Fall transition and migration
By Capt. Michael Manis
This is one of my favorite months as southwest Florida transitions out of summer but is still a month or so away from the first front that suggests winter is approaching. Cooler water temperatures put game fish on the move. This combined with moderate breezes provides opportunities from inshore shorelines to the beaches. Looking for redfish and snook, I still won’t venture too far into the backcountry, as I’ll stick to shorelines bordering the harbor’s perimeter. However, I will make my way off the beaches looking for migrating bonito.
Snook, in postspawn, are looking to fatten up and will begin making they’re way from the passes and adjacent channels. They’ll begin the transition to river, and backcountry creek systems where the brackish water will help them tolerate the cooler months ahead. For this reason, the west wall is one of my favorite spots. However, it’ s not really a spot but an eight-mile long mangrove shoreline from Cape Haze Point all the way to the Myakka River. It’s a mix of new and old growth mangrove, broken timber, oyster bars, and creek systems that typically holds good schools of scaled sardines.
Redfish are still schooling and throughout our bays and sounds there are good options. From the Placida ramp, I like Catfish Creek and the Three Sisters Islands flats. North up the intracoastal, the grass flats in lemon Bay on either side of the intracoastal both north and south of Stump Pass are worth a look. Out of Pineland in northern Pine Island Sound, the grass flats and oyster bars south of Cabbage key and Useppa can fish well. In addition, from Ponce Park in Punta Gorda, the mixed sand and grass from Mangrove Point to Alligator Creek has been holding fish since last month.
For a change of pace, bonito are migrating down the coast following schools of baitfish. Again, from the Placida ramp, take a run outside Gasparilla Pass and if it’s going off, you’ll know. Keep an eye out for diving birds as they’re picking at the scraps from the bonito blowing up on bait. It’s a feeding frenzy and you can get close enough to throw just about anything into the mix. It’s a great opportunity to get into the backing with a fly reel.
Lastly, schools of black drum are bouncing back and forth between the U.S. 41 Bridge and the perimeter canals of Punta Gorda. They eat flies and will also get you into the backing.
Until next month, good tides.
Captain Michael Manis
Punta Gorda Fly Charters