by Captain Michael Manis
Being the height of summer, this month is a good time to get out before the sun gets up. Redfish and snook fish best during the cooler morning period. Typically, the water temperature is so warm on the flats I like fishing around outer bar systems adjacent to deeper cuts leading to the open harbor. Just like last month, I’ll still take a look around creek systems during rainy periods on high early morning outgoing tides; but overall, the cooler water adjacent to the open harbor is more consistent for the short available window before it gets too hot. That’s generally around 10:00 or 11:00 a.m.
The area from Cape Haze Point at the southern end of the West Wall to Cayo Pelau at the bottom of Gasparilla Sound is good country. It’s one big bar with multiple cuts that come from both Bull and Turtle Bay. Just across the harbor, the bar that runs from Jug Creek at the northern end of Pine Island Sound to Mondongo Island that lies adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway is good.
Around both these bar systems, especially considering the tight window of opportunity, don’t hesitate to throw top water plugs right off the bat. Lots of floating grass is the only reason I wouldn’t pursue this bite. When the sun comes up, I might move to a floating twitch bait that runs just under the surface and towards the end of the morning a soft plastic paddle tail works great. Of course, I’d rather spend a few hours on the bow of my skiff with a fly rod. During the calm early morning, a six or seven - weight with a floating line and small weed less baitfish or clouser minnow would be my choice.
Tarpon are also an option this month and the upper Harbor is the place to look. Anywhere between the mouth of the Myakka and Peace rivers and down to the 20 foot hole should be good. Also, the bridges are good places to look and it’s not a bad idea to look up the Peace River around the I-75 Bridge. Look for rolling fish and a live threadfin or ladyfish is tough to beat. Blacktip sharks should be prevalent around many harbor channel markers and don’t be surprised if one runs off with that threadfin you’ve got soaking.
The mangrove snapper bite should be consistent in all the Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte canals with the perimeter canals fishing best. Moreover, the artificial reefs off Alligator Creek and Cape Haze should hold good numbers of larger fish. Jack Crevalle are around and it’s not unusual to see them just about anywhere. They come and go quick; but in most cases any bait thrown in their path will get sucked up and they put up a great fight.
Until next month, good tides.
Captain Michael Manis
Punta Gorda Fly Charters