Happy New Year!
Kayak fishing charters have been a mix of great to below average. Just before the turn of the calendar, the trips went stale and I believe that it as a mix of lockjaw and also fish “on the move”. Even though weather patterns were not severe, the location of fish changed a great deal in the past ten days. If we put in our time they eventually ate.
Yet another exceptionally warm December week on Florida’s West Central Gulf coast! In the seasonal pattern of fish, much of what was experienced in the past month was the same as it was last week: Redfish, whiting, silver trout, sheepshead, speckled trout, bluefish, spanish mackerel were all in the mix of fish caught. The big news this week was the appearance of some hungry sharks and cobia.
Cobia have been a long time “accidental catch” in my deeper water winter and springtime angling pursuits. Four were brought up “yak side” this week. They were all under 25 inches but a thrill on light tackle. One thing I have noticed with the smaller cobia is that they have urges to jump. Two of the four cobia made exciting leaps during the fight.
Several blacktip sharks and about 5 bonnethead sharks were caught this last week. Other cutoffs were probably shark cutoffs as well. The largest blacktip inhaled a 15 inch silver trout that was being reeled up. It made a blistering run before the fish was turned. As part of my regular gear I take out with me, a sharp knife is excellent for the release of the fish. Sharks should be handled with caution in kayak angling and safely cutting the leader (with the sharp knife) gets these fish on their way with minimal effort on your part. The most dangerous shark is a hooked one, in my opinion.
Speckled trout fishing has become much easier than it has been since the bad Red Tide of 2005. The Red Tide of 2018 didn’t hit too many of our areas as bad as an hour to the south. Trout in general, just not as good as they were a year ago. Everything is somewhat tougher. I believe we are showing the strain of growth. It is time to get people in positions to properly manage our resource. Even silver trout: Just not as good. We hit a silver trout hole where we will catch them in July. Not a single silver trout. That’s not good.
Redfish have still run on the small side but plenty of action for anyone wanting to go out with their light tackle and enjoy catching a lot of them. The fish seem to be “head down” and feeding when I’ve encountered them lately. Jigs moved very slowly will get their attention. Scaled sardines or live shrimp weighted with a single small split shot will catch many fish as well. If you’re in the right spot you may as well say to your bait before you cast it: “Something very violent is about to happen to you!”
Sheepshead are inshore in force now. The largest one caught so far this winter was an 8-pound beauty. I anticipate several more to be caught that are larger than that one over the next 6 weeks. Fiddler crabs worked best several weeks ago. Shrimp seemed to be the hot ticket for them this past week (Fresh, not frozen)
Kayak Fishing Skool resumes this month (Jan. 24th). The January topic is “Spanish Mackerel”. The new venue: My house. You want to work mackerel in: Buy my pompano teasers. The teaser is the best mackerel lure there is. Any color. My house is in Clearwater on 590, halfway between 19 and McMullen Booth. My kayak trailer in the yard, it is easy to find. South side of the road. 2813 SR 590.
There are openings in the schedule and I would be happy to get your outing scheduled!
As always: Be careful out there!