Those of you who are headed south for the fish-in might be interested in what's been happening lately.
See you soon!
February 26, 2006
The fishing has been superb most days, but a front blew through on Friday afternoon?and BLEW is the operative word!?cooling off the action a little bit.
Little Sarasota Bay has been on fire?and it?s a good thing because those fish gave Sam Povenilli a wonderful experience for his 91st birthday. He?s officially the oldest angler I?ve ever guided. As Kate put it, ?a new league record.?
Night snook fishing is off a little because of the cooler temps. By ?off a little? I mean that instead of boating 30 or 40 fish we?re back ?down? to 15 or so in a three-hour trip.
Ghost is doing great, in fact she?s yelling at me right now to take her for a spin through the neighborhood. We?ve got a guided quail trip coming up on Friday, then another Hunt Test on Saturday. She?s not showing any evidence of aftereffects from the torn anterior cruciate ligament that made her miss the last month of grouse and woodcock hunting back in Michigan.
Did I mention that she won first place (again) in the Intermediate Pointing Dog category at the last event? Well, I probably did but you know how dog owners are?we can?t help bragging on our poochies every chance we get. Darnit, aren?t dogs wonderful!?!
Kate?s been upping her workout regimen almost daily. ?I?m going to be READY for trout season when I get back to Michigan,? she says. Can?t blame her, after she missed most of the past two seasons between the broken leg and recovering from chemo. ?You Go, Girl!?
If you browse the MICHIGAN section of the Photo Gallery, you?ll see some wonderfully scenic shots of the rivers we love! If you haven?t chased brookies and brown trout in Michigan, you?re missing out on a fabulous experience.
Casey Key Anglers & Outfitters (and y?r obdt srvt) got a fantastic writeup this week in the Sarasota Observer newspaper. Too bad our night of snook fishing wasn?t as good as the article. Many thanks to Associate Editor Kevin J. Allen for his kind words. And NEXT time, Kevin, we?ll nail em!
And now, the rest of the story?
LOWER TAMPA BAY
Last time I was up there we found trout, ladyfish, and a couple of redfish laid up on the oyster bars. My friend Capt. Thom Smith works that area regularly, and has been raving about the fish they?ve been finding in Miguel Bay, Terra Ceia, and around the north side of the Causeway near Joe Bay. I think I?ll take Charles Walton up thataway when he gets to town in a few days.
LITTLE SARASOTA BAY
What a Grand Slam this fishery has turned into in recent weeks!
Eric Munson, who fishes with me in Michigan, came to Sarasota for a get-together for hospital CEO?s and decided that a day of fishing would be a very good thing. Particularly because he?s still new to fly fishing. ?I?ve gotta get better at this so that son of mine isn?t so smug when he out-fishes me.?
Well, Eric succeeded. Not only did we manage to extend his casting distance by about 20 feet, he got a BUNCH of neat photos of the him-and-fish variety to send off to Lars?who?s stuck in New York City.
The following day I met Bill Walker at the Venice Holiday Inn and we got him into a fair number of fish. Bill?s a forensic psychologist, and has some fascinating stories. He was here for his 57th high school class reunion. ?We?re actually from Indiana,? he told me, ?but most everybody who?s left lives in this area. Except me. But I can stay as long as I want. My schedule is flexible.?
Charlie Smith, who lives on Casey Key much of the year, opted for some on-the-water casting and fishing instruction last Tuesday. So, we met at the shop (CKA&O) and promptly motored up the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and started a drift smack in his back yard. So to speak.
It took a bit of coaching, but Charlie eventually got the hang of shooting line. It took a little longer for him to get the ?hang? of hanging fish, however. At one point, his wife walked to the end of their dock and asked, ?are we having fish for dinner, or do I need to buy some chicken??
?You?d better head over to Publix,? I yelled back. ?Charlie?s been letting them all go free about 20 feet from the boat.? We do, however, have photographic evidence that one Mr. Charles Miller hooked and landed one ladyfish and one trout.
But last Thursday took the cake. Ron Povinelli had booked a trip to celebrate his dad?s 91st birthday, and brother did they celebrate. They must have caught 50 fish in the time we were out. That was the really GOOD news. Except Sam wanted ?a trout to eat for dinner? but not one solitary trout was to be had among all of those fish we caught and released. That was the only BAD news.
?Next time,? I assured him!
The following afternoon I was in exactly the same spot. This time with my old friend Rick Kefgen. Rick recently retired from Marshall Music in Lansing, MI, after 31 years and decided to take a trip south. Surprisingly enough his long-suffering wife, Martha, stayed home teaching school while Rick took off on a nearly-monthlong sojourn.
Rick and I have fished together many, many times in Michigan. This was his first adventure with saltwater fish in more than 30 years, and he was stunned at the raw power and wonderful leaps that ladyfish are known for.
?It?s like hooking a baby tarpon!? he exclaimed after one three-footer gave him a seven-jump tussle. ?These things are wonderful!? Indeed.
I guess sometimes bragging too much can come back to haunt you! After weeks of nights when we boated 30, 40, sometimes as many as 50 snook and bluefish, things have ?cooled? off.
Not that the fishing?s been BAD, mind you. Just ask Craig Riendeau, who moved to Atlanta recently, and his buddy from Chicago, Rich McElligott. They spent an evening in Venice recently and were very impressed by its fishery.
We had to move around to a few different lights, but they boated about 15 fish and would have had a higher success ratio if Craig could have broken his habit of setting the hook (I should say TRYING to set the hook) by sweeping the rod tip.
?You?ve gotta set the hook with your line hand,? I said (again), even as he was sweeping the rod tip and missing yet another fish. They had a grand time anyway, and already have made plans for next March.
Pete Taylor, who?s a regular at my fly tying classes, teamed up with Jack Schuchardt one evening and found the going a little tougher. We finally set up on an underwater light that had plenty of fish cruising around over it, and both fellas found out how strong these snook can be.
Two nights later, Canadian expatriate Bob Mathieu stepped aboard my Hewes with his pal Mark Thompson. Bob?s fished pretty nearly all over the place, but somehow had never landed a snook.
It didn?t take very long for THAT to change, and Bob now is the proud owner of a handsome portrait of himself and Sammy The Snook. Mark, meanwhile, landed his first fish in more than 50 years. ?WHAT!? I exclaimed when he revealed that fact. ?How come you haven?t fished in 50 years??
?Well, he replied, ?I grew up in Pittsburgh and went back there after college. And between spending long hours as a cardiologist and my golf game, I just haven?t spent any time fishing.? The smile on his face when he landed that first snook was one mighty fine grin!
Capt. Mark Phelps, who works with us out of Casey Key Anglers & Outfitters, reports redfish littering the oyster bars and tailing shamelessly on the flats. ?It?s beautiful,? he drawled in his Carolina twang, ?except we never could get them to eat a danged thing. It was a little bit frustrating, if you want to know the truth!?
Aye, aye, Capt. Been down that patch of cotton!
Hmmm, I?ve got John Skivington for a couple of days this week. Maybe Lemon Bay would be in order.
My brother, Capt. Dave Gibson, is still raving about all of the spotted sea trout in Pine Island Sound. Maybe I?ll take Charlie Walton down there on one of the days we fish. Or maybe Bob (?you?re gonna like this picture?) Cummings later in the month.
That?s the beautiful thing about fishing southwest Florida. There simply are SO MANY PLACES to catch fish. And each spot has its own character and personality.
Till next time,