Fishing becomes an adventure once you get down on the western coast of Florida. There are just so many variables that become important factors in the success of any fishing trip. Mother Nature also likes to get into the mix. A pleasant day out in the backwaters or out on the Gulf of Mexico can turn deadly quickly with unpredictable weather for inexperienced anglers. Hiring a knowledgeable fishing guide not only can make your fishing outings more successful, but also keep you safe. With over 30 years experience on the water, Captain Mike Smith, Mangrove Island Charters, has seen and been through it all while guiding in the Boca Grande, Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach, Pine Island, Matlacha and surrounding areas.
Captain Smith (www.mangroveislandcharters.com or phone (239)573-3474) mainly guides for redfish, tarpon, snook and trout. “I use live bait about 90% of the time with clients. Live bait just seems to catch more and bigger fish day in and day out,” said Captain Smith. Most of his live bait consist of whitebait (pilchards), shiners, pinfish, threadfin herring, shrimp and cut up lady fish that Captain Smith goes out and catches with a casting net early in the morning before taking the clients out for the day.
Captain Smith also uses artificial lures for catching redfish, tarpon, snook and trout. “It takes more patience to put the lure correctly in front of a redfish, tarpon, snook or a trout and get them to bite, but a skillful angler can do it,” explained Captain Smith. Besides using conventional tackle, Captain Smith also takes clients out fly fishing. “I love to take anglers out that are fly fishing. It’s really an exciting way of catching a tarpon, redfish, snook or trout and fun to watch when the angler hooks up,” said Captain Smith.
What influences the fish to bite where Captain Smith guides? “There are several factors that indicate how successful a guide trip is going to be including lunar phases, tides and water temperatures when fishing in the backwaters. The best conditions to fish is when you have a full moon or new moon with water temperatures between 72- to 76-degrees,” said Captain Smith.
When asked about peak times to go fishing, Captain Smith noted that there were certain months when fishing is better for redfish, tarpon, snook and trout. “Redfishing is at its peak in January, February, March, April, May and December. For Tarpon May, June and July are great especially for fly fishing. The snook fishing peaks in April and May. While trout fishing is great in January, February, March, April, May, December and pretty good the other months,” explained Captain Smith.
Captain Smith only uses St. Croix rod on his flats boat. He favors the Avid Series Inshore rods for his guide clients and personal use. “I use the St. Croix Avid Series Inshore 7’ MLF action rod for about 85% of all the backwater fishing we do. It’s a great rod that you can use with either live bait or for casting artificial lures,” said Captain Smith.
When fishing around heavy cover, boat docks or for larger fish Captain Smith will switch to a heavier rod like the Avid Series Inshore 7’ MF. He will change to the Avid Series Inshore 8’ HF model when tarpon fishing. It’s rated for fishing line up to 40 pound test. “I like this rod because the longer 8’ rod allows me or my clients the ability to make longer more accurate casts,” explained Captain Smith.
Captain Smith guides from Estero through Boca Grande. For his clients it’s a great area (www.FortMyers-Sanibel.com) to vacation. An angler can go out on a guide trip in the morning then see the sights of the town at night. The beaches and islands are also great places to explore.
Are you ready to get a hook wet and catch a redfish, tarpon, snook or trout? Captain Smith can make that happen.
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