Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Back Country Fish Finding Tips



Captain Mary A. Fink

It is safe to say that all anglers, regardless of experience level, enjoy being on the water. What’s not to like? The beauty of the water, bountiful wildlife, serenity and the wonders of nature all come together to make a memorable experience. Finding and catching fish on a regular basis will only enhance your days on the water, whether in a boat or fishing from a beach, dock or bridge. In this article, I will share with you some very simple, yet effective ways to locate fish in our local back country areas to maximize the enjoyment of your days on the water.

First, seek areas where structure and/or cover are located. Structure includes inshore and offshore points, reefs and islands. Cover includes things like fallen trees, docks, grass beds and other forms of vegetation.  Structure and cover are very important factors in your quest for finding fish because they provide shelter, food and habitat for practically all fish species. Look for areas where water is moving into and around structure, preferably on an incoming tide, when forage is likely to be present. The beautiful mangrove maze of the back country areas of the Ten Thousand Islands, Goodland, and Everglades National Park are loaded with ideal structure and cover where many species of fish seek habitat and shelter.

Next, watch for “active” water. Active water is alive, teeming with baitfish  that are often seen on the water’s surface. Look for any and all disturbances on the water. Disturbances may very well be rolling tarpon, tailing red fish or prized snook feeding along mangrove edges. Mullet may be seen emerging from the water when being pursued by predators. Jack crevalle, lady fish and spanish mackerel will often “blitz” or aggressively feed on the surface resembling a boiling water. Water that is alive is a sure bet when targeting our local species of fish.

Another excellent fish finding source is feeding birds. Watch for an opportunistic bird on a mangrove root periodically extracting a passing minnow. If fishing offshore, be cognizant of birds diving down into the water above baitfish. If birds are above, fish are very likely to be below! Birds are fine anglers, and their presence more often than not tells a story about the location of fish. Many anglers make the mistake of trusting pricey fish finding electronics rather than enhancing their awareness of their physical surroundings.

Factors controlled by Mother Nature include tidal exchange, water visibility, moon phase and water temperature, which also have an impact on fishing success, but are out of an angler’s control. Wise anglers are proactive and, regardless of existing environmental factors, simply seek the tell-tale signs of the presence of fish which include structure and cover, alive or active water and feeding birds. Be cognizant of these factors and your line will surely stay tight!

Tight Lines!


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.  Visit www.islandgirlscharters.com to learn about fishing with Capt. Mary. Or reach her at 239-571-2947.


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