Tarpon in Sarasota & Bonefish & Cudas at Andros South
<p>With water temperatures in the low 80's, tarpon are plentiful in the coastal gulf off Sarasota. Anglers fishing with me on my Action Craft flats skiff the Snook Fin-Addict, out of CB's Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, jumped several tarpon and brought one to the boat on flies during the week of 5/1. Although bay fishing was slow, tarpon more than made up for it.
Andy and Drew Hemmert, from Maitland, FL, fished Sarasota Bay with me on Sunday, 5/1. Andy and Drew are experienced fly casters, but we found the action slow that day. We fished both sides of the bay and caught a few trout on flies and CAL jigs. We had some shots at reds in skinny water, but no takes. We also spent about 1 ½-hours in the coastal gulf where Drew had a couple of shots at tarpon.
Carl Bettinger, from Albuquerque, NM, tarpon fished with me in Sarasota on Monday and Tuesday, 5/2 & 3. We had good action, getting numerous shots at fish each day. Carl jumped a pair of fish, both about 80-pounds, on a black Deceiver fly on Monday. We got numerous jumps and runs from the first fish, which jumped off after we had the fish back on the fly line and close to the boat. Another fish broke off when the fly line wrapped around the butt of the rod as he cleared the fly line.
It all came together for Carl on Tuesday. We saw fewer fish and they were deeper in the water column, but he landed his first tarpon. After seeing fish in slightly deeper water, I repositioned the boat, added some lead wire to his fly and he connected on his first cast. After about a 40-minute battle, which included dodging several obstacles, I leadered the fish. We hooked up in the coastal gulf and landed the fish in Sarasota Bay about a mile away!
I hosted a group of friends and customers at Andros South bonefish lodge on South Andros, Bahamas for my annual trip last week (5/7-14). Norm and Francie Boardman, Joe Bursel, Norm Worthington and Marlowe Bowman, all from Sarasota, Les Fulcher from Longboat Key and Tony Johnson from Venice all were along on the trip. Most of us traveled together to Ft. Lauderdale and had an easy, 1-hour plus flight over to Congotown.
Except for windy conditions one afternoon and thunderstorms the following day, weather conditions were very good. We had sunny conditions most of the time which made good conditions for sight fishing. We spent most of our time fishing protected creeks, inside waters and the west side of the island. Some anglers headed south a few days and Les Fulcher and I had great action with big barracudas and sharks in that area one day. We landed a pair of big 'cudas to 23-lbs. I caught one on a fly popper with an Orvis 9-weight fly rod that I am field testing, which casts very nice and has a lot of backbone. Les caught another one almost as big on a plug. We also caught several smaller 'cudas and Les hooked up some sharks in the 40 to 50-lb class on flies. It was a nice change to do something different and the action was great!
Les and I fished together most days and had good action with bonefish. He caught and released a 7-pound fish on his first day! There was a slow day or two, but we averaged about 12 bones per day. We also had a shot at an estimated 12-pound bonefish later in the week. Tony Johnson and I fished together one day and caught about a dozen fish. Tony also fished with Joe Bursel for a couple of days and they had good action. They both caught and released numerous bonefish up to about 5-lbs. Norm and Francie Boardman also had good action with flies and jigs. Francie used a spinning rod and cast a light jig that I had tied a shrimp pattern on, which worked well. Fishing became a little more challenging towards the end of the week as tides got higher as we approach a full moon.
We fin clipped more than 15 bonefish for a DNA study for the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, Bonefish Fin Clip Program. Marine biologists will perform DNA analysis on the tiny fin clip samples to establish a data base to study bonefish migration patterns. The tiny sample removed from the fish doesn't harm them and will grow back. Most fish averaged 2 to 3-lbs and several in the 4 to 5-lb class. Top producing flies were Mantis Shrimp, Peterson Spawning Shrimp and Gotchas.
This was my 5th trip to Andros South. The staff and guides do a great job and the food and fishing are great! One of the best things about the lodge is that it is only just over an hour flight from Ft. Lauderdale, but it seems like you are a world away. Watermakers Air out of Ft. Lauderdale executive airport makes it easy, you park right at the hanger for the easy flight over on a Cessna Caravan. A small customs office at the airport makes the return trip just as easy as the whole group is in and out in about 15-minutes. This is an annual trip for me, usually the first week of May, so if you are interested contact me for more information or look for info on future trips on my website.
We are in a west wind pattern now, so tarpon fishing in the coastal gulf won't be an option for a few days. However, as we head away from the full moon on Tuesday and the gulf calms down later in the week, tarpon fishing should be hot! Fishing should also be good in Sarasota Bay for trout, Spanish mackerel and more on deep grass flats and reds, trout and snook in skinny water.
Capt. Rick Grassett
Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.
FFF Certified Fly Casting Instructor
www.flyfishingflorida.net and www.snookfin-addict.com
Les Fulcher's Andros South 7-lb bonefish caught and released with Capt. Rick Grassett's group
Capt. Rick Grassett's Andros South fly cuda
About The Author: Captain Rick Grassett
Company: Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.
Area Reporting: Soutwest Florida
Bio: Capt. Rick Grassett, owner of Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc., is a full time fishing guide and outdoor writer based in Sarasota, FL. He has been guiding since 1990 and is an Orvis Endorsed Outfitter fly fishing guide at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters in Sarasota. Specializing in fishing with flies and lures on light spinning tackle, Capt. Rick fishes the bays, back country and coastal gulf waters from Tampa Bay to Charlotte Harbor in his 18’ Action Craft flats boat. He is a Federation of Fly Fishers certified fly casting instructor. Destination fishing trips are another specialty of Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service. Capt. Rick has lead groups of fly anglers to remote fishing locations around the world. Crane Meadow Lodge, MT, Los Roques, Venezuela, Andros Island Bonefish Club and Bonefish Bay Club in the Bahamas are several destinations where he has hosted groups in the past. Capt. Rick is a field editor for Saltwater Angler magazine and a monthly columnist for the Tampa Tribune. He has written articles for The Fisherman magazine and Orvis News. In addition to writing for these publications, he has been featured in articles in Florida Sportsman, Sportfishing, The Fisherman and Fly Fishing in Saltwater magazines. Capt. rick's web site, www.snookfin-addict.com features weekly fishing reports, current photos and and monthly fishing forecasts. He also maintains a second website that is specific to fly fishing and fly casting instruction, www.flyfishingflorida.net.