For the most part, this can be a good month to have a good wind App. I like Windfinder as it’s accurate and free. It’s a good way to keep an eye out for opportunities, chamber of commerce type days, that do come along between the fronts that are so prevalent this time of year. And even though we may have to put on a few extra layers of clothes, at least we don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn. In fact, I like to wait till late morning to let the sun warm things up. Like last month, I’ll continue working the same pattern for redfish and trout; but now, I’ll even push farther up my favorite backcountry creek systems. In fact, I’ll even make my way up to some old mosquito ditches.
Basically, I’m following the fish. With reduced rain and cooler water, salinity and oxygen both increase back here providing good habitat as well as a refuge from the windswept open flats. Also, after a cool night the sun will warm the shallow water over the darker mud and sand bottom quicker here than on open flats. The combination of low clear water will increase sight-fishing opportunities as there isn’t enough water for fish to get deep into the mangroves.
I like a morning or early afternoon incoming tide coming off a negative low. Fish will work their way with the tide to warm up and feed. I’ll look for them laid up off the shoreline in deeper sand depressions. If there’s enough water, I’ll still pole shorelines, but it’s the sand holes off the shoreline that hold the best numbers of fish. In addition, when dealing with a strong north breeze, I like to work areas that provide as much lee as possible. Fortunately, there are some good choices throughout our entire estuary system from as far north as the Peace and Myakka rivers and down to and around the edges of the harbor and into Pine Island Sound.
The baitfish so prevalent most of the year is scarce. Scaled sardines migrate offshore looking for more stable water temperature. Being a natural nursery, these estuarine creek systems provide a decent array of prey albeit of a smaller source like silversides, killifish, shrimp, and crabs. As a result, I’ll throw small, #1 or #2, baitfish and shrimp patterns.
Sheepshead are a good bet around docks and piers. If the wind is really cranking, the Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte canals hold good numbers. When calm, the artificial reef outside Alligator Creek is a great spot. Cut shrimp works well.
Lastly, when the wind permits, take a run over to the hard bottom off Cape Haze Point where pompano like to hang out and get in a few cast with a ¼ ounce Nylure jig.