Outdoorswoman Journal: First Time Fishing Charlotte Harbor for Snook and Redfish

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Some of the Tools for a Day of Fishing with Capt. Rhett Morris of Beyond Borders Outfitters from Punta Gorda, Fla.

Some of the Tools for a Day of Fishing with Capt. Rhett Morris of Beyond Borders Outfitters from Punta Gorda, Fla.

“Fish on! Fish on!” Less than 10 minutes of wetting our lines in Charlotte Harbor, a client and I were both reeling snook into the boat. It’s been years – 15 to be exact – since I last went inshore fishing and I had forgotten about the thrill of being on the water, twitching the line and reeling in a catch . My client and I were fishing with Capt. Rhett Morris of Beyond Borders Outfitters out of Punta Gorda, Fla.

Now, just remember, I’m not a fishing expert and if you’re looking for a full report, just move along. This post is from a novice’s perspective and I can tell you it was one heck of a fun time. And isn’t that what fishing is supposed to be?

Fishing Charlotte Harbor with Capt. Rhett Morris of Beyond Borders Outfitters, Punta Gorda, Fla., Sept. 21, 2015

Fishing Charlotte Harbor with Capt. Rhett Morris of Beyond Borders Outfitters, Punta Gorda, Fla., Sept. 21, 2015

We left Burnt Store Marina before 9 a.m. but Capt. Rhett had been out earlier collecting pilchards, our bait for snook fishing. When we cast our lines, with popping corks and bait fish, Capt. Rhett also tossed out pilchards to attract the snook. He also instructed us to jiggle the line a few times followed by a pause. The method worked perfectly. 

Capt. Rhett Morris of Beyond Borders Outfitters tosses bait fish into Charlotte Harbor, Punta Gorda, Fla., Sept. 21, 2015

Capt. Rhett Morris of Beyond Borders Outfitters tosses bait fish into Charlotte Harbor, Punta Gorda, Fla., Sept. 21, 2015

Charlotte Harbor is Florida’s second largest estuary and important for the ecological and economical health of Southwest Florida. I’ve always said, a healthy environment leads to a community’s healthy economy.

Capt. Rhett Morris of Beyond Borders Outfitters holds a flounder, Punta Gorda, Fla., Sept. 21, 2015

Capt. Rhett Morris of Beyond Borders Outfitters holds a flounder, Punta Gorda, Fla., Sept. 21, 2015

He’s been guiding these waters for more than 20 years and Capt. Rhett is passionate and concerned for the quality of the Charlotte Harbor fishery. He’s also a birder and identified every feathered friend in our path. The captain shared the changes he’s seen in fish populations, water quality and ideas for possible solutions to improve the fishery’s health.

Me with a Snook in Charlotte Harbor caught with Capt. Rhett Morris of Beyond Borders Outfitters. Onos Sunglasses are protecting my eyes and a Columbia shirt is keeping me cool.

Me with a Snook in Charlotte Harbor caught with Capt. Rhett Morris of Beyond Borders Outfitters. Onos Sunglasses are protecting my eyes and a Columbia shirt is keeping me cool.

After about 90 minutes of reeling in snook after snook after snook, with an occasional flounder and needlefish, we headed toward Bokelia for lunch at the Lazy Flamingo. Along the way we fished a little more and watched dolphins hunt for their lunch. Unfortunately, many dolphins have been conditioned to follow boats and gobble up the catches returned to the water. Although it may be a good show, ethical anglers and fishing guides know not to intentionally feed the dolphins. It’s against the law to interact with wild dolphins in Florida.

Lunch break at the Lazy Flamingo in Bokeelia, Fla.

Lunch break at the Lazy Flamingo in Bokeelia, Fla.

Lunch was a delicious feast at the Lazy Flamingo and started with smoked fish spread and each of us had a hogfish sandwich (which was a daily special and I had my blackened). The fillet was a mighty, healthy portion. We sat next to the window and admired the marina. The restaurant is accessible by car and boat. 

Blackened Hogfish sandwich at the Lazy Flamingo Restaurant, Bokeelia, Fla.

Blackened Hogfish sandwich at the Lazy Flamingo Restaurant, Bokeelia, Fla.

Heading back to Burnt Store, we stopped to fish for redfish. With my line equipped with a MirrOlure MirrOdine XL 27MR Suspending Jerk Bait, I caught my first redfish on the first cast. Yes, my first redfish ever! Wow! What a difference than the snook. Capt. Rhett instructed me to pull my rod up, reel in the slack, then bring the tip of my rod down and let the fish fight a bit and be in control. He cautioned that reeling in too fast and fighting against the fish would snap the line. His method worked and I pulled up a couple of beauties while my client reeled in many more than I did. 

Me with a Redfish on Charlotte Harbor, Fla. Caught with a MirrOlure MirrOdine XL 27MR Suspending Jerk Bait

Me with a Redfish on Charlotte Harbor, Fla. Caught with a MirrOlure MirrOdine XL 27MR Suspending Jerk Bait

The half-day fishing trip with Capt. Rhett Morris was perfect. He put us on the fish, shared his passion for Charlotte Harbor and guided us to a tasty lunch. A blue sky and calm waters also helped made for one of those chamber of commerce days.

Beyond Borders Outfitters is one of several guides who leads fishing trips into Charlotte Harbor.

Sportswear
Sunglasses: ONOSSierras (Solo Travel Girl readers receive 10% off with code: STGOnos at onos.com)
Shirt: Columbia Sportswear Women’s Some R Chill II Polo Shirt, Black
Shorts: a.n.a® Poplin Utility Shorts
Shoes: Naturalizer BZees Boardwalk Shoes.

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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