Day 3: Steinhatchee with Capt. Tommy Thompson

Our day started off pretty early. We met Capt. Tommy Thompson at the Sea Hag Marina at 7:30 a.m. The weather really didn’t make this day easy.

At our first fishing spot we measured the wind and it was averaging about 18.5 knots out of the southwest. This is the worst wind possible for the area because there is no way to find shelter or a lee, plus the wind pushes a lot more water in than usual. It was mainly cloudy and there were big thunderheads to the west. We made the absolute best of it though!

This is my first time seeing this part of the coastline. I was expecting a sandy beach because that’s all that I’m used to. Instead, it was all marshland and oyster beds. There’s no surf break here because it’s such a gradual drop off to Gulf, approximately 1 foot per mile.

Capt. Tommy Thompson is a great fisherman with years of fishing, writing and photography experience. It was pretty evident right away. Cooney and I were so grateful to be able to spend the day on the water with him. He was a fun guy to hang out with too!

He was determined to get us on the fish for some photo opportunities, so we headed north to a hole that had been producing a good redfish bite. But it yielded nothing other than redfish bait, also known as pinfish.

We gave up on that spot pretty quickly and moved along to a nearby grass flat. We drifted along with a drift sock and finally found the fish!

I caught the first couple of trout. They were on the small side so they were released, but they were fun to catch. All of our fish were caught on Corky plugs. Then the boys had to show me up and catch the big fish—a 4 ½-pound trout.

We ended up with a nice trout and Spanish mackerel in the cooler.

Cooney and I were in love with his 18-foot Shipoke flats boat. It took us everywhere we needed to go and handled the rough water very well. We were super jealous of his Yeti Cooler. Trying to keep ice cold has been such an annoyance on this trip.

The weather finally got to where we couldn’t stand it anymore so we decided to kick it back to shore. Cooney got covered in water and it was obvious when he was fishing. We were all soaked and disgusting by the time we reached the marina.

We said our goodbyes to Capt. Tommy after cleaning our fish, then we headed to Rachel’s (Tommy’s suggestion), where they cooked up the fish we had just caught. They had wi-fi internet, so we took advantage of the opportunity to upload some pictures.

We had a fun and interesting trip, but by then we were dying to get back to the cabin to shower and prepare for the next leg of our journey. We took our time cleaning up and packed our stuff. We wanted to get on the road, but decided a nap was completely necessary. We are so in love with this house and this area that we don’t want to leave.

Tommy suggested that we check out Cedar Key on our way down to Sarasota. We walked the main strip and the fishing pier. But nothing much seemed to be happening. We enjoyed the area–it was beautiful–but it has an entirely different feel from Steinhatchee. I’d guess it’s more geared toward tourism which isn’t really our cup of tea. We may have found more local flavor if we had more time but we had to move along.

We got down to Sarasota around 8 p.m. and decided to pass up our friends’ offer to go to Siesta Key. We were exhausted and wanted to rest up for our trip with Capt. Ray Markham tomorrow at Terra Ceia. We stayed at Jeremy’s aunt’s condo on the Gulf in Longboat Key. We didn’t expect to have the kitchen available because we were warned it was in the middle of a remodel. But we weren’t expecting not to have running water due to the remodel. Our stay there was short and sweet and full of sleep.

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  • Jae Lee

    Cedar Key is home to some of the biggest and ugliest tailing black drum. You guys should try it!

  • personguest

    Hi Florida Sportsman, do you know Capt. Tommy Thompson’s Facebook profile? I am hoping he can help us do inside sportfishing the right way.