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While this article is on fresh water bass fishing and bluegill fishing you might be interested in the Beery's excellent guide books to shallow salt water fishing in SW Florida. Check them out at:

Shell Creek and Prairie Creek, FL

​Fishing for bass, blue gills and crappie for a kayak

Les and Kimbal Beery

Shell Creek and Prairie Creek are both quiet, scenic freshwater areas to kayak and fish in southwest Florida. Located a short drive from Punta Gorda, they offer beautiful scenery and good fishing. Shell Creek launch is located at Hathaway Park and has a nice grassy area close to the water. Prairie Creek launch is next to the bridge on Washington Loop Road, just back down to the water and launch on the sandy beach. These creeks are very similar with Prairie Creek being less developed. We usually paddle upstream from the launches to take advantage of the current flow when returning.

Both creeks fish well both below and above the launches. Shell creek is minimally developed upstream but there are still a few docks to fish under. A few small beaches for stretching your legs can also be found upstream of the launch. Always look carefully before going ashore. Alligators also prefer these beaches. Generally, alligators are a non-hazard to kayakers, just respect their space and stay out of the water.

About 1 1/2 miles upstream from the Shell Creek launch there’s some power lines that cross the creek. This is a cattle watering hole and a good spot to get out of the kayak. Watch for cows coming down to drink and give them room. Upstream from here Shell Creek narrows considerably but is still fishable.

The heavily vegetated shorelines and lily pads are good places to find bass, bluegill and black crappie also known as speckled perch or just specks. Also, the outside bends of these creeks are deeper and good places to find fish. For specks toss small spinners, crappie jigs or live minnows. Bluegill and other panfish will readily attack worms and minnows. Bass are more interested in plastic worms, weedless frogs and spoons. They also respond to suspending fish imitating lures. We try to avoid using lures with treble hooks due to the possible trauma of having a thrashing bass hooked to our leg while fishing remote areas in a kayak. These lures are not weedless and can be re-rigged with a single hook but it affects the action.

Popping bugs on a fly rod can be a lot of fun with good action on bass and bluegill. Only short casts can be used to avoid hooking trees. We use the same 8 weight rod for bass that we prefer on the saltwater flats. A floating weight forward line is perfect with 8-10 feet of 20 pound fluorocarbon leader. Stealth is required to be successful here. Keep your false casts to a minimum and focus on the shoreline 10-20 feet ahead of the kayak. Try to use smooth arm movements when casting to avoid creating pressure waves from a rocking kayak. These waves are easily felt by nearby fish and result in fewer strikes. When you do get snagged in the shrubbery beware of the poison Ivy that thrives along the banks. Get to know and avoid touching this plant when retrieving your lure or going ashore.


SHELL CREEK is north east of Punta Gorda. Take

Hwy 17 north then turn east on Washington Loop Road.

Hathaway Park is about 5 miles on the north side of the road.

Take the east [second] entrance to access the kayak launch area.

GPS=26.974155, -81.889276


PRAIRIE CREEK is about 2 miles past Hathaway Park

on Washington Loop Road.

The launch is on the east end of the bridge on the north side.