Low 67, high 82
I fished both weekend days. Saturday I launched the boat at 7 AM and landed 3 Spanish Mackerel and 1 Speckled Trout by 9 in the morning near the Charlotte Beach Complex. A boat with three older guys ran over my trolling lines and got braided line wrapped around their prop shaft. It took about 40 minutes to clear that mess but we were able to and departed without bad feelings.
Things slowed in the afternoon so I returned to troll the canals. I hooked a nice large snook that fought hard in the mangrove trees on one side of the canal, then crossed over to the other side and mixed itself among some pepper tree branches. I was confident I could wear him down and kept constant tension on the line but still, somehow, he broke me off and escaped with a brand new lure.
I re-rigged and dropped another trolling line. It wasn't long before I was hooked up again. This snook did several aerial leaps in an attempt to cut my line with his gill plates but I controlled him and landed him with the net. 24" is too short. That first one would have been the one to keep.
Sunday I was joined by my old snowbird friend, Pete from Buffalo, NY. It has been about 4 years since Pete was here and I was thrilled to take him out on the Mako Flats boat. We launched at 540 AM, hoping to be on the grass flats before sunrise and get that top water trout bite. Unfortunately in the darkness I miss-judged my proximity to the east side sand bar and ended up running the boat aground pretty hard. We both had to enter the thigh deep water and it took us about thirty minutes to work the hull loose from the sand I had buried it in. Pete, at 71, is still in great shape and was very good natured about the mishap. We got back underway but had missed the topwater bite.
We decided to troll a residential canal community called Pirate Harbor. The canals there are extremely deep water for our area, averaging 20'. I hooked some snook in there last summer while fishing with my buddy Jeff, from California. Today, Pete hooked up on a monstrous fight that turned out to be a big Jack Cravelle. These are not table fare but a lot of fun to fight on light tackle. Pete did a great job controlling the fight and I used the net to help him land it. A quick photo, then we released the scrapper. Later in these canals we encounter a huge manatee, seen below.
We left pirate harbor after the tide turned and fished the flats outside the sandbar. We landed many Ladyfish and kept a few for cut bait to seek Redfish later. A pod of bottle nose dolphin was drawn to us by all of the Ladyfish activity. Those dolphins followed us for over an hour, as we tried to leave them. There were many other boaters around us but all we saw being caught were Ladyfish.
About 12:30 we headed for the Myakka Cutoff and one of my favorite Redfish creeks. We pinned the plat down in about 2' of water and cast cut Ladyfish into the mangroves. At 2 o'clock Pete was hooked up with a decent fighting Red. It measured out at 21" and was pretty beefy, so he went in the live well.
Ten minutes later I had one shot at my Red on the opposite shoreline but I didn't have a good hook set and I missed him. I saw him flip at the surface so I knew what I'd lost. For the next hour it was nothing but catfish so we pulled up at 3:30 and headed for the home port.
On the way in, we trolled the canal again. That lucky Pete landed a decent Spanish Mackerel and another big old Jack. We kept the Mac and planned on releasing the Jack but he had inhaled so much of the lure that he died during surgery. We kept him and later put him to rest inside my crab trap along my dock.
That night I was absolutely spent from back to back fishing days but I certainly wouldn't have it any other way. Below are a few photos from the weekend. Click each one for full screen imagery.
On Saturday the air temperature was 55 but the water was 70, resulting in a beautiful foggy sunrise.
The morning water was nearly flat
Buffalo Pete and one of two Jack Cravelle landed on the day
It was a 14 hour marathon and worth every minute.