Wade into Some Great Fishing
It’s like shore fishing but with wet feet. Wading gets you away from the crowded shoreline spots and other fishermen with dry feet. When you’re wading, you can get to spots that even kayakers can’t access. Wading lowers your profile and enables you to approach spooky, quality fish in shallow water. This is an entirely different concept than the “tuna tower.” It’s a trade-off between seeing and being seen.
The thing that tips the scale in favor of the wading angler is a pair of polarized sunglasses that reduce low angle glare. Most wading anglers consider them essential. A good hat with a wide brim will also cut down on reflected glare off the water. Also include the usual sun and insect protection you take along on any excursion.
A special consideration is your footwear when wading. Don’t try it in flip-flops or low cut tennis shoes. Sticky sand and mangrove mud will steal your shoes and leave you barefoot to cope with oyster shells and other sharp things. We use scuba boots for wading. They are reasonably priced, last a long time, are easy on and off with the heavy zipper and keep shells and sand out. But, you must rinse and dry them out after every trip to avoid a serious odor issue. This is true of any wading boot or sandal. All kayak anglers should bring a pair of wading boots. Protect the bottom of the kayak around oyster bars by getting out and wade fishing. Some folks, particularly in the winter, opt for chest waders to stay dry and warm. Be careful though as we have seen folks fall with chest waders on and trap air down by their feet which prevented them from standing up without assistance. They darned near drowned. Remember to stay safe and do the “Stingray Shuffle” to avoid stepping on one.
Recently, another safety issue has emerged for wading anglers to consider. Bacterial infections are worth avoiding and can be serious. We listen to warnings for specific areas and avoid them. Don’t wade if you have open cuts or for you girls, right after shaving your legs. We always shower off after a wading trip and put a little antibiotic ointment on any scrapes after your outing.
Of course, tackle must be reduced to a minimum unless you tow a tackle barge with all the amenities. A big part of the tackle decision lies in whether you use bait or artificials. Bait requires a bait bucket you’ll want to keep at least 6’ from your legs. Another related issue is whether you want to keep your catch. If so, tie your stringer to that bait bucket 6’ from your legs (Think Sharks). Tie off to a belt loop or something that will break away. A way to control your catch while unhooking it is essential. We use fish lip grippers, the floating kind, for a simple compact way to handle any fish, particularly toothy ones. Always, rinse off your tackle with fresh water after each excursion. This is true for reels, rods, pliers and anything else that touches saltwater.
Wading anglers are limited by access and muddy bottoms. Access is further restricted by property owners and mangrove shorelines. You need to consider the bottom you plan to stand on or sink into. Hard sand is rare in this area. More prevalent is a soft bottom that the average person will sink into ankle deep or more. Another bottom of note is what we call “sticky sand”. This bottom looks like hard sand but holds onto your footwear like glue. Also avoid areas where fast currents or skiff traffic crossing the flats could prove fatal.
Here are a few of the local spots we recommend in our WATERPROOF guide “Shore Fishing Southwest Florida:”
Area beaches - wade out to the first bar and cast to the 1st trough or out to the west.
Stump Pass Beach State Park - wade the east side along ski alley, especially if the surf is up.
Blind Pass Beach - wade from the south kayak launch along the west side of the ICW.
Lemon Bay Park - wade north along the eastern shore of the ICW.
Indian Mound Park - wade southeast from the parking area.
Cedar Point Park - wade the southwest shore of the park.
Spots for kayakers to park and get their feet wet:
The Boca Grande Causeway - the sandy bottom, channels, and railroad pilings are all good.
Ski Alley - cross over to Peterson Island and wade along the shore.
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 and www.amazon.com.