Sunday, December 27, 2015


Fished Saturday with Mark Maxwell. He wasn't a very good guest...he caught all the fish, hahaha. 
Actually on my very first cast of the day I landed a nice sized Ladyfish and thought it would be a great day of catching. It was, just not for me!  Mark caught 3 Speckled Trout in the slot, on the grass flats of the West Wall.  The tides were extremely low, as forecast. We beached the boat on a sandbar and really enjoyed doing some wade fishing in the 72* water. Mark even landed on of his keepers about 100 yards away from the boat and still managed to get it in the cooler.  He also landed a nice blue crab on hook and line. 

About noon we headed up one of our favorite creeks in search of Reds. Since we had the perfect baits shrimp, cut Ladyfish and quartered crab...we had to get Reds, right?  Wrong.  We saw a few short ones but couldn't get them to bite.  I had a real nice snook fight, with one acrobatic leap, then he realized I was under armed with 20 pound line and leader and he took me into the mangroves and broke it off.  

About 3 we went back outside on the high tide and crossed the West Wall Sandbar, drifting in 4-5 feet.  We each had shots at a few more trout and Lady's but only landed the one more Lady for Mark.  He missed his chance at a 4th keeper trout when a frayed leader failed above the popping cork.  Should have re-rigged after that battle with the mangrove tree, eh buddy?

I hooked something huge that swallowed a hunk of Ladyfish free lined behind the boat. Not sure what it was...saw silver flash in the water before the breakoff...also saw a huge opened mouth making me think it was my first shot at a gator trout but I can't say for sure. When it saw the boat, it turned tail and broke me off. My remaining leader was left noticeably frayed.  Whatever it was, it ate a big chunk of meat.  Didn't feel or look like a shark at all.  Might have been a huge spanish mackerel?  Not thinking sail cat because of the frayed leader. Of well...mysteries of the flats. 

Winds picked up at 4 and made for a choppy ride back to the ramp at Charlotte Beach Complex.  I was in bed by 7:45 and slept til 4 AM.  Another great day out there.  Mark shot this awesome photo of my Mako beached on the sandbar.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


Tough finding fish of size yesterday.  No Pompano in my usual place in Placida...guessing water still too warm at 72*.  We fished from the Gasparilla Pass to Devilfish Key to Bull Bay and back to the Pass.  Caught many trout in the 8-12" variety, biggest being a quarter inch shy of a keeper.  Had a couple of strong breakoffs in the Pass at 28'. Landed baby red and gag grouper, grunts, small mangrove snapper. 

Funniest moment of the day. In Bull Bay, Mark had what may have been the first keeper trout. Right near the boat, his leader knot failed and the fish took the hook, shrimp, leader and cork.  We could see the cork bobbing around and the fish tried to shake it loose. Mark asked me to bring the boat over so he could try to get it back. I'm thinking, what?  We're going to chase a hooked fish and float all around Bull Bay?  As soon as the boat would get close, the fish would move, but actually not far.  We used the trolling motor to chase him around for a few minutes and Mark could see the trout. He took my net out and got a shot at it. He picked up the float and came up with the entire rig, including the intact shrimp.  The trout apparently was never hooked, just didn't want to let the bait go until we pushed him to.  That's the kind of day it was. 

The wind was much stronger than forecast...easily 15 much of the day.  Had continuing troubles with my Powerpole. Works great in my driveway and for much of the morning at sea and then decides to stop powering. Frustrating.  Feel like it has to be my poor wire crimping job.  It's the only thing that makes sense.  Nonetheless, we had another nice day on the water. Did 3 webcasts on Periscope, for over an hour of air time during the day and still had battery power left on my iPhone. Our wives enjoyed watching us from home. Never had a good excuse to turn on the Go Pro, although I wish I would have captured the run back from Bull Bay to Placida.  We exited out the north end of Bull Bay and ran hard and fast in really skinny water.  As we got back to the blue water of Gasparilla Sound, we avoided the swinging bridge by short cutting across the flats to the west end of the trestle.  Don't know how we didn't run aground in the few inches of water we flew across but it would have been cool to have on camera. 

We finished the last two hours in the Gasparilla Pass and lamented how this could be the first time Mark and I fished together that we didn't bring home at least one keeper. On his last cast of the day, Mark landed his first Spanish Mackeral, a very nice 18"er.  Mission accomplished. 

Tonight Mark and his family will join my wife and I for the Lighted Boat Parade on the Peace River.  Next weekend I take my youngest son (19) to Indy to see his Colts play the Texans. I tried to raise the boy a Cardinals fan but it didn't take.  After that it's Christmas at home, then NYE in Key West.  Have friends coming from Phoenix for NYE and will likely fish one day here before we take the KW Express out of Fort Myers.  2016 is coming. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015


Great day of catching fish and cheating Mother Nature. Winds were forecast at 15-20 with choppy seas. Made a plan with my buddy Mark to launch before sun up, stay near the ramp and be willing to abort the day if things got real nasty. He said yes and was at my house at 530 this morning.  We bought 4 dozen medium shrimp and launched from the El Jobean ramp just as dawn was breaking. Decided it might add to the fun if we broadcast part of our trip live on Periscope. We did 4 short broadcasts and had up to 13 followers at a time with us. 

We went into Tippycanoe Bay in search of trout. We found them and and a bunch of their friends. We caught easily a dozen trout, mostly 12-14"ers but found 3 fatties in the 15-16" range that went in the cooler. We also caught and released a dozen or more red fish, ranging from 12-16". A bunch of catfish, one sheepshead, my first black drum and two Ladyfish.  6 different species in 5 hours, upwards of 30 fish released.  Everything was caught on live shrimp under DOA corks with 1/0 circle hooks.  What a great day!  But it wasn't quite done yet. 

As we headed back to the ramp in 2-3' seas, I told Mark he still had a shot at the inshore slam. Trout, Reds, Snook all in one day.  Doesn't my sheepy count in the slam?  The channel between the Myakka and the El Jobean ramp is a great snook habitat. We trolled a Storm Twitch Stick lure. Mark hooked up with a very nice snook and said, "here we go."  I told him as long as he got the leader touch, it would count, since snook closed at the end of Novemeber.  He battle the big linesider back to the boat, surviving a nice jump and driving it back down.  As it approached the starboard stern, we saw it was a nice 30" snook.  At 8' away, poooof, he spit the hook. Gone. No slam.  Mark hooked one more, much smaller one in the same channel but lost it at the back of the boat.  No leader touch.  The slam eludes him again. 

We were off the water by noon as the white caps continue to build behind us.  Great day of Messing About in Southwest Florida.