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
Stump Pass Beach State Park is a great place to catch a wide variety of fish and is one of our favorite launches. Parking fills quickly so get there early to be able to back into one of the two kayak spaces. When the parking is full the park rangers have a Que system where the first in line gets the first available space and waiting times are rarely longer than 20 minutes.
The two launch areas off the parking lot access the inland waterway. On calm days kayaks can also be launched right off the beach, and if you’re experienced and properly equipped, this can be a great place to chase Spanish mackerel or larger fish like tarpon. Because of the proximity to the pass and the bait flushing out with each outgoing tide you will find, just west of the outer bar, pelagic fish that migrate seasonally such as tarpon, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel and cobia. If you find fish here they will attack trolled spoons, jigs, flies and live bait.
The first channel east of the parking lot is locally known as “Ski Alley” and can be hazardous with high speed watercraft and large wakes. Paddle north and go around Petersen Island on the east side of Ski Alley. You’ll find another parallel channel that is a “no wake” manatee zone and has deep channels; grass flats and is a calmer place to fish. On the east side of this channel, north of Whidden Key, there is another channel heading northeast marked by an osprey nest. The flats on the north side of this channel always produce quality fish. From here paddle out to the ICW channel and fish the deeper grass flats for quality seatrout.
From the no wake channel we often kayak to the pass itself. After beaching your kayak, fish the pass from the shore. When the tide is really ripping Spanish mackerel are a common catch in the winter but pompano, whiting, redfish, bluefish, snook and black drum are also common.
At the north end of Petersen Island, across Ski Alley, there is an area of deep grasses close to the middle of the channel. We consistently find trout there. If you paddle further north there is a big grass flat just east of the boat mooring area. Fish the drop off into the channel and if you’re stealthy try your luck with the sheepshead up on the flats. The north end of this flat has a deep trough along the mangroves and can hold snook and reds. Another mooring area is further north and has been a good place to hook into trout.
Paddle further north under either of the Beach Road bridges and work the large sand shoal that runs east and west out in Lemon Bay. This is a really good place to surprise a redfish working the edge of the bar where the water washes bait over it. It’s also a great place to take a break and stand up and wade for a while.
Tidal flows around Stump Pass can be swift and moving water is always good for fishing. Find a place where water is flowing off of a grass flat on a falling tide and stake out or drift the drop-off where the flat meets the channel for your best bite. This entire area is lined with mangroves that are home to snook and redfish as well as mangrove snapper and sheepshead. Let the wind and tides help you decide where to fish.
As a precautionary note, please be aware of an aggressive dolphin in the Stump Pass area. He may have been fed regularly and is known to covet the fish you catch. Don’t keep fish on a stringer. Stow them in a cooler and discourage this guy when he comes around looking for a handout.
Stump Pass State Park is at the south end of Manasota Key. Take Beach Road from 776 and cross the Tom Adams Bridge. At the roundabout go south to the end of the road. GPS=26.910939, -82.352572