Greetings all, and welcome to Sunshine Ace Hardware’s new Fishing Blog! We’ll be sharing fun information and intel on what’s hot here in Southwest Florida’s fishing community. We will feature insight from the Sunshine Ace team’s personal experiences, friends and local captains – all right here.

July 2023 Update

Well, we are solid into summer and that means odark30 starts to take advantage of those “cooler” mornings and cooler water. As we know, the heat affects both us and the fish, so slow down for both of our sakes. I’ve been fishing the Ten Thousand Islands and Everglades National Park from Goodland to the Shark River, and the bite has been steady everywhere. Rain is just now starting to be more consistent and we are beginning to see the freshwater influence. However, it is still that dark tea stained salty-to-brackish appearance in most areas, but we’re definitely seeing clean water in the backcountry. As we all know, water flow is key, especially the farther back we run. Know the tides, and try to take advantage of any creek or trough with moving water. The bite has served up everything from snapper to tarpon, providing fun while keeping lines tight.
Fishing in the backcountry and throwing primarily artificials allows me to stay mobile and check out various lures that I’ll be sharing with you folks. With water temperatures rising, a slower than usual presentation can be most productive. The fish’s metabolism will slow down and a presentation that stays in the strike zone longer should entice the most strikes. I usually bring 3 or 4 rods with lures from topwater to bucktail jigs for a variety. The early topwater action is the most fun with those explosive strikes that get our heart pumping! The Rapala Skitterwalk in either bone or the traditional red/white is hard to beat, and success being equal with either one. As the day moves on, I’ll go to my favorite in close, mangrove assault mode with a Texas rigged Zman Jerk Shad or PaddlerZ in either the pearl, pinfish or shiner pattern on a 3/0 Mustad grip pin. This combo is hard to beat when skipping them into the tight cover, which is crucial to draw strikes from those stealthy and well-hidden snook. Throw those softbaits over bars or edges and you’ll entice the redfish or ever-present trout, ladyfish or jack to bend your rod. Those same techniques used back in those secluded creeks will draw the juvi tarpon out for some ridiculous fun. I say juvi, but a 20-pound tarpon in a 10-foot-wide creek can be a RODEO! Now lately, following the lead of an old-timer I fish with at times, I’ve been going old-school with bucktail jigs. Holy cow, why did I ever stop using them? The classic white bucktail or tan bucktail or chartreuse and white, tipped with a piece of shrimp, can be devastatingly productive. These bucktails will be constant companions going forward.
Capt. Rene Martinez of Goodland shared with us that he’s been into the trout, reds and snook heavily. The key bait for him has been pilchards. Fishing the outer points, grass flats and mangrove edges with simple knocker rigs has been the ticket for the snook and reds. For the trout, he’s throwing the shrimp under a cork or with a 1/0 circle hook and ¼-ounce split shot. In the passes, he’s been putting his clients on the ever-present tarpon bite. As we have seen, we’ve had many resident tarpon with us this year, but now the migratory ones have arrived and they are well distributed throughout the Ten Thousand Islands. Capt. Rene will throw medium-sized mullet for the tarpon, at times free lining or under a float with equal success. You can find Capt. Rene at or try him at 239-249-1410. Look him up for a day full of excitement (he also runs Peacock Bass trips as well). Join in and let us know how you all are doing and what’s working for you. You don’t have to share your secret spots (unless, of course, you want to!). That’s it for now folks. Stay hydrated, fair weather and tight lines to you all! – By Joe Garcia, Brand Fishing Ambassador at Sunshine Ace Hardware Contact Joe for information on the hottest new fishing gear in stock, local fishing tips and more:  EXPLORE: Our Best Fishing Brands Here.