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Living in North Alabama I look forward to the opportunities when I can get a little salt in my veins, so I took a week off in March to visit my family and do some fishing down in Florida. Once my niece caught wind I was going kayaking, she asked me to take her. I didn’t mind since she was visiting from New York City and kayaking isn’t something she gets to do very often.

So we found a small kayak rental shop on the lower section of the Manatee River. The Manatee is a blackwater estuary that flows into the southern end of Tampa Bay. Having never been on this river, I was looking forward to fishing some new water. The owner of the shop gave me the low down on some fishing holes and said there was a good chance of picking up a snook or redfish.

The fishing was slow but the scenery more then made up for it. The trees reflected on the glass smooth water as we headed down river on an outgoing tide. Although there were some signs of civilization, the river still had a very wild feeling to it. We reached the recommended fishing spot and on the first cast I caught my one and only fish, a small Jack Crevalle. Although it was not very big, it was ripping drag like a champ. Our trip ended with us watching a group of manatees make their way up river and into the lagoons as the tide came in.


Our other trip that week took us out into the mangroves of Palma Sola Bay. Palma Sola is also on the southern end of Tampa Bay just off of Anna Maria Sound. The unique thing about this excursion was paddling through the mangrove tunnels. The “tunnels” are fairly deep channels, no more than a few feet wide that allows the water and aquatic fauna to move in and out of the mangroves on the tide.

Fishing the back waters of the mangroves was a lot like fishing the rivers back home. Find a point with some cover and flowing water then work the eddies. I was able to pick up several snook in the 18 to 20 inch range as we paddled around. Once the tide started coming in, we made our way back out in the bay. After sightseeing for a while, we happened upon a cove that had feeding reds and larger snook. Had several frustrating strikes from reds that I couldn’t hook up with and one large snook that broke my line after a brief fight. Eventually I landed a snook the was just over 27 inches before we had to head back in.

Overall it was a successful trip. Got to spend time with family, they got an opportunity to get out on the water and see why I love kayaking so much, and I added two new species to my list. Definitely can’t wait till my next trip down there and more time on the water.

– Robert Brown