The next time you drive across the Tom Adams Bridge on the way to Manasota Key, look off to the right towards the island and check out the crescent-shaped sandbar that surrounds “The Pointe” as you leave the bridge. Over the years, we have found this to be a very productive spot for trout, snook and redfish.
Launching nearby is problematic with Stump Pass Beach State Park, Englewood Beach and Blind Pass Beach Park closed. The kayak launches at Blind Pass and Stump Pass are our normal take-off spots to fish the west side of Lemon Bay in a west wind. But these are not normal times, so some adjustments need to be made.
We decided to launch at Bay Heights Park (north of Beach Road on S.R. 776, across from Gulf Coast Hardware) and make our way across the ICW to access this area. Early in the morning, there is often a gentle shore breeze that is generated by the Gulf being warmer than the land. We took advantage of that tailwind to slip across a flat Lemon Bay.
Starting in the north, we fished our way along the crescent bar as the tide rose. Trout and ladyfish were abundant there. On a low tide, we can usually step out and wade on this bar. But it was too deep, so we continued on and targeted the mangroves to the west. There are miles of shoreline and protected shallow flats around The Pointe that hold bait and gamefish only accessible by kayak or other paddlecraft. As we worked our way south and west along the mangroves, we caught snook, trout, jacks and gafftopsail cats at high tide.
One issue with this area is the lack of landings for kayakers. We really enjoy standing up every couple of hours. The mangroves here border deep water or bottomless mud — which is great for fishing, but makes it hard to find a suitable place to get out and stretch. We did manage to find a couple of shallow oyster bars along the mangroves that made our day.
As the tide began to drop and the sea breeze strengthened, we decided to paddle north along the shore before crossing back across the ICW to gain a following wind. On the way north, exploring even more shallow bays, a redfish ate my shad tail jig and made a perfect ending for a great trip.
But it wasn’t over yet. We still had to cross the bay — and the wind was blowing harder by the minute, swinging to the north and covering the bay with whitecaps. We finally paddled far enough north that we figured with the wind blowing us hard to the south we would hit Bay Heights Park on the far side.
If you’ve kayaked around here much, you have experienced moments when a casual paddle becomes an adventure. This was the moment that day. As we paddled through the waves, the wind continued its clockwise swing and by the time we landed it was blowing hard out of the north. This created a cross-wave paddle that put quite a bit of water in the kayaks and made us really grateful to finally reach calm water at the launch.
If you launch here, there is an adequate kayak launch dock and a boat ramp. The ramp is usually busy, making it difficult to wheel a kayak down to the water and get out of the way quickly while the dolly goes back in the car. The dock here is high enough that we could slip our kayaks out of the way underneath and tie them off temporarily.
The kayak launch dock is simple but usable, being wide and long enough to get you to the handy rail that helps you stand up. When landing, just pull the kayak ahead onto the dock to a spot where the dolly takes over. We lifted our kayaks up onto the seawall to save a long, curvy trip on the sidewalk.
We all love kayaking angling here in our shallow, relatively protected waters. But, when you add wind to these shallow waters, the waves and whitecaps build quickly. Be particularly wary of north or south winds that blow lengthwise on these waters. Don’t blindly trust the weatherman on wind direction and speed when planning an outing. Pay attention to wind conditions before you launch, and always have a “Plan B” in mind.
Kimball and Les Beery, authors of the waterproof “Angler’s Guide to Shore Fishing Southwest Florida” and “Angler’s Guide to Kayak Fishing Southwest Florida,” contribute these columns to promote the excellent fishing available in Southwest Florida. Their books are available at most tackle shops in the area, AnglerPocketGuides.com, or Amazon as a download or hard copy.