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TYPE OF INSHORE FISH YOU CAN CATCH IN AND AROUND ENGLEWOOD, VENICE & BOCA GRANDE FLORIDA

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The fishing is excellent in Englewood, Venice & Boca Grande and there are plenty of different fish you can catch inshore.

Some of the inshore fish you can catch in Venice, Englewood & Boca Grande are:

  • Snook

  • Red Fish

  • Mangrove Snapper

  • Pompano

  • Sheepshead

  • Jack Crevalle

  • Tarpon

  • Sea Trout

  • Hardhead Saltwater Catfish

  • Spanish Mackerel

  • Black Drum

  • Goliath Grouper

  • Sand Brim

  • Ladyfish

  • Mullet

  • Pinfish

SNOOK

Snook can be found in both freshwater and saltwater environments. Fun Fact: All Snook under about 21 inches are males and then once they grow longer than about 21 inches, they turn female.

 

They are highly protected by the FWC and you can only keep Snook within a specific range of inches and only at certain times per year. You can still have fun catching them, but only keep the ones in the slot range during snook season.

Snook are very smart and so that are also a spooky fish. They can easily sense prey in the water due to their highly visible lateral line. One of the most effective ways to catch a snook is with a 3–5-inch white paddle tail or live bait. They hang out near structure, like mangroves and docks. They tend to hang out in the tidal creeks and canals in the winter (but can be found year-round there) and the bays and gulf shorelines during the summer.

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REDFISH (RED DRUM)

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In general, Florida’s Redfish slot is no less than 18 inches and no more than 27 inches and there are certain times of the year  when you are not allowed to keep them. They are a delicious fish and worth the patience to find them and hook’em.

They are usually around oyster beds, mud flats and mangroves. They tend to be very spookish, so don’t be surprised if you cast into a school and they all swim away. They like to come into the flats and creeks on an incoming tide.

Redfish will love to chomp on live bait such such as mullet and crabs, but will also take down a chuck of dead mullet too. They do like top-water lures as well as spoons, soft plastic shrimp and paddle tails.

MANGROVE SNAPPER

As the name suggests, these like to hangout in the mangroves. They are a small, but fun fighting fish and make some excellent fish tacos. Keep the hook size small since they tend to steal your bait if the hook is too large and you will get a better hook-up rate.

They love to eat small crabs, shrimp or small fish, so any of those for live bait will work. You can freeline the bait over to the mangroves or docks and just wait for them to strike or use a popping cork. Fiddler crabs are definitely on their menu which you can find under rocks by the shoreline.

If you don’t have live bait, a small piece of shrimp does just fine. I have even used the store bought already peeled and cooked shrimp with success. The eating habits and habitat are similar to Sheepshead, so you will likely catch both.

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POMPANO

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The best place to catch a Pompano is on the beach. The best way to catch Pompano is with a Pompano rig, (who would have thought). A Pompano rig is basically a weight at the end of the line, followed up with a couple dropper loops with a hook and float on each of them. Best bait is sand fleas. You can catch sand fleas using a sand flea rake.

They are a tasty fish and since they are part of the jack family,, they put up a good fight. Pompano likes cooler waters and are usually around in the wintertime. However, you can catch them year-round here. Sometimes they cruise up tidal creeks and canals, but the beach is the best place to find them.

What is fun about fishing for Pompano, is that you really never know what you are going to catch. Its not like Pompano are the only ones that like sand fleas and shrimp. Sit back and relax on a beautiful beach and catch some fish. What more could you want? 

SHEEPSHEAD

Sheepsheads have strange looking  teeth that look like human teeth, but Sheepshead are quite tasty. The taste is similar to a Triggerfish with a firm texture and because their diet consists of a bunch of crab, the meat has a shellfish flavor. Sheepshead also makes a good choice of meat for ceviche.

Sheepsheads can be found near rocky ledges, barnacles, mangroves and anything that invites crabs. So, the best bait to use are fiddler crabs, mangrove crabs or shrimp (dead or alive). In clear water they are pretty easy to see and so you can spot fish. Using a popping cork keeps the bait up.

 

You should use a small hook and when you feel like you have a bite, set the hook, because they tend to be good bait stealers. 

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JACK CREVALLE

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Jack Crevalle are a strong fighting fish that can be found along the beaches and inshore in the bays, tidal creeks and canals. They will hit about anything and are usually caught while targeting something else.

Of course, live shrimp and live fish/bait are an excellent way to hook these ferocious fish, they can be caught on tackle as well. You can use soft baits, spoons, top-water plugs and Rapalas. We have had plenty of luck catching jack while trolling in a kayak.

Jack Crevalle can be a good fish to eat, IF, IF you know how to properly fillet the fish. Otherwise they do not make good table fare and are pretty bloody.

TARPON

Tarpon is a big game fish that loves Englewood’s waters. They are typically found in the deeper bays and inlets, but many smaller ones will swim up tidal creeks and canals. Tarpon can get up to eight (8) feet long.

They will eat about anything and every captain or fisherman have their own preferences, but some of the usual methods includes live bait (mullet, crabs, ladyfish), lures, flies or dead bait on the bottom. When you hook into a Tarpon expect at least a few leaps into the air (if the first one didn’t throw the hook).

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SPOTTED SEA TROUT

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Sea Trout or Speckled Tout can be found on mudflats and oyster beds; in creek mouths under docks and under mangroves at higher tides. But, the speckled trout’s LOVE their grass flats above all other places.

The preferred method to catch a speckled trout is with a popping cork and a live shrimp or white bait at least 18 inches under the cork. You can also use Berkeley Gulp shrimp or swimming mullet under the same popping cork.

HARD HEAD SALTWATER CATFISH

The Hard Head Saltwater Catfish is considered a nuisance, although many people do eat them. They tend to eat anything, so they compete with the fish you are targeting.

If and when you do catch them, you need to be extremely careful not to get poked by the barbed spines. One is located on its dorsal fin and the other two on on its pectoral fins. They hurt much worse than freshwater catfish and the pain can last days or even weeks.

They say the meat is actually pretty tasty (just like freshwater) but filleting can be tricky. They have a hard bony plate from their eyes to their dorsal fin and have a large rib cage too. You tend to lose out on some of the meat since you have to cut around much of its body.

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SPANISH MACKEREL

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Spanish Mackerel are a fun warm water fish that tend to be in schools. You can catch them off the beach, in the bays and harbors and sometimes in the flats.

Best way to catch them is with large spoons or Rapalas. Look for birds or bait fish boiling and chances are that a school of Spanish Mackerel are nearby.

Trolling is the preferred method and gives you the opportunity to cover more ground. Now some people love, love to eat them while others don't care for them that much. They tend to be a bit on the oily, fishy side.

BLACK DRUM

Smaller Black Drum kind of look like Sheepshead, with their stripes and coloring. When they get bigger, you can't confuse them because they get 30, 40 even 100 pounds.

It is said not to eat them when they are bigger than 24 inches or so, because they tend to have parasites or worms. Slot Limit: 14-24" with one fish over 24" (total of 5 fish)..

Black Drum have a good sense of smell and like stinky baits, either live or dead. Live or dead shrimp work well They can be found under brides, docks and they will come to the flats looking for shrimp and crabs. fiddler and Blue Crabs are an excellent bait choice too.

They are an ugly fish but they fight and taste really well. Now go catch some Englewood Black Drum.

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COMMON BAIT FISH IN VENICE, ENGLEWOOD & BOCA GRANDE

MOJARRA (SAND BRIM)

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Most people use Mojarra as bait to catch Snook or Tarpon, but they can also be delicious to eat. A common way to catch them is with a throw net at the beach or even in tidal creeks and canals. They are a schooling fish, so when you get one, you usually get more.

When used as a bait fish, they are more lively and stay alive longer than other bait fish. Size the hook according to your bait size. They are nicknamed "Snook Candy" for a reason so you should be able to hook up if you have these guys.

Though not often, you can catch them with hook and line. They will usually go after small bits of shrimp and may catch them as a bycatch.

MULLET

You may be wondering what are those fish jumping? Well, chances are they are Mullet. Mullet aren't a prized fish to catch. In fact, they are hard to catch on rod and reel and most people catch them by using a throw net.

They are filter feeding fish who rarely will hit something on a hook. I have heard stories of people using corn, or flies, but I haven't had any luck.

I use a throw net and then use them as bait. For the bigger ones, I use them as cut bait for a variety of predatory fish. If you are lucky and get some smaller ones, known as finger Mullet, you can use them as live bait and you'll be sure to catch something. You can eat hem, although not many do. Most people will smoke them.

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PINFISH

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Pinfish are excellent live bait. They are hardy and stay alive longer than other bait fish. There are a few different ways to catch them: Pinfish trap, hook and line or cast netting.

Trap. You can put some chum in the trap, relax and wait. Easy peasy.

Hook and line. You can use a small hook (very small) with a weight at the end of the line and then put a small  piece of shrimp, or cut fish. Sabiki Rigs are a go to rig to catch Pinfish. You can use the pre-hooked "lure" or use shrimp or pieces of old Berkley baits you got hanging around.

Cast net. Another method is to use a cast net. When doing this, make sure you are throwing the net on an area where the net won't get stuck.

FISHING GEAR MENTIONED ABOVE

(OR CLICK ON THE UNDERLINED WORD IN EACH SECTION )

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Ready to go fishing? Check out these local fishing charter companies

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INSHORE FISHING TIPS FOR VENICE, ENGLEWOOD & BOCA GRANDE FLORIDA

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