Plenty of Adventure Awaits!
The first month of 2021 is almost over and there is a lot of excitement for the year ahead, as far as outdoor adventures go. While we continue to find our path through the Covid-19 Pandemic, there are some signs of good news out there: vaccines are being administered, they appear to work against all strains, and travel restrictions are starting to be lifted. I am hopeful this will be good news for my clients who have been unable to travel down and enjoy some relaxation time in our beautiful, natural world of Florida. The first month of 2021 has also ushered in some cooler temperatures in Florida and enabled the water to clear up dramatically, making for some wonderful sight fishing conditions. So, let's start there.
The waters along the Spacecoast have returned to their normal levels, cleared up, and cooled off. This has allowed my clients to start enjoying some great sight fishing conditions for redfish, seatrout, black drum, and more. It has also allowed us to enjoy full days on the water, without feeling like we are being baked in an oven. While we may have to contend with wind, as a result of the passing fronts this time of year, it is nothing I cannot handle and plan into our day. I have no problem poling my boat all day, even in 20 knot winds; one of the great advantages of having my Gordon Boatworks Waterman. In addition, I can find lee shorelines, allowing for easier casting and better chances of seeing fish. Recent trips have found plenty of redfish enjoying this weather and many times they are in schools. While schooling fish can be more difficult for fly anglers, it is a great time for anglers that are a little less accurate in their casting. Schooling redfish are usually happier to eat offerings, as they become competitive with each other. Spotted Seatrout are showing up in good numbers, especially the small "schoolie" size fish. I try not to concentrate on these fish too much, as they are susceptible to dying because they eat so voraciously. The big seatrout are around, but the clear water can make it extremely difficult to sneak up on them. However, with a little luck, some slow poling, and constant vigilance, we can get shots at them and the eats are awesome. Perhaps the biggest surprise fish recently has been some large black drum, in singles, that are cruising along the shorelines. These fish have been up to an estimated 50 pounds, and they are very powerful fighters. These fish require precision casting and some patience, but it is worth the effort to have them on the end of your line. Flounder have been located on the flats, but they are usually a surprise catch while working along the oyster bars, more than a targeted species.
The freshwater side of Florida has been steady with action. Largemouth Bass fishing has been good with the majority of catches taking place on slow worked worms. My favorite go-to rig has been a Z-Man Finesse BulletZ with a Finesse WormZ. The bass seem to love this rig and it works great no matter the water clarity or the water depth. The buoyancy of the Z-Man products makes the worm tail float high and wiggle like a real prey item. The TRD CrawZ has also been working well in any area where crawfish are located. It won't be long before the bass start bedding, at which time I will switch over to some paddle tail and frog patterns. This allows me to enjoy the visually spectacular topwater eats. Crappie and shad are starting to show up and these fish are a great time on ultralight tackle. Using Z-Man GrubZ on 1/16th or 1/8th ounce jigs is a perfect way to target these fish. I use a 7' ultralight TFO spinning rod with 4-pound braid. Schoolie largemouth bass also love these jigs and they are a real blast on the ultralight gear. Besides being fun to catch, crappie are very tasty for dinners.
I am looking forward to seeing clients again and spending some great time on the waterways. For those that want an extra peace of mind, I now have the ability to have rapid Covid-19 testing done. The testing can be completed at hotels, homes, or even the boat ramp and results are back in 10 minutes. I do need to schedule with the testing company, so notice must be given at least three days prior for testing; all costs associated with the testing is paid directly to the testing company by the requesting party. The boat and all equipment is still being cleaned and treated a product approved by the CDC for Covid-19 disinfecting.