I had an opportunity to make a short visit to Florida’s West Coast in November.
Living on Florida’s East Coast has not given me much opportunity to learn first hand about the fishing opportunities on the “other side.” I was pleasantly surprised with what I found and now I want to go back when I can actually spend some time fishing.
The occasion was CB’s Saltwater Outfitters annual Fishing Extravaganza held on November 20, 2010 in Sarasota. The idea was generated in a conversation with FGA guide member Capt. Merrily Dunn. Merrily runs charters out of CB’s and has long been an advocate of Sarasota area fishing. She and another FGA member guide, Capt. Rick Grassett, who also runs charters out of CB’s were also participants in my book, Secret’s from Florida’s Master Anglers. To make a long story short, Merrily suggested that I come over to CB’s event and conduct a book signing.
I jumped at the invitation because it also gave me a great excuse to visit the area. The whole deal was arranged through Aledia and Mason at CB’s and I was added to the agenda. As it turned out another FGA guide member and book participant Capt. Ray Markham was a seminar speaker. He gave a great seminar on fishing the tides. Capt. Grassettspoke on fall fishing in Sarasota and Capt. Jay Withers gave a seminar on fishing Sebile Lures. The seminar schedule included Captains Jack Ryan and Jim Kopfler with a tutorial for beginning anglers. Free flyfishing lessons were given throughout the day by Captains Kelly Stilwell and Ed Hurst.
I demonstrated the new Sharkfin Reels from Castalia Outdoors, DOA Lures and RipTide Lures. The folks from Lasso Net provided a free net for a raffle which was won by a CB’s customer, Richard Fisher. Congratulations to Richard and thanks to all the other folks who stopped by to visit and sign up for the raffle. You can check out this unique net that telescopes into its own handle at http://thelassonet.com.
Following each seminar a handful of great fishing products were given as door prizes. All you had to do was be there to have a chance to win. Free hot dogs and cold drinks were available at lunch time. If you missed it this year make your plans now to attend next year.
The Spanish mackerel bite was off the charts during my weekend visit, according to many of the folks I talked too. Capt. Grassett verified the fact with a report from a day earlier where he was catching them on fly. Capt. Dunn also reported a great Spanish bite on her most recent charter.
As I suggested earlier, this visit only made me want to get back to the “other side” of Florida and do some fishing. The area is blessed with about every type of fishing opportunity you can think of. Trout and redfish abound on the shallow water flats and there are plenty of docks that harbor snook. As I talked with visiting anglers I heard stories of pompano, tarpon, bluefish, cobia, kingfish, grouper, permit and mangrove snapper. There is beach fishing, pass fishing and reef fishing too. What else could a serious angler ask for?
I also took time to stop by the Sarasota Convention and Visitor's Bureau to pick up some local information. Glad I did, because I ended up visiting the Mote Marine Aquarium. If you have not been there don’t miss it while in Sarasota. It is a true marine learning experience for visitors of any age. I want to thank Erin Duggan, Public Relations Director, for pointing me towards Mote for the educational visit.
For lodging I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express-Siesta Key/Sarasota at 6600 S. Tamiami Trail. The location is less than a mile from CB’s and the beach. I liked the convenience of the location, the clean and spacious room and especially the complimentary hot breakfast they serve every morning from 6:30 to 9:30. The selections include biscuits and gravy, bacon, fresh fruit, hot coffee and more. It was one of the best I have ever had. This is fishing friendly lodging that should please every member of the family.
I had a great weekend in Sarasota; talked to a lot of fellow anglers; had free hot dogs and cold drinks and signed a book or two. The only thing I will do different next time is bring the boat and plan to stay longer. Give Sarasota and her islands a try the next time you are looking for a relaxing get-a-way.