Fort Myers and Sanibel Waters have an abundance of artificial wrecks and reefs offering world class fishing various times of the year. Common catches include the usual cast of characters of Mangrove Snapper, Gag Grouper, King Mackerel, Bonita, a variety of species, Lane snapper, Spanish Mackerel, Barracuda and Sharks are plentiful and the ever present Goliath Grouper.
Seasonally, you can also find Cobia, Permit, Flounder and an assortment of interesting species that show up from time to time, like African Pompano, Pork fish, and Yellowtail Snapper. In the summer time you can find large Snook and Redfish congregating on the near shore structure.
My approach to fishing these locations is to keep it really simple.
We use heavy spinning gear Diawa Saltists 6500 spooled with 50 lb Power Pro line. I’ll double 3 feet of the line the tie to the doubled Power Pro. A 5-6 ft length of 50 lb test Flourocarbon leader attached to a # 5 to 7 Owner Circle Hook.
I like to put a couple out of free-lined baits with a pinfish or pigfish and one with a threadfin hearing if available over the structure or just in front of the up current side. To complement this, I’ll put a 1/2 oz to 3/4 oz sliding egg sinker, some times pegged, sometimes just as a knocker rig free to slide to the hook. There are advantages to both. At certain times of the year I will go to heavier Revolving spool rigs to turn big Gag Grouper that show up.
For Snapper and Permit, I’ll use smaller Shimano Stradic 4000’s spooled with 6 lb dia. 20 lb test Power Pro Braid. I’ve tried most of the rest of the braids and always come back to Power Pro even when Im offered the other brands free. The characteristics of the power pro including castability, durability and strength in my opinion is unmatched.
A length of Flourocarbon Leader 5-8 feet a maximum of 30 lb test for Mangrove Snapper and Permit. Attached to that will be either 1/4″ slipper type Jig tipped with a shrimp or small pinfish. Sometimes I will use Cut Blue runner strips or tomtates that cover the reefs. If you want to know what’s biting on a structure. A shrimp will tell the tale. Whitebaits and Threadfin are also great baits to try. At times one will out produce the other. It’s also fun to probe around the structure with Soft Plastics that turn up a little of everything. Hogy type plastics emulate eels and most reef type fish will key on that. Other very successful lures are Zman Plastics. The action and colors are very enticing and can even be rested on the bottom with the current causing tail action that fish eventually succumb to.
On trick I like to employ is also Trolling the structure. Pulling shallow or deep diving plugs can produce some outsized catches on Groupers, Cobia, Jacks, Kings and Bonita.
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