Nearshore Beaches of Casey Key, Venice, and Nokomis Fishing Report
The Bernhard Family—Ted, Judy, and Bob—are safely ensconced once again in Chicago (Ted and Judy) and Fort Lauderdale (Bob) after three days of crashing around the nearshore and backcountry of southwest Florida.
Ted was the raffle winner of a fishing package I had worked out two years ago with the DuPage River Fly Tyers (DRIFT), and we made it a truly memorable three days.
We hit Gasparilla Sound last Wednesday (March 28) and after some casting instruction both Ted and Judy promptly got into ladyfish and trout. Quite a few ladyfish and trout!
Finally, Judy pointed to her watch and made it abundantly clear that it was time for chow. That meant a run south through Charlotte Harbor to the restaurant on Cabbage Key.
This place is a dark and always crowded, with walls and ceilings covered by an estimated 70,000 US dollar bills. Yep. Complete with names and sentiments written all over them in black magic-marker. But you also can eat your burgers or mahi sandwiches on the patio that overlooks the dockage. Which we did.
There’s a small gift shop down at the dock, plus motel rooms and cottages for rent (two night minimum) beginning at $99. Naturally, Judy wandered off to the gift shop while we waited for lunch. She came back empty-handed, though, proclaiming “nothing I can’t live without.”
Judy slept in Thursday morning, allowing Ted’s old business partner, Skip Shaffer, to drive up from North Fort Myers and join us for a morning in the Gulf outside Stump Pass.
The guys had lots of laughs hooking small snapper, lizardfish, and a Sea Robin—which is a fish with legs and wings. Honest. You could look it up!
Skip finally caught several Spanish mackerel before we headed back to for a siesta before taking Ted, Judy and son Bob night snooking.
I’ve gotta tell you, this season’s night snook action is a far, far cry from what I wrote about for Fly Fisherman magazine. It’s been TOUGH!
Last year, we couldn’t keep the fish from jumping into the boat. This year it’s been a great night if we boated a half-dozen. At least Bob hooked, played, and landed a 24-incher that went about four pounds.
Friday found us looking for baby tarpon in the Myakka River. Yes, we found them. No, we couldn’t hook up. Plenty of 25-pounders rolling, but always just thatmuch out of shooting range!
I put the Hewes Redfisher back onto the trailer and we headed for Stump Pass and the Gulf once again. After a pleasant lunch at Marker 17 Restaurant and Grille, I’m happy to report that everyone caught Spanish mackerel and had a wonderful time on the water.
After two days of R&R I was back at it this morning—except the Spaniards refused to participate. Don Gasch did have a pretty good morning, though. He boated a hefty redfish in Dona Bay, and some ladyfish and bluefish in Little Sarasota Bay.
I’ve got trips the next several days with Bob Bowman, then Jim Rohrbacher, Dean Morton. Chryss Harrington, and Brad Hardin.
I’ll keep you posted on developments. Now it’s time to get up to Casey Key Anglers & Outfitters for our free fly tying class.
Ps—my 1995 Hewes Bayfisher, with its low-time 90hp motor, is for sale. Just $9,750 for this meticulously maintained boat, re-manned motor and new Continental trailer and tires!
Ted, Judy, and Bob Bernhard are happy anglers
Bob Bernhard nailed this 4-pound, 24-inch snook under the lights in Snook Alley
About The Author: Captain Tony Petrella
Company: Tight Loops Fly Fishing
Area Reporting: Lower Tampa Bay, Sarasota, Charlotte Harbor, Pine Island Sound
Bio: Capt. Tony has been fly fishing for more than 40 years, and is a Certified Casting Instructor for the Federation of Fly Fishers. He has been guiding on Michigan's world-famous trout streams with his classic Au Sable Longboat for 16 years. He's spent the past 11 winters in Venice, Florida, and uses a 2007 Hewes Redfisher 18 to cover the flats and backcountry from Tampa to Everglades National Park.