Sarasota to Bonita Beach
Includes Siesta Key, Venice, Englewood, Boca Grande, Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, Pine Island, Cape Coral, Captiva, Sanibel and Fort Myers
Here’s where most of our hard earned Sabikkied threads went instead for tarpon maws, down the pie holes of sharks, macks and cats. It was windy, get plenty if you can, don’t forget a goodly supply of leader material, circle hooks and cigars. An expensive outing at best. Mepps!
Wind again but not as bad before. Crews made it out to the close marks and found good snapper and grouper action at 30 to 45 feet. Snapper were active on the nearshore reefs but there were lots of smalls. Spanish and a few kings could be found but it was wind and the bait and birds were hard to fine. Tarpon bites were good off of Knapp’s Point and points north, again wind and bait gathering became a factor. There were tarpon in the big bays and passes, easier fishing but sit and wait patterns worked best. My crews fished the Caloosahatchee, Imperial and Henry Creek with mixed results; we were “Looky Lous” and had a couple of pickups. Sharks, macks and cats all messed with our hard gotten thread, that’s the way it is! Surf action was sloppy with the nasty NW winds, same mess as offshore.
Well you could save your day with good action on the trout front all along our regions bays. Biggest of the year specks were taken in San Carlos Bay, the northern of Pine Island Sound, Matlacha and of course Charlotte Harbor. D OA Fatheads have made a good showing, Gulp! and a variety of topwater and shallow running plugs. Fly guys got a piece of the action with streamers and shrimp patterns fished on weight forward sink tip lines, you had to upgrade to a bit of a heavier outfit to fight the wind, 8 to 9-weight or a fast taper 8-weight.
Redfish were on the prowl with good action along the mangroves and in the creeks. Don’t be surprised if you pick up a nice spot tail on one of your Gulps or a slow sinking suspend lure over a pothole. Gold spoons and spinner baits also took reds on the very skinny flats, kayakers and poling skiff crews scored. Don’t overlook the easy pattern, guess what, frozen shrimp on a head-knocker or a shrimp tipped jig under a cork. You’ll want to chum generously and spend a little extra time on your high percentage spot; this may void the five minute rule or just added five more minutes!
Snookers were busy in the feeder creeks and passes, best action was on a strong incoming and evening tides. Shiners, smallish threads, pins and fat shrimp all scored. Night bites found shrimp the easy way to good and DOA’s and Gulps fished outside the dock lights were a good alternative to livies.
Keep an open mind where bait is concerned when wind is a factor. Whether your tarpon hunting or backbay fishing, keep a supply of “comfort baits” on hand, frozen stocks can save your trip. Shrimp, Spanish sardines and mullet will be worth their weight silver or copper when other live baits aren’t cooperating. We sabiki our threads when cast netting is impractical, if that isn’t producing try fishing for bigger tarpon baits. Pins, ladyfish, grunts and squirrelfish are all top offerings for big poons. If your tarpon hunting near any structure, reef, rocks or channels just dress a small jig with a piece of shrimp or fish and jig up some alternative baits. Old timey guys used top prefer a pinfish under a cork over about anything. My favorite bait has always been a nice 9 to 12-inch freelined ladyfish. With bigger baits, ladies, 10 inch pins or grunts make sure you give the poons enough rope to hang themselves. Let ‘em drop back on an initial run until you can’t stand it, maybe 20 seconds or so, then easy on back on your razor sharp 10-12/0 circle hook. A couple of firm yokes on the circle hook with a tight line should bury the barb in the corner of that bonehead jaw. Make sure your hook match hook size to the bait, a little bigger, I believe is always better, carry a selection.