Thursday, May 5, 2016

Night fishing around lighted docks was the key to April success

Happy Susan Bostwick of California shows off her first snook. She caught it on a fly rod.
April was a good month, but a perplexing one.

Typically, April is a wonderful time to hit Sarasota Bay and catch a bunch of spotted seatrout. We caught some decent-sized trout during the month, but not a lot of them.

I'm still convinced the bay is still feeling the effects of  last fall's red tide. I could be wrong, but that's my hunch.
Snook often are plentiful in the dock lights.

We did slip out one day and catch some really nice fish. Starting a couple of hours before daylight, we caught a couple of snook and jack crevalle around dock lights in the Longboat Key rim canal. 

After the sun came up, we paddled out into the bay and found cooperative trout in several spots. But when we hit the "outer elbow" off Whale Key, we started getting trout from 2 1/2 to 4 pounds. Must have caught 15 before they quit hitting.

We caught all of the trout on MirrOlure MirrOdines, a suspending plug that is seemingly magical on a variety of species. Key to success with the MirrOdine is working it correctly.

I like to hold the rod horizontal to the water to my left. I twitch the lure a couple of times, then reel up the slack. I repeat this retrieve until I'm ready to make another cast. Most often, fish will hit as the lure is suspending.
Lee Soares of California battles a leaping seatrout.

It's important to work the lure slowly and allow it to perform its magic.

In addition to trout, I've also caught ladyfish, jack crevalle, snook, mangrove snapper, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and redfish on the MirrOdine. I don't think there's a fish out there that won't hit it!

Vinny Caruso of Bradenton and Capt. Bob Zola of Fort Lauderdale joined me to explore the waters off Vamo in Little Sarasota Bay. We caught 15 trout to 24 inches, several ladyfish, three snook and a flounder. We caught the fish on MirrOdines and MirrOlure Lil Johns on light jigs.

Howard Beemer of Fort Myers and his son in law, James Wies of Illinois fished Little Sarasota Bay and caught 10 trout to 23 inches, ladyfish, snook and flounder on MirrOdines and Lil Johns.
Mike Skalla holds a decent black drum.
Mark Skalla and Mike Skalla hit the water an hour before daylight and had a fair day. Mark caught a couple of nice snook on jigs while fishing dock lights around Longboat Key. They also caught three black drum to 10 pounds, two jack crevalle, mangrove snapper, spotted seatrout and flounder.

Vince O'Boyle of Venice caught flounder, redfish, mangrove snapper and a black drum on Lil Johns and light jigs in the rim canal at Longboat Key.

Ted Tolliver of Ohio had a fair day. He managed a dozen trout to 17 inches, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and bluefish. We fished the Longboat Key rim canal and deep grass in Sarasota Bay off Whale Key. Most of the fish were taken on Lil Johns and MirrOdines.

Lee Soares and Susan Bostwick of Petaluma , Calif., fly fished on a tough day, but their persistence paid off. Each caught his/her first snook. Lee's 28-incher was the day's best. They fished lighted docks in Bowles Creek.

Mark Skalla's first snook.
After daylight, we moved out to deep grass patches in Sarasota Bay. They caught spotted seatrout to 23 inches.

The significance of their outing was that a day prior, 21 anglers fished the Fly Division of the Sarasota CCA's Photo All-Release tournament. Those 21 angler caught a total of four trout and one redfish.

Lee's best snook and trout would have made him grand champion of the Fly Division in that tournament.

Pat and Penny Martin of New York joined me for a four-hour outing. We launched at Buttonwood Harbor and fished the rim canal at Longboat Key. The morning was very slow. We caught flounder, jack crevalle, ladyfish and missed a couple of snook.  We estimated one of the snook at 20 pounds or more.

Everette Howell of Longboat Key hooked a pair of tarpon and a snook while fly fishing around lighted docks. After daylight, he switched to a MirrOlure Lil John on a light jig and landed a 25-inch snook.  We caught one other snook and a jack crevalle.

Greg Tango of New Jersey and Mike Tango of California caught four snook to 27 inches, mangrove snapper, jack crevalle, flounder, silver trout and 20 spotted seatrout to 21 inches fishing around dock and seawall at Stephens Point and deep grass patches in Sarasota Bay. They used MirrOlure Lil Johns on light jigs, MirrOdines and D.O.A. Deadly Combinations.

We fished Lake Manatee on a couple of occasions and did fair. Launching at the Verna-Bethany Bridge at the east end of the lake, we caught largemouth bass to 3 pounds and hand-sized bluegill on popping bugs. We moved up the river and caught bluegill, bass and stumpknocker on nymphs.

We launched at Lake Manatee Fish Camp on another occasion and caught six bass to 3 pounds on poppers. We also caught bass, bluegill and channel catfish on nymphs.

I drove down to Casey Key and spent a morning looking for snook in the surf. It's still a little early, but the snook population in the surf will increase daily. I saw about 10 snook, but didn't catch any.

MAY FORECAST: Snook and tarpon are the best bets on fly rod around lighted docks along the east and west sides of Sarasota Bay. Spotted seatrout, ladyfish, jack crevalle and a few bluefish should cooperate over deep grass on both sides of the bay. Snook numbers should increase in the surf for those who like to sight-fishing with fly rod or spin tackle. In fresh water, I anticipate good action on bluegill, largemouth bass and channel catfish.

May is a great time to fish Sarasota Bay and surrounding waters. In addition, I look for decent action on peacock bass, Mayan cichlid, bluegill and shellcracker in south Florida waters.
I anticipate vastly improved sight-fishing for snook in the surf.

Fishing from a kayak is one of the world's great activities. I've been doing it since 1986.
If you'd like to fish, please give me a call!

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing