Saturday, January 3, 2015

December's action indicates large trout could be on the horizon

Amy Panse of Grand Rapids, Mich., shows off  a cobia she caught on a jig from Sarasota Bay.

If December is any indication, 2015 should be a banner year for spotted seatrout. After two years of below average trout fishing, things seem to be picking up.

Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing experienced fine trout action along the east and west sides of Sarasota Bay and around Palma Sola Bay.
Jeff Panse of Kalamazoo, Mich., caught a nice pompano.

Fishing on the north side of Helicopter Shoal, we caught 15 solid trout that ranged from 18 to 22 inches. We didn't catch any monsters, but we sure had the feeling that we would. Our bait of choice was the 14MR MirrOdine, the best trout lure we've ever used.

Trout action also was good in the deep grass off the east side of Whale Key. Vinny Caruso of Bradenton and I caught and released an estimated 50 trout from 16 to 20 inches on MirrOdines.

Norm Ferris of Charleston, S.C., joined us for a six-hour session and did well. Ferris, an accomplished fly angler, caught 20 trout and several ladyfish during his outing in Buttonwood Harbor. The highlight of the day was a fish that he didn't catch. Ferris saw a fish swimming along the surface about 50 feet from his kayak. He paddled into position to make a cast.

"It's a shark," he said, "and she's got a baby swimming along with her."

That shark turned out to be a 30- to 40-pound cobia.

Ferris made a nice cast to the fish. The big cobia immediately turned and began following the fly, but the fish turned away when it saw Ferris' kayak.

"I ran out of real estate," he said.

In addition to spotted seatrout, we've also been getting hard-fighting bluefish to 5 pounds, Spanish mackerel and a few pompano.

Jeff Panse of Kalamazoo, Mich., and his sister, Amy Panse, of Grand Rapids, Mich., joined me for a six-hour session off Stephens Point. It was one of those days that you dream about.

We launched the kayaks, paddled out to the deep grass and anchored when we hooked the first fish.

We didn't come off anchor for five hours. During that time, we caught more than 100 trout, plus bluefish, ladyfish, pompano and a cobia.

Amy hooked the cobia on a D.O.A. CAL Jig with a gold paddle tail.

"I think it's a shark," she yelled.

To the untrained eye, cobia often are mistaken for shark.

The cobia was a 30-incher.

Fly angler Jason Beary fished a half day on Dec. 26. We had to work hard, but managed to catch and release 30 trout and a couple of bluefish. The fish were taken on Clouser Deep Minnows.

We fished the Myakka River a few times, but didn't find the big snook. Best day was three small snook, three largemouth bass, a redfish and a gar.

We need some colder weather to kick the river season into gear.

I am out of commission until late in the month. I underwent eye surgery on Dec. 30 to remove a cataract from my right eye and to receive a new lens. The procedure was successful and I now can see after two years of "blindness."

I am scheduled to undergo surgery on my left eye later in the month.

I am not sure when my doctor will allow me back on the water?

Advancements in cataract surgery are amazing. Not only will I be able to see clearly again, but I also will not have to wear prescription glasses. I've been wearing glasses since I was 16.

I hope that all of you had a wonderful Holiday Season.

Most certainly I will be back on the water by late January. That's when I think the monster seatrout will be back. We haven't had a run of big trout since 2012. I'm looking forward to it.

Call me (941-284-3406) or email me ( at your earliest convenience to book a trip. I look forward to getting out on the water with you once again.

FEBRUARY FORECAST: Spotted seatrout should not only top the list during the month, but we should encounter plenty of "gator" trout (5 pounds and heavier). In addition, I look for lots of feisty bluefish, Spanish mackerel, pompano and an occasional cobia. If the weather cools off enough, things should heat up in the Myakka River for giant snook. In the past, we've taken quite a few snook of 25 pounds and larger.

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing


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