Sunday, February 19, 2012


Home in Port Charlotte
Morning low of 70...very nice

After a day of outdoor projects at the house it was time to hit the Harbor for some overdue fishing.
I trailered the boat to Placida Park and gave new meaning to the term boat launch.  For some dumb reason I disconnected my safety strap before backing all the way into the water and when I did back down, the stop of the truck was enough to launch the boat off the trailer.  Thank goodness I had a bow line laying upfront.  I ran chest deep into the water and was able to grab onto the line and hold the boat back.  (whew)  Can't see myself doing that twice.

I didn't launch until 3PM so I planned on staying out until the very last light of the day.  The air temperature was 78 and the water temperature was 70.  I boated up to the north end of Pine Island sound and pinned the boat down in 4 feet of water.  I was quickly on the Speckled Trout, using shrimp tipped jigs on 10 pound braid.  No keepers yet but it was still fun catching the little ones.  I landed some pin fish that were as big as my hand.  I had a really nice fish on that fought hard and never showed himself.  As soon as I got him under the boat he freaked out and sliced right through my 15 pound florocarbon leader.  I was thinking it to be either a bonnethead shark or a spanish mackerel.  Later, I had a better idea of what it was.

I moved the boat to skinnier water and pinned down in 2' of grass and switched to top water plugs (Skitter Walk). I recently checked out a book from the library about secrets to fishing Southwest Florida.  It had navigation charts and identified precise areas where you could target specific species.  The author said this area was consistent for 4-6 pound speckled trout.  I found the exact spot and, even though the book was published in 1991, as soon as cast toward where the author recommended.... BAM!  CHUG! WOOHOO!  What fun.  I found the giant specks and they were exploding on my lures with every cast.  They were also getting off the lure too.  (insert Homer Simpson voice...DOH!)

As the sun set behind Cayo Costa I briefly wished I could stay the night.  The action was just heating up at 6PM.  I switched rods and threw a Badonkadonk jerk lure (quarter oz pinfish style).  The first cast produced a HUGE hit and this one was hooked good.  On 10 pound test with the drag set lightly, he put up a fun fight.  I didn't know what it was but when it flashed by the boat, I knew it was the biggest of the day.  Every time he got near the boat he would take off on another long run.  I played him right and when I got him near the boat, I didn't know if it was a baby tarpon or a sand trout or what it was?

I was careful to keep him alive in case I would have to release him.  I ruled out tarpon as soon as I got a good look at the shape of his mouth.  He was about 22" long, silver colored, with big eyes, short teeth and he had a purple streak running laterally from gills to his big forked tail.  Anyone care to guess before I give it away?

The sun was well past the horizon when I promised myself two last casts.  Once with the Skitter Walk...nothing.  Once with the Badonkadonk...BAM!  Enormous ladyfish.  She leaped, she flipped, she ran but there was no getting off.   This was easily the biggest lady I've caught...easy 25".  It was great fun watch the acrobatic show but in the end, she wound up in a bag in my freezer as cut bait for the next trip.

At 640PM I plugged in my nav lights and pulled the shallow water anchor pin.  It's been fun but I gotta run.  In the twilight of evening I ran 38 knots back to the Gasparilla Bridge.  It was pitch black dark when I got the boat tied up at the Placida ramp.  The only other guys there with me were the Fish/Wildlife Commission officers loading their boats up to end their day.  I showed one of them the photo I took of my 22" mystery fish and he identified it for me as a Blue Fish.  I didn't tell him I had the fish onboard, just in-case...hahah!  He said they only have to be 12" long, so a 22"er would be a really nice one.  I guess I should get one of those laminated fish identification pamphlets to keep onboard the boat.  In doing some online (the next day) I learned how sharp those blue fish teeth are.  Most people who target them use steel wire leaders.  In thinking of the fight put up by the blue fish I landed, compared with the ?fish that cut through my floro leader, I bet that was another blue fish.

Loading the boat back on the trailer was much smoother.  I'm getting better at this solo stuff, which is one big reason I bought a smaller trailerable boat.    

In just 4 hours I had a great time out there.  This will help get me through the next two weeks; working a week in Massachusetts and a week in Puerto Rico.  All this travelling for my job is tough, as you can imagine, and it would be easy to get the blues.  Spending four hours Messing About in South Florida turned out to be a better way to catch the Blues.

Click on pictures for full screen image

Speckled Sea Trout is what I was targeting.  I found them but the keepers are going to take more practice.  I  had more top water strikes than I can recall but only boated the 12-14"ers.  Keepers are 15-20" size, with four allowed per day.  One of the four can be bigger than 20".  I will certainly be back on this grassy flat to target the big ones.

This 22" blue fish weighed about 5lbs.  He put up a real nice fight.

Sunset over Cayo Coasta Island, near Boca Grande Pass.

Night had fallen by the time I got back to the Gasparilla Bridge, near Placida Harbor boat ramp.
Where I fished

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