I’m Still Thinking About An East Coast Slam
I never should have started reporting on this slam thing. Now it haunts me on every trip. One day this week was good for two varieties of the slam - snook and trout but no redfish. Another day was potentially good for completing the slam as snook, redfish and trout were hooked but two snook managed to throw the hook and swim to freedom. However, the message remains the same. The time is still ripe for completing the east coast slam of redfish, trout and snook. I think chances are as good in May and June as any other month of the year.
With all the rain we have experienced there has been little opportunity to get out on the water. Also, the Banana River is up more than a foot in water depth and the fish have many new places to go, so keep looking for the bait to find the fish and don’t be afraid to try new places. The mullet are still very numerous in the river and sometimes you find the glass minnows so thick you would wonder why any fish in the river is not full and unwilling to bite. Fortunately, that is not the way it works and some of our best fishing is experienced when the bait are most plentiful!
On the first day I mentioned above, the snook came on a Top Pup. Fishing this lure with a walk-the-dog presentation is something snook and big trout just can’t seem to pass up. On this morning both trout and snook were willing to chase down the Pink Top Pup I was casting. I should say early morning, because the bite seemed to be over by 8:00. More trout were caught using my old standby RipTide 3 inch mullet in the silver mullet color. Rigged on a ¼ ounce Pro Jig Head this bait is deadly on hungry trout. It also tempted some ladyfish and jacks to bend the pole.
On the second day Brian and his Dad, Ted, came over from the Orlando area to enjoy some Banana River fishing. This is the second year Brian treated his dad to a special birthday party on the water. It turns out Ted and I graduated from Wichita High School East in the same year so we have a little in common. Mostly, we agree, we are just great fishermen. We got a good early start leaving the dock about 6:00 am. Ted was the first to hook up with a nice snook. He was pitching a Top Pup parallel to a rocky shoreline looking specifically for snook. Sure enough it didn’t take long and he expertly fought the fish to the boat. Then, as sometimes happens, the hook pulled and the fish was gone. It looked like it was going to be very close to a slot-sized fish.
A little later a nice sized bluefish attacked Ted’s lure. He had changed over to a RipTide Mullet and was casting to some deeper water when the unexpected bluefish tagged him good and then came jumping out of the water. This was one of the best aerial shows I have ever witnessed from a bluefish. From where it first came out of the water to the last jump was probably 25 feet and it jumped 3 or 4 times in between. Not to unexpectedly the final jump resulted in a cut line and that fish was gone too. As everyone knows, you really need a little wire leader or at least an extra long shank hook to successfully land the blues, but we were not targeting them so the result was a lost lure and fish.
The next fish was another snook, once again on a Top Pup. It was a different location but similar to the previous one that produced the earlier snook - a rocky shoreline holding lots of mullet. Many casts were made with various retrieves in an attempt to elicit a strike. The bite had been slow all morning and I was instructing Brian on how to fish the “Pup” a little faster when the strike occurred. Unfortunately, like before the fish pulled loose and swam to safety. On days when the bite is slow sometimes you can bring on an anger strike from a fish with a little faster retrieve.
As the low light conditions of the morning waned we moved again and tried some live shrimp to see what we could summon to our hook. It was not long after anchoring near a shallow ridge that Ted hooked up again. In normal water levels this ridge would be only 6 inches under the water and easily visible - now, with the water up its more like 18 inches deep and a lot harder to locate. It was immediately apparent that this was not an average fish. As it got closer to the boat we all saw a giant gator trout. We took a couple quick pictures and Ted elected to release the oversized trout so she could reproduce and provide some more trout to hopefully grow up like her.
Brian added a smaller trout and Ted added a sheepshead before we moved on again.
We fished some docks without success and then moved to the mouth of a residential canal where Brian added the redfish that would have completed the slam if the snook had not gotten away. It was a beauty of a fish with a real dark red hue and an extra spot on each side. The fish measured 20 inches and, as it turned out, was Brian’s first redfish. Now he is hooked and wants some more.
With the thunder clouds building in the west we called it a day and headed for the dock after a fun day on the water. It was tough fishing, but with two anglers with the right attitude to make the birthday party a success. Their persistence and never say die approach brought fish to the boat on a slow bite day and with a little luck we would have had our slam. We were joined during the outing by dolphin, manatees, osprey, pelicans and other party crashers but they simply added to the enjoyment of a day on the water.
That’s what it’s all about. Good fishin’.
Announcement: I want to take this opportunity to announce my upcoming book entitled Secrets From Florida’s Master Anglers. It is a book intended to provide many tips and pro secrets to fishing success. It is based on interviews with 20 of Florida’s top guides on various fishing topics. The book is being published by University Press of Florida. It will be available in bookstore across the state, on Amazon.com or from the publisher directly, sometime this fall. Regardless of your level of fishing skill this book will have something for you.
Here is what some early readers of the book say:
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