by Captain Michael Manis
Depending on how many days you were up at 4:00 a.m. preparing to tarpon fish, it may or may not be hard to believe that May and June have past. Now, the winds should lie down and the air and water temperature will rise. There is still a good tarpon bite as this is one of the best months to fish the harbor. It’s also a great time to break out the D.O.A. Baitbuster. The deep runner is best and the silver body with the black back is a good go to combination.
In some ways, after spending the last two months in close proximity to the beach with everyone else, it’s actually a nice change of pace to get a little closer to the backcountry. I’ll be back to hunting redfish and snook. Rising water temperatures combined with daily rain provide two patterns that I like during this period. First, I’ll spend as much time as possible working shorelines in close proximity to the intracoastal. This is simply a matter of looking for cooler oxygenated water.
Second, creek systems flushing more volume than normal with somewhat cool rainwater are natural holding spots. Particularly on an outgoing tide, the outside edges around the mouth can be productive. Therefore, I’ll look for creek systems or any kind of mangrove lined drainage associated with the intracoastal. Fortunately, there are lots of spots that meet this description. Although it sees lots of pressure, it’s hard not to take a look between Coral, Catfish, and Whidden’s Creek in Gasparilla Sound.
Furthermore, look past the larger well-known creeks and spend some time exploring creeks or even cuts between mangrove islands. I particularly like small creeks that flow out from what look like small ponds or bays within a mangrove island. With high water and a good outgoing tide, many spots like these hold fish.
By contrast, on the other side of the harbor, even though it’s away from the Gulf, the waterway that flows north and south from the Bascule Bridge in Matlacha pushes by some of the best creek systems anywhere and should fish well this month. In either case, the fish will be tight to the bushes, mangroves, and your presentation or cast should be also. As a rule of thumb, if you’re not sticking your fly or lure into a root every once in a while, you’re not fishing close enough. It goes without saying that when this does happen, you need to take the time to get your rig and line back. Never break it off and leave it behind.
There are a couple other good bets this month. If you’re looking to get the family out, the snapper bite in Boca Grande pass should be picking up. Conversely, if you’re looking for a fight, it’s a good month to target sharks in the harbor.
Until next month, good tides.
Captain Michael Manis
Punta Gorda Fly Charters