Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January offered warmth and some pretty hot action

Terry Byce of Lakewood Ranch battles his first Everglades oscar.
This unseasonably warm winter is good and bad. It's good because you can get out on the water and enjoy yourself in warmth.

It's bad because it isn't the norm for fish.

Snook are still on the flats and under the mangroves which isn't normal this time of year. We should be finding most of the snook up creeks and rivers, but that's just not the case.

Burt Benjamin, 81, battles a spotted seatrout on fly rod.
Fishing has been pretty good in both fresh and salt waters.

In salt water, we've been getting spotted seatrout, snook, ladyfish, jack crevalle and pompano.

Burt Benjamin of Connecticut joined me for an outing on Palma Sola Bay. We managed to catch 20 seatrout to 23 inches, three flounder and a pompano on Popovics Jiggy Flies.

If you think you're too old for kayak fishing realize that Benjamin is 81.

John Weimer of Sarasota fished with me on several occasions. We fished Palma Sola Bay and caught 22 seatrout to 19 inches and several ladyfish on Popovics Jiggies and Super Hair Clouser Deep Minnows.

Terry Byce of Lakewood Ranch spent a day along Alligator Alley and wasn't disappointed. On his first trip, Byce caught "more fish in a day than I've ever caught." He managed oscar, Mayan cichlid, bluegill, stumpknocker, warmouth perch and largemouth bass. All fish were caught on Gibby's Mighty Myakka Minnow.

John Weimer of Sarasota is hooked up in The Everglades.
Weimer and I fished Alligator Alley and had similar results. We caught an estimated 200 oscar, Mayan cichlid, bluegill, stumpknocker, warmouth perch and largemouth bass.

Interestingly enough, we caught a majority of our fish while employing a method we dubbed "the non-working technique." We'd cast out Myakka Minnows and allow them to sink. We wouldn't retrieve them at all. Sooner or later, a fish would inhale the offering and the battle was on.

The non-working technique paid off in many fish.

Speaking of the Myakka Minnow ...

I developed the fly more than 10 years ago. And it has resulted in many fresh and saltwater fish over the years. One of the main materials used is Bodi-Braid by Spirit River.

However, Spirit River was recently bought by Hareline Dubbin. And the new parent company has decided not to carry Bodi-Braid.

That caused me concern. However, after a visit to a local needlepoint shop, I have come up with a substitute. Actually, I'm better off because the shop carries not only the colors I need, but also additional colors that were previously unavailable to me.

I now tie Myakka Minnows in a variety of colors.

If you're interested in purchasing Myakka Minnows, they're $60 a dozen (plus shipping). Minimium order is a dozen.

I tie them in sizes No. 12 to No. 6 for freshwater. In addition, I tie them in No 4 to No. 1 for saltwater.

They make great night snook flies.

Over the years, the Myakka Minnow was caught oscar, Mayan cichlid, peacock bass, stumpknocker, warmouth perch, largemouth bass, sunfish, pumpkinseed, speckled perch (black crappie), white crappie, channel catfish, blue tilapia, spotted tilapia, barramundi, brown trout and others.

In salt water, they have resulted in spotted seatrout, snook, ladyfish, jack crevalle, Spanish mackerel, tripletail, bonefish, tarpon, mangrove snapper and others.

The Myakka Minnow is not magic, but a great fly whenever fish are feeding on small minnows.

I fished Lake Manatee on a couple of occasions and did well. On one trip, I caught 20 bluegill, two bass, one speckled perch and a stumpknocker on Myakka Minnows, popping bugs and Snymphs. The other trip was virtually the same.

February looks promising and is booking up quickly.

FEBRUARY FORECAST: Spotted seatrout action should be very good over the deep grass in Sarasota Bay, Little Sarasota Bay and Palma Sola Bay. In addition, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and jack crevalle should please. Redfish action should perk up on the flats and around mangroves. Snook are still in the bay, but will move to creeks and rivers if we get a sustained cold front. In fresh water, Lake Manatee and the Manatee River should produce bluegill, largemouth bass, channel catfish, shellcracker and speckled perch. Alligator Alley should produce loads of oscar, Mayan cichlid, bluegill, largemouth bass, stumpknocker, warmouth perch and an occasional peacock bass.

If you're interested in a fishing trip or purchasing Myakka Minnows, please give me a call (941-284-3406) or email me (steve@kayakfishingsarasota.com).

Hope to hear from you soon!

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

December saw improved fishing in Sarasota Bay and plenty of freshwater action

John Kis of New Rochelle, N.Y., caught a variety of species, including this leaping bluefish.
December arguably was the best month of fishing we've experienced in a while. After battles with red tide, poor water quality and wind, things finally perked up in salt waters around Sarasota.

Ray Gibson of Atlanta shows off a fine pompano.
We experienced good to excellent action in both fresh and salt waters from Tampa Bay to The Everglades.

The big news, however, was the return to glory of Sarasota Bay. That's good news on a number of accounts. First, it's close to home. Second, the bay perked up considerably after red tide pummeled it for the second straight year.

John Weimer of Sarasota and I launched at Stephens Point and caught a number of ladyfish and jack crevalle. We were anticipating spotted seatrout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and pompano, but came up short. However, the water quality of extremely encouraging.

The next three days saw us launch off Longboat Key at Buttonwood Harbor. The first day, we caught several snook on fly rod around dock lights. Then at daylight, we switched to spinning gear and caught a number of snook to 26 inches on MirrOlure Lil Johns on light jigs.

We moved into the bay and caught numerous spotted seatrout to 22 inches on MirrOlure MirrOdines. In addition, we managed eight bluefish to four pounds and eight pompano to three pounds.

Next day, repeat client John Kis of New Rochelle, N.Y., caught snook, spotted seatrout, ladyfish and pompano. Snook were caught on Lil Johns and light jigs in the Longboat Key rim canal. We caught seatrout to 21 inches, bluefish, pompano and ladyfish on MirrOdines.

Ray Gibson of Atlanta caught spotted seatrout to 19 inches, ladyfish and pompano on MirrOdines and flies.

That action was particularly encouraging after several months of slow fishing. If we can avoid red tide, I anticipate a good year of fishing in Sarasota Bay.

We fished Lake Manatee on a number of occasions and did well. We caught hand-sized bluegill, speckled perch to 15 inches, largemouth bass, stumpknocker and channel catfish on Gibby's Snymphs under strike indicators. We also caught fish on popping bugs and Gibby's Myakka Minnows.

Manatee River action ranged from fair to very good. On one trip, we caught six channel catfish to four pounds, a number of hand-size bluegill, tilapia and a 7-pound largemouth on Snymphs under a strike indicator.

John Weimer and I visited a small lake east of Naples and had an average trip, catching bluegill to 12 inches on Myakka Minnows, stumpknocker, largemouth bass and two peacock bass.

JANUARY FORECAST: It has been unseasonably warm, but we're expecting the weather to cool off with a cold front on the way. When that happens, look for snook to begin to push up rivers, creeks and canals in search of warm waters. If that happens, we anticipate decent action up the Manatee and Myakka rivers. Spotted seatrout, pompano, bluefish and Spanish mackerel action should remain good in Sarasota Bay over deep grass. In addition, our trips to Alligator Alley should results in hot fly-rod action on oscar, Mayan cichlid, largemouth bass, bluegill and stumpknocker.

We hope everyone had a great holiday season.

Of course, we couldn't do anything without our sponsors: NuCanoe, Aqua-Bound Paddles, MirrOlure, D.O.A. Lures, TFO and Peak fishing.

January is looking good and my schedule is filling. If you'd like to experience the world of kayak fishing, please give me a call (941-284-3406) or drop me an email (steve@kayakfishingsarasota.com). 

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing