We set out to target bream on the Coco Plum waterway in North Port. We used fly rods exclusively and struck early with #10 poppers. My largest bluegill of the day came right after sun up, and measured in at 9 and 3/4 inches.
Paddling along the way and exchanging information with Steve, I kept pointing out a specific palm tree on the shoreline that I had caught my personal best bluegill for this body of water underneath. Slowly but surely I made my way there, and like clockwork had a nice hand sized fish swallow my popping bug on my first cast to that spot. He measured 9 and 1/4 inches.
Almost immediately after that fish I hooked up with my only largemouth bass for the day, a small but scrappy fish that put up a fun fight on a light fly rod.
After the topwater bite subsided, the fish became very selective. Steve found good success after downsizing to a #14 scud. I had a hard time being convinced to downsize as I generally tend to stick to popping bugs and wooly buggers and other various #8-#10 size flies for bluegill. However, the proof was in the pudding when Steve continued to catch fish while I struggled, and finally I joined in on the finesse tactics with a #14 bead head nymph. The fish got smaller throughout the day but still kept our rods bent consistently.
I finished the day with 26 bluegill, 5 stumpknockers, 1 shellcracker, and 1 largemouth bass for a total of 33 fish. Steve had an even better day than I did catching more of the same assortment of species plus one surprise tilapia. Schedules permitting we will be taking a trip in the next few weeks to fish along either the Manatee River or Lake Manatee targeting all of the same species, so look forward to a report on that!