Weather in Florida has been a little less than cooperative for a lot of January. There have been numerous fronts passing through, with a fair amount of rain and wind. In addition to that, I have been helping out at one of the local schools, substituting for a teacher out on maternity leave. Combined into that "perfect storm" situation was a complete tear out and rebuild of our Master Bedroom and a shower, due to a water leak. All combined, it has limited my fishing time to a few days here and there. Not exactly the way I have wanted it to be, but at least I wasn't missing perfect water days during all of this!
With that said, the time I have spent on the water has been GREAT! I've managed to get out and scout the water, taking some much needed water therapy breaks. The conditions, during those times, have been outstanding. Water clarity is good to superb, just depending on winds and whether or not you run into hordes of mullet. Another high point is I am seeing signs of returning seagrasses to a lot of areas that were hit hard over the last couple of years. The hurricanes and subsequent high, dirty waters were not kind to many of our seagrass areas. But, as I have been poling the shallows, I have noticed several areas with new grasses sprouting and appearing to be healthy. Oyster beds are also showing signs of growth and rebounding, after being covered with silt from the hurricanes and high waters. With that, I have high hopes for a little recovery this year.
I spent the last two days filming with C.A. Richardson, of Flats Class TV, and Flip Pallot. They were doing a show together and I got to play camera boat operator and "guide from another boat". It is always a great time when you film shows like this. Seeing the friendship, hearing the conversations, and seeing the process it takes to film a successful show are all part of the learning and enjoyment. It is even better when the days are successful and beautiful like we had. The weather was perfect, with clear, sunny skies, and light winds. Tides were just right to explore some areas I love to fish, and the fish were cooperative in showing themselves. No, they were not easy to catch, as clear water and sunny skies make them as spooky as they can possibly be, but we did manage to fool a good deal of them. Perhaps the nicest sights throughout the two days were the number of gator trout we spotted. 30" plus trout were not uncommon to witness as we poled through the shallows, proving once again that we may be the gator trout capital. I won't guarantee that you can catch one, as they do not get large by being dumb and fooled easily. But, getting shots at them is not difficult. When you have two great anglers, like C.A. and Flip targeting these fish, only to come up empty handed on the largest ones, it is proof of how difficult they are. Redfish were also abundant and it was exciting to see a few large schools of smaller, "rat" reds. These fish are generally a year or two old and it is something we haven't seen a lot of in recent years. The breeder redfish have taken a pounding during the last decade, and I blame that on the lack of smaller fish. However, I believe the hurricanes and high waters of the last couple of years, especially during breeding season, has helped them a little. Now, maybe we can people people educated on how important it is to leave the breeders along during spawning season and give them a chance to produce their offspring! I look forward to seeing the show when it airs and I'm pretty sure everyone will enjoy the action and the words of wisdom that C.A. and Flip offer up.
The next few months should be great for every aspect of fishing that Florida has to offer. Sight fishing will continue in the salt and as the weather warms, we will being to add snook and tarpon to our usual mix of redfish, seatrout and black drum. The biggest challenge is getting on the water between the fronts, to avoid the wind and rains. Those days are the best and you have your greatest chance of being successful.
I don't want to forget about the freshwater side of our fishing either! Crappie and shad fishing is continuing to be really good. Perfect targets for the ultralight gear and it is always fun and beautiful. For those who want shots at big bass, this is also the time to go. Spring is pretty much showing up and the bass are starting to spawn. My favorite way of targeting this fish is with topwater rigs, ripping them along the grasses and lilypads. The explosions provide great visual and audible excitement. The fly fishers can also enjoy these big girls, and it is a true test of your fishing ability to pull them out. It is also time for me to gear up for the best bowfishing time in my area! Tilapia, like bass, are starting to make their beds, which means it is almost time to start enter the water and stalk them. This combination of stalking weary fish and targeting them with a bow is as much outdoor excitement as you can get. It also provides some great eating after a successful day!
No matter what trip you want to enjoy, give me a call or shoot me an email! I'll get you out there and you will enjoy everything that Natural Florida has to offer!