It’s been a while since I posted, and frankly that’s been because I’ve had a lot of fun activities to attend on weekends (the Florida Outdoor Writer’s Annual Meeting in Titusville and a fun weekend kayak fishing with Grand Master Jerry McBride in Stuart) and relatively slow fishing at Steinhatchee. However, things have begun to pick up recently. The FOWA meeting was, as usual, a great learning experience. Spent some time with Mark Sosin, a television fishing pioneer, and Pat Ford, acclaimed photographer who has worked with Guy Harvey. Executive Director Tommy Thompson organized a great event that included a morning fishing trip. I got to fish with Drew Cavanaugh, a light-tackle guide who fishes the Mosquito Lagoon. Unfortunately the lagoon is suffering from an algae bloom so we fished directly in front of the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Cape. We managed a few nice 22 inch fish, but I was horrifyingly frustrated when I lost the largest trout I’ve ever had hooked. She blew up on a topwater, made a number of runs around the boat with both of us thinking it was a redfish. She finally came up to the surface ten feet from the boat when the hook pulled. We estimated her at around 10 pounds. It was a great meeting nonetheless. It was a beautiful morning and this is one of the ones that didn’t get away.
Some pictures from the meeting…Tommy Thompson doing a photo workshop with Pat Ford and Mark Sosin looking on, and a meeting of the minds…Tommy Thompson, Ingrid Niehaus from Hobie in California, Jerry McBride and photographer Sam Root.
Closer to home, I fished several times over the past week and things are definitely returning to normal after a summer of darkened water from Tropical Storm Debby turned the usually crystal-clear waters at Steinhatchee a darkly stained coffee color. This past weekend Tommy Thompson and I returned to some of our regular haunts and found loads of baitfish and lots of activity. At one point we had a double; I had a nice redfish and Tommy a 22 inch trout. We managed to get a good pic and still released both in good shape.
This Thursday I took Brett Bentley and his father Jack out for a trip. Brett is a medical student at UF and his dad lives in Tampa, and Brett wanted to get in some fishing with his dad. They both have fished a lot in the past and although I expressed a little concern about the recent fishing, they were ready to go regardless. We left the Sea Hag Marina to an east wind of around 10 knots. Although the water visibility is still around a foot, we found some schools of baitfish and began fishing popping cork rigs in 3 feet of water over some mixed bottom. We immediately began catching good numbers of trout, mixed with ladyfish and the occasional sea bass and grunts. As the tide rose I worked my way into the shoreline to explore for redfish, but other than one strike on a topwater plug, there were none to be found so we moved back out to deeper water and continued catching trout, and drifted out further to the nearshore bars looking for Spanish mackerel. There were surprisingly few whitebait pods near the bars and we never found any Spanish. According to reports they are very plentiful in slightly deeper 15 foot depths along with kingfish, but a drifted pinfish didn’t connect. But we caught a lot of fish and Jack and Brett seemed pleased with the day.
While the trout bite is excellent right now, the redfish are inconsistent. We spotted some schools over the weekend, but things are still not quite back to normal. However, with the decreased rainfall and cooler temperatures this time of year, things will be getting better every day. Make plans to get over to Steinhatchee and take advantage of the smaller crowds and great flats fishing.