This post is a Reel Time column I write for the Anna Maria Island Sun.
I like to bike and I love to fish. It occurred to me a long time ago that I might be able to access some great fishing spots by bike. More often than not though, my fishing adventures involved a boat. That is until I started pedaling to Longboat Pass to fish from the bridge and to the bay to explore local public docks. What I discovered was a way to get in some excellent fishing without having to do the work to get a boat in and out of the water, with all that’s involved.
That didn’t keep me from boating, but it opened up a new avenue for getting my fishing fix and a bike ride too. For anglers who don’t have easy access to a boat, a bike can take you to some excellent angling opportunities. A good example is Robinson Preserve in Manatee County. The park is a treasure for walkers, bikers, kayakers and anyone who enjoys the outdoors. It also provides access to Perico Bayou and Tampa Bay. In addition, it also holds a maze of canals that, based on recent observations, hold some pretty terrific fishing. On a bike ride to the park recently, I encountered a number of anglers who had used their bikes to access the bridges that span the preserve’s canals and outlets to Tampa Bay. When I reached a favorite spot for a water break near the bay, I saw two anglers far out on a shallow flat I’ve fished many times from my boat. Nearby, leaning against a picnic table were their two bikes with rod holders. I took some pictures along the shoreline and eventually the two anglers waded to shore nearby. They had experienced a productive morning of fishing, seen no other angers and landed a number of big redfish and trout.
Although it doesn’t take more than a medium-light spinning rod rigged with an artificial lure to get in the game, I saw other bikers transporting live shrimp and even cast nets for catching bait. My preferred rig is an 8-pound spinning outfit or 8-weight fly rod with a 25- or 30-pound leader. I’m confident in the flies, plugs and jigs I fish, so that’s what I use and what I catch fish on. I double my standing line with a Bimini twist or a spider hitch and then tie my leader to the double line with a blood knot. After tying on a fly, top water plug or jig with a Non-Slip Mono Loop, I stick a spool of leader and a couple of extra flies or lures in my pocket and I’m good to go.
This time of the year is perfect for a world of wade fishing that a bike gives access to. All you’ll need is a pair of wading boots or old tennis shoes and a change of pants for the ride home. Bikes can quickly get you to places you’d find hard to reach even by boat. You can plan your outing by consulting access points (Google Maps) online. Then pack your gear and use your bike to explore some local less-accessible fishing gems. Try using your bike to expand your fishing horizon. Whether it’s a quick ride to a local pass or to one of a number of local parks near Anna Maria Island, you’ll be surprised at the opportunities it will open up for you.