by Captain Michael Manis
At this point, the beginning of winter, we’re all hoping that the cooler water temperatures will put to an end to the annoying red tide. Typically, I find myself
looking for windows of opportunity. By that, I mean waiting between fronts for calmer days where both the run and fishing are tolerable. And, even though the days are short, its nice not having to get out at the crack of dawn. In fact, I like to wait till late morning in order to let the sun warm the flats and provide some visibility.
Due to lower tides combined with minimal rain, sight fishing can be good as there isn’t enough water for game fish to get deep into the mangroves. Essentially, it’s this dynamic that provides the open water sand hole techniques that are so common on the winter low tides. I’ll still pole shorelines, particularly sandy sections, but it’s the sand holes off the shoreline that hold the best numbers of game fish.
Most days, it’s not unusual to have to deal with a northeast breeze. For this reason, I like to look for spots that provide as much protection as possible and try to work with the wind at my back. If I can get the sun at my back, it’s even better. All this makes seeing, casting, and poling a little easier. Because bait is scarce, predator species change their diet and in turn I’ll downsize my baits and slow down my presentation.
This is one of my favorite times to fish Pine Island Sound. I like the protection Pine Island provides from the northeast and it has some of the best mix of turtle grass and sand anywhere. The area from Pineland down to Demere Key is good and some of the biggest trout in our watershed come from the deeper holes between Cove key and Captiva Shoal.
Off the flats, pompano should be on the hard bottom off Cape Haze Point as well as outside the bar along the southern end of the west wall. Spanish mackerel will be found around harbor channel markers. Bluefish should be mixed in within these same areas. The Alligator Creek Reef is also a great place to drop a piece of shrimp.
For backup, if you’d like to get out and Mother Nature isn’t cooperating, there are always the canal systems. Whether it is Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, or the Boca Bayou, the docks in all the above will be holding fish. It’s not unusual to see sheepshead and black drum scattered around the pilings.
Until next month, good tides.
Captain Michael Manis
Punta Gorda Fly Charters