PBD Fish Reports
Stump Pass Beach State Park is one of our absolute favorite and productive places to fish. It’s located on a narrow barrier island at the south end of Manasota Key. From the parking area to the pass is a little over a mile south on a beautiful undeveloped beach covered with shells and a few fossilized shark’s teeth. The waterway on the bayside of the park offers good fishing and shelter from a cool winter breeze. At this time the effects of red tide are minimal but check out https://mote.org/news/environment-updates#RedTide for the current conditions. Stump Pass is a fee area and parking fills quickly during season, so get there early or be prepared to wait in line. First in line gets the first available space and waiting times are rarely longer than 20 minutes.
The beach adjacent to the parking area has a trough between the shore and the first bar out. A feature some locals like is the shell bottom near the north boundary of the park. This shell will hold sheepshead and black drum most of the winter. The best flounder habitat is a little south of the parking lot. Work your bait along the inside edge of the first bar on an incoming tide. Wave action pushes bait off the bar into this trough where pompano, flounder and others wait for an easy meal. Snook are more often caught within 10 feet of the shoreline. Most beach anglers overlook this area and end up casting as far out as possible which puts their bait on top of the first bar where only catfish and lizard fish await.
The best fishing is usually at the pass itself, but we always fish the beach while walking there. This beach is sloped with a deeper trough from the shore out to the first bar. Snook, pompano, trout, Spanish mackerel, lady fish, jacks, bonnet sharks and some larger sharks cruise this trough looking for baitfish and sand fleas [mole crabs]. We often fish a chin hooked shrimp on a white 1/8 or 1/4 ounce jig head and cast ahead as we walk down the beach. To save weight, we carry live shrimp in a small cooler wrapped in a towel soaked in salt water with an ice pack. This eliminates the weight of the bait bucket, water and aerator. If mackerel are chasing bait, take the shrimp off and hook on a soft shad tail and work it fast to get their attention. Time your walk to arrive at the pass near the end of an outgoing tide for the best bite from snook, pompano, flounder, black drum, Spanish mackerel and trout. We cast soft plastic shad tails on ¼ oz. jigs into the turbulent water where the tidal flow meets the beach current. Most colors work well but gold, white and greenback are our favorites. We’ll also use silver Kastmaster lures here, worked fast for mackerel or bluefish.
Plan on catch and release down at the pass but if you catch something special you could walk it back in the water to the parking area …we have. Remember to take water and foul weather gear. The nature of Stump Pass will change soon with the planned jetty construction. If the jetty attracts fish like the Venice Jetties it will create a new fishery based on structure. We will research this spot when the jetty is finished and report in another article on the changes to this historically productive pass.
If wind and wave action make fishing the beach or the pass difficult, ease over to the bayside of the island. There’s a path here from the ranger station to the pass with many places to access the water. Strong currents create great fishing. Floating a live shrimp under a cork or rolling a sliding sinker rig with a shrimp along the bottom, with the current, will produce fish.
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 head south to the end of the road.