As water temperatures have dropped into the mid-60s, the crappie have started to make their annual move toward shallower water to prepare for the spawn.
This past week, I filleted two fish that had eggs in them already. These were early birds, but as mid-January rolls around, we'll find most females will be carrying eggs. As this process gets into full swing, the fishing will begin to get a little more difficult.
Also, instead of the big females we have been catching the past few months, we'll transition to catching the smaller male fish. The past three months, fishing has been incredible with the best fishing I can remember on the beautiful Lake Manatee. With the cooler water, I also will slow everything down. Trolling speed will drop down under ½ mph, and I'm fishing the smaller Ron's Zip Jig as opposed to the bigger Ron's Fish Bite. These smaller jigs with the slower speed are a little more subtle and give the fish a little more time to strike.
Blue and yellow are good colors for me right now. If the winds allow, sometimes the afternoon bite can be better than the morning bite as the sun warms the water just a little bit and can make the fish a little more active.
The Lake Manatee Fish Camp had to cancel the crappie tournament scheduled for Sunday due to bad weather in the morning. It has been rescheduled for this Sunday; for info call The Fish Camp at 941-322-8500.
Capt. Mike Senecal
Anglers fishing with me on my Action Craft flats skiff, the Snook Fin-Addict out of CB's Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, caught and released Spanish mackerel in the coastal gulf and Spanish mackerel, trout and jacks in Sarasota Bay on flies, CAL jigs with shad tails, DOA Deadly Combos and top-water plugs during the week of Dec. 9. With water temperatures back up into the low 70s following last week's warmup, the best action was with Spanish mackerel in both Sarasota Bay and the coastal gulf.
Ted Carman, from California, and Carey Ryerson, from Colorado, fished the coastal gulf off Sarasota and Sarasota Bay with me Dec. 8. We found some birds hovering over baitfish, deep in the water column in the coastal gulf, which developed into a good Spanish mackerel bite. They had steady action for about three hours, catching and releasing mackerel to 3 pounds on Ultra Hair Clouser flies, CAL jigs with shad tails and top-water plugs. We fished deep grass flats in Sarasota Bay for the last couple of hours, where they also had fast action with Spanish mackerel, trout and jacks on DOA Deadly Combos and Ultra Hair Clouser flies.
Anna Maria and Sarasota winter residents, Bill Morrison and Gary Marple, fished the coastal gulf with me on Dec. 9. We had a few shots at false albacore but they weren't staying up very long and were tough to get on. Conditions deteriorated, so we moved into Sarasota Bay, where they had steady action with trout and Spanish mackerel at Stephens Point on Ultra Hair Clouser flies.
Walt Poxon, from Minnesota, and Bill and Sue Poxon, from Sarasota, fished Sarasota Bay with me on the morning of Dec. 11. They had steady action with trout and Spanish mackerel to 3-pounds on CAL jigs with shad tails and DOA Deadly Combos. Tom Lamb, from Geneva, Switzerland, Roy Glah, from Sarasota, and his son Bob Glah, from Aspen, Colo., fished the same areas with me in the afternoon and had similar action.
Bob and Diane Boswell, from the Orlando area, fished Sarasota Bay with me on Dec. 14. A strong south-southeast wind made fishing tough but we fished deep grass flats on both sides of the bay where they caught and released Spanish mackerel, trout and jacks on my Grassett Deep Flats Bunny fly, DOA Deadly Combos and CAL jigs with shad tails.
Capt. Rick Grassett
Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.