Sport Fishing - - GAME PLAN -

Capt. Brian San­ders, who fishes the Ten Thou­sand Is­lands in Ever­glades Na­tional Park out of Chokolos­kee Is­land, Florida, uses live fin­ger mul­let, pilchards, threadfin her­ring and shrimp. He catches the bait­fish with a cast net and buys the shrimp.

“The oyster bars in Chokolos­kee serve a big pur­pose,” San­ders says. “They har­bor a lot of crabs, shrimp and small bait­fish. Rac­coons eat the crabs and shrimp at low tide, and as the tide rises, fish come in to eat them too.

“I’ve seen red­fish bel­lies that are packed full of small lit­tle crabs. It al­most seems like the red­fish use the oyster bars to eat the crabs.”

San­ders po­si­tions his bay boat in front of oyster bars over dark bot­toms with tur­tle grass. He says red­fish, snook, sharks and jack crevalles cruise over that bot­tom, and his cus­tomers also catch reds and seatrout on top of the bars where they’re mixed in with mul­let.

Oyster bars also at­tract black drum, sheepshead, la­dy­fish and man­grove snap­per, which will all eat a live bait­fish and a live shrimp.

“The colder months, when there’s not a lot of live bait around, fish a shrimp un­der a float on a higher tide on top of a bar, and on the edges of the bar when the tide is lower,” San­ders says.

Todd says Apalachicola Bay fea­tures a shrimp hatch in spring, so from that time into early sum­mer, he fishes live

shrimp un­der a pop­ping cork. In June, July and Au­gust, he switches to small men­haden or cut men­haden for trout; he goes back to shrimp in fall dur­ing the white shrimp hatch.

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