(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 email@example.com 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
(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.
(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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out my website at www.fishfacecharters.com.
By “Fishin” Frank of Fishing Franks Fishing Store in Port Charlotte
June 28, 2012 – The water has turned black in the canals along the river, which is to be expected, after days of pounding rain, & wind which is like using a big stick to stir all the muck and methane from the bottom. This can be a really good thing if it helps to get some of the muck from the bottom stirred into the water and hopefully flushed out of here. The tides today are starting at a .7 going up to a 1.7 then back down to a .2 this build up and strong outgoing flush is just what we need. The water should be much clearer tomorrow, and the bite should be good for the weekend.
The gulf it is going to take a little longer to settle the muck out of the water, the waves pounded the shore lines and dragged tons of sand from where it was. Everything is going to change in the gulf, but by Sunday, if we do not get any strong winds between then & now, look for some great fishing. Gag Grouper opens this weekend the 1st of July and they have been on many of the near shore reefs. The best thing about Gags is they eat anything, Squid, frozen bait fish, Live fish, If you drop it they will eat. Inside the harbor I would check the reef at Alligator creek or at the Placida Trestle (live bait fish is going to be your best bet). If you are using dead bait be sure to bring chum, get the smell going, makes them hungry. Chumming for Gags inside is the way to make it happen.
Snook are thick in all of the canals, and the spillways are on fire. Any color lure (as long as it’s white!) are making the Snook crazy. Cast & get a hit. This is something you need to try now! Read this and get it together, it won’t last long, a real barn burner. Go to a spillway where fresh water flows into the Saltwater. Start at the top with your lure, Cast until you catch a Bass. Then the easy part, start casting the base of the Dam and catch your Snook. Same spot. Same lure. How cool is that!! Like I said, this is a limited time offer, when the water quits flowing over the dams, it is over. Go out have some fun, enjoy getting back outside, Be safe when walking up to the spillways.
(LEE COUNTY) Summer weather brings out some of the best fishing opportunities our areas from North Ft. Myers Beach to Boca Grande Pass have to offer.
INSHORE: Snook are everywhere along the beaches and in the passes of Sanibel, Captiva, North Captiva and Cayo Costa Islands feeding on schools of glass minnows and scaled sardines. Spinning casters, Fly fishermen/women are walking and stalking the beaches for an opportunity to land one of the most sought after gamefish for the pure excitement of the fight and bragging rights they provide. Spinning casters using artificials should find success using suspending twitch baits, small white bucktail jigs and X-Raps to name a few. Fly-fishers have had success with numerous patterns such as small deceivers and Clauser minnows. Be sure your equipment is up to the task. Spinning casters will want 15-20 lb line test and they along with the Fly-fishers should consider a 40lb Fluorocarbon leader. Remember to stay back away from the water for best results.
Those with flats and bay boats will want to try angling close to the mangroves in Pine Island Sound as well as on the inside of the Outer Islands along structure on the last half of the incoming or the first half of the outgoing using whitebait for best results;
Redfish may be targeted in the same areas as the Snook on the first part of the outgoing tide using Pilchards, Threadfin Herrings or large shrimp on a 2/0-4/0 hook either under a cork or free line. As the tide subsides, move out to the oyster bars and troughs. Artificial baits such as, Gulp Shrimp (Penny color) on a 1/8 ounce redheaded jig, gold spoons and soft plastics should provide results. I prefer to fish the early morning or late evening hours for both Snook and Redfish, so long as the tide is moving. This provides the best opportunity to break out the top-water lures and experience vicious strikes from both species. My tackle preference for both Snook and Reds are somewhat similar being 7 ½ ft medium to medium power heavy rods w/extra fast action tips matched with Stradic 4000-5000 FI Shimano reels loaded with 20 lb braid tipped with 3 ft. 25-30lb Fluorocarbon leaders depending on the type of bottom and density of the structure I am fishing;
Trout are everywhere. Deep V, deck and pontoons alike can get in on this action on the grass flats of Punta Rassa and in Pine Island Sound. Use the same bait and equipment mentioned above only with lighter leaders (15-20lb), a light jig head on a 2/0 size hook positioned about 3ft under a popping cork on an incoming tide in 3-6 ft. of water. You will lose a few however, as the Spanish Mackerel attacks the bait. To help prevent this, go with a heavier leader or a small wire leader attached directly to your main line understanding that this may cost you a few strikes;
Mangrove Snappers are still around and can be found under about any mangrove structure. They love shrimps free-lined or under a cork so long as the bait lays close to the bottom or around the structure.
Tarpon are here but the reported catches have been off as well as the bite. I recently spoke with Mr. Bob Thomas, President of the Cape Coral Tarpon Hunters Club and agreed that June was not as productive as we had hoped. Attributed in part to the early warm waters of April and May and the seemingly early arrival of the Tarpon; the south and west winds have played havoc on the fishing. He reported that live bait fishermen/women are using Threadfins and Pinfish under a cork with the most success in the passes and around bridges. Dead bait fishermen and women are relying on catfish fillets, Spanish Mackerel chunks and ladyfish for the most part. Not a lot of Tarpon sightings of late in the Caloosahatche River. However, as the weeks progress the Tarpon should be showing up in the potholes of Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor. When the weather cooperates, I find the Tarpon off of the beaches of Ft. Myers, Sanibel, Captiva and North Captiva in 10-30 feet of water as well as in the passes. Early morning and evenings with tide movement are the best times to target these fish. My bait of choice are live large Threadfins/Pilchards, Pinfish and Mullet under a cork or free-lining. I use lighter tackle than most of my fellow Cape Coral Tarpon Hunters. I use spinning tackle that can handle 50-65lb braid tipped with 60-80 lb test 6-8ft Fluorocarbon leaders and a 6/0-7/0 circle hook. Be prepared to catch your share of sharks as well.
Depending on the weather and tide movements, fishermen and ladies working famous Boca Grande Pass are using techniques which include jigs as well as live baits (big threadfins, pilchards, crabs) with some success.
OFFSHORE: I have not spent a lot of time working the structures and wrecks offshore as I have concentrated my efforts on back country and Tarpon, not to mention that my new 21ft. Cobia Center Console Bay Boat is not designed for long trips on the Gulf of Mexico. However, some of my fellow captains report the following;
Red Grouper may be found anywhere from 10-20 miles offshore. They are eating cut Squid, Sardines, Pinfish when being heavily chummed. Fishermen going out 20 miles or more are catching their limits;
Red Snapper/Mutton Snapper are being found on structure in about 150 ft. of water are being chummed and being caught on Squid, Sardines and Pinfish as well. They are averaging anywhere from 5-10lbs for Muttons and 5-17lbs for Red Snappers;
Permit are closer to the shore line and are being found anywhere from 5-20 miles out on structure using live crabs, live shrimps and big chartreuse jigs tipped with cut bait and are weighing in anywhere from 15-30lbs.
In closing, there are numerous other species that will be caught both In-shore and off-shore. Simply pick your day to go and be safe. There are a number of reliable weather sources to go to for planning your next fishing trip. I basically rely on wunderground.com for marine forecast and my planning purposes together with the local news weather channels. If I may be of assistance on your next trip or answer any questions about fishing or boating the beautiful and bountiful waters of SW Florida (Lee County) simply give me a call at 239-357-6829/239471-7332 or email me at email@example.com. Check out my website at www.fishfacecharters.com. I am for hire on your vessel or mine. My rates are posted on the web-site or may call on the phone numbers listed above. I am USCG License, insured with years of fishing experience. Customer satisfaction and helping you know the area and understanding how to catch more big fish is what I am all about.