I launched at before sunrise, in hopes of getting the top water bite, and headed south from Charlotte Beach ramp to Pirate Harbor. By 8 AM the sun was fully exposed and I hadn't a single bite. Too cold for the fish to surface, maybe?
I followed the east side sand bar further south near Fines Key, just north of Burnt Store Marina and worked DOA shrimp under popping corks. Sure this 58* water would be full of speckled trout, right? If it was, they were feeding. At 9AM I stowed the down jacket.
My next strategy was to slow troll a Rapalla XR8 until I got a bite, then stop and work the area. I trolled past Burnt Store Marina, saw a guy out of his Kayak wade fishing wish a fly rod. A sure sign of a Northerner, eh? Watch him for a few minutes but he wasn't catching either.
My troll continued into the North end of Matlacha Pass and into Smokehouse Bay. Here, I worked the DOA combo sporadically over the sea grasses but the results were the same. Trolling West past the Jug Creek Shoals would surely produce....nothing.
By 11 AM it had warmed enough to remove my Under Armor gear. I'm not sure this stuff is even sold in FL...I bought this in Pennsylvania whole working up there...but it does great down here too!
The Jug Creek Shoals is where I caught my first ever speckled trout and this time of year is typically where we find them. Just not today. At 12:30 decided to head back via the West wall. I set a slow troll to begin with and put two lines out; the Rapala accompanied by a Storm Twitch. Finally, something hit the Twitch! Unfortunately it ended up being a lizard fish. These toothy bastards look like something out of a horror movie but at least he proved I wasn't snake bit. I released him back to his ugly existence and continued trolling, only to be immediately hooked up again. . . With another lizard. I swear it's the same one I just released. After giving him his final reprieve and a stern warning, I set out again.
I trolled for about fifteen minutes more before deciding to call it a day, brought in the lines and stretched the old Merc's legs out to 24 knots on the ride home, only stopping to put the down jacket back on, as the wind chill was quite cold. The water was smooth as glass and made for a great ride. All was not lost, as a day of slow fishing turned into a day of great boating.