Chris Conery from Colorado holding a decent bluefish
The week started off a bit slow with slack tides and stiff breezes, but conditions improved and by the end of the week fishing was fantastic! The speckled trout bite really turned on, complimenting the already good mangrove snapper fishing. Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, sharks, jacks, flounder, grouper, sea bass, and ladyfish were also landed by clients on charters this week. The key to fishing this time of year is the bait. Fish are simple creatures and will be found near the "groceries". Find the bait and you will find the fish.
All of the flats near the passes are loaded with bait, as are the Ringling flats, Moorings, and Buttonwood flats. The Marina Jack flats, Radio Tower, and the east side of Sarasota Bay north of the Ringling Mansion were the best spots for me this week. Catching live bait and chumming the fish up resulted in constant action for clients this week. Silver dollar sized pinfish under floats also produced some nice fish, especially early in the morning.
I started my week off on Sunday with Sarasota resident Laura Ritchie and her dad Bill who was visiting from Akron, OH. Action was steady, mostly mangrove snapper but also speckled trout, flounder, grouper, and ladyfish. We used live pilchards exclusively. The fishing would have been better but the cormorants were really a nuisance, eating all of my chum! Still, they put plenty of fish in the boat with some tasty mangs providing a nice meal.
Teagan Lunn with a 22" speckled trout near Big Pass
On Monday Phil Lunn from Richmond, VA took his children Brenden (14) and Teagan (11) out on a charter. Again, action was steady early before slowing down a bit later in the morning. Mangrove snapper, Spanish mackerel, gag grouper, speckled trout, and sea bass were caught on live bait near Big Pass. Teagan had the fish of the trip with a 22" speckled trout.
On Tuesday I was part of a group trip with several families from Kansas. Fishing was a bit tough as we were greeted with 15-20 knot winds. But, we worked hard and put 8 fish, including keeper trout, mackerel, snapper, and sea bass on ice. The Radio tower was the best spot.
Eric Naumburg from Maryland caught this slot trout
Eric Naumburg, Chris Conery, and John Parry fished with me for 3 days this week. On Wednesday we worked the Bird Key and Radio Tower flats and caught small trout, several nice snapper, a bluefish, and ladyfish using bait. On Thursday we headed north from Centennial Park and did very well, catching four 20" speckled trout, a bluefish, ladyfish, and 2 small blacktip sharks on Gulp! Shrimp under corks and live pinfish. The action slowed and I netted up bait in New Pass and we finished up with steady action at the Radio Tower. Friday morning was even better. Once again, I ran up north near the Ringling Mansion at first light. Live pinfish caught a few fish, but it was a bit slow.
Bait was everywhere, so I netted up a bunch of threadfins and the bite was insane! In a couple of hours, the boys landed 20 or so slot trout to 23", a half dozen mangrove snappers, two bluefish, and a bunch of ladyfish using the live bait. Chris even caught several trout and ladyfish on fly. The bite quit around 9:00, so I "reloaded": with bait and headed to New Pass in search of snook. The tide was running too fast, but i spotted fish breaking in the pass, so we motored over and they turned out to be big ladyfish. We had fun with them for half an hour then called it a morning.