by Capt. Dave Stephens
Probably the biggest issue that we are having on the north end of Charlotte Harbor is rain run-off. The ground is so saturated that every bit of rain drains in to the harbor. As I sit here writing this I’m keeping an eye on Hurricane Irma. Even if we do dodge this storm, it will certainly mean more rain. The positive thing about this situation is most of our saltwater game fish can tolerate the freshwater, such as tarpon, snook and reds, while a few don’t do well, like snapper and trout. Over the last couple weeks, I have been running further south on my charters and finding good fishing.
The snook fishing has been pretty good. On our half day charters, we have been catching 30+ snook. Most of these fish have been running 20-26”, however we did get one monster last week. I have been having the best bite in the mangroves. Look for points with moving water or the fronts of the barrier islands. Live bait has been doing well and we also had a good top water bite.
I’ve been finding some schools of redfish on the bars. When the tide is lower, it makes this a lot easier. The biggest problem is this fish can be easily spooked, so you want to be as stealthy as possible. If you are a live bait fisherman, getting in front of them and chumming heavy is the best way to get them turned on. For the artificial guys, you also want to get in front of the school. The biggest mistake I see made is people want to chase these guys around. Once they get spooked all you’re going to do is chase them and mess up you and anyone else’s opportunity.
There’s still a good number of tarpon up in the harbor. I’ve been seeing good numbers of fish from 20-150+ Lbs. Most of the biggest fish have been hanging around the ladyfish schools. Outside the bars in about 3-6’ there have been a lot of fish. Most of have been running 20-40lbs with some bigger ones mixed in. Best luck will be throwing live pilchards at the smaller fish. Artificial lures have also been working well, swim baits in darker colors have been the key. The best thing about these fish is they have been willing to bite. I have had as many as 10-12 hook ups in a couple hours.
So fellow anglers, the fish are out there and their willing to bite. With all this freshwater, you might have to look in some areas you don’t normally fish and you just might find that honey hole you’ve been looking for.