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+--Forum: Florida West Coast and Alabama
+---Topic: Pine Island, Florida started by Captain Butch Rickey

Posted by: Captain Butch Rickey Jan 29 2006, 07:22 PM

I spent most of the week in Sarasota, again this week, and managed to get out on the
water twice.

I met my old friend John "Wolfgang" Franck for breakfast Monday morning, before
hitting the water at around noon. We had no water moving in the morning, and the
tide in the afternoon wasn't a strong one. We also had a front coming, and I hoped
the fish would be willing to cooperate on the slow tide.

We launched the Maverick from the ramp at Turtle Beach, which is a nice facility.
There's a pretty long idle out of the area to the ICW, but it beats doing a lot of
running if you're going to fish south. We decided we'd fish from Midnight Pass area
down to South Creek, where John lives. We were going to target reds and snook on

I tied on a silver hammered spoon, and gave John a gold spoon. I figured the
silver would be more attractive to snook, and the gold more attractive to reds. I
stuck the first fish in the first hour; a very dark green snook on the silver spoon.
The next fish was a red that managed to twist itself off the hook before John could
land it. Not long after that I caught a nice redfish of about 6 pounds, again on
the silver. John had a couple of swings and misses.

The next fish was a snook from a pothole, again on silver. Not long after that I
hit several more snook in a depression near the ICW. We had seen several redfish
that were laid up and apparently sunning. We had thrown baits all over them without
a bite.

At the next flat I tied on a 1/4 oz. silver spoon for John. I had seen quite a few
schools of glass minnows, and thought the smaller spoon might look more like the
available bait. But, by this time we were nearly at the top of the tide, and the
bite was slowing. John hooked a lost a snook and a redfish before we called it

John and I go way back to my beginnings as a guide, and he is a very special friend.
We have a lot of fond memories of days spent fishing, and crazy things that
happened to us on the water. It was great to be able to get out with him, and we
had as much fun as we ever did.

Tuesday morning I met my friends Captains Tom Stephens, and his son, Capt. Tommy
Stephens, who together are now Top Notch Fishing, in Sarasota. Tommy is the
absolute best guide in the Sarasota/Bradenton area, and Tom, who was a great
offshore guide in the Panhandle area, is fast learning. Tommy hadn't been able to
join Tom and I last week, and it was great to get to wet a line with him. We hadn't
done it in years. It's funny how fishing guides love to go just fish for fun, and
not have the pressure to produce. I dare say most of us love to toss plugs, rather
than opting for the numbers producing live bait that we typically use when we're
guiding. It's certainly the case for the three of us.

I decided to go south, again, thinking we'd be able to at least match the results of
the day before, since the front was right on our doorstep. But, the fish had other
ideas. They weren't nearly as willing to eat, but we did catch more reds. Tommy
had the hot rod, and I think he caught 4 or 5. He was tossing the gold spoon, and I
the silver. I finally hit a nice red late in the day in an area I'd never fished.
Tom spent the day tossing jigs. I think he tried everything in his tacklebox, and
he seemed to be having as much fun trying all those lures as he was with the actual
fishing. Oh, yes! That's definitely part of the lure of lure fishing. I've had
countless days of big numbers of snook, redfish, and trout on livebait, yet for my
own fun I'd rather trick one good redfish on a lure than 30 on livebait. I've often
said that one good red can make your day.

Toward the end of the day we got on a school of ladyfish not far from where we were
catching the reds. They're always fun, and are essentially like catching small
tarpon. They are actually known locally as "Poor Man's Tarpon", and have probably
rescued more tough winter trips than any other fish. As we worked our way to the
other end of the flat we ran up on some huge redfish in the crystal clear water.
They were really big to have inside during the winter. Apparently, they had all
spooked out, as we never got the first hit. It didn't matter, though. It's always
cool to see fish like that in their habitat.

It was getting late and the weather was rapidly deteriorating. What I thought was
rain turned out to be thick sea fog. We decided to head in while we could still
see, so after checking the lights on the Maverick, we took off. It had been a great
day with Tom and Tommy, and fun to share the boat with such great fishermen.

Things begin to pick up next week. We've got a good week of extreme winter low
tides, which means pothole fishing extraordinaire. Should be a lot of fish to talk
about next week.


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