The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 14 No. 46 - September 10, 2014

reel time

Changing seasons

Reel time

rusty chinnis | submitted

Rick Grassett caught and released this bluefish using a DOA. C.A.L. jig.

It’s September and subtle changes are beginning to reveal that a change of season is at hand. It’s hardly obvious at first, making itself known as a morning breeze with a touch of cool, and evening light that reveals a subtle glow. Gradually these changes will become more noticeable as will local anglers’ awareness of changes in the patterns of fish and the migration of bait. On September 4th, I had the opportunity to spend a morning on the waters of Sarasota Bay with Captain Rick Grassett and Steve Traves of Anna Maria Island Outfitters. We had been invited to go on a scouting mission with Grassett who was taking a much needed vacation after having hosted a group of fly fishermen on a trip to Montana during the month of August. Grassett needed to explore the bay to see what patterns were unfolding and we were happy to assist.

We began our outing at first light, launching Grassett’s 18 foot Action Craft at the Ken Thompson boat ramp on City Island. Our first destination was an area near Steven’s Point on the Eastern shore of Sarasota Bay where deep grass flats often hold a variety of species attracted there by the baitfish foraging over the verdant grass. We all noticed a slight coolness in the air as Grassett put the boat on a plane and headed across the wind ruffled bay. Today we would employ a variety of gear including spin and fly tackle to see what fish were available and what presentations might entice them. I started with a DOA C.A.L. Shad Tail jig while Steve worked a DOA Deadly Combo (Grassett’s go to lure) and Grassett “walked the dog” with a silver ZaraSpook. Action was quick in coming as something exploded on the Zara Spook, somehow missing the array of treble hooks. Soon after Traves connected with a trout and Grassett came fast to a bluefish that this time struck the DOA. C.A.L. jig. This bluefish stayed pinned to the lure and we snapped a quick picture before releasing it back to the bay. A couple of trout and ladyfish latter we moved to Long Bar, but although there were a number of mullet jumping there was no action on the tackle we employed.

Heading across the bay Grassett pulled up to the edges of the mangroves on the northwest end of the Sister Keys. We poled the area without any luck, but did manage to spot a lone redfish lurking in a sand hole. Heading south we stopped on deep grass off the Longboat Key Moorings where we found diving birds and had some great action of trout, jacks, ladyfish and bluefish. While we got strikes on all the tackle we were fishing it was the DOA C.A.L. jig tail that garnered most of the action.

On this day we were checking different areas looking for where the fish might be concentrated, a strategy that works at all times of the year, Despite the belief that there are special spots that almost always have good fishing, the truth is that fish move around depending on the tide, temperature, availability of bait and many other factors only the fish really know. Savvy anglers always keep an eye out for feeding birds, a push of water, showering baitfish and other clues that might indicate the presence of fish. During the fall, birds and baitfish are great ways to find fish in the bay and coastal waters. Soon false albacore, Spanish mackerel, cobia and a host of other species will be in hot pursuit of these great schools of pilchards, threadfin herring and glass minnows. Keep a sharp eye on the horizon when you’re on the water and you’ll be one of the first to enjoy the changing season.

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