Sanibel Fishing and Cruising Update October 10 2013, 0 Comments
It just can’t get any better down here in Sanibel right now. The islands and backwaters are eerily void of people. October’s that way though because most of the snowbirds from up North have not arrived in full force yet. The weather has been wonderful and fishing is fitting for the Halloween month by producing some monster catches of Redfish, Snook and Trout.
This past week, with Mike and Greg from Kansas City and Parry from Memphis, we really got on the fish during their five-day back bay outings on the Hey Mon. Lady Barb also joined us for one of the days and kept up her end with some big time rod bending hook-ups.
Throughout the week, our targeted species were primarily Redfish, Snook and Trout. However we weren’t shy about adding to the cooler some beautiful mangrove snapper, flounder and Spanish mackerel. They all made great table fare at home (which I’ll expand on later) or taken to the Lazy Flamingo restaurant where they prepared a feast for us. (We’ll come back to that as well.)
On the fishing front, the bait of choice right now is primarily white bait. These little guys are swimming in large schools just off the beaches and they are the caviar of choice for fish and birds foraging for food. Several stealth casts of a net will usually fill the bait well on the boat pretty fast with a lot of these two-inch beauties.
Ready for action, we headed into the bays of Pine Island Sound. Morning tides were running pretty low so we fished the fringes of bars. Using medium action rods and reels and 2 ought hooks, one puts on a white bait and casts a line into about a foot and a half of water. Sometimes, using a bobber can help in getting extra distance and facilitates seeing a fish taking the bait. Either way, when there is a predator nearby, the white bait starts darting around. Once that line starts going straight -- it’s likely Kapow! The fish is on and the fun begins.
The above technique and timing produced some incredibly nice Redfish (Reds or Red Drum) in the 20”+ range. The keeper slot for these massive fighters and great eaters is 18” – 27”. Each person is allowed one per day. Our average size was in the 25” inch range. Several were right at the 27” limit. We also caught some hogs that were in the 28” – 31” inch range which of course, we released.
To switch it up, and wait for the incoming tide to raise the water level even more, we headed for some grass flats right off the inter coastal waterway. Here, we threw more white bait and the trout, snapper and Spanish mackerel were pounding them the second the bait hit the water. What was also a gas, was to toss an artificial Zara Spook surface bait into the water, work it back to boat in a zigzag pattern, and watch the fish explode to take it. All of these techniques yielded nice sized trout, some of which were in the 25”+ range.
I haven’t mentioned the crème’ de la crème’ of fish down here – the Snook. Because of a big temperature freeze 4-5 years ago, the Snook population was decimated. It has only been this year that they were allowed to be taken again, only in a tight slot, 28” – 33”, and during certain months. These incredibly beautiful fish and acrobatic fighters are prized for being excellent eating as well. We caught many Snook and released them. Happily, Parry and Barb each landed one within the slot (30” and 31” respectively) so we had Nectar of the Gods eating on several days.
Back to the actual fishing. Once the incoming tide was high enough each day, this allowed us to scoot over the sand and oyster bars and begin pitching directly into mangrove areas. It wasn’t uncommon to stealth along looking for a good spot, and see some boiling in the water just under the mangrove roots. Through positioning the boat correctly, dropping the power pole (an automatic anchor) and chumming with some white bait, we were ready for action. (For chumming, it’s good to use a sawed-off plastic Wiffle ball bat, load it with white bait, and fling them towards the edge of the mangroves.)
When casting bait to the mangroves, the closer one gets to them, the better. The big fish like to hang out under the roots and then dart out to consume bait being moved along by the tide. A pinpoint cast and a slow drift under the mangroves with your bait, will oftentimes create an explosion of water to remember. When a big Snook or Redfish grabs on, it’s giddy-up time to get that bad boy or girl out from under the mangroves so it won’t snag and break the line. Once clear of them, it’s still game on to boat it, but much more manageable if your technique is good. Of course, crack guides like me can help ensure you land the fish!
Seems like I could write forever about this trip. Great fishing, comradery and fine eating for sure. And, just being on the water, watching all of nature unfolding, was also a big treat and no trick.
Oh, almost forgot the eating references I made earlier. If you’d like some kick-tail recipes for fresh fish, let me know. Next time in my blog, I may provide one or two. Also, the Lazy Flamingo restaurant does it up right in allowing you to bring in your catch. Wash it down with a few icy-cold brews, some fresh Caesar salad, krinkly fries and key lime pie. Well, it doesn’t get much better.
Think about Sanibel and fishing or cruising next October or anytime for that matter. The Hey Mon is ready to go and we’re ready for some eerily good times.
Let's get on the water. Come visit us soon!