by Capt. Greg Manis
At this point, we could find ourselves fishing anywhere from the backcountry to the beaches. As the water temperature warms, bait will move into the harbor from offshore where it’s been holding in the deeper more stable environment all winter.
As a result, snook should begin staging up along shorelines adjacent to creeks and cuts looking to fatten up for after the slim pickings of winter. On the east side, anywhere from Ponce Park in Punta Gorda all the way down to the Big Dead Creek and Buzzards Bay area outside Matlacha is good country. On the other side of the harbor, the edge of Bull Bay where it intersects with both Gasparilla Sound and Turtle Bay can be good.
Redfish should be scattered on the flats and I’ll look out in the open around sand holes as it’s not hot enough for them to be heading for mangrove cover. Around the intracoastal, anywhere from Stump Pass in lemon Bay to Useppa in Pine Island Sound is a good bet. In addition, don’t be surprised if you run into spotted sea trout while fishing for snook or redfish. Cobia is also an opportunity. In particular, keep an eye on the outer edge of the bar from Alligator Creek down past Pirate Harbor on the east side.
Out in the harbor, Spanish mackerel will be scattered all over the place. Looking for birds is a great way to find schools of these fast moving fish. The birds hover over all the bait that’s being pushed to the surface by the mackerel.
Also, in the upper harbor, we should begin to see our first tarpon. These are resident fish coming out of the rivers. They’ll generally be somewhere in the vicinity of the 20 foot hole. The numbers of ladyfish in the upper harbor probably have something to do with why the tarpon like to hang in the area. In addition, I’ve seen schools of big jacks making their way through this area.
Typically, towards the end of the month we’ll start to look for the first of the migratory tarpon working their way up the coast. My favorite way to set up for this is to anchor off Murdock Point outside Johnson Shoals and just wait for something to come down the pike. It’s all sight fishing and I’ll either throw fly or a live crab. The anchor is attached to a buoy for a quick release.
Until next month, good tides.
Captain Michael Manis
Punta Gorda Fly Charters