The first fishing day of December (12/1) was about as nice as it can be. 68 degrees at sun up to catch bait, 72 degrees while picking up a group of three great folks on Manasota Key at their dock. The funny part is that they stepped on the boat and instead of the usual “are we gonna catch lots of fish today?” Tom Loffton asked “Do you think we will see a Manatee today?”. I told him we had a pretty good chance as it is a common occurance, and if we didnt see one I would swing by my Marina on the way back and there would be at least one or two around there. Well we stopped at our first location about ten minutes from the dock and managed two nice slot reds, several over slot, a nice Snook and Tom did battle with a 40lb stingray just for the heck of it! They dont have any of those in Wyoming so it was a cool experience none-the-less.
We pulled out from that location and idled our way across some broken flats separated by deeper channels. As we came off one of the flats I could see a LOOOONNNNNG mud trail (think half a mile or more) in one of the deep sections and I immediately shut the motors and said “we are coming up on a few manatees”. I pointed out the three on the bottom just to our right, and as they came up to take a breath I noticed a few more just a few yards ahead….and a few more after that…..and a few more after that. As we drifted we saw more, and more, and more! I counted 20 pretty easily but I am sure there are more. Because of the recent winds, the water was a little bit silty so the murmaids (dont ask how they used to make that mistake!) would belnd it pretty good making it hard to get a good count. As we drifted I stopped the boat a few times with the powerpole to see if a couple of these gals would pose for a photo op. I left the PowerPole in the water just a bit as we drifted, it tends to get an interesting little wiggle when you do that. Well apparently at least one of the Manatees thought this made a great toy and followed us for most of the drift bumping, following, and staring at it!
We did end up catching several more nice redfish in a few different locations and had a great day taking is some spectacular scenery and bird life. Fishing Wednesday was a little tough mainly because of the wind, but the bite was good. The reds were stacked thick in some of the deeper holes on the low end of the tide, and tailers were EVERYWHERE as soon as the tide started to bump up a bit. Several trout over 5lbs were caught and released this week in the same areas, along with some now out of season Snook (mostly slot size fish of course!) that were released with care. Thursday (today) saw improving weather compared to yesterday, and the Redfish bite will remain strong throughout the winter. I am willing to bet the Pompano bite will be strong in the coming weeks, and with a day off planned this weekend on Sunday you can bet you will see me out for some rare alone fishing time working on a nice cooler full of the “fish of kings” near the pass!
Be safe on the water, and remember to respect other anglers!
Yes that strange black creature is my dog! Sweetpea