Though many anglers tend to think of the northern reaches of Miami's Biscayne Bay as urban and not very fertile, this is simply not true. Indeed, this very misconception amongst many marine anglers visiting Florida's Gold Coast has allowed "North Bay" to flourish due to the lack of boating and shorebound angling activity.
North Bay receives a good influx of tidal saltwater from Government Cut on the south end and Haulover Cut on the northern fringes. This part of the bay is enclosed by Miami Beach to the east and is blessed with some extensive grassflats that hold good numbers of seatrout, snook, tarpon, jack crevalles, barracuda and mangrove snappers. But as in all fishy places, these cold blooded creatures are subject to the laws of water temperature. In Biscayne Bay, extremely hot or cold temperatures tend to put fish off the feed. The moderate water temperatures of mid- to high-70 degrees are characteristic of springtime and are ideal for gamesters to feed close to the surface and even right on it.
One of the most wonderful ways to pursue seatrout, jacks, barracuda, snook and tarpon is through the use of topwater plugs. Without exception, I use braided line and stout graphite rods to give vigorous rod tip induced action on my spinning tackle. My baitcasters are spooled with cofilament line, which also transmits lots of power from the rod tip to the plug.
On two recent days, I fished the area firstly with my friend Capt. Martin Carranza and on the second day on my own. On the first morning, which started out flat, I was armed with a medium sized Yo-Zuri popper on my plug rod. As the sun came up and we began blind casting a 3-foot deep grass flat, I saw a large area of disturbed water coming towards us and surmised they were big jacks. I made a perfect cast about 10 feet in front of the wakes and popped the plug. It disappeared in a huge splash. Ten minutes later, I had a nice 15-pound jack alongside my skiff for pictures and release. When we looked up after that, the school was long gone. We motored onto the crown of the flat to pursue trout and Martin tied on a Devil's Horse plug. We worked over the area for a half hour but the increasing winds made working the plugs difficult and we called it a day.
On the second day, I ran my skiff to a shallow grassflat east of downtown Miami. The morning not only started calm but stayed calm. This gave me the chance to spot any rolling tarpon and it paid off well. Using the same Yo-Zuri popper, I jumped three tarpon around 60 pounds and released one around 40 pounds. On my way back to the boat ramp, I was again indelibly sure that catching a gamefish on a topwater is an experience like no other.