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The Amazing Alafia River

Launched at the Riverview Park boat ramp around 9:45am this morning. Tide was low and headed under the 301 bridge. Worked the bridge pilings a bit but no strikes. My lure of choice again was the Rip Tide Mullet in shad flash shad on a 1/8 oz gray jig head. I caught all fish on that lure today though I did throw a spook and a Mirrolure shad in rootbeer. Started working boat docks that had maybe 3-4 feet of water under them. These were located between 301 and I-75. Caught a nice 23 inch redfish under a boat dock at 10:20 am. Picked up a 17 1/2 inch snook under another boat dock. Caught three more small snook under or around docks before I caught another nice redfish at 22 1/2 inches underneath another boat dock at 11:31 am. Had a good snook on under a dock. Got her out and fought her. Had the rubber net ready as she headed to the boat. She shook her head and spit the lure. Caught a 12 inch red under another dock at 11:59 am. Picked up a 17 inch snook under a boat dock at 12:03pm. Now past I-75 bridge and caught a 16 inch redfish under the first dock on the left at 12:45 pm. Still working docks and shade. Threw in front of one dock and bringing the lure next to the dock and it got hammered. The fish jumped right next to the dock and it was a very big snook. She dove under the dock and wrapped me around a post and cut my braid. I thought that was my chance at a large snook for the day but I was wrong. Re-rigged and caught a 20" snook under the same dock at 1:30 pm. Lost another snook on the same dock. Then caught a 25 1/2" snook around the same dock at 1:36 pm. They were stacked in there. A long dry spell of almost two hours. Finally got a lot closer to the Williams Bridge. Was working the north side of the river now. Working the bank and came down to a finger of land near the power lines. At the end of the point was a cluster of mangroves. At 3:30 pm I cast perpendicular to the point and was slowly reeling it in. Felt a definite thump and set the hook. A monster snook exploded from the water, headed towards the boat and almost tail-walked into the boat. I knew this fish was still green so I loosened the drag and held on for dear life. These fish are so smart. She headed right back for the mangroves to try and wrap me. I palmed the spool and luckily got her out from under there. It was a tug of war for the next five minutes. My adrenaline was pumping. I knew the line was going to get cut. Finally after what seemed like eternity I slid the fish into the rubber net but just barely. Man what a fish. The best fight from a snook I think I have ever had though I have caught bigger snook. The fish measured 31 inches and weighed right at 9 pounds. Clamped the bocas on her and revived her. She swam away to be caught another day. Worked a lot of bank and docks for almost the next two hours but no fish. Was throwing a spook in the shade and something extremely large exploded on it but missed. I could see it following but did not strike again. Almost 5:30 pm so I knew I had to get back to the ramp. Decided to hit that one dock that had all the snook on it before. Tide was outgoing so positioned the boat down current and skipped the shadflash under the dock. Second cast and it got nailed. Fish was very accomodating and came out from underneath it. Another good snook. She fought well and got her in the net. She measured 25 1/2 inches. Worked the dock a bit longer but no strikes. Cranked the motor and headed for home. The Alafia River continues to impress me. There are some good quality fish in that river. I love working boat docks and there are plenty on that river. You may go a long stretch without getting a bite but then you might come up to one that is loaded with fish. Try skipping some jigs up under some docks. It can be frustrating. You are going to get hung up and lose jig heads. You are going to lose fish that wrap you around posts. Yet, you can't catch them unless you put the lure in front of them. Under boat docks is where monsters lurk. :fishing
Improve Our Fishery - Practice Catch and Release


  • SnookmeisterSnookmeister Posts: 1,035 Officer
    SWEET DAVE!! I was up in the Palm river and the Port today and had nothing but lady fish. Got a few snooks myself afterwards at Marjorie park. Solid report man, I loved reading your story, I could visualize so well.
    Catch 'em and Release 'em!
  • snookwhisperersnookwhisperer Posts: 229 Deckhand
    Dave, great job! I keep hearing Alafia is dead due to toxic run-off.
  • Bassin AssassinBassin Assassin Posts: 1,317 Officer
    That acid spill took place in 1997. I fished for bass and bream within the last year and struggled to catch anything. I contacted the FWC and asked them for the studies conducted and whether they re-stocked the river for bass and bream. They didn't and said the feeder creeks would replenish the population. I don't think it ever has. According to the old timers I talked to that river used to have monster bass in it. All those fish died I believe but the saltwater fishing is very good. I don't fish north of the 301 bridge but that is just my preference. There may be snook and other saltwater species up there, but I am having luck where I am fishing. Believe me, the Alafia is alive and well, at least for the saltwater fishing.
    Improve Our Fishery - Practice Catch and Release
  • iceman01iceman01 Southern Illinois Posts: 1 Greenhorn
    I may be moving to Gibsonton and have a bass boat will I be able to use it there??
  • Gypsies CallGypsies Call Posts: 265 Deckhand
    Welcome to the forum... I see this is your first post. Your reference post is an oldie, but goodie, for sure!  BA is still around and still fishes the Alafia.  His posts are very informative to learn from. I've only fished that area once so don't know much about the area. However, it is a beautiful stretch of water, and the information that BA provides in his post is just a relevant today as it was then.  Best advice to give - read the forum posts, read, re-read, ask questions, and read some more... since you pulled a post from 2011 to reference, thats a good start... lol. Google maps is a great tool also to plan your trips.  Finally, its absolutely amazing what is posted on youtube today... I think these three tools have been key to my success on the water. 

    Regarding your boat - the main difference between a bass boat and a boats such as a flats boat is that the flats boat is more tailored for salt water... and this means usually the trailer too.  From a size, depth of draft, and maneuverability with a trolling motor, a bass boat would be just fine.  That said, even though the Alafia is brackish water, it still has a high salt content, so anything not stainless or aluminum will rust or corrode.  Many of the bass boats I've seen have painted steel trailers.  Again, salt water is the biggest issue. But, like anything else, its all about the maintenance. If you wash everything down, keep things oiled and lubricated, your rig should be just fine.

    Again, welcome to the forum.  Best of luck!
    Gypsies Call
    SWO LCDR, USN-Retired
    Sea Chaser 200 Flats Series
    Old Town Predator Kayak
  • Bassin AssassinBassin Assassin Posts: 1,317 Officer
    edited February 2019 #7
    This is a blast from the past and was when I started getting into sw fishing. I was fishing out of a 12' leaky jon boat that had an old 9.8 hp Merc on the back and a tm on the front. It was a mini-bass boat that did me right. Good times!
    I was a bass fisherman all my life b4 getting here. My suggestion would be to sell that bass boat and get a flats boat. A bass boat is not made for fishing in a sw environment. You can fish both fresh and salt with a flats boat. Being in Gibsonton, you will have close access to some excellent sw fishing. Once I got into sw fishing, I have never looked back. It is easier and so much more fun than bass fishing in FL imo. Get a flats boat. You won't regret it.

    Improve Our Fishery - Practice Catch and Release
  • FlfatsnookFlfatsnook SarasotaPosts: 4 Greenhorn
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