by Captain Michael Manis
As we enter the peak of summer heat and humidity it might seem like our options are limited. However, there are some decent opportunities as long as you’re prepared to get up early and be on the water before sunrise. Typically, the flat calm conditions make the boat ride worthwhile. Most days, plan on being back for lunch.
The temptation to look for tarpon at first light in the upper harbor is tough to resist. From the 20 foot hole off the west wall up to the U.S. 41 and Myakka Bridges is the place to look. Even better, this is a short boat ride from any of four ramps: Laishley or Ponce Park in Punta Gorda and El Jobean or the Beach Complex in Port Charlotte. For the most part, it’s so slick calm you can see them rolling from a distance. For sure, this is a great time to fish an artificial bait like a deep running D.O.A. Bait Buster.
Also, while looking for tarpon keep an eye out around the bridges and outside seawalls in Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte for schools of big black drum. This is the time of year to see them finning just under the surface.
Closer to the backcountry, I’ll concentrate on outside bar systems and adjacent shorelines. Because of their proximity to deeper water with more oxygen and cooler water a better habitat exists for snook and redfish. Some of my favorite areas on the harbor’s perimeter include the bar that runs from Cape Haze at the lower end of the west wall past Bull Bay and over to Cayou Pelau at the base of Gasparilla Sound. Also, don’t overlook the southern end of the west wall from Cape Haze Point up past mud cove as this area can fish well on an outgoing tide.
Across the harbor, the bar system that runs from Mondongo over to Patricio Island at the top of Pine Island Sound is worth a look. Here, the proximity to the intracoastal provides good clean water. Finally, on the east side of the harbor, the bar that runs from Burnt Store south to Matlacha can hold fish.
If we get some consistent rain, look for tidal creeks along the west wall to fish decent at the top of the outgoing tide. Too, the many small creeks on the east side between Mangrove Point and Alligator Creek are fun to explore during rain periods.
Until next month, good tides.
Captain Michael Manis
Punta Gorda Fly Charters