Sanibel Florida "Report" [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Sanibel Florida "Report"

02-10-2003, 02:11 PM
Just returned from 3 week stay at Florida Gulf. As was last year.....cold front moved in prior to our first week and totally shut down redfish and snook. Seems the snook like water 72 degrees plus and morning air was in the high 30's :-(
Reports said that sea trout and ladyfish were only fish available. First outing used shrimp patterns as the locals were using live shrimp and they were complaining about poor skunked. Then bought a Florida fishing magazine that said to use a mullet pattern. In cold water....they are slow and thus easy to consume by trout and provide 5 times the calories for the you think that southern fish know how to read? Had my trusty fly tying kit with me...copied the pattern (looks like a Ray's fly in chartreous and white with a silver mylar strip as lateral line and with big eyes).
Results....9 fish in 2 hours...bait fisherman skunked and in shock. Sure made up for the tongue and cheek ribbing I got at the canoe rental center!!!!! Total of 3 more outings resulted in at least 20 trout/ladyfish(each). The ladyfish were not ladies....called poor man's tarpon....fight like a smallmouth for about 10 minutes and then come belly up but recoop quickly.
If anyone is hitting that area, I highly recommend going to Tarpon Bay on Sanibel Island....productive, beautiful and canoes/kayaks are $20 for 2 hrs and then $5/hr thereafter or $40 for 8 hrs.. In's fully swing redfish and snook...July...tarpon!!!!
"Honey....can we go in July to escape the Winter?" Some how, I don't think that's going to work :-) If any of you have a better "wife presentation line" I'd appreciate hearing from you :-)

02-10-2003, 03:37 PM
COOL! It sounds like you scored pretty well on the southern front (pun intended).

Thanks for the warm-up report, if only vicariously I sure enjoyed the news.

02-10-2003, 04:40 PM
Juro....I have to add that these sea trout have major fangs....went through many flies as they just ripped them up (but I'm not complaining). Also caught, unintentionally, a Gulf Toad Fish...the ugliest thing I ever saw...croaked, slimey and had the teeth of a rabbit exposed to nuclear waste...also one heck of a set of powerful jaws. I had a time trying to get it to let go of my pliers.....I touch almost any creature, but this was the first time that I considered a scissors release :-) A fish from hell!

02-12-2003, 09:36 AM
Great report! My wife and I are heading down to Sanibel in early April. I hope you could answer a few questions I have. Did you fish the beaches at all? Also in reguards to flies, did you tie them with weed-guards? I read a few articles that mention you need them when you fish the Tarpon Bay side of the island.

02-12-2003, 04:52 PM
You lucky dog....wish we were going back, it's heaven!!!
Did try the beaches, but according to those who know, the beaches are only good in summer (bait fisherman were catching very small whitings)....maybe April will be OK. Forget the weedguards....I tied a few flies with them and only wound up missing strikes. Even without weedguards, I rarely (maybe one in 20 retrieves), had to "clean" the fly. Even then, a flick of the wrist did the trick. The grass flats are not dense at all in Tarpon Bay..little tuffs here and there. Had my best luck fishing the edge of where you could see bottom and not. They seemed to always be just on the edge of deeper water. The entire inside edge of Tarbon Bay has a sand bar that rings around the shore. Reds and snook should be numerous the time you are going (lucky you). I suggest you fish the sunny bars (far left shore from canoe rental area)....reportedly the reds lay up on the bars in the afternoon sun. I saw only one red (water cold when we were there) and it looked like a least 30 inches, I spooked the hell out of it :-( . At Tarpon bay there is also a canoe/kayak trail through the mangroves...saw plenty of sheepshead. Hard to cast a fly due to overhang but in that trail there's a wide open place that has a deep water cut along the far bank......loaded with fish. Every deep cut was!!!
Another place I recommend you try in Lover's Key. About a 40 minute drive....take San Carlos BLVD to FT.Myers Beach and go about 5 miles. Right over the San Carlos Bridge is a pedestrian entry to the preserve($1)(you can also go 1/2 further and park in the big lot(has facilities, only $4 for the day). Lots of fish from bridge area up....if you walk to the point, there's a great rip...that area and south of the rip for up to 200 yards is very productive...saw a guy with a stringer of 8 sea trout and a pompano. Wife can shell (better than Sanibel!!!) and you can beat the water to a froth!!!! One warning.....DO NOT attempt to drive home around 3 or 4 pm after fishing Lover's Key.....traffic is unbelievable!!!! Find a, drink and then drive :-)
Last place to try.....Bunche Beach.....go off Sanibel.....till you see the first gas station on right, I think it is Morris Rd. opposite the Kelly Green condo area.....when you get to the beach (no parking fee), walk about 10 minutes to the right. There you will find an small tributary coming in the the bay.....supposedly a great place for every fish. Sad to say, when we were there, there was only one tide a day and the high tide was late at night. Never could get max conditions. Look for 2 to 3 hrs. before and after high tide. This location also has massive have to walk out almost 300 yds to breakwater. Sports section of paper has great into re tides and optimum times to fish.
I have searched the area for nine yrs and the 3 places above are all I'd try....unless you have a boat.
Well......enjoy and get a redfish for me. Best of luck!
Did I tell you that I HATE winter!!!!

02-12-2003, 05:33 PM
Thanks for the tips I will be heading down to Captiva March 11th. Any reco's on tackle and fly lines?

02-12-2003, 07:07 PM
Used intermediate line and only used either unweighted flies or clousers (chartreous/white) with bead chain eyes. All of Tarpon Bay and the other areas are only 1 to 6 ft need for anything weighted. Given cold water (relatively) fish wanted slow stripping/pause. I did find the ladyfish short striking....switched to a 2 inch clouser ( #4 hook) and that took care of that problem.
At may want to visit Jensen's Marina (near the Bubble Room Restaurant)...they rent boats of all sizes and I think the place next door rent yaks. Pine island Sound has lots of flats (only accessible by boat), almost every shore based flat has grass nearby.
Heard reports that people were catching fish in Captiva at the "South Seas Plantation" but given we weren't staying there, couldn't get access.....reportedly, evenings at the pass at end of Captiva on this property is good. So if you are staying there, suggest you give it a try.
Flies.....chartreous/white.....good for trout/ladyfish; yellow/red for snook; red/white for red fish.
Let us know how you faired...tight lines to you.
PS: Fishing the Causeway seemed a waste of time....winds and a lot of boat traffic, plus wading and seeing beer cans on the flats did not give me the image I desired :-)

02-12-2003, 07:09 PM
forgot something.....used my 9wt rod as that and a 6 is all I have. Given the wind, I wouldn't recommend anything under an 8, which is what most of the non shrimp dunking people use.

02-12-2003, 07:19 PM
Thanks for the info. April can't come soon enough. It's been a very long winter.

02-13-2003, 12:58 PM
Thanks for the info