Katherine and Caroline O'Leary
SUN PHOTO/RICK GRASSETT
By Rusty Chinnis
special to the sun
The morning broke unexpectedly warm and sunny on Saturday
with light winds blowing from the south. The weather forecast
had been somewhat different, with winds predicted to be
fifteen to twenty knots. Our nieces, Katherine and Caroline
OLeary were visiting from Brookline, Mass., where
the weather forecast that morning was 22 degrees with
a "feels like temperature" of 11 degrees.
When I checked the bay about 8 a.m., I suggested that
we should take advantage of this unexpected gift. It didnt
take much coaxing, and we hooked up the boat, and headed
to Cannons Marina for some live shrimp.
The tide was low and rising that morning, and I had a
plan to look for redfish in potholes near Tidy Island.
I reasoned that the fish I had seen the week before would
be staging on the edges, waiting for the tide to flood
the flats. We motored within 300 feet of a large pothole,
where I dropped the trolling motor for a quite approach.
I elected to fish the live shrimp under popping corks
so the girls could see the action. We used small number
1 circle hooks and a small lead sinker to keep the shrimp
below the surface.
I began by tossing a few live shrimp to the edges of the
pothole in hopes that any redfish in the vicinity might
be attracted to the area. I knew that with the incoming
tide the shrimp and their scent would be broadcast down
It took about 10 minutes for the first cork to disappear
under the surface. Katherine was quick to tighten the
line and raise the rod as I had instructed. As soon as
the line came tight, the rod bowed deeply as a silver
sided fish rooster-tailed the line across the surface
to the edge of the pothole, where it escaped after the
I guessed that it might have been a large ladyfish or
maybe a bluefish, but before I had time to voice my suspicions,
Carolines cork went under, and she was holding on
for dear life as drag raced from her 10-pound spinning
tackle. This fish wasnt as lucky, and after a terrific
battle with many squeals and peals of laughter, I led
a large pompano to the boat.
We had four other bites and four hook pulls before Katherine
connected with one of the biggest pompano Ive seen
caught in Sarasota Bay. The fight was just as spectacular
as Carolines, as the strong muscular fish made a
number of reel screaming runs. After a spirited fight
that included a head shaking visit to the surface, the
pompano was placed in the cooler with Carolines.
We baited up and tossed shrimp back into the pot hole,
but after ten minutes it was apparent that the fish had
moved on. We hunted for the pompano in a couple of adjacent
holes on the flat, but they had continued into the bay
with the tide.
The winds that had been predicted earlier in the day materialized
just before noon, so after trying another spot for redfish
we decided to head for the Mar Vista for lunch. That night
I taught Katherine to fillet fish and we enjoyed an excellent
dinner of grilled pompano, fresh tomatoes and steamed
asparagus. We had not found the redfish we had targeted,
but Oh Pompano, we were not disappointed!