When Things Get Tough, Go Fishing

Footprints in the Sand


When things get tough the tough get going. I believe that’s the old saying. For me it’s when things get tough I go fishing.

Footprints-in-the-Sand-FMB-ColumnWhen the world goes wacky, and it’s done its share in 2020, I’ve found that a nice quiet place on or near the water is the best place to be. It’s where I can gather my thoughts, plot and plan the future, and decompress. I’ve got lots of undiscovered places to visit since my move to Fort Lauderdale. I’ve also received a lot of invites to return and fish the Southwest coast once this pandemic mess blows over.

This will be my last column for the Island Sand Paper. The newspaper is scheduled for shutdown after this issue since no viable buyer offer was presented after the June 5th announcement of its closing. I guess I’ll go back to blog writing, but that seems like work, where writing for the Sand Paper didn’t. The good news is I will be spending more time writing the book that I swore years ago I’d write.

As many readers must have figured out by now, fishing is my life. No matter what happens locally or in the wide, wide world, I can always find something joyful in fishing. It has taken me though youth, many moves across the country, to places that I would have never seen otherwise, and most importantly has gotten me through 5-plus years of cancer treatment. Even during the darkest times I was able to conjure up a vision of standing on a beach somewhere wetting a line and going through the motions of reeling in the big one.

So on that note I’m going to close out my last Footprints in the Sand column with the subject that is very near and dear to me, fishing.

Estero Bay Black Drum. Photo by Rob Modys.

The local waters around Fort Myers Beach are, in a word, magical. We are blessed to have several passes that readily move water in and out of Estero Bay and Hell Peckney Bay. There are also many small rivers that supply rainwater runoff to those bays. In my fishing seminars and classes I’ve often called Estero Bay a baby nursery. The abundance of young wildlife there is amazing. There are multiple species of game fish and birds, along with manatees and dolphin. I can’t begin to tell you how many baby manatees and dolphins I’ve seen over the years of guiding fishing charters in both of those bays.

Fishing along the beaches is a ton of fun. Seasonal snook can be caught in the summer along with a host of other species. For the daring there are places you can night fish for sharks. The beach is still one of my favorite locations. I especially like working the water around Big Carlos and New Pass. I love catching and eating pompano and that’s where I’ve caught more than I could possibly count.

Just offshore of Fort Myers Beach is a well-known manmade fishing reef called the May Reef. It holds an amazing amount of fish, some small and some very large. I’ve caught seatrout, redfish, snook, tarpon, pompano, sheepshead, sharks and more while fishing there. It’s only a couple of miles outside of Big Carlos Pass which makes it a safe venture for smaller craft, weather permitting. This fish haven is close to a mile long from north to south and has lots of chart-marked debris piles. Thanks to years of storms there are many more scattered over the area. Watch the electronic fish-finder carefully when moving from spot to spot. You may find something that hasn’t been fished in a very long time.

I’m truly sad about the Island Sand Paper’s demise. I enjoyed reading it long before I began writing for it. Each and every Friday I’d stop at the paper box in front of Santini Plaza and grab a copy to read while waiting on my morning charter customers. It’s going to be sorely missed by Fort Myers Beach residents and visitors.

It’s time to go fishing.


Footprints-in-the-sand-rob-modysCaptain Rob Modys is a lifetime Florida outdoorsman and retired spin & fly fishing guide. He is past president and board chairman of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association and serves on the board of the Florida Guides Association. Readers can follow Capt. Rob’s blog here reflectionsonthewatercoastalstories.blogspot.com or here: bit.ly/CaptModys