With such a wealth of water that’s home to literally hundreds of fish species, fishing is something many people come here specifically to do, and I—a staff member for years--finally did it!
Before this experience, my last try was too long ago to count, so I consider myself very much a beginner. As such, I was happy to trust my first “real” fishing trip in the area to one of our amazing captains, Captain Jay Withers of Silver Lining Charters.
So Many Fish, the Perfect Amount of Time
Let me tell you, fishing our waters is a blast.
We headed out for a 4 hour trip, departing from Eldred’s Marina in search of snook, redfish, and whatever else found our fresh bait appealing.
Learning to cast was the source of some mild hilarity, but we pretty quickly got the hang of it. Importantly, we didn’t hook ourselves, each other, Captain Jay, or the boat.
The first few fish took advantage of my inexperience and absconded with my bait because I didn’t reel fast enough, but soon enough, we were bringing them in one right after the other. At just our first location, we landed plenty of snook, redfish, and some pretty little sea trout.
Our bait was irresistible to several terns and gulls. We learned to reel as quickly as possible to make them release the bait so they didn’t get hooked. Thankfully, none of our feathered friends made it to the boat.
At one of our stops, a dolphin decided he’d cut some corners and try to grab the snook we released. He was unsuccessful but very determined. While it’s always a thrill to see a dolphin in the wild, it also became a bit of an issue. His antics actually caused us to find another location pretty quickly. After all, when catching and releasing, it’s best if the fish have a chance to actually swim away and recover instead of having to dodge a hungry dolphin. He did treat us to an epic wake jump as we were leaving, so no hard feelings, I assume.
Drop a Line, the Water’s…Full of Fish
Our final location was absolutely crazy. Captain Jay set us up in a huge and hungry school of bonita, who literally hit the bait the minute it touched the water. These gorgeous fish, with their squiggly patterns and shifting colors, are unbelievably strong. I was able to land just two before my hands, arms, and shoulders were done. My compatriot kept going though, landing 4 or 5 of the beasts. As she said, based on their strength, you’d think they’d be much bigger.
There are a lot of fishing options in this area, and with this great experience under my belt, I’m inspired to try them all.
If you’ve ever thought, “that looks like fun” when seeing someone fish, you’re right! And Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach is the perfect place to go for it, whether you want to try the deeper waters, the freshwaters, or fish from a dock, pier, or even one of our beautiful beaches. There are expert captains and friendly bait shops across the area who will be more than happy to help you get set up and put you on the fish, and you can even rent a boat if you want to fend for yourself (be sure to get yourself a fishing license first, at MyFWC.com).