LADY ANGLER’S CORNER
Capt. Mary Fink
In the mangrove maze of South Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands, fish are plentiful. The key to productive fishing, however, often depends upon your ability to find the fish and to use the existing environmental conditions to your advantage.
Among these conditions are factors like water temperature, depth, wind direction and strength, tidal exchange, moon phase and structure. This author believes that, of these factors, tidal exchange and the presence of structure are most important, as structure provides habitat and tidal movement provides forage or food for fish, especially during an incoming tide.
Structure includes oyster beds, mangrove roots, protruding branches, pilings, buoys, wrecks, coral reefs, grass and more. When seeking a potentially good fishing area, be mindful of the type of structure that exists and where it exists. For example, when fishing from a craft, look for mangrove edges and points where you see water running in and around the point, where fish are likely to be holding and feeding.
Oyster beds are another good bet, although approach these areas with caution as the area around the bed could be shallow. Kayaks and canoes are preferred crafts which allow anglers to fish shallow waters, which are quite often found around oyster beds, with great success eliminating the fear of possibly losing a lower unit! Oyster beds are inhabited by critters like small crabs and other crustaceans which are rarely refused by local fish of all varieties.
When choosing to fish offshore, look for structure such as channel markers, buoys, floating objects, or wrecks where fish are most often found. By learning to become mindful of various types of structure, tidal exchange and other environmental factors, your general awareness of your immediate surroundings will become heightened and you will eventually develop a knack for finding fish.
In addition to the previously mentioned fish finding tips, this author believes that there are two other veryhelpful techniques that experienced anglers use to find fish. The first is to simply look for and follow feeding birds. Birds often feed on bait fish individually or in large numbers in passes and offshore where a school of fish aggressively feed and tear up bait fish from below, allowing the remaining pieces to float to the surface where the birds provide the final clean up. You may also notice a single opportunistic bird perched on a protruding mangrove branch diving in for an occasional passing minnow. In either of these instances, fish are likely to be present and actively feeding nearby, as both fish and birds feed on minnows or bait fish.
A final fish finding tip that has been proven to be successful time and time again is to carefully watch for any and all activity on the water’s surface. Snook often feed aggressively along mangrove edges and make their presence known to any angler paying attention to disturbances in the water. Tarpon can be found “rolling” in passes and inshore areas when feeding. Additionally, Jack crevalle, lady fish, pompano, spanish mackerel and other aggressive fish will penetrate the waters surface when bait fish are present.
You are now ready to go out and give these fish finding approaches a try! The Ten Thousand Islands provides the perfect place to start, whether in a craft or on the beach. The boundless beauty you will experience in the Islands can be somewhat mesmerizing, as well!
Captain Mary specializes in fishing the beautiful Ten Thousand Islands. She holds a “six pack” captains license and has a knack for finding fish. A passionate angler possessing over 35 years of extensive experience in both back country and offshore fishing, Mary offers fishing expeditions through her Island Girls Charters company. When fishing with Captain Mary, you will be exposed to a variety of successful techniques including cast and retrieve, drift fishing, bottom fishing and sight fishing.