Beach Walking for Anglers
An early morning walk on a southwest Florida beach can restore your soul. The sights and sounds of surf and birds, the feel of the sun’s warmth firing up another hot day, the smell of the salt air and seaweed, all create a feeling of peace and oneness. Everyone can experience this but anglers in particular enjoy the morning beach before the shell seekers and swimmers show up. You see, early mornings are magic when it comes to catching snook on the beach.
When the sea breeze lays down over night, the Gulf waters calm leaving just a small curling wave along the shore in the morning. It is a fly angler’s dream but spin fishermen catch their share of the action too. The sun coming up in the east is both your friend and a limiting factor for this type of beach fishing. Sunlight from behind and above you, when combined with polarized glasses, helps you see the subtle shadows that snook create. Other gamefish are here too, including redfish, jacks, ladyfish, bluefish, flounder, trout and pompano just to keep things interesting. Most every fish on this list will gladly accept a DOA shrimp or white plastic jig. Fly casters need only a white Clouser or a shrimp pattern to score. If you spot schools of bait getting savaged by predators, be sure to cast their direction when they come by and hang on! You don’t have to hit the center of the school; there are plenty of feeding fish around the edges. Snook on the beach tend to move farther from shore as the sun
Pack light for an outing like this. We carry a small shoulder bag with our tools and a few flies or lures we expect to use. Packing too much stuff makes it seem like work and reduces the fun factor. Bring a camera to record your catch. Remember that snook, redfish and seatrout are catch and release only until May 2020 to help them recover from last year’s red tide disaster. We usually try to wear light colored shirts and pants so fish looking for silhouettes against the early morning skyline won’t see us too easily. Light clothing also helps keep mosquitoes at bay. We usually wear long sleeves and pants because the same light wind that allows us to see the fish also helps no-see-ums attack on the beach this early. Later, we roll up the sleeves and unzip the legs as the day warms up.
Your shadow, falling on the water just off shore (the trough) will spook gamefish. The trick is to cast up current of your shadow and/or stand far enough from the water to have it fall on the sand. Cast into the shore current right along the curl. Snook will feed there on disoriented baitfish and crustaceans, like shrimp and sand fleas tumbling toward them. Fly casters need to be careful not to “line” these snook. A long leader that lets the flyline fall on the sand with the fly itself in the curl is perfect. For the other gamefish, cast to the outer edge of the trough and retrieve with the current. This magic time only lasts for a couple of hours so by 10AM, most early morning beach anglers are ready to let the sun seekers take over.
As the sun gets higher and the day gets hotter, another favorite kind of beach fishing gets going. This is the more relaxing, stationary kind of beach fishing complete with chairs, umbrellas, live bait, rod holders and a cooler full of cold beverages. We enjoy the beach chair approach too, but we’ll get into that another time.
This snook fun lasts until the Gulf temperatures dip into the 60’s. That’s when most snook leave the beach seeking warmer water in the bays and up the creeks. The other gamefish are still out there though. We find them in the trough all day long where they will attack plastic jigs and white clousers.
Kimball and Les Beery, authors of "Angler’s Guide to Shore and KAYAK Fishing Southwest Florida", contribute these excerpts from both Waterproof books to promote the excellent fishing available in the Englewood area. They are available locally at Old Florida Gallery on West Dearborn, and for download at
www.anglerpocketguides.com & www.amazon.com.