tracks. It's up to you.

Rig it as you like, but the proof is in the paddling. When I launched my Pursuit for the first time, I was amazed by the way it glided over the water. The boat felt swift and easy to control. It tracked very straight and was almost effortless to control.

The openess of the Pursuit is impressive.
One feature that is unavailable is most other kayaks is the Pursuit's paddle holsters. They're located toward the bow on the starboard and port sides. They allow you to quietly slip the blade into them and stow your paddle securely while fishing. The holsters are a refreshing change from your typical paddle holders.

Talking about stow, I can't tell you how impressive the Pursuit's four internal rod tubes are! I can stow four fully rigged fly rods out of the way and protected. You can't do that in any of the other kayaks I've owned.

While I'm a paddling purist, you do have the option of added a trolling motor or even a small outboard (It's rated for a 2.5 HP engine) to the Pursuit. The square stern is designed for those who prefer to power the boat in that manner.

The spacious kayak has plenty of room for a tackle crate, camera box, cooler and whatever else you might envision.

You can stow four fully rigged fly rods.
The gear vault in the bow features a hard shell liner and can hold whatever you like. It can serve as a cooler or can hold rain gear, first-aid kits, tools, etc.

The boat also comes with a pair of flush-mount rod holds behind the seat.

The only things I added were an anchor trolley system and a taco-style paddle clip for my 9 1/2-foot pushpole.

Some might consider the boat's weight to be a negative. That weight comes with the width and stability. It's a tradeoff I can live with.

And the weight is actually of no consideration when loading and unloading my kayak. I use a Transport Cart (which I purchased from NuCanoe). It plugs into the stern and makes transporting the boat to and from the water very easy.

I'm tough to please when it comes to kayaks. I've been doing this for a long time. When I first started to fish from a kayak in 1986, I was usually the only paddlecraft on the water.

It's different today. When you launch your kayak, you'll often see a veritable armada of plastic paddlers in your area.

If you're in a Pursuit, rest assured you'll stand out (and up) from the crowd.

The Pursuit is a simple design that will turn heads and put a smile on your face.

MAIDEN VOYAGE

I launched the Pursuit at the Buttonwood Harbor launch off eastern Longboat Key on Sarasota Bay a couple of hours before daylight. My plan was the fly-fish around lighted docks until dawn, then head out into the bay.

It didn't take long to "slime" my new vessel. I hooked a small tarpon on my first cast and landed it about five minutes later.

One cast.

One hit.

One tarpon.

Can it get any better than that?

It did.

I just five more tarpon and landed one. I also added a pair of snook.

When the action died at daylight, I paddled into the bay. There I was able to land a few small trout and a mangrove snapper.

At mid-morning, I decided to call it a day and head back to the launch. It has been miserably hot in this summer.

A funny thing happened as I paddled along. I saw a tail in 18 inches of water and made a few casts. I hooked a 36-inch bonnethead shark and landed it after a few minutes.

I decided to drift the area and make a few more casts. I caught and released a pair of 30-inch redfish.
My maiden voyage resulted in a rare Super Slam: redfish, spotted seatrout, snook and tarpon.

I don't claim to be the greatest angler in the world, so I just chalked up my success on this maiden voyage to the mojo of the Pursuit, the best fishing kayak I've paddled since in all my years on the water.

PRO STAFF

I am extremely proud to have been named one of five to the original NuCanoe Pro Staff. It's an elite group consisting of some really fine paddlers and anglers.

My fellow Pro Staffers include my buddy Joe Mahler of Fort Myers, Danny Barker of Citrus Spring, Drei Stroman of Fort Myers  and Graham Tayloe of Birmingham, Ala.

Since I'm a Pro Staffer, you might anticipate a positive review of the new Pursuit. However, I wouldn't be on the Pro Staff if I wasn't more than satisfied with NuCanoe. The last thing I want is to represent a product that I deem sub-par or inferior in any way.







Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Channel catfish are strong, fast and great on fly rod

Fly-fishing pro Joe Mahler of Fort Myers battles his first Manatee River channel catfish.
I am sure there are lakes, rivers and other bodies of water around the country where you can target channel catfish on fly rod, but I don't know where they are.

I do know Lake Manatee and the Manatee River have to be among the finest places to catch these hard-fighting whiskered fish on fly rod.
Steve Gibson show off a cat.

I found that out years ago while casting a light-weight fly rod for bluegill. I had caught a good number of the diminutive panfish that morning and expected another one when the strike indicator darted quickly to its left. I set the hook and knew immediately it wasn't a bluegill attached to my No. 12 nymph.

The fish was heavy -- and strong. I not only had to hope that my light tippet would hold, but also that the fish didn't head for the vegetation along the shoreline.

Almost as if the fish was reading my mind, it swam away from the shoreline cover toward the middle of the lake.

"I've got this battle won," I thought to myself.

All I had to do was keep pressure on the fish and allow it to tire itself out.

Easier said than done.

For one of the few times in my lifetime, I was into the backing on my fly rod. The fish was very strong and bulldog-like. It was surprisingly fast, too.

This Lake Manatee catfish hit a Myakka Minnow Jig.
Just when I thought I was gaining the upper hand, the fish made a 90-degree turn and headed back toward the shoreline. Even though I applied all the pressure that I could, I wasn't able to keep the fish out of the vegetation. In a matter of seconds, my light tippet broke.

While my initiation into fly-rod catfishing may have ended on a down note, it was only the start of something good. Since then, I have landed quite a number of channel catfish on fly rod.

Until recently, however, I never set out to catch them. Most simply were incidental catches while I was fishing for panfish.

But I decided recently to forget about bluegill and other species . I would concentrate on channel cats.

I don't know why Lake Manatee and the Manatee River produce so many channel catfish. I can speculate, but it's only that.
Joe Mahler casts a tight loop toward a deep bend.

I do know that I don't encounter them in any other body of water I fish: Upper Myakka Lake, Myakka River, Braden River, Evers Reservoir, Shell Creek, Deer Prairie Creek, Cocoa Plum Waterway or the Everglades. I've not hooked them on fly in larger lakes like Okeechobee, Kissimmee, Istokpoga or Tarpon.

But I find them almost every time I fish Lake Manatee or Manatee River.

I can only speculate that the state might have stocked them heavily in years past. And the water in those bodies of water is perfect for them to survive and multiply.

Just recently, a buddy of mine, fly-fishing pro Joe Mahler (www.joemahler.com) launched our NuCanoe Frontier kayaks at Ray's Canoe Hideaway (http://www.rayscanoehideaway.com)  on the Manatee River shortly after daylight. The tide was incoming, so I knew we'd have to bide our time until it began to ebb. Experience told me I rarely do much on the incoming tide.

Joe and I paddle upriver and spent an hour or so in a small bayou until the tide turned. When we left, we found the water pushing downriver. Perfect.

I most often find channel catfish on the deep river bends around fallen trees. So, that where I spend most of my time. I'll fish one bend, then move to the next.

There is decent current in the bends and the cats hang out around the tree limbs to dine on whatever swims by. Channel catfish aren't your typical bottom feeders that forage for dead fish. They prefer live fish.

For this outing, I was rigged up with a 6-weight TFO Finesse rod, floating line, 7 1/2-foot 12-pound leader with an 8-pound fluorocarbon tippet. It probably wouldn't hurt to use a 7- or 8-weight fly rod.

My fly of choice was the Myakka Minnow, a pattern I created about 10 years ago. I'm don't know if it's the best pattern for channel catfish, but I do know that it produces consistently.

I made three casts in the first deep bend without success. My fourth cast produced a feisty 4-pound cat. The hit was strong and quick. Luckily, the fish swam away from the cover out into the middle of the river.

Realize, you just don't bring a catfish in. It's not that easy. You must tire it out before attempting to land it.

I had forgotten the landing net that day, so I had to subdue the fish by hand. No problem. You have to be careful of a catfish's dorsal and pectoral fins. If you avoid them, it's no big deal.

Contrary to popular belief, most of the channel cats I hook seem to be hanging out near the surface. They most often take the fly shortly after it hits the water. I've even taken a couple of cats on popping bugs.

We didn't set the world on first during our outing, but we didn't expect to. I usually do best in the cooler months: November, December, January, February, March, April. In summer, it's much too hot, rainy and the water level is usually up.

Joe landed a smaller cat downriver for his first.

"I didn't really think you could target channel cats on fly rod," said Mahler, one the nation's top flycasting instructors. "I'm amazed."

The largest channel catfish I've ever taken on fly rod is about 7 pounds. I've hooked several substantially larger, but wasn't able to land them.

That could change during this year because I plan to target them with heavier gear.

My best day took place two years ago on the upper Manatee River when I caught and released 18.

Some anglers might snub their noses are targeting channel catfish on fly rod, and that's OK. I'll take them any day.


They pull hard and will give you all you want. In addition, they just love flies.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tarpon, snook and shark topped the list for June

This hefty blacktip shark ate a 1 1/2-pound live jack crevalle in southern Tampa Bay.
One word describes June around Sarasota: hot.

The fishing wasn't pretty close to hot, too.

We caught a variety of fish during the month, although we concentrated on tarpon and snook.

Jack Littleton's first fly-rod tarpon.
Fly angler Jack Littleton of western New York jumped three tarpon and landed one while fishing at night around lighted docks in Bowles Creek. It was Littleton's first tarpon. He also hooked a snook, but broke it off. There were plenty of fish around the lights, but the bite was off.

The next day, we moved to Manasota Key where our goal was to sight-fish snook (and other species) in the surf. Conditions were good and snook were somewhat plentiful.

Littleton hooked a monster snook early on, but lost it after about a minute. The fish was lying in a foot of water and took a Gibby's DT Variation. After the hookup, the big snook (we estimated it at 20-25 pounds) took off on a long, fast run.

"I've never felt a fish that fast and powerful," said Littleton. "I'm not sure what happened?"

Getting out early is a good way to beat the heat.
Rest assured, it was nothing that Littleton, an accomplished fly fisher, did.

Later in the day, Littleton hooked another snook and landed it. Although it was significantly smaller, it was the first snook of his impressive fly-fishing career.

Beach fly fishing has been fair. I made a number of trips during the month to Manasota Key and Casey Key.  My totals ranged from zero fish to 11. I saw an average of 100 snook per trip. Most of the snook were in the 20-24-inch range.

This action should only get better, with the peak month being August.

Jack Littleton hooked up to a monster snook.
Sight-fishing snook in the surf is one of my favorite ways to fish. If you let your mind wander, you can envision yourself on a remote Bahamian island.

In addition to snook, we encounter spotted seatrout, redfish, houndfish, mangrove snapper, flounder , Spanish mackerel and even tarpon on these trips.

If you're interested in fly fishing the beaches, here's what you'll need:

1. Cap or hat

2. Sunscreen

3. Polarized sunglasses

4. Proper footwear

I wear dive boots that I purchased at a local SCUBA shop. I like them because they slip on and off , have thick soles and are comfortable. I do not like flats/wading boots that have zippers. The zippers are usually rendered useless by sand and shell.

Sandals and tennis shoes are not good choices for beach snook fishing. The attract sand and shells.

Why should you fish with me? Couldn't you simply head out to the beach and fish by yourself?

Sure, you can. However, I know where the fish are at all times.

In addition, you'll probably have a tough time seeing the fish. I see them pretty darn good.

Bay fishing has been fair. We've been fishing mainly in southern Tampa Bay around Joe Island.

Tate Anderson of Sarasota and his girlfriend, Michelle, joined my for a Tampa Bay outing and we did fair. We totaled 40 spotted seatrout to 17 inches on MirrOlure MirrOdines.

I fished solo in the same area a couple of weeks later and did a little better. I caught and released six snook and a half dozen spotted seatrout on Zara Super Spook Jrs.  I also released a 5-foot blacktip shark  that I caught on a conventional rod and reel loaded with 30-pound braid, 60-pound wire leader and 9/0 circle hook. I used a 1 1/2-pound jack crevalle for bait.

Tampa Bay is among  the world's top shark fisheries. Common species are blacktip, bull, bonnethead, lemon, tiger and hammerhead.

We also fish around Fort DeSoto when we're targeting shark.

JULY FORECAST:  Beach snook fishing should improve as baitfish moves into the surf. We should not only see more snook, but larger snook. Night fly fishing should continue strong for snook, tarpon and spotted seatrout. In Tampa Bay, shark fishing will  be hot. In addition, snook, redfish, spotted seatrout, flounder and jack crevalle should please. In Sarasota Bay, I look for decent action on spotted seatrout, redfish, ladyfish and jack crevalle.

Yes, it's hot in Florida during the summer. However, we get out early or fish before daylight, so it's really not too bad at all.

If you're interested in getting in on some of this action, please give me a call (941-284-3406) or email me (steve@kayakfishingsarasota.com).


Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing
www.kayakfishingsarasota.com
941-284-3406




Thursday, June 11, 2015

Now is the time to sight-fishing snook in the surf

A sizable school of snook swims in the surf along Casey Key south of Sarasota.
I have conducted seminars on fly fishing for snook for the past 30 years.

In almost every session, a majority of folks that I talk to have yet to catch their first snook on fly.
I live in Sarasota, Fla., on the Gulf Coast. The area offers some great sight-fishing for snook from May through August. We walk the local beaches and fly fish snook in the calm, clear surf.

The author shows off a fine beach snook.
Sight-fishing, for those who aren't familiar with the activity, is spotting the fish before making a cast.  It's considered the ultimate activity for many fly anglers.

We slowly walk along local beaches and look into the surf. When we spot a snook, we'll present it a fly. There are times when we'll see 300-400 snook in a morning.

This activity isn't beyond the skill level of most anglers. If you have the desire to sight-fish a snook, you can do it. All you need is a quality pair of polarized sunglasses, hat or cap and the ability to cast a fly.

It's that simple.

And if you can follow a few simple directions, you're on your way.

Prime months are June, July and August. If I had to pick my peak times, it would be mid-July to mid-August. That seems to be the time when the most snook are in the surf.
Scott Dempsey of Savannah, Ga., succeeded.

Snook take to the surf as early as March. It all depends on the water temperature. When it hits 75 degrees, snook will move from the bays through the passes and spread out along the beaches. You can find them along Florida's west coast from Anna Maria Island to Marco Island.

While you might find them at any beach, realize there are some better than others. That's where I come it. I have spent a lot of time walking the beaches, so I know which are holding fish and which aren't.

I don't like to waste my time.

What I look for is good weather conditions. I like a bright, sunshiny day with a gently easterly breeze. 
This usually results in a fairly calm surf with clear water. And that's what you need when you're trying to sight-fish.

A "healthy" snook forages in the feeding zone.
When you're looking for snook, don't make the mistake of trying to look for a whole fish with eyes, mouth, fins and tail. If you do, you probably won't see very much. What you're looking for is movement, a shape, a shadow or even just a fin.

It's much like sitting in a tree stand, looking for deer. If you look for a whole deer complete with antlers, head, nose, mouth, body, four legs and a tail, you'll likely fail. When you're deer hunting, you might see just an ear twitch. Or the subtle movement of a tail.

Once you spot your first snook, it becomes pretty easy.

Where do you look? Well, the surf is an arbitrary thing that can be pretty large. I divide it into two pieces: the feeding zone and the trough.

Gibby's DT Variation is the fly of choice.
The feeding zone is that area from the dry sand out to four feet. Snook will cruise parallel to the beach in this zone looking for food.

You'll often find them in the trough (that deep area just off the beach) lying on the bottom and facing west. These fish usually aren't hungry and tough to fool.

I usually arrive at the beach about 8 a.m. Doesn't do much good to get there any earlier because the sun won't be high enough in the sky to light up the water. Your "window of visibility" will be very small early and it will open wider as the sun rises. By 10 a.m., you'll be able to spot a snook 150 feet away.

When you spot a snook, first determine in which direction the fish is swimming. If it's coming toward you, all you have to do is stand still and wait for it to come into range. If it's swimming away from you, you'll have to get in front of the fish in order to make a cast.

What's the proper cast? For me, it's a perpendicular cast (straight out from the beach). I like to time my retrieve so that the fly and fish meet at the same spot at the same time. When this happens, two things can happen. The fish will begin to track your fly or it will ignore it.

If the fish begins to follow, it's up to you to trigger a strike. This can be tricky because you only have a few feet of water to work with. I'll usually speed the fly up just a little. If the snook wants your offering, you can't retrieve it too fast.

Diagonal or parallel casts work at times, but there's a good chance you'll spook the fish if you're off-target or cast too far.

First thing I do when I get to the beach is to pull about 20 feet of fly line off the reel. I will then  hold the fly  and rod in my right hand, with the fly between my thumb and index finger. I allow about 10 feet of line out the rod tip, with the rest trailing behind me as I walk. Remember, short casts are the rule.

Some opt for a stripping basket, but I've found they only get in the way. The sand will not hurt your fly line. Just wash it off in warm soapy water when you get home.

Snook are structure-oriented, so don't overlook fallen trees, grass or rocks. Those are likely snook hangouts. Shadows can be, too! Shadows often are created by houses and trees along the beach.
If you spot baitfish in the surf, there likely will be snook around. I've often seen snook crashing the bait. A quick cast to the feeding fish often will result in a hookup.

Most of the snook are small males. The average snook is 20-22 inches. However, I've seen them up to 30 pounds or more. My largest snook on fly is a 20-pounder that measured 40 inches.

I've had clients catch a number of slot (28 to 32 inches) snook. I've also had them hook some monster. Just last summer, I guided outdoor writer Mike Hodge. He caught and release five average snook, but lost a monster that I don't think he really believed would hit. In fact, he didn't think that dark spot on the bottom was even a snook!

After I convinced him it was not only a snook, but a big one, I advised him to cast a couple of feet in front of the fish. As the fly was sinking, the big snook seemingly levitated off the bottom, eyed the fly and inhaled it.

Hodge did a good job of strip-striking, but forgot to let go of the fly line as the fish surge off.
Pop! The leader broke.

"I'm not sure what I did that," the bewildered Hodge said.

I took Jack Littleton on his first beach-snook outing and he hooked a monster early on. The big snook (I estimated her at 25 pounds) was tight to the beach. Littleton made a perfect cast and the fish hit almost immediately. He did a good job of strip-striking and clearing the line. He was "on the reel" is just a second or two. The fish made a lengthy run, then changed direction. The line went slack.

The hook simply pulled.

"I couldn't believe the speed and strength of that snook," Littleton said.

He did nothing wrong. He made a good cast, set the hook correctly, cleared the line and kept pressure on the fish.

Snook generally aren't easy. I've been skunked, but not often. My best day took place in 2009 when I caught and released 41 snook in a morning. I'd say an average day is five snook.

Snook aren't the only species you'll find in the surf. I've hooked or landed tarpon, redfish, spotted seatrout, flounder, mangrove snapper, ladyfish, jack crevalle, Spanish mackerel, pompano and cobia.

You never know just what you'll encounter.

When I fish, I carry one fly rod (usually a 7- or 8-weight), with a sinktip line and 6-foot , 20-pound fluorocarbon lure.

My fly of choice is my Gibby's DT Variation. I've caught more than 1,000 snook on this fly over the years.

I also wear a fanny pack tackle bag in which I carry extra flies, leader material, pliers, nippers and a bottle of water.

Don't forget your sunscreen!

You can go barefooted, but I opt for neoprene boots that I purchased at a dive shop. They protect your feet and also are great when the sand is hot. Sandals are abysmal. They are great for collecting sand and shell. Ditto for tennis shoes.

A camera is also essential. You'll want it when you land that snook of a lifetime.

A few years ago, I guided a couple of fellows on a beach-snook trip. When we arrived, there were already 14 members of a local fly-fishing club spread out along the beach, beating the water. About half were wading -- which you don't do. If you're wading, a majority of fish will be behind you!

I ran into one of the guys from the fly club a few months later. He said the 14 of them didn't hook or land a fish. My two clients didn't set the world on fire, but they did combine for seven snook and three Spanish mackerel!

I also asked why they were wading?

He said, "That's what they told me to do."

I've given beach snook presentations to that club on at least three occasions. I've stressed not to wade!

If you want to sight-fish a snook in the surf, give me a call (941-284-3406) or email me (steve@kayakfishingsarsasota.com).


I think you'll like it!