Rick Grassett’s Sarasota-Area Fishing Report for mid January

Editor’s Note: This report is from Sarasota’s Rick Grassett, a good guide and even better person. Enjoy.
Anglers fishing with me, out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, had decent action with trout and bluefish in Sarasota Bay on flies, DOA Deadly Combos and CAL jigs with shad tails and snook and blues on flies in the ICW at night during the past week. Sunny afternoons and calm winds allowed the water to warm back into the 60’s following last week’s strong front and trout moved into shallow water.
Marshall Dinerman, from Atlanta fished Sarasota Bay with me on Tuesday afternoon. With water temperature in the high 50s, action was slow. We caught and released a few trout on CAL jigs with shad tails and DOA Deadly Combos on deep grass flats. The largest trout was caught on a CAL jig with a shad tail in less than 2 inches of water, which was also the warmest water.
Keith McClintock and Victor Feldman, both from Illinois, fished Sarasota Bay with me on Wednesday. It was slow to start, but trout turned on in the afternoon as the sun warmed shallow water to as warm as 65 degrees in a couple of spots. Snook also moved onto the edges of bars to warm up.

One of Rick Grassett’s clients with a nice Sarasota-area trout. Photo courtesy of Rick Grassett

 With water temperatures back in the 60s after several days of warming, Martin Marlowe, from New York, fished the ICW with me on Thursday night. He had good action catching and releasing snook and several blues around dock lights on my Grassett Snook Minnow fly. Fish were actively feeding and swimming away strong. Afternoons and evenings will usually have the warmest water of the day, as the sun warms shallow water that flushes out of bays with outgoing tides.
Another front pushed through on Friday, beginning a few days of below average temperatures. Steve Kost, from Lakewood Ranch and his son Nick Kost, from New York, fished Sarasota Bay with me on Saturday. It was very windy, rough and tough to find any protected water to fish. Despite the tough conditions, they had some action with bluefish, trout and ladyfish on flies. I worked with Nick on his fly casting and he scored his first fish on a fly, a ladyfish, in 25 mile-an-hour wind!
The toughest fishing this time of year is usually the day of a front or the day after, when the wind blows from the northwest and cold air comes rushing in causing water temperatures to fall. Water temperatures may drop back into the 50s next week, so temperature-sensitive fish should be avoided at that time. Fish the windows of stable weather between fronts for the best action. Sunny afternoons with some protection from the wind should fish better this time of year due to warmer water. There should be good action with trout, blues, pompano and more on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Shallow water action for larger trout and reds should also be a good option.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fly fishing

Florida Fishing Expo Set for Early February

The 2018 Florida Fly Fishing Expo in Crystal River on February 9-10 has scheduled legendary Florida Keys guide Steve Huff to show and tell some of his secrets for catching giant permit, tarpon, snook and other trophy gamefish on a fly rod.

Huff, who has been described as “the top fly fishing guide on the planet,” tops a schedule of more than 20 expert-led seminars and new fly fishing product displays at Plantation on Crystal River on Florida’s west coast. Admission to the two-day expo is $25 but free for those 12 and younger when accompanied by an adult. 

Huff is a top guide in the Florida Keys.

The Florida Fly Fishing Expo is put on annually by the Florida Council of Fly Fishers International. President Tom Gadacz said, “We are so pleased to have Steve Huff coming to the Expo. This guy has a bank-vault of knowledge about catching big fish on the fly and he’ll share some hard-earned insights.”

After earning a marine biology degree at the University of Miami in 1968 Huff started guiding in the Florida Keys. He pioneered fly fishing for tarpon, permit and snook in the Keys and also led clients to IGFA record tarpon near Crystal River and Homosassa. Sandy Moret, his good friend and a fellow fly fisher, once described Huff as “without question, the top fly fishing guide on the planet.” 

On Friday, Feb. 9, Huff will present a tutorial about how to locate and catch permit on the fly. On Saturday he will discuss the importance of and how to make quick fly casts in all directions. As the featured speaker at theExpo’s closing banquet on Saturday Huff will share insights he has learned from 50-years of guiding fly fishers to saltwater trophy gamefish.

More than 20 other sessions about how-to fly fish, fly cast and tie flies are scheduled indoors and outdoors at the spacious, waterfront resort of Plantation on Crystal River. They include:

Fly Fishing for snook at night by Capt. Rick Grassett

Paddleboard fly-fishing by David Olson.

Fly casting tutorial for women by Mona Brewer, youth fly casting by David Lambert, emergency casting clinic by Pat Damico, and casting games led by John Hand and Jim Patchet.

Beginner and intermediate fly casting demonstrations by Capt. Pete Greenan.

Fly fishing for warm water fishes in North Florida by Tom Logan

Wading the flats by Leigh West.

History of women in fly fishing by Jen Ripple.

DIY bonefishing in the Keys and Bahamas by Capt. Bryon Chamberlin.

Fishing Mosquito Lagoon secrets by Capt. Frank Catino.

Fly fishing for baby tarpon in the Indian River Lagoon by Capt. Eric Davis.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fly casting, Fly fishing

Lessons from Beach Snook

Brad Lowman with nice beach snook near St. Petersburg, Fla.

Brad Lowman releases a beach snook near St. Petersburg, Fla.

As June bleeds into July, it’s hot in Florida. The heat rises from the earth, hour by hour, as if you stepped into a sauna. Relief comes early or late, before the first cup of coffee or an after hour after the last glass of iced tea, as the sun eases below the dunes.

I measure the seasons by my fly-fishing calendar. Each season brings a new species. It’s now too hot for redfish and seatrout. Pretty soon, the tarpon and snook will arrive.

It was the same with freshwater, when I lived in Virginia. March is perfect for brook trout in the mountain streams. The brown trout of the spring creeks begin to stir when the grasshoppers stir in August.

As I reflect upon three decades with a fly rod, I learned lessons from each species.  … For more, go to http://www.hatchmag.com/articles/what-i-learned-beach-snook/7714402

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fly fishing

Why You should Wade While Fly Fishing the Flats

Wading the flats on a flood tide can be productive.    (Photo: Tim Boothe)

My story for Hatch Magazine on wading. Enjoy.

When I first started saltwater fly fishing, I waded the flats out of necessity. I had no choice, because I had no boat. Now I have a boat. But I still wade because I want to, not because I have to. Here’s why.

Convenience

 There’s no easier way to fish. It doesn’t matter of if you live in Florida, Texas, Alabama, South Carolina, New Jersey or Massachusetts. Wadeable water is nearby—particularly up and down the East Coast and Gulf Coast. And you can be on the water in a matter of minutes. Have an hour to spare on your lunch break? Or after work before heading home? You can fish. Gone are the days when you need an entire day off from work to fish.

You will fish more, and as a result, you will become a better angler.

http://www.hatchmag.com/articles/wading-flats-no-boat-required/7714399

Leave a Comment

Filed under Education, Fly fishing

How to Catch Redfish in the Surf on Fly

James Ferguson battles a beach red. (Photo: Andrew Mizell)

I admit it. I love redfish. Pictures of them adorn my living room wall and kitchen. It doesn’t matter where or when, I will try to find them.

I’ve caught them on the flats and in the river; on high tide and low tide; in spartina grass and turtle grass. Last summer, the surf became my focus.

I heard rumors of reds in the Northeast Florida surf for years, but most of my buddies scoffed at the notion of fishing for reds on the beach. But as it turns out, redfish do indeed make their way to the surf and yes you can catch them on fly.

It’s not easy, but, if the conditions are right and the stars align, it’s very doable. Here’s how:

 What You Need for Redfish in the Surf

Break out your heavier fly rod, at least an 8-weight; a 9 or 10-weight is better. You will have to throw heavier flies, and the redfish in the surf can be bruisers. Given that the current can be swift, landing one is not as easy as on the flats. Even though reds are the primary target, big jacks can show up and take you into your backing in the blink of an eye.

For more go to http://www.hatchmag.com/articles/redfish-surf/7714387

Leave a Comment

Filed under Education, Fly fishing

My Quest to Catch Bass on Fly

how to catch bass on fly

Debbie Hanson with a nice bass from a kayak. (Photo Pamela Mess)

My story from Hatch Magazine.  This is an unedited excerpt from the original piece.

By Mike Hodge

It’s the start of summer in Northeast Florida, a tad too early for tarpon and a bit too early for flood-tide redfish. Given the break in the angling calendar, it’s time to take inventory of every species I’ve caught with a fly rod.

So far, I’ve conquered three types of freshwater trout along with a handful of bluegill; in the salt, I’ve landed reds, seatrout, snook, jacks, bluefish, ladyfish and tarpon.

I’ve caught a few bass, but none of them were worth bragging about. True story: The biggest bass I ever caught was more than 40 years ago on a small mountain pond in North Carolina. The fish probably weighed 5 pounds or so. Catch-and-release was not part of my young, boyish mindset back then, but the bass had the last laugh.

I put my quarry on a stringer and pushed the stake into the muddy shoreline. Big mistake. Moments later, the sturdy green fish gathered enough strength to pull the stringer out of the muck and swam off — along with two panfish destined for the frying pan.

I’ve yearned for redemption ever since that summer day. But I’ve never mustered a big bass on a fly rod. To help fulfill that quest, I called upon two anglers who have kicked a little bass: Debbie Hanson, a guide, women’s sport fishing advocate and blogger (SheFishes2.com); and Shaw Grigsby, Jr., a professional bass tournament angler. Hanson has caught more bass than I’ve dreamed about, on foot and out of a kayak near her home waters in Fort Myers, Fla. Grigsby, from Gainesville, Fla., has surpassed more than a two million dollars in career earnings with conventional gear, but his true passion is topwater bass on fly. Below are a few of their tips that should help you land a big bass on fly.

For more info check out the link below.http://www.hatchmag.com/articles/largemouth-bass-fly-tips-pros/7714386

Leave a Comment

Filed under Misc.

A Bow to the Florida Largemouth Bass

I have never caught a largemouth bass. Well, that’s not exactly true. I’ve caught a few yearling-sized largemouth, but nothing worth bragging about. Hell, these fish weren’t even big enough to warrant lying about to my buddies over a beer.

Not that I’m a bad fisherman. I’ve caught a tarpon, three or species of freshwater trout, bluegill, seatrout, redfish, jacks, snook and even a peacock bass or two. All on fly.

The closest I came to catching a respectable largemouth was 40-something years ago when I was youngster summering in the mountains of Western North Carolina. On friend’s farm pond, I landed a nice, fat largemouth, probably in the neighborhood of 4 pounds. Using a small spinning reel, a bobber and a mealworm, I pulled the big green fish up to the edge of the sand and heaved him over toward the grassy bank. As far as smooth landings go, it was not pretty. Turns out, the bass got the last laugh.

I had also caught two bluegill. I had them on a stringer, which was loosely staked to the muddy bank. I unhooked my quarry, put him on the stringer and mashed the stake of the stringer into the sand.

I thought the fight was over, but it wasn’t. Moments later, the big bass pulled the stringer — stake and all — out of the soft ground and swam off with two bluegill.

Technically you could say I caught that bass, because I unhooked him and had the fish under my control, but since the fish left under its own power on its own terms — and not mine and evaded the frying pan — I consider it a draw. That’s the last decent bass I’ve caught and I’ve spent brief stretches of each fishing season trying to attain some measure of poetic justice, but I’ve never caught a largemouth that bent the rod quite like that fish.

Given that bit of unfinished business, I’ve decided to spend part of this summer trying to catch a bigger-than-average largemouth. My quest is largely personal, but there are some darned good reasons to spar with the largemouth.

You can find them in just every piece of freshwater in Florida. And if you don’t catch a largemouth, you’ll catch some sort of species of bass. Florida, after all, is home to seven different species of native bass — the spotted bass, shoal bass, striped bass, sunshine bass, Suwanee bass, white bass and the venerable largemouth. For see the link below.

http://snookfoundation.org/content/florida%E2%80%99s-forgotten-fish-bow-largemouth-bass

Leave a Comment

Filed under Conservation, Education, Fly casting, Fly fishing

The Thomas & Thomas Exocett Delivers

My story on the Thomas & Thomas Exocett for the Blackfly Outfitter in Jacksonville.

Thomas & Thomas’ motto is “the rod you will eventually own.” Their belief is by the time you try other fly rods, you, the customer, will want the Thomas & Thomas brand.

T&T’s quality consistently shines brighter than the competition. After all, the Massachusetts-based company has been making fine fly rods since the late 1960s. They do so one rod at a time, with painstaking attention to handcrafted detail, from the butt section to the tip.

So it is with the Exocett saltwater series. If you want a rod that’s sensitive enough to cast well for all skill levels, but strong enough to handle everything from tarpon to tiger fish, the Exocett is for you. Trouble turning over those bushy tarpon patterns?
The Exocett can help you punch through that afternoon wind — without wear and tear on your shoulder. Furthermore, the Exocett has proven its durability world-wide, slaying giant trevally and monster tuna in the Seychelles.

The Exocett is known for its performance, but it has a sleek, sexy design as well. The 9-foot, four-piece setup features a matte blue, low-friction finish.

For more info, check out http://www.flyfishingworldheadquarters.com/?p=1496

Leave a Comment

Filed under Education, Fly casting, Fly fishing

Grand Slam Wins Custom Shootout

Grand Slam was on the move during the 2017 Shootout last weekend.

My story for FishTrack.com on Skip’s Custom Shootout.

A shade of irony passed over the Bahamas last weekend.

The winning boat in the Custom Shootout pulled ahead of the field by releasing a grand slam. And the name of the winning boat?

Grand Slam.

Buoyed by a strong second day, the captain and crew aboard the New Smyrna Beach, Florida, vessel won the Custom Shootout, amassing 1,800 points in the three-day event, edging out Gina Lisa in a tiebreaker based on time.

The event, part of the Abaco Diamond Series, was restricted to 61 custom boats in an all-release billfish affair at the Abaco Beach Resort and Boat Harbour Marina.

It was Grand Slam’s second big win of the year. In January, Grand Slam owner Wallis Higginbotham and crew earned top honors in the Pelican Yacht Club Invitational in Fort Pierce, Florida.

“This one’s special when you consider the caliber of the teams and boats in this tournament,” Higginbotham said. “You had some of the best fishermen on the planet. It was a great group of fishermen to fish against. We were fortunate enough to come out on top and we’re extremely happy and pretty thrilled.”

Grand Slam was built by Forbes Boat Works based in Wanchese, North Carolina, a small town that is home to several of the world’s primere custom boat builders. The boat strung together back-to-back quality days in the Shootout, totaling five billfish releases, including three blues, one white and one sail. That output was enough offset a fishless effort on day three. The Gina Lisa logged more fish with a total of seven releases and tied for the top spot in points, but Grand Slam ultimately prevailed because it amassed its points first.Grand Slam’s grand slam proved to be the pivotal point in the tournament. The combo of the sailfish, white marlin and blue marlin generated 400 additional points, the equivalent of one blue marlin in the Custom Shootout’s scoring system.

Higginbotham caught the sailfish and the blue. Larry Gross caught the white. There were only three one-day grand slams generated among the 224 anglers.

For more go to http://www.fishtrack.com/features/grand-slam-shines-in-custom-shootout_147314

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Entertainment

So Long Gander Mountain

This sad on so many different levels. Gander Mountain wasn’t a big fly fishing store, but it still hurts when an outdoors retailer bites the dust. We have a store in St. Augustine. I wonder how much longer that operation will be around.

http://www.artofanoutdoorsman.com/2017/05/gander-mountain-begins-to-liquidate-all.html#.WRN8JyJGULU.facebook

Leave a Comment

Filed under Education