Kayak fishingRead More
Fishing for black drum out of a kayak.Read More
Although it is still a little chilly in the morning, once the morning sun hits the water the fish begin to wake up. Depending on the year little by little February water temps will start to rise up as each day passes. With water temps rising the fish will start to shift into their next phase of season. Some species will be starting to spawn but, first and foremost the fish will be on the hunt, looking to fill their stomachs after being a bit sluggish form the cold winter.
One of my favorite fish to target this time of year is the Speckled Trout also known as the Spotted Sea Trout. The adult spotted sea trout are anywhere from 19-32 inches and from 3-15lbs. They can be caught in large numbers once you have located them. The average size this time of year is about 16-20 inches, but don’t surprised to catch some well over 20 inches. We locals call them “Gator Trout” once they make it over the 20-inch mark. In our area you are allowed to keep four over 15” with one of them being over 20inches. Although, I do release most trout over 20” because they are either already full of eggs or they are getting ready to start spawning any day. Plus, they are much better tasting when they are under the “Gator Trout” size…
There are many different tactics to catch Spotted Sea Trout. My absolute favorite way to catch them is on top water “walk the dog” baits like the Yo-Zuri 3D Inshore Pencil. They do have paper thin mouths so, make sure not to rip the lure out of their mouth when they strike it. Feel the weight of the fish and just reel. If it’s a cold morning and they are being lethargic, I like use a soft-plastic shrimp like the Monster 3X X-MOVE. Work it extremely slowly to entice the bite. Between those two baits, one of them should be your golden ticket to success! As always please be safe! Take care of your local waters and respect all the anglers on the water. There is plenty enough water out there for everyone to enjoy. Tight Knots and Tight Lines to all!
Fly fishing and kayaks can go together like peanut butter and jelly once you master the combination. Fly fishing form a kayak can be one of the most effective ways to fly fish. I personally enjoy fly-fishing from a kayak above all different methods of fly fishing. Although it does have its challenges, once you fine-tune everything it can become game changing. Your process will depend on your own person skill set and you will have to learn different casting techniques that you would normally not use on land or in a bigger boat. However, there are many advantages to moving your fly fishing game to a kayak, for example, you can get to places that no one else can get to. Also, your presence is so small that you see and get shots at many more fish. Here are a few pointers for making your kayak fly fishing journey a success.
Being organized can be the night and day difference of having a poor day or the day of a lifetime! When I plan on going fly-fishing from the kayak, I bring minimal equipment out on the yak. Getting your things ready the day before is mandatory: picking out what size rods, lines, and flies helps ensure that there are fewer things that could go wrong on game day. Generally, the only thing I bring on my kayak is my paddle, 1-2 rods/reels, anchor stick, a dry bag to put phone, keys, flies, etc… and maybe a small cooler for drinks and food. Now on my personal body… I have on my life vest, a pair of pliers, and some type of snips for cutting lines or trimming flies. The less stuff you have on your yak, the less likely you are going to tangle or catch your lines.
Once you have fly fished out of a kayak a few times and are starting to get the hang of it, there are a few more things that I would recommend bringing.
Landing net: Using one with a longer handle or an extension handle with rubber mesh can make it easier to land fish depending on how long of a leader you are using. Also, on windy days it can make a great stripping basket.
Stripping basket or mat: Bringing these out on the yak and storing them away while not using them can be kind of difficult. But, on really windy days it can make huge difference with line management.
Push pole: Some sort of push pole depending on the area that you are fishing in. It can help you control and move your kayak while standing. Standing makes it easier to see and locate fish.
Remember, the more stuff you bring out with you the more things you have to be aware of your line getting tangled around. I even ask myself sometimes… why did I bring so much stuff! Haha! Anyways, go out there and give it a try. I promise once all the puzzle pieces all come together, it will become a lifelong obsession.
This particular day I had been pre-fishing for an inshore slam (snook, redfish, trout) tournament. The tide was pretty high and still coming in so, I started out working the mangroves for snook. It didn’t take long before I had both snook and redfish blowing up on my top-water lure. As the tide rolled in, it became harder and harder to reach the fish because they had pushed so far deep into the mangroves.
Since I had already caught 2 out of the three species I was looking for, I decided to make my way out to a deeper flat to try and catch some trout. As I paddled up to the flat, I a saw an enormous school of white bait that went on for nearly a hundred yards! While I was jigging for trout, out of the corner of my eye I saw a large tarpon roll. I reeled up as fast as I could and bombed a cast in that direction. Soon as the soft-plastic was getting ready to hit the water another tarpon rolled. Mid roll the tarpon saw my bait hit the water and bent like a pretzel to inhale my bait. All of the sudden I went from jigging for trout on light weight tackle to having a 70-90 lb. tarpon jumping like crazy on the end of my line! It was probably a good thing it came unbuttoned soon after because my set-up was no match for that large of fish…
After finding all three species and miscellaneous tarpon, I decide to make my way to the shore line to head back towards the launch. On my way back, I saw a group of dolphins cruising down the shore line tearing through bait and mullet. They were actually playing with their food by blasting full grown 5-7 lb. mullet back and forth to each other. I ended up stopping on the shore line to take a couple of casts and to let the dolphins go around me. After they passed me, I see fin a pop up and charge the shore line coming directly at me. I was on a corner where the land elbowed so, there was nowhere for this large fishy to go. The water was pretty tannic from all the rain the previous day. So, I watched this large grey fin swim right up to me and stop. I thought to myself I better give this dolphin a little poke to let it know I was here… Well that’s when all heck broke loose! First off it wasn’t a dolphin, it was a 10 ft. BULL SHARK! Soon as I poked it, JAWS came out the water snapping at me and then it was like an explosion in the water as flipped out to get away. I’m thinking the dolphins had scared it up against the shore line and it had nowhere else to go…
Moral of the story is to be careful while on the water. Always be aware of your surroundings. You never know what you are going to run into (literally)! Hahaha! Tight lines and Tight knots to all! Eric Henson is the owner of Casting Kayaks LLC a guided kayak fishing company out of Sarasota Florida. He specializes in inshore light tackle or fly fishing from Tampa Bay to Charlotte Harbor. To book a guided fishing trip with Eric check out his website www.CastingKayaks.com or give him a call at 941-504-1349
Black Drum fishingRead More
Get ready because spring is on its way and the fish are fired up! Even though we didn’t have much of a winter this year, most of the fish will still be following their normal patterns. The fish that did push back into warmer waters will be heading back out to the grass-flats looking for a good meal.
Redfish- Although you will still see a lot of single and doubles hanging out, be sure to look for them to be grouping up into small schools… Most of the schools will be mid to upper slot fish with some over-slot fish mixed in. Early in the mornings I will throw top-water and sub surface baits like the Mirro -Lure Top Dog or the new Yo-Zuri 3D Inshore Series . And even though it is towards the end of the shrimp run, I will still be targeting them with the Monster 3X 4 ¾ X-MOVE pretty much throughout the whole day. The water is still very clean and clear and it makes for an outstanding sight fishing bait.
Trout- These fish will be fired up and eating in just about any part of the water column from super skinny to 5-7 ft. of water. Most of the slot fish will be schooled up on the grass-flats in the 4-7 ft. range and your bigger over-slot fish will be in the 1-3 ft. range. I like to use top-waters and hard baits like a Mirro-Dine early in the morning to cover lots of water until I find them. Once I’ve found one I will slow down to work them pretty hard because there are usually more close by.
Snook- The snook that pushed into the backwaters will be pouring out of the creeks and rivers onto the grass-flats. I like to stage up near the mouth entrances and plug away at them. Again I like to use the Monster 3X X-MOVE but with a little bit heavier jig head. With the stronger currents and the little deeper water, you want to make sure that your bait is getting down into the strike zone.
This is the best time of the year for weather and fishing so get out there and enjoy it. Be sure to stay safe and be courteous of your fellow anglers while on the water. There is plenty enough water and fun for everyone! : ) Tight lines and Tight knots to everyone! Eric Henson is the owner of Casting Kayaks LLC. a guided kayak fishing company out of Sarasota Florida. He specializes in inshore light tackle or fly fishing from Tampa Bay to Charlotte Harbor. To book a guided fishing trip with Eric check out his website www.CastingKayaks.com or give him a call at 941-504-134
Fly fishing can be one the most exhilarating things to try if you are an angler and desire a novel experience or a new challenge. It is pretty much the most intimate fishing experience that you can have. From tying your own flies for your next catch to casting a fly rod, the whole experience could most definitely be considered an art form.
First, you pull just enough line to cast and give it a good stretch so that you have less room for error once you reach your target. Once you find the fish you are looking for, you get into the best possible position for hitting your mark. While you are casting, you breathe as you feel your line loading through the rod and you listen to your line starting to form tight loops. Then you release your line as it rockets through the guides of your rod and lays down ever so softly just in front of your target. You begin to strip your line as the fish turns its head with its pectoral fins out, and rushes over, mouth wide open to inhale your fly. Boom! Fish ON!
One more good strip set as you begin to feel your line peeling out through your hands until it is tight on the rod. Then you palm the spool for just the right drag while you feel the sheer power of the fish. You look at the backing of your line hoping that you have enough just as the fish’s will starts to break. You reel reel reel and then the fish decides to go for another run! Finally, you get all your line back as you see fish getting closer and closer to you until the fish rolls over on its side into submission. When all of this comes together it can be one of the greatest fulfillments in fishing.
This is one of my favorite times of the year to fly fish. As the water clarity continues to improve and air/ water temps are cooler, sight fishing will be key. The fish are easy to see but it is also easier for them to see you so you need to have a good plan of execution. Also this time of year the fish are starting to feed on smaller things which is a great for fly fishermen. I like to throw crustacean type patterns now, although they will feed on smaller bait fish patterns as well. Sometimes the wind can be a bear this month so don’t be afraid to hit the backwaters. The fish will be making their way back there anyway if they aren’t already there.
Snook- These fish are really starting to feed heavily to get fattened up before winter. Look for them near the mouth’s of creeks and rivers. Once you have located them, get ready to hold on tight! They will eat just anything that crosses their path. If you see them busting baits near the surface, start out by pitching top water lures like the Yo- Zuri 3DB and be ready for crazy aerial assaults.
Redfish- This is a great month for redfish. The large schools will slowly start to break into smaller pods and don’t be surprised to find large fish by themselves. You can also find them hanging around the mullet schools. My bait of choice in this situation is Yo-Zuri’s new Inshore Series in the mullet pattern and it is great for covering lots of water. Play with the speed and retrieval twitches until you figure out what speed they are eating that day.
Trout- Big trout are here! They have been on fire in the deeper potholes in the 4-6 ft. range but, don’t be surprised to see them creeping in the shallows as well. Most of my big trout lately have been caught on the Monster 3X X-MOVE 4 ¾ with 1/16- 1/8 oz. jig head. Once you catch one or two, I would stay close to that area because there will probably be more.
I hope everyone enjoys the cooler air and beautiful waters. Be Safe! Tight Lines and Tight Knots to all!
Sharks can be one of the most fun fish to catch in SW Florida and just about anywhere in the world really… Pound for pound they can be some the strongest fish, with long line burning runs that never give up. They can be caught in waters less than a foot or in deep sea waters. They also come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.
The most common smaller sharks caught in our waters would have to be Black-tips, Bonnetheads, Spinners and Reef sharks, but, we do have larger ones as well like Bulls, Lemons, Tigers, and even Great-whites! Targeting the smaller species out of the kayaks can be lots of fun. And if you really want to target the big boys, the best way is to do it from shore and to use your kayak to paddle your bait out past the sand bar. Sometimes when we are fishing for smaller sharks we end up with bigger ones than we would prefer so we enjoy the fight, get as much line back as possible and then cut it.
There are many techniques to target sharks. My favorite way to target them is to sight fish them with artificial lures. Top water lures like the Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil and the Monster 3X X-MOVE are my go-to artificial lures for sharks. If you prefer other bait, anything fresh and bloody will work every time! Cut pinfish, mullet, jacks, bonita, and lady fish to name a few of my favorites. Also chumming never hurts or even tie a bonita carcass off the side of your yak. If you chum, they will come!
For smaller sharks 4 ft and under a size 3-4000 size reel, 7 ft. med-heavy action rod, 15-20 lb braided line, and 30-50 lb. fluorocarbon leader will get the job done. And for the larger ones I like to use an 8000 size reel, 8 ft. heavy action rod, 40-50 lb. braided line, 80 lb. fluorocarbon leader with a steel leader tippet. Of coarse the larger the sharks you are targeting… the bigger and beefier your gear had better be!
Please make sure you are very cautious while doing this out of a kayak. Sharks are a bundle of muscle, cartilage, and teeth. They will beat you and your kayak up if you bring them into the yak without having complete control of them. Also be careful when releasing them because many sharks can reach the tip of their tail with their teeth! As always, Be Safe and have fun! Tight Lines and tight Knots to all!
This can be one of the hottest times of year where the outside temps and water temps are at their highest. The fishing can be RED HOT as well if you plan your trips out right. I like to get out on the water earlier and finish up before the hottest part of the day.
REDFISH- They are really starting to heat up large schools of redfish growing just about daily. You can find these fish in the shallow grass flats early in the morning and then look for them cruising the outer edges once the sun gets up over head. Remember to be stealthy because if you scare one, you have scared them all. I like to target them with top water lures like the Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil first thing in the morning. Then I switch up to soft plastics like the Monster 3X X-SWIM or suspension baits like Mirro Lures Mirrodine.
SNOOK- My favorite place to target these fish is with a fly rod off the beach close to the passes as they start to migrate their way back to the flats, creeks, etc… The set up I primarily use for this is an 8 wt. St. Croix rod, TF 70 3-TAND fly reel, Teeny’s 8 wt. kayak series fly line, with a Seaguar fluorocarbon leader 30# tippet. Look for groups of smaller fish close to the shoreline with larger fish lurking around I a little deeper water. I’ve been catching some nice snook on River Bum’s purple tarpon toad early in the morning and then switching to gotcha flies later.
TROUT- Look for these fish to be hanging on the grass flats in deeper pot holes around the 4-7 ft. range. Most of these fish are in schools averaging about the 15-19 inch range but, perfect if you are looking for dinner. I always like to start throwing top water plugs like the Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil because they are a blast on top water!. Then I move onto soft plastics like the Monster 3X X_MOVE.
So this summer beat the heat! Not only do we need to take care of ourselves from the heat like staying hydrated but, also take care of the fish… If you are practicing catch and release, spend a little extra time to reviving them. “Quick tip” Fish can be a little sluggish on hot days so don’t be afraid to cast out an ole trusty piece of cut bait. It might just do the trick! Till next time… Be Safe, Stay Hydrated, and have fun! Tight Lines and Tight Knots to all.
Eric Henson is the owner of Casting Kayaks LLC. a guided kayak fishing company out of Sarasota Florida. He specializes in inshore light tackle or fly fishing from Tampa Bay to Charlotte Harbor. To book a guided fishing trip with Eric check out his website www.CastingKayaks.com or give them a call at 941-504-134
Tarpon fishing from kayaks!Read More
Moon and tides play a huge part in catching fish. Not all of us can plan our fishing trips around the tides and moon but, when you can it will definitely benefit you. Once you learn them/figure them out, it will increase your fish catching odds.
Lunar tides are caused by the magnetic attraction of the earth and moon. The moon tries to pull everything closer to it and so the water moves depending on the location of the moon. Since the position of the earth and moon are always changing, the water is always moving. The ocean is constantly switching from high tide to low tide with two high tides and two low tides. There are generally about 12 hours between the two high tides.
Spring tides occur when the moon is in it’s full or new moon stage. This is when tides are at their strongest with extreme high and low tides. (Spring tide has nothing to do with spring the season.) Neap tides occur when the moon is in it’s quarterly stages. These tides can be very weak with sometimes not much movement at all. Needless to say there are other variables for tides like the winds. When we have strong north east winds it can help blow all our water out of our bay causing extreme low tides. Same with strong south west winds keeping our tides higher.
Taking this all in consideration. When you can, try to plan your trips around the stronger tides. Fishing in a general is better around the full and new moon tides. When the tides are ripping the fish have more oxygen running through their gills making them friskier. There are a lot more bait pouring in and out with the tides. Even on land when there are full and new moons there is a lot more activity in nature. Also another thing to look out for is when the moon is setting and rising. Almost everyone knows sunrise and sunset can be some of the best fishing. The moon rise and fall is just as important as the sun rising and setting.
Hope this helps answer some of your questions about tides and fishing. Understanding the tides can be critical to your safety on the water as well. Be safe out there on the water and respect your fellow anglers. Tight Lines and Tight Knots to all!
Springtime is here! All the fish and their surroundings are going through a huge transition. As water temps heat up, grasses begin to grow, and bait begins to pour back into our bays. The grass flats will come to life! Fishermen and women will shed our winter clothes and break out our warm weather gear in search for hungry fish.
SNOOK- They will be pouring out the mouths of creeks and rivers. Look for them scouring the flats eating just about anything that crosses their path. This is one of my favorite times of year to throw top-water plugs like the Yo_Zuri 3DB. There will be full blown aerial assaults on top water plugs with fish so fired up they will literally come out of the water to nab the baits.
TROUT- Our huge gator trout will start to thin out inshore but, there will be plenty of nice size trout on the grass flats. Anywhere you can find good moving water with grass flats littered with deep potholes, you should find as many trout as your heart desires. Suspension baits like the Mirro Dine are a great baits to cover lots of water until you locate these fish. Don’t be afraid to work these lures with fast twitches. If you don’t plan on keeping these fish, I like to put single hooks on them to help preserve their soft mouths.
REDFISH- Look for these fish to be schooled up. Sometimes you will find two to twenty of them but, don’t be surprised to run into schools with over fifty of them. As much as you may want to start plugging away at them… Watch them for a little while to see what their pattern is, and then start working them. My first bait I like to throw at them is top-water lures and then soft plastics like the Monster 3X X-MOVE. What ever baits you decide to throw, make sure to get it out in front of them. Once they see you or your fishing line bounces off them, you will be playing cat and mouse all day!
Good luck! Be safe and respectable to your fellow anglers! There are plenty of fish in the sea for everyone! Tight Lines and Tight Knots to all!:)
Winter time can be
one the best times of the year to go fly fishing. Soon baits
like larger pilchards
and threadfins will start to dissipate and most fish will start
to switch over to
eating more crustaceans (shrimp, crabs, blood worms,
etc…). Also as water temps
start to drop, the fish appetites will begin to slow down.
As their appetites
begin to slow down, the fish start to prey on smaller baits.
This making it the
perfect time of year for throwing flies!
My all around go
to rod and reel this time of year is a St. Croix 9 ft./ 8wt.
Legend Elite with
a 3-TAND T-70 reel. The rod has plenty of backbone/
sensitivity for throwing
most flies and handling fish from 1-2 lbs. up to 30plus lbs.
The reel has a
sealed Nano CF Drag system, interchangeable larger arbors
from 7-9 wt., incredibly
strong for a great price that doesn’t break the bank! I
prefer to use Teeny’s
weight forward floating Redfish line. This WF line was
designed to help
kayakers cast while sitting down, but, rockets out of the rod to
make for a long accurate
cast. Most of the fish I
target with this line will in pretty skinny water unless
I’m fishing deeper
creeks in which case I will add more length to my
leader. For my leader,
I start out with 4-6 ft. of 40-50 lb. test, then connect
that to a 3 ft. 30-25lb
test leader and finally connect that to a 3 ft. 20-10 lb.
leader. I do adjust my leaders due to fishing certain
species of fish or during this
time on windier days I like to shorten my
leader up to about 8
Now for my flies
of choice this time of year… I have been having lots of success on
River Bums chartreuse/white deceiver. Catching everything
from trout, redfish,
to snook. Another fly that I have lots of luck on
is a simple white
gotcha. It is so small and simple looking but, I have hooked
some huge snook on
them this time of year! Last, but, my favorite is a Tan
Epoxy shrimp. This
fly is killer this time of year for just about all types of
fish! Also what is
cool about this fly is that because it is made out of epoxy,
I like to put a
little shrimp flavored Pro Cure on it. Work it extremely
slowly along the bottom
and it is game on!
Hope this helps motivate
anyone thinking of picking up the
fly rod this winter. Until next time… stay warm! Tight
Lines and Tight knots!
Kayak Fly Fishing
Posted by RiverBum Pro: Eric Henson on February 05, 2016
Kayaking and fly fishing can be a beautiful marriage. They complement each other in so many ways. Fly fishing for example, you must be extremely stealthy and you have to use most of your senses. Eyes, to engulf your surroundings and zero in on your target. Mind, to evaluate the wind, speed, and direction for the perfect cast. Then your body, to feel the load of the line bending through the eyes and then as it transmits the energy through the rod. Kayaking is nearly the same with a stealthy approach where you need to utilize your senses. Eyes, to see your surroundings and take the desired path. Mind, to process the wind, current, and speed to get you to your destination. Then your body, to transmit the power and energy through your paddle as you glide through the water. Both kayaking and fly fishing are a full body experience and I can’t think of a stealthier way to do both…
People kayak for many reasons. Some for the sport, exercise and health. Others to sight-see and to enjoy nature to the fullest. Many kayakers go to places where most boats or people can’t get to. I kayak to do all of these things and also for FISHING! Kayaks are one the most quiet/stealthy ways to move through the water with little disturbance. They can take you to places that you didn’t even know existed. There is no other feeling in the world like being in a remote area, where all you can hear is the wind pouring through the tree tops, birds squawking on the shoreline, and water as it pushes through the blade of your paddle. Just when you are wondering to yourself if anyone has ever been here before… a fish pushes out from the mangroves. Your heart starts to flutter and knees begin to shake as your mind starts to race towards a plan of action.
Similarly, people fly fish for many reasons. Some do it for the beauty and artistry. Others for a more primitive feel of fishing. Lots of people fly fish for the sheer challenge of it. I do it for all of these reasons and much more. There are so many motions that a fly angler goes through to landing that special catch. First picking the right rod, reel, and line leader for the task at hand. Then choosing just the right fly that matches the hatch of the area and the targeted species. Once you’ve managed to located the fish, now all of your primal hunting instincts start to kick in. You feel the direction of the wind in your face as you determine the direction of the tide for the perfect cast. You listen to the line as it loops back and forth, trying to sync your breathing. The line lays down onto the water and then the fly to follow with the slightest splash. The fish turns on the fly, you hold your breath as you begin to strip your line. Strip, strip, and BOOM! Fish On! A huge sigh of relief exhales. The sound of the screaming drag sends chills down your spine. When the fish finally makes its way into your net, you are filled with emotions that are indescribable!
The similarities between kayaking and fly fishing make for a fantastic joint venture. I believe that those who are drawn to fly fishing would definitely love the fun and challenge of trying it from a kayak. Look me up if you are ever on the west coast of Florida and I’ll show you how it’s done!
Tight lines & Screaming Drags!
Eric Henson is a RiverBum Pro, and the owner of Casting Kayaks LLC, Eric Henson has over 30 years fly fishing experience and frequents the waters of Tampa Bay down to Charlotte Harbor in Florida. His favorite targets are redfish, snook, trout and tarpon. Read more on Eric at his website and blog.
Winter time fishing is one of my favorite times of the year to fish. If you are a true Floridian like me, it’s time to break out the winter clothing. Things I like to wear to keep me warm include a nice warm pair of paddling gloves, hats, buffs, and I even knock the dust of the ole waders. But, the number one thing that keeps me warmer than anything is a good windbreaker. You can cut the chill in half with a good windbreaker and they aren’t very bulky, so it's still easy to move around. Although this year has been a little warmer than previous years so far, look for fish this month falling into their winter patterns. Once you learn the patterns of the fish you are targeting, it can be literally like plucking fish out of a bucket.
Fishing will be most productive on the couple of days right before cold fronts and generally a few days after the cold front has rolled in. Fish get extremely fired up right before a front. Even the day as the front rolls in with crazy high winds, I’ve had some of my best days! Just please be careful if you are in a kayak. As the front rolls in and the fish feel the pressure dropping, it triggers them to feed hard. Then right behind that, the pressure will begin to rocket back up with cold high winds and blue bird skies. The fishing will generally be slower right behind the cold front. Then usually 2-3-4 days after depending on the size of the front, the high pressure will let up and the fish will begin the eat more heavily again.
Extreme winter time negative low tides can also give anglers a clear advantage targeting fish. First off, all extreme tides are caused by the full and new moon’s gravitational pull. Fishing as a whole, is generally better on these big tide swings. Also with the heavy winds this time of year, it can blow the water out even more. Think about it like this, less water- less places for fish to hide…(mangrove shore lines, docks, etc.) As the water pours off the grass flats, target nearby creeks, rivers, and boat channels. These will get narrower as well, giving you a better chance with less water to find them. If you enjoy wading, this is a great time to walk the grass flats. Fish holes that you’ve found previously fishing on the higher tides. Sometimes you can find fish stuck in them from the water getting sucked out to fast. Now that's like fishing in a bucket! These extreme low tides can help you learn a lot about the layout of an area for future fishing trips.
So remember to check the weather and your tides this winter and try some of these methods. I promise it will give you an advantage to fishing in the winter months. Stay warm and be safe! Hope everyone’s holidays were blessed and fishy! :) Tight lines and Tight Knots to the New Year!
One of the greatest accomplishments in a day of inshore fishing is catching an INSHORE SLAM! The inshore slam consist of a snook, redfish, and trout all caught on a day of fishing. That is pretty much my goal on a daily basis while fishing the flats. There are some days where we catch one to multiple inshore slams which makes for an amazing day! Some days for what ever reason only one or two of the species will eat which is still great but, falling short of catching the slam.
Most of the tournaments on the central west coast of Florida are Slam Tournaments due to challenge of catching all three species. I recently just won the Kayak fishing Classics Johnson Outdoors Championships in Tampa Bay, FL where only 5 people out of all the anglers caught a inshore slam. Inshore Slam Tournaments are generally scored by whomever has the longest measured inches of all three fish. Even if an angler has two fish which measure longer than someone who has all three species, the angler with all three species usually wins.
Most people know that any given day, most fish are going to feed heavily an hour before and after sunrise and sunset. For me, on a day where I am trying to target all three species, the first fish I will target will be a trout. I usually head straight to my trout spot and try to catch a good one right off the bat. Most of your bigger trout like to feed early. Then I try and bang out a snook. Snook are another fish were I seem to catch the bigger ones in the twilight stages of the day. Last but definitely not least is Mr. Redfish! I seem to catch redfish easier through out the day. This is just a guide line on how most of the to anglers in this area plan their trips on the quest of catching a inshore slam. A lot of the times I will catch one the three species while targeting another species which ends up being a bonus!
Good luck on your quest of landing a INSHORE SLAM! Happy Holidays! Be Safe! Tight Lines and Tight Knots to everyone!
The black drum is a cousin of one of my favorite fish… the redfish. It is the largest species of the drum family. The average black drum is about 5-30 lbs. but, they have been known to reach 90 lbs. The juveniles look very similar to the sheepshead. They are a silver-grey color with 4-5 vertical black bars running across their body. The main difference are that sheepshead have crazy human-like teeth and Black Drum have chin barbells. When they grow longer than about 24 inches they start to lose their black bars and become a solid dark silver-grey color. Their mouths are on the bottom of their face with whiskers under the chin, making them the ultimate bottom feeder!
The smaller fish usually like to hang out in brackish water near cover or structure. The larger fish will venture out into the saltier areas where most of the time they like to hang out by structure as well like oyster bars, rock piles, piers, docks, etc… Look for black drum tailing like redfish near oyster bars on low incoming tides. Or on higher tides look for them in small tight schools cruising the flats. Most of the time the pods of fish are 3- 12 fish slowly swimming around looking for their next meal. This is a great opportunity to sight cast to them. Targeting them around bridge pilings are another great way to catch HUGE Black Drum. I’ve have friends who vertical jig for them along the pilings and catch monsters. My favorite way is to drop down good size fresh chunks of blue crab down and wait. It won’t be long until you have a monster on your line.
Baits I like to use to target them…Starting out with artificial baits -Right now in the backwaters, I have been catching them on heavy jig heads with a root beer colored Monster 3X X- Swim 3 ¾ inch shrimp. Also small bait fish patterns as well. Working them slowly, bouncing them off the bottom. On the flats, I have been using the same method just lightening the jig head and sight casting tailing fish or pods of fish cruising. With a little Pro Cure scent and working it slowly, it will usually get the job done. If you like using live bait… A shrimp on a jig head or free lined on a 2/0 Owner circle hook would be my next bait of choice. Most of the time they won’t be able to resist ole trusty shrimp! Fishing Docks, bridge pilings, or structure would be my next choice, using a chunk of crab on a circle hook with enough weight to keep it down near the bottom. They will smell that out from far away!
Black Drum are great fighters and under 15 lbs. can be absolutely delicious! Next time you have a chance at a black drum, give them a shot. It might become one of your new favorite species! Till next time, Be Safe! Tight Lines and Tight Knots!
This is one of my favorite months for Red Drum. I call it The Hunt For Red October! Red Drum are also called redfish, spottail, or channel bass. Red drum are named after the drumming sound they make when taken out of the water and during breeding. They have broad heads and stout bronze/ red colored bodies normally with a black spot right before their tail fin starts. You can find them just about anywhere inshore and offshore in our region. The bag limit for our region is one fish per angler 18-27 inches.
This time of year, huge schools of bull redfish are here and on the prowl for their next meal. The majority of these fish will be over slot but are very fun to pursue . Some of the newer schools that are coming in from offshore will be a washed out lighter grey color and the schools that have been here for a little bit will be a beautiful bronze color. When you see a large school of these fish coming at you, it will literally turn the water a bronze reddish color. A lot of the bigger fish in the upper 30’s – upper 40’s might look a little beat up from spawning. Be careful to release them because these are our big breeders.
Right now I am targeting them on the grass flats. On the higher stages of the tide in the mornings and afternoons, look for huge pushes (wakes) as they will cruise around in the 2-3 ft. depth range. Then concentrate on them in the 4-6 ft. depth as the sun comes up or the tides go out. Also look for them staging in large potholes. The biggest thing is once you’ve found them, try to be very stealth! They can feel and see you coming from pretty far away and once they know you are there, fishing for them can become very frustrating.
Baits that I like to use to target these schooling fish… First thing in the morning throw a top-water plug like Yo-Zuri’s 3DB Pencil. Make long cast out in front of the school, wait to work it until they get close enough to see it. Their mouth is on the bottom of their head, so they have to really commit. Watching them hit a bait on top of the water can be an incredible sight! Then as the sun comes up, I start throwing soft plastics like the Monster 3X shrimp or the paddle-X. There are lots of weeds out there this time of year so be sure to rig them weed-less. Last but definitely not least would be your favorite suspension bait like a Mirrodine. Of coarse live or cut bait works great as well. Some days these fish will be feeding like Piranhas, eating anything you throw in front of them and some days they can be quite finicky. Regardless, it is an amazing sight to see a school of reds the size of a football field coming at you!