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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Tag: cabbage key

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

 

 

 

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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”

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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).

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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At Punta Gorda Without A Boat? Give King Fisher Fleet A Try!

by on Aug.07, 2013, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS, Middle Charlotte Harbor, Siesta Key to Boca Grande, Upper Charlotte Harbor

Yes, there are times when I travel to good fishing spots in our state and don’t take my boat.  After all, sometimes I’m on a trip that’s featuring food and food writing, not fishing.  That was the case last week when I was invited to participate in Charlotte County and The Gulf Islands’ food writer trip.  I did manage to take a shorter-than-I’d-like trip with Capt. Ralph Allen, who owns King Fisher Fleet, with a whole bunch of boats headquartered at downtown Punta Gorda’s Fishermens Village.  Ralph and I took one of the smaller boats, a Hewe’s 18 Redfisher, and headed south towards Burnt Store Marina, on a high tide looking for reds and snook.  Charlotte Harbor, the 2nd largest body of water (after Tampa Bay) in Florida, was surprisingly calm and we were able to leave the fish biting on the East Wall, north of Burnt Store, and head quickly over to the area around Turtle Bay.  There, where we’d expected to find more fish on the falling tide, the bite was slow despite Ralph’s carefully and quiet poling efforts.  I blamed summertime;  Ralph blamed the fact that I insisted on using only artificial lures and that I made him leave his bait net back at the marina!  So it goes!

Capt. Ralph at work! Be sure to give your guide a big tip if he poles you around all morning!

Despite his "live bait" attitude, Ralph managed a nice keeper trout on a Rapala Skitterwalk plug!

In addition to a variety of inshore and offshore fishing opportunities, King Fisher Fleets also offers day trips to Cabbage Key and Cayo Costa State Park.  Cabbage Key is an isolated island in middle Charlotte Harbor, and its restaurant’s cheeseburger is supposedly the inspiration for singer Jimmy Buffet’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise”.  Cayo Costa is an isolated Gulf beach island that’s just out-of-the-way enough to make you think you’ve left all your cares behind!

A sunset dinner at the Captain's Table Restaurant at Fishermen's Village is a great way to start the evening.

If you're lucky, the setting sun will light up the Peace River Bridge.

Be sure to bring your camera, or whatever device you have, to capture the beautiful Charlotte Harbor sunset.

Finally, don’t miss taking one of the King Fisher Fleet’s Sunset Cruises.  The hour-and-a-half cruise makes a loop around the mouth of the Peace River and the Captain does a really great job of setting the boat up for some wonderful sunset shots!  A good cheap date, or just time to relax after a seafood dinner at any of Punta Gorda’s great restaurants!

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