All Shore In FloridaBy Dave Duwe - March 1, 2012
The resort we stayed at was located on the Caloosahatchee River which outlets to the Gulf of Mexico. Tidal patterns seem to be the most important thing; incoming tides were the most productive fishing time for us. The best spots I found for shore fishing are places with both current and structure. This year being on a navigation channel offered current and the channel markers in the water added the structure. The barnacle laden rock rip- rap on shore didn't hurt either. It is amazing how one 10 inch channel marker could hold so many fish. Shore fishing can be dangerous with sharp rocks and barnacles so wearing good water shoes are a must. Other good spots for us were bridges or public fishing piers. Even though there is a lot of water everywhere, there were several areas of the resort that were off limits for fishing. For example, the marina itself is off limits, which is true of most marinas. I guess the 4 million dollar yachts getting their propellers tangled in fishing line isn't great for business.
Finding good fishing spots in the area can be tough when you are in unfamiliar places, but befriending the local bait shop owner is a great place to learn some tips. This year we met a bait shop owner who was an aging hippie and had probably attended 100 Grateful Dead shows. He knew all of the shore fishing hot spots. It took us a few days of buying bait to get the best spots out of him because he needed to make sure we were truly fishermen not just tourists and in the end, he acted as if we were lifelong friends and shook our hands hoping we'd be back next year. We have some great spots now, as well as a few more to try next year.
Over the last five years of fishing from shore, we have been constantly dialing in the system. This year the most important item was a fishing license. We were told after driving around for an hour looking for a place that sells them that they are actually cheaper when you purchase them on-line. Next year, I'll have my license before I even arrive. The next most important thing to know is that live bait need oxygen. I bring a battery operated aerator on the plane with me. As soon as I arrive in town, I buy a cheap Styrofoam cooler to use it in.
For Christmas this past year, the whole fishing crew received new Fenwick two piece heavy action spinning rods. Last year, the airline charged me a bunch of money for my one piece rods packed into an oversize tube, the two piece rods are much easier to deal with. The tackle box I bring is the fishing basics; hooks, line and sinkers. The rig itself is simple, a 1/0 octopus hook with or without a round split shot. I had my spinning reels spooled with 20 lb Fireline with a 20 lb monofilament leader of Trilene XL. Even with that heavy of a line it was amazing how often the fish cut us off on a sharp rocks or barnacle. One constant over the past several years has been the choice of bait. We've found that live shrimp will catch anything with a face. The best method of fishing a shrimp is as easy as casting it out and letting it "do what it do" in other words, letting it swim freely.
Fishing from the shores of Florida can be very productive. We caught 8 or 9 different species from the shores of our resort. Getting to know the salt water fish is important, the size limits and closed seasons are important to know if you plan on keeping any fish. The weirdest fish we caught this year was a Puffer fish. I don't know if it was poisonous or not, so I just cut the line. Big or small they were all fun to catch. The couple of fish were kept were Flounder and Sheepshead and both made excellent table fare.
When planning your next vacation to Florida, don't forget your poles at home. With a little experimenting and befriending the local bait shop owner you too will have success from shore. It can't all be about Disney.