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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm heading down to Sanibel Island Florida in late May to give Tarpon fishing a shot. I have a charter for the first day then renting a boat and fishing with just a few friends the next 3 days. Just looking for a few tips, lures bait, tackle, weight?? I am sure some of you Barners have done it before, so any pointers would be appreciated!
 

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Mako Man- This is one of my favorite spots in the world to fish and clearly your time there should be great that time of year. I'm actually headed there this Tues for 3 days of fishing for snook and reds, although a tarpon is not entirely out of the question. From my perspective, it is essential to fish with a guide who not only knows where they'd been, but where and how to get the bait. Two of the baits of choice are threadfin herring and pilchards which is usually gotten by castnet. The boats fishing for the tarpon tend to congregate a couple miles off the beach in the gulf waiting for the rolling schools of fish to make their way generally south to north. Once they start schooling up and daisy chaining, the boats SLOWLY make their way into them casting the baits into the schools. Another favorite spot would be in or near the passes, such as Redfish Pass where the fish tend to show right after first light. As to watering holes, if you happen to catch any edible fish, bring them to the The Fish Monger for dinner, on the Fort Myers side. Also, there are a couple good spots on the Fort Myers side of the Sannibel Causeway which I would recommend- Biddles (with some entertainment at the bar) and some others whose names I forget at the moment. Have fun!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks alot Captain, I know I have a lot to learn but I am sure it will be a great experience. I am heading there with a few buddies that I Tuna fish with and we are all looking forward to fighting a tarpon. I am sure we will also be looking to catch some dinner at some point so I appreciate your suggestion of The Fish Monger. Hopefully I will have some good stories and pictures when I get back. Good Luck on your trip next week

Mako Man
 

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I stayed in Captiva last year which is right near Sanibel so I'm sure the fishing is the same. I never went for tarpon, but don't forget to fish for all the other species that are within casting distance from any bank or pier. I went last year and couldn't believe the amount of fish I caught or saw being caught in the limited amount of time fishing (sheepshead, spades, black and red drum, snook, spanish mackerel, plus all different species of sharks)). Cast netting live bait is the ticket down there. I was using frozen shrimp and still catching them, but woudl have done much better with live shrimp or pilchards. I recommend picking up the book called "Sport Fish of the Gulf of Mexico" by Vic Dunaway which is very good for identifing species plus fishing techniques. I will tell you this, once you experience fishing down there on that side of Florida, you'll be sure to want to go back. Good luck!!!
 

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i'm jealous. sanibel is awesome. have a great time and the above mentioned advice will get you going. stop by the tackle box after you get on the island and i used to go out with capt, rey rodriguez down there. awesome captain and you'll learn a ton.
 

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Mako Man
You can not help but have a great time there.
I lived in Fort Myers in 1972. At that time Sanibel-Captive was always referred to as one place. Just a small wood bridge joined them and Nothing could be built on Captiva Island. It was a sanctuary They did have a sea turtle protection zone as well as all the birds.
Everyone just enjoyed the Shelling, Fishing and Sunshine and Bird watching.

I went down for a vacation in the early 80's and could not believe what happened to the whole area. Fort Myers had gone down a lot. When I drove past my old house I wanted to ring the bell and punch whoever opened the door. the Islands had Hotels, Condos, People.
Captiva was no longer void of homes But still a great place. More like Miami.
In the 70's if you needed an ambulance you called the mortician. They did have something that was called a hospital. A group of doctors then built a real hospital. The phone company had 2 to 5 or more party lines. There were NO private line phones. It was primitive.
 

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Hey Reb- Small world. I happen to know Rey Rodriquez, one of the guides there. He does fish real hard. I probably fish this area 3 to 4 times a year for the last 15 years and got to know quite a few guides. My number one guy who has become a close friend of mine is Capt. Dave Gibson, aka Gibby. These guuys fish strictly flats boats and it's all about the bait and sneakin' up on the fish. There's a real code of ethics down there in which you should respect their "space" and stay away from a boat that is moving towards the fish or to/at a to particular spot. This is quite unlike our non-code ,if you will.
 

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I just wrote you a 5 paragraph post on fishing down there. Tarpon, trout and reds in Charlotte Harbor, snooks and sheepshead around the docks and mackerel (Spanish and king), permit, grouper and snapper in the Gulf. I lost the post somehow and I don't have the energy to post again right now. I'll do it later tonight. For now, here's a map with a bunch of the local artificial reefs.

http://www.lee-county.com/naturalresources/artreef.htm

Click on them, some have underwater pictures.
 

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OK, I'm back. Here we go:

Tarpon - I don't know south of Redfish Pass but I know Boca Grande Pass. If you want to spend some gas money, run north to BCP. The common method of fishing here is vertical jigging. We drift and jig 2oz jig heads with soft plastic bodies. Ask your guide to recommend a jig. You'll find the current and try to drift from deep ro shallow or vice versa. Search your finder for marks. That's how you'll locate the poons if you don't want to do a lot of blind jigging. Another way to do it is follow the fleet. There will be A LOT of other boats. Especially in May and early June. Little known secret - a keeper grouper can be snagged from time to time on the drop off of the Boca Grande channel. Most folks who fish there don't target grouper.

Trout/Reds - The most easily accessible fish to you in your rental boat will be speckled trout. When I'm down there, I'll grab a dozen or two live shrimp and a few soft plastics. Fin-S and Bass Assassins are perfect. The same that you would use for weakfish in NJ. Head into Charlotte Harbor and just look for grass flats that border channels. Or, grass flats with sandy channels and potholes where there's some depth relief. Only a foot or two is needed. Basically, where there's dark green and light colored water intersecting each other. Especially good near a deeper channel. Drift across the color changes and toss your lure across the color changes. You could also put a live shrimp here. If there's wind and/or tide, you may have short drifts. Give each place about 3 drifts. A good place should give you at least a few bites. You can move 50 yards and have better luck. Keep working it. Watch your depth, though. While you're doing this, you could easily hook a red drum, jack crevalle or lady fish. Keeps it interesting. If you're using shrimp, you may get a bonnet-head shark.

Snook/Sheepshead - I usually pursue these guys around dock pilings. You'll see sheepshead around bridge pilings also, but the current is usually too strong to try stopping. You can also encounter snook along the mangroves or on channel edges, but the most consistent place to find both of these guys is around dock pilings. Approach the docks with the utmost stealth. These fish are spooky. For sheepshead, I've found that sand fleas are good. Hide the hook and use a flourocarbon leader. For snook, they will take a shrimp on occasion. I've driften 100s of shrimp past feeding snooks noses to know it ain't the best. A live pilchard or pinfish will trigger a strike. If you're fishing a dock at night and the snook turn up their noses, cast just outside the shadow of the light.

The Gulf - In my experince, the fish you will likely catch in the Gulf are these: blue runner, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, cobia, permit, misc...... When I head to the Gulf, I pick one of those wrecks. I'll get a livewell full of baitfish, shrimp and about 6 small crabs. I'll also have about a block of chum per hour. You'll need a mesh chum bag also.
When you get to the wreck, anchor if you have enough rode. Start chumming. Blue runners and bar jacks will probably be the first to come. Grab your biggest livey (probably a squirrel fish) and send him to the bottom with whatever weight will hold. Usually 3-4oz in the Gulf there up to about 100ft. That will be your grouper-getter. While you're waiting, drift live shrimp back in the chum. You should have fun with 12-14" blue runners until the serious fish come in. You'll notice the Spanish macks. Their dorsals and tails will be tipped with black. Pitch them a live shrimp. They might take it......or not. If they refuse, grab a fish from the livewiell. They will not refuse that. Hopefully some kings will come by. You gotta' have some wire for them.
While you're buying bait or gas, ask the guy if there are any permit on the wrecks. If yes, that's where you're crabs come in handy. There will not be the 5 pounders caught on the flats. They'll be 10-30lbs. Use 20lb spinning gear. Make sure you have a fluoro leader....good eyes. Let the crab sink with no weight. Just keep paying out line. If the crab won't sink, use split-shots sparingly.

Bait - I'm terrible with a castnet so I won't tell you to look for pelicans diving at first light. Pinfish can be caught at your dock. A small hook with a piece of squid or shrimp will do it. If your dock ain't producing, any grass flat in about 5' of water should do it. I've mentioned squirrelfish. This isn't their real name. The true squirrel fish gave me a nasty venom injection in the Bahamas in 2001. The squirrelfish in SW Florida is actually the Sand Perch. I catch mine at the base of the channel markers right outside of Gulf passes. They are great for grouper live or butterflied.
 

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Just came back from Ft Myers Beach...couldn't tell you the first place about where to go to fish...I just putt putted...and hung out relaxing...

There really isn't much as far as restaurants/bars in Captiva/Sanibel. The Pink Flamingo I think is a ok place for bar food at best with nice cold cheap beer!

Going out to San Carlos Blvd...there are places going into Ft Myers Beach....Channel Marks is a nice place on your left going into Ft Myers Beach on San Carlos...there is also a place called The Parrot Key at Salty Sams marina...has GREAT Grub...and great chilled drinks...right on the water...last turn (left) before you go into Ft Myers Beach off of San Carlos...

It's a HELL of a place down there...I really enjoy it down there!
 

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Fished it a lot

Will need a boat for redfish pass

That's a wonderful time for snook and Tarpon

You need to go to the Ding Darling Reserve and rent a boat or yak
That place is a gimme for tarpon and snook, reds and trout. About a 10 minute drive toward Captiva, comes up on the right. I would fish live shrimp on a #2 hook tied right to 20-30 pound braid

If you cant get a boat the BEACH is great for snook and BIG tarpon. The tarpon can be taken on big surface plugs, If you get a lady fish chunk it up and fish it on a heavy slider rig with a #6 J hook, you will have to fight off the sharks,

Early morning and dusk is best, they bite at night too

the snook can be taken on 1/2 ounce colored jig heads tipped with a shrimp right from the beach

Good luck, give us a report
 

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I've been fishing down there for a while, with my dad, normally we head out with Capt. Kevin Holly out of the area. Caught my first tarpon 3 years ago, in the back behind sanibel estimated around 120 lbs and it was on of the funniest fights i've ever had. We normally go to florida july 4th week so it's kind of late season, but once in a while we find snook/redfish.
 

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Fishin is gonna be great all around the area for the next 2-3 months. I'll be there next week. I fish with a guide, Butch Rickey, who is very knowlegeable and has lived there for years. Go to the Green Flash in Captiva for lunch. Nice view and great food. Also take a night or two with your boys and drive to Blind Pass, it's where Captiva and Sanibel meet. Great fishing from the beach there. You'll see a small lot to park and there will be locals fishing for snook all thru the night and sheepshead all day off the jetty there. Snook Season is open til June and I believe you can keep 2 fish between 26" and 34" only. Make sure you pick up the regs at a bait shop, they take the snook rules very seriously there. Good luck!
 

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aquasport190 said:
and sail cats :D .
From a boat that's an easy one

I rig a three way and float the bait high off the bottom, which is usually where the Tarpon are, they like to come up to feed;)
 

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Next Case said:
Hey Reb- Small world. I happen to know Rey Rodriquez, one of the guides there. He does fish real hard. I probably fish this area 3 to 4 times a year for the last 15 years and got to know quite a few guides. My number one guy who has become a close friend of mine is Capt. Dave Gibson, aka Gibby. These guuys fish strictly flats boats and it's all about the bait and sneakin' up on the fish. There's a real code of ethics down there in which you should respect their "space" and stay away from a boat that is moving towards the fish or to/at a to particular spot. This is quite unlike our non-code ,if you will.
yeah those guys are a class act down there. can't imagine what they would think about the action around bunker schools that we get up here in the spring. they really do work hard for you down there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
aquasport190 said:
OK, I'm back. Here we go:

Tarpon - I don't know south of Redfish Pass but I know Boca Grande Pass. If you want to spend some gas money, run north to BCP. The common method of fishing here is vertical jigging. We drift and jig 2oz jig heads with soft plastic bodies. Ask your guide to recommend a jig. You'll find the current and try to drift from deep ro shallow or vice versa. Search your finder for marks. That's how you'll locate the poons if you don't want to do a lot of blind jigging. Another way to do it is follow the fleet. There will be A LOT of other boats. Especially in May and early June. Little known secret - a keeper grouper can be snagged from time to time on the drop off of the Boca Grande channel. Most folks who fish there don't target grouper.

Trout/Reds - The most easily accessible fish to you in your rental boat will be speckled trout. When I'm down there, I'll grab a dozen or two live shrimp and a few soft plastics. Fin-S and Bass Assassins are perfect. The same that you would use for weakfish in NJ. Head into Charlotte Harbor and just look for grass flats that border channels. Or, grass flats with sandy channels and potholes where there's some depth relief. Only a foot or two is needed. Basically, where there's dark green and light colored water intersecting each other. Especially good near a deeper channel. Drift across the color changes and toss your lure across the color changes. You could also put a live shrimp here. If there's wind and/or tide, you may have short drifts. Give each place about 3 drifts. A good place should give you at least a few bites. You can move 50 yards and have better luck. Keep working it. Watch your depth, though. While you're doing this, you could easily hook a red drum, jack crevalle or lady fish. Keeps it interesting. If you're using shrimp, you may get a bonnet-head shark.

Snook/Sheepshead - I usually pursue these guys around dock pilings. You'll see sheepshead around bridge pilings also, but the current is usually too strong to try stopping. You can also encounter snook along the mangroves or on channel edges, but the most consistent place to find both of these guys is around dock pilings. Approach the docks with the utmost stealth. These fish are spooky. For sheepshead, I've found that sand fleas are good. Hide the hook and use a flourocarbon leader. For snook, they will take a shrimp on occasion. I've driften 100s of shrimp past feeding snooks noses to know it ain't the best. A live pilchard or pinfish will trigger a strike. If you're fishing a dock at night and the snook turn up their noses, cast just outside the shadow of the light.

The Gulf - In my experince, the fish you will likely catch in the Gulf are these: blue runner, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, cobia, permit, misc...... When I head to the Gulf, I pick one of those wrecks. I'll get a livewell full of baitfish, shrimp and about 6 small crabs. I'll also have about a block of chum per hour. You'll need a mesh chum bag also.
When you get to the wreck, anchor if you have enough rode. Start chumming. Blue runners and bar jacks will probably be the first to come. Grab your biggest livey (probably a squirrel fish) and send him to the bottom with whatever weight will hold. Usually 3-4oz in the Gulf there up to about 100ft. That will be your grouper-getter. While you're waiting, drift live shrimp back in the chum. You should have fun with 12-14" blue runners until the serious fish come in. You'll notice the Spanish macks. Their dorsals and tails will be tipped with black. Pitch them a live shrimp. They might take it......or not. If they refuse, grab a fish from the livewiell. They will not refuse that. Hopefully some kings will come by. You gotta' have some wire for them.
While you're buying bait or gas, ask the guy if there are any permit on the wrecks. If yes, that's where you're crabs come in handy. There will not be the 5 pounders caught on the flats. They'll be 10-30lbs. Use 20lb spinning gear. Make sure you have a fluoro leader....good eyes. Let the crab sink with no weight. Just keep paying out line. If the crab won't sink, use split-shots sparingly.

Bait - I'm terrible with a castnet so I won't tell you to look for pelicans diving at first light. Pinfish can be caught at your dock. A small hook with a piece of squid or shrimp will do it. If your dock ain't producing, any grass flat in about 5' of water should do it. I've mentioned squirrelfish. This isn't their real name. The true squirrel fish gave me a nasty venom injection in the Bahamas in 2001. The squirrelfish in SW Florida is actually the Sand Perch. I catch mine at the base of the channel markers right outside of Gulf passes. They are great for grouper live or butterflied.
Great Post Aquasport, I will be compiling all this information to take with me. I appoligize that I have not been more active in this thread over the past few days but I really do appreciate all the info guys. It's people like you that make me proud to be a member of the barn!!

Mako Man
 
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