In this day of $60,000 flats boats and a rotten economy, how does the boatless angler get in on the superb inshore fishing we are blessed with?
What if I told you it's possible to drive your car to several local locations, park and walk 10 steps, cast and catch tarpon, redfish, snook, and largemouth bass? How is this possible and where do these places exist?
Pick any rainy day, travel Burnt Store Road and stop at one of the several freshwater/saltwater mini dams on the east side of the road. A good strong afternoon shower causes the fresh water side of the dams to flow over into the saltwater spreader canal system, bringing with it small fish and minnows. The saltwater predators that live in the spreader canal system are tuned on to this phenomenon and gather at the base of the dams for an easy meal.
Capt. George Tunison
Tip: Park your car back from the dam and approach the area slowly and quietly. This is shallow water, and the fish can see you. I like to stand close to the road and cast east toward the dam, bringing the lure back with the natural flow of the current. Shrimp, pinfish, shiners, etc., under a bobber work great.
For lure fisherman, most Mirr-O-lures are a great choice. Do not be surprised if you hook a rather large tarpon or snook and if you can stand the noseeums, fishing at night is a better option. Don't forget you need a saltwater license to access this fishery.
Walking the beaches on any of our beautiful barrier islands with a spinning rod and a pocket full of lures can produce monstrous snook. To cash in on this superb and cheap fishing, simply be there before the sun comes up. Stand knee deep in the water and cast parallel to the beach, preferably with a small one-quarter to three-eighths ounce white buck tail. The snook patrol the surf zone and are practically up on the beach.
Standing in the water, I like to make long casts landing the buck tail on the beach, hopping it into the surf and then retrieving back toward me. Fan cast the area, dropping the lure a little deeper on each cast. After 10 casts or so, move down the beach another 30 yards and start the process over.
Although most snook you catch will be smaller specimens, don't be surprised if a 10- to 30-pounder inhales your offering and has you sprinting down the beach to keep from being spooled. Spoons, plugs, and even live bait can be used for this fishing, but a small white bucktail jig on a fluorocarbon leader is the hot ticket.
No need to lug a tackle box or a bait bucket. Keep it simple and carry a pocket full of bucktails.
Tons of other shoreline opportunities exist because of our shallow waters. Simply go to any local boat ramp or shoreline with a good pair of wading boots or sneakers and start wading and casting.
Capt. Dick May of Easy Rider Charters reports redfish action is about as good as it gets. Most fish are 19 to 21 inches and then it jumps to over 30 inches.
Trout are good on flats edges, near drop offs. Mackerel are in the passes and they are still catching tarpon in Charlotte Harbor and up river.
White bait is everywhere and that seems to be what everything wants. Tarpon are also taking ladyfish.
Keeper mangrove snapper are starting to show up on points and in the passes. It's almost impossible to fish with shrimp because the small pinfish strip your hook before a red can get to it.
Watch for big schools of redfish early. Anglers even caught two nice keeper size flounder this week.
Get out there early before it gets too hot.
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.