Sunday, December 29, 2013

Alligator Alley Exotics 12-22-13

Location: Alligator Alley (I-75) recreation area canal
Time: 0645-1200
Tides: N/A
Weather: Sunny, post front conditions. Hi/Lo 76/66, Winds 10-20.
Vessel: Native Ultimate 14.5 Kayak.
Fish: Stumpknocker, Bluegill, Warmouth, Oscar, Mayan Cichlid, Largemouth Bass
Tactics: Fly tackle, 2-5 weights. Poppers, nymphs, and myakka minnow. Top fly was the Shrymph.
Notes: First Warmouth I have ever caught. roughly 100 fish caught, with only 6 being exotics. Lost 3 exotics due to breakoffs. My brother came along and fished spinning gear for bass. He caught lots of fish, but not much size. 

Babcock-Webb WMA 12-20-13

Location: Webb Lake
Time: 0645-1030
Tides: N/A
Weather: Sunny, post front conditions. Hi/Lo 84/55, Winds 8-15.
Vessel: Native Ultimate 14.5 Kayak.
Fish: 15+ Largemouth bass to 14"
Tactics: Spinning gear with artificials. Top lure was texas rigged worm.
Notes: Great numbers of bass, but not so great in size. Largest fish of the day was 14". Consistent action, but got bored of catching the same smaller sized fish over and over. 

Winter Time Slam 12-19-13

Location: Gasparilla sound area of Charlotte Harbor
Time: 0745-1030
Tides: Low @ 0826
Weather: Sunny, post front conditions. Hi/Lo 79/46, Winds 10-15.
Vessel: Native Ultimate 14.5 Kayak.
Fish: Six trout to 15", one snook at 26", one redfish at 28.5", 3 jack crevalle.
Tactics: Spinning gear with artificials. Top Lure was DOA shrimp.
Notes: New personal best redfish at 28.5" and 8.25 lbs. Sightfished alongside an exposed sandbar as the tide was coming in. 

This will be the new format for my reports from now on. Organized and concise. I will be splitting up my blog posts into cut and dry fishing reports like this one as well as article style posts such as my Winter Time Flats Tactics post. Hopefully this will make it easier to put up a new report quickly and efficiently, which should lead to more frequent posts. Until next time...

Winter Time Flats Tactics

Winter sunrise over a Lemon Bay flat
Winter patterns are starting to play out here in southwest Florida. With each passing front comes cooler temperatures, gusting winds, and negative low tides. The bite this time of year can be difficult one day, and completely insane the next. The fish tend to feed heavily leading up to a front, but shut down almost immediately when the front arrives and the barometer drops past their comfort zone. After the front passes, it can take a day or two for the fishing to pick back up.
That said, when I can find a calm day between fronts I like to fish the incoming side of the low tides. Redfish and trout stage on the deeper edges of flats and feed as the water comes in. With the low and typically clear water this time of year, there are plenty of sight fishing opportunities. Even on a cloudy or choppy day one can easily spot potholes and other productive spots to place a cast.
Hungry redfish and trout will happily take a slow moving DOA shrimp as well as a variety of other soft plastics. I like to use DOA CAL series jerk shads rigged on a weedless and weightless wide gap hook. This delicate presentation is easy to cast without spooking fish, and can be fished at a variety of speeds to entice a strike. Suspending plugs, such as the Mirr-O-Lure MirrOdine can be deadly when the fish are keyed in on the small whitebait that is prevalent this time of year. The MirrOdine is available in 3 different sizes to help with matching the hatch as well.
Typical assortment of winter lures
Early on in the day a walk-the-dog style topwater bait can elicit some incredible strikes. However, I have found fishing smaller and slower to match the available forage tends to lead to greater overall success. I prefer to use a topwater bait mainly to locate active fish, and then fish that area thouroughly with soft plastics. That's not a steadfast rule though, if the fish stay active on surface plugs I will gladly keep casting them!
Occasionally you will find a snook or two as a bonus. By now though, a good majority of our local snook population has started to trek up the rivers, creeks, and canals in search of warmer water. If you do encounter any on a winter time flat, they will take the same lures as redfish and trout, especially a slow moving DOA shrimp.
Don't let the cooler temperatures and pesky winds fool you, some of the best fishing happens in the winter time. Pack a jacket, some hot coffee and a good attitude and you’re bound to have a great day on the water! Uintil next time...