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Catching on the Culverts: fish flows during the rainy season.

Summer and storms, two terms that are synonymous to Floridians. The rainy season often brings high water and lack of clarity that can make fishing tough. In many coastal areas, this surplus of water makes its way into estuaries through culverts, fish magnets this time of year.

Culverts typically dump from one of two areas, freshwater reservoirs or salt marsh ecosystems such as mosquito impoundments. Why do fish like hanging around these outflows? It's simple, food. These areas dump multiple species of forage into the river. Species from the freshwater reservoirs consist of bream species, minnows, cichlids and freshwater shrimp. Salt marshes flush crabs, shrimp, and a plethora of baitfish. It's a no brainer for predatory species to hang around these, the food is being brought right to them! "We would fish shorelines that seemed to be dead zones, until we got around these culverts," says Capt. Ed Zyak of Jensen Beach (

Snook, trout, redfish and juvenile tarpon are common catches, but sheepshead, croakers, mangrove snapper, flounder and more are always willing to join the party. The hard-flowing water washes out a deep hole, making it easy for a ton offish to stack up. "I've had days where every cast up to the culvert was a fish," says Zyak.

There's a couple of presentations that work great around these outflows. Most forage, especially crustaceans, naturally move with this current; mimic this and expect to get bit. Light lures that suspend, such Y as soft-plastic shrimp and weedless jerkbaits, are ideal. Make a cast at the pipe and let your lure fall.

As your lure rides the tide, slowly pick up your slack and give a quick snap of the rod tip, imitating a shrimp or wounded baitfish.

Another good approach is to fish something low in the water column. Cast a bucktail jig or a soft plastic rigged on a jighead up to the culvert and work it slow along the bottom. Often times, you will find the bigger fish hanging below the cookie cutter size. Zyak suggested tipping the jig with a piece of fresh dead shrimp. This opens the door for catching many species, such as sheepshead, that typically wouldn't eat an artificial by itself.

When approaching these spots, don't run up on plane and start casting right at the culvert. Take a minute to prospect the outside edge. I've been guilty of this mistake multiple times. I would see snook popping minnows in the outflow, get up close enough to make a cast, only to blow out a bunch of big trout under the boat. The flip side of the deep hole made by the current is it also makes a bar on the outer edge. More times than not, I have caught at least one fish hanging on the outside of this bar. They aren't usually fired up like the fish in the hole; they seemed to be milling around and have a hard time resisting an easy meal.

Keep your eyes peeled on this bar as well. You can see and intercept fish heading in and out of the deep hole, especially when the current slows or the tide comes up. Zyak prefers to fish these areas on a low tide. The water flow tends to be harder than a high tide, and fish can congregate into the hole when adjacent mangroves and shoreline don't have any water under them.

Caption: Fly fisherman strips a streamer in front of a culvert draining a coastal, marsh. Shown below are slow-sinking lures forspin fishing in same environment.

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Title Annotation:FS SEMINAR: INSHORE
Author:Roberts, Brenton
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Date:Aug 1, 2017
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