fishing Forecast

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  • 11/30/2018 1:14 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Winter fishing offers variety
    by Captain Tom Van Horn

    For starters, let me begin with an apology for not posting many reports in October and November.  It’s not because I haven’t wanted to fish. It’s because I couldn’t.  You see on October 22nd I had an accident at home while working on my house.  Although I only fell eight feet off of a ladder, I sustained critical injuries resulting in an eleven day stay in a trauma center.  Result was seven broken ribs and three fractured vertebra.  I’m currently on the mend, but it’s is looking like I will continue to be landlocked until just before Christmas.  These are challenging times for me, but the good news is I survived to fish on another day.

    December’s Fishing Forecast

    As the cold weather settles in on the northern two thirds of America, many anglers only dream of a location where stretching line is a year-round endeavor. They long for a warm setting occupied by happy fish tailing in the shallows as the mid afternoon sun warms the flat. Such is the life of anglers in many parts of our country, and thank God we live on the Indian River Lagoon coast of Florida where catching is a year-round sport.

    Like November, December is a month filled with outstanding fishing opportunities. The only significant difference is the impact cooler water temperatures have on the fishery and windy conditions, which are influenced by passing cold fronts. Fluctuations in water temperatures affect both fish behavior and angling tactics, so an understanding of where and how-to fish can result is some memorable catches.

    Freshwater Fishing

    American Shad and Speckled Perch (Black Crappie)

    In spite of low water levels on the St Johns River system good numbers of speckled perch (black crappie) are showing up in the upper St Johns River, and the big lakes of Monroe, Jessup and Harney. Fish structure or slow troll Road Runner jigs or live minnows near the bottom. Also, look for the American shad to begin showing up near the end of the month on their winter spawning run. The American shad is an incredible species to catch on light tackle and fly, and if you have never experienced this fishery, you should book a day with me and I’ll show you how it is done. American Shad fishing is as close as Floridian’s get to the salmon runs of the north and we are catching them during the winter when the northern rives are frozen over.

    Saltwater Fishing

    Ocean and Inlet Fishing

    Near-shore and in the inlets, large redfish were consistent outside Ponce Inlet, Port Canaveral and Sebastian Inlet last month, and they should remain steady through December. At both Ponce and Sebastian, look for redfish chasing bait on the surface during periods of slack tide, or feeding along the bottom during periods of falling tidal flow. At Port Canaveral, work the bottom in deeper water just outside the buoy line along the channel ledges and look for concentrations of Atlantic menhaden (pogies) and muddy water spots in 15 to 30 feet of depth. These breeder size redfish will hit artificial baits, but live pinfish, pigfish, pogies and finger mullet are more productive. Remember, these are large oversized reds, so step up the size of your tackle and handle and release them with extreme care.

    Snook

    Snook fishing will remain steady in the surf and inlets, with Sebastian Inlet proving to be the most productive location. It is best to target inlet snook at night by drifting live pigfish and pinfish through the channel, or fishing bucktail jigs or large swimming plugs from the rocks and catwalks. This type of fishing can be quite challenging due to the number of anglers competing for the same fish and impatient and discourteous anglers, so please pay attention, be courteous, stay safe and enjoy the rewards.

    Bluefish and Spanish Mackerel

    Large schools of bluefish and Spanish mackerel have been feeding on glass minnows (bay anchovies) along the beaches and outside the Inlets. When targeting these fish watch for bird activity and work small jigs or spoons very fast to avoid cut offs. A small trace of wire can be added ahead of your bait to reduce cut offs, but in some cases the keen vision of the toothy mackerel will reduce the number of strikes. Also, if you see pelicans diving on bait and then holding their bills down in the water in an effort to strain the water from the smaller baitfish before swallowing, you are in the right spot.

    Flounder

    The Flounder run is on with good catches being reported from both Port Canaveral and Sebastian. Anglers utilizing either jigs, live finger mullet or mud minnows fished on the bottom are experiencing the best results. My favorite technique is to slow drift the Inlet passes, bouncing DOA jigs combined with a 3″ DOA CAL Shad Tail on the bottom. This tactic allows you to cover more ground, and once you have located a hot spot, you can anchor your boat and concentrate on the area.

    Tarpon and Kingfish

    Further off of the beach, tarpon and kingfish can be found shadowing bait pods outside the Inlets. Either slow troll live baits on steel stinger rigs, or try dropping live baits into schools of bait in deeper water. This bite should continue as long as water temperatures remain above 74 degrees.

    Tripletail and Cobia

    December is also the month when tripletail begins to show up on the Port Canaveral buoy line, and as the water cools the bite should improve. When water temperatures drop below 70 degrees, look for cobia on weed-lines, near-shore wrecks, buoys, and other structure. Once the water temperatures drop below 68 degrees, target cobia on the deeper wrecks and hard bottom where the water is a bit warmer.

    Inshore Trout, Redfish and Black Drum

    On the inshore flats, both redfish and sea trout will remain in the skinny water as long as the water temperatures stay in the seventies. Fish in protected areas and sunny spots on cooler days, and look for fish to be holding in sand spots (potholes) until the sun gets overhead.

    In closing, I would like to thank all of you for your support this past year. 2018 was an incredible year of catching, with too many great memories to mention. Guiding anglers in Central Florida is a great job, and I’m looking forward to our next adventure in 2019

    As always, if you have any questions or need more information, 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
    mosquitocoast@cfl.rr.com

  • 11/30/2018 1:10 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Working with the wind
    by Captain Michael Manis

    At this point, the beginning of winter, we’re all hoping that the cooler water temperatures will put to an end to the annoying red tide. Typically, I find myself

    looking for windows of opportunity. By that, I mean waiting between fronts for calmer days where both the run and fishing are tolerable. And, even though the days are short, its nice not having to get out at the crack of dawn. In fact, I like to wait till late morning in order to let the sun warm the flats and provide some visibility.

    Due to lower tides combined with minimal rain, sight fishing can be good as there isn’t enough water for game fish to get deep into the mangroves.  Essentially, it’s this dynamic that provides the open water sand hole techniques that are so common on the winter low tides. I’ll still pole shorelines, particularly sandy sections, but it’s the sand holes off the shoreline that hold the best numbers of game fish.

    Most days, it’s not unusual to have to deal with a northeast breeze. For this reason, I like to look for spots that provide as much protection as possible and try to work with the wind at my back. If I can get the sun at my back, it’s even better. All this makes seeing, casting, and poling a little easier.  Because bait is scarce, predator species change their diet and in turn I’ll downsize my baits and slow down my presentation.

    This is one of my favorite times to fish Pine Island Sound. I like the protection Pine Island provides from the northeast and it has some of the best mix of turtle grass and sand anywhere. The area from Pineland down to Demere Key is good and some of the biggest trout in our watershed come from the deeper holes between Cove key and Captiva Shoal.

    Off the flats, pompano should be on the hard bottom off Cape Haze Point as well as outside the bar along the southern end of the west wall. Spanish mackerel will be found around harbor channel markers. Bluefish should be mixed in within these same areas. The Alligator Creek Reef is also a great place to drop a piece of shrimp.

    For backup, if you’d like to get out and Mother Nature isn’t cooperating, there are always the canal systems. Whether it is Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, or the Boca Bayou, the docks in all the above will be holding fish. It’s not unusual to see sheepshead and black drum scattered around the pilings.

    Until next month, good tides.

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

  • 11/30/2018 1:03 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    And so Winter fishing begins
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    December is the month of big changes around South Florida. Most people up North are jealous of our weather, but we do chill off from time to time. On average we can see afternoon temperatures in the mid to high 70’s, with the possibility of morning temperatures in the high 40’s to 50’s. Of course, dropping into the 40’s is rare for us here. Occasionally we do get the tail end of cold fronts though, giving us a taste of that chilly air.

    Guides up and down the coast will be planning out their trips based on when or if these cold fronts come through our fishing zones. We will start fishing winter patterns now and will continue through mid-March. Winter will set in sometime before month’s end making water temperature a topic for guides and fisherman at the early morning dock talks.

    So, what are winter fishing patterns, and when do they become relevant? Water temperatures usually start in the low 70’s at the beginning of December. Hopefully we won’t see temperatures get below 65 degrees, as that’s when it gets tougher. Keeping tabs on what the water temperature is daily will give you an indication of what to expect while fishing.  A slow drop in water temperature won’t affect the bite much. However, a sharp drop in water temperature over a day or two will definitely make things difficult.

    Typically, you’ll hear guides talking about low and slow when the water temperatures are cold. This theory holds true for the days when the water temperature has dropped significantly over the course of a day or two. The fish that live in shallow waters begin to hang out in their winter homes. These homes are often the creeks, rivers, canal systems, and deep-water holes nearby.

    You’ll start seeing a lot of sheepshead pictures soon, as that’s a popular target when it does get cold. Targeting them around rock piles, docks or on the local reefs is most common. Using small jigs or hooks with a small piece of shrimp on them works well. Sheepshead typically nit-pick your bait, so giving them as little of a piece of shrimp as possible works best. They’re not referred to as a convict fish for no reason.

    Tripletail will be another big target this month, as the crab traps are well-seasoned now. The big fish arrive in Southwest Florida from now until April. This is one of the things cold fronts help us with here. The colder the water gets in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, the more tripletail we have pushed South right into our backyard. Last year was an epic year for tripletail with fish weighing up to 31lbs. Search for them around any structure whether it be buoys, markers, a piece of floating debris, or even bridges. Fishing for them with live bait, flies, or lures all works well. The best part of tripletail fishing is clients get to see the fish, watch it eat, and then fight it.

    We’ll begin to see a big push of pelagic fish with this cooling water. Bluefish become a common catch especially in the passes on moving water. Pompano love the cool water and will be happy to bite. Flounders begin to show up, to about 22”.  Groupers begin to move into the shallower waters within 9 miles of shore, where you’ll also find kingfish, bonito, and occasionally big bull reds. We should also continue to see decent amounts of bait available both in the bays and the Gulf.

    Tight lines Capt. Greg Stamper

    Snookstampcharters.com
    239-313-1764 

  • 11/30/2018 1:01 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Change your tactics for winter
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    Here it is December already and the Holidays are almost upon us. Where has this year gone? I must say 2018 has been another great year for fishing all along the Treasure Coast. Both inshore and offshore have provided anglers with many great fishing adventures. The hurricanes left us alone this year and we anxiously await to see if our newly elected officials will work on the water issues for us. Hopefully, this winter will be milder, the water quality improves, and the fishing is great for everyone.

    December brings on the winter months and changes fishing tactics on the river. The water temperatures continue to fall and your fishing must adjust to the weather. Water temps can dictate where you fish and how you fish.  Finding water a few degrees warmer than normal can mean the difference in catching and fishing.  We will get many days of breezy winds that will hinder getting to some favorite spots out there. That's one of the reasons I love fishing in this area....you can always find somewhere to fish! Not only does the cooler weather affect the fish, it also requires us to dig out the ol' winter fishing clothes.  I’m not too proud to get out the long johns on a cold winter day.   It can get pretty chilly some mornings!

    Trout, redfish and snook will be targets throughout the winter. Snook season closes December 15th, but many anglers will still play catch and release with them. Fishing around bridges, docks and inlets can bring great action with snook hanging around the deeper waters of the river. Using live bait, DOA Baitbusters & TerrorEyz, jigs and bomber lures can help you catch one worth a photo opportunity. Trout will tend to hang around the deeper cuts of the river. Move off to three to six feet of water for trout. Live shrimp on popping corks or DOA Deadly Combos will work the best for them. I love to work DOA CAL jerk baits or CAL Air Heads this time of year on the flats. You can also find snook and redfish hanging around those areas as well.

    Pompano have already arrived in the area and not only provide great fishing action, but fantastic table fare. Spanish mackerel and bluefish will continue to hang out in their favorite haunts of the river. Fish the inlet, turning basin and channels for them. Jack Crevalle will be traveling around in packs chasing bait all over the river. Flounder should arrive soon and hang around the inlets, docks and sandy flats of the river. Ladyfish is a great way to spend a few hours with the kids on the water. The bridges will be holding sheephead, black drum, croakers and sand perch for those anglers. Live or dead shrimp is always the best bet from the catwalks. There is a good variety of fish to target on any given day in any kind of weather conditions.

    Redfish can be found around local docks during the winter months and a live shrimp or DOA Shrimp can entice them into striking. Don't forget about the deeper cuts along the mangroves for redfish and snook in December. Using stealth is essential when fishing the shallow waters for redfish. We had very good success at finding the reds in shallow on sunny days on the grass flats.  A mild winter will have them feeding in the shallows this month.  It was a fantastic redfish bite all last winter and I am looking for it to be just as good this year.

    Winter fishing is already here. Change your tactics with the weather and follow the water temperatures more closely to make your fishing more productive. Let’s make 2019 the year that we see improvements to the water quality in our area.  If we all do our share to protect our rivers, we can insure the future generations will enjoy the same experiences we have been blessed with.

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

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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


  • 10/30/2018 6:35 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    As we move toward Winter
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    November is here, and we’ll all be busy fishing for a variety of species based on the weather patterns. Weather during November can be very nice, typically our highs can reach the low 80’s and our lows around 60. Every once in awhile a stronger cold front can work its way to us, but most of the time they stall out near Tampa.

    These fronts are about the only thing that can slow a bite down this time of the year. Fishing before these frontal boundaries arrive is usually awesome. Wind becomes a bigger factor as our nearshore wrecks and reefs will be in play. Depending on how much wind we have, and the direction its coming from, anglers will have to decide where and what to fish for.

    On days when its windy, especially coming from the West or Northwest we’ll fish in the back bays, rivers, and flats. On days when its nice and calm out, we’ll run out to the nearshore reefs and wrecks.

    So inshore the redfish bite should take top billing. Typically, redfish will be found in groups of similar size fish as they school up throughout the area. Spreads for reds is an easy way to fish for them around docks, oyster bars, and mangrove islands.

    Snook fishing will continue to be excellent, both along the beaches and in the back bays. Snook fishing will continue to be big number days, until a real cold front makes its way through here. Most snook are between 15-30 inches with a few giants here and there.

    Pompano love the water as it cools off and invade our local beaches, passes, and back bay cuts as the chase sand fleas, shrimp, and small crabs.

    Trout fishing should become another big target. Trout can be found anywhere there are grass flats usually in 2-4 feet of water. A simple popping cork and shrimp rig is deadly on these fish.

    Of course, as water temperatures begin to cool, we will also begin to see migrations of other fish moving around the area as well. Black drum, bluefish, flounder, mackerel, sheepshead, etc. all can be found as we transition to cooler water.

    Nearshore fishing during the low wind days gives anglers a bunch of options. As the big tarpon move their way from up North we can target 100 pound plus fish regularly along our coastline and out to 50 feet. These fish are following and staying with the threadfin herring schools that are thick during this time of the year.

    Bonita, kingfish, cobia and other migrating fish become abundant. There’s no guessing which off these fish you’ll run into first but be prepared for all of them. Trolling plugs, live baiting on a drift, or the run and gun approach are all ways of getting a tight line when any of them are around.

    Our local wrecks and reefs are in play for those that like bottom fishing. Dropping jigs or chicken rigs down with a variety of offerings can put you in touch with groupers, snapper, sharks, etc. Frozen baits, live baits, and even bouncing a fancy looking jig are all ways of getting it done.

    Don’t forget when running around from place to place to keep an eye on the buoys, grass mats, or any debris you my stumble across as tripletail season is now in full swing.

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

  • 10/28/2018 2:21 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Mullet run brings lots of action
    by Captain Charlie Conner

    November is always a fun month to enjoy the fishing along the Treasure Coast. We are in the middle of our winter transition and you can also count on cooler temperatures that will start the thermometer sliding when it comes to the water temps as well. The days will remain nice and warm, but the nights will become cooler this month. It’s time to change your fishing tactics out on the water. We enjoyed a very mild winter this past year and hopefully it will be the same again this winter. The fall mullet run will continue into November and bring lots of action to the inlets, rivers and beaches throughout the area.

    Trout will continue to be a target of many anglers. The trout bite will be good on the flats, but you must move to the deeper areas as the temperatures cool the water down. Look for them to be in three to six feet of water this month. My favorite lures are DOA shrimp or Deadly Combos when trout fishing. Don’t forget to fish the sand holes and drop offs on the flats. Many sand holes are much deeper than the flat and you can expect some nice fish to be hiding in them waiting for that easy meal to drift by. Harbor Branch is especially productive for me during this time of year as well as the Midway Road area. The pompano beginning to return to the river and will be a favorite target for anglers throughout the winter. When fishing the surf, use sand fleas or clams and the same in the river. Don’t forget to try a Doc’s Goofy Jig for the pomps. Many are located when they skip behind the boat wake. Keep your eyes open for them.

    The snook bite will continue to be good, especially at night. The inlet, jetties, bridges and docks around the river will be holding snook. Lighted docks are very popular when night fishing. Live baits, Bait Busters and Terror Eyz are very popular for snook fishing. Don’t forget the spillways when the water is running over them. They can be another very productive area for snook. Redfish can be found hanging under mangroves during the day and will strike a DOA 2 ¾” shrimp or CAL jerk bait. You might also find some hanging under some of the docks around the river. Look for them in shallow water as long as the sun keeps the temperatures warm. I love the CAL grub tails this time of year around the mangroves.  A gold spoon can be another good lure in winter for hooking up on a redfish. We had a record year for over slot redfish this year. The population continues to grow in our area.

    Docks and bridges will hold black drum, sheephead and the sand perch should also show up this month. Live or dead shrimp always works best on these fish. I love fishing docks this time of year. You just never know what might be lurking under one. I fish my lures from up tide of the dock, so that it will stay under the dock. You only have to twitch it and can fish it much longer that way. It’s always a challenge in getting a fish out from under one, but the excitement is well worth it. You should still find some flounder around on the sand flats of the inlet and river. The mackerel, bluefish and jacks will fill up the inlet this month. Most shiny lures will work on these predators. You can also find them hanging in the channels up around Harbor Branch. It might be breezy out there…..but the fish will be feeding!

    As always, remember, fishing is not just another hobby....it's an ADVENTURE!!

    Good Fishing and Be Safe,
    Captain Charlie Conner

    http://www.fishtalescharter.com 
    email: captaincharlie@fishtalescharter.com
    772-284-3852

  • 10/28/2018 2:11 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Change is in the air
    by Captain Michael Manis

    Towards the end of last month, at first light, it was noticeably breezy and cooler. Here, this began the transition from late summer and fall into what could be considered a winter pattern. It’s not the winter we’ll see in the next three months; but it’s a change from the last couple months. Moreover, the cooler temperatures should help alleviate the red tide that is plaguing the coastline.

    Snook, seeking stable water temperatures, should be in full transition towards river and canal systems as well as backcountry creeks. A good cold front will really get them moving. As these conditions make bigger fish vulnerable, I’ll concentrate on smaller fish. More so than last month, I’ll move further into the backcountry up the harbor working the upper end of the west Wall and over towards the Myakka Cutoff.  Too, I’ll begin exploring creek systems within both the Myakka and Peace River looking for those out of the way places that see minimal pressure.  

    In addition to lower temperatures, we’ll begin to see some lower tides that could provide tailing redfish opportunities.  If the water clears up, those that can pole a quiet skiff could do well on a low incoming tide. The east side of Pine Island Sound below Pineland Marina and the eastern shoreline below the Bascule Bridge in Matlacha are worth a look. Bay style boats that aren’t built for poling would be a good fit for Turtle Bay. It has some deep shorelines, several oyster bars, quite a few creek mouths and the outside bar can really turn on.

    With the cooler mornings, spotted sea trout should eat well. Here, find a combination of the cleanest water and the best turtle grass flats in two to four feet in Gasparilla or Pine Island Sound. I prefer a mixed bottom of sand and grass and like working sand hole edges. Essentially, during the cooler months, sight fishing gator trout has become one of my favorite ways to spend a day.

    Lastly, look for sheepshead to begin stacking up around any artificial reef, dock or pier structure. From land, the Placida trestle is a favorite spot. Here, shrimp and fiddler crabs are the bait of choice.

    Until next month, good tides.

    Captain Michael Manis

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

  • 09/30/2018 1:41 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    The season of the mullet has arrived
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    Believe it or not, cooler nights, shorter days, and prevailing northeast winds are just around the corner and they are all sure signs fall is in the air along Florida's east central coast. Another sure sign of fall is the waves of baitfish working their way south through the lagoon and along the beach as the fall mullet run commences.

    Masses of black and silver mullet, Atlantic menhaden (pogies), thread fin herring (greenies), and bay anchovies (glass minnows) have begun their southerly migration following the warmer tropical waters. This migration creates an all you can eat buffet of yummy little baitfish shadowed by a large array of hungry predators looking to fatten up for the winter.

    In and around the inlets of Ponce, Port Canaveral and Sebastian Inlets look for flounder, snook, jack crevalle and oversized redfish feeding on migrating baitfish along the jetties and just outside the inlets. Easterly swells, challenging seas, falling tides and currents, and aggressive anglers can make for sporty angling conditions in the Sebastian and Ponce Inlets, so please pay attention, keep the engine running with someone at the helm, be patient and enjoy the rewards.

    Weather permitting, near-shore opportunities are the best you will see all year. Along the beaches, target areas of concentrated bait schools for a mixed bag of snook, tarpon, kingfish, cobia, jack crevalle, oversized redfish, and sharks. Additionally, snook fishing in the surf will improve as the baitfish move south along the beach. Also look for schools of glass minnows to begin showing up bringing larger Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and tarpon with them.

    In the north Indian River and Mosquito Lagoons, higher water levels will allow anglers to venture into areas normally inaccessible during the spring and summer months. Look for slot redfish in close to the edges along the shoreline shadowing pods of finger mullet, and for the larger breeder redfish cruising in deeper water and ambush sites where migrating mullet are forced to venture out from the safety of the shallow flats.

    Remember, in fishing we always try to match the hatch, or in this case the migration, so mullet imitation lures will be you key to success. For larger redfish, tarpon and snook, I suggest the DOA BFL or Bait Buster and if toothy fish are in the mix, switch to hard baits like the Rapala Skitter Walk or Sub Walker.

    Hope you make time to get out there and catch-um-up,

    Captain Tom Van Horn

  • 09/29/2018 4:19 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Fall Fishing is good
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    Here we are on the last quarter of the year and fishing between now and December is usually some of the best we can get. October brings the beginning of dropping water temperatures. These water temperature drops begin migrations of fish from North in the panhandle. Schools of fish and what eats them begin moving South down Floridas’ West coast shoreline. Depending on how cool the water gets and when, bait schools will push South staying in areas for days or weeks at a time. The further South the bait moves the longer they stay in those areas. True cold fronts rarely reach Southwest Florida till December so starting now we can have schools of what’s eating the bait hanging around for long periods of time.

    In the backcountry the primary subjects will be Snook, redfish, jacks, and trout this month, with tarpon sprinkled in. We managed to find a bunch of small and medium snook and a few reds toward the end of September, after battling with red tides. 

    Snook and Redfish will continue to be catch and release only, throughout the entire Southwest coast. Till further notice this will stay in place as it should, but we can still catch them. October typically brings the redfish together in schools and often anglers will have the ability to see them cruising. These schools of redfish usually throw a significant wake when moving places, making for easy pickings. Topwater plugs are a popular choice in October as anglers can cover a lot of water easily. Cut baits like ladyfish, mullet, or crabs are another option should you put out “spreads for reds”. Finally, free lining live baits along or around oyster bars or shorelines always works well.

    There’s a good chance that the big tarpon will start showing up certainly by the end of the month. Personally, I like fishing for them on the low wind days. If it’s the 100+ pounders I’m looking for when it’s calm you’ll catch glimpses of them rolling or free jumping in areas. You can run up and down our beaches on days when its calm and find schools working bait. Typically, we will target them with threadfin herring or crabs and fish up current from them drifting the baits behind us moving on the trolling motor. On the days when it’s a bit windy we can always target the juvenile tarpon that are plentiful in our back bays. These juvenile tarpons were a saving grace for trips during red tide and are a lot of fun as they range from 10-40 pounds. Most creeks, canals, and rivers throughout the area here will have them, you’ve just got to have time on the water to figure out the when and where.

    The fall also begins a push of bonitas, kingfish, tripletail, and other species into our area for many months. These fish can be found nearshore easily within the first 10 miles. Depending on what you like to do, targeting these fish can be done many ways. Bonitas and kingfish often show themselves by making commotions on the waters surface or sometimes free jumping. You can troll plugs, chum them up straight to your position, or do the run and gun approach from school to school once you’ve located an area they’re in. Tripletail is a bit different, now we start checking all the buoys, markers, or floating debris we see until the stone crab season starts making things much easier. November typically is when we start seeing the 10-20+ pounders but you never know.

    Finally, as we’ve begun the recovery from red tide, I hope the areas impacted most will begin to heal. These areas are usually where I picked up pompano in great numbers, spotted seatrout up to 8 pounds and a gauntlet of miscellaneous species such as mackeral, ladyfish, sharks, etc. in October. I did not fish these areas from July 27th till September 25 as red tide seemed to constantly be in different places throughout the area the entire time. However, I fished a few of these areas on two different occasions since and did find a few. These areas aren’t back to normal by any means, but hopefully a few more weeks of good conditions will change things up.

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

  • 09/29/2018 4:16 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Catch and Release Snook and Redfish
    by Captain Michael Manis

    On average, this is one of my favorite months. Snook and redfish are entering favorable transition periods.  Because, they’re separate and unique, sight-fishing opportunities are possible on mangrove shorelines and on open grass flats.  

    Snook begin moving away from open water shorelines towards backcountry creek systems. Last month, I began making my way further into the backcountry and I plan to push a bit farther this month. In Particular, on the east side below Punta Gorda, I’ll work the extensive collection of tidal creeks three or four islands deep. Later in the month, they should really be on the move. It’s hard to imagine now, but these creek systems will provide protection and more stable water temperatures when it cools off and the fronts start pushing through.

    In addition, it’s hard not to put some time in on the West Wall. It does see a lot of boat traffic, but it’s a natural migration path for fish making their way towards the Myakka River. When it’s good, it’s really good. Tidal creek areas around the Myakka Cutoff are also a good place to look.

    Redfish are coming off their August and September spawn and will still be grouped up on open flats. Any bay or sound could hold fish. In past years, flats with good flush from the Gulf were a good bet. For this reason, I have always liked the flats adjacent to Stump Pass in Lemon Bay and between Captiva and Boca Grande Pass in northern Pine Island Sound. This close to Gulf passes; water clarity and sight fishing opportunities improved.

    This year, depending upon how long the red tide sticks around our beaches, we may have to spend more time looking inside the harbor.  The Cape Haze Point area and around the bar outside Turtle Bay is worth a look. Further up the harbor, the flats outside Hog Island can fish well. Too, the bar system that runs from Mangrove Point to Alligator Creek is a possibility.

    As a final thought, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has put a catch and release only rule in place from Anna Maria Island in Manatee County all the way down to Gordon Pass in Collier County for both snook and redfish. This is to help protect the species now that red tide has killed so many fish. It’s time that we all give a little back and practice preservation through stewardship.

    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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