Recently I fished with Marty Meakin (Ultralight) in one of the many areas he knows well, Palma Sola Bay and Perico Bayou in Bradenton. Marty is an accomplished angler which is evident by his solid current 1st place lead in the Kayak Fishing Classics series. He is a member of the Hardcore Kayak Angler’s Club and competes in many tournaments throughout the state. Marty is a Branch Manager at a fastener company, and when he is not working, he is on the water honing his skills.
Palma Sola Bay, Perico Bayou and Anna Maria Sound all connect to the most southern area of Tampa Bay by the mouth of the Manatee River. All the elements of a great fishery are here. Oyster beds, grassy flats, mangrove shoreline and moving water create an excellent habitat for snook, redfish and trout.
We met up on the Manatee Ave causeway in West Bradenton. The weather forecast looked dismal and it had been raining here the previous day and most of the night. We both had our rain gear on expecting to get wet. Much to our delight, the weather was clear and turned into a sunny day. There are many areas to launch here, and we entered the bay at first light. Marty said “we should see fish right away”, and he was right. In the early morning light I could see mullet all over the flats and mixed in were bigger fish moving around. We started fishing immediately and worked our way out into the bay. We were both using top water lures, Zara Spooks to be exact. We both were having blowups and followers, but the fish refused to take. We came across a deeper depression on the flat and our luck changed a bit. Marty landed a respectable redfish and I had a big one snatch up my bait and made the drag scream, but he got off. We both caught small trout as well.
I switched to a DOA Glow shrimp and continued on to some oyster beds and a deeper part of the flats area. There were plenty of redfish everywhere and I had several follow my bait refusing to commit. I was in a wide area between two islands and noticed two waders and both were hooked up. I paddled over to see what they had. There I met Jake Batey and Motte Morrison. Jake just landed a snook and Motte landed a flounder. We talked for a while and I could tell these guys really knew the area. I caught back up with Marty and we headed in.
At the end of the day we had a couple of reds, some trout and a lot of memories. While at the launch I asked Marty about some of his rigging. He has a unique fishing rod holder integrated in his kayak rack. He has PVC tubes bolted onto the cross bars and the rods hang freely and secure. It’s certainly better than laying them in a truck bed being bashed by the other gear.
Palma Sola Bay is accessible from the Manatee Ave causeway. Take I-75 to exit 220 and head west. It’s around 11 miles to the causeway and there are many places to launch. Keep heading west to Anna Maria Island and there are more launches around the bridges.