Friday, April 3, 2015

March fishing much improved; April looms brightly around Sarasota

Marti Meyers of Maine shows off a smile as large as the snook she caught.
March was much improved for the most part. We had decent weather and workable wind.

Rob Halupka of Toronto is tight to an Everglades oscar.
Robert Vandonick and his wife, Debra, joined me for an outing in Sarasota Bay off Stephens Point. Their goal was to test out the NuCanoe Frontier prior to purchasing one. They not only loved the NuCanoe, but also caught fish!

Using D.O.A. CAL Jigs with paddle tails and MirrOlure MirrOdines, they caught 30 spotted seatrout, ladyfish, jack crevalle and Spanish mackerel to 5 pounds.

Robert texted me an hour after the outing and informed me that had placed an order for a NuCanoe.
Another prospective, Bob Campbell of Connecticut, was up next. Bob was interested in testing out the Frontier as a fly-fishing platform. He was impressed. Of course, I believe the Frontier is the premier fly-fishing kayak on the market (

Bob had a decent day, catching a releasing spotted seatrout, ladyfish and Spanish mackerel  to 4 pounds on Gibby's Trout Duster Fly.

Everette Howell, a retired neuro
surgeon from Nashville, Tenn., joined me for an outing on the west side of Sarasota Bay. Everette and his lovely wife, Sherry, own a home on Longboat Key.

I'm not going to tell you this outing was great, but we had our opportunities. We landed spotted seatrout, jack crevalle and ladyfish. We lost several healthy snook.

However, the following day, Everette paddled to the first spot we fished and had what he called "one of the best days I've ever had." He landed a number of snook .

He went out again the next day.

"I had another good morning today," he wrote via email. "Again, I appreciate more than you can know your showing me some of your techniques.

"I have enjoyed the past two mornings as much as any fishing I have done."

We found snook  in turtle grass just off a sand bar. We waded the area and cast MirrOlure Lil Johns on  1/16-ounce Norton Jig heads. The trick is to be able to recognize the difference between a hit and hanging up in the grass.

Topwater plugs and spoons also work well in the same area.

I fished Buttonwood Harbor on a solo trip and did pretty darn good. I caught 20 snook -- and most were in the slow or larger. My largest trout went 24 inches. Lure of choice was the MirrOlure MirrOdine. I also landed a nice snook and caught six flounder. The flatties fell for a MirrOlure Lil John on a light jig.

Dick Duerre of Minnesota had a fair day in the bay. The 86-year-old caught spotted seatrout to 20 inches, jack crevalle, ladyfish and a 22-inch snook.

"My best day ever saltwater fishing here," he said.

Rob Halupka, a fly angler from Toronto, Ontario, was up next. Rob, an accomplished angler, hooked a snook shortly after launching at Buttonwood Harbor, but lost the fish after a short battle. He then hooked a feisty jack crevalle on a Gibby's Trout Duster Fly.

From there, the action got worse. We worked extremely hard, but only came up with six spotted seatrout and a ladyfish.

It was one of the slowest days I've ever had on Sarasota Bay.

Action picked up tremendously the following day when Rob and I drove to The Everglades. We fished canals along Alligator Alley and caught fish all day long. Using Gibby's Myakka Minnow, we totaled more than 50 hard-fishing oscar, plus a bunch of Mayan cichlid, largemouth bass, bluegill and stumpknocker. We saw some peacock bass, but didn't hook up.

I was fortunate to be able to fish with NuCanoe owner Blake Young, who was in town to unveil the company's new Pursuit. The Pursuit is a 13 1/2-foot sit-on-top kayak that is more narrow than the NuCanoe Frontier and features a lower profile.

We fished Sarasota Bay on one day and on Tampa Bay the next. We caught spotted seatrout in Sarasota Bay. In Tampa Bay, we managed spotted seatrout, jack crevalle and bonnethead shark. We had shots at larger shark, cobia, big spotted seatrout and redfish.

The Pursuit is a perfect platform from which to sight-fish!

The final trip of the month include Tom and Marti Meyers of Maine. They caught spotted seatrout to 17 inches and a 29-inch snook that fell for a MirrOlure Lil John on a light jig.

APRIL FORECAST: I look for improved action on redfish and snook in the shallows as the weather warms. Spotted seatrout action should continue strong in the shallows and over deep grass. Night snook action should be good -- particularly around stronger tides. We can expect snook to start showing up in the surf, although this action won't reach its peak until mid-summer. Fly fishing in The Everglades should continue to be hot for those targeting oscar, Mayan cichlid, largemouth bass and bluegill.

April is booking up nicely, but I do have a few openings remaining. Please email ( or call 941-284-3406 to book an outing.

P.S., I know where the tarpon are. If you want to catch one on fly rod, please let me know!

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing