The flats fishin requires a Lewis & Clark attitude. Yes indeed boys & Girls if you are going to find fish on the east side, put on your explorer out-fit. Right now those Red-Fish, Trout, Sheep head, Snapper are all tucked in between the islands. This will require two people (one of you drawing straws seems to work out) for who drives the boat and who gets to stand on the bow. Yup one of you gets to stand on the bow as you idle slowly, very slowly around the keys “Islands” of the east side. You are looking for deeper water flowing between two islands.
When you find a place, it is not going to be good fishing yet, since you just ran your boat into, over, & through it. Take a minute to look around. Study where the hole/trough is and where you should anchor to get your best cast. Get a game plan in your head, then go off to find the next spot. By the time you find the next one, the first one you found should be ready to fish. Head back to your first spot. come in using your Electric motor or push pole. Use a stick-it pin/pole to anchor with not, not an anchor with a chain (this is a quiet area). You have to be sneaky about this. Once you are set, you should be able to start catching. And, as we all know, that is just the “bonus”. But it is really nice to be catching and not just fishin every once in a while.
Since the Ft. Myers Boat Show I have had the opportunity to run a number of charters in search for Snook, Redfish and Sea Trout. Notwithstanding the wind and cold front, the ‘back-bay’ fishing was surprisingly good most of the week. The Sea Trout was very hard to locate, but with some persistence I got rewarded with dividends of bigger pre-winter fish. The Snook was active as well around the Cape Coral canals, creek mouths and mangrove cuts. The Redfish bite remains on, but they are not as aggressive, plentiful or as big as they were in October. However, there are still plenty around on an incoming tide just off of the main channels and around the spoil islands at both the southern end of Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass. If you live north of Matlacha or Redfish Pass, I suggest working some of the spoil islands with oyster bars and grass flats. Other ‘back-bay’ species that are active are the Spanish Mackerel and Pompano. The birds will give you the possible locations of the Mackerel. The Pompano are just off of the flats at Wulfert Keys, Punta Rassa and San Carlos Bay, just to name a few locations.
I am forecasting that the bite should be fairly good for all of the above species in the coming week, given that there is a full moon ‘on the horizon’ and the fishing has remained decent, despite the cold fronts.
Regarding off-shore species; with the winds and the cold fronts, I have not had any reports from other captains in regarding off-shore, but will address that in next week’s article. If you have any questions, I am easily reached by phone at 239-357-6829 or via email at email@example.com. Check out both my weekly and monthly articles as well as the services I offer at www.fishfacecharters.com.
(FT. MYERS BEACH-CHARLOTTE HARBOR) The waters are cooling and the fish are moving. Spanish Mackerel are along the beaches doing their ‘fall run’ as well as in the passes. They can be found just off the beach at casting distance or as far out as 20-30 miles. Look for the birds and throw your favorite lure or put on a chunk of ladyfish and enjoy the action. The ‘Kings’ should be following anytime. Grouper, Snapper and other species are moving in closer to the beaches as well as in the passes and into the sound.
Redfish will continue to ‘fatten-up’ for their journey from the mangroves and the flats and will be gone by Thanksgiving. They are cruising the bars and flats in Pine Island Sound. While they have been sort of ‘hit and miss’, many are in the 30”-35” range. Although many are over slot, they make for a fantastic fight and there maybe some ‘slot-size’ within the same school. Snook is also a good bet as they begin their fall migration into the estuary. They are being found near passes and inlets while staging around pilings and docks. These game fish are in good numbers moving along the mangroves shorelines as well, especially, where points and creek mouths make great ambush spots.
(FT. MYERS BEACH TO CHARLOTTE HARBOR) In my opinion, the water temperature will be the factor in determining the best results for catching fish during the transitional month of October (from summer to fall). We have had a great September leading into the fall and hopefully we will experience a slow and warm weather transition that will afford us the opportunity to continue to catch Redfish, Snook, Tarpon and some of the other species both off of the flats and into the backcountry before they go further ‘up-rivers’ and into the shallow estuaries.
This is the time to go to intercept the game fish (Redfish, Snook and Tarpon) as they chase baits off of the flats and migrate to the mangroves and protective ‘havens’ of warmer waters to come. The Tarpon will be smaller, the Redfish bigger and the Snook more available as they move off of the beaches and into the back country. The tactics should remain the same, except that we should slow the presentations down (just a little) to entice strikes. Also, I am looking forward to targeting the Snook and Tarpon in the canals of Cape Coral on articfials.
Stealth and patience is the order of the day for Redfish, especially when presenting live or cut baits. Anglers fishing the Ft. Myers beach area (north of Estero Bay) may want to try their luck on the back side and in the shallows of the ‘Big’ Island (just east of Picnic Island) with cut baits, shrimps and top water presentations before the winter tides get so low that getting a boat in there is next to impossible. Anglers launching north of the Caloosahatche may find their quarry off of the intercoastal around mile markers 33/34 just off of the oyster bar. If you live or launch further north, try any of the spoil islands surrounded by oyster beds and turtle grass and you should be rewarded.
(Ft. Myers Beach to Charlotte Harbor) The water temperatures in the gulf are beginning to cool and come alive with baitfish and the game fish that pursue them. Snook are beginning to move back to their homes in the canals and rivers. Redfish will continue to come out of the mangroves to spend more time on the ‘flats’. Early morning ‘top water’ and chunked dead bait will be a good bet to catch the quality Redfish. Sea Trout are around the oyster bars and the flats, making them easy targets using a popping cork and live shrimp. There are still some ‘local’ Tarpon around in Pine Island Sound, the river and the canals. Most are small, but put up a great fight.
Off shore anglers should continue to enjoy good catches of Grouper, Snapper and Permit so long as the weather permits. One does not have to go as far out to enjoy bottom fishing at its best as the weather and water temperatures continue to cool down.
Until next week; GOOD FISHING AND BE SAFE! If you need or want any information to assist with your fishing or boating needs, I am easily reached at 239-357-6829/239-471-7332 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out my other fishing and boating reports at www.fishfacecharters.com
Saturday was a great day if you were fishing the inside of the East Keys. Captain Cayle wacked the Mangrove Snappers and Red fish. Cayle said he had other fish, but it was unreal how big and steady the Snapper bite was.
Capt., Greg had a different kind of day. Greg & Chris headed to the east side. Found a pothole against the side of an island. They started fishing then proceeded to catch every conceivable fish you could fish for in Charlotte harbor; grouper, lady fish, trout, redfish, snook, snappers. Everything except flounder and sheeps-head. The even ended up catching one catfish on what was to be his last cast. After the cat-fish they decided they had had enough.
It was a great trip. End this one on a high note. Putting in the trolling motor, they headed out from the keys, to more open, deeper water. After reaching water deep enough to use the out board Chris went to hit the key nothing, dead battery. Luckily there was a guy fishing on an aluminum boat not far away. They trolling motored up to the guy. Due to a little bit a bad financial luck he had to sell his flats boat and here he was fishing in an aluminum boat, but at least he finally got out on the water. And all he wanted was to catch dinner for that night, but he had not caught a thing.
“Idea!!” How about a trade? A nice 24 inch six and three-quarter pound red fish for a jumpstart. I know you’re not supposed to trade redfish for a jumpstart but this was an emergency. He was able to have fish for dinner, and they were able to start the engine. As it turned out, their lucky day, turned into his lucky day. Not a bad way to and a fishing trip. They did not have a fish dinner but they did not have to push the boat back to the ramp!
(Ft. Myers Beach to Charlotte Harbor) Wow, what a wonderful fishing experience for those that had the fore-site to go out and fish the days before, the morning of and days after Tropical Storm Issacc! I had the opportunity to fish all of the above with both charter clients as well as with my wife Vicki in the Cape Coral Canals, Pine Island Sound, the back country of Punta Rassa and Matlacha Passes. They all produced great sport fishing for hungry and aggressive Crevalle Jacks, Snook, Tarpon, Redfish and Trout alike. My clients enjoyed violent strikes from both Snook and Jacks on artificial baits. We caught several 17”-22” Seatrout on shrimp under corks and Vicki landed a 42” Tarpon in the ‘spreader’ canal in Cape Coral on her favorite MR 19 Mirro-Lure twitch bait ( the key is to know how to ‘twitch’ it)!
We have a full moon for most of the weekend together with subsiding winds and I cannot wait to get out over the Labor Day Weekend anticipating both great weather and great fishing. I will be targeting Redfish north of Matlacha Bridge, as well as the northern parts of Pine Island Sound to confirm that they are still holding in those areas. All species seem to have been charged up by the dark waters, stronger moving tides, giving the anglers a chance to make unsuspecting presentations.
(FT. MYERS BEACH TO CHARLOTTE HARBOR) Fishing has been fantastic this week with the higher tides and good weather. Charter Captain’s are reporting lots of Redfish and Snook together with all other species ready for eager anglers to simply make a good presentation.
My 1st Mate (Vicki) and I took to heart some of the above mentioned recent ‘back country’ fishing reports and went out for a few hours today to check them out for ourselves. As mentioned above, the conditions were favorable for an early morning departure to search for new spots. We got an early start and arrived in the ‘back country’ of Pine Island Sound about 7:00 AM, at a location where the tide was high and slack. When it started moving we started catching Snook and Redfish. As the tide went down to the back half of the outgoing we pulled anchor and headed East to catch the last of the top half of the outgoing on the east side of Charlotte Harbor for a lot more of the same. The Redfish pictured here was caught on a ‘twitch-bait’ by Vicki and while I landed several nice Snook.
Depending on Tropical Storm ‘Isaac’, I suggest that one gets out before Sunday, as the fishing will more than likely suffer for a few days after it passes.
If you would like to get in on some terrific September and October Redfish, Snook or other back country species, contact me, Captain Terry Fisher at 239-357-6829/239-471-7332 or email email@example.com. Stay updated on fishing activities on my website; www.fishfacecharters.com.
(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.
(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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.