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Redfish Pass poses challenges, but rewards are great

By Staff | Mar 23, 2016

Redfish Pass connects Pine Island Sound with the Gulf of Mexico and with the perfect conditions to attract fish. BRIAN WIERIMA

There is a relatively small area where many different species of fish like to congregate, making it a potential bonanza for all levels of fishermen.

The Redfish Pass connects Pine Island Sound with the Gulf of Mexico and with the perfect conditions to attract fish, especially redfish, which gives its name to the pass.

“It’s a very popular area for fishing and is navigable,” said Bob Rando, who has been the captain of Captiva Cruise’s Lady Chadwick for 23 years and has lots of experience with fishing in the entire area. “Redfish Pass is pretty stable and is well marked from the outside, coming in from the Gulf.”

With the tidal currents strong from both directions, Redfish Pass acts like a funnel, which catches baitfish in its wake. That draws in the sport fish like redfish, sheepshead, tarpon and ladyfish.

Redfish Pass came to be after a hurricane in 1921 smashed through a portion of once was a larger Captiva Island. Now, it separates Captiva (where South Seas Resort resides) on the south from North Captiva Island.

It is about 250-300 yards wide and has shoals on each side, where people can land fish from.

“It was said that so many redfish would be in the pass in the late summer or early fall, that you could walk across the pass on the heads of the fish,” Rando said. “The middle of the pass is 35-feet deep and the flow and tides keeps cutting it deeper and deeper.”

But the pass doesn’t posses the calm waters of Pine Island Sound, so safety is a must when journeying into Redfish.

“The wind and tide usually is working against each other, so it gets pretty rough in there,” Rando said. “Be courteous to other boats and always be on the look out for other boats. Take your time and take it slow. Be observant and if you can, find someone who knows what they are doing and follow their lead.”

Anchoring in Redfish Pass is discouraged and dangerous, with more than several anchors lost due to the strong tides and winds. But the pass does extend east a ways, where trout, lady fish and blue fish can be caught.

Boating is basically the only way the public can make it out to Redfish Pass to fish, since South Seas Resort is on the Captiva side and North Captiva is only accessible by boat.

“People boat from all over the area to fish the pass,” Rando said. “I love the area and it’s so much fun to fish.”