Crappie fishing at Lake Manatee this past week has continued to be outstanding with full coolers coming in each day.
Not only are we catching great quantities of crappie, but the size continues to amaze on each trip. On one such trip this week with three anglers from Pennsylvania -- Sonny, Bob and Larry -- the fishing action was spectacular enough that they decided not to keep any fish smaller than 11 inches. I happily agreed as I have never had a problem with catch and release on either my saltwater trips or my freshwater trips. Great guys and great anglers.
Right now, it's not unusual to hit pockets of fish where four or five rods will get hits about the same time and keep everybody running for a short period of time. As I have said before, October and November are the two best months of the year for Crappie at Lake Manatee. The big females are eating everything that swims in from of them in preparation for their coming spawn season.
We can probably expect this outstanding bite to continue through about the middle of December. At that time, the bigger females will start concentrating on moving to their spawning areas and their focus will change from eating to spawning. This is when you will start catching mostly the smaller males. Slow trolling at less than 1 mph is crucial. Hot colors this week were hot pink, black and white.
If you enjoy fishing for big crappie, now is your time.
Lake Manatee Fish Camp is having a Toys For Tots fundraiser and party at 1 p.m. Dec. 7. All the proceeds for this party are going to Toys For Tots. Let's get out and help the less fortunate kids of our area. Info can be had by calling Lake Manatee Fish Camp at 941-322-8500.
Capt. Mike Senecal
Pontoon Boat Charters.com
Anglers fishing with me on my Action Craft flats skiff, the Snook Fin-Addict out of CB's Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, had action catching and releasing false albacore (little tunny) in the coastal gulf and trout in Sarasota Bay on flies, CAL jigs with shad tails and DOA Deadly Combos and top water plugs during the week of Nov. 3.
Steve Ruffoni, from California, fly-fished the coastal gulf with me on Nov. 7. With a front passing through on the evening and a forecast for northwest wind, I didn't think fishing there would be an option. We were pleasantly surprised to find a northeast wind and fishable conditions in the gulf. Bait was widely scattered and a big swell made it tough to get on the fish but we kept working at it until he caught and released his first albie on my Grassett Snook Minnow fly!
Tripletail, Spanish mackerel and false albacore in the coastal gulf should be a good option now depending on conditions. Look for bait schools, diving birds or breaking fish to find albies and mackerel. Trout, blues, Spanish mackerel, flounder and more should be good options on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Also, look for reds and big trout mixed with mullet schools on shallow flats.
Capt. Rick Grassett
Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.