Fish in the ICW

by Fishin’ Frank

Fishing in the ICW, or Intracoastal Waterway, has been great and continues to be good, but how can this be? The fish were all poisoned and everything was dead as red tide and blue-green algae covered everything, everywhere. Well maybe while there was no red tide in Charlotte Harbor proper, there were bad out-breaks in the ICW or A.K.A. And then right after, it filled up with fish. Why- How? Well it could be several reasons.  Let’s start with some maybes; red tide can clean water of many algae and bacteria so the water can be cleaner after a red tide, but I do not think that’s the reason. We did have some rain, so maybe the fish liked the saltier waters, no as summer time the Harbor is very, very fresh and the fish are still there. By the way that is the reason we had no red tide in Charlotte Harbor – the water was too fresh for red tide to live in. Red tide only lives in real salt water.


So, maybe the temperature and now this might be a real thing, The water this year is at least 10 degrees colder than average and the water down 6 feet or more stays a more constant temp, warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer months. So with the deep water of the ICW and the shallow flats with dark green grass right next to the deep water, in the morning the fish will be laying up in the deeper warmer water and as the sun beats down the fish will move into the shallows to warm up and feed. Yes the water warmed by the sun gets all of the tiny little bait things moving about to feed and that gets the fish feeding.

But I would have to say that the reason I believe the fish are so thick along the ICW areas is that the shrimp are migrating out of the harbor and into the gulf. Thousands upon thousands of shrimp a day are leaving the Harbor. A shrimp is not a strong swimmer and when they wish to leave they want move under the cover of darkness, as every single thing on the planet wants to eat them, hiding in the dark is a smart thing to do. But not being strong swimmers they dig into the bottom on in-coming tides and swim up into the water on out-going tides, hitching a ride with the tide as it leaves, smart idea for a creature that is only slightly smarter than a rock. So any way, the ICW and the flats close by are full of shrimp and that is why I think there are so many fish there.

And of course saying that, what would be the best bait to use? Why yes indeed, match the hatch theory, use shrimp and this would be my best advice for the near shore reefs as the shrimp are trying to get to 60+ feet of water and are traveling past all of the near shore reefs.

You can also say hi to the hundreds of shrimp boats out there from almost every state on the gulf, but Florida. Yes they come here as the shrimping in their states are closed and only Florida does not close commercial shrimping. More on that on another day.
Have fun

Fishin Frank

Fishing’ Franks Bait & Tackle 4425-D Tamiami Trail, Charlotte Harbor, FL 33980,
941-625-3888 and 14531 N. Cleveland Ave., Ft. Myers, FL 33903 239-634-1043