by Captain Michael Manis
The last couple of months have been tough and by the amount of boats on the water lots of us were ready to get out when May finally arrived. We still had some wind to deal with but hopefully it was a step in the right direction.
Now, with anticipation of diminishing winds, it’s time to come out of the backcountry for a couple months and head to the beaches. Of course, it’s prime tarpon season and groups of fish can be found anywhere off the beaches from Redfish Pass at Captiva Island to Stump Pass outside Lemon Bay. Sometimes, they get up tight to the beach; but generally they’re out a bit deeper. Because the fish can be seen from quite a distance, it’s classic sight fishing. The goal is to set up so that you intersect their path.
For most anglers, small live blue crabs or threadfin herring are the bait of choice. In my case, I like to set up in one of two places, Murdock Point off Cayo Costa and the flat just north and adjacent to Gasparilla Pass, where the sandy bottom provides better vision allowing me to position myself for a shot with a fly rod. Here, I like a 3/0 Puglisi white and yellow baitfish pattern and a weight forward floating line.
In addition, because of the summer spawn, the beaches are full of snook providing some of the best catch and release sight-fishing opportunities all year. At this time, the fish are usually in or just outside the trough tight to the beach and it’s a real opportunity for anglers that fish from shore. For access, the beaches of Sanibel Island can’t be beat. Many times, fishing from shore is an advantage as it’s easy to spook these wary game fish while in the water. The beaches of Cayo Costa are one of my favorite areas to target on fly throwing small white baitfish patterns.
If the wind won’t cooperate, the outside bars that line the harbor offer some pretty good snook fishing too. In particular, the bar that runs from Turtle Bay past Bull Bay to Cayo Pelau at the southern end of Gasparilla Sound can fish well. There are enough deep cuts adjacent to the bar system that these fish have no need to hit the beaches.
With the water temperatures rising, I’d look for redfish on shorelines adjacent to the intracoastal anywhere from Lemon Bay to Pine Island Sound. With every incoming tide, the adjacent passes and intracoastal pump clean oxygenated water to these shorelines.
In the harbor, sharks can be found around all the artificial reef structures like the one off Cape Haze Point. Bulls, lemons, blacktips, and hammerheads are all possible.
Until next month, good tides.
Captain Michael Manis
Punta Gorda Fly Charters