fishing Forecast

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  • 02/01/2017 11:27 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Wind will dictate February bite
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    February is the hump month for fishing in Southwest Florida. Although we may be lucky enough to see mid 80’s a few times, temperatures in the 70’s are more like the reality until we get into March. During February’s coolest periods, anglers need a bit of lucky timing in regards to cold fronts. Wind, especially that which comes driving down on us from the North or Northwest, will dictate how successful the fishing days will be.
    Northern winds will silt up the backcountry waters, and mess up the tides as they’re usually brisk. As strong fronts cool the water down, it can create tough conditions for a day or two. East to Southwest winds will bring us the warmer weather and better fishing. Fishing at the doorstep of these cold fronts is always the best-case scenario.
    When fishing after a cold front has just passed, it will be tough as barometric pressure will be rather high for a couple of days following. Likewise, fishing right up to the moment when those long Southwest to Northwest cold front cloud boundaries come rolling in, the fish will be chewing. So, now that we have the wind thing figured out what are we going to fish for?
    On days when it hasn’t been windy for a while, anglers may find that the water gets rather clear. During days like this you will have the possibility of sight casting to redfish, snook, and even sheepshead. Since it does take a few days for the water to clear up, try using shrimp or cut bait around the oyster bars and points when the water is still dirty.
    Sheepshead will be a big target through February as the big fish spawn both inshore and on the reefs and wrecks. Snook will continue to stay in their winter haunts certainly until March so stay in and around the creeks, river mouths, canal systems with deeper water, and docks.

    Trout fishing will be good, and it won’t be uncommon to catch on every cast. You’ll find the trout in 3 to 5 feet of water in good numbers and occasionally find big ones or “gators” up on the flats while red fishing.

    Flounder will show up from time to time, usually hitting small swim baits or jigs tipped with shrimp. It’s not easy finding a big flounder around here, so if you get one close to 20” you’ve done well. Pompano will still be plentiful both along the beaches and passes as well as on the nearshore reefs.
    On those beautiful days, when we can run around out in the Gulf of Mexico; tripletail, kingfish, grouper, sheepshead and the occasional flounder will all be fair game.

    On the days we have light winds it usually means clean water, especially since we tend to get very little rain during the month of February. Taking this into consideration, you will find that tripletail can be a great fish to target nearshore along the crab trap buoys. You can look for tripletail as you troll around for grouper or kingfish at times, since crab traps are usually on hard bottom, the same areas grouper and kings will be in.

    If you don’t want to move around a lot, you can always anchor up near your favorite reef or wreck and give them a go that way. When bottom fishing this time of the year, flounder and sheepshead will be around the same areas as the groupers, so rig up accordingly for both.

    I prefer dropping two rods that can handle a serious grouper, cobia, kingfish, etc... and have two lighter rods with simple jigs to get the action from snappers, sheepshead, flounder, pompano and such.

    Tight lines,
    Capt Greg Stamper, Snook Stamp Charters
    239-313-1764

  • 02/01/2017 10:55 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Low tides and sand holes
    by Capt. Michael Manis

    Typically, February is an extension of the previous two months in that the weather is dominated by cool north winds and low tides. With spring on the horizon, I like to venture out of the creeks to adjacent shorelines to take advantage of some backcountry sand hole opportunities. This is where snook, redfish and spotted sea trout drop into shallow depressions on the lower tides waiting for water to come back onto the flat. The flats are full of these depressions and they come in all shapes and sizes.
    Places like Gasparilla Sound and Bull Bay hold good fish and are easily accessible from close by ramps. In particular, Bull Bay fishes real well on these tides. Small shallow draft boats can also take advantage of some exceptional fishing in Pine Island Sound as well as Lemon Bay. In the sound, I like fishing out of Pineland or the Bokeelia boat ramp and hanging tight to the western edge of the Pine island Shoreline to hide from the wind. In lemon Bay, I like the flats adjacent to and north of Buck Creek.

    On those rare calm days, the open harbor and adjacent bar systems also hold potential. Pompano are still on the bars like the one that runs the length of the West Wall and down onto Cape Haze Point. Spanish mackerel are scattered throughout the harbor and will be mixed in with lots of ladyfish outside the bars working schools of glass minnows. The Cape Haze and Alligator Creek artificial reef systems hold good numbers of sheepshead. Both of these reef systems are well marked. In addition to the reefs, sheepshead are still at the Boca Grande and Placida trestles in good numbers and are great spots to fish with or without a boat.
    Lastly, area canal systems can also be good. In particular, because of good tidal flow, the perimeter canals of both Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte hold lots of species. Redfish, black drum, spotted sea trout, and snook hang close to the cement seawalls that hold heat from the afternoon sun. Corner spots are prime as that is where current moves the fastest. Until next month, good tides.

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

    mike@puntagordaflycharters.com

    www.puntagordaflycharters.com


  • 02/01/2017 10:45 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Fish Deeper in the winter
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    As winters go here in Central Florida, we certainly can't complain about the great weather we’ve experienced thus far. With the exception of a few cold days, gorgeous fishing conditions have prevailed and we’ve experienced so excellent fishing as well.

    Inshore on the flats, water levels have fallen to our winter lows, and water clarity has starting to clear up quite a bit. These low water levels force the redfish, black drum, and sea trout into the deeper pockets on the flats where they become trapped in some cases. These concentrations make for tight schools, but shallow conditions also make access both difficult and sometimes dangerous for those not familiar to the area. Also on colder days, falling water temperatures force most fish to seek deeper locations in search the warmest water they can find and they become very sluggish. As the sun warms the water, all it takes is a degree or two of change, and the fish will begin to move and feed in the shallows.

    On the sunny mornings, it is not uncommon to find redfish and trout holding in the sand pockets or potholes within the shallow flats where water temperatures raise faster. Additionally, warming water temperatures combined with sunny spring days and clear water make February one of the best months to sight fish for redfish, large sea trout, and black drum on the lagoon flats. Also, now is the time to target tailing black drum in the Banana River Lagoon "No Motor Zone". For larger sea trout, fish at first light, sunset, or at night with natural baits, and target areas where mangrove edges, docks, and other structure are adjacent to deep water dredge holes, sloughs, or canals.

    These same areas will also hold concentrations of small trout which can be caught throughout the day on small jigs and shrimp imitation baits like DOA Shrimp fished very slowly along the bottom. Also, when fishing in deeper darker water try using nightglow colors.

    Offshore, kingfish will be active along the inshore reefs and wrecks, and they will remain there as long as the water temperature stays above 68 degrees. When targeting kingfish this month focus your efforts on the areas of 8A Reef, Pelican Flats, and Bethel Shoals to the south for best results. Look for cobia and amberjack to be present on the inshore wrecks like the Carol Lee, Dutch, and Sub Wreck out of Port Canaveral. Additionally, live bait is tough to find this time of year, so always carry a box of frozen Spanish sardines (spinning minnows) with you as backup.

    Near-shore, look for tripletail concentrations to improve greatly along the Port Canaveral buoy line and under floating weeds and structures, and for cobia to move in shadowing manta rays if the surface water temperatures reach the upper sixties. Now is also the time for shore fisherman to target pompano, bluefish, weakfish, small black drum, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel and whiting in the surf and larger redfish and flounder around the inlets and jetties.

    The freshwater bite on the St. Johns River for crappie has been very good, with excellent catches of crappie and catfish being reported, but the American shad, sunshine and largemouth bass catches have not materialized in comparison to previous seasons. On the St Johns River water temperatures have been warmer this year (still in the 60’s), water levels are extremely low with little or no current.  Hopefully the current cold snap will cool the water temps down and improve the influx of American shad, striped and sunshine bass.

    WARNING: Flood waters from Hurricane Mathew have changed the locations of the sandy shoals, and boaters are finding the bottom in locations where the water was deeper last year.  If you haven’t been to the river since Mathew, please use extra caution when operating your boat.

    Last but not least, on those windy days in February it’s a great time to check out those freshwater fishing holes on the St Johns River. Currently American shad, speckled perch, warmouth perch, and largemouth bass are being reported. The shad run hasn’t really kicking in this year with the best catches being reported in the Mullet Lake stretch of the river. This past week, good reports of shad came from the Marina Isles to Mullet Lake section of the St. Johns River, as well as a good number shad being taken south of Lake Harney. As the shad run progresses they should be moving into the shallows flats south of Hwy 46 if you can clear the sand bar just south of the 46 bridge, so fly anglers don't haste.

    As always, if you have any questions or need information or would like to book a charter, please contact me.

    Good luck and good fishing,

    Captain Tom Van Horn
    mosquitocoast@cfl.rr.com
    www.irl-fishing.com
    (407) 416-1187

  • 02/01/2017 10:03 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    February is a transition month
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    While winter is still around the Treasure Coast and weekly cold fronts will continue to bring cool nights and lots of windy days to the area, fishing will still be good out on the water.  It has been a tough winter so far with all the rain, winds and cold.  Water temperatures can dictate where and how you might fish on any given day this month.  January was a much warmer month this year.  When the water is cold, fish the deeper cuts and drop offs of the river.  Sunny days will bring fish up in shallower waters to feed and the bite can really get hot out on the flats.

    The trout bite picks up very nicely in February.  2016 proved to be the year of big trout in the Fort Pierce area.  I anticipate that 2017 will be another big fish year around the area.  CAL jerk baits and Deadly Combos are exciting ways to trout fish with artificial lures, while live shrimp on popping corks are the ol’ standard way to trout fish out on the river.  Redfish can be found in shallow flats around mangroves and islands.  We had a fantastic winter bite in 2016 around the docks and mangroves for redfish.  On warm sunny days, the reds will sit around the mangroves and soak up the sun.  Finding some along the mangroves will bring some good rod bending action to anglers this month.  DOA shrimp and CAL jerk baits can find some hungry reds hugging the mangrove lines when fished very slowly.  Docks are a great way to find plenty of fish waiting for something tasty to drift under them.

    Sheephead will be plentiful around the river and the larger fish will be coming into the river to breed.  They showed up early this year and January has been a great month for them.  Live or dead shrimp around bridges, docks and structure can provide lots of action in addition to some great tasting fish.  Sand perch and croakers should also be hanging around the inlet and bridges during February.  Pompano around the surf and on the deeper flats of the river can be taken on CAL grub tails, Doc’s Goofy Jigs and shrimp or clams.  Bluefish, mackerel and jacks will continue to haunt the baitfish around the jetties and turning basin.  Small, shiny lures will keep you busy.  There should be some flounder around the back sides of the jetties and on sand flats around the inlet area.

    February is a transition month on the river.  Winter has been challenging this year on the Treasure Coast.  We have enjoyed more normal winter weather and the fish bite has been good for us.  Winds will still be blowing and the water will begin to gradually rise in temperature.  Fishing your lures slowly will certainly give you more action on the river.  Fish tend to be sluggish in the colder water.  Working your lures or bait slower along the bottom will give the fish more time to react to it and will result in more bites for anglers.  Have fun this month and get out fishing!

  • 12/31/2016 7:25 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Off the beaten path
    by Capt. Michael Manis

    In some respects, January can offer a mixed bag of options; however, for the most part, the persistent north winds can and will dictate that we look for spots out of the wind.  Because, the possibility exists that there will be a few mild and somewhat warmer days between fronts, the open harbor can be productive. This is an open invitation for those with larger boats that draft too much to get onto the flats or even smaller skiffs that are looking to change it up a bit. Spanish mackerel and bonita can be found just inside Boca Grande Pass.  Also, blacktip sharks like to hang out just around the corner at Johnson Shoals.

    A little further inside the harbor, Cape Haze Point is always worth exploring. You just never know what you might run into: trout, pompano, and bluefish, are all possible. This is a great place to throw plugs and ½ ounce feathered jigs. Moreover, the deeper water just outside the bar that runs from Turtle Bay past Bull Bay and over to Cayo Pelau is good country to look for a spotted sea trout bite.

    However, for the majority of days when the wind is obnoxious, I’ll look for redfish and small snook off the beaten path up backcountry creek systems that adjoin small coves. Out of Punta Gorda, I like the east side of Charlotte Harbor from Alligator Creek down towards Pirate Harbor. The extensive collection of small creeks, deep cuts, and mangrove shorelines provide good winter habitat. Minimal wind and the sandy mud bottom help fish stay warm and the mangrove prop roots are home to small prey species.  By the way, just inside the mouth of Alligator Creek is one of the more popular trout spots during winter as is the Pirate Harbor basin.  

    Creeks along the north end of the west wall are also worth exploring. If the winds coming out of the northwest, loading at the El Jobean ramp can make for a tolerable run.  From the same ramp, the Myakka Cutoff and Tippecanoe Bay provide good habitat.  To match the prey species, small baits are best and it’s not a bad idea to lighten up on the leader and tippet material. For example, I’ll stick with a nine-foot leader but rig ten-pound tippet and throw flies no bigger than #1 or 1/0.

    Until next month, good tides.

    Captain Michael Manis
    Punta Gorda Fly Charters

    (941) 628-7895
    mike@puntagordaflycharters.com
    www.puntagordaflycharters.com

  • 12/31/2016 7:16 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    The Cold Weather Challenge
    by Capt. Doug Stamper

    Whelp, its 2017 so Happy New Year to all!  January traditionally is the coldest month of the year. Besides having our Northern friends laughing at our snow ski outfits as they show up wearing tee-shirts, we’ve got bigger problems.  Fishing in the cold weather can be challenging at times, however as guides we’re going either way.  We’ve gotta catch fish regardless of the fronts, winds, and occasional rain. 

    We will have some blessed days in January usually a few days after the cold front blows through until the day the next front shows up, and we’ll also have those tough ones a few days after they initially come through. So, should you be fishing on the cold days, giving it some time to warm up a bit helps. So, what are we going to target?

    Sheepshead are popular during the cold times, and traditionally show up in big numbers as they spawn in both the backcountry and around our near shore reefs. Targeting these conniving, shrimp stealing, buck toothed convict fish can be trip savers on the coldest of days.  You’ll be able to find sheepies around docks, oyster bars, seawalls, and on the nearshore wrecks and reefs in good numbers. Try downsizing your hooks and using pieces of shrimp verse an entire one to land more of them. Fiddler crabs, shrimp, and even barnacles on a hook all work well. Barnacles you say? Yep in fact that’s one of the clues that the big boys are showing up. If you drive by a local bridge and notice what appears to be an area of barnacles that’s missing, that was the work of a sheepshead expert picking up some bait or chum. But don’t tell anyone about that trick please.

    Trout fishing will remain steady during the coolest of days. Working water depths up to 6 feet, with a lower and slower presentation will help you get more takes. The grass beds being dark in color will hold a bit more heat so targeting them in those areas often works out well. Throwing around the sandy pot holes when working clear water gives you that transition line that can be very productive. Traditionally a popping cork with my go to DOA shrimp works out just fine. When corking experiment with leader length as a foot here and there can make a big difference.

    Fishing the creeks and rivers systems in your area will be a smart move when it gets cold, and if you’ve been on fish in one area continue to push further and further back up those creeks till you can’t go any further. With winter, we usually have clear water so sight casting laid up fish is a possibility. These areas are usually snook, redfish, and black drum hangouts during the cold months. Although snook get a bit of lock jaw during the coldest of days as the water temperatures begin to increase in temperature a few days after a front blows through these estuaries can be a great place to fish. A variety of baits will work ,but in general smaller baits will work best. You can throw flies, plastics, and if you’re lucky enough to find some bait you’ll be in good shape.

    When we do get beautiful days and light winds I enjoy running out to the near shore wrecks and reefs. I’m usually in no hurry if its cold out, so no crack of dawn runs needed. Now you can change things up and go after gag groupers, snappers, tripletail, and kingfish. Gag grouper come into the shallows when it gets cold out. Some areas will have them in as little as four feet. You can troll big plugs around which works well in the deeper waters say 15-45 feet, or you can drop a variety of baits down to the bottom. When trolling you’ll inevitably come across a kingfish while targeting your grouper. Make sure you pay attention while running out there, as tripletail can become a great bi-catch.

    Tight lines, Capt Greg Stamper
    Snookstampcharters.com
    239-313-1764

  • 12/31/2016 7:09 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Dress in layers and enjoy January fishing
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    Happy New Year! In past several years, January has traditionally been a cold month around the Treasure Coast. Hopefully, 2017 will show us another mild winter and you won’t have to worry about the water temperatures as much this year.

    Fishing in deeper water will provide you with better results on most days. Working your lures and baits much slower will also give you a better chance at success. Fish tend to become lethargic in cold water and are slow in moving to strike at lures. Finding water that is a couple degrees warmer than the surrounding area can also give you an edge on finding fish. Water temperatures have been mild so far. We had great results last year on fishing deep sand holes on the flats that were being warmed by the sun. We will certainly be doing that again this year.

    January is typically a windy month and it will continue the tradition if recent weather gives you an insight to the coming month. You might enjoy one or two days a week that is calmer, but expect it to be windy most days. Using the right ramps can make your day a little easier in dealing with the weather. There are many ramps around the area that allow you to launch depending on wind direction. The river can be rough some days, but you can still fish most days if you plan your trips carefully. It is a great month to fish in spite of weather conditions that might not be to your liking.

    Bridges will continue to produce sheepshead, black drum, croakers, sand perch and bluefish. Most of the anglers on the catwalks prefer live or frozen shrimp for these fish. The inlet and turning basin will be full of bluefish, jacks and mackerel this month. Live or dead bait on a jig head will give you plenty of action along with silver spoons or shiny lures. Around seawalls, channel edges or deeper structure you can find grouper for catch and release action in January. Snook action around the jetties and bridges will be active mostly at night for anglers using feather jigs, Terror Eyz and live bait. Snook closed on December 15th, so it will be catch and release for them.

    Redfish can be found around docks and sitting on the flats on warm, sunny days. The new 2 ¾” DOA shrimp, Terror Eyz or CAL jerk baits work great for wintertime fishing. We had fantastic results around mangroves for redfish last year. CAL paddle tails in the 411 color were a hit with the reds. Docks will be loaded with sheepshead in January with nice sized fish. They have moved in early this year and have been hungry! Pompano fishing will depend on water temperatures for their location, but they will be in the area throughout the winter. Surf anglers will be targeting these fish on days when the beach is fishable.

    Flounder should be found around the jetties on the beach side and on sand flats around the inlet. If you can find warmer water on the flats, you will most likely find trout feeding in those areas. Last year, we were rewarded many days as the sun would warm up a patch of water and get the fish actively feeding. Trout fishing in 2016 rewarded us with many big fish in the 25” to 30” range. CAL jerk baits and Deadly Combos were very successful on the trout, and 2017 should prove to be another good year. Ladyfish and jacks will be all over the river for fun action for the little ones.

    January Tips: Dress for the weather. We might get one or two days each week that might be warmer, but most days will be on the cooler side. There can be a 30-degree swing in temperature on some days. Dressing in layers can keep you comfortable throughout the day in January. Once you become cold, it's hard to warm back up again. Keep yourself comfortable and enjoy some good fishing in January. Stay warm and safe and enjoy the winter!

    Remember, fishing is not just another hobby....it's an ADVENTURE!

    Have a wonderful 2017!

    Thanks and Good Fishing!

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


  • 12/31/2016 6:58 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Wintertime is Shad Time
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    As we usher in the New Year, it’s once again time to reflect back on the events and accomplishments of 2016. It’s also time to think about what stands before us in the year to come. My resolution last year was a simple one. One I knew would be easy to accomplish, good for my health, broaden my horizon, and would be extremely enjoyable. It didn’t involve any major life style changes or hard work. I simply resolved to spend more time on the water, to watch more sunrises, and to catch more fish.

    This year, I’m making a commitment to myself to expand on last year’s resolution by enlightening others to the rewards I’ve experienced.

    Winter on the Indian River Lagoon coast of Central Florida is not defined by any specific dates, but rather the temperature difference generated by passing cold fronts. These temperature variations are subject to change from year to year, and they are hard to predict. Average daytime temperatures usually range from the 50’s in the morning to around the 70’s in the afternoon.

    Likewise, water temperatures average in the upper 60’s, but they can drop as low as the 50’s with extended periods of cold weather. On warm sunny days, water temperatures will increase as much as four degrees on the sunny shallow flats and sandbars. All of these factors greatly affect species targeted and method used.

    Although the majority of my fishing is saltwater, low sodium becomes my preference in January when the St Johns River system recedes within its banks bringing the micro baitfish and grass shrimp off of the flooded plans into the main river channel.  To me fishing is fishing, so in the winter I love to downsize my tackle and target the American shad run and the spawning season of largemouth bass, crappie and brim.

    This year the current river conditions are perfect and the bait is heavy, so on those windy pre and post frontal days, the protected areas of the St Johns will not only save the day, but they will also provide for some excellent light tackle fishing. Oh by the way, the shad are starting to show up with several nice shad photos being posted.

    On the flats of the north Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon redfish and trout will seek the warmest water they can find. Work the deeper edges of flats in the morning and then move into warmer wind protected flats around mid-day to afternoon.

    An early start is not a requirement this time of year. Both redfish and trout love to sun themselves in the shallow water sand pockets in grassy areas. On colder days, fish the deeper holes utilizing a slower presentation. Other species encountered in January are black drum, flounder, ladyfish, bluefish, and sheepshead. January is the best time of year to find large black drum tailing on the flats, especially on the Banana River “No Motor Zone”. Shrimp, small chunks of fresh blue crab and clams are the preferred bait for these fish, but they will take both artificial and fly if presented properly.

    Inlet fishing has been hot this past week with Sebastian being the most productive. There are still reports of flounder in the cut, but the bite has slowed. Good numbers of pompano, ladyfish, jacks, and sheepshead have been reported, and these fish should remain plentiful through January.

    Near-shore, the tripletail have started to show up on the Port Canaveral buoy line, and the numbers will increase as the month progresses. The other hot ticket near-shore has been the run of kingfish we’ve experienced this past week. Once the seas subside, king mackerel in the 5 to 10 pound range will be holding along the near-shore reefs in 70 to 90 feet of water. Last week anglers experienced some of the best kingfish action of their lives on 8A Reef out of Port Canaveral. My preferred method of catching these fish is with live bait, but with pogies (Atlantic menhaden) hard to catch this time of year, slow trolling dead sardines dressed in a king buster skirts works well.

    Again, the primary factor in catching central Florida fishing in January is temperature. So keep an eye on the forecast and plan your day accordingly. As always, if you have questions or need information, please contact me.

    Good luck and good fishing in the new year,
    Captain Tom Van Horn
    mosquitocoast@cfl.rr.com
    (407) 416-1187

  • 12/04/2016 6:56 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    It’s Been a good year
    By Captain Tom Van Horn

    It is difficult to fathom the fact that another year has passed us by. Thus far my 2016 fishing season has been a great one. Please visit my photo gallery on my website at http://www.irl-fishing.com/gallery and see some of the outstanding catches this year. Although the water quality in the Lagoon has been challenging, we still managed some great catching adventures. It is my hope that you and those closest to you have a wonderful holiday season and spend some time on the water together.

    Starting with the Inshore lagoons, both redfish and sea trout will remain in the skinny water as long as the water temperatures stay warm. Inshore flats fishing is best once the sun warms the water a bit, so sleep in and enjoy a good cup of coffee before heading to the ramp on those cold mornings. Focus your fishing in protected areas and sunny spots, and look for fish to be holding in sand pockets until the sun gets overhead. Also, now is also the time of year to target tailing black drum in the Banana River Lagoon No Motor Zone.

    When the weather is nice and the seas are fishable offshore, solid concentrations of kingfish will be holding on the inshore reefs and wrecks in 60 to 100 feet of water. Several prime locations to target December kingfish are the north end of Pelican Flats and 8A reef out of Port Canaveral. The kingfish bite should remain steady as long as water temperatures stay above 74 degrees. When near-shore waters approach the 70-degree mark, start looking for cobia and tripletail along Port Canaveral buoy line and the shallow waters just off the bight of the Cape. These two species normally hold around floating structure, but they also tend to free swim once the water temperatures warm up in the afternoon.

    If the ocean conditions are a bit too rough, good concentrations of breeder redfish will be holding in the inlet passes of Ponce De Leon and Sebastian. Try drifting the passes during the falling tide bouncing live pinfish or croakers off the bottom. In the Port Canaveral shipping channel, work the edges of the channel using the same technique. Remember these are oversize redfish, so please step up the size of your tackle to lessen the stress of the fight, and release them with extreme care to be caught again on another day.

    Snook fishing will also remain steady around Sebastian Inlet as long as the water temperatures stay warm. It is best to target inlet snook during periods of slack tide fishing live pigfish, pinfish, or croakers at night in the channel under the A1A Bridge. Another notable species worth mentioning when speaking of inlet fishing is flounder. Depending on surf and lagoon temperatures, the flounder migration can stretch into December, with stragglers filtering through the passes all month.

    If the winds are westerly, concentrate your efforts along the beach, and look for pompano to begin moving off the inshore flats to the deeper troughs along the beach. Also, look for schools of bluefish and Spanish mackerel shadowing pods of glass minnows and other bait is the surf. To target both blues and Spanish, watch for birds working bait pods, and through small jigs like the D.O.A C.A.L. and spoons with a fast retrieval to avoid cutoffs.

    On the upper Saint Johns River look for the American and hickory shad runs to commence near the end of the month, and intensifying in January and February. Shad fishing is one of the most overlooked fisheries in Florida, and a fun fish to catch on both fly and light tackle gear.

    In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who fished and worked with me this past year for your business and friendship, and I am looking forward to spending more time on the water with you in 2017. Also, now is the time to purchase your 2017 gift certificates by visiting http://www.irl-fishing.com/gift-certificates , so purchase a charter in advance for yourself or that special angler close to your heart, and go fishing with them.

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

    Good luck and good fishing and happy holidays,

    Captain Tom Van Horn
    Mosquito Coast Fishing Charters
    mosquitocoast@cfl.rr.com w 
    www.irl-fishing.com
    407-416-1187 Cell

  • 12/04/2016 6:48 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    December swings in water temp will influence fishing success
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    The month of December is the big swing month for Southwest Florida. This is the time of the year when serious cold fronts can make their way through us causing big changes. Depending on what mother nature chooses to bestow upon us, we either get another few weeks of great fishing or it gets a bit more challenging as water temperatures can drop below the mid 60’s. Water temperatures being the driving factor, we see certain signs telling us the change into winter fishing has begun. 

    First and foremost, are the schools of threadfin herring and pilchards that seemingly disappear overnight along with the tarpon as they follow warmer water south. These schools of bait can handle a slow drop of water temperatures, but should we get a serious drop in temperature over the course of a day or so, they’re gone! Strong consistent north and northwest winds also scream winter has begun and can make for some tough days after each frontal boundary pushes through. Oddball predominantly northern species that show up randomly such as bluefish, and the ability to catch offshore species very close to shore like kingfish, also clue anglers into switching things up to standard winter-time South Florida fishing patterns.

    So, what are winter fishing patterns here in Southwest Florida? Well, when we get big dips in water temperatures usually after a day or two, fish should start eating again. We do change up our techniques during these times, and for the sake of argument, these techniques are used basically through February. “Slow and low” takes first place for lots of different fish. We still throw artificial lures, plugs, swimbaits, and flies just a little different than we do in the summer time. “Slow” because often with the cooler water our fish tend to be a bit sluggish and stubborn to bite at times. “Low” because in general that’s where most of the fish are laying up on darker bottom that may be a degree or two warmer in places. 

    Fishing in December should the temperatures fall of quick, can still be productive in the backcountry haunts as well as river mouths and creeks. The areas feed by springs can be especially good as the water temperatures will variate less. Power plants that use water to cool off their generators can hold large amounts of different fish as the lay around in a spa like environment. So target those areas if you can directly after cold fronts.

    Cut baits become very effective for species like redfish and snook. Cut baits are very simple rigs, so when thrown near mangroves or structure usually with a deeper edge and just left there, will eventually get you a take. Trying a variety of baits such as ladyfish, mullet, pinfish, even sardines can produce very good results when times get tough.

    Downsizing your baits is another winter tactic. As most of the bait left around after cold fronts is quite small, you’re basically matching the hatch. Not to mention the fact that some fish prefer it a bit cooler, like sheepshead, and if your hook is too big you won’t have much luck catching those. Depending on water quality, downsizing your leader can help a lot. Usually after a good blow the water is a bit mudded up so you don’t have to downsize. However, to be frank, I prefer more action with a few broken lines versus little action any day.

    Now on the flip side, the weather can stay nice and most everything will still be available to target and eager to play. Snook, tarpon, redfish, trout, sheepshead, and pompano will all be feasting as they get fat before food supplies move out with the winter. Mornings will be cool and afternoons will be downright beautiful. Water clarity should be very good without the wind from fronts, giving anglers options to sight cast fish laid up in the shallow waters. Ideally the water temperature is in the low 70’s during this scenario, or at least the upper end of the 60’s. Often slow trolling on your trolling motor or even drifting across open flats can be very productive this time of the year. Fish like to sit in the potholes or along the flats edges waiting on an easy meal.

    Tides still play a big factor here, and if your only able to fish for a few hours be sure to pick times of the day when water is moving. As we move through December, tides begin to swing dramatically during the full moon phase and can become very low. Negative lows may drop close to a foot of water lower than what many anglers are used to. You have options here as well. There are two positives when fishing these extreme lows in the backcountry. One positive, is now as an angler you can easily see structure, holes, and tidal flow routes for the next time you’re out fishing the beginning of outgoing. The second is that the fish get pushed into the few areas that still have some water and are near the flats where they were eating earlier.

    When targeting fish during these low tides, be aware of not spooking out fish in the areas your targeting them. Often these fish are just laying together in areas waiting for the opportunity to feast on the incoming. Get off the motor earlier than you normally would and, when applicable, try making longer casts to your favorite holes. Fish tend to pile up in areas and often you’ll have opportunities at several fish in the same spot. You can always move closer if you must, right? However, once you blow out a spot, it’s blown out! While fishing these low tide fish its always better when throwing artificial baits to fan your cast as far away from them as possible, slowly working the water closer and closer to them - like a water sprinkler. The same technique works just the same for live baits and cut baits. Throwing a bait right on your quarry’s head usually doesn’t work out so well.

    These beautiful days allow anglers to fish whenever they want to, and enjoy Southwest Florida. Heck, last year we had great weather all the way until January 3rd!

    Tight lines,

    Cap.t Greg Stamper

    snookstampcharters.com

    239-313-1764


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