Friday, October 6, 2017

We survived Irma and even got out a few times to catch fish

The author lands a nice peacock bass on fly rod while fishing a small lake near Naples. (Photo by John Weimer)

We are alive and well after Hurricane Irma. The nasty storm devastated a good portion of Florida.

Irma did heavy damage in the Florida Keys, Chokoloskee, Everglades City, Marco Island and Naples. When she hit the Keys, Irma was a Category 5 storm. She was still quite a bitch when she hit Chokoloskee and Everglades City.

Fortunately for our area, Irma moved inland and started to lighten up a bit. She was a Category 1 hurricane as she passed Sarasota.

Kathy and I evacuated the Wednesday prior. Our thinking was that if we waited, we might not be able to get out because of traffic and a lack of fuel. Still, it took us 18 hours to get to Atlanta, a drive that normally takes about eight hours.

We stayed until the following Wednesday, and we weren't certain we could back then. Even though it had been three days since Irma wreaked havoc on Florida, there was little gas available along Interstate 75, and the traffic reportedly was terrible.

I decided to take U.S. 19 back.

Good decision.

We had no problem finding gas. And traffic was light along the way. It took 14 hours to get home, but I think it was quicker than it would have been on I-75.

When we got home, we had a lot of debris in the yard, but no damage. Even our electricity was on!
I did get out fishing a few times in September. I spent a day around Buttonwood Harbor on the west side of Sarasota Bay and did well. I started fishing a couple of hours before daylight and targeted snook around dock lights. I caught and released five snook to 30 inches on my Gibby's Snook Shrimp.

At daylight, I paddled to Redfish Key where I encountered several schools of mullet -- normally a good sign for redfish.

However, redfish have been scarce for the past year or so around Buttonwood Harbor. So you can imagine my surprise when I hooked into a feisty red. I knew it was larger than average, but we impressed when it measured 32 inches.

I paddled north to Crabclaw Key and caught three more reds on five casts. They were all 27 inches or larger.

After that, I targeted spotted seatrout to complete my Slam. In addition, I landed bluefish, ladyfish and mangrove snapper.

John Weimer of Sarasota accompanied me on a trek south to Naples where we hoped to target peacock bass and large Mayan cichlid. We did well. We caught six big Mayans to 15 inches, six bluegill to 12 inches and eight peacock bass to 17.

We caught the bluegill and Mayan cichlid on popping bugs and Gibby's Snymphs under a strike indicator. We caught all of the peacock bass on chartreuse-and-white and olive-and-white Clouser Deep Minnows.

It will be interested to see what the look likes like following Hurricane Irma.

I fished Fort DeSoto on a shark trip and had fair success. I landed four small blacktip shark on ladyfish chunks. I'm hoping to get back up there soon and try catching a shark on a fly rod.

John Weimer and I fished Lake Manatee late in the month and caught 43 mostly hand-sized bluegill, a nice speckled perch and a 6-pound channel catfish. We used popping bugs and Gibby's Snymphs.

Interestingly enough, I caught most of my fish, including the speck and channel cat, on my new TFO Finesse .5-weight fly rod.

OCTOBER FORECAST: Should be great. October is the best month of the year as far as weather goes. Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right. In salt water, I anticipate good action on snook, spotted seatrout and redfish around Sarasota Bay. I predict Buttonwood Harbor and Little Sarasota Bay to be the hot spots. There also should be some good action off Stephens Point. I like to fish southern Tampa Bay this time of year.  Snook, spotted seatrout, redfish and flounder will be the featured fish. Shark, jack crevalle and ladyfish should also make their presence known. In fresh water, I anticipate good action on bluegill, bass and channel catfish in local lakes. Further south, I anticipate good action on peacock bass, Mayan cichlid, largemouth bass and bluegill.
Looks as if the fall is shaping up to be for great fishing. I'm starting to book up, so get in touch and secure your outing.
Call me at (941) 284-3406 or email

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing


No comments:

Post a Comment