Saturday, July 31, 2010

Shrimp Cocktail

Since almost everything in the sea eats shrimp, it's a good idea to have some of these patterns and lures with you when fishing. I've caught so many different fish on shrimp lures and patterns. These small crustaceans pack quite a large caloric punch so maybe that's why fish like them so much.

The D.O.A. Shrimp is one of my favorite baits to find fish. Remember, when using any shrimp lure or pattern, the key is to fish it S-L-O-W. For some reason, everything that swims seems to LOVE this color (Clear/Red Flake).

Chartreuse Sparkle is nice in dingy or stained water.

Grass Shrimp are prevalent on the flats in the summertime. They are small (less than an inch) but numerous. If you're on fish and can't get them to eat, try tying on a Crystal Shrimp size #4.

Crystal Shrimp in gold and white with beadchain eyes instead of burned mono.

E.P. Shrimp. AWESOME when you can get it in front of shallow redfish on the feed. Let it sit on the mud bottom and give it a twitch as the fish approaches. Should trigger an immediate strike.

Not sure what this Double Bunny is supposed to look like but I fish it like a shrimp and the trout seem to like it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Photo Essay - 7/25

Sunday Keith and I paddled from Dunedin Causeway to Caledisi Island to scout new spots. I caught 3 flounder and lost a 20 inch redfish at the boat.

I need to rethink just how I put fish in the boat. Teeth on those flounder could be bad news.

How big was that redfish that I lost, Keith?

An Osprey. Haven't seen one of those in a while.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Scouting New Spots - When?

In this installment of Scouting New Spots, we'll combine the things that we learned from the first post - Where? - and try to determine when is the best times to fish and how it goes hand in hand with where.

For starters, you need to understand that I'm not a marine biologist or expert on the subject of finding fish. All I'm doing here is passing on things that I've learned in the hopes of helping other people find fish on more of a consistent basis....I'm always learning new things too. This year, I've really been putting an effort into being able to find fish.

Now...when the best times to fish is an oft debated subject. Some say the best time to go is low tide, others will tell you high tide, and of course, the incoming or outgoing tide is thrown in there as well. Going at night or the break of dawn?

I've found through trial and error that fish can be caught at all stages of the tide, night and just have to know where to fish.

At my special little oyster bar spot, there's an oyster bar on the edge of a drop off that backs up onto a lush shallow grass flat. My favorite time to fish this spot is at a dead low tide with the sun low in the sky. The flat is almost totally dry, but the water leading up to it and around the oyster bar can hold fish. This area just comes alive at this time, with little shrimp, fish and crabs coming out of their hiding places. I've witnessed redfish stacking up on the edge of this flat, working their way into the grass as soon as the water is deep enough to hold them.

In the wintertime, I've seen redfish at the lowest stage of the tide, holding in pools of water with the surrounding areas completely dry, waiting for the tide to come in. A deftly placed shrimp or crab pattern will be sure to draw interest in a situation like this.

Snook, on the other hand, are notorious nocturnal feeders. The Mad Snooker, Captain Dave Pomerleau can attest to this fact. I can't tell you how many times I've seen these fish cruising along a mangrove shoreline or hanging around a boat dock, thrown everything I can at them and either spook them or they refuse EVERYTHING. You'd think they either never eat, or are smarter than your average fish.

Truth be told, they DO eat, but at certain times...and only for a short time. I have yet to figure out the formula, but they DO prefer an incoming tide at night. Lighted boat docks with moving water is what to look for. They hold in the shadows, waiting for baitfish to be swept along in the current where they can dart out and grab one.

Flooding tides give gamefish the opportunity to catch prey among the mangrove prop roots. A deep mangrove edge should be explored at this stage of the tide. If you're not hanging up on prop roots or branches once in a while, you're not casting close enough.

But what do you do along the mangroves on a falling tide? A lot of large mangrove islands have "creeks" that, if you were looking at it on Bing Maps, you'd swear it was a checker board. These are breaks to allow for tide and current flows, since the mangroves are in the middle of a current, these creeks allow the mangroves to stay put and not be swept away. Where these creeks empty out, there is often a depression or hole. Fish like to wait in and around these holes on a falling tide to feed on the prey items that are swept out when the water level drops. This is a great spot to find any of the big three year round. Combine this with a low light situation, and the fishy fireworks can be intense.

Another spot that I found that holds fish no matter the time of day or tide stage is a sand flat that drops off into a channel. The edge of this channel is grassy. What I like to do is bounce a black and purple bendback down the hill as it were.

But why does this spot always seem to produce trout?
A few reasons to consider. The temperature of the deeper water makes the fish a bit more comfortable, the eyes of the fish are sensitive to bright light and on a hot summers day, cool darker water seems to be preferable to these fish. There always seems to be moving water along this edge and trout like to lie in wait to pounce on unsuspecting prey items washed to them in the current...tide changes from incoming to outgoing, they just turn around.

So any stage of the tide and time of day should find you still able to find fish, you just need to know where to look and at which time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Legend Of 2 O'Clock Charlie

There's something in the water here...the makings of an angling legend of epic proportions.

We call him 2 O'Clock Charlie - He usually hits right around 2 O'Clock...when we're on our way back in.

Recently, almost every time that I've been fishing out at Sand Key, someone has a run in with a large fish - either a big snook or a tarpon - that manages to break the line or straighten a hook....tow around the guy who hooked it. We always seem to run into him in 8-10 feet of water. I've seen it several times and it's right around the length of a yardstick.

Last Sunday, it was on a DOA Shrimp with 10lb Power Pro. I thought I had him, but he broke off when I tried to tighten the drag down too much.

Give it some time and it'll be 8 feet long, have teeth like sabres, and has 3 heads. If you fell out of your 'yak, he'd swallow ya whole.

2 O'clock Charlie, Why do you torture me so.....

Monday, July 19, 2010

Scouting New Spots - Where?

One of the most challenging things about saltwater fishing is finding fish. You may find them one day and they won't be there the next. My friend Scott likes to say "Well Rob...the fish must not have read Florida Sportsman this month."

Knowing where the fish like to hang out and feed is the first thing I consider when scouting a new area. Sometimes I see a spot as I'm driving past, other times, I use Bing Maps to find features that fish commonly use as either a highway or a hole or hill that they might use as a current break. It's similar to bass fishing - the fish relate to contours and structure much the same as largemouth bass, but you have to account for moving water, time of day, and tide movement.

Here are a few things that I look for when looking for new fishing spots...

Is there grass? This is an important factor to think about. Favorite prey items for gamefish use grass to hide, feed and reproduce almost year round, so make sure sea grasses are in the equation.

The ICW from Memorial Causeway north to Anclote Key has some of the nicest grass flats I've ever seen. The water is always clear and the grass is always thick and lush....but....I haven't had much luck in that area. There are a few spots that I've found that SHOULD hold fish, like a grassy 10 feet deep hole in the middle of a 3 feet deep grass flat that doesn't hold fish for some reason. But on the other hand, when looking at a few spots on Bing Maps near Old Tampa Bay, I noticed an absence of grass. I was assured that there WAS in fact grass there, only to find the area as bald as I am...and ended up going home empty handed.

Deep water nearby? Gamefish are preyed upon as juveniles by birds and bigger fish. This sticks with them as adults. Deeper water acts as security for these fish and it's always a good idea to look for some sort of depth variation close to where you'll be fishing. Deeper water also holds cooler temperatures in the summer.

One of my favorite spots to fish is at Sand Key. There is a grass flat that drops off into a deep channel. There are always trout holding at or close to this edge. I've also caught snook and tarpon there. Recently, I was wading in knee deep water at this edge, catching trout and I noticed that the water blowing from the channel on the incoming tide felt about 10 degrees cooler than the water I was standing in.

Other structures - Oyster bars, sand bars, docks, pilings, rocks and rip-rap? Just like bass fishing, you have to locate the structure. Baitfish use these features to hide from gamefish. Gamefish use these locations as a current break and to be able to ambush prey. I like to find docks that house sailboats because they need to be fairly deep to allow for the keel of the boat.

Another of my favorite spots features an oyster bar. It's located between two mangrove islands with deep edges. The front side of the bar drops into about 6 feet of water. The back edge sweeps into a shallow grassy area that is mostly exposed during low tide. I've often witnessed redfish following the incoming tide into the grass, but make a stop along the front of the oyster bar foraging for mud crabs that make the oyster bar their home.

In the next installment of "Scouting New Spots", we'll focus on when to go.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

YakAngler Comes To Florida

Mark and Adam, the founders of are in Florida this week to hang out and fish all over the state. What I think is really awesome about this is the fact that they came to fish in Florida for a week instead of going to Vegas for the ICAST they're really cool guys who love fishing!

First stop on their whirlwind trip was to go fishing for trout and reds with me.

I met them at the always popular Sand Key. Of course I was a few minutes late. Being a Wednesday, there was no boat traffic. The conditions were perfect with a slight breeze and no rain in the forecast. The tide was on the latter stages of outgoing and would be low about 2 hours after our arrival. Florida native Chip Gibson and his son Brad drove all night from Georgia to go with us as well.

They secured a few Emotion Grand Slam kayaks from David Sims at Action Watersports which are pretty nice boats.
We paddled out to "The Corner", a grass flat on the edge of a 20 foot drop off. I broke my rod on the first cast by trying to unsnag a hang up. We caught a few trout and a few lizardfish and a needlefish.
We paddled over to an island and found a strong incoming tide along a shallow flat that dropped off into a channel. We caught a few more trout and spooked a few redfish. Was trying to get Adam a fish before heading back to the beach, but were unsuccessful in our attempts.
It was a really fun day out fishing and I'm glad that we had the opportunity to meet up, fish and enjoy some wings and beer at Mugs after....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Inane Randomness

Tomorrow, I have the honor of taking Mark and Adam, the guys out on a kayak fishing expedition. We'll be heading to Sand Key with hopes of getting on some trout and redfish. Should be a fun time and I'll be sure to get a lot of photos.

I have a confession to make; None of my technology starts with i. I don't have an iphone, ipad or ipod....however, for those of you that DO have these toys, there is a new app for iphone called Whoppa.

From the Whoppa site - "A 2-in-1 app that enables you to keep a detailed personal log of all your catches AND get up-to-date information on what's working for others in your location.
How many times have you walked past a fellow fly fisherman on the banks, and in passing you enquire, "Had any luck? Oh really... what with...?" Well, this is what this app is about: instant access to local knowledge. That, and being able to keep your own detailed record of all the catches that you make – learning and remembering from your successes in the past is invaluable, and the app does the remembering bit so you can simply reap the rewards.
With GPS capability to pinpoint your location on googlemaps and automatic date and time entries, it's never been simpler to log a catch. You can add as much detail as you like with options such as techniques, equipment, species, weight and length, fly type, hook size, season, weather, water type and water body... you can even add a picture. All the information will be automatically stored on your phone with the added option of being able to upload it to your account on the Whoppa website for safe-keeping.
And, if you want to see what's working for other fisherman at your spot, just click the "Recent Catches at This Spot" button to pick up some top tips and handy information. You can even adjust your retrieval area within a 1-mile, 5-mile, and 10-mile radius. With so much knowledge at your fingertips, Whoppa is your secret weapon to building an impressive catch portfolio."
Available from the itunes store.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Weekend Update - A Close Call

Wow! Hard to believe I haven't posted or written anything in a week. It's not that I haven't been fishing. I have been. I've taken a bit of a break due to un-birthday parties, busy at work, and other things.

Since I have off every Friday in July, I've been taking full advantage of my 3 day weekends. Friday, I went to the always popular Sand Key to "the spot" and fished the outgoing tide for a while on some deep flats. Large needlefish were harrassing my lures and flies, so I caught one and turned it into thing I know, my 12 weight is SCREAMING with that sound every fly fisherman wants to hear....Zeeeeeeee....zeee...zeee....

An 80 lb tarpon took off at light speed across the deep flat towing me along with it....leapt clear of the water twice before rolling over and seperating line from leader....A black and red Keys style fly with holographic dome eyes was the ticket. Didn't even see it before it started taking off with it.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Inane Randomness

Wow! A four day weekend! What will I ever do?

Today, I'll be doing the domestic chores, cleaning, laundry, napping...

Saturday, I'll be out at the always popular Crystal Beach with the yak, chasing redfish on a falling tide first thing in the morning. The shrimp flies and gurglers are stocked in the permitting of course. It's been rainy and stormy for about a week now.

The Friday Pin-up on Moldy Chum is quite impressive. Looks like someone I know!

Not sure where I'm watching fireworks this year. I wanted to launch the yak in Clearwater Harbor or Belleair and view them from there but, as you could probably imagine the amount of boat traffic and drunk idiots on the water at that time....