Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Wind and rough water couldn't stop us from catching fish

Bonnie Hickey of Bozeman, Mont., battles her first beach snook.

We were able to catch a decent number of fish during May -- despite strong wind, rain and rough and dirty water.

Weather certainly has been a major influence on fishing throughout southwest Florida so far in 2018.

 We're hoping things settle down and we can get back to "normal."

This unusual brown peacock bass was impressive.
Early in the month, we made a number trips to The Everglades where we walked in and did quite well on peacock bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, oscar and Mayan cichlid. Despite our success, those trips are over until the next dry season. High water, heat, thunderstorms and mosquitoes will keep angling action in The 'Glades to a minimum for a few months.

That being said, it could be the time to think about an Everglades trip down the road. If you've never caught a peacock bass, you might want to seriously consider this trip.

Over our last four outings down there, we caught and released more than 200 peacock bass. It's some great fly fishing, for sure.

Most of the fish were caught on Junior's Craft Fur Minnow, a creation of Junior Burk, an Indiana fly tyer. We also caught peacock bass on Gibby's Myakka Minnows.

Gibby's Myakka Minnow was effective on peacocks.
I did get out on a couple of beach snook trips in May. Conditions were not good, but we still encountered snook. Mike and Bonnie Hickey of Bozeman, Mont., joined me on a marginal day. We first tried Manasota Key, but encountered rough water and quite a bit of red algae (not red tide) in the surf. We drove north to Casey Key and found better conditions.

At Casey Key, Bonnie Hickey landed a 23-inch snook (the fish broke loose as I was holding the leader). She and Mike also hooked a few others. In all, they got maybe 15 shots at snook, including one fish we estimated at 10-12 pounds.

Jeff Marshall of Venice and Sherri Soper of Arizona spent a day with sight-fishing the surf in trying conditions. The water was calm enough, but the sky was overcast  which resulted in extreme glare on the water, making spotting snook pretty tough.
This over-sized redfish was sight-fished in 18 inches of water.

Still, Sherri  hooked a 24-incher and had a couple of other s take her fly. Jeff landed a decent spotted seatrout and lost another.

John Weimer of the Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers in Sarasota joined me on a trip to Lake Manatee. We launched at the Verna Road Bridge on the east end of the lake. The results were fair. We landed 25 mostly hand-size bluegill on popping bugs and Gibby's Snymphs under strike indicators.

Weimer also fished with me late in the month around Buttonwood Harbor off Sarasota Bay. We caught and released five snook, two redfish to33 inches, a number of spotted seatrout and a few ladyfish. Snook were caught on Gibby's Snook Shrimp, while the reds went for MirrOlure Lil Johns on light jig heads. Fish of the day was one we didn't land. While casting for trout over deep grass, I jumped a 60-pound tarpon that put on quite a show before I lost it!

Marshall  Dinerman of Atlanta caught spotted seatrout to 18 and ladyfish on MirrOlure Lil Johns on light jigs around Buttonwood Harbor. We also landed a fine, late-season pompano on a MirrOlure MirrOdine.

JUNE FORECAST: I can tell you what it should be. Snook should be plentiful in the surf  and willing to hit a Gibby's D.T. Variation. This is the best sight-fishing around when conditions are right. All we need are a light easterly breeze, calm surf, clear water and sunshine! Around Sarasota Bay, I look for decent snook action at night around lighted docks. Spotted seatrout should be plentiful over deep grass. And I think redfish action is beginning to (finally) pick back up after four sub-par years. I've already caught and released more reds this year than in the last four years combined.
If you want to get in on some of this exciting action, please give me a call (941-284-3406) or email me (steve@kayakfishingsarasota.com).

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Despite the wind, April produced a variety of fish

Marshall Dinerman of Atlanta had a reason to smile after landing his first redfish in nearly six years.

April continued where March left off -- windy.

Extremely windy.

John Weimer shows off a fine peacock bass.
In fact, I have yet to walk the beach in search of snook in the surf. I hope it's not too long before the windy subsides and conditions get right for my favorite form of saltwater fly fishing.

That doesn't mean we didn't fish in April. Au contraire! We got out many times and did pretty well.

In salt water, we fished Sarasota Bay, catching a variety fish. Marshall Dinerman of Orlando caught a 28-inch redfish on a Live Target pilchard in Buttonwood Harbor. He said it was his first redfish in nearly six years! In addition, we caught snook, spotted seatrout and ladyfish.

Dave Marshall of Port Charlotte caught a pair of snook on MirrOlure Lil Johns on light jigs from a Longboat Key canal.  Later, he added his largest redfish ever -- a 30-incher. He used Lil John on a jig. We also landed another snook and one of the largest mojarra I've ever seen.

Todd Dawson of Bradenton fished Sarasota Bay off Stephens Point and did well. We caught 25 spotted seatrout to 17 inches and a small gag grouper, using D.O.A. CAL Jigs and gold grubs.
Dave Marshall and his Sarasota Bay redfish.

I got out on a solo trip and had a very good day. Using an 8-weight fly rod, I bested five snook to 26 inches around dock lights. I used a small, white shrimp imitation. After daylight, I caught a pair of redfish, six spotted seatrout and four more snook to 30 inches on a MirrOlure topwater plug and MirrOlure MirrOdines.

I fished Buttonwood Harbor on another occasion and caught 12 snook, 10 spotted seatrout and two redfish on flies, jigs, MirrOdines and topwater plugs.

Peacock bass action was extremely hot in April. John Weimer of Sarasota joined me for two trip to The Everglades . We walked in to a small lake and caught 130 peacock bass to 4 pounds on Junior's Craft Fur Minnows and Myakka Minnows. We also caught largemouth bass to 3 pounds, oscar, Mayan cichlid, hand-size bluegill, gar and tilapia.

The walk-in trip (the walk is easy) is one you won't want to miss. However, I expect conditions to be right for the trip for only a few more weeks. Once the rainy season (June through August) begins, the walk will be impossible because of high water and mosquitoes.

I also fished Lake Manatee on a couple of occasions, catching bluegill, largemouth bass, shellcracker, speckled perch and shellcracker on popping bugs, nymphs and Myakka Minnows.

MAY FORECAST: I look for beach snook action to take off once we get conditions conducive for sight-fishing the surf. For this, I used 6-8-weight fly rods, intermediate sinktip lines and 20-pound fluorocarbon leader. My fly choice is my Gibby's D.T. Variation, a creation I've used to catch more than 5,000 snook in the surf over the years. Bay fish should remain good for spotted seatrout, snook, redfish, ladyfish and jack crevalle. We'll continue to fish The Everglade for peacock bass, largemouth bass, oscar, Mayan cichlid, bluegill and other species until conditions get too tough. Locally, Lake Manatee, the Myakka River and Webb Lake should produce good results (largemouth bass, bluegill, speckled perch,  channel catfish, sunshine bass).

My beach snook trips are filling up quickly. So, it might not be a bad idea to book ahead of time. Call me at 941-284-3406 or email be at steve@kayakfishingsarasota.com.

As always, thanks to my generous sponsors: NuCanoe, Aqua-bound, MirrOlure , Temple Fork Outfitters and D.O.A. Lures.

Steve Gibson
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing