The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 14 - January 18, 2012

reel time

Tailor angling plan to suit your surroundings

Reel time

Rusty Chinnis | submitted
This little tunny (bonita) fell for Captain Rick Grassett's top
water fly on a day when being "In the moment" paid dividends.

It's good to have a plan, but anglers have to be careful not to get hooked to it when fishing. When heading for a destination to "work" a plan, it is important you are not so caught up with where you're going that you miss opportunities that might be passing you. Being present and aware with each moment can yield some unexpected results. I'm sure everyone has experienced that in one form or another. As you run an edge, the subtle flash up on the flat catches your eye and, upon inspection, you find a school of fish that may be in a totally different area than you expected. On many occasions over the years I've had a plan in mind and never gotten to it because something better shows up along the way.

The same holds true when you start fishing a "planned" area. While poling, drifting or using a trolling motor to cover promising water you have to be aware of what is right in front of you while simultaneously scanning the water with your peripheral vision. Being focused on the area where you can make a targeted cast while searching the water in front and in back takes practice. I now know to occasionally glance where I've been as well as where I'm going. Many times a fish like a tarpon, snook or redfish will appear behind the boat instead of in the path you've taken.

Sometimes being "in the moment" allows serendipitous events to unfold. One day in the fall I was fishing with Captain Rick Grassett near Longboat Pass. Before going red fishing on the flats on the east side of Sarasota Bay we decided to take a look out Longboat Pass to see if there were any Spanish mackerel or little tunny (bonita) around. It was still early in the season and we knew that these two species would soon be invading the coastal waters. We ran to the Longboat Pass marker, shut down the motor and scanned the water for about fifteen minutes. Not seeing any action we elected to go back into the bay. Just as I was about to start the engine Grassett's phone rang so I stood back up and scanned the water until he was finished. After he hung up, we paused for a few moments before heading back inshore. As I scanned the pass one more time, I saw a boil near the boat and made a cast towards it. Two strips later I was tight to a little tunny that quickly had me into my backing. After landing the fish we decided to spend a few more minutes in the Gulf and a half hour later we were surrounded by schools of fish. That morning gradually turned into one of the best we had ever had off the beaches. Before the action ended, we caught numerous Spanish mackerel, little tunny and even a small kingfish. Taking that extra moment and not being tied to our plan made the difference.

Being "in the moment" can mean that you notice a bird diving on bait; take the time to investigate and find trout feeding there as well. That subtle push you see when you pause to scan the surrounding water before moving to another spot can lead you to a school of redfish. By not getting too far ahead of yourself with the plan you will often find better fishing, new places to fish and a new enjoyment in the sport.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper