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We continued to experience phenomenal fishing since my last
report. Not only was this period the best fishing of the year, but many days were some of
the best fishing in several years in these parts. A unique combination of a very cold
winter followed by perfect water temperatures and borderline availability of scaled
sardines provided the perfect combination for Florida flats fish species.
On a half day trip last Wednesday (28FEB01), Joan Anderson & Jon Kingsley vacationing from Massachusetts experienced one of the best gator trout and bull redfish bites seen in these parts in many moons. For a period of 3 hours straight they tallied nearly 40 reds in the 26 to 35 inch class and 14 trout in the 3 ½ to 6 ½ lb. range all on a single drop of the anchor.
Returning to the spot on Friday (2MAR01) with Ed and John Lasbury ofMaryland, a patient stakeout revealed the fish again. But this time, it was not be as an unsuspecting airboat ran over the top of the fish and were not to be found again. Unfortunate, but no problem under these conditions. All totaled they took 6 snook and caught trout in several places 2 at a time until we pulled off them in search of other species. We ran into one area that held jacks 100 yards in length and 50 yards in width. Needless too say, we could not keep our baits in the water long enough for anything else, so we had to give up the prime snook hole to the marauding jacks. I did not keep count, but Ed tallied the full day with over 100 fish. Not bad day considering the weak tides of the quarter moon.
As Paul Harvey used to say "and now the rest of the story". Friday winds blew south upward of 20 knots. The winds continued as forecasted to up over 30 knots ahead of a fierce and violent front sweeping the country on Saturday. As I advised, if the wind did not shift in direction, fishing the next day (Saturday) would not be as fruitful. Saturday only proved me correct to the Lasburys as a nice snook, several jacks and trout made up the bag for the day. John did have one opportunity with a tarpon. In the very knee racking scene of a tarpon rolling up on a bait on the surface and then coming semi tight to the line, it is very difficult to resist the temptation to jerk prior to getting the line all the way tight. Unfortunately, the silver king immediately gained his freedom and it turned out to be our only chance. Their 2-day trip were night and day and only proves, nothing dominates fishing like the weather.
Inclement weather forced Dick Farnsworths company outing off the water today. What lies ahead for the week appears to be several cancellations as some harsh conditions are now evident. Temps by mid week are forecasted to be as low as the mid 30s and highs barely getting much above the mid 60s. This unfortunate act of Mother Nature does not surprise me in the year 2001. Its timing is unfortunate as it may kill the traditional best time on jumbo snook on the March full moon due at the end of the week. Likely the big bite will occur on the following dark moon in 2 weeks. Father Time will gain the upper hand again and we will return to peak spring fishing shortly. For now, we wait.
On the first 10 days of beautiful weather of the fishing year, I made some very unequaled observations. While some of this will serve as entertainment to all those outside the area, I hope it proves some use to all the local ISP numbers I see logging via my servers log files. These issues must be addressed. Thus, this writing will run a little longer than my usual.
While launching one day last week a boat already launched pulled of the dock and began fishing the bank adjacent to the ramp. After launching, I went off to start my bait catching duties when I see behind me the same $50,000 flats boat running full tilt off my stern. Taking a short cut, I noticed the boat still in my whitewash. It became apparent to me, that I was being followed in order to reveal the location of the magic sardines. I went a little out of my way and headed for some very skinny water that features some barely submerged oyster bars with a narrow cut between them of only 10 feet in width. I split the bars and watched in my wake, as the high tech wonder did not make the cut. Hope all worked out fellas. A few days later on Saturday, a different boat within the same scenario played out the scene again. It got a little too shallow for their liking and they turned off just in time. This boat could have not been more than 60 feet off my stern traveling over 45 MPH. Attempting to steal spots is one thing, but my life is another. Boats do not have brakes, never ever, follow a boat in its wash. If for any reason the lead boat comes off plane, you will kill the occupants when you literally run over it.
While patiently chumming for sardines in open water for over an hour, some savvy anglers (and some part time guides) pulled into my chum slick and dropped anchor on several days this past week. My successful capturing the crickets came to end. If you must partake in this practice of improper etiquette, at least be smart enough to realize the fish are likely to be anywhere within a quarter mile radius of where I am. If you must be this low, be courteous to enter the area off plane and keep plenty of distance away from anyone who has found the fish or is in the area before you discovered the location. Otherwise, nobody gets it.
My party was fishing an open water bar catching a few snook one-day last week when a small 1950s style boat came up on us while drifting the flat behind us for trout. After observing the action we were experiencing at the exact time, they decided to anchor and act as spectators the next 45 minutes and then left. The next morning I head to the location only to find the same boat anchored on the spot in a stiff wind throwing dead shrimp into the hole. In the 2 minutes I was there, I watched as the anchor broke loose and the boat drifted over the hole. Just prior to being grounded by the exposed bar, they fired up the engine on top of the hole and proceeded to try it again. If you must participate in this practice, at least have a proper anchor and show up with the right bait. Otherwise, not only will the spot be unproductive, but will now be ruined for the day for anyone who actually knows what they are doing.
Ironically, on the next day, a brand spanking new jon-boat came idling down on us with their eyes so affixed on us, they literally put themselves on top of the bar adjacent to where we were. Oddly enough, where they grounded, the rocks had to be at least 2 feet out of the water and exposed in plain view. They proceeded for the next 15 minutes with the engine half out of the water and revving it at least 5,000 RPMs trying to pull off.
I have a few more, but will finish with some further insight for all boaters. Dont forget to put your plug in prior to launching your boat. Yep, I witnessed a sinking on my return yesterday to the ramp for this simple oversight.
To sum it up, there is a lot of water in this area. There is no need to bother anyone in order to catch fish. To me anyway, ½ the fun of fishing is the hunt. When you remove the hunt from fishing and simply copy what has been done already, there is no satisfaction. I see pictures all the time of fish caught from spots exposed within these techniques and on bait caught in the same manner all the time (even in advertisements). How do you think these fish are found anyhow? Going fishing, trial and error, and the willingness to strikeout is how. It takes time, costs money and there are no acceptable shortcuts for gaining experience. All will greatly benefit by willing to go fishing than to go catching off someone elses shirttail. Granted, we ALL need tips from time to time. By building a repertoire with someone is the best way to get help offered to you. Doing it any other way only ruins it for everyone. The Gulf offers too much productive water out there for that to be worthy. With the popularity in this style of fishing, we all must address these issues now, before it is out of control. My two cents.
Screaming Drags and Tired Arms!
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