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


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