76* at wake up, high around 90*
I went out alone yesterday with one goal. Repeat my luck from last labor day weekend and bring home a slot Redfish. If the are under 18" or over 27" you must release them. I read the Fishin Franks weekly report and heard the Reds were hot right now. I had some boat maintenance to do first so I did not launch the boat until 1 PM.
The wind and the waves were quite a bit higher than what had been forecast . I went to the Myakka cutoff, on an incoming tide. Unless you have a pure flats boat, do not ever go in there on a falling tide. I have a bay boat that draws about 1 foot of water. I use the "stick it" shallow water anchor pin ($100) instead of a $1500 power pole. I pinned the boat down in 2' of water, right up against the mangrove trees.
I used a popping cork with a live shrimp rigged beneath it. The cork also helped me determine the actual flow of the water current. Inside the cutoff it can be very deceiving. You can have a 10 to 15 mph wind whipping across the top of the water causing almost wake like conditions and in reality the bait fish are being pulled in the opposite direction beneath the surface.
I used the cork on one rod and left it in the holder, unattended, while I used a tipped jig on a second rod to cover greater ground in my search. The j.i.g. was catching only catfish and every time I checked the cork I found I'd been robbed of my bait. I decided to focus my attention solely on the cork. (did you know that city data edits out the word jig.
I re-rigged and cast out as far as I could without the wind carrying me into.....crap. In the mangroves.
I pulled the anchor pin and drove over to get my hook and float out of the trees. Any fish that were here would be scared off now. After getting my gear free I returned to my anchor point and pinned down. I took a break to enjoy a couple of bottles of chilled beverage and wait for the fish to return to their spot.
After about fifteen minutes I re-rigged and cast out again, this time finding my mark. The current slowly carried my cork into the shade of the mangroves. Because of the curve of the shoreline, I was forced to lean out and peer around the trees blocking my view. I remember thinking I must look pretty silly to anyone who may pass by. . .like I was trying to be sneaky, but this is a good time to mention I never saw another boat in there.
At 3:45, 45 minutes before high tide, I saw my bobber go under for a quick second. Was that a hit or the waves? Again, boop...under and back up. What the ....under...this time it stayed under and I counted to three and BAM! Set the hook! Fish on!
He was a nice little fighter too. Dark in color from the tannin stained water of the cutoff. Unmistakable white underbelly, false eye on the tail, Red Drum. I got him close enough to the boat and used one hand to grab my net, thanking myself or staging it close by. As soon as I brought him aboard, my circle hook came out of his mouth. I was that close to loosing him.
He measured 23" but was a fatty. I put him in the live well and thought how nice it was to come out here with one goal in mind and be so fortunate as to have it fulfilled. You're only allowed one of these per person, per day and I got what I came for. I pulled the pin and headed for home.
As I crossed Charlotte Harbor, running about 20 knots in a moderate chop, I realized I was at that moment doing exactly what and where I wanted to do in life. With as hard as I work, all of the crazy travel I do for my job, all of the sacrifices I make sleeping two thirds of the year in hotel rooms while my wife stars in her own version of Home Alone, this day makes it worthwhile.
I'm thankful for a wife who lets me fish and I'm thankful for a job that allows me to live the dream of owning a house with a boat parked on a canal in my backyard. I'm thankful for the Redfish filets resting comfortably in my freezer.
Happy Labor Day, everyone. Go do some fishing.
|It's hard to photograph fish when you're alone on the boat.|
|All dressed up for the filet table|
|Fish color changes to adapt to their environment. The Myakka River, near where I caught this fella , has heavily stained water, almost like tea color. This same fish living closer to the Gulf would be a much lighter shade of red.|