Sunday, October 30, 2016

Wind, rain, red tide and high water slowed things down in October

I've always said October is the best month in Florida.

Light breezes, low humidity, comfortable temperatures and great fishing.

Usually it is. But not this October. It was windy and rainy. We had a hurricane (Matthew) push up the east coast. That storm didn't affect us much here on the west coast, but we did get a lot of wind and rain.

Snook fishing has been consistent throughout the area.
I can handle most anything when on the water: rain, heat, cold. Wind is another matter. It makes fishing quite tough. It's not that you can't fish in the wind, but it make controlling the kayak a problem. It doesn't allow you to fish areas slow and thoroughly  as you'd like.

Still, we were able to get out and catch fish.

Early in the month, we spent a few days fly fishing local fresh waters. We fished Upper Myakka Lake and Benderson Park. We did well.

The first day at Myakka, we launched the kayak and paddled to the dam. There, we floating over the dam and spent a few hours casting flies for whatever might be lurking in the depths. We caught hand-size bluegill, shellcracker, largemouth bass, tilapia and channel catfish.

We returned a day or so later, but high wind prevented us from getting into the lake. So we opted to fish the protected boat basin. We were surprised when we caught a bunch of hard-fishing, hand-sized bluegill.

We wanted to target Clay Gully, a creek that empties into Upper Myakka Lake. But high water caused by recent heavy rain made that impossible. We'll keep that in mind and plan a return trip in a month or so.
Snook gather in a dock light.

For most of this fishing, we used a TFO Finesse 2-weight rod, floating line and a No. 10 Gibby's Snymph (simple nymph) under a strike indicator.

Our trip to Benderson Park was quite surprising. The lake is a former pit that was given to Sarasota County. It now serves as a world-class rowing facility. I'd fished the lake a couple of times previously, but not in about 15 years. I launched at the boat ramp on the south end of the lake and paddled up the east side to the Cooper Creek spillway. There, I caught several bass to 15 inches on Clouser Deep Minnows.

I drifted along the east side and cast Snymphs to the edge. I caught 25 bluegill, four shellcracker, five bass and a hefty channel catfish. I also hooked another channel cat, but lost it after a short battle.

I was at the lake in the spring of 2000 when the State of Florida stocked it with 10,000 channel catfish. After my outing, I would say the lake has a good (and hungry) population of channel cats.

Sarasota Bay has been battling red tide, so most of my salt water outings have been in other areas. I fished a couple of days in a tidal creek south of Venice. I was scouting for the 12th annual Fall Fly Fishing Challenge. The creek paid off for me last year when I caught enough snook to win the Snook Division of the tournament.
Speckled perch action should perk up in November.

This time was different. First trip, I didn't see a snook. John Weimer and I returned a week later and totaled five snook to about 20 inches.

I decided I would fish somewhere else in the tournament.

I also fished Sarasota Bay off Stephens Point. I've had memorable days off Stephens Point, but not this time. Usually, it's a spot where I can always catch 20 or more spotted seatrout. I caught none on this trip. I only managed a couple of ladyfish and a jack crevalle.

To make matters worse, two underwater lights in the Stephens Point basin were turned off, making night snook fishing impossible.

Scratch Stephens Point as a tournament spot.

We waded the flats near Vamo in Little Sarasota Bay and caught seven snook on Rainey's Bubblehead Poppers. That was encouraging. However, we didn't find any redfish or trout. That eliminated the spot from tournament contention.

John Weimer and I drove to Palma Sola Bay and did so-so. We found several underwater lights that held a bunch of snook. We left them alone, preferring to catch them during the tournament.
We paddled out onto the nearby flats and found a few seatrout.

We returned on tournament day. Things started out pretty decently. I caught five snook and lost another at the side of the kayak.

We then headed out onto the flats. I caught a small trout. Now, I had the rest of the day to catch one redfish.

Didn't happen. In fact, the wind started blowing and we had to abandon our outing.

Fortunately, Weimer managed four trout that totaled 53 inches to win the Trout Division.

Congratulations, John!

We're hoping the wind finally settles and that red tide dissipates.

If so, things should pick up in November.

NOVEMBER FORECAST: We look for improved snook, spotted seatrout and redfish action in Sarasota Bay and surrounding waters. Water temperatures should drop, causing gamefish to begin a feeding assault in preparation for winter. Night snook fishing should remain strong. In fresh water, we look for improved action on bluegill, bass, speckled perch, shellcracker and channel catfish. Best spots should be Lake Manatee and Upper Myakka Lake. Also, we're anticipating a couple of trips south to the Land of Peacock Bass. We've got a small lake just east of Naples that holds a decent population of peacock bass, plus monster bluegill, shellcracker, largemouth bass and Mayan cichlid.

Steve Gibson
Southern  Drawl Kayak Fishing


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