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Vol 5 No. 18 - January 19, 2005

Trout, bluefish, snook take the bait

Orvis Western ELOG (Endorsed Lodges, Outfitters and Guides) Director, Tom Evenson, caught and released this snook on a Grassett's Flats Minnow fly while fishing Sarasota Bay with Captain Rick Grassett.

Captain Rick Grassett
Anglers on the Snook Fin-Addict caught and released a variety of fish during the past week. Fly anglers scored with snook and a bluefish while spin anglers connected with trout and ladyfish.

Fly anglers David Schofield, from Elmira, N.Y., and Rob Klein, from Boca Raton, fished for snook in the ICW near Venice on Saturday evening. There were plenty of snook around the dock lights, but they were very finicky. They caught and released three snook to 22 inches and a 3-pound bluefish on my Grass Minnow fly. Rob scored with his first fish ever, a snook, on a fly!

Longboat Key residents Merrill Zinder and Irwin Pastor fished Sarasota Bay with me on Tuesday morning. We had fast action with trout to 19 inches and big ladyfish on CAL jigs with grubs and shad tails. The best action was at the Marina Jack flat and near Bishop Point.

Captain Ed Hurst and I, along with Aledia Tush, owner of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, and several other CB’s staff members traveled to Crystal River on Tuesday afternoon for the annual Orvis Southeastern Guide Rendezvous and dealer meeting. We were treated to a Cuban Pork Roast on Tuesday evening where Orvis-Endorsed guides from Florida, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama swapped fishing stories over a cold beer. We reviewed new products for the current year and received pointers on fly casting instruction and guiding techniques.

Friday morning was a wash out. I awoke to a downpour and 20 mph winds as the front pushed through our area. We rescheduled our trip planned for Charlotte Harbor until Saturday morning. Tom Lamb, from Sarasota fished Charlotte Harbor with me and although it wasn’t raining, we were faced with 15 mph + north winds and an overcast sky. The wind blew the water off the flats making it difficult to get to potholes or find a protected place to fish. Despite that, Tom did very well on trout near Cape Haze, catching more than 15 trout to 23 inches on CAL jigs with shad tails. The catch included six slot- size fish with the biggest trout weighing in at more than 4-pounds.

Captain Tom Chaya

The first part of last week provided more great weather and kept the fishing in January way above par. All the shiners you wanted were still on the edges of the grass around Anna Maria sound, which for mid winter is not usually the case. Trout fishing remained red hot. Just about any deep hole or deep grass flat had plenty of sea trout. Wayne Kimmel and crew from Longboat key caught and released over 50 trout with the largest coming in at 26 inches. Another half dozen reds were also caught with the best at 25 inches. All the trout and reds were caught on shiners.

Bluefish were also in abundance on the beaches. Working the rocks on the beach or watching for birds working the surface we found a few schools. Most were in the 2-4 lb. range. In the offshore scene, the nice calm water enables us to get out quickly to get a few grouper. Tom King and crew caught a few keeper gag grouper in 50 feet and released a bunch of just undersized. The late week cold front looks like it will slow the offshore fishing a bit and hopefully get the sheepshead in the bays feeding.

Captain Terry Frankford
Anglers aboard Reelin & Chillin Charters caught several species this past week, including snook, redfish, trout, permit and more. Hand-picked shrimp and D.O.A. lures were the preferred baits used. St. Croix rods and Shimano reels spooled with 10-lb test was the tackle used by the anglers. Vanish fluorocarbon, 30-lb test was used for leader and #4 Owner circle hooks were used to keep the shrimp moving naturally and prevent gut hooking the fish.

On a catch-and-release trip with Dale Parent, wife, Joanne, son, Greg, and daughter, Jennie, we picked up redfish, grouper and sheepshead. Dale and Jennie picked up a couple of sheepshead weighing in at 4-plus lbs. Grey nailed a nice red and Joanne wrestled in an 18 inches grouper. With Joanne being a biology teacher we did a little sight seeing at the bird islands south of Siesta Bridge. Plenty of nesting birds, several species and great photo ops.
Josh Naputano and his father Ralph enjoyed a catch and release day. Both anglers picked up redfish and sheepshead with the catch of the day being Ralph's permit. This permit hit a hand-picked shrimp like a freight train after Ralph placed it under a dock in Sarasota Bay. Running back and fourth in the boat a few times we managed to net it for a photo.

Tom Longwell with sons Mark and Scott set out to get Tom's grandsons Jake and Alex into some fishing action. All anglers enjoyed redfish, flounder, sheepshead and small grouper. Jake, our youngest angler, picked up a nice redfish that measured up at 24 inches. Alex landed the big fish of the day, a 26-inch redfish. These anglers caught and released all but one redfish that was kept for dinner.

Captain Zach Zacharias
Winter returned with a vengeance this weekend. In the long term this is good. It will reinforce the winter pattern that should be in place and should keep things on track going in to spring and summer. The reds, trout, and sheepshead will concentrate in numbers as opposed to scattered all over the place as they began to do during the false spring we experienced. Offshore fishing should improve as well, although trips out there need to be judiciously planned around rough weather periods.

Randy Engles, from Michigan, fished with me on a cool blustery post-front day Saturday and we did well despite the conditions. Redfish up to 26 inches, trout to 20 inches, flounder, and sheepshead were taken although not in great numbers. An incoming tide and live shrimp provided the action across a wide variety of habitat ranging from shallow flats to deep channels and docks. Before the rough weather set in, trips out to 30-40 feet in the gulf produced good numbers of gag grouper, snapper, key west grunt, porgies, large sheepshead, and flounder.

We were really spoiled by the spell of idyllic weather in mid-winter and the return to reality is tough to take, but unsettled weather provides many more hot bite days than chamber of commerce weather. Dress warm, bite your lip, and get out there to enjoy some great winter action.

Captain Dave Pinkham
Captain Dave Pinkham of the Legacy, reports good fishing with gag and red groupers to 18 lbs, amberjacks to 40 lbs, and mangrove snappers to 6 lbs.

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