Spring saltwater success for an Indiana sportsman, his family and freinds
My wife, daughter, two friends and I left Franklin County, Indiana for Punta Gorda, Florida in late April and had a great saltwater fishing trip. Cole Meyers, Larry Ison and I fished from a boat with a guide. We also fished from a beach in the area (where my daughter got in on the action), catching a variety of fish over the course of the trip [see maps below]. The drive down took about 15 hours. If you take Allegiant airlines, you can fly directly into Punta Gorda.
For the boat fishing, we left from Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda where King Fisher Fleet is docked. We spent a whole day at Fishermen’s Village which has a lot of outdoor bars and shops along the water.
We took out an inshore charter in 21-foot skiff powered by a 150hp Yamaha. Captain Brad was our guide. It was about a 15-20 minute ride out to some rock bluffs. A recent blow left the water a little cloudy; the weather was clear with temperatures in the low 80s.
The fishing was almost easy. We used light spinning tackle with an ⅛ oz jig and live shrimp, catching snapper, blowfish and sheephead. Cole Meyers hooked into a 31-inch cobia. The guide asked if we’d like to try our luck on shark, and of course we said yes. He took us to a nice, big, shallow sand flat where we used bobbers with jig heads and shrimp.
We hooked into three sharks and were able to boat a bonnet shark. Regulations allow you to keep two bonnets of any size per boat. Afterwards the guide cleaned and bagged our fish.
The charter cost $375 for up to three people for a 4-hour trip, license fees included.
For the beach fishing, I was advised to go to Stump Pass Beach, just south of Englewood. It’s a nice beach and a short walk to the fishing. We found tons of shark teeth and seashells.
I used a ½ oz slip sinker and 2-foot leader rigged with live shrimp. Everyone around was very helpful and answered all my questions. Before long I was reeling in whiting, sheephead, snook, flounder and jack. In three hours I landed over 20 fish. I didn’t keep any as I didn’t have a way to clean them.
The fee for a 3-day, non-resident, saltwater license was $17. Parking at Stump Pass Beach was $15, and spaces are limited so you need to get there early.
Overall the fishing was great for a rookie saltwater fisherman. When you go, be sure to visit Village Brewhouse at Fishermen’s Village – it was our favorite restaurant of the trip.
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Punta Gorda, Florida
Stump Pass Beach