Shallow Minded Activities

By: Mike Lahn

Hello Southwest Florida, I am very excited to be the newest contributor to Coastal Angler Magazine. I moved to SWFL in 2009 from South Jersey. I’m a little bit of an out of the box thinker when it comes to November water activities. This month really kicks off the fall/winter “Negative Tides” and for anyone living or visiting southwest Florida this is a real treat because during spring and summer our water is generally anywhere from 2’ to 3’ deep along the mangroves, but now we will have these negative tides running for November until approximately March depending on the arrival of rainy season. Here’s a great opportunity to walk around in clear shallow water and see the many wonders that inhabit our local waters. First, you’ll have to open a Tide Chart for November 2021 and look for morning Negative tide numbers. These look totally different than normal tidal numbers. They will display a subtraction sign in front of the lowest tidal prediction. Here’s an example of one of these upcoming events. On Saturday Nov 20th, 2021 @10:09 am the tidal number indicator is -0.3 for Matlacha pass on the chart for the morning negative tide. During these times anyone with wading shoes can take a walk on the shallow water flats, or along the mangroves generally between 6” to 1’ of water depth depending on the area you chose, remember the tide will come back in so don’t go too far. Here’s what you’ll need, a pair of wading shoes about $12-$25 locally, a small dip net about $9.00 available at any local tackle store, and a sifting crate with holes in it, I found my plastic sifting crate at my local Dollar Store. Drag your net through the grass areas, dumping its contents into your sifting box and try to identify all the species. Here’s a few locations that have “FREE “access to the extreme shallow water conditions. Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park Birding Trail and San Carlos Bay Beach on the left just before the Sanibel Bridge. The savvy members of your group should be able to spot crabs, starfish, small rays, local fish, and birds like Roseate Spoonbills, Herons, and Egrets feeding in the extreme shallow conditions. I use the sifting box for viewing small invertebrates then safely release them back into the water. Keep your camera handy, you never know what might show up. I’ve seen Dolphins corralling fish in these shallow water conditions and tail flip a mullet for a tasty breakfast, it’s quite a site to see. If you’re into fishing this is one of the best times to walk and stalk Redfish, Snook, and Speckled Seatrout in the super shallow water conditions. In closing be a little adventurous while you are entertaining your guests, they’ll be rewarded with memories that last a lifetime. Until next time, Tight Lines Screaming Drag!

Instagram: finzupswfl (Mike Lahn)