Here’s something you don’t see very often in southeast Florida – little tunny being caught from the beach. Yet it’s happening right now around the Jensen Beach area.
Capt. Marcia Foosaner, a fly-fishing guide based in Palm City, has been catching the dickens out of the hard-pulling little tunnys (commonly called “bonito” in Florida) over the last couple weeks from the sandy shores. Her latest encounter came while fishing with client Anthony Pampillonio.
So why are these fish (which normally stay well offshore) coming in so close this summer? It all revolves around schools of red minnows, Foosaner says. “They’re bay anchovies,” she says, “and they create this reddish color in the water. When you go to the beaches and see that, you know there will be fish around!”
Foosaner says the bait’s been so thick, it’s literally washing up on shore with the waves. “I could actually put my stripping basket in the water and fill it up with bait!” she says.
These reddish anchovies pop up along the beaches every year in limited numbers, says Foosaner, but it’s been five or six years since it’s occurred in such great quantities. And it’s drawing in not only bonitos, but tarpon, big Spanish mackerels, barracudas and ladyfish — right off the beach and all within casting distance. The bait moves quickly, however, and anglers walking these shores must be nimble and willing to scout around.
There’s another benefit too – you’re always likely to bump into snook lurking around warm-water pockets on these beaches. While hunting the red minnows these last few days, Marcia’s also sight-fished several very nice linesiders from the same waters.
The only drawback to having all this bait so close to shore, she says, is that some boaters are getting too close to the beach, creating potentially dangerous situations for not only themselves but shore-bound anglers as well.
So get out there, find the bait and have a blast – but always be careful and respectful of your fellow anglers.
Senior Editor, Sport Fishing magazine