PBD Fish Reports
Kimball and Les Beery, authors of Angler’s Guide to Kayak Fishing Southwest Florida-Sarasota Bay to Pine Island contributed this expanded excerpt from their book to focus attention on the fantastic paddle craft fishing available to anglers in Southwest Florida. See more at www.anglerpocketguides.com Ed
When we want to fish the east side of Lemon Bay, across from Stump Pass, we launch at Oyster Creek. This area provides some protection from a northerly wind but is an excellent place to kayak with an east wind. This area of the bay can be very productive because of tidal flows that move a lot of water through Stump Pass. A variety of fish feed here on rising and falling tides and you never know what you’re going to catch. Sometimes its reds and trout and other times it will be hot for blues, Spanish mackerel and ladyfish. Oyster Creek is well named and on low tides presents a hazard to the bottom of your kayak, so use care. This launch will put you in an area with oyster bars, grass flats, mangrove islands and the ICW shoals. Along with the proximity to Stump Pass, all of these add up to some great fishing.
From the launch, go left around the mangrove island directly in front of you to access the main creek channel. If you go around to the right you’ll find a narrow oyster filled channel between the island and a boardwalk that runs under the bridge. This is impossible to get through on low tide and iffy at other times. After getting into the main creek paddle west under the Placida Road bridge and be aware that in this narrow channel tidal flows can be very strong. You may encounter small boats here as well.
As you paddle west out of Oyster Creek try fishing the mangrove shorelines. Large sheepshead often hang out in the deeper holes along here. As you enter the bay, there are oyster bars between the creek channel and a small mangrove island to the west. These bars are tricky to fish because of oyster shell hook ups but there can be reds around the many schools of mullet. We usually fish our way north and west around these oyster bars and the small mangrove island with the nesting birds.
After fishing the oyster bars, work your way out toward the ICW channel. You’ll find some very shallow grass flats that become deeper toward the ICW shoal with sand holes are scattered among these deeper grasses. Drift between the ICW shoal and these shallow grass flats using jigs with plastic tails or live bait under a cork. This area is a great place to find big seatrout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, flounder, pompano and more. Be sure to watch for wakes from passing boats when you’re fishing out toward the ICW shoals.
There are extensive sand channels coming into the flats where Oyster Creek meets the ICW. These are great places to concentrate your efforts due to the proximity to grass flats, oyster bars and the ICW channel with its deeper water. By anchoring or staking out on the eastern end of these areas you can fish the grassy edges of these sand holes. This area is usually productive. We often see dolphin working this area at full throttle; a sure sign there are plenty of fish here.
If time permits, paddle and fish your way north to Cedar Point Environmental Park. There are a couple of small beaches here to go ashore and stretch. Further north, around the point at the park, you’ll find three bays with flats that hold good fish; Rock Creek, Gottfried Creek and Redfish Cove. On the south side of the Rock Creek bay and just north of the Cedar Point Environmental Park there’s a large grass flat that is fun to drift. The south shore of this bay holds snook and reds up against the mangroves and there are oyster bars close to the shore in several places. A good place to target fish is at the end of these oyster bars, near the mangroves. Gottfried Creek and Redfish Cove are mainly seawall and dock fishing areas.
The two larger mangrove islands just south of the small mangrove bird island are connected by an oyster bar. The deeper waters of these islands tend to be on the east side and with the afternoon sea breeze from the west we usually find calm water here. Redfish tend to feed where the water washes across the connecting oyster bar into the deeper area behind these islands. We have caught some really nice reds here. The seawalls further south are very hard to fish because the ICW channel gets close to shore here and the boat wakes can push a kayak up against them.
Oyster Creek launch is off Placida Road south of 776 in Englewood. This launch is east across the road from Cedar Point Environmental Park, between Lemon Bay High School and the bridge over Oyster Creek.