BarHopp'R Times

by Capt. Butch Rickey
Volume 1, Number 2, September 1995

I hope you enjoyed reading the first issue of the "BarHopp'R Times". As promised, this is the second issue, and as you'll see, lot's of fishing has been going on.

Who Caught `Em?

First up in July was Matthew and Jake Middleton, two brothers of 11 and 8 years old from Yulee, FL. They are a couple of great little fishermen, and caught over 35 snook, and 2 trout. Next up were Mitch Alverez and his party of four from Miami. Everyone, including young Alberto did great, and they landed 40+ snook, 3 trout, and 3 jacks.

My long-time friend and customer Lee Dugger, of Kissimmee, brought his gang over for some R & R. The first day his son Matthew and nephew Justin landed over 40 snook. The next day we only managed 4 big reds in Sarasota Bay, but they wore the boys out.

Next I took Dr. A. J. Peterson, a podiatrist from Sarasota, and my good friend Gaden Thomas to Pine Island for some snooking. We were cursed with a strong west wind that made it almost impossible to stand on the bow, but managed around 25 snook before Gaden started to get seasick. We went to the mangroves and caught a couple of reds, then went home.

Later, Terry Bair, of Sarasota, got 6 nice reds, and lost as least that many. Following Terry was an interesting fellow, Jim Spiker, a helicopter pilot for an oil company in the North Sea. Jim, originally from Texas, lives in Norway. He's an avid fly fisherman and does some guiding in Norway. The first fish hooked that morning, made a long run and then jumped completely out of the water. It was a beautiful snook of around 20 pounds. It spit the hook. But, Jim and his son Joni and his friend caught close to 40 snook, along with a nice trout and a jack. Young Joni told me after the trip it was the most fun he'd ever had, ever!

The next day Dr. Peterson, Gaden Thomas, and his friend Toni Berri, and I decided to go have some fun redfishing. Little did we know that we would get over 10" of rain that day. We fished in a driving rain until around 10:30, when a real serious storm cell moved in. We actually caught a couple of reds. We had trouble getting home because Sarasota was quickly flooding.

With July running out of days, I hooked up with Dave and Thomas Cosper, of Dunedin, Florida. Dave is with State Farm. Thom is a home builder. They are both very skilled anglers. And, typical of brothers, they were very competitive, and counted every fish. Their grand total was 49 snook, 1 trout, and half-dozen jacks. I don't remember who caught the most, but they each landed a 15 pounder, and Thom lost 3 others of the same size. About an hour into the trip, Dave gave me a great compliment when he said, "Capt Butch, Capt. Van Hubbard ain't got nothin' on you. this is fantastic!" Thanks guys, you made my day.

The snook will be moving off the beaches, probably in the next month. Large schools of big redfish have recently showed up in Sarasota Bay, but still haven't appeared in Pine Island Sound. John Franck, of Nokomis, got 9 nice reds to 28" on pilchards in north Sarasota Bay towards the end of July.

I spent seven days in early August down in Key Largo with friends. We fished, lobstered, and played tourist for a week. It was unbearably hot there. When it comes to fishing and beautiful waters, I don't think the Keys have anything on west coast Florida.

Returning from the Keys, I guided Nigel Morkel, of Zimbabwe, Africa, to over 30 snook off Sanibel Island. He said he'd been on a number of fishing trips since being here, but these were the first fish he'd caught. He had a blast.

Next up was Dr. DeMarais, from France. He didn't want to make the drive south, so against my recommendation, we fished Sarasota Bay in the red tide. There were fish floating everywhere, and we couldn't even keep out bait alive. Once it is confined in a livewell, the organism quickly kills it. Dr. DeMarais said that next time he would take my advice and fish where I recommend. The very next day, I guided Steven Sproat, of Surrey, England, to around 80 snook hooked, and 40+ landed off Sanibel. Steve has vacationed to Florida on four occasions, but said that the trip to Pine Island Sound was the first time he had seen the Florida he came to see, or caught the fish he'd heard about.

The later part of August brought lots of bad weather, and there were lots of weather cancellations, as well as more red tide to deal with in Sarasota Bay. A trip to the Buttonwood Harbor area of Sarasota Bay yielded a few reds, but we again had trouble keeping bait alive, and there were large dead redfish laying on the bottom all over the area. I don't know if they were outright victims of the red tide, or if they were just stressed badly by the organism and didn't survive being caught by another guide. It's a moot point. Dead is dead!


Man, am I glad to see fall just around the corner. We've had enough tropical weather systems, floods, red tides, and other pestilence to last several years. But we're not out of the woods yet. September is the most active month for hurricanes, and October isn't far behind. But, we will see it start to cool down a little, and we'll see the snook move off the beaches and out of the passes and into the backcountry. We should also see lots of big reds on the flats in the next couple of months.

I looked back into my computer records for September of 1994, recently. On September 1, 1994, John Objardle and Terry Middleton of Ft. Myers, and I caught over 50 redfish and 20 snook in one spot in Pine Island Sound. In fact, the whole month of September was great last year. October was also very good. It's also a time of year when the lowere low tides allow some great fishing for tailing reds.

I fished a redfish tournament last October, and my guys caught over 40 redfish, all tailers on an extremely low tide that lasted for most of the day. We didn't even place because most of our fish were to large to qualify in the 18 to 27 inch slot limit.

If you've never fished for tailing reds, I strongly suggest you try to do so before you die. For me, it's the most fun, gratifying, and asethetically pleasing way to catch a red, or any fish, for that matter. that's because it's sight fishing. You see the fish, pick the one you want to try to catch, make your quient approach, usually to within 20 feet or so, make your presentation, and if you've done everything right, you're rewarded with a fantastic visual battle in less than a foot of water. It's the greatest! I'll tell you in advance, though. It's not always easy, but it's very rewarding.

I expect the fishing for the next two months should be very good as long as the weather cooperates.

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