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Fishing Matanzas Pass in a Kayak

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On: Wed, Apr 17, 2013 at 9:32AM | By: John Paeno

Ft. Myers Beach, Matanzas Pass, early morning in April and the conditions are right. The temperature is suppose to go to near ninety today. Right now it is 75 degrees. The high tide is around 6:30am and the tide will be coming in until 1pm. Light winds changing to offshore by midday. Water temperatures starting out the day at 73 degrees with a light chop. I have been “Jonesing” for a good day of fishing and I am hoping this is the day.

With the cold water temps over the winter I figure the fish should be hungry in the warming water. Fish are cold blooded animals and need warmth to stimulate feeding. Temps over 70 degrees are perfect. As these waters get even warmer into the summer they will see the migrations of Tarpon, Shark, Mackerel, and many other prime game fish. But today the target is “RED.”

I load up my RTM Key Largo fishing yak with two rods. One rod with a large spool of 12-pound mono with an eighty-pound leader and the other with a small spool set up the same way. I will be casting up against and around the oyster- and barnacle-covered mangrove tap roots. You need a strong leader if the fish take you into them. I use a 3-pound four-prong anchor on about ten feet of line. Two packs of four-inch fake shrimp bait, pearl white, and a bottle of water. The water is between 1½ - 2 feet deep. I like to keep covered in this sun so I wear a hat that covers my ears, neck, and forehead. I wear Bomber wrap-around floating sunglasses (I have a couple of expensive sunglasses sitting in the bottom of the Pass). Don’t be afraid to apply the sunscreen liberally.

I launch at about 9:30am and paddle to the back side of the pass, up against the mangrove edge and on a nice broad grass flat. On the paddle over I anchor up on a couple small sand bars and manage to get a nice Speckled Sea Trout. Once on the other side, I start to methodically work the flat and tree edge with my fake shrimp. I like the pearl white and it appears that the Reds do too. Within a short time I had hooked up to a 20-inch Red.

I dropped the anchor and switched on the camera. I use a circle hook so I didn’t need to yank the hook to set it. Instead I just gradually tugged it until it was firmly set. The drag ripped out and the fight was on. I brought it to the boat and cast out again and got hit again instantly. This time I caught a 25-incher.

They hit the pearl white fakes every cast until I ran out of bait! I had only five to start with. Then I got out some root beer-colored ones and tried them. I caught a couple more, but they were smaller and were farther between hook-ups than with the white ones. All told, I caught two Reds over 25 inches and six between 15 and 20 inches. I had a fellow yak fisherman pull up next to me, so I decided I had enough and let him have the hole. It was 11:30am, so I decided to paddle back to the park. You can see the videos on the Calusa Ghost Tours Facebook page or on YouTube by searching calusajohn.

I try to go out fishing once a week in the good weather and right conditions and anyone is free to join me. If you don’t have a yak you can rent one on-site. For more info you can contact me at 239-938-5342 or


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