by Captain Michael Manis
Again, its transition time around the harbor, only this time we’re heading into spring. The winter pattern of low tide sand hole fishing is about to change. We’ll still get to deal with the wind, but warmer air and water temperatures should begin to bring the bait in from offshore and the fish will get aggressive. It’s not unusual to see a good cold snap in March, but overall, it’s a big change from the past two months. Typically, I like to pick up where I left off last month, working the edges of the deeper cuts and creek systems along the east side not far from Matlacha.
This is the time of year that I like looking for snook. In particular, the younger males can be a lot of fun on fly. This area holds redfish and spotted sea trout so there’s plenty of opportunity. At the top of the harbor, the north end of the west wall and the shorelines at the edge of the western entrance to the Myakka cutoff can also be good spring snook spots.
Towards the end of the month, it’s even possible to see some resident river tarpon show up in the upper harbor. Generally, April is prime for this bite, but if it’s warm enough, late March could be good. Cobia will also begin to appear around the bars that surround both the east and west walls. I like to pole or run the trolling motor down the outside edge and look for groups of cow nose rays, as it’s not unusual to find the cobia close behind. In addition, these bar structures should still be holding some pompano.
The sheepshead bite should still be strong anywhere there is structure. The Boca Grande and Placida trestles are very popular as is the artificial reef off Alligator Creek. On windy days, some live shrimp thrown up under any canal system dock can make for a good time. The Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte canals hold good numbers.
Any of the bays, sounds, and flats that surround the harbor will be holding redfish and spotted sea trout. On average, tides will run higher allowing easier access to most flats. At the north end, Lemon Bay should fish well as should all the flats in the Placida area adjacent to the public ramp. Any shoreline area in Gasparilla Sound close to the intracoastal is also a good bet. Turtle Bay has potential as well as around Cape Haze Point and up the West Wall.
Across the harbor, all the flats adjacent to the intracoastal in northern Pine Island Sound are also worth a look. The intracoastal provides such a strong flow of clean water from the passes that it provides great habitat. So, for anglers with minimal time to get out and look it can make finding productive spots a bit easier.
Until next month, good tides.
Captain Michael Manis
Punta Gorda Fly Charters