Shore Fishing During These Strange Times
It is hard to stay off the beaches during this crisis but absolutely necessary as we continue to develop effective social distancing behavior. We all enjoy a little beach time, but only if we act smart. If the beach access continues to be open this summer, it will be easier to keep some distance between locals, especially if they are fishing. Folks that fish too close to each other will suffer tangled lines and complicate a fun and socially isolated day in the sun. Until then, remember there are still options for saltwater fishing, just not on a beach. Here are a couple of suggestions for shore fishing spots that are available now.
Lee, Charlotte and Sarasota County Park beaches are now open as are boat ramps, although each county states on their website that this may change. Keep in mind that most piers are closed to avoid spreading the COVID 19 virus. So, take a look at Google Maps and Google Earth to find options for shore fishing or kayak launching.
Here are a couple of spots nearby that we have found productive in the past that are accessible now:
• Lemon Bay Park – This spot, in addition to miles of beautiful trails, has some really fine wade fishing flats. If you head down the stairs at the kayak launch, the flats to the north get gradually deeper from the shore out to the ICW channel. Wading about waist deep in warm bay water will put you into some trout, ladyfish, snook, pompano and redfish while the breeze cools your topside. If you head to the south end of the park, exit the path before the last boardwalk pier to find a long, shallow sand bar leading south into Lemon Bay. The canal nearby that drains into the bay at low tide, attracts gamefish here. There are a couple of deeper sand holes at the end of the bar that are worth a cast or two.
• Shamrock Park – As with all parks in Sarasota County and around here in general, the amenities are closed. We like to park near the tennis courts then walk between them, straight ahead to the trail leading to the ICW. There you’ll find a picnic table and a shelter for shade or rain. The red channel marker #52 shows how close the dredged channel comes to the shore here. We like this spot on a tide falling to the north. For the best bite, cast into the channel and retrieve your rig until you feel resistance as you begin to pull it up the side of the dredged channel. Most fish cruise this edge as they pass by. The Venetian Waterway Trail gives access to the length of the ICW in this part of Venice. Some folks just walk or bicycle along ignoring the great fishing here. If you’re into multi-tasking, try walking along the trail and stopping every now and then to cast a jig or lure as you go. Good exercise but remember to stay socially distant on the trail.
• Cedar Point Environmental Park – has access to some good wading spots but they require a bit more walking to get to them. From the main building and parking lot, head southwest on the “jeep trail” towards the kayak launch and dock at Cedar Point. The bottom around this dock is pretty hard and good for wading. The wading gets a little tougher and the bottom softer if you wade to the north. When you head back towards the parking lot, take the first trail to the south and find another protected bay with wadable flats, oyster bars and sandy beaches.
So these are a couple of our favorites. Get a few live shrimp or a pocket full of jigs and lures and get outside. Fishing is one of the best activities to stay safely isolated from others while you catch some fresh air and sunshine in southwest Florida. Just remember to social distance from other humans and try to keep at least 100 feet between you and any other anglers to avoid tangling your lines.
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.