fishing Forecast

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  • 05/31/2019 6:29 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Summer Doldrums
    by Captain Tom Van Horn
     

    Yep, the heat and humidity are rising, and so are fishing prospects along the Indian River Lagoon Coast of Florida. Hot summer days can be brutal, so the prudent angler and the fish will take advantage of the cooler nights and early morning and late evening hours to feed and stock their prey, and then they snooze in the shade and deeper areas once the heat turns up. So, adjust your routine in June, July, and August, by fishing at night, during the predawn hours, and in the late afternoon after work and reap the rewards of the summertime fishing bonanza. 

    Look for the tarpon and shark numbers to increase along the beach, and let's not forget about the schools of large jack crevalle and the tripletail as both fisheries are cranking up. Remember, snook season closes this week, so let's give them a chance to relax and get jiggie. Try not to target them, and if you do happen to catch one, please handle it gently and release it with extreme care. 

    When the summer doldrums set in, the waters clear, and the seas flatten out, the window of opportunity opens for smaller boats, so near-shore opportunities are typically the best you'll see all year along the beach. June is the time of year when the kingfish move in close shadowing schools of Atlantic menhaden (pogies) along the beach and in the Port Canaveral buoy line, and slow trolling live pogies can result in some outstanding catches. 

    Offshore, look for the dolphin bite to slow as the schools begin to spread out. The kingfish concentration will remain good along the inshore reefs and wrecks of 8A Reef and Pelican Flats, so again slow trolling with live pogies will produce the best action. Additionally, bottom fishing will remain good for snapper and grouper until the first summer squall (hurricane) blows in and muddies up the water.

    On the flats, focus your efforts between 5am and 9am, and in the late afternoon after the thunderstorms dissipate. Night fishing will also produce descent catches of redfish and trout. When fishing the flats at night, I prefer fishing real slow with glow in the dark shrimp imitation baits like the DOA Glow Shrimp.

    If you can only fish during the heat of the day, target the docks with deepwater access. In the early morning look for trout and redfish up in the skinny water around concentration of bait, and toss them your favorite top water plug. Also look for schools of bay anchovies (glass minnows) in deeper waters. These schools can be located by watching for small terns and other sea birds working, and they usually are shadowed by concentrations of small trout and ladyfish. These fast-moving schools produce fast and furious action for fly anglers casting small top-water popping bugs. 

    Remember as the days heat up, long battles will kill fish, so if you plan on targeting large fish please step up your tackle to shorten the battle. Also, dissolved oxygen levels are low, so leave them in the water as much as possible, and revive them completely before releasing them. 

    As always, if you need more information or have questions, please contact me. 

    Good luck and good fishing, 

    Captain Tom Van Horn
    Mosquito Coast Fishing Charters
    www.irl-fishing.com
    407-416-1187 on the water

  • 05/30/2019 6:58 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Still Going Strong in SWF
     by Capt. Greg Stamper

    June is here and the fishing will continue to be great! All options are open for anglers fishing both the shallow flats and nearshore waters the entire month. Tarpon are going to continue to take up most of my anglers’ time here in Southwest Florida, but snook, redfish, permit, and cobia will be also targeted. We can expect the waters around us to continue the warming trend as we creep toward the dog days of Summer.

    Tarpon of all sizes will be found along practically every shoreline and back bay estuary throughout the region. Early mornings and during the evenings will be prime fishing. Tarpon will be chasing massive schools of glass minnows as well as threadfins from 6 feet all the way out to 20 miles at times. Fishing around bridges and passes at night, especially on the outgoing tides can be very good. If you haven’t been getting on the tarpon bite, then you’ve missed out for about 2 months now.

    Snook are now going to be found cruising the beaches, usually within a few feet. These fish will be getting fat on the schools of white bait as they get ready for their July spawn. You can sight fish them along the beaches now or stay back in the back bays or around docks as they’ll be plenty there as well. Flys that mimic the small baitfish you see, artificial lures that look similar, or the real thing are the goto’s. Snook will be catch and release for a while, so please handle fish with care to ensure their survival.

    Redfish should be in the mix for bay anglers as well as trout hopefully soon. We’ve had a tough time getting trout in my neck of the woods since last June, so I’m keeping my figures crossed there. Pompano, mackerel, and a host of other action fish will continue to big good as well as shark fishing.

    Tight lines,

    Capt. Greg Stamper
    Snookstampcharters.com
    239-313-1764

  • 05/28/2019 4:24 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Light Tackle Red Snapper
    by Captain Tim “SGT” Peterson


    Red snapper are found in extremely high numbers this time of year.  Summer fishing season is in full swing! Tuna, mahi mahi, wahoo, barracuda, king mackerel, cobia, and tarpon are all here and ready to eat.

    An angler’s best bet offshore in June is to catch red snapper 5-15 miles offshore. Smaller keeper size snapper can be caught in state water and are plentiful until the mid to end of the month when the waters start to get too warm for them to feed heavily during the day. But the big boys are 12-30 miles out in 85-200 ft of water. Look for hard bottom on your sonar, a wreck, or a tower. The snapper may not be right over it, but I promise they are close. They like to move around an area a bit so anchoring is not always needed unless the wind is blowing like crazy or you’re fighting super-fast current. They may even be biting on the surface of the water. You can catch them on almost anything when they are fired up, but sometimes, they are hook shy.  When the bite is slow, just keep lowering the size of your hook and leader.

    For natural bait, pinfish, and squirrel fish are everyone’s favorite.  Big, large, frozen squid is my favorite big red snapper bait.  I will sometimes put out two on the same hook.  If the fish are eating your bait before it gets to the bottom, try a small bit of squid for scent with a large frozen fish.  Or just go big with a huge squid and a huge frozen fish.  I have caught monsters this way.  An old timer told me about this, and called it the smorgasbord.  If the fish is frozen, the little fish can’t peck away at it all by the time it hits the bottom. They eat the squid on the way down, causing the larger fish to become interested.  When the large frozen fish hit the bottom, the large ones hammer it because of the social proof of the little ones feeding on it. Cut frozen cigar minnows, northern mackeral, Spanish sardines and fresh off the boat shrimp. You can chum up the red snapper and get them to hit almost anything that flashes.

    For artificial options, I prefer Williamson vertical speed and flutter jigs, diamond hammered silver jigs, old fashion white lead head 5 oz jig with a large white rubber grub tipped with  fish bites.

    For light tackle rods, my favorite is 4500 Spinfisher VI, Ugly Stick Tiger Elite medium heavy jigging rod, rigged Carolina style knocker weight with 30-40 lb test Kastking braid, plastic bead to protect the knot 3-4 oz lead weight, 40 lbs swivel, and 4-8 ft 40-80lb fluorocarbon test Seegear pink leader, and a 1/0 or 2/0 Owner circle hook. If you ask around, you will hear a wide range of what people like to use. When you get offshore on large artificial reefs, I would bump it up to a 6000 series spinning reel and 50 – 80lb test or you may lose nice fish if you’re not careful.

    Ultra-light Flatline (fishing on the surface or just below it), use 20-25lbs test Hi Seas Camo monofilament,  4-8 ft 30lb fluorocarbon leader and a 1/0 -2/0 owner circle hook and 40lb swivel. For this, use an 8500 series reel as you will hook into some larger fish that you will need the line capacity for.

    Light tackle snapper fishing braid is used for three reasons: One, so you can keep more line on your real. Two, so there is less friction on the main part of the line for very long runs and fighting the fish back to the boat. Three, so when you get an inexperienced person trying to reel one in, they don’t twist up the monofilament very badly by reeling when the fish is taking out line. When you twist mono, it stretches more and can break more easily. It is also great when dropping in deeper water with fast current. Keep in mind if the goliaths and sharks are around this may not be the most effective way to fish that day.

    A reel with a high retrieve ratio, and a very smooth durable drag is very important so you can get the slack out of the line and get the fish past the monsters below. This is a scenario where you must have a high quality reel. Starting at Penn Battle 2 and up. The others simply are not the right tool for the job. I find the best value to be the Spinfisher line. My favorite is the Battle 3 Slammers.

    Until next month, practice your Fish Jitsu.

    Captain Tim Peterson
    Captain ‘SGT’ Peterson’s - “More than just fishing”
    captsgtpetersons.com
    tim@sgtpeterson.com

  • 05/28/2019 4:20 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Lots of Options
    by Captain Michael Manis

    For many, this could simply be an extension of May.  If the tarpon are numerous, it’s difficult not to fish them. For many, fishing a live crab or threadfin along the beaches or up in the harbor works well.

    On fly, I’ll spend most of my time inside Pine Island Sound. When the wind lies down I’ll make my way along the beach between Captiva and Boca Grande Pass.  Because these are large migrating fish, I’ll fish an eleven or twelve weight rigged with a floating line. I also prefer no more than a 20 lb. line class tippet but will use a 60 or 80 lb. piece of shock tippet. Typically, I’ll stick with a 3/0 black and purple Puglisi baitfish pattern.

    To be expected, the tarpon do draw a crowd; it’s just part of the experience.  On the other hand, it does open up lots of shoreline in the backcountry and on more than one occasion I’ve found myself taking advantage of this newfound tranquility.

    In addition, as snook prepare for their spawn, they’ll be all over the beaches. However, they’ll still be inside around deep cuts and tidal creeks. Turtle Bay and around Cape Haze to the southern end of the West Wall can fish well. Too, along the east side around Big Dead Creek and Buzzard Bay north of Matlacha holds good fish. Here, I like a 2/0 Puglisi mangrove baitfish pattern fished with a seven or eight weight rigged with a floating line.

    Redfish will be in the bushes, mangroves, in just about all the bays and sounds that surround the harbor. As the water temperature heats up, I like looking in areas adjacent to the intracoastal. The cooler oxygenated water coming in from the Gulf helps provide good healthy habitat. In addition, the intracoastal covers lots of ground with good shoreline from Stump Pass in Lemon Bay to Captiva Pass in Pine Island Sound. Here, I’ll throw the same gear and patterns that I throw for snook.

    Sharks are abundant and soaking a piece of cut bait anywhere near the Cape Haze artificial reef has a chance of getting picked up. Cobia should be in the upper harbor at the mouth of the Myakka River. Big jack crevalle can be found moving up and down the drop off outside the West Wall. In many cases, they can be seen pushing water at the bar’s edge. In both cases, the cobia and jacks, just about any bait placed where they can see it should get eaten.

    Until next month, good tides.

    Captain Michael Manis
    Punta Gorda Fly Charters
    (941) 628-7895

  • 05/28/2019 4:15 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Ladies on the water
    by Capt. Joe Garcia

    There is no greater satisfaction than sharing what we enjoy with the ones we love. The ladies both in our lives and as guest can be great stewards of this amazing sport and the experience we share will dictate a return trip and an interest that may grow and they can share.  Keep in mind that this is new to many of them and that we are now in teaching mode, so have fun and keep it simple!!   

    Experience levels will vary and with few exceptions a “quantity experience” will win over a monster fish hunt so it’s time to break out the knocker rigs, the popping corks and the jigs and seek out those trout, snapper, sheepshead and juvi holes.  A fast action light/medium inshore rod with a 2500 or 3000 series reel will be light and comfortable and much less tiring on the arms allowing for easier casting of those lighter lures and baits.  Become a teacher and include them in the process, show them how we tie leader and hooks on, why we have a jig or popping cork on and what our bait or lure choices are. 

    As we head out make our runs short and direct to those areas that we know will produce the most action, remembering that size fish may not play a huge role.  Look for those grass flats and structure and start setting lines.  Bait choice can be shrimp, white baits, pilchards and cut mullet, with an artificial thrown in for fun.  Casting with artificial will both teach a new skill, break the monotony of waiting and can in fact produce exciting strikes.  Easy to use artificials can be as simple as a gold spoon or soft swim bait.  Keep close to cover and walk them through their casts, something I say always is that smooth is fast and that the rod is built to work for us.   

    When we are introducing these ladies to our sport, be mindful of comfort to.  Have water and snacks available, know where a “rest stop” can be driven to.  Plan ahead with a surprise stop and take them to a beach where to have lunch and give them a chance to stretch.  If possible a beach or landing that allow shell collecting and has unique photo opportunities.  Remember we are making memories and creating a positive experience for them and us.

    Tight Lines and have fun!

    Captain Joe Garcia
    Southern Glades Charters
    941-281-5881
    www.southerngladescharters.com

  • 05/28/2019 4:12 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Look for Snook around the bridges in June
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    June brings about hot summer days and great fishing action around the Treasure Coast.  It’s a time to get out early or late in the day and avoid the afternoon heat.  Winds will be the calmest of the year so far and water temperatures will be in the mid to high eighties most days.  June is an awesome month to enjoy the fishing in the area.

    Redfish, trout, snook and tarpon will be the main targets this month.  Redfish will be hanging around mangroves, grass flats and docks.  DOA shrimp or CAL shad tails are the perfect lures to target reds.  I like root beer or copper colors.  Most of the redfish will be slot sized fish.  Trout will be feeding on the grass flats both early and late in the day.  Top water lures are the best choices for trout with switching to DOA paddle tails once the sun rises up high.  Start shallow and move out to 3-5 feet as the temperature heats up.  The DOA Deadly Combo is a great way to search out the sea trout on the flats.

    Snook will be found around bridges, inlets and sea walls in June.  Live bait or DOA Terror Eyz are great ways to fish for snook.  Don’t forget that the season is closed, so handle the fish carefully and get them released quickly. Night fishing will also be one of the best times to snook fish.  Look for tarpon along the beaches, inlets and channels.  Live and cut bait or DOA Terror Eyz are some of the popular choices for tarpon.  Look for jacks, ladyfish and mackerel in the inlets as well. 

    Make sure you take plenty of water with you.  It will be hot out there.  Drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated and reduce the risk of heat stroke.  Slather on lots of sunscreen!  Sunburn isn’t a good feeling at the end of the good day of fishing.  A little common sense and a few minutes can a big difference.  Make that part of preparations for your adventures on the water.  It will just make a great day even better!

    Remember, as always, fishing is not just another hobby……it’s an ADVENTURE!

    Good Fishing,

    Captain Charlie Conner
    www.fishtalescharter.com
    captaincharlie@fishtalescharter.com
    772-284-3852

  • 04/26/2019 3:15 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Life is good. 
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    Well, not a lot is going to change as we enter May and continue to catch all kinds of fish. Tarpon will continue to be a big draw throughout the area this entire month. Snook fishing gets better and better as the fish start cruising the beaches. Redfish of all sizes become plentiful in our back-bays along with the possibility of some trout sprinkled in. Even the passes and jetty’s will be great for action with fish such as pompano, mackerel, sharks, etc.

    Tarpon fishing throughout the area will be done a lot of different ways. Some anglers will focus primarily on the schools of big fish found along our beaches and sometimes several miles offshore. These big schools of fish can be seen rolling on the surface, free jumping at times, and with the new technology side scanned on your GPS. Crabs, threadfin, ladyfish, and even catfish are the typical baits for the tarpon. In the back bays we’ll have a bunch of smaller tarpon typically ranging from 10-60 pounds. These are fun sizes to catch as they can be landed in a generally short amount of time on both spinning gear and fly rods.

    Snook are going full speed now and can be found both on the beaches as well as stacked up on the local wrecks and reefs. Anglers can go after snook several different ways. Leader size and length can make or break the day. Depending on the size of the snook that you’re catching as well as the clarity of the water, I recommend 30 pound fluorocarbon in general. Snook leaders should be a minimum of 3 feet in length and artificial baits, live white bait, and flys that mimic them all work effectively. When the fish get big bumping up the leader size a bit is a good idea. Snook over 30 inches or so can chew through 30lb rather easily so bumping it up to 40lb and occasionally 50lb may be necessary.

    The passes throughout the areas will be loaded with all kinds of different fish at different times. I use the passes as a starting or stopping point for fishing the change of tides. Basically, those areas will have the first moving water and the last in general. One thing for sure moving water is a key component down here for catching fish. So, when we get close to that last hour of tide that’s a good place to be.

    Tight lines,

    Capt Greg Stamper
    Snookstampcharters.com
    239-313-1764

  • 04/26/2019 3:03 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Fishing improves as days get longer
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn 

    As the length of daylight and the water temperatures increase, so do the fishing opportunities along the Lagoon Coast of Florida. May is one of the better fishing months on east Florida's coastal waters, so make sure your lunch is packed, mental health days are scheduled, and I'll see you on the water.  

     On the lagoon flats, redfish and spotted sea trout will provide most of the action for light tackle and fly anglers. For sea trout, fish your favorite top-water plugs at first light in about two feet of water concentrating in areas were baitfish are active. After the morning top-water bite fades, switch to your favorite soft plastic jig fished in three to five feet of water alone the edges of flats or spoil islands. In May the water has warmed to the point where the jack crevalle, ladyfish, snook, and tarpon will begin to show up in good numbers. In addition, there is a huge showing of finger mullet this season, so it's time to break out your DOA Bait Busters. Schooling redfish and other predators find the Bait Busters difficult to resist when retrieved quickly just under the surface of the water in areas of concentrated mullet schools. Remember when using the technique; keep your lure moving until you feel the fish on the line.

    Near-shore along the beaches, concentrate your efforts in the areas of active bait pods (pogies). Typically, when you see concentrated areas of bait with birds feeding on the surface, big fish are just as active underneath. Species feeding on these pods include tarpon, jack crevalle, redfish, cobia, and sharks. Near the end of the month, you can add kingfish into the mix. Also, tripletail and flounder numbers should be improving around the Port Canaveral buoys. At the inlets and beaches, Spanish mackerel, snook, redfish, jack crevalle, bluefish, flounder, sheepshead, and black drum are just some of the species available this month.

     Blue water trolling should be excellent in May, with the larger dolphin being the focus of most blue water anglers. Also, in the mix are tuna, wahoo, kingfish, sailfish, and an occasional marlin. When targeting these species, work areas of color and water temperature changes (lines) in 120 feet of water or deeper, and in areas of concentrated floating weeds and debris. In addition, don't forget that kingfish and cobia are present on the near-shore shoals, reefs and wrecks like Bethel Shoals, Pelican Flats, Chris Benson, and 8A reefs.

    Finally, fishing on the St Johns River freshwater is very good in May.  The crappie are balled up in deeper water if you know where to look for them.  Also, the bluegill and shellcrackers are concentrated on beds and are very tasty and great fun on light tackle.  Lastly, the larger channel catfish will be on the move once the water levels start rising from our summer rain. 

    As always, if you have questions or need more information, please contact me.

    Good luck and good fishing,

    Captain Tom Van Horn
    www.irl-fishing.com
    407-416-1187

  • 04/25/2019 3:35 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Holy Mackerel
    by Captain Tim “SGT” Peterson


    Migratory fish will be in high numbers as the month goes on. Summer fishing season is in full swing!  Unfortunately, that also means more sharks. Reel fast.

    An angler’s best bet inshore in May is to catch Spanish mackerel and king mackerel. Spanish mackerel can be caught closer to shore.  Look for schools of bait fish. They may even be jumping out of the water. You can catch them on Gotcha Plugs and spoons. Really anything fast and shiny will get these guys in the boat. Tube jigs, or shiny long shank hooks with pieces of straws also work. In a pinch, a jigging with Berkley Gulp will work.

    Always keep a pitch rod ready for mackerel even if you are anchored up for bottom fishing. In addition, always, always have a flat line out between May and November. You never know what you will catch around here. Someone caught a billfish 12 miles offshore this way last year. But kings and big Spanish mackerel for sure can’t resist the flat line. If using frozen bait, make sure the bait looks perfect. The picky kings won’t touch it unless it looks live. Usually the current will give a little motion and you can slowly reel it in and the kings will hit it.

    Slow trolling, also known as bump troll  works too. I can’t tell you how many times I leave the flat line out when I leave a fishing spot just to see if something will hit it when we start pulling in the anchor, and BANG fish on. You can just bump the boat in gear for a few seconds at a time and just go less than a few miles an hour. Chumming with oily fish will ring the dinner bell for kings. Menhaden milk and oil are also great attractants. Some anglers mix it with oatmeal so it sinks to the bottom. Don’t use bloody chum or the tax man (sharks) will be sure to come.

    High speed troll, using cedar plugs, 3 oz casting spoons, and all kinds of skirted baits all work for kings. They are not as picky when the bait is moving fast. Troll them as fast as you can while keeping them in the water.

    An angler’s best bet offshore in May is to catch king mackerel. Fish water color and tide changes especially when they are offshore in 40ft plus of water. I have caught some of my biggest kings in dirty looking water 3-10 miles offshore when the current is ripping, especially just before sunset, and on cloudy days.

    Blue runners and cigar minnows are everyone’s favorite, but any live fin fish will do. Frozen cigar minnows, and Spanish sardines also work. Use light wire, small hooks, and small swivels. Always have a casting spoon or jig ready for king and Spanish mackerel and possibly a school of mahi mahi that come by. If you are catching white grunts, you are not on the spot to catch grouper. If you want to catch grouper, you can’t be lazy. Move the boat.

    Try fishing for bait around makers, or floating debris. Find small depressions and peach fuzz on your bottom machine screen at least ¼ mile away from big structures, or you will just lose your Sabiki rigs to a grouper. To get the best bait, make sure you are in 40ft+ of water.

    Watch for what looks like rain on the top of the water. This is usually fin fish being chased by king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, but it can be a billfish or a wahoo if the conditions are right so get ready. Cast or slow troll right into these bait balls.

    Most offshore rods around are 8000-8500 series rods rigged with 10-30lb test and 35-65lbs test wire bronze leader. If you ask around, you will hear a wide range of what people like to use. When you get offshore on reefs, I would bump it up to a 8000 series rod at least if you are using spinning set ups. Not so you have enough drag to pull a fish off a reef or wreck, but for when you hook a large king, billfish, or wahoo and they try to spool you.

    Offshore, we use 20-25lb test mono filament top shot for the first 50-100 yards, backed with 30-50lb braid on the spinning tackle on reefs or towers. You desperately need the monofilament for its stretch as the kinetic energy that these pelagic super fish hit with often will tear the hooks directly from their skin. They often strike the back of the bait to wound it, then come back to eat it. This means you often get the stinger treble hook in the side of the fish’s mouth.

    The braid is used for three reasons. One, so you can keep more line on your real. Two, so there is less friction on the main part of the line for very long runs and fighting the fish back to the boat. Three, so when you get an inexperienced person trying to reel one in, they don’t twist up the monofilament very bad by reeling when the fish is taking out line. When you twist mono, it stretches more and can break easier. I always tell my clients to pretend they are reeling in their favorite child, as a baby by the lips. The trick is people often think the fish fell off. What they don’t know is that fish that just made a 300-yard run to the side of the boat, and is now running directly at them. You need to make sure your drag is set super low (I mean like 2lbs) when they hit. If it is too high, they will break you off after they hit. Keep tension on the line while slowly tightening the drag.

    The Spinfisher 8500 has more than enough drag to pull a grouper off the bottom, so if you lock it down say good bye to your fish. I once had buddy of mine throw out a flat line with a 6000 series rod that we use for jigging that only had braided line on and of course he had the drag locked down as he was new and had seen how big they get. After hearing what sounded like a shotgun go off, we needed a new rod. A king had hit it so hard; it broke the rod at the base where it sat in the rod holder. Make sure you have it in a rod holder that is easy to get to, well out of the way of other lines. When a king hits, it’s all hands-on deck. Get all of your other lines out of the water, or you may have a snarlfest.

    A reel with a high retrieve ratio is very important so you can get the slack out of the line. This is one of those instances where you need to reel like your baby depends on it to survive. The one good thing about kings and wahoo is the sharks don’t seem to go after them. Now if you hook a Spanish mackerel on a flat line or slow trolling, you better get him to the boat asap before a King mackerel or wahoo disembowels it. It will happen so fast, that you will barely see it.

    Until next month, practice your Fish Jitsu.

    Captain Tim Peterson
    Captain ‘SGT’ Peterson’s - “More than just fishing”
    captsgtpetersons.com
    tim@sgtpeterson.com

  • 04/25/2019 3:30 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Beach Tarpon and Snook
    by Captain Michael Manis

    Right now, it’s hard not to think tarpon. For many, including myself, we wait all year for this window of opportunity. However, during early summer, this is by far not the only game in town. With good water temperature and plenty of bait, all our bays and sounds should fish well. Redfish, jack crevalle, spotted sea trout, sharks, and of course snook should be prowling the flats.

    Off the flats, the beach is the place to be and after spending all winter in the backcountry it provides a nice change of pace. That change includes migrating tarpon and schooling snook. What is more, the snook can be fished from the beach. In fact, it’s probably the best shore fly fishing all year. They can be seen moving up and down just off the sand either in or just outside the trough where the waves break.

    I like the beaches of Boca Grande and Sanibel. Both can be accessed without a boat. White and grey or silver bait fish patterns from size 2 to 1/0 rigged with a nine-foot leader on an eight-weight and floating line work well. I have fished from both the sand and wading and have found staying out of the water works best. It’s sight fishing and they definitely notice me when I’m in the water. It’s also a good idea to bring a stripping basket.

    Most likely, since I’ll have a few more months to chase snook on the beaches, I’ll spend most of my time looking up and down the beaches hunting tarpon. Between Captiva and Stump Pass is a lot of ground to cover; however, in all likelihood I’ll find myself staked out in one or two places looking for groups or strings of tarpon moving north. In order to see the fish better, I like a shallow sandy bottom.  One spot, the northwest edge of Gasparilla Pass can be good but it does see a lot of boat traffic.  So, for more elbowroom I like the area between Johnson Shoals and Murdock Point south of Boca Grande Pass.

    It’s a rather large area with sandy shoals both close in and a good distance off the beach and even though it’s a relatively shallow area, it’s still too deep to stake out with a Power Pole. Therefore, an anchor rigged with a buoy is preferable. If necessary, this allows you to untie the anchor upon hook up. No one minds if you get on the motor to chase a fish; however, you don’t want to be motoring around trying to get in front of the fish. In addition, when staking out be considerate and don’t set up in front of another boat, as you’ll want to move off to the side or even behind them. You’ll still get plenty of shots and you’ll find that everyone helps each other out spotting fish if you show a little etiquette.

    These are big migrating fish so I break out the twelve-weight rod. I’ll throw a floating line unless the fish are staying low in the water column. In that case, I’ll switch to an intermediate sink tip. I like flies on the smaller side and in lighter colors. For example, the Puglisi Boca Grande 3/0 tarpon in day glow and yellow are two good patterns.

     Until next month, good tides.

    Captain Michael Manis

    Punta Gorda Fly Charters
    (941) 628-7895
    mike@puntagordaflycharters.com
    www.puntagordaflycharters.com

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