fishing Forecast

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  • 02/01/2019 5:14 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Winter Wonderlandby Captain Tim “SGT” Peterson

    With the end of the winter season, comes amazing fishing. While the migratory fish may not be in high numbers this time of year, an anglers best bet is to catch Red Snapper and Gag Grouper close to shore. Three to four miles off shore, you can catch as many Red Snapper as you want this time of year (2019 Season TBD). Gag and some Red Grouper are right beneath them if you are on hard bottom. Mangrove Snapper, Cuberera Snapper, White Grunts, Black Sea Bass can all be caught closer to the Islands this time of year. All make excellent table fair. Amberjack can be found on large structures in 50FT+ depths.

    Bull Red Fish (Red Drum) can be caught drift fishing the tideline 0-5 miles from the cuts between the Islands. Larger fish use every advantage they can to ambush smaller prey. They will use every trick in the book for ambush points. These tricks are fog, night, shadows, color change in water, wind, weeds, current changes, rain, thermoclines (water temperature changes), drop offs, ledges, humps, and wrecks to conceal their presence. It’s where big boys hide.

    Bull Reds travel together while feeding. The water temperature (>65 Degrees) has to be right. Drift fishing is about covering ground. Fish the cuts between the islands as they have a bunch of good drop offs and channels. They also can have a bunch of current ripping through them. These currents are natural funnels for Bull Reds following the tides, and baitfish.

    Most people think of fishing the cut as anchoring somewhere. This is not what I am talking about. You need to find the fish around the cut. This could mean being 3 miles out past the cut, or inside of it based on the conditions for that time of day. Use as many of the fish’s tricks listed above to find them.

    The more ground you cover, the more fish you will catch drift fishing. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand how to hit a marker button on your GPS if you get strike.  You can often go back and get more hits. Play around with your boat speed. The fish can be lazy and want prey at current speed, or just outside of it.

    A Carolina rig with a 1/4 to 3/4 oz lead, 20-40lbs braided line, a 40lb swivel, and a 2-3 ft 15-30lbs fluorocarbon leader, with a 1/0 hook is my set up. Many use mono leaders but I won’t hear of it. You can use a 4000 Series sized Penn rod and Reel combo fishing inshore, but I use the 6000 series as these are Bull Redfish. These will almost all be over 26”. Catching a 40 inch redfish drift fishing is not uncommon. Drift with 3 or 4 lines.

    Popular baits are large fresh off the boat shrimp, and whole fresh flash frozen squid. They give off the most sent, which is key in low visibility conditions. In the winter you can chum a little while you drift fish with the same bait. Scent, without blood (Sharks) will get the Bull Reds to you. It’s my favorite way to catch Bull Reds, but it can be like trolling. You can catch 4 at once or catch one or two all day if you are not in the right place. When you run into a school of breeders, it will be reel screaming pandemonium. Make your plan before you hit the water to use their ambush points combined with low light conditions of the day for success.

    Until next month, practice your Fish Jitsu.

    Captain Tim Peterson

    Captain ‘SGT’ Peterson’s - “More than just fishing”

    captsgtpeterson.com
    tim@sgtpeterson.com


  • 01/29/2019 4:47 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    A variety of species available in February
    by Captain Tom Van Horn

    As winters go here in Central Florida, we certainly can’t complain about the weather we’ve experienced thus far. Other than some rain and extreme winds we experienced this week, gorgeous fishing conditions have prevailed, and we’ve had some first-rate catching as well.

    Inshore on the flats of the Mosquito Lagoon, water levels are starting to drop, and the water clarity is cleaning up in some areas. These concentrations make for some tight schools, but shallow conditions also make access both difficult and dangerous for those who do not know the area. On colder days, falling water temperatures force fish to seek deeper locations in search of 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 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 is warmer. Additionally, warming water temperatures combined with sunny spring days and clear water make February one of the best months to site fish for redfish, large sea trout, and black drum on the lagoon flats.

    Offshore, kingfish are still present along the inshore reefs and wrecks, and they will remain there if 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 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.

    Finally,  windy days in February are a great time to check out those freshwater fishing holes on the St Johns River. Currently good catches speckled perch are being reported, and the America shad bite is improving. Water levels have been on the low side this year, but today we are experiencing a full day of rain which will increase both water levels and flow rate. Thus far the shad bite has been intermittent, but as the rate of flow increases, the shad will be moving up into the Econ and upper St Johns River south of Hwy 50.

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

    Good luck and good fishing,

    Captain Tom Van Horn
    www.irl-fishing.com
    mosquitocoast@cfl.rr.com
    407-416-1187 on the water


  • 01/29/2019 11:33 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Fishing through the cold fronts
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    February is upon us and that means we’ve got about 2 months left of cold fronts before we start our Spring. Last February was a great one as we had awesome weather. Of course, we hope for the same, but Mother nature will do as she pleases. Watching the cold fronts as they push down from up North and timing out the day’s you fish will be smart. Fishing right up to the cusp of the fronts moving through can bring on some excellent bites. Another part is how much the water temperatures change pre and post front. If the temperatures of the water drop slowly over a few days, fishing will still be good. Likewise, sharp drops in water temperatures can make for some tough days.

    So, what are we going to target? Well in my neck of the woods Southwest Florida, it will be mostly redfish, pompano, trout, black drum, and sheepshead. However, when conditions are right, we have good chances at snook, tripletail, flounder, jacks, and an occasional tarpon. Should we have a February like last year everything will be in play. When we get the cold fronts that drop temperatures quickly, we stick to the basics.

    Redfish will be found in their typical areas throughout our region. Although most of the fish will be below the 27-inch mark there will be some big one’s cruising in the back bays. Most fish will be hanging around the mangroves during higher tides foraging on shrimp, crabs, and baitfish. During the lower tides and outgoing tides, they’ll be near oyster bars and drop offs waiting for their food to be forced off. On calm days for anglers that are fishing our nearshore waters, you may run into breeder schools of bull reds. These schools usually hold upwards of 200 fish usually between 35 to 45 inches. Often, we’ll find these schools with the help of birds or because we run by them when going from place to place. One piece of advice I’ll give is look for muds in 20-40 feet of water as the big schools stir the bottom up when they move around.

    Sheepshead and black drum will be another top biller in February. Typically, they’ll be found in deeper water. When I say deeper water, I’m talking about 3-10 feet around us here in Estero-bay. Targeting these species can be done several different ways, however for me using crabs or shrimp is my go-to. These fish are also found on our local wrecks and reefs. I’ve ran into them as far out as 45 feet here and I’m sure they’ll be found out further. I’ll still use the same baits just a longer leader and more weight to get things down and stay in place.

    Pompano, trout, flounder, and other species such as blue fish, mackerel, and small sharks will start to invade all the cuts and passes. On days when the wind direction and seas are nice these are great areas to find action. Fishing these areas are great for kids or just those that want to have some fun. It’s also an easy way to bring home a few fillets for dinner, should customers want. Jigs tipped with shrimp work great for me and can usually get the job done consistently. Moving water is the only important part in these areas, and I don’t care if it’s coming in our going out.

    Tight lines,

    Capt. Greg Stamper
    Snookstampcharters.com
    239-313-1764
    Fort Myers, Florida

  • 01/29/2019 11:30 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Trout bite will rise, sheepshead plentiful
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    Winter is still around the Treasure Coast. Weekly cold fronts will continue to bring cool nights and lots of windy days to the area. You can bet that fishing will still be good out on the water.  This year has been a milder winter so far with better conditions than last year.  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.  2018 proved to be a good year for trout in the Fort Pierce area.  I anticipate that 2019 will be another productive 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.  We had a fantastic winter bite in 2018 around the docks and mangroves for redfish.  On warm sunny days, the reds will sit around the mangroves and soak up the sun.  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.  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.  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

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

    Good Fishing,

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

  • 01/29/2019 11:27 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Working with what’s left of Winter
    by Captain Michael Manis

    Even though it’s most likely we’ll see a couple cold fronts in March, we’re moving into what should be winter’s last blast.  As with last month, negative morning tides dominate much of the calendar providing opportunities to fish the incoming as the sun warms the flats.  More than likely, I’ll target redfish and spotted sea trout and work the best available turtle grass flats. If the wind kicks up, I’ll stick close to adjacent lee shorelines.  As with last month, low tides may restrict access.

    As a result, I’ll try and get out early while the tide is still running out. This allows me to get on the flat I’d like without damaging the sea grass. The only downside is that you’re there to stay until tide comes up.  On the bright side, you might find yourself nearly alone on the flat, as anglers that didn’t think ahead will be locked out. This advantage will go away soon when winter tides subside.

    I’ll split my time between Pine Island and Gasparilla Sound and like the Pineland and Placida ramps, respectively. My favorite flats contain a mix of sand and grass and I like to work the sand hole edges. Because of the shallow conditions, the fish are a bit on the wary side. With a bright sun, they’re on even higher alert. To adjust, I’ll downsize my tippet as well as flies.

    For example, my total leader length is nine feet.  I’ll go from 25 to 20 to a 15-pound tippet using a blood knot between three-foot sections. For flies, I like a #1 or #2 and really like clouser style patterns. Particularly, around the holes with bright sun, the fish tend to stay down and the little bit of weight can make a big difference. If I’m up on the grass working tailing fish, I’ll go with an un-weighted baitfish or shrimp pattern. 

    For anglers that can’t access these areas, there are opportunities. Off the intracoastal on the deeper grass flats spotted sea trout will be active. Two to four feet is best. Pompano will be abundant on outside bar systems. I’ve always found the best bite on hard bottom like that off Cape Haze Point.

    Spanish mackerel and bluefish will be chasing bait around channel markers and artificial reef systems. Sheepshead are just about everywhere. In particular, piers, docks, bridges, and artificial reefs. I’m even seeing them all over the flats.  

    Lastly, there are always the canal system docks when you need to get out and the cold wind and low water are limiting your options. Between Boca Grande, Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda, there’s lots of ground to cover. I’m not a big fan of fishing in someone’s back yard; but if you have company in town, it may be your only shot. Redfish, snook, and, sheepshead move into these systems with the perimeter canals fishing best. With this being said, please be courteous and careful casting up under these platforms.   

    Until next month, good tides.

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

  • 12/30/2018 4:54 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Central Florida East Coast Fishing Forecast, January 2019
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    As  I welcome the New Year, it is once again time to reflect on the events and accomplishments of 2018, and to count our many blessings. We are truly blessed to live in Central Florida where angling and spending time on the water are year-round endeavors. I am also thankful for another great year of fishing with my clients and friends on the waters of the Indian River Lagoon estuary and our Central Florida lakes and rivers. Thank you all for a year filled with adventure on the water, and many great memories.



    In preparation for this forecast, I first reviewed last year’s fishing photos, and I was taken back by the number of quality fish caught and the enjoyment expressed on the faces of the victorious anglers. My good friend and mentor Captain Rodney Smith always suggest I begin with the end in mind, and the end in this case is conserving and protecting the natural resource we all love and cherish.

    Before I get started with January's outlook, I'd like to provide a short recap of last week's fishing. First, the shad have arrived with over 20 hickory shad caught aboard Three Quarter Time yesterday on a 5-hour trip to the St Johns River. In early December I was concerned by the low water levels and lack of current on the St Johns, but a mid-December cold front dropped over 4-inches of rain greatly improving both the river level and flow. The crappie bite has also been very good on Lake Monroe this past week with several reported limits being taken. On the Mosquito Lagoon this past month water clarity has improved, and some decent catches of redfish were experienced.  Lastly, nearshore fishing out of Port Canaveral has been very good when weather conditions are favorable.

    January Fishing Outlook

    Winter on the east central coast of Florida cannot be defined by any specific dates, but rather by the temperature differences generated by passing cold fronts as they swing south across the state. These variations are subject to change from year to year, and are impossible to predict. On the average, daytime temperatures usually range from the 50's in the morning to around the 70's by afternoon. Likewise, water temperatures average in the upper 60's, but they can drop as low as the 50's during extended cold periods. On warm sunny days, water temperatures can increase as much as ten degrees on the shallow flats and sandbars. All these factors greatly affect the species targeted and the methods used.

    For starters, the American and hickory shad is my preferred winter freshwater fishery as they move up the St Johns River on their annual spawning run. Both water conditions and numbers of early arriving shad are looking good.  These species are easy to catch and great fun on light tackle spin and fly tackle and the fishery is very accessible especially on those windy days. Included with these species are sunshine, largemouth and striped bass, crappie, brim and bluegill, and channel catfish.

    Inlet fishing can be good in January weather permitting, with Sebastian and Ponce De Leon Inlets proving to be the most productive. There are still some reports of flounder moving through the inlets, but the bite has slowed considerably. On the inside at Sebastian Inlet, look for good numbers of pompano, ladyfish, and jacks located on the flats both north and south of the inlet.  Also, January is the month when the breeder size redfish move into the passes and feed in the mouth of the inlets during the last part of the falling tide. As the tidal currents slow down, the large redfish push up to the surface chasing baitfish. These monsters are brood stock, so please handle and release them with care.

    On the flats during the winter, redfish and sea trout will seek the warmest water they can find. Start out working the deeper edges of the flats in the morning and then move into the warmer wind protected flats around mid-day to late afternoon. An early morning start is not necessary this time of year if the weather is cold. Additionally, both redfish and sea trout love to warm themselves in the shallow water sand pockets "potholes" within the grassy flats. On colder days, focus your attention on the deeper holes using a very slow presentation. When targeting redfish and trout in these deeper holes, I prefer using shrimp imitation baits like DOA Shrimp in the clear or nightglow colors fished extremely slowly.

    Along the beaches, pompano will remain the staple for most surf anglers, with a mixed bag of whiting, slot size black drum, Spanish mackerel, and bluefish added in. Try fishing with sand fleas (mole crabs) if you can catch them, cut fresh clams, or freshly peeled live shrimp. Currently, the Canaveral National Seashore is closed due to the Government shutdown which is proof that politics and fishing do not mix.

    Near-shore, January is the month when the tripletails become consistent on the Port Canaveral buoy line, and their numbers will increase as the month progresses. The other hot item near-shore is king mackerel holding along the 70 to 90-foot reefs of North Pelican and 8A. Also, bottom fishing on deep structure should remain consistent if the weather holds.

    In closing, I wish you a happy, prosperous, and fishfull New Year, and if you care about a sustainable fishery, make it a point to share your passion with others.

    As always, if you have questions or need 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


  • 12/28/2018 6:43 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Slow your presentation
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    Happy New Year! In past several years, January has traditionally been a cold month around the Treasure Coast. Hopefully, 2019 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.

    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 2017 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  2019 should prove to be another good year. Ladyfish and jacks will be all over the river for fun action for the little ones.

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

    Have a wonderful  2019!

    Thanks and Good Fishing!

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


  • 12/28/2018 12:15 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Low Water Incoming Tides
    by Captain Michael Manis

    As we enter the middle of our winter season, wind and low water will be a constant. As they’re tolerant to cooler conditions, I’ll concentrate on spotted sea trout and redfish. I also want to work the beginning of an incoming tide. In addition, I’ll split my time working sand holes on open grass flats and making my way back up back country creek systems. Up these creek systems, I like dead end coves covered with sand bottom.

    After a couple cool months, these creeks are a natural transition area for our game fish, as they’ll move up into these areas to warm up on the shallow sandy bottom. Multiple months of cool weather is also why I also like the early incoming tide. Bait has been scarce for long enough that these game fish will begin looking with some urgency. They feel the tide instantly and begin working up the creek or flat rushing to get a shot at what was unobtainable on low water. They know their chances are best early before the prey has a chance to vanish. 

    Additionally, I’ll downsize my baits. Clouser deep minnows work well over the sand holes out on the grass flats and small baitfish patterns are good up the backcountry creeks. Out of the wind, I prefer a seven-weight. However, if I’m out on an open flat in the wind, I like the punch a nine-weight delivers. A floating line is a good all around choice.

    The Placida ramp at Boca Grande and Ponce Park ramp in Punta Gorda provide good access to backcountry creek systems. From Placida, Bull Bay between Gasparilla Sound and Turtle Bay has lots of room to explore. From Ponce Park, south along the east side from Alligator Creek to Pirate Harbor is full of small creek systems.  

    My favorite open grass flats contain a mix of sand and healthy turtle grass. Game fish like to hold on the grass edges that they use as ambush points. Mostly, they’re full of spotted sea trout; but, on a low incoming tide these flats provide a good opportunity to target tailing redfish. They’re being opportunistic just like the fishery in the creek systems. Pine Island and Gasparilla Sound as well as Lemon Bay are worth a look.

     In the harbor, pompano can be found on the hard bottom just off Cape Haze Point. Also, keep an eye on your boat wake as you’re running outside the bar along the west wall. Sheepshead are everywhere and can be fished from land as well as boat. On land, the Placida trestle is very popular. Every dock, pier, underwater structure, and artificial reef will hold sheepshead.

    Until next month, good tides.

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

  • 11/30/2018 1:14 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

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