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Flats fishing on the South Shore

Bassin AssassinBassin Assassin Senior MemberRiverview, FLPosts: 1,317 Officer
Met Freaky at the CRB ramp at 7:30am yesterday. The tide was not going to be good, but I thought I could put him on some fish. Started off going north up into Big Pass. Water was really low already and still going out. I got the skunk off the boat with a trout just shy of 15" on the 3" mullet in rootbeer at 8:15am. Another dink trout for me at 8:32am. Freaky got on the board with an under-slot trout at 8:48am. Four minutes later another under-slot trout for me. Not happening in Big Pass so floated south on the flat towards the CRB channel. Another small trout for me at 9:14am. Switched to the spook and picked up another small trout at 9:47am. Another dink trout on the spook at 10:25. Ok so we got the dink trout covered.

We took a ride all the way up to the first pass near the LMR. I picked up a small flounder on the rootbeer out near the third bar at 10:55am. Another dink trout for me at 11:04am. Sixteen minutes later another small trout for me. Argh! Enough of the small trout. Jeez! We cruised inside the first pass. Freaky said he saw a fish bust in the mangroves and to cast in there. I cast into the shade and was about 10 feet back out and my rootbeer got nailed. Turned out to be a decent little snook of 23 1/2" caught at 11:42am. Eight minutes later another small trout for me near a mangrove island.

We went deeper into LCRB. I look over and Freaky's rod is bent over and a good fish has grabbed his bait, a Tsunami paddle tail in gold flake I believe, and is screaming off with it. The fish put up a great fight and turned out to be a nice jack of about 16" caught at 12:17pm. Best fight of the day so far. Five minutes later Freaky hooks into another pretty good fish. After a good fight, he gets the fish to the boat and it is a mullet that actually ate the lure and wasn't foul-hooked. Crazy! We double up at 12:29pm when Freaky caught a nice 16" trout and I caught a small jack.

We went south in LCRB looking for decent water depth. I caught another small flounder at 12:56pm on the 3" smoke/gold halo. Freaky caught a 15" trout at 1:10pm and I caught his brother five minutes later. We worked back in there and finally made it down to a pass with deep water near one of the points. I told Freaky this was my jack spot as I had caught a jack almost every time I was there. Water moving out and wind coming in. We sat there and I was hopping my lure off the bottom and caught a 12" jack at 1:47pm. Headed back out to the flat. Very skinny out there now. Caught a lizard fish on the rootbeer at 2pm. Freaky caught a 15" trout on the Tsunami at 2:06pm. Struggled for a while. Caught an under-slot trout on the rootbeer at 2:59pm. Five minutes later I picked up a 15" trout on the same lure. Hooked into a snook just shy of 20" just a few minutes later. Another dink trout for me at 3:11pm just north of Big Pass.

A while later and south of BP, I hooked another under-slot trout at 3:52pm. Getting near the CRB channel and I caught a 15" trout on the electric chicken at 4:41pm. Dink trout for me at 4:55pm and 4:58pm in very shallow water still north of the channel. Cast out into about a foot of water with the electric chicken. Reeling in pretty quickly and my lure got destroyed. Set the hook and the fish came up and tried to shake it. Thought for sure it was a trout, but then I felt the power. It was a nice red that put up a great fight. Finally got her in the boat at 5:06pm. She measured 25 1/2".

About this time, Freaky discovers that the jig head he has been using was mislabeled. The package said 1/16oz, but it was clearly an 1/8oz. I gave him one of my 1/16oz jig heads with a mullet in rootbeer. No more strikes before the channel, so we went across to the flat south of it. Soooo skinny. We went around the corner into the first pass. I caught a snooklet at 5:58pm. Two minutes later Freaky hooks into a decent fish in the shade on my rootbeer mullet. It was a decent snook that was trying to make it to the safety of the mangroves. Freaky kept reeling and kept her out. She was still green when I scooped her up in the net. She measured 23 1/2".

I hooked another under-slot trout on the electric chicken at 6:14pm. We worked around back in there for a while. I put the spook jr in a narrow pass one time and was walking it back out. A fish nailed it. It was a decent red that I got near the boat. Unfortunately, he was hooked in the head. He lunged and got away. No more strikes after that so we headed for the ramp. It was a long day and we managed to catch quite a variety of fish.

Final Body Count:

Trout 22 (16 under-slot and 6 slot with largest being 16")
Snook 4 (all under-slot with largest being 23.5")
Reds 1 (25 1/2")
Jacks 3 (10-16")
Flounder 2 (both 10")
Lizard fish 1
Mullet 1
Improve Our Fishery - Practice Catch and Release


  • HarrySeaHarrySea Junior Member Plant CityPosts: 21 Greenhorn
    I love the Assassin's accounts. They're like reading a good novel that contains specific and practical information. Next time he's going to get that big trout!
  • Moken10Moken10 Senior Member DunedinPosts: 292 Deckhand
    I have to ask you.. As you say In 90% of your terrific reports... The RT mullet. I have asked all over for this soft plastic. Am I missing something? Where can I find it?
  • Bassin AssassinBassin Assassin Senior Member Riverview, FLPosts: 1,317 Officer
    I wrote a long response with some good info, but my post got deleted somehow. Just go here.
    Improve Our Fishery - Practice Catch and Release
  • Moken10Moken10 Senior Member DunedinPosts: 292 Deckhand
    Thank you sir!
  • Angler SystemsAngler Systems Senior Member West Coast, FloridaPosts: 919 Officer
  • GatorGlenGatorGlen Junior Member Posts: 23 Greenhorn
    I wrote a long response with some good info, but my post got deleted somehow. Just go here.

    i wrote a reply on this thread that got deleted as well...
  • SpoontasticSpoontastic Senior Member Posts: 127 Officer
    All on jigs huh? Its been completely opposite of my successful days. All on live greenies or pins. I had a little luck on my mirro dines. Landed a legit 15 lb Jack that ran straight to the groves. Thought for sure it was a good snook and then was amazed when the huge jack surfaced....
  • Bassin AssassinBassin Assassin Senior Member Riverview, FLPosts: 1,317 Officer
    Yea we worked it hard. Almost all on jigs. A couple on topwater. Big jacks are fun.
    Improve Our Fishery - Practice Catch and Release
  • hurricanehurricane Junior Member Posts: 22 Greenhorn
    How do you remember all that, you must take notes.....
  • Bassin AssassinBassin Assassin Senior Member Riverview, FLPosts: 1,317 Officer
    I use a small Sony portable voice recorder.
    Improve Our Fishery - Practice Catch and Release
  • TarpontineTarpontine Senior Member St Petersburg, FLPosts: 231 Deckhand
    All this time I thought you were the Rainman of fishing... Good work Dave, sounds like the new boat is still a "BOAT" of course (always destine for small tweaks and fixes), but treating you well.
  • Bassin AssassinBassin Assassin Senior Member Riverview, FLPosts: 1,317 Officer
    OMG no Greg. I used to write everything down, but thought why not get a recorder. Makes it so easy. Freaking boats. Love them but hate them.
    Improve Our Fishery - Practice Catch and Release
  • PafoxufPafoxuf Junior Member Posts: 23 Greenhorn
    As several has said I really appreciate your detailed reports. They offer up a lot of great information and ideas for others like myself who primarily fish with live bait. Question on the 3" mullet you are using, how do you fish them? Do you retrive them slow like a Gulp Shrimp (or at least that is how I fish those)? Do you twitch/jig them frequently on your retrieve? Any information or other sites to explore to gain knowledge on proper use of some of these artificials would be greatly appreciated. I know the biggest thing is going to be getting out and "finding the feel" on these but want to start off on the right page.

    Thanks again for the posts.
  • Bassin AssassinBassin Assassin Senior Member Riverview, FLPosts: 1,317 Officer
    You are welcome Pafoxuf. I have used Gulp Shrimp and it definitely works. It is just too slow for me. Gulp shrimp is kind of heavy also and the proper weight jig needs to be heavier than I like to fish when in shallow water. Shallow water calls for light lures. Another poster had asked the same question and my response got deleted. Here is what I wrote him about the retrieve and some other thoughts.

    Fishing soft plastics is pretty simple to me. That is why I love it so much. I just throw it out and reel it in. It is like fishing for bass with a spinnerbait. There are generally two ways of working jigs and paddle tails in my opinion. One is to cast it out and retrieve it at a decent clip just above the grass or bottom with an occasional pop forward with the rod tip or a quick pause and then begin reeling again. The speed of my retrieve is determined by the depth of water between the water's surface and the top of the grass. You have to reel it fast enough to keep it in this zone. Reel it too slow and it gets caught up in the grass. That is why the weight of the jig head and soft plastic is so important. The lighter the jig head, the slower you can reel the lure while keeping it out of the grass. The heavier the jig head and bait, the faster you have to reel to keep it out of the grass. The slower you can present a bait, the more natural it will look imo and the least amount of energy the fish will have to expend to catch it. I basically let the lure do the work. I want it to look as natural as possible. My lure is a baitfish just cruising along without a care in the world. I make sure it isn't overly erratic and don't impart too much action into the bait. I think too much erratic action can actually turn a fish off. Also, if a bait is too erratic, it makes it more difficult for a fish to engulf the lure when it strikes, resulting in missed fish. Say I am fishing a spook jr and a fish strikes, but doesn't get the bait. Why doesn't the fish strike again? I believe sometimes the fish thinks this is too much effort and goes to look for an easier meal. Fish want to expend the least amount of energy to eat prey. If the lure is moving too fast or too erratically, I believe they will look at it and say it is too much work to catch that and not enough payoff to justify the effort and pass on your presentation.

    The other way I have fished soft plastics is the hop technique. Throw it out and let it sink to the bottom. Pop the rod tip to have the lure jump off the bottom and let it fall back to the bottom. Reel in the slack and repeat. Most fish will hit on the fall. This is an effective technique also, but there is a tendency to get hung up in the grass more. That is why I opt for reeling the lure in as slowly as possible just above the top of the grass when possible.

    I believe there are different reasons fish hit lures. The first is a reaction strike. Many times a fish has struck right when my bait hits the water. The fish hears the splash, thinks it is a bait-fish and strikes it. Other times fish are sitting in the grass on the edge of a pothole and the bait swims by and he reacts and strikes. Other times a fish "feels" the lure swimming in the water with their lateral lines, tracks it down and strikes it from the rear. The fish may actually follow it for a while. That is why that pop forward with the rod tip or the quick pause during the retrieve will often entice those followers to strike.

    Sometimes I have hit some grass and I pop it forward to get it out of there and a fish strikes. A change in direction or sudden flight response (by reeling quickly) from your bait can also cause a follower to strike. Have you ever had a fish strike right before you get the lure to the boat or just before you lift the lure out of the water? I have and I believe it is because when a lure approaches the boat, it begins to rise in the water. This is a subtle change that can cause a follower to strike. At other times, when the lure is getting closer to the boat, I will begin to reel faster to make another cast. Some times this increase in lure speed will cause a fish that is following to strike. The fish may be thinking the "prey" is about to get away. Other times a fish may strike because there are other predators around and he wants to eat that bait before some other fish does. Competition for food is especially prevalent when fishing in a school of reds for example.

    Soft plastic paddle tails are extremely effective lures to use on the flats and should be a big part of your arsenal. The key is using the right rod,reel,line,leader, lure and presentation given the conditions and environment you are fishing.
    Improve Our Fishery - Practice Catch and Release
  • PafoxufPafoxuf Junior Member Posts: 23 Greenhorn
    Thanks for the information. Hope to put it to use soon!
  • barrynflabarrynfla Senior Member Tampa, FLPosts: 592 Officer
    Usual great report, Dave. Glad to see you and Mike get into some fish pretty frequently. Even small trout pull some and are fun to catch. Your post on your techniques is a classic. I've told you before that you're an excellent writer and would love to see more from you, my friend.

    I understand that Mike is back in Indiana and won't be back until next month?
  • freakyfreaky Junior Member Posts: 22 Greenhorn
    Back in Indiana chasing Whitetails and Grandkids. Fun for now but already miss Fl.
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