High of 76
On Saturday I went fishing with my buddy Subaru Jim. The weather was beautiful and the fishing was even better. Although his home in Port Charlotte is down the canal from me, he prefers to launch his boat from a trailer so that he can cover more fishing spots by driving from ramp to ramp. After fishing with him a few times, it's really starting to make good sense to me. So much of our inshore waters have peninsulas we'd have to run around on the water, I have always burned expensive gas and precious time doing so. Now while I enjoy all the time on the water I can get, if fishing is the goal, let's face it...if you're driving the boat, you're not fishing.
Jim picked me up just before 9 AM at my house. 15 minutes later we launched his boat from the El Jobean ramp. The tide was ultra low, negative .04'. We wouldn't be able to get into the mangroves just yet so we picked a spot in the Myakka River and drifted the incoming tide. We had 100 live shrimp on board and immediately put them to good use. Spotted sea trout were biting on nearly every cast. In 2 hours Jim landed 20 and I landed 11, including one small red fish as a bonus. 31 fish on the boat in 2 hours? None were above the 15" minimum length for keeping; most were in the 12-13" size, so all were released alive and well, but what a great time! Saltwater Spotted Sea Trout are beautiful looking fish. I'm sorry I didn't stop for pictures but when you're catching that many fish, you don't want to stop for anything! They have big soft mouths so you have to work them with skill to keep them on the hook. (forgot to mention that on the previous afternoon, Jim picked me up from my canal and we landed 24 trout and redfish in 2 hours from the harbor just outside of our canal channel).
(back to Saturday) At 11 AM, Jim's canal neighbor, Jerry, called and wanted to join us. We boated over the ramp, reloaded the boat on the trailer and met Jerry at TNT Bait shop. Jerry added 50 live shrimp to replace what we'd lost to the trout and the 3 of us set out again. We launched boat 15 minutes later at the Placida Boat ramp. (Jim pays $50 a year for an annual parking sticker, valid at any Charlotte County boat ramp.
We headed up the intercoastal waterway towards Don Pedro State Park. Since this area was much closer to the Gulf of Mexico, the incoming tide was well ahead of our previous spot. There was plenty of water to get into the mangroves and I hooked up to a nice 15" flounder, my first. This one became the first fish we put in the live well and would be my dinner later that night. Jim and Jerry hooked up with some smaller mangrove snapper and others but all were released. I landed a ladyfish we kept alive in the well in case we needed cut bait later. (at the end of the day, she was released alive)
By 1PM we found out way into the blue waters of Gasparilla Pass. Look at the below photo taken from Google Earth to see how gorgeous the water is here. To the west is the darker waters of the Gulf and to the east the water almost disappears among the mangrove trees and flats, but in Placida Harbor, Gasparilla Sound and the Pass it is like Bahamian water.
All throughout these waters we hit the mother load. Gag grouper, red grouper, mangrove snapper, grunts, sheepshead, one after another, after another and still more. Between the 3 of us we caught and released more than 60 fish here. We also caught some lesser desirable varieties like snakefish, toadfish, and blowfish but Jerry caught several nice keeper size mangrove snappers and a big sheepshead. Jim became the champ of the day when he landed a 23" Gag Grouper that would have been a meal for us all except Gag season is closed! We snapped a photo and said goodbye to this prized possession. This was the biggest Grouper I have seen in person since moving here in 2007. I have spend a lot of fuel and money to find that fish and wouldn't you know it...he came with a Governor's pardon and was spared.
At 3PM we headed into the back waters of the mangroves in search of keeper trout/reds. We tossed shrimp and lures among the seagrasses and sandy flats in 1-2 feet of water but found nothing over the course of an hour. We ended the day near the old railroad bridge and Placida Trestle but landed just one snakefish before deciding we should join the sun and call it a day. At 550PM we headed for the trailer.
I'm pretty sure we went over 100 fish on the day but we broke our old record of 11 species in a day and landed 12 different ones today. 12 species of saltwater fish in one day? You gotta love living/fishing in Southwest Florida.
Jim and Jerry graciously allowed me to have all of the keepers, since I hadn't tasted flounder, sheepshead or mangrove snapper yet. Jerry even did all of the cleaning for me! I got home about 7 and broiled the flounder fillets. I coupled them with a nice garden salad, topped with balsamic vinaigrette dressing. It was a meal well earned. My body was quite tired from the day and after a shower I was in bed by 9PM.
The snapper and sheepys went into the freezer for another day. I set out to find keeper trout but with results like we had, I can't hardly complain. Enjoy a few photos from the day, below. Click on pics for full screen.
|Satellite image of our blue water adventure|
|The in-shore waters were smooth and calm all day|
|Subaru Jim pilots the boat|
|Subaru Jim shows off the catch of the day, a 23" Gag Grouper, released because of seasonal rules|
|Behind these mangroves we fished in 1-2 feet of water|
|Your author on his home waters|
|The old Placida railroad bridge dates back to the early 1900s|
|Sun sets through bridge pilings twice my age|
|As the sun sets to west, the moon rises in the east over Gasparilla Sound|
|A lone heron watches sunset over Placida Harbor|
|I'll never get enough of these|
|Subaru Jim's 17' Key West Stealth floats in 6" of water|
|My flounder before cleaning; in the back are the sheepshead fillets|
|My first flounder became my dinner after a well fought day of angling. I added some Mrs. Dash, course ground pepper and lemon juice before broiling them 6 minutes per side at 350 degrees.|