January 9, 2008

Grass Flats of Biscayne Bay Offer Bountiful Fishing in Heart of Miami

ON BISCAYNE BAY, Fla. _ Believe it or not, some of the best sea trout fishing in South Florida is in the heart of Miami.

Despite all the people and pollution, North Biscayne Bay still has some lush beds of sea grass that support a healthy population of sea trout.

As long as you don't mind the traffic on the roads and on the water, the bay is the place to be if you're looking to take home a limit of trout now that the season is open after a two-month closure.

Getting to the boat ramp at Haulover Marine Center in North Miami Beach was the toughest part of a recent morning sea trout outing with George Poveromo and Carl Grassi. Once I got off Florida's Turnpike at the Golden Glades interchange and headed east, it was stop-and-go traffic all the way.

Travel was a lot smoother when we got into Shallow-Water Marc, Poveromo's 22-foot Mako bay boat. We stopped to buy several dozen live pilchards from one of the bait boats, then headed south to one of Poveromo's favorite grass flats, which was bordered by some relatively deep holes.

The flat isn't far from South Beach and the grandiose island homes of some of Miami's most famous celebrities. Although the vehicle traffic on the nearby MacArthur Causeway was steady and boats ran up and down the channel to the east of us, we had the flat to ourselves.

Poveromo, who grew up in North Miami fishing for trout with his father, has a simple strategy for locating the fish. He lets his boat drift across the flat while casting pilchards suspended under Cajun Thunder floats and occasionally tossing out a handful of live pilchards as chum. When one of us got a bite, he'd put down the boat's Power Pole and thoroughly cover the water on succeeding casts.

The trout bite wasn't as red-hot as on previous trips for Poveromo, when every other cast produced a fish, but it was steady enough to keep us on the flat for several hours. Typically, after one of us caught a trout and the Power Pole went down, we'd catch a few more. When the bite slowed, Poveromo would re-position the boat for a new drift.

The strategy produced several chunky trout and a number of smaller ones. We caught them on Penn spinning outfits spooled with 8-pound Sufix Superior monofilament with 30-pound Sufix Invisiline fluorocarbon leader. Poveromo said the reason for the heavy leader was just in case we hooked some big snook, which occasionally venture onto the flats.

The pilchards were hooked across the nose or behind the anal fin on 2/ 0 Gamakatsu inline octopus circle hooks, which made for easy releases. The baits were fished about two feet below the Cajun Thunders, which would be pulled underwater when a trout ate the bait.

Although most trout fishing with floats and popping corks is done with live shrimp, Poveromo prefers live pilchards.

"You have a better shot at bigger fish with pilchards," he explained, adding that pinfish and mangrove snapper are less likely to mess with pilchards, but they will feed aggressively on live shrimp.

The organizer of the Salt Water Sportsman National Seminar Series as well as the host of George Poveromo's World of Saltwater Fishing on ESPN2 and a senior editor for Salt Water Sportsman magazine, Poveromo has seminars in Tavernier, Coral Springs and Titusville this year. The seminars will cover trout fishing in Florida Bay, Biscayne Bay and the Indian River, respectively.

When it comes to Biscayne Bay, wind and weather conditions determine where Poveromo fishes. If the wind is blowing hard out of the east, it makes it tough to fish flats on the western side of the bay, so he'll fish the east side, where the condos and hotels help block the wind, and vice-versa.

"That's the good thing about the bay," he said. "You can pretty much always find a flat that's out of the wind."

And chances are good that the flat will have a bunch of hungry sea trout.


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