Saturday, July 16, 2011
Florida Fishing: Canals
We just returned home from a Florida fishing trip/vacation. The house we were staying in was right on a small canal on Anna Maria Island, which is typical of southwest Florida. In all honesty, I hadn’t done much saltwater fishing in canals prior to this trip, and we hadn’t really planned on doing much on this trip. Our original plans were to spend our time fishing Tampa Bay. As it turned out, however, the canal fishing was perfect for the kids, and it also held a few surprises for the adult anglers.
Most of the canals are lined with concrete sea walls, and oysters and barnacles are thick on the rough surface. Also, small docks line the canals, and their support posts are also encrusted in bivalves. The structure underneath the docks provides great cover for baitfish, and larger fish enjoy dining on the baitfish, the oysters, and the barnacles. I figured sheepshead would be frequent visitors, but what surprised me were the other large fish that patrolled the canals.
The mangrove snapper and pinfish were so numerous that fishing with shrimp was next to impossible. You couldn’t toss out a shrimp without it immediately being taken by a pinfish, snapper, croaker, or whiting. This was perfect for keeping the kids entertained, but we were hoping for something bigger, and we got it.
Redfish. Red drum. Reds. At night and in the early morning, big reds were swimming our canal in search of prey. We discovered this sort of by accident. We used a couple of live pinfish on two rods and tossed them into the center of the canal. We left the lines out overnight. The next morning, there was a big red on one, and the other line had been stripped. We had similar experiences for several days in a row. We forgot all about fishing the bay on this fishing trip!