Mark your calendars for an event that you won’t want to miss! The $50,000 Pirate Poker Run kicks off with a Captain’s Party on Friday, August 17th at 7 pm at the Lock N’ Key. The fun continues poker run style on Saturday at 9 am with your choice of transportation – boat, motorcycle, kayak, car, SUP or pirate ship. Stops include Gasparilla Marina/Waterside Grill, Flounders Restaurant and Tiki Bar, Stump Pass Marina and Grill, Johnny Leverock’s and Cape Haze Marina. For more information on the event, check out www.piratepokerrun.org or call 941-474-5511. Arrgghh, can’t wait to see you there matey!
(FT. Myers to Charlotte Harbor) Back Country/Flats fishing has really picked up in Lee County in the areas from Ft. Myers Beach to Bokelia on Pine Island, including Matlacha Pass. I have had good success with Snook, Sea Trout, Crevalle Jacks, Sheepshead, Mangrove Snappers, Flounder and a couple of Permit. I am finding the Snook on the beaches, in the passes and in or at the mangroves on the high incoming tides. This should continue to be the pattern for coming months in regards to Snook.
Many of my recent charter customers have been enjoying what I call ‘Sport Flats Fishing’; catching Sea Trout, Crevalle Jacks and Redfish on only artificial baits. I am having most success as the last half of the tide rises over very shallow (2ft.) sand/grass flats surrounded by spoil islands and mangroves (doesn’t hurt to have an oyster bar or two around). All one has to do is lay a top water plug (Heddon Spook Jr., Bomber or other brand), jig a Gulp Shrimp in white or penny across the bottom and if you’re not hooking one every 5 casts or so, then change your method of retrieve or relocate the boat and repeat the process. One should be able to spot fish feeding on the surface. This is the time of the year to try the top water artificial baits. They will draw vicious strikes from virtually every game fish on the flats.
In regards to the Snappers and Flounder; fish the deeper cuts under mangroves as well as heavy structure areas with a mixed bottom. Work from the shoreline and mangroves out to about 4ft of water. The Mangrove Snapper and Flounder will both take a jig as mentioned above but prefer a small 2/0 circle hook with a small live ‘summer’ shrimp weighted just enough to get it down.
The last week of July should produce more good fishing. If I may be of assistance to offer advice or charter services, I am easily contacted at 239-357-6829, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my websites at www.fishfacecharters.com or www.captainterryfisher.com.
By “Fishin” Frank of Fishing Franks Fishing Store in Port Charlotte
Fishing in the Charlotte area is getting better, You still need to try and get that incoming tide for the best bite, but Red Fish along the west wall, as well as the east keys are biting. Cut bait, Lady fish or mullet are the best. Take a little frozen bait with you just in case you do not find fresh right away. Fresh is better, but fishing is better than looking for bait.
In the Gulf of Mexico this is the time for dolphin (mahi mahi). Start looking at about 20 miles out, they are thick along the weed lines, just the way you do it in the keys. Most of these are chicken or schooly dolphin. Small lures or even shrimp will work well.
Snook are moving into the area. More & more by the day. Really big Snook in Pine Island sound in the pot holes. Up the river big Snook are hitting at the narrows and by I-75
By Chris Forman WXCW, Channel 6 & Vice President of SWFMIA
Twenty-six years ago, my wife and I took residence in Cape Coral, on the water to become year round boaters. Snow shovels, ice scrappers and winter coats became a thing of the past. What we discovered very quickly was the boating paradise that lay in our backyard. In over two decades and having owned several different styles and sizes of boats, one thing has never changed, when you leave the dock the fun begins.
Heading north up the Caloosahatchee River, there are several nice restaurant choices at Marina Town in North Ft Myers and the Downtown River District in Ft Myers. A day comprised of a little lazy fishing (we’re not that good…doesn’t matter), cruising and a late lunch stop or early dinner seems to erase the stress of the work week. We often joke that the cost of boating is way less than the couch doctor, yet they have the same affect.
Heading down the river there is JK’s Riverstop at the Cape Coral Yacht Club. It’s bathing suit casual and full of boating friends you just haven’t met yet. Fun for kids and families, the picnic table laid back patio is a fabulous vista for a sunset and an ice cold drink and burger. Also down river are the The Joint Restaurant and Rumrunners at Cape Harbor, where casual outdoor or inside fine dinning await in a relaxing waterfront atmosphere.
Just a 30 minute boat ride south from home is Sanibel Island, a routine stop on Sundays for a swim with our floaty-toys, some Jimmy Buffet on the stereo and a picnic lunch on the back of our boat. Anchoring in waist deep water makes life easy and the view of the Gulf and lighthouse never gets old. It’s a great rendezvous spots for other boating friends. There is a no wake anchoring area, clearly marked by white buoys, that runs the length of the white sugar sand beach. My wife loves shelling and this area of Southwest Florida is heaven.
Estero Island, or Ft Myers Beach, as it’s commonly known, is also an excellent destination for lunch or dinner by boat with numerous boater friendly stops for the simplest of fare to full elegant meals. Several boating facilities and fuel stops are convenient as well.
Heading north up Pine Island Sound lies the barrier islands of Sanibel, Captiva, North Captiva and Cayo Costa with beautiful beaches that seem to go on forever on the Gulf of Mexico side. Inside the sounds lies some of the best fishing grounds in the country. The channel is well marked and easy even for the novice boater. The fishing for snook, trout, snapper, redfish and dozens of others is plentiful. It’s a haven for the serious sportsman or a fun day for easy fishing for mom, dad and the kids.
The Gulf side of North Captiva and Cayo Costa has thousands of my footprints in the sand. It never grows old for me, the hazel colored water and soft sand beach is where my toes belong. These islands are only accessible by boat, are home to waterfowl, a light tackle paradise and perfect for an afternoon snooze in the sand.
Summarizing for those of you who have yet to venture out by boat or don’t get out too often … even decades later it’s still fun, therapeutic and the stuff family memories and stories are made of. It’s the wind in what’s left of my hair, the sound of the water, the sheer pleasure of just driving my boat and my wife getting to read her book. So maybe we’ll see each other on the water next Saturday? I know I’ll be there. — Chris Forman.
Here are some pictures of the recent sinking of the Mohawk that I took about 30 miles out in the gulf from Sanibel Island, FL.
This will be our newest artificial reef. It will be used by lots of sea life as well as those interested in fishing and diving in the not too distant future. We had planned to dive it a couple of hours after sinking but the charges dislodged a lifeboat and a large stack which will take some underwater repair before it will be safe for future diving. Just as well as sea life will take up almost immediate residency.
There is much interesting history of this ship built in 1935 and used in many ways in the war effort. The final weather report from the Mohawk was used to finalize plans to launch the June 6, 1944 Normandy invasion.
(FT. MYERS BEACH TO CHARLOTTE HARBOR) Summer weather patterns are here in full swing with warm temperatures more times than not followed by a string of thunderstorms. So long as there is not lightning, I welcome the cool breezes that they produce from time to time. The only downside is that the wind usually picks up, presenting some casting discomfort until they subside or go away. One thing for sure is that an early start will keep you out of the afternoon heat and usually produce better strikes and more fish action than being in out there in the heat of the day.
This should be a good week to get out there and try your luck as the tides will be bigger with stronger currents in many areas. My last few charters are yielding a good variety of species from St. James City to Bokelia on Pine Island Sound. I have been working the passes for Snook, the Mangroves and oyster beds for Reds and the flats for Sea Trout. Small Threadfins have been my best producers for live bait, even though they have been smaller than I like. The ‘summer’ shrimp have been very small, but to offset simply place 2 on a hook!
Flounder have been good on a redheaded jig using Gulp Penny or White color 3” Shrimp. The Mangrove Snapper like them as well with both of these species being caught relatively easy around and on structure at 3-4ft. depths where the current is moving.
Off-shore activity is good when the wind permits using cut baits such as mullet, squid, Pinfish. Fish over structure and chum. Try dragging some ‘Stretch’ or other brand of lures while searching out new spots. When you get a hit; mark the spot, land the fish and investigate the bottom for any opportunity to anchor and fill your cooler. Try trolling the you baits on the outgoing tides around and through the passes as well.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has reopened the Moore Haven Lock to navigation after completing installation of the Manatee Protection System (MPS) July 14.
“Installation of the Manatee Protection System was completed three weeks ahead of schedule, allowing us to reopen the lock on Okeechobee Waterway to navigation,” said Al Bruns, project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District.
Work was initially scheduled to begin May 14, but was postponed twice after taking into consideration the concerns expressed by local business owners, recreational boaters and residents about the lock being closed during the height of boating season and the resulting economic impacts. The work, which began June 11, was scheduled to take approximately eight weeks to finish, was completed in approximately five weeks.
Installation of the MPS is part of the Manatee Pass Gates project. The primary goal of the project is to safeguard Florida’s endangered manatees at water control structures and navigation locks by modifying these structures with a MPS. Using a set of acoustic transmitters and receivers, the MPS detects the West Indian manatee and prevents the gates from closing and harming the protected animal.
(FT. MYERS BEACH TO CHARLOTTE HARBOR) Yes, the fishing is improving since my last report. The Snook are still the easiest to target on the beaches and in the passes as well as on the last half of the higher tide in the Mangroves. The stronger the tide, be it outgoing or incoming, the better. I suggest targeting deeper cuts and points as the fish are looking for relief from the heat. When you spot your quarry or have the intuition one is lurking around, make four to five repeat presentations in the target area. If you do get a ‘swirl’ or ‘slap’ at the presentation (especially if one is using artificial lures) odds are in your favor that they may not resist other opportunities. However, after you have caught a couple of fish from a school or made several passes, they get wiser and it is probably to your advantage to move onto another spot.
Likewise, the Redfish (‘Red’s’) will move up in the Mangroves on a high tide and in the deeper cuts as well until they move out just at the flats as the tide subsides. Based on my recent charters and other reports the ‘Reds’ seem to be more concentrated in the upper part of Pine Island Sound.
Gray Snapper and Flounder bites have also been good in the back country and they are tasty as well. The Sea Trout seem to always be active and I have had recent success with some Permit and Pompano on the sandy flats in about 4-6ft. of water. The bait and tactics that I am using are both live and artificial depending on the time of the day. I prefer artificial in the early morning hours and live/cut baits during the daytime.
By “Fishin” Frank of Fishing Franks Fishing Store in Port Charlotte
Charlotte Harbor fishing, Is truly great right now. Even though the Peace River went from a running depth of 1.5 foot to 9 feet in less than 3 days, it seems to have excited a chain reaction feeding event. Sharks, Tarpon, and Spanish Mackerel are thick throughout the Harbor.
The trick to these fish are last half of the incoming tide and the first half of the out going. Why you might ask? That brings in cool salty water from the gulf, the rivers running full are flushing a huge amount of bait & other foods. So when the tide is coming in, the fish are feeding. Cut bait Mullet, Catfish, Lady Fish all very good right now. The reef at Alligator creek and the middle hole are both holding huge amounts of fish right now.
So go out have some fun in the summer heat, the weather is not all that’s hot, so is the fishing.
(LEE COUNTY/FT.MYERS TO CHARLOTTE HARBOR) – Since tropical storm Debbie (‘Debbie’) I have had five (5) charters, including a Tarpon charter last Monday, only to report it is very slow going. My fellow Charter Captains are all reporting the same. I took my Tarpon charter client, Mr. Frank Mellusi from New Jersey, out to Boca Grande Pass to see if the Tarpon had returned only to catch a nine foot (9’) Nurse Shark. It appears the Tarpon may have moved up towards Tampa, as I only spotted a few rolling on the strong out-going tide and my fellow captains not seeing many of them around the beaches or other passes.
Moreover, ‘back country’ has not been producing satisfactorily as before ‘Debbie’. Baits have been hard to find and the shrimp are very small. However, I have been having most of my success in the early morning hours with artificial baits before the scorching heat. The Snook seem to be the easiest to locate and catch on the last half of the incoming tides, while the other species are hard to locate due to the higher water tides created by the full moon and aftermath of ‘Debbie”. However, the water is clearing up and as the water levels get back in place and the white bait returns, I feel the bite will improve.
Anyone who wants to go fishing should get excited as the balance of the month of July should prove to be very successful. So get out there and have a good time’ as the winds are calm, making for a ‘great day on the water.’ If I may be of any assistance give me a call at 239-357-6829/239-471-7332 or email me at email@example.com. Check out my website at www.fishfacecharters.com.