Thursday, March 31, 2016

March resulted in great action for spotted seatrout

Drei Stroman of Fort Myers battles a feisty Palma Sola Bay pompano on fly rod.
How good has the fishing for spotted seatrout been?

Well, I set my goal for the year at 500 seatrout on fly. I've now totaled more than 500 trout (514 to be exact).  Guess I'll have to adjust that goal!

This fly-rod pompano put a big smile on Stroman's face.
But that illustrates just how good the seatrout fishing has been. We've done well on virtually every trip.

Palma Sola Bay has been the hot spot -- as it usually is this time of year. Fish drop into channels and sand holes during colder weather where they're easy targets for fly anglers and spin fishers alike.
During March, we averaged 42 trout per trip. And that included a 10-trout day in Sarasota Bay. On two occasions this year, I caught and released more than 100 trout in a day.

These fish have run the gamut of sizes. We caught plenty of them less than the minimum size limit (15 inches), but also have caught them up to 23 inches. Biggest trout of the month was a 25-incher that I caught in Little Sarasota Bay off Vamo. I found a bunch of trout over deep grass in that area.
John Weimer of Sarasota joined me for an outing on Palma Sola Bay and had a good time. We combined to catch and release 50 trout to 21 inches on Super Hair Clousers and Popovics Jiggy flies. In addition, we caught loads of ladyfish and a couple of sugar trout.
Jay Karol of New York struggles to subdue a pompano.

Drei Stroman and Katrina Hillard of Fort Myers joined me on Palma Sola Bay and had a good outing. We landed more than 50 trout, plus ladyfish, five sugar trout and a feisty pompano.

On a solo trip to Palma Sola, I caught 27 trout on Clousers and Jiggies, plus two sugar trout.
I fished Sarasota Bay for the first time since Nov. 6 and had a slow outing. I caught six trout and a few ladyfish out in the bay. I added another dozen trout from the basin near the launch. Largest fish was 16 inches.

We also did quite a bit of freshwater fishing at Lake Manatee during the month. Most trips were very good, but a couple were slow.

First outing resulted in 20 hand-sized copperheaded bluegill, six speckled perch and a half-dozen largemouth bass on No. 12 nymphs under a strike indicator.

The author with his largest tilapia on fly.
Denton Kent of Sarasota and I combined to land 15 bluegill, one bass and three specks on popers and nymphs. We fished hard on this outing, but found the going a little slow.

The next day saw improved action when John Weimer accompanied me. We caught 25 big bluegill, a bass, seven speckled perch and a 4-pound tilapia. It was the largest tilapia I've ever caught on fly rod. Most of the fish came on nymphs under a strike indicator.

On a solo outing a few days late, I caught 10 bluegill, seven speckled perch and four bass on nymphs. The specks were spawning in shallow water. if you caught one, you could expect more from that area.
John Kis and Jay Karol of New York had a good day in Palma Sola Bay. They totaled 50 trout to 19 inches, loads of ladyfish, a pompano, sugar trout, three Spanish mackerel to 5 pounds and a flounder. 

Most of the fish were caught on VuDu Shrimp. I also caught fish on a MirrOlure MirrOdine mini.

Majestic visitor on a Palma Sola Bay outing.
Ken Babineau, president of the Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers, joined me for a trip to Lake Manatee. Despite low wind and overcast, we struggled to land only five bluegill and one bass. it was the slowed day I've experienced on Lake Manatee in years.

I fished Little Sarasota Bay around Vamo and caught 19 trout to 5 pounds, a 25-inch snook, flounder, jack crevalle and loads of big ladyfish on MirreOlure Lil Johns, topwater plugs and MirrOlure Mini MirrOdines.

The month was on the windy side. I'm hoping the wind calms down just a little for April!

APRIL FORECAST: I anticipate continue strong spotted seatrout action over deep grass. Night snook should come on strong around lighted docks. There also could be some decent tarpon action around docks, too!  Redfish are anyone's guess (as always). In fresh water, I look for bluegill, speckled perch, largemouth bass and channel catfish in Lake Manatee and the Manatee River.
Bookings are coming in for April, so available days are getting fewer. Give me a call (941-284-3406) or email me (steve@kayakfishingsarasota) to make sure you get the day(s) you want.

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing


Friday, March 4, 2016

February produced the best trout action in years

Eric Porter of Colorado battles a Palma Sola Bay seatrout on fly rod.
It's  easy to sum up February's action here at Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing:


No doubt February was the month of trout. In fact, the month proved to be the finest month of spotted seatrout action we've experienced in quite a while.

John Kis of New York brings another seatrout to the kayak.
The reason is fairly simple. Cooling water temperatures pushed the trout into deeper water which congregated them and made them easy to find -- and catch.

All of the success took place in Palma Sola Bay at a spot that I found several years ago during cold weather. It's a spot that you wouldn't normally associate with trout. In fact, in years past I might have paddled right by the location without giving it much of a thought.

However,  when I first started fishing there, I made a few casts and was surprised by some decent trout. It didn't take long for the proverbial light bulb to go on in my head. In the years since, my clients and I have caught several thousand trout there.

Repeat client John Kis of New York joined me on a beautiful day where the fishing matched the weather. We managed 40 trout to 22 inches and 10 flounder on VuDu Shrimp. Fish of the day was a 3-pound sheepshead that John caught. Sheepshead are common catches for those using artificial lures. They're most often caught on live bait.

I fished the area alone on a couple of occasions and did well on fly rod. Using Super Hair Clousers (chartreuse and white, olive and white) and Popovics' Jiggy, I caught a load of trout to 23 inches.
Veteran fly fisher John Garcia of California and I combined for 35 trout and a flounder on Clousers and Jiggys. The largest trout went 22 inches.

Another trip produced 85 trout to 21 inches and a load of ladyfish. Despite strong wind, another outing yielded 51 trout to 22 inches and a bunch of ladyfish.

Vinny Caruso and his grandson, Robbie Holland (both of Bradenton) had a great outing, combing for 140 trout to 22 inches, lots of ladyfish and a fine pompano. Robbie caught the pompano on a VuDu Shrimp. They also used MirrOlure Lil Johns on light jigs.

Repeat clients Eric Porter of Colorado and Jeff Porter of Oklahoma picked one of the windiest days of the year. We had to shorten the outing to 4 hours, but still landed 29 trout and a bunch of ladyfish on Clousers and Jiggys. The largest trout went 19 inches.

When fishing deep water, the trout bite has been extremely light. In fact, those waiting for an aggressive strike might not hook up often. I advise clients to "set" the hook if they sense anything different. It could feel like a slight drag on the line. The fly line might simply straighten out.
The hits have been very subtle and light when using fly rods.

For this action, we're using sinktip lines and 6-foot leaders. I have used a floating line, but because of the depth of water, I've lengthened my leader to 12 feet to get to the desired depth.

We've also been finding lots of trout and ladyfish in sand holes out on the flats of Palma Sola Bay. Because we usually encounter strong wind, we've been anchoring up  on grass patches in the holes and doing well. We remain anchored as long as we're catching fish. When the action slows, we move to another grass patch.

This strong trout action should continue through March.

MARCH FORECAST:  We expect excellent action on spotted seatrout throughout the upcoming month. The fish should stack up in channels and sand holes. They will be available for those fly fishing or using spinning rods. Redfish activity could crank up on the flats -- if the weather cooperates. We look for decent snook action around dock lights. Over deep grass, we look for spotted seatrout, ladyfish, jack crevalle, bluefish , Spanish mackerel and maybe a few pompano. In fresh water , Lake Manatee and the Manatee River should yield bluegill, speckled perch, channel catfish and largemouth bass.

I did a presentation on Freshwater Fly Fishing Opportunities in Florida at the February meeting of the Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers. If you live in the area or are on an extended visit, you might want to check out this dedicated group of fly anglers. They meet on the fourth Wednesday of every month at the Sarasota  Garden Club, 1131 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota. Check out the MCFF website at 

March is typically a good month for fishing. Please book your trips early.

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing