“Random catch” is the phrase of the weekend. The weekend started with a 4 AM trip to Racetrack to fuel up the boat. Then we headed down Manatee Road to our normal bait shop in route to the Manatee River boat ramp. The day is fairly status quo and the weather was calm at 85 degrees, with 83 degree water. We pick up 10 dozen shrimp and a net full of pinfish from the local live bait boat hanging out at the end of the channel…
It’s a thirty minute boat ride from the mouth of Manatee River to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The water was fairly calm, little boat traffic for a Saturday, with winds from the north west. The boat was anchored facing west with an incoming tide. We anchored just 10 feet away from the bridge’s breakwaters and started fishing, around 9 AM at this point.
Three casts in with a 2 OZ weight on a 40 lb leader, the live bait sinks quickly to about 30 feet. Just before the bait hits bottom you can feel it flutter. Then you slowly reel in so the bait keeps swimming. Then BAM!!! a hit. But it’s not normal, not a grouper or snapper that’s normally in the area. The fish is lazy and only pulls for a few seconds, then falls flat. A sluggish reel up and all of a sudden you have this fish. A nice sized flounder, almost the size of a small halibut in the Pacific. But I’ll take it. This fish was 20 inches and I’ve never caught a flounder this large. They typically stay around 16-18 inches in Tampa Bay.
This will be tasty baked in the oven or blackened in a pan. Either way, this fish was unexpected where we anchored and will be feeding a family so I can’t ask for more.