It’s easy to sum up February’s action here at Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing:
No doubt February was the month of trout. In fact, the month proved to be the finest month of spotted seatrout action we’ve experienced in quite a while.
The reason is fairly simple. Cooling water temperatures pushed the trout into deeper water which congregated them and made them easy to find — and catch.
All of the success took place in Palma Sola Bay at a spot that I found several years ago during cold weather. It’s a spot that you wouldn’t normally associate with trout. In fact, in years past I might have paddled right by the location without giving it much of a thought.
However, when I first started fishing there, I made a few casts and was surprised by some decent trout. It didn’t take long for the proverbial light bulb to go on in my head. In the years since, my clients and I have caught several thousand trout there.
Repeat client John Kis of New York joined me on a beautiful day where the fishing matched the weather. We managed 40 trout to 22 inches and 10 flounder on VuDu Shrimp. Fish of the day was a 3-pound sheepshead that John caught. Sheepshead are common catches for those using artificial lures. They’re most often caught on live bait.
I fished the area alone on a couple of occasions and did well on fly rod. Using Super Hair Clousers (chartreuse and white, olive and white) and Popovics’ Jiggy, I caught a load of trout to 23 inches.
Veteran fly fisher John Garcia of California and I combined for 35 trout and a flounder on Clousers and Jiggys. The largest trout went 22 inches.
Another trip produced 85 trout to 21 inches and a load of ladyfish. Despite strong wind, another outing yielded 51 trout to 22 inches and a bunch of ladyfish.
Vinny Caruso and his grandson, Robbie Holland (both of Bradenton) had a great outing, combing for 140 trout to 22 inches, lots of ladyfish and a fine pompano. Robbie caught the pompano on a VuDu Shrimp. They also used MirrOlure Lil Johns on light jigs.
Repeat clients Eric Porter of Colorado and Jeff Porter of Oklahoma picked one of the windiest days of the year. We had to shorten the outing to 4 hours, but still landed 29 trout and a bunch of ladyfish on Clousers and Jiggys. The largest trout went 19 inches.
When fishing deep water, the trout bite has been extremely light. In fact, those waiting for an aggressive strike might not hook up often. I advise clients to “set” the hook if they sense anything different. It could feel like a slight drag on the line. The fly line might simply straighten out.
The hits have been very subtle and light when using fly rods.
For this action, we’re using sinktip lines and 6-foot leaders. I have used a floating line, but because of the depth of water, I’ve lengthened my leader to 12 feet to get to the desired depth.
We’ve also been finding lots of trout and ladyfish in sand holes out on the flats of Palma Sola Bay. Because we usually encounter strong wind, we’ve been anchoring up on grass patches in the holes and doing well. We remain anchored as long as we’re catching fish. When the action slows, we move to another grass patch.
This strong trout action should continue through March.
MARCH FORECAST: We expect excellent action on spotted seatrout throughout the upcoming month. The fish should stack up in channels and sand holes. They will be available for those fly fishing or using spinning rods. Redfish activity could crank up on the flats — if the weather cooperates. We look for decent snook action around dock lights. Over deep grass, we look for spotted seatrout, ladyfish, jack crevalle, bluefish , Spanish mackerel and maybe a few pompano. In fresh water , Lake Manatee and the Manatee River should yield bluegill, speckled perch, channel catfish and largemouth bass.
I did a presentation on Freshwater Fly Fishing Opportunities in Florida at the February meeting of the Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers. If you live in the area or are on an extended visit, you might want to check out this dedicated group of fly anglers. They meet on the fourth Wednesday of every month at the Sarasota Garden Club, 1131 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota. Check out the MCFF website at www. http://mcff.club
March is typically a very good month for fishing. Please book your trips at your earliest convenience.
Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing