by Capt. Greg Manis
This month continues the transition that began last month as we push slowly towards cooler weather. Although it’s still extremely hot during the day, I can feel the difference just before dawn. Before low tides and consistent north winds push our way, it’s time to take advantage of the best redfish angling of the year as the spawn peaks and fish are schooled up throughout the area. Although our redfish fishery is not what it used to be, there’s still nothing quite like setting up on a group of reds. Of course, catch and release is standard procedure.
Besides the obvious visual experience, there’s another advantage and even one disadvantage to working a group of fish as compared to the singles or doubles we find throughout the year. When grouped up, the fish tend to be a bit more aggressive as they have to compete for food. On the downside, it’s fairly easy to spook or scatter an entire school as all you have to do is alarm one fish and it can mess up the whole bunch. That’s just the nature of schooling fish; I see it with mullet all the time. It’s amazing how quick an entire school can just disappear. Fins and no fences we like to say.
Fortunately, there should be groups of fish scattered throughout the bays and sounds that surround Charlotte Harbor. So, no matter where you load or fish from, you shouldn’t have to travel too far. To the north, Lemon Bay can be good and don’t hesitate to look on either side of the intracoastal around Stump Pass. Besides holding fish, I like the fact that it’s an idle zone outside the Intracoastal that means the fish aren’t getting run over all day. This makes a big difference.
A little further south, the Placida area around the Boca Grande Causeway just outside the public ramp holds some good turtle grass flats that can fish well. On the other side of the causeway, over in Gasparilla Sound, all the flats from outside Gasparilla Marina to down past the Whiddens area and out towards Devilfish Key have potential. I also like to spend time in Pine Island Sound looking around the flats adjacent to the intracoastal in the Useppa and Cabbage Key area. If you like to load at Ponce Park in Punta Gorda, keep an eye out on the bar anywhere from Pirate Harbor down to Buzzard Bay.
Even though it’s prime redfish time; if you’d like, there are plenty of other options. Trout are scattered just about anywhere there is mixed sand and grass in two to three feet. Snook are transitioning and Turtle Bay and the west wall should fish well for catch and release. In addition, tarpon are in the upper harbor and the bridges are prime spots. Lastly, if you’re looking for a mixed bag that might include trout, jacks, spanish mackerel, and maybe even a red, try a drift or two on Cape Haze Point.
Until next month, good tides,
Captain Michael Manis
Punta Gorda Fly Charters