I sat down to come up with an idea for this week’s column. What I came up with were a bunch of ideas, but nothing that really seemed worth devoting a whole column to. So here’s a hodge-podge of half-baked thoughts. Enjoy!
Ask 100 local anglers to name fish that can be caught on the reefs, and I’ll bet not a single one names snook. But in the last couple weeks, I’ve gotten more than one report of snook caught at the Mary’s and Tremblay reefs. They also show up at the Novak, and probably most of the other nearshore reefs as well. I’ve heard of them caught in 60 to 75 feet of water.
Why? Well, why does any predator go to a reef? For the food. There’s a lot of bait on those reefs. They eat grunts, small snapper, and all the other fish out there. They’ll hit live baits, bucktails and soft plastics.
I think reports are sparse because most people just aren’t prepared to actually catch a snook on a reef. When hooked, they’ll dive for structure even faster than grouper. After they get broke off, most anglers will just assume it was a big grouper. But next time you’ll know it might have been something more silvery. (Or try tarpon gear and maybe you’ll catch one.)
Rain and bugs
You’ve probably noticed the rainfall that has started up around Southwest Florida. Some spots have been soaked; others have been missed completely. But most of us have gotten at least a sprinkle, and there’s more on the way.
This is going to have two obvious effects: First, the beautiful clear water we’ve been seeing in the Harbor is going to be darkening up soon. That’s got an upside (it’s easier to catch fish in darker water) and a downside (it’s easier to see fish and everything else in clear water). It happens every year, and every year some people freak out because they think the orange-tinted water is pollution or red tide. It’s not — it’s just tannins from plants upriver.
Second, here come the bloodsuckers. Rains really get the mosquitoes and no-see-ums fired up. We’ll talk more about them later.
Seeing more than red
Red snapper season is open through July 29, and that’s got a lot of folks going way out in the Gulf. Personally, I don’t think red snapper are that big a deal to justify the long, long ride out there and back. But there are other things in the deep Gulf — mahi, tuna, wahoo, kingfish, sailfish, several species of porgies — and when we add them all together, it’s a more compelling argument. Catch the snapper, but don’t get so focused on them you miss everything else. And keep an eye out for a whale shark.
The traditional tarpon season has about a month left (July 4 is the wrap date). But that doesn’t mean the tarpon leave — they just change it up a bit. While the Pass will still hold fish, a lot of them move up into the Harbor and congregate in the 20-foot holes, where they can find cooler and saltier water on the bottom. By then, we should have lots of water moving down the rivers, and lots of thread herring eating the resulting plankton. Be prepared for picky fish, because Harbor tarpon are way more finicky. We’ll talk more about that later also.
Redfish missing again
For a little while, it seemed like everybody was catching redfish. Now we’re back to people complaining about the lack of reds. While I’ve had some tell me about catching little rat reds or some overslot fish, most fishermen are hooking between few and none. While some are concerned, I’ve decided to just assume they’ll show up again in the fall. If they don’t, then I’ll start to worry.
Hot humid rainy days make me want to be more nocturnal. The fish often bite better when it’s a little cooler too. But then there are the bugs, which make me think twice. Proper equipment makes the difference. Actually, I just wrote about this in the May 27 edition of WaterLine, so it’s too soon to repeat. That’s why you need to read every week.
It’s been a long and rocky road, but Fishin’ Frank’s is back in business. Of course, we’re starting over from basically nothing but tenacity and our limited wits. It’s going to take us a while to get back to the level you remember us, so be patient with us as we rebuild the best bait and tackle shop in Southwest Florida.
Robert Lugiewicz is the longtime manager of Fishin’ Frank’s (4200 Tamiami Trail Unit P, Charlotte Harbor) and a co-host of Radio WaterLine every Saturday from 7 to 9 a.m. on KIX 92.9 FM. Contact him at 941-625-3888.