Fish Caught: Sugar Trout, Sail Cat, Lady Fish, Gar
| High Tide: 3:00 PM 2.4 FT
Low Tide: 11:45 PM -0.5 FT
Wind: 5-10 E
Air Temp: 71/88
Water Temp: 81 Clarity: murky
| We had a little BBQ for Memorial Day and all our guests came by boat. After dinner we packed up a couple boats and ran out to the El Jobean bridge. I had some shrimp from El Jobean Bait & Tackle Shop and a couple others had been catching and freezing mullet and rays for a few days. Shark was our goal.
The sun was down but the sky was still brightly colored when we anchored up just a few hundred yards north west of the El Jobean bridge in the Myakka River. The tide was ripping out so our baits were carried towards the bridge and the El Jobean fishing Pier. In the top photo on this page we’d have been just in the right edge of the picture. We set up some IV drips (literally) of menhaden oil, tossed out a bunch of varied baits both on the bottom and under corks and settled in for the night. The radio played some great classic rock, the wind blew just enough to keep bugs away and keep us comfortable on a nice warm night.
It was a night to catch big sail cats and that started immediately. I think Beth probably got the first and the most but I think I had the biggest. The sail cats kept us busy all night long. I know most people don’t like them but they are really very good to eat. They need to be quite large to make it worth the effort of filleting them but we were catching some of the biggest I’ve seen and we ended up with a cooler full which are headed for the dinner table.
There was also a school of sugar trout and I seemed to hit that hole with a shrimp on a lead head jig. I pulled in just shy of ten sugar trout and tried a few as bait under a cork. But they only attracted the attention of some big sail cats. The bait was about half the size of the sail cats but they ate them anyway.
Julie hooked into what we had hoped was our first shark. But when it got into view of the boat lights it was a huge, nearly 4 foot long, gar. It was almost scary thinking about bringing that thing into the boat to unhook. But luckily, after playing with it for a while, it released itself.
And that’s about it for the night. Sounds kind of uneventful as a fishing trip but I assure you it was not. It was midnight before we decided to head home. The hours passed in what seemed like minutes. Good weather, good music and most importantly good friends made for an extremely enjoyable evening on the water. I hope to do it again soon.
Fish Caught: Spadefish, Sheepshead, Jack, Sail Cat, Catfish, Mangrove Snapper, Skate/Ray
| High Tide: 2:00 PM 1.75 FT
Low Tide: 8:00 AM 0.5 FT
Wind: 0-5 S
Air Temp: 66/89
Water Temp: 75 Clarity: clear
| I was sitting on our dock yesterday when my neighbor, Bimini, was bringing her Mom and Dad in from a day of fishing. They had spent the day trying to catch spadefish from under a dock where they’d stumbled on a large school with some large fish. I’d only caught them accidentally and they were always small so when Bimini asked if I’d want to go back with her in the morning I couldn’t resist.
I went down to El Jobean Bait & Tackle Shop a little before 6 Am and picked up 4 dozen shrimp and by 6:30 we were on our way down the canal in Bimini’s boat. When we got in site of the sea walls the water was alive. So we cut the engine and drifted on the outgoing tide casting Gulp and drifting some big shiners caught from the Venice pier.
Bimini had several misses on her shiner and I cast my Gulp in front of a big, fast moving wake and hooked up with a nice big jack that kept me busy for the next 5 minutes. We got a couple rays and catfish and when we reached the end of the canal the tide was just turning in so we headed back to drift some shrimp under the docks.
Bimini had spent a day already catching these fish so she told me what I needed to do. A smallish hook with a 3rd of a medium shrimp and the shrimp had to be shelled first. She also said a steel leader but I couldn’t get myself to use a steel leader with such a small hook. What fish is ever going to take that bait that was so obviously attached to a big bulky steel leader, right? Well after hooking several spadefish and having them wrap my line around the docks pilings and snapping me off I accepted Bimini’s steel leader. We got a lot of spadefish after that, letting many smaller ones go (no size or bag limits) and keeping the larger, platter sized fish you see in the photo.
Here’s the best spadefish catching story of the day. They are extremely strong fish. They turn that wide body against the water and they go just about anywhere they want and you better hold on to your rod with two hands. So once you managed to hook one (they nibble at the shrimp until there is just a tiny piece left) the big ones just run right under the dock and around and around the pilings. I hooked a good one and it ran three times around the piling nearest the boat until I could no longer see or even feel him on my line. So Bimini runs to the back of the boat and puts slack in the anchor line while yelling to me to let my line slack. She runs back up and moves the boat right up to the dock piling and tells me to hand the pole under the dock to her. After we did this 3 times the line was still snagged in the barnacles and oysters, it wouldn’t unwind any further and I still couldn’t feel a fish. So I dipped the rod down under the water and started trying to untangle it from the pole when suddenly the spadefish burst out from under the dock and the line came free from everything. My thirty pound mono leader would have been useless under those conditions. I’m surprised my 20 lb. Power Pro Spectra braided line held, I don’t think Fireline would hold up to that abrasion. But we netted the fish.
When the tide really got moving fast the spadefish moved off and we started feeding the little mangrove snapper that are almost always there. I got three that were between 11 and 13 inches which is a nice size for eating.
We drifted on the tide for a while throwing Gulp and floating a couple of the big shiners. A big shark hit Bimini’s but it quickly spit the hook and we couldn’t seem to hook it again even though we saw it a few more times. The bait was pretty lively and that shark gave up trying to catch him even on a cork.
So by about 2:30 we were tired and still had to clean fish so we headed home. Another great day on the water.
The spadefish was good eating. We blackened it, the taste is great, the meat is a little mushy in texture but overall very good blackened. I’ll gladly spend another day fighting with the spadefish.
Fish Caught: Mangrove Snapper
| High Tide: 6:30 PM 2.2 FT
Low Tide: 2:30 AM -0.5 FT
Wind: 5-10 E
Air Temp: 61/89
Water Temp: 74 Clarity: clear
| Its been way too long since my last fishing trip. A lot of work is not always a good thing but considering the economy I guess I won’t complain. This week we have a guest from Connecticut, Lorraine, staying with us. So I but in some very long hours to make sure I had time to get her out on the water.
So I got 3 dozen shrimp from El Jobean Bait & Tackle Shop and about 9:00 AM we left the dock to see what we could do. Bimini had also given me a few nice shiners our frien Dave had caught from the Venice Pier.
The tide was very odd, not really maintaining any movement, just a lazy in and out never moving quickly in any direction. I suspect the east wind was blowing a lot of water out of Charlotte Harbor and keeping our tide from coming in. In the calm clear water I could see some pretty large spade fish coming up along the dock pilings but I was unable to get them to eat my shrimp. Bimini managed to catch a few large ones the day before and I’d hope to get a few. But no luck.
We finally got bored and decided to head to the El Jobean bridge where we anchored in about 12 feet of water with the slow tide dragging our bait into the bridge. On one of those nice shiners I hooked something quite large but I couldn’t hold it away from the bridge and it finally cut my line. My guess from the slow heavy fight is a big goliath grouper, but maybe a big snook, I’ve pulled many from that spot.
I was catching lots of small snapper and finally got Lorraine to hold a pole and she got her first 2, ever, fish. Two small snapper.
We went back to the canal and I threw my Gulp Swimming Mullet up and down the seawalls and was finally rewarded with a nice 12 inch snapper and that with a couple that were just legal made a wonderful lunch on Thursday.
We finally called it a long day about 4:00 PM. Headed for the dock and some wonderful margaritas. another wonderful day on the water.
Fish Caught: Sheepshead, Mangrove Snapper, Skate/Ray
| High Tide: 7:00 PM 1.75 FT
Low Tide: 11:55 AM 0.75 FT
Wind: 10-20 SW
Air Temp: 57/86
Water Temp: 74 Clarity: murky
| Our friends from Connecticut, Tom and Arlene, are here in Florida to get a little relief from the long winter they endured up north. They’re staying with Tom’s Mom and Dad and during a wonderful lasagna dinner last night we met Tom’s brother Robin and his wife Patty who are also on vacation from New York. We had a wonderful evening and planned to go out fishing the next morning, so Tom & Arlene and Robin & Patty where knocking on our door a little before 10:00 AM Sunday morning.
We decided to catch the low slack to incoming tide at the El Jobean bridge to see if the snook would be feeding so we went straight out there. It was much nicer day than the last time Tom and Arlene were with us and anchoring at the bridge was a simple matter. I had 4 dozen shrimp and half a dozen pass crabs from the El Jobean Bait & Tackle Shop and we started throwing them and a Gulp white swimming mullet at the bridge. It was slow at first on the outgoing tide but as the tide turned in we saw a little more action. Arlene was the first to land a fish, the 10 inch mangrove snapper you see in the photo. Tom was holding it while trying to stay out of the photo because Arlene didn’t want to touch it. A seasoned fisherwomen knows how to bait hooks and remove fish with little more than a flash of a smile, while keeping her hands completely unsoiled.
I had a monster hit on my Gulp in the open water between the bridge and the boat, after giving it some thought I suspect it was a shark because the line was cut cleanly off. When the tide turned in I tried the pass crabs and on my second cast, the crab was right up near the bridge with a small sinker when something that felt large picked it up and took off. I gave it a few seconds, tightened the line and set the hook. I had a nice sized fish on, I was fairly certain I had the snook I’d come here for. But I could also tell it was near or in the encrusted cement bridge piling and in just about 5 seconds the line cut. I fished the rest of the crabs with no luck.
Tom caught a fish I’d never heard of before, a toadfish. I don’t know why but he knew the name and I Googled it just to be sure. Here’s a link to Wikipedia’s Toadfish page. Its an ugly looking fish which we threw back.
It was slow at the bridge so we moved back to the canal. Tom got a 10 inch mangrove snapper and a stingray but mostly we just fed the tiny snappers. Karen was feeding some huge blue crabs and we tried to get them into the net but they were too quick for us. We tried a couple spots in the canal but it was a slow fishing day. I think Monday or Tuesday would be the day to go out with a front coming down for Tuesday afternoon. But I have to get back to work so get out there if you can and let me know if my prediction is right.
About 3:30 we headed back home, a few of the snowbirds sporting bright red patches of skin. We all shared the 2 mangrove snappers for supper, but had to supplement it with burgers and salads and wine and beer. But I think a good time was had by all, I know it was a fun day for me and we’ll look forward to Tom, Arlene, Robin and Patty coming back next year. Oh, and we ended the evening by standing in the yard and watching the space shuttle launch. It was kind of an anticlimax and it wasn’t long after that I gave in to the long day and was sound asleep on the couch.
Fish Caught: Redfish, Lady Fish, Catfish, Skate/Ray
| High Tide: 4:15 PM 1.2 FT
Low Tide: 10:30 AM -0.2 FT
Wind: 10-20 E
Air Temp: 50/77
Water Temp: 68 Clarity: murky
| Ran down to El Jobean Bait & Tackle Shop got some shrimp and we left the dock by about 11:30 AM. Down near the end of the Apollo canal I noticed a lot of action on the water in a deep trough were the water was rushing over a sand bar. It took me a half hour to find out it was a bunch of catfish, I’ve seen them breaking water like this before but its not too common.
I moved on to drift my shrimp under the docks with little result. I think I fed a few Mangrove Snapper but even they didn’t seem hungry today. I did see a manatee come by but the water was so dark I could only see it’s nose when it came up to breath even though it swam within 4 feet of our boat. As the water got a little deeper I moved over to an oyster bar, there’s a channel that runs strong between two bars and sometimes the snook feed there.
No snook today but I did get a bunch more catfish and rays. I also got a few small redfish but only one reached the 18 inch minimum and I kept a couple ladyfish to put in my crab trap.The wind was very strange all afternoon. It would be calm when suddenly the palms on the west side of the canal would start rattling and a wall of wind would sweep across the canal blowing the boat into the tide on the anchor line.
It was during one of these revolutions that one of my rods started bending over. I though it was caught in the oysters and it was the motion of the boat pulling it over. But when I picked it up I felt some life on the other end of the line. I set the hook and realized I had something huge. It wasn’t fighting like you’d expect from a snook or even a redfish. It just swam around a little while I tried to pull it towards the boat. I could feel it thrashing it’s head but it was a slow powerful motion. I finally got it up to the boat and we started to see a shadow in the very dark water when the hook shot up and over our heads.
We’ll never know what it was, it never surfaced or gave us a glimpse. It was about 4 o’clock when we ran out of shrimp and headed home, another exciting day on the water.
Fish Caught: Snook, Catfish, Skate/Ray
| High Tide: 5:15 PM 1.25 FT
Low Tide: 11:15 AM -0.25 FT
Wind: 10-20 SE
Air Temp: 53/84
Water Temp: 69 Clarity: murky
| It was a windy day but finally it was warm. I know it’s been very cold up north but we’re not used to the record cold we’ve had either and it is so nice to be warm again. So, we chose to deal with the wind and get out of the house. I ran down to El Jobean Bait & Tackle Shop and picked up a couple dozen shrimp and we ate lunch and shoved off by about noon.
The tide had already turned in and was moving fast when we got to the end of the Apollo Waterway. Action was very slow. I don’t think I had a single mangrove snapper steal a shrimp all day. I did find a lot of very small catfish enjoying my shrimp and I lost count of how many I had to unhook. I don’t enjoy those slimy fish with their dangerous barbed fins. Anybody that ever got stuck by one knows how hard it hurts and how easily it can become infected.
So I’ve gotten very good at hanging the catfish by the line and grabbing the hook with my pliers. A quick flip in the right direction will unhook the fish and I never have to touch it or bring it in the boat. Except, these were very small, 6 inch, fish and they didn’t always drop down into the water with my unhook flip. One of them flew over my shoulder and landed right inside Karen’s boat bag. The boat bag is filled with reading material, wallets, sunglasses, sunscreen and some snack food. And now a slimy catfish that would not stand still for a second. What a mess, I finally grabbed a fin with my pliers and pried it (it’s barbed fin stuck into the bag) out and tossed it overboard. Karen wasn’t pleased.
I also hooked a few bigger rays and got one very small snook on a Gulp. But fishing wise it was a tough day.
I once again forgot my camera and camcorder and wouldn’t you know a bald eagle flew lazily over our head giving me plenty of time to grab the camera, if I had one. And then it spotted a fish in the water and made a slow glide down to the surface, leveled at the last moment and swept forward about 6 feet with it’s huge talons extended easily grabbing an unsuspecting mullet from the water. It looked so easy. I’d been working for several hours and I didn’t have a thing to show for it. It was amazing to watch only 50 yards from our boat.
So I finally used up all my shrimp and we headed for the dock by about 4:30. Another wonderful day with the wildlife on the water.
Fish Caught: Sheepshead, Snook, Lady Fish, Catfish, Spadefish
| High Tide: 6:00 PM 1.25 FT
Low Tide: 11:50 AM -0.25 FT
Wind: 10-20 S
Air Temp: 60/81
Water Temp: 71/73 Clarity: murky
| The day was so nice and the forecast for the next few days was so bad that we decided to get our fishing trip in today. A front coming through tonight, heavy wind from the south and a steep rise in the tide was so much like our trip on Tuesday, January 13, 2009 that I had to think we’d have some fun in the same spot we fished on the 13th. So I made the trip down to El Jobean Bait & Tackle Shop and got a couple dozen shrimp.
We were a little early for the tides so we stopped and fished the tail end of the outgoing tide by the docks at the end of our canal. It was so windy it was hard to get the boat right but when we finally started drifting shrimp up under the dock the action was immediate. I’m sure we made a lot of mangrove snapper very happy. They know how to get shrimp off a hook without touching the hook. But we did find a couple very nice sheepshead, one was 14 inches and the other went almost 17 inches. That’s enough for dinner for two.
I also got a small snook, about 20 inches and a spadefish that was pretty big, about 13 inches. We weren’t sure about size limits or even if spadefish were any good to eat so we let it go. But I see from a Google search that some people really like them, but I guess they’re hard to fillet. Maybe next time we’ll try one. There doesn’t seem to be any size or bag limits in Floorida.
When the tide was really rushing in we went over to the oyster beds where Bimini and I did so well a couple weeks ago. The tide was really rushing in and the water was just about as deep as when we had all our luck with snook. I put some shrimp out into the very fast current and started getting action immediately. I got a couple catfish before I noticed the same big swirls in the water that I had seen on the trip with Bimini. So I put on a Gulp Swimming Mullet and started casting. On my second cast I saw the swirls very near and head towards my lure and, as I said so out loud, I got a nice hit on my Gulp. It was a nice snook that we manged to net and measure at just shy of 29 inches. I put an X on the side of the boat, we’ll be back for that fish when it’s in season. But they are so much fun to catch even when you have to let them go.
We fished on to catch a ladyfish, several more catfish and Karen got another smaller snook on a shrimp. We finally used up the shrimp and headed home to clean our two sheepshead for supper. Another great, sunny day on the water. I really hope my experiences on the Myakka River can take some of my northern friends out of that harsh world for just a little while. From what we see on TV it’s a tough world up there this year. Come on down and take a break!
Fish Caught: Redfish, Skate/Ray
| High Tide: 5:15 PM 0.9 FT
Low Tide: 10:15 AM -0.5 FT
Wind: 5-10 N
Air Temp: 44/75
Water Temp: 60-64 Clarity: clear
| The day was so nice after the cold snap we’ve endured (I know that’ll bring a chuckle from my reader’s up north) so we made a last minute decision to spend some time on the water. I ran to El Jobean Bait & Tackle Shop and picked up a couple dozen shrimp, we jumped in the boat and shoved off by about 10:00 AM.
The tide was still moving out slowly so I anchored to drift my shrimp under the docks. I immediately started getting the tiny taps of the professional bait stealers, the mangrove snappers. They were so persistent I couldn’t get a shrimp on my second rod but I couldn’t get a fish in the boat either. But just as I almost had a shrimp on the second hook my first rod bent over with something a little bigger than the snappers. Karen helped me net a nice little redfish that was only an inch under the 18 inch minimum.
When the tide went slack we moved to the oyster beds (which were dry) and started drifting shrimp in the channel along side. Again I found the little snappers along with lots of lazy mullet. I noticed that the water temperature was rising quite steadily under the bright sun in this shallow water. I noted 60 degrees when we left the dock and it was now 64 degrees. But I guess the big fish didn’t need the warmer water. I got a few rays and fed a few snapper and decided to move.
I only had a half dozen shrimp left and I used them up a little closer to home in a deeper hole. I finally landed a nice 11 inch snapper and on my last shrimp a redfish that made the 18 inch minimum and would find itself along side the snapper on a plate for dinner.
I can’t help but wonder if I had more shrimp if that was the start of the better fishing time. It was about 2:30 when I threw the red on ice and pulled anchor, another great day on the water.
Fish Caught: Redfish, Snook, Lady Fish, Jack, Mangrove Snapper, Catfish
| High Tide: 6:30 PM 1.1 FT
Low Tide: 12:01 PM -0.75 FT
Wind: 20-30 S
Air Temp: 53/77
Water Temp: Clarity: murky
| My neighbor, Bimini, asked if I’d like to go out fishing with her. Of course, even though I have an awful lot of work to do, I couldn’t say no to that offer. Bimini is know for her fish catching abilities and I wanted to learn anything I could from her.
So I ran down to El Jobean Bait & Tackle Shop and got some shrimp, packed up some lunch and fishing gear and stood on my dock with my thumb out. Bimini slowed as she passed my dock (she didn’t want to waste any fishing time) and I jumped aboard..
The tide was rushing out when we reached the end of the canal. We anchored up so we could drift our shrimp under the docks and started feeding little mangrove snappers. In the first couple hours, on a tide running out very quickly, we caught several small snapper, Bimini got a redfish that was just over the 18 inch minimum by 1/2 inch, a small snook, a huge jack and finally a very nice snook that was about keeper size. It took me a while to get the hook out so I didn’t take the time to measure it before returning it to the water but I’d guess about 27 inches.
When the tide turned in we moved to the upstream side of a very shallow oyster bar and anchored so we could drift our shrimp over the bar to a deeper trough. I got tired of feeding shrimp to the little snappers and switched to throwing a white Gulp Swimming Mullet. The wind was really blowing out of the south by now and the tide was moving in extremely fast. The water was all churned up and we kept seeing these big swirls and tails flashing in the chop. Finally my casting efforts paid off and I hooked up with a nice big snook and a real fighter. I got him to the boat twice only to have him take off again dancing on the water before he at last gave in on the 3rd approach and Bimini scooped him in the net. He was hooked right in the corner of the mouth so we took a few seconds to measure him at 31 inches and then got him right back in the water. I’ll come back looking for him again when snook season opens.
I got one more snook about 25 inches before the rain came and we headed for the dock tired and cold and smiling from ear to ear. Another great day on the water.
Fish Caught: Redfish, Lady Fish, Mangrove Snapper, Skate/Ray
| High Tide: 6:00 PM 1.0 FT
Low Tide: 10:00 AM -1.0 FT
Wind: 0-5 S
Air Temp: 46/79
Water Temp: Clarity: murky
It’s been hard to find time to get out on the water lately, too much work and other events. But I’ve been told redfish are all over the Myakka River, Charlotte Harbor area so I just decided today was the day to get away from responsibilities and GO FISHING!
So I went down the the El Jobean Bait & Tackle Shop and picked up a few dozen shrimp. Randy and Patricia, the owners, are wonderful, hard working people and they love fishing. I was surprised to see fiddler crabs and pass crabs (new to me) among the very healthy shrimp and pinfish. Patricia threw a few fiddlers and pass crabs in my bucket of shrimp to let me try them.
We left the dock about 2:15 PM and headed down to the end of the canal. The tide was very low and there were several other boats out there already but we got into one of our favorite low water areas and drifted bait over the oyster bar. Action was immediate but it seemed we were just feeding some very small Mangrove Snappers. Most just stripped the shrimp and the few I got in the boat were well below the 10 inch minimum. I finally did get one that went about 12 inches, great eating fish.
The pass crabs and especially the fiddler crabs got gobbled up within minutes of reaching the bottom. I never managed to hook anything with them but by the bite I’m guessing it was the master thieves, the mangrove snapper, that was feeding heartily on the crabs. I’ll definitely try them again but the pass crabs are a little too expensive for me at $20.00/dozen. Patricia says they are used mostly for tarpon down in the passes around Boca Grande although I imagine if tarpon is what you want to catch they are around the El Jobean bridge quite often. And I would think big snook, redfish, sheepshead and grouper would love these little crabs as well. I only had a couple and they were taken from my hook quickly.
I poled the boat around some and finally found the redfish in the shallows. I missed a couple nice hits but did finally get my one keeper, just over the 18 inch minimum which we’ll enjoy with our snapper for dinner. As the sun was setting a huge moon came up directly over the other end of the canal. We headed right into it on our way home about 6 PM, another wonderfully relaxing afternoon on the water.