by Captain Michael Manis
May has always been one of my favorite months as opportunities really open up. Moreover, the wind lies down somewhat allowing the range necessary to take advantage of an expanded fishery. It’s time to make my way out of the backcountry towards the harbor, beach and adjacent shorelines. As the water temperature hits 79 degrees migrating tarpon coming north will stage in and around our passes.
Off the beach, I like setting up between Captiva and Boca Grande Pass on Murdock point. Here, the fish make their way around a sandy shoal in clear shallow water allowing for some great shots on fly. Inside Pine Island Sound, Foster Bay just north of Redfish Pass also tends to hold groups of fish.
Closer to home, they’ll also begin showing up in the upper harbor between the West Wall and Punta Gorda. These are resident fish that come out of the rivers and generally eat pretty well. A free lined live bait is always a good bet and if you get out early and see them rolling, they’ll take a fly. The harbor should be full of threadfin herring and I like throwing patterns that resemble these baits somewhat. A big Puglisi Peanut Butter pattern in black and purple or black and red are two of my favorites.
As hard as it is to resist tarpon, it’s tough to beat early summer snook fishing. When the wind is cranking out of the west making the beach sloppy, it’s makes for a great back up plan. In addition, Because of tarpon fever, the backcountry see’s less pressure and this provides a great opportunity to get in some redfish and snook fishing. Particularly, first thing in the morning, you could find yourself with a flat or shoreline all to yourself. They’re on many outside shorelines and I particularly like the lower end of the west wall and around Cape Haze Point down through the long bar that runs along Turtle and Bull Bay.
Typically, redfish can be found in close proximity to snook. However, as the water warms I like looking for the cleanest most oxygenated water. Here, it’s tough to beat the combination of the intracoastal and adjacent passes. Keeping that in mind, Pine Island Sound is a good bet. Too, spotted sea trout prefer the additional salinity and cooler water that these areas provide making redfish country good trout habitat as they’re both part of the croaker family.
Lastly, whether in the harbor, on the beach, or on a flat, don’t be surprised if you see a big school of jacks, a cobia, or one of the many sharks that are scattered throughout the area. Keep an eye out for birds and have a rod ready.
Until next month, good tides.
Captain Michael Manis
Punta Gorda Fly Charters