The anglers on my boat are always looking around at all the beauty of the area I have them fishing in. They’re constantly telling me how magnificent the mangrove shoreline we’re working is, or how beautiful the Boca Grande lighthouse is as we are looking for tarpon. And they really seem to like to keep track of other boats that just happen to be in our general vicinity.
I can’t blame them for wanting to see all of those cool things. After all, Southwest Florida’s waters are incredibly picturesque and, for the most part, a lovely place to be. But for some reason, they have a very hard time seeing what they actually hired me to take them to — the fish.
One of the things I like to teach anglers is that they stand a much better chance of catching their fish of a lifetime if they know where it is. It’s not always easy figuring out where the fish you’re wanting to catch are. But if you truly pay attention when you’re out on the water, Mother Nature will almost always give you little hints (and sometimes big ones, too). All you have to do is stop watching those peaceful manatees, playful dolphins and other fishermen and simply pay attention to the water.
The picture of the redfish that accompanies this column was caught this last Saturday afternoon after I left the radio show (Fishin’ Talk Radio on KIX Country 92.9 FM, Saturday mornings from 7 to 9 a.m. — shameless plug, but whatever). The reason I used this picture for my column is because this fish was in a rather large school of redfish that where just meandering around an open flat inside Bull Bay making only the slightest ripples in the water.
When I first spotted these fish, they were about 30 yards from the boat. Even though I was pointing them out to my client, he really couldn’t see them. I kept telling him to cast toward the nervous water, but all the water looked nervous to him. It wasn’t until the fish started to stick their tails up toward the sky that he could finally see them.
He got lucky — fish aren’t always so willing to show themselves. We spent the next few hours watching the water for any signs of life, and it paid off well for him with some nice trout, a few hefty snook, some big jacks and a flounder. Oh yeah, and redfish.
So, one of the most important things that made this fishing trip so much fun was that the client learned to distinguish certain little abnormalities in the water that can show you where the fish were. Things like nervous water, small wakes moving in the wrong direction, ripples, swirls, splashes and fins sticking out of the water are all dead giveaways to a fish’s location.
If you can train yourself to continuously scan the top of the water as you’re tossing around your favorite bait, you’ll start to see more and more things that just don’t look right at the surface. When you spot them, pitch to those spots — just in case it’s a fish.
With a little patience and some disciplined practice, you’ll be amazed at how fast you will be able to distinguish what that not-quite-right water movement is. Is it a school of mullet? Jacks or ladyfish? A big stingray? Or is it that bronze bomber that you’ve been dreaming of catching? Until you learn the difference, just cast and find out.
If you can see, you can learn to read the water. All you have to do is stop enjoying all the beauty of Charlotte Harbor and start looking for flaws on the water. I know that’s hard to do, but you can if you just put your mind to it.
Capt. Mike Myers, owner and operator of Reelshark Charters, is a full-time Charlotte Harbor guide. Having fished the waters all along the Southwest Florida coast for more than 40 years, he has the experience to put anglers on the fish they want. His specialties are sharks, tarpon and the nearshore Gulf waters. For more info, visit ReelShark.com or call Capt. Mike at 941-416-8047.