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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Archive for June, 2016

Fishing Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass by Hobie “Pedal” Craft!

by on Jun.18, 2016, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS, Ft. Myers, Sanibel and Captiva, Middle Charlotte Harbor, Siesta Key to Boca Grande





Charlotte Harbor “turns into” Pine Island Sound at an imaginary line drawn east from the mouth of Boca Grande Pass.  And for the most part, all the water in the upper half of the sound, as well as much of Charlotte Harbor, is moved by the action of that pass.  The lower half of the sound is affected by the pull of water from the Caloosahatchee River at Fort Myers and generally feeds into San Carlos Bay, to the south.  Matlacha Pass lies to the east of Pine Island and it’s water typically flows more strongly to the south on falling tides. What all this has to do with fishing is that the ebb and flow of the tides here and the constant filling and flushing of the harbor, the sound and Matlacha Pass all move bait, and with it–lots of inshore species of game fish.

This is big water, and that generally calls for big boats.  However, there’s plenty of good fishing within range of paddle or pedal craft.  On a recent trip, sponsored by the Hobie Cat Company, the leading manufacturer of pedal craft, I had the opportunity to fish the shoreline of Pine Island in a variety of weather conditions.  With summer thunderstorms building and winds howling, I experienced the ease with which I was able to move about, using my legs to power the boat, and all the while being able to continue fishing. Hobie not only pioneered pedal-style “kayaks”, but that segment of their business is now significant–with fishing “boats” the largest part of that segment.  I’ve paddled conventional kayaks and tried to fish from them, but there’s no comparison.  The ability to navigate your craft while still fishing has tremendous advantages.   Hobie’s MirageDrive, Turbo Fins and Vantage Seat have made their Pro Angler the go-to boat for serious kayak anglers!

Fishing a fully rigged Hobie Pro Angler in Matlacha Pass

Fishing a fully rigged Hobie Pro Angler in Matlacha Pass

While there are several primitive roadside launch spots on Pine Island, Hobie did their research and put us in the water (in about 15 kayaks!) at some places where we’d have easy reach to the fishing grounds.  That’s not to say that we didn’t pedal as much as 5 miles, but the beauty of the rugged Pine Island shoreline is such that you don’t have to go far to catch fish.  And, when you get “home” you want to be able to easily load the boats onto trucks or trailers and have a cold beverage.  Luckily, locals like Frank Stapleton (Hobie’s Sales Rep) and John Donahue (local writer and man-about-town) know the area well and provided welcome guidance for fishing, launching and cold beverages.

The flats west of Pineland Marina and the Tarpon Lodge offer excellent kayak fishing.

The flats west of Pineland Marina and the Tarpon Lodge offer excellent kayak fishing.

Buzzard Bay, north of the bridge at Matlacha, offers great kayak fishing in protected waters.

Buzzard Bay, north of the bridge at Matlacha, offers great kayak fishing in protected waters.

Hobie, along with PR Pro Ingrid Niehaus, put on a first class event.   We stayed at The Tarpon Lodge at Pineland, and even had a fun dinner at Cabbage Key, also owned by the Wells family.  The event was also sponsored by the local tourism office, The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel.  And, in terms of easy access to water, we found great kayak launches at Pineland Marina and at the county park/boat ramp at Matlacha, on the east side of the island.

Dollar bills….a Cabbage Key tradition–along with the original “Cheesburger in Paradise”


Tarpon Lodge

Tarpon Lodge

Cabbage Key

Cabbage Key

Dollar bills....a Cabbage Key tradition--along with the  original "Cheesburger in Paradise"

Dollar bills….a Cabbage Key tradition–along with the original “Cheeseburger in Paradise”

There are lots of options when it comes to fishing the waters here.  But there are no limitations to tackle.  Some of our group used light spinning gear, while others used baitcasters or fly rods.  The Hobie boats are stable, making it easy to get out and wade, or to stand while fishing.  The waters are generally shallow, making it a perfect place to throw topwater plugs (MirrOlure Top Dogs) or soft plastics (D.O.A. 3-inch shrimp or CALs).




Fishing the flats in Pine Island Sound, just a short paddle from the Tarpon Lodge and Pineland Marina




There’s no problem standing up–or fly fishing–from a Hobie Pro Angler kayak!



It’s just a short paddle north from the Matlacha boat ramp to the backwaters of Buzzard Bay.



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Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota, FL Fishing Report for 6/11/2016

by on Jun.12, 2016, under Bradenton and Sarasota

Anglers fishing with me on my Action Craft flats skiff the Snook Fin-Addict, out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, had some action with tarpon in the coastal gulf in Sarasota, getting numerous shots at tarpon, jumping one and fighting the fish to the boat one day during the past week. The early part of the week was blown out as tropical storm Colin passed on Monday, churning the gulf into rough seas and muddy water for a few days. However, conditions improved by Friday and tarpon returned to their normal patterns.

Denis Clohisy, from WI, and Jim Dempsey, from IL, fished with me on Thursday and Friday. With the coastal gulf still churned up on Thursday, we opted to fish inside waters in Tampa Bay on Thursday. However by Friday, even though the wind was still from the west, seas were down and water had cleared enough to allow tarpon to return to their normal patterns. We had shots at numerous tarpon in the form of scattered singles and schools of fish.

Denis hooked up with a “hot” tarpon on a live pinfish. He fought the fish through several long runs, almost getting spooled on the initial run and numerous jumps and had the fish alongside the boat. Unfortunately, just as I was preparing to land the fish it was attacked by a large hammerhead shark. We tried to fend off the shark but the shark succeeded in getting it’s meal. Although sharks are more prone to attacking hooked tarpon in some areas, I haven’t had this happen for several years.

Tarpon fishing in the coastal gulf should be good next week, depending on conditions, as we head towards the next full moon. Trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish and more should also be good options on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Snook season is closed now on the west coast of Florida, but catch and release night snook fishing around lighted docks and bridges in the ICW or in the surf with flies and DOA Lures should be another good option. Look for reds, snook and big trout mixed with mullet schools or cruising shallow flats and edges of bars in backcountry areas of Charlotte Harbor and lower Tampa Bay.

Tight Lines,
Capt. Rick Grassett
IFFF Certified Fly Casting Instructor
Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters
Orvis Outfitter of the Year-2011
Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.
www.snookfin-addict.com, www.snookfinaddict.com and www.flyfishingflorida.us
E-mail snookfin@aol.com
(941) 923-7799

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HURRY! Enter TODAY! The 2016 CCA Florida STAR TOURNAMENT Is Up and Running!


CCA Star Header
The CCA Florida STAR Tournament started last weekend! This year CCA STAR has gone statewide and has over $500,000 in prizes & scholarships up for grabs, and all you need to do is sign up and get your clients to sign up as well!

The first captain who guides his client to the capture of a 2016 STAR tagged redfish during the 101 days of STAR will win a new Yamaha 150 HP motor.  The captain and client must be a CCA member and registered for STAR before the client/charter catches the STAR tagged redfish, all rules regarding the entry of a STAR tagged redfish must be followed in order for the captain to be eligible to win.

In addition, captains who are directly responsible for referring the greatest number of STAR participants to register for the tournament up until sunset on September 5, 2016 will be eligible for additional prizes in this category.
The most referrals by a captain wins a $5,000 prize package, the 2nd most wins a $2,500 package and the 3rd wins a $1,500 package.

In order to participate in STAR all captains must be current CCA members and registered for STAR before the date of any referral.  Captain referrals are EASY to get. What client would not want their shot at $500,000 in prizes & scholarships.  They can register via the website www.ccaflstar.com  and download the STAR tournament app right from their smartphone. Each client must indicate the captain by name in the appropriate blank during STAR registration, it’s that simple. Make sure you pick up the official 2016 STAR measuring device to have on your boat, this will make it even simpler for your client to participate in this catch/photo tournament.

You may have already received a STAR invitation in your mailbox if not you can click HERE to sign up now. If you have attended a CCA banquet or signed up online or via the mail in the last few weeks, thank you and please disregard or forward this note to one of your fishing friends.

By registering this week, you won’t miss a day of the 101 day tournament…and one day is all it takes for your client to catch a winner!

Click HERE or visit www.ccaflstar.com to see a complete list of rules, divisions, distribution locations and prizes as well as to get signed up today.

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