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

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