Notes from the Fishin Club meeting
From Laura our un-official, Official genuine reporter
Here's the notes from last Tuesday. Have had company so apologize for the delay.
Fishing Frank's Notes - 8/8/17 (Frank, Robert, Captain's Cayle & Carl)
Fishing was described by Robert as good but with lots of fresh water and HOT temperatures he said to travel further to the inter-coastal areas (Cape Haze, Gasparilla Pass and the gulf reefs). Small snook are being found in the inter-coastal areas where there are currently lots of small shrimp. Use cut bait of sardines, mullet, pinfish cut into pieces for Redfish and Snook. Bait of choice for Redfish would be shrimp and crabs. For Redfish go early and fish from daylight until about 10 a.m., then go home, don't bother fishing again until dark. After a discussion about whether or not Redfish school up by size or not, it appears it's true. When more than one are caught, they tend to be of the same size. Frank explained, with people, teenagers tend to only want to hang around with other teenagers.
Bull Bay & Turtle Bay:
The visual's for this topic that Frank projected were aerial views. He pointed out the sandbar that you encounter when you approach the bay from the South.
(This and other images are on Fishing Frank's website under maps - http://fishinfranks.com/bull_bay.htm)
Fish where the sandbar drops off on the outside and Galligar's Cut where the fish come in and out. In Winter, the entrance has maybe 24" of water and often just 18". In Summer, it's a steady 2 feet. Frank pointed to fishing the outside passage a 1/4 of a mile off the sand, slow along the entrance. Fish using big pieces of the larger pinfish as bait so as to avoid catching catfish. From Eagles Nest Beach to the white sand to South of E.N. cut there is a trough, anchor just back and cast, let the bait drop down into the trough. In Winter, fishing Sea Trout, drift the 3-6" area using casting lures or shrimp under a poppin' cork. Way back into the Bay use shrimp, crabs, worms to draw out its fishy inhabitants. Snook and Redfish are abundant along with Cow Nose Rays. Heading to the top of the Bay, moving North East you can fish using shrimp for Sheepshead by the Fishing camp house. Continue North and there are the mouths of two creeks. Fish for Redfish near the mouths of these creeks, the person on the front of the boat is splashing a lot in the water to attract their attention. The second (middle) guy casts using a spoon. On the top East side of the bay there are tidal ponds, near the sandbar that are also great for Redfish. Frank talked of President's (for one, George W.) coming to fish Turtle Bay and that it is "World Famous"!
When using artificial lures in the area they passed around the MiroLure #17 MR ground glass lure. It's a suspending bait that stays right above the grasses…Cast, reel, twitch then pause…repeat. Bagley makes gold spoons for Redfish that are weedless. Live Target makes a thread fin Shad Swimbait that swims upwards that doesn't sink and has lots of tail action. Berkley makes a Shrimp Gulp that is great when used with a slow retrieve. The Rockport Rattler under a bobber is excellent for Redfish with a gulf shrimp. Rapala Rip Stop RPS-9 is also a great lure. When the water is so dark, Frank said you can get away with using the cheaper Monofilament leader now. When the water is clearer, it becomes more important to use a Fluorocarbon leader.
If using live bait they said to use live crabs and showed how to hook them between the legs. A defense mechanism for escape, crabs will release a front claw as they grow back, so you don't want to hook through there. 95 % of crabs won't drop their swimmer leg so hook them there on a jig head. On the top of the crab is a soft spot, it's a small light circular area, using a no. 2 or 3 size hook go through it, come out through the swimmer leg joint. You can cut the crab in half, start cutting at the bottom. Crabs are called "tarpon candy" and the stinkier the better. Cutting them in half or smash a corner of the whole crabs hard top shell allows you to release all the fish attracting smells.
Crab traps have gone back in the shallows of the West Wall nearest Turtle Bay (the crabbers know things we don't know). There you will find Black Drum, Cobia and Triple Tail with reports of Bull Sharks also finding dinner. Two 20" Redfish were caught by Muddy Bay. Topic next month will help you gear up for September Snook season opening back up.
Fishing Frank's Notes - 8/11/17 (Fishing Frank, Captain Cayle, Josh Olive/Publisher of the "Water Line" & Robert)
The guy's started the evening describing the fishing of late, as fairly good. The West Wall to about 1/2 way down they're catching Ladyfish and Trout. The East side of the harbor, fishing is slightly better from inside the bar around Pirate Harbor, down towards Burnt Store Marina. Catching fish on shrimp and soft plastics, they've even caught some Tarpon and Pompano. Josh mentioned nice Snapper are being caught out on the wrecks and reefs, Reds & Lane's along with Muttons, Grouper, Gags along with Spanish Mackerel. Out in about 70-80 feet of water fishermen are scoring some nice size Mahi's!
It was Frank's first seminar embracing useful new technology to help those attending understand the important points when fishing the harbor. With an aerial view of the harbor he was able to talk about the harbors water movement during a 10-hour incoming tide. When the cool, salty waters of the gulf come into the harbor they flow in to the East side of the harbor. He explained it's the ideal time to work the sandbars.
Using some great images they explained the three points of thinking like a fish:
Hiding Spots - Josh showed us how to spot hideouts for Redfish and Snook. Deep, far back under the mangroves you need to look for trenches and small creeks (especially good spot to be when it's raining).
Variety of Food Sources - Redfish and Snook are ambush predators so they'll hide under the roots and watch for prey to swim by and then attack. Most importantly, they're looking for places to hide where the food is.
Safety - Just 12-16 inches of water is all they need. Mangroves drop leaves, they decay, which supplies bacteria/food for crabs because they love to eat the slime coating on the roots. But don't bother casting into the dead mangroves unless it's in the morning. It'll be too hot later in the day and they will move to the coolness of a canopy. Look for an arch in the mangroves you'll be able to cast into. You're looking for spots to get that lure or bait as close in as you can without getting hooked up. Scouting area's at low tide is a great way to find those trenches and low spots in the shallows where they'll hide. Showing a photo of an area at low tide, they explained how you can see ambush spots for future fishing, deeper spots to throw stuff into.
Frank's curiosity about deeper area's was explained when he showed an aerial view of Blowdown Creek. As he showed a darker area that kind of went back into the mangroves he wondered, "Why is it a Creek"? He explained it's an artesian spring where water can bubble up out of the ground. Remember, you're looking for any water movement when fishing the mangroves. But, if you fish these area's watch the tides or you could get stuck there.
Using an East Wall aerial view they pointed out great spots to fish - in front of Alligator Creek, around Cormorant Key, down to Pirate Harbor working the sandbar in front also. Another spot to look for is what's left of an island near Cormorant Key that used to be the resting spot for 1,000's of pelicans. Called "2 Tits", it used to be a disgusting and smelly island with a few tree's on it but thanks to "Charlie", there's only one left. You can imagine what the uniquely shaped, small island used to look like. Many still call it by that name. Check your chart, from the entrance to Alligator Creek down by Cormorant Key, you're looking for deep points for ambush. They also mentioned by Terrapin Key there's a deep trench an 18" draft boat can get back in, just inside the sand bar. Frank reminded us, these fish hang out in 12 - 16" of water! Another great fishing area is the Little Gasparilla, Sandfly Key & Cayo Pelau area. Near Gasparilla Sound is a tailing flats area of 18 inches of water. Look throughout this area for different food sources, there are scallops in the grasses.
6/14/17 Fishing Frank’s Notes: (Frank, Cayle & Robert)
In regards to tides, when should we fish? Frank explained you want the right salinity ratio. When the Peace River is 2‘ the salinity of the harbor is the same in the gulf. When the Peace River reaches 5’ it starts pushing fresh water into the harbor. The salinity level is less and also fresh water reduces visibility. Hot water doesn’t have as much oxygen in it so the fish will be sluggish. Outgoing tides will slow down the bite. Clearer water stays cooler so with an incoming tide the water will be cooler and clearer. The cooler gulf water comes into the harbor through the barrier island passes, moves in front of Bull Bay towards Burnt Store Marina and then runs North, up the East wall where water is then deflected by Punta Gorda Isles over to the Myakka River. Frank predicts that the East side will have the clearer water this week and should be like this for the rest of the month with better fishing on the incoming tides. Fish the West wall during outgoing tides. Best fishing will be found in the grass flats and the open harbor.
There are over two dozen species of fish in the harbor. Frank invited Cayle and Robert to give their take on what’s hot and what’s not. All agreed that what needs to be present in the harbor for fishing to be excellent is the presence of glass minnows (bay anchovies). This time of year they should be here but for some reason they aren’t.
SPANISH MACKEREL: Frank said these fish are found offshore or in between Boca Grande Pass and South Cape Haze. Catch using silver (cheap) lures or spoons on a wire or with at least 60 lb. mono or a fluorocarbon leader. Use with shrimp on a poppin cork.
BLUEFISH: Robert said they’re catching them on the East side, Pirate Harbor & reefs but Cayle said he’s not aware of anyone catching them.
FLOUNDER: Try out by Boca Grande Pass right of the pilings but both agreed there aren’t enough to target them in the summer. Best fishing will be in October/November.
JACK CREVALLE: Surprising this fish is considered a delicacy in other parts of the world & it’s a good year for them. Watch for them rolling & boiling and throw a shrimp on a poppin cork or fish the surface with a 6 or 8 Rapallo.
POMPANO: Both Cayle and Robert said they should be in the harbor but unfortunately they aren’t right now.
Sand Bream: A striped, dinner plate shaped fish with a mouth that pulls away from it’s face. Use small peeled, pieces of shrimp on a bobber. Readily found around docks and should be 12”.
SEA ROBINS: This fishes legs and fins look like wings and their eyes look like sapphires. Catch them out by Bull Bay. An edible fish but would have to be large in order to eat.
Sting Rays: They are edible but “cutting the meat with a cookie cutter” is a fallacy, fillet like you would a flounder, T slice and cut into strips.
COW NOSE RAYS: There are hundreds of these everywhere but Frank urged not to harvest them as they have only one baby each year and really aren’t plentiful everywhere else.
SPOTTED LEOPARD RAYS: These you also do not want to keep, they are the one’s you see jump out of the water and flip in the air. They do so because they can! Tarpon love all species of Rays and they follow them to eat the juveniles (4 - 6” long) as they are born.
SPADE FISH: This bl & wh fish looks like the aquarium type angel fish, these eat the small jellyfish in the harbor. Catch them with shrimp on a crappie rod with a jig around Alligator Reef at the South end, docks and Mile Marker 1. You’ll know what they are when you reel them in as they spin around in a circle.
WHITING: Catching them off the 41 bridge. Use frozen shrimp, peel the shrimp and put it on a small J hook with a No. 2, 4 or 6 hook. Send it to the bottom with an egg sinker above the swivel (Carolina Rig).
SENATE: This fish is a small version of a barracuda, straight tail with a ragged edge. Catch them in the shallows, in roughly 3 - 4’ of water, using a silver spoon. Good location is by the Placida boat ramp, take the canal out around the curve at the corner.
BLACK DRUM: Being caught in the PGI canals. Catch them in that location in the cooler temps of Fall and for some reason they’ll have turned yellow/white in color. Catch them by the 75 bridge using big shrimp or go to Peace River Seafood and ask for “bait crabs”, cut them in half and put them on the bottom close to a piling or sea wall and HOLD ON! Robert peels the shrimp. All the captains have seen huge schools come into the harbor but never have they mentioned seeing them leave. They’ve been spotted in Little Gasparilla Pass and by Devil Fish Key on the west side of the harbor. Schooling up in numbers of 100 & up to 1,000 they’ll act just like a school of bait fish. Best time to see them will be later this month, look for a muddy cloud or top water boiling with a stain coming at you. There’s so many that they work up the bottom and turn it muddy. Approach them quietly, free line small fish or crabs. They can get up to 30 - 50 lbs.
CATFISH: If you live on a salt water canal and have company who want to catch something off the dock, you can always catch a catfish! Throw it directly in a bucket of ice water to kill them quickly. Leave the head & ribs and take the tail off, all the meat is in the tail section. Throw the carcass in the canal. Put the filets on ice and before cooking, pat dry, cut into cubes and dredge filets in a mixture of waffle mix combined with a lager-type beer. Frank pointed out it’s probably the safest fish to eat, with the best protection against parasites/disease due to all that slime! However, there are two kinds, Hard Head and Sail Cats. Like Redfish, the Hard heads tend not to get parasites (1 out of 50 do) while Sail Cats for the most part, get parasites.
SHEEPSHEAD: Not very plentiful right now but you might find them in trough’s around the mangroves on both the East and West walls.
TRIPLE TAIL: Fish the crab buoys with a shrimp or shad tail under a bobber, they just need their eye’s in the shade, then they think that their whole body is covered. Look for them on a sunny day, they will look like an oily rag floating in the water under the buoy. You’ll find them in a mooring field by the 41 bridge. Free line a shrimp on a bobber right near them and you could catch a 20 - 30 incher and they are delicious!
SNAPPER: Fishing for these is not the best right now. Dog Tooth Snapper are found on the reefs off shore with juveniles found in the harbor, they must be 12” to keep. You can tell the difference between the Dog Tooth and the Mangrove Snapper as the Mangrove has an iridescent stripe under their eye. Must be 10”. Schoolmaster and Lane Snapper are found in the grassy flats and also need to be 10”. Lane Snapper are great eating but are not common in the harbor, they can be caught in the passes but off shore is best.
SNOOK: Fishing for these is excellent right now but the season is closed. Catch them from Whidden Bay to Gasparilla. Best fishing for them is at night with cut up catfish as bait. During a sunny day use small to medium white bait and if it’s cloudy, use shrimp.
SEA TROUT: Both Cayle and Robert have been catching them but they’re not sure why they’re here. Not supposed to be, but you can catch them on the East wall, Pirate Harbor to Alligator Creek. Throw shrimp under a poppin cork, they’re catching nice one’s up to 29”. They’re also found around Bokeelia on Pine Island, free line a 3” pin fish under a bobber to keep them out of the grass.
TARPON: They’re here but super scattered, due to thunder and lightning of late. During storms they will scatter and leave the harbor and can be gone for days. Tarpon are super affected by the sound and vibration. Juvenile tarpon are in the rivers and canals and it’s an awesome time to catch them. Fight all the other boats in Boca Grande Pass if you want the large one’s or try for juvenile at night by the 41 bridge, you’ll catch 10 - 50 pounder’s on light tackle for a thrill.
Frank closed by mentioning that they will be exploring new options for future seminars. He’ll be asking his staff to contribute their view points on topics, mentioning specific spots and tactics along with including guest speakers. Plans for July’s seminar might include an I-Cast (but note, it might not be happening both nights).
May 9, 2017 Fishing Frank's Class:
> 20th Anniversary of Fishing Franks
> Frank & Robert
> Fishing Report: Cobia & Sheepshead are in Alligator Creek. Frank recommended a split shot when fishing into current or a fast moving tide. You can free line shrimp and they will come out of the reef to hit it as it drifts by. With Cobia, free line shrimp with a bobber and a fist size chunk of Ladyfish about six feet below the water and let it drift away about 30 - 50 feet. Instead of shrimp you can use a thread fin for Cobia.
> Mackerel are out by Marker 2 and the Cape Haze reef. He mentioned that with last summer's rain, plants really grew everywhere and now they have died and you see the decomposing material floating. He said it is good the harbor is getting cleaned out. The salt water will flush out the harbor. The drought has been good for the harbor!
> When fishing for Tarpon Frank and Robert say have a Plan B. Their name means "Mega Eye". The record for them is between 250 - 283 lbs. He said they are the only marine fish that breaths air. They also are afraid of lightening. They will all clear out of the harbor and head to the gulf for at least a day! Hot days, it decreases the oxygen in the harbor. Tarpon don't need to get oxygen out of the water, they have an air bladder to buoyant themselves. In order to see (hunt) Tarpon have your brown lens sunglasses for in the harbor, wear your blue, green or gray lens sunglasses in the gulf. Look for a wave that isn't a caused by a boat, start looking by Alligator Reef or at the mouth of the Myakka River. A depth finder will not pick up Tarpon because of that air bladder because they expel their air and that is how a locator picks up on fish. Watch for free jumping fish, Robert says it doesn't necessarily mean you'll hook one up but he says you'll tend to hook one up in that kind of a group.
> Tarpon rolling - there are two types. If they're rolling in every direction that is good, means they're hanging out.
> It's worse if they're all rolling in the same direction! It means they're heading away. Head the boat a half a mile ahead of them (they travel nose to the wind), get quiet, and bait ready. Compensate and cast 5' in front of the fish and wait 6 seconds at least.
> When they go down, tail up he's going straight down, so toss a cast past him 3' - 4' on the other side of his roll. Frank loves a DOA Bait Buster and it'll take 4 seconds to get to the bottom. They are believed to smack their tail if they are annoyed so if that is happening, switch to a Rattle Trap otherwise they won't bite. Watch for the bubbles they expel their air (tarpon farts LOL). If they're "rolling in the pass" it's probably a boy meets girl thing. Pre or post spawn mode. Watch for a place they come up 2 or 3 times then fish there.
> "Where to catch them" - Pull throttle back, ease up and always have the driver look back behind the boat for them. As you go South through the harbor, zig zag starting by Mile Marker 1/Alligator Creek and watch for them. Head to the middle hole, Pirate Harbor hole and go in between the 20' hole. Robert thought Cape Haze (The Hill) is worth trying also. He uses fresh thread fins & he gets them on a Sabiki (blue & red L947-8 Lazer Sharp Eagle Claw Zabicki). He says to get in front of them and use a small split shot, slows the thread fin down to entice the tarpon. He uses our kind of round bobber so it will hold up a thread fin. Has to be an Owner J Hook with a bead on it (keeps the presentation of the thread fin on the hook). He said to make sure hooks are sharp. He uses Squirrel Fish (frozen), pass crabs (just had a full moon when pass crabs float down river to spawn off shore). Tarpon will be at the Placida Trestle at night from 7 to 11 pm. Take a lantern broad based light. Hook pass crabs between the white part of the legs. Use a Penn rod with leader line to line knot. 64 lb for distance, best though is 80 lb leader for power and the No. 1 Tarpon lure is the DOA Bait Buster…Anytime, Anyplace! There are lots of colors, best is root beer or gold. Use a jigging motion, reel down slowly pause, repeat. Robert uses a DOA bobber off the back of the boat. Add a bait buster for better presentation, it won't hinder the strike at all (see my drawing). You can use Pro Cure or scents to increase your chances because of the sunblock, etc on your hands. For slow trolling use VMC single hook but get rid of the barbs with a Storm Swim bait (Rapala SXRL-14, 3 for $5.19) or a Magram? Long Bomber. Start at 2 miles and work up to 3 miles per hour.
> Sharks are fun and can be Plan B. You don't want to use a circle hook. Flatten the barb so you can release the shark safely. Put your larger bait on the bottom, smaller bait under a bobber. Slack tide try the phosphate docks for goliath grouper! - Laura