by Capt. Mike Manis
In many ways, this is a period of contrasts where it can be difficult to find a routine. Sure, the mornings are consistently cool and tides are definitely low. But for the most part, the wind seems to keep me guessing. It’s like there are two types of distinct days right now. Of course, these are determined by cold fronts and it’s either blowing or it’s really nice. On the better days when everything lays down and presents a chamber of commerce type day, it’s as good as it gets and our options really open up. On the other hand, when it’s howling, the best we can hope for is keeping the wind at our back and trying to work lee shorelines.
On the calm days between fronts, I like to take advantage of spots and fisheries that are out in open water. Try taking a run to the crab trap buoys just off the beach and keep an eye out for tripletail. I’ve thrown flies and plastics at these guys; but, the best bait going is live shrimp. It’s also not unusual to see Bonita out here and don’t hesitate to take a look inside Boca Grande Pass as it can also hold some good numbers. If you want to get into the backing on your fly reel, try hooking up to a Bonita. The beaches can also be good. In fact, if you don’t have access to a boat, this is one of the best times of year to fish from shore. Sheepshead, whiting, pompano, and black drum are all possibilities. Just inside the passes, the Boca Grande and Placida trestles are loaded with sheepshead. A bit further inshore, pompano should be on bar systems throughout the harbor. Cape Haze Point is your best bet. However, just outside the bar along the southern end of the west wall is good, as well as across the harbor on the east side from Pirate Harbor all the way down past Burnt Store. I also like looking off the bar outside Bokeelia, at the northern end of Pine Island.
When it’s blowing, to keep run time at a minimum, I prefer spots that aren’t too far from a ramp. I’ll generally load at Pineland Marina in Pine Island Sound, or Ponce Park in Punta Gorda. If you can get into the flats in any one of these areas, there are redfish, spotted sea trout, and flounder. Out of Pineland, the entire east side below the ramp is good; but difficult to access without a shallow draft boat. From Ponce Park, there’s a maze of small islands between Alligator Creek and Pirate Harbor that provide lots of opportunities for the small skiff.
Until next month, good tides.
Captain Michael Manis is a U.S.G.C. Licensed captain and has been teaching the sport of fly and light tackle angling since 2002. He lives in Punta Gorda, Florida and can be reached at www.puntagordaflycharters.com.