This is that story….
I could hear the slight pitter patter of rain hitting the window after the alarm clock ripped me from my slumber….Not really a sound you’d like to hear at 4:30 am when you’re getting up to go fishing.
The phone rang at 4:55 am….Keith on the line with “It’s sprinkling here…what do ya think?” I said “Yeah. It’s weird here too” but, he decided to come over anyway. When he arrived at my house at 5:15, I showed him the radar. Heavy storms to the south around Sarasota and to the north along Palm Harbor coming ashore from the Gulf but, clear as far as the radar could see in our area. We had a good window, so we loaded up and headed out. The past few days had brought much needed rain and thunderstorms, but I was hoping it would hold off a while in order to get some fishing in.
The area we were fishing on this day was the same area we’d been working the last few weeks. Last week was disappointing but it was because of a less than desirable tide situation but, the week before had been good. This time, high tide was at 7:35 am, so the conditions were favorable for a typical Florida summertime redfish pattern: rising tide, first light, and prey items in large numbers in an area featuring oyster dotted mangrove islands with deep edges, shallow grass flats with deep water all around, and 4-5 feet grass flats if the fishing was tough. The water temperature had reached 90 degrees this week but, I was hoping that the overnight rains had cooled it down a bit. We could see distant lightning to the south and large thunderstorm cells to the north in the early morning gloom as we were getting our kayaks rigged at the put in, but we didn’t hear any thunder, so we got into the water at 6:00 am.
We wanted to stay close to the put in just in case the weather shifted, so we fished a shallow flat between 2 islands. The cloud cover helped extend the low light period that I like to fish. The water was a bit choppy, so I went with a noisy Storm Chug Bug popper. It wasn’t long before I had a large ladyfish tailwalking across the waters surface to the kayak. A few casts later yielded a near miss boat side and a curious trout 3 inches away from the lure giving it the hairy eyeball. Keith picked up a few keeper sized trout on a DOA CAL Shad 309 Glow/Gold Rush Belly (This color has been working really well for him as of late) but nothing else to speak of….so we moved over to fish the mangrove islands….
These mangroves are studded with oyster bars. There is usually a “hump” of oysters about 10 feet out from the base of the prop roots, forming a 12 inch deep pool of water that extends into the maze of underwater jungle as far as the eye can see. The last time we were in this situation, there were redfish coming out of the trees with the dropping water level.
The wind had died down a bit as we worked the shoreline. I was using a measles DOA Shrimp and the Chug Bug without results. Where were the damn fish?
After a few hours of working these mangrove shorelines without any fish, we moved to deeper grass flats. Keith caught a few more keeper trout. I was super frustrated by this time. I made a few whiney Facebook status updates, and I apologize to everyone about that. I spend a lot of time researching and scouting and it’s not as if I just started fishing. Fish can be found in the same places whether you’re in a kayak or flats boat or even wading, so I was having a hard time with the fact that we weren’t finding any fish. If we were going to be skunked, I at least like to know why.
After arriving home in a somber mood, Keith said there was a story on the local news about how the recent rains had changed the salinity level in the ICW and forced the redfish out….
Then it all made sense to me….even though we weren’t fishing an area that was adjacent to a river mouth, I can see how the rain COULD have an affect on the salinity level. The water was a bit more murky than normal. Sand holes in the grass appeared orange rather than yellow.
I’ll just store it away in my log and try to remember how rain can affect where I’m fishing….
About the Author: Rob DeVore is a Pro Staff Member at YakAngler.com and an outdoor writer from the Tampa Bay area. He writes for various fishing publications and is the host of BadBackcast Live Show at 8pm E on the Kayak Fishing Radio Network. Rob also is the author of ABadBackcast.com