Ryan Kane looked at the whitecaps rolling across the Gulf of Mexico and shook his head.
No off-shore fishing today. It would be a day of fishing the protected back bays and canals.
That’s OK. There are fish there. But in Kane’s mind, the real game is at least three miles off-shore.
“It’s shallow for so far in this part of the Gulf that you can be three miles out and the water’s only 20 to 30 feet deep,” said Kane, 40, who runs the Southern Instinct charter service. “It’s mostly sand, and any little crevice, rock pile or wreck will hold fish.
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“You never know what you’re gong to get when you drop your line in the water.”
Kane got a reminder when he took a group of outdoors communicatorson a recent off-shore trip. A day after the wind had changed his plans, it died down and he was able to reach some of his favorite spots about 3 1/2 miles off-shore. Paul Smith of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tossed a baitfish out and hooked a small cobia. As he was fighting that fish, the line suddenly got heavier. Much heavier.
Some 30 minutes later, an exhausted Smith pulled a grouper than Kane estimated at 200 pounds to the side of the boat. Kane unhooked the fish while it was still in the water and the fishermen watched as it swam away.
Welcome to the world-class fishing of Florida’s Gulf Coast. Drop some live bait in the water, and you never know what will grab it.
“We’ve caught giant sharks, tarpon, goliath groupers up to 400 pounds, you name it,” said Kane, who lives in Fort Myers. “This water off Captiva and Sannibel islands still has a lot of big fish in it.”
For Kane, it’s all about the structure. He said those waters hold an amazing number of ship wrecks, some of them intentionally sunk there to provide fish cover, others that were deposited not so intentionally. Those areas are fish magnets, Kane said.
The real bonus comes when a charter-boat captain stumbles across one that isn’t on the maps.
“There are a lot of old shrimp boats and other boats that have gone down in this area,” he said. “If you find one that no one else knows about, you can find some great fishing.”
Kane specializes in using live bait for big fish. That usually means heading off-shore several miles, then fishing around scattered structure.
He prefers to fish an incoming tide, which has the water moving. “If the water isn’t moving, the fishing is going to be tough,” he said.
To reach charter captain Ryan Kane, call 239-896-2341.