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Shore Fishing
home : features : shore fishing
June 9, 2023

5/5/2023 4:48:00 PM
Shore Fishing
Deer Prairie Creek Cold Launch at the new bridge.
Deer Prairie Creek Cold Launch at the new bridge.

Kimball & Les Beery
Angler's Guide to Kayak Fishing Southwest Florida

Angler's Guide To Deer Prairie Creek
One of our favorite spots, one we tried to keep off the radar for years, has reopened after an extensive closure for repairs and upgrades post Hurricane Ian. The grand opening event was March 28, 2023. We are grateful to Sarasota Parks for the invitation we received to attend this event. Here is our advice for anglers returning to this pristine area after the upgrades.
For over 10 years, this spot has been special to kayakers, SUP and canoe enthusiasts who enjoy this wild and remote creek. Deer Prairie Creek (DPC) offers paddlers easy access to places inaccessible to hikers. As an added attraction these tannin-colored waters are home to a population of gamefish including bluegill, speckled perch and largemouth bass. When DPC first opened to the public, we lived in North Port, and this was our favorite freshwater spot to launch and fish. We could paddle and fish for a couple of hours before sunset, and leave having caught and released over 20 bass each. Though still beautiful and productive, the fish population has plummeted due to excessive “catch and kill” fishing here. So, before going any further, we implore folks that enjoy this area to practice catch and release to prevent further damage to the gamefish populations.
Now for the guide part. We don’t know how or if the new ADA kayak launch pier will work but after you manage to get your boat on the water, head to the far end of the lake where DPC enters this lake. Our favorite lure in the spring is a Zoom Horny Toad™ in watermelon red on a 5/0 wide gap hook rigged weedless. Just cast onto shoreline vegetation and slowly retrieve it to your kayak. Further up this small creek, long casts aren’t necessary or even possible so flipping to pockets along the shore works if you’re stealthy.
The lake at the launch is one of 3 wide spots upstream. If you go in the middle of the day, a plastic worm like a Zoom Trick Worm™ in black, watermelon red, or pumpkin is a good choice. We use either a 2/0 or a 3/0 worm hook with a 1/16th ounce bullet weight. Again, we cast it onto the surface vegetation and allow it to drop as it comes off the edge into deeper water.
We haven’t been up this creek since the reopening after Ian so some of the descriptions of these areas may have changed a bit. We plan on checking it out in the next few weeks. One of the most scenic spots on DPC is found after you leave the third lake and enter what we call “The Oaks” part of the creek. Here huge oak trees form a canopy over the creek adorned with bromeliads and ferns. It is a cool shady spot on a hot afternoon. Old oak trees that fell in the water provide excellent cover for bass, but stealth is absolutely necessary in this quiet, shady spot. Pressure waves from your kayak will shut down these fish immediately. Just past “The Oaks”, you’ll find a shallow, sandy, open spot along the left shore to step out of your kayak.  Be sure to check the area for alligators before stepping out as this can be a favorite spot for them.
On up the creek, it gets narrower and can be challenging to paddle. Some notable landmarks along the creek include the fire cuts that intersect the creek. Further up, you’ll pass an area along the right shore populated by 16 (at last count) cabbage palms where some of our largest bass have been caught. Above this there is a rope swing held up between two palms that reach over the creek. A determined paddler might get up to the clearing above a “gravel bar” which used to be about as far as we could go. Above here, numerous downed trees blocked the stream and would require lots of chainsaw time to clear a path. The gravel bar is a great place to stand up and walk around after sitting in a kayak.
While kayaks and canoes are perfect for exploring this creek, we can’t recommend SUPs in the upper creek due to the low overhead branches in some areas. Other hazards include poison ivy along the banks and hanging from branches over the creek along with large spider webs with rather large spiders.  The usual late afternoon pests like biting flies and mosquitoes are here too. The thing most folks are concerned about is the alligator population. Yes, there are lots of alligators here, but they are not aggressive. When you see them slide into the water as you pass by, they are not attacking, just seeking to hide in the deepest water around, usually under your kayak. Of course, avoid ‘gators that have been fed and those encountered during mating season.

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