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A Busy Week Fishing Some New Waters

Capt. Butch Rickey
May 22, 2014
Pine Island Sound - Saltwater Fishing Report

Report for the week ending 4/5/14........

I got in four trips this week, and the first three were all with my friend Dr. John Wilkinson, of Marquette, Michigan. We fished last September, and had a great day. But, the fishing has continued tough this year, and I really wanted to get him on a good bite somewhere.

We began on Monday, fishing Punta Rassa Cove out of Port Comfort Marina. We had fished the causeway A span, which is across the river from the Cove, last year. We had a good tide, and I really expected things to turn on.

We were on our first spot by around 9 AM. The bite began well, but after a couple dozen trout, turned off cold. We moved on, and I parked John on a favorite redfish spot of mine. I went nearby in search of reds and snook. John did manage one redfish. I came up empty at my spot. We fished a number of other spots, and worked them hard, but never saw another redfish, or any fish.

As our tide ran out of gas we headed back to port by way of one of the several mangrove tunnels there. Once out of the tunnels, I decided to see if we could scare up a snook or two on the back side of Connie Mack Island. We did manage a couple of jack crevalle on topwater plugs, but no snook. The bite continues to be off.


I asked John if he was up for a little adventure and exploring. He said he was. We went to Clam Bayou to fish, and I hadn't been in there in decades, since I was a kid growing up out there. There have been many changes to it over the years, and in fact a good portion of it used to be the old Blind Pass, when it wrapped far along the outside of Sanibel to the southeast. There used to be a cut from the western most part into the gulf. It was very shallow, but on the falling tides the outside of the cut would be full of snook, and they were easy to catch. I can't remember, but I think Charlie closed that tidal cut into the Bayou. Now, it only exchanges water through the single culvert that connects the eastern most side of the cove to Ding Darling. But, the tides don't resemble the tides on the outside because only so much water can flow in and out of that culvert.

We launched around 9:30 that morning and were on our way. It's small, but very pretty, and it seemed that there were ospreys on every other broken Australian Pine. The morning air was filled with the songs of the ospreys, and I'd never heard so many chirping at one time. There were plenty of other birds, too. We began working the edges, with me on the east side, and John on the west. Actually, if you're a good distance caster, you can fish both shores from the middle through most of it.

It wasn't long before I had a bone crushing hit. I normally know what I've hooked within a second or two, but this fish faked me at first. It made some great runs, but didn't jump. I though it might be a big snook, as generally they don't jump. But, as I enjoyed the fish I finally got a good look at it, and it was indeed a beautiful redfish that wound up being 30 inches. She had to go back.

We continued to work our way down along the shore. There was a lot to throw lures at. John and I finally split up as the area spread a bit. I thought John would surely catch, as his area looked so good. I went on a little farther and found another area similar to what John was fishing, and went to work. I boated another red, lost another big one that really did a head job on me at first, let several other redfish get away while I was messing with my Go-Pro instead of taking care of business, and boated half dozen snook. When I talked to John and found he had not caught, I called him in to me. He did get one snook, but that was it for the day. I felt very bad for him, and comped him the day. It was time to head in. We'd try again tomorrow, at another place.


I decided to fish Estero Bay on Wednesday. Boy, did that turn out to be a mistake. I don't know what was going on, but I've never seen traffic in there like we had that day. It looked like Grand Central Station, and there were boat and jet skis running every which direction!! We had a good tide, so that wasn't the problem. But, from the time we hit the water in Estero at nine o'clock it was just nuts. And, of course, there was no bite. On top of all that, the wind was supposed to be 5 to 10 out of the southeast, but it was way more than advertised.

We fished both sides of the Bay. I put John on a spot on the east side that has always been very good for my guys, giving up reds, snook, and trout almost always. I went hunting for a bite while John fished there. I thought the best thing he could do was stay right there and keep working the area. It always produces.

I managed one nice redfish on my hunting excursion, and there were boats around me and near me most of the time. John finally got a snook at his spot. He also got a lizard fish on a spoon. That's no easy feat, I'll tell you. I had about 6 hits all day long, and only got the one red hooked up. I also let a red get away at the last stop. With all the boats around, many of them were guide boats, and even more were fishing. I watch and listen, and try to gauge whether they're catching. On most guide boats it's pretty easy to tell; there's hollering, laughing, bragging, and high-fiving going on, and if you're not too far away, you can see the splashing around the boat from the fish. I DID NOT see a fish caught other than the one I caught, all day long.

It was the same thing at the ramp. No fish. Once John and I got the boats loaded and gear put away, we began our hour journey back up Estero Island to the Pincher's Crab Shack on San Carlos Blvd. John treated us to a great dinner and cocktails there. By that time, they were much appreciated, too.


On Saturday, we had the second Heroes On The Water (HOW) Lee County Chapter event up on the Myakka River out of the Myakka RV Park on US 41 right at the bridge. It was still dark when I arrived, and I had to call Esteban Gutierrez, the chapter president, to come out and meet me. Once the sun was up and everyone was there, I was shocked to hear that we had ten guides plus other volunteers to cook, etc., and no Heroes to take fishing! I never heard why.

Eventually, we took off to do some fishing. Some of us went north, and some south. I've been wanting to go up and fish the river for a long time, but never found the time to do it. I went north. We all fished hard. We'd run into each other while fishing, and no one was catching anything.

Finally, with maybe an hour or so left to fish, I decided to head south of the bridge. Soon, I found an interesting little spot that is the kind of stuff I like to fish. I caught my first fish of the day; a small red. I caught another. And, another. It's been a month, now, and I've forgotten how many reds I caught, but Dave Harper, who guides out of West Wall Boat Works in North Port Charlotte, showed up after I found the reds, and it ended up that we both caught 4 or 5 fish, me reds, and Dave small snook, and both lost 4. And, as best I can remember those were the only fish caught. If you read this and know differently, please let me know. It was a fun day. I got to fish some new water, and meet some very nice new people who are willing to give their time to benefit our wounded VETS.


Don't know when the fishing is going to get back to normal. A very wet winter, continued dumping from Lake O until just recently, and perhaps other factors seem to be the main offenders in putting the bite off. I just heard from a good friend of mine today (5/9/2014) and he's so unhappy with the situation here, he's asking me about other places to fish that are within a couple of hours. And, he's a heck of a good angler. Kinda says it all, I guess.

Eventually, Mother Nature will straighten things out, and fishing will be good, again.

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Top Florida fishing guide, Capt. Butch Rickey has fished the waters of Pine Island Sound around Sanibel, Captiva, and Pine Islands, as well as Charlotte Harbor, Sarasota Bay, Terra Ceia Bay, and southern Tampa Bay, for much of his 65 years. He now offers guided kayak fishing trips, as well as sightseeing and bird watching tours anywhere that can be reached by kayak from southern Tampa Bay to Estero Bay.

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BarHopp'R Kayak Fishing
11520 E Palm Drive
Ft. Myers, FL 33908
Phone: 239-628-3522
Alt. Phone: 239-633-5851
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