Every time I'm on the water I'm constantly scanning my surroundings for new spots. There's many lifetimes worth of fishing here for any angler fishing our local waters.
Hun-dreds of miles of shorelines, mangrove edges, passes, bays, and beaches to explore. For the newcomer setting out on their first adventure, trying to figure out just where to start can be a challenging task for one basic reason. It all looks so good. Fish should be everywhere!
Unfortunately, even though we are blessed with an abundance of game fish they just aren't everywhere all the time.
Capt. George Tunison
Here are two musts. Learn to read and fully understand your tide chart and understand that the tide chart itself is influenced by current weather conditions, mostly wind. The other is learning to read and interpret local maps. Both of these items are available at your local shops.
If you have the money, hiring a guide for a half or full day is the ticket to jumpstarting your personal fishing database. Within hours you are up to speed on the best lures, techniques, equipment and areas to fish according to the season. Finding and understanding these might take you years of trial and error (time and money) before getting in gear. Local knowledge is priceless and when I'm traveling to new waters I'm on the phone booking at least four hours with a licensed local guide.
Want to learn about bottom fishing in the Gulf? Head to Fort Myers Beach and jump on a party boat for a half day to learn locations and local techniques. It's like hiring a guide but at a party boat price.
Visit local bait shops and get to know the folks. While there spend time at the shrimp tanks to get a basic understanding of how these critters swim and act. This info will come in handy later. Shops are glad to help so don't be afraid to ask questions. They obviously want you to catch fish so speak up.
When starting out on a first day's outing say, in Matlacha Pass, go on a low tide day. The lowest tide day you can make fishing plans for. Take your charts and if really serious take a GPS, camera and note pad. You will quickly see that the pass is a treacherous place for uninformed captains to navigate due to the shallow waters.
Take note of all the exposed cuts, oyster bars, deep holes, structure. See where deeper trenches intersect points of islands (honey holes). Mark these on your map, take notes, GPS points, and take pictures.
The absolute best time to take this trip is during the cold water period when our winter negative super low tides really expose all the hot spots and fish holding structure we often boat over on the way to another hot location.
Offshore in the Gulf the bottom can stretch for miles like a flat featureless desert. A 10-yard long rock pile can be a secret hot spot for years to come. Of course these will be found on your bottom finders and the GPS waypoints committed to your secret list.
The summer season is here so don't tempt afternoon storms and lightning. Add small neck towels to your cooler for a quick refresher