As much as I love ice fishing in MN my wife Kellie and I love to be able to spend a week in Florida each Spring to visit family and hit the beach… But a vacation just wouldn’t be a vacation without a little fishing right??
This was my 3rd year of slowly putting a few pieces of the puzzle together and having some new successes each year. As an IDO ProStaffer when I post reports I always do my best to explain the technical details of what I was doing to succeed; however, since I’m nowhere near an expert on Florida fishing I decided rather than try and teach you the technical details I would share my own “tourist” view from our recent trips to Fort Myers as I work to learn this fishery one week per year.
As always with whatever location you plan to fish finding the best local information that you can is your number one key to success… Prior to heading down for my first year I actually posted here on IDO asking for anyone with experience in the Ft. Myers area where we stay. In a testament to what an amazing resource this site is several other members reached out to me including my first time talking with Phil Bauerly (aka Fancaster) who helped me out in Ft. Myers and has since become a great friend. Here is a link a report I posted after my first Florida fishing experience – Surf Casting Snook.
During our one week annual trips over the past two years I’ve gradually continued to learn by talking to bait shops, folks I meet on the beach, and even by using Google Earth to come up with new places explore. Casting Rapala X-raps, Kastmaster spoons, and even B-Fishin’ Paddle tails all will catch something.
I’ve even able to catch a few in the middle of a crowded swimming beach and cross Mackerel off my species list off of a hotel pier while visiting friends.
This year my father-in-law and I decided we needed to get out in a boat so we decided to do a little research and hire a guide. Now similar to finding the right spot to fish finding the right guide to fish with involves doing your homework before you get to the lake… Lucky for me my FIL has been going there for years and has a network of friends who we were able to utilize to find not just a “drop-line/hotel” guide but someone who is a serious fisherman’s guide. After a little networking by my father-in-law and some online research we settled Paul Hobby (http://www.fishinghobby.com/) and were very happy we did. From the very start of the day when Paul went out of his way to find and net his own Threadfin herring as opposed to just using the typical and easier to come by shrimp or even pinfish Paul didn’t settle for doing things the easy was so we got along perfectly.
The other thing I appreciated about Paul was that he loves targeting big fish on light tackle which made our trip all the more fun. Two more species off my list this year were Redfish and Grouper. It’s almost unbelievable to me how much harder a 22″ Gag Grouper pulls than a 22″ smallie even though they are very similar in size. I can also see what all the fuss is about Redfish… The excitement that comes with catching a fish that pulls like a tank in extremely clear, shallow water while trying to keep them out of the Mangroves was a rush.
If anyone is heading down to the Fort Myers area and looking for information on do it yourself fishing feel free to send me a PM or if you’re looking to save yourself the hassle of bringing your own gear give Paul a shout.