Charlotte Harbor Fishing Report: Sept 2013

John Kilday with a fly caught red.

John Kilday with a fly caught red.

This month presents what I’d like to consider the beginning of a positive transitional period around southwest Florida. Although still hot during the day, the nights should be a bit cooler and we should even begin seeing a breeze. Tides are decent and as we get closer to October it will begin to feel more and more like fall. Like last month, I’ll keep an eye out on flats bordering open water and the intracoastal, but I will begin pushing my way further into the backcountry. Actually, I’ll work my way reasonably far back looking for the mullet. Moreover, this begins one of my favorite times of year to hunt redfish which is why I’ll try and find the mullet. Redfish will begin schooling up, feeding better and like sticking close to mullet that have a way of kicking up lots of free food off the bottom. The more mullet the better I like it. It’s a good time of year to throw artificial baits and a fly or soft plastic worked under the mullet is a solid presentation. On fly, I like clouser patterns with a floating line; however, I’ve probably had the most success using an intermediate sink tip line. It really puts the fly in the zone and allows me to throw small light flies. Over the years, the flats from outside Catfish Creek past Whidden’s and over to Cayo Pelau including all the backcountry towards Bull Bay have been good country for late summer and early fall red fishing. On the other side of the Harbor, Pine Island Sound can really fish well. I typically fish the northern end and it’s not unusual to see good groups of fish anywhere from Pineland to the east to Useppa just off the intracoastal.

Tarpon will still be a possibility for the next couple months with the upper Harbor holding good numbers of fish. In fact, anywhere from the U.S. 41 Bridge in Punta Gorda down to the deeper holes outside Pirate Harbor are worth a look. Here, a live threadfin is good bait; but if you want to take it easy, a half piece of mullet soaked on the bottom is tough to beat. What’s more, don’t be surprised if a black tip shark decides to pick up your bait and take it for a ride.

Snook are in the beginning stages of a transitional period. Throughout the bays and sounds that surround the Harbor some of our fish will start making their way from current driven open water toward creek systems in the back country. Some of the fish that have been on the beach will probably be on the move. Shorelines inside Boca Grande Pass are good places to look. Both the Cayo Costa and Boca Grande sides can be good. In addition, shorelines and flats inside Gasparilla Pass are equally good. On the other side of the intracoastal, the shoreline between Cayo Pelau and Cape Haze Point will hold more fish as the month progresses.

It’ll still be on the warm side for a good spotted sea trout bite. Most likely, the deeper flats in Pine Island Sound are our best bet for a consistent bite. Because of this area’s proximity to three passes, the water temperature stays just cool enough to make a difference. Generally, depths of two to four feet are

Capt. Mike Manis
Captain Michael Manis runs Flats Captain Charters out of Punta Gorda, Florida. He specializes in fly and light tackle and can be reached at (941) 628-7895 or at

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