Thursday, March 21, 2013

Getting Salty

My local waters have been plagued the past few months with a bloom of Karenia brevis, more commonly known as red tide. The fish kills and respiratory complications associated with red tide have kept me from pursuing saltwater exploits since about mid-December. At any point over the past few months I could have traveled about 45 minutes up or down the coast to get away from it, but in that situation I found myself opting for closer to the house freshwater fly fishing options. I did keep myself pretty satisfied with bass and bream in local ponds, canals and lakes. However, I began to get the saltwater itch upon seeing some snook start to show up at a local marina by the bait tank earlier this week. The snook were a good sign that the red tide bloom may finally be moving out. So, I scoured the web to find some recent local fishing reports and checked out the red tide report provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. Much to my delight, the most recent red tide report showed absolutely no spots with a red dot (high concentration), and showed most of the remnants of the bloom moving to the south of where I most like to fish. This fact coupled with having overlapping off days with a good fishing buddy and I just had to get on the water. We planned to hit one of our favorite areas of Gasparilla Sound and got on the water this morning a little bit before 8 A.M.

Some rain came through the area yesterday, and behind it it left a bit cooler temperatures along with lots of wind. Between the bluebird skies, above average winds, and recent temperature drop I was worried the fishing would be tough. I was very optimistic though, as my long absence from the salt meant I would be happy with just about anything coming to the boat. The day started off great with Jared hooking up to a redfish within about 20 minutes.

Almost immediately though, the wind picked up from a docile 8-10 mph to a howling 15-20. This wiped out our hopes of continuing along this stretch of docks as we had no protection from the wind and the 2-3 foot chop it brought with it. Instead of getting frustrated with mother nature, we improvised and sought cover in a mangrove protected cove. Getting there was quite a hassle in the chop, but once there I was rewarded mightily with my first fish of the day.

Just over 28 inches without a pinched tail!
This fish took my MirrOLure Lil Jon on the second twitch of a cast parallel to a small dock. She had some interesting scarring on her sides, not sure if it was parasitic, fungal or simply from bumping against some sharp pilings. After a nice quick fight, a quick picture and measure, I thanked her for playing and sent her on her way. The rest of the day comprised of battling some more wind, each of us finding a few trout, and each of us getting a handful of jack crevalle. For not expecting much, we wound up having a great day in not so great conditions.

I am looking forward to getting out in the salt much more in the coming weeks. Inshore action should pick up and the winds and weather are generally very cooperative in April and May. Before long I will be taking my 8 weight along to get bent with some inshore action. Until next time...

Friday, March 1, 2013

Bluegill on the Fly

This morning, I spent some time on the water with my favorite feisty panfish. Rigged with a popper on a 5 weight and my Shrymph on a 3 weight I spent about 3 hours on the water before the wind got too rough. In that time I did manage two fish that both almost touched 10 inches, one of those on the popper, one on the Shrymph. Aside from those two, I caught about 15 fish in the 3-7 inch range.

In other news, I managed to score a fantastic deal on an Echo Carbon 2 weight rod. Echo has discontinued this very highly praised rod in the ultralight community, letting a few shops sell them at a closeout price. Once it arrives I will likely never use a 5 weight to target bluegill again, they are just too much fun on lighter tackle.

Until next time!