fishing Forecast

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  • 03/28/2019 4:16 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Spring brings variety to the Space Coast
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    Spring has arrived here on the Space Coast, and my focus thus far has been targeting trophy size redfish and black drum in deeper water. The flats fishing has been good when the weather is favorable and should improve as the silver mullet continue to migrate back into the lagoon. The nearshore tripletail and black drum have been good as well, but in late March and early April Mother Nature holds the upper hand in determining where we fish.

    Some highlights for fishing on Florida’s east central coast during the spring are: the weather is still cool and enjoyable, the waters warming up and the fish begin to shift into their pre-spawn feeding mood. Some examples of this behavior are the cobia moving north up the Atlantic coast, and the spotted sea trout transitioning into their traditional spawning areas on the inshore flats. Like many saltwater species, the cobia and sea trout spawn in aggregations or groups, not on beds like freshwater species. In the case of the cobia their traditional spawning areas are off the central east coast of the US, and in the northern Gulf of Mexico. As the fish migrate north, they burn energy and feed heavily along the way, hence the cobia run we experience each spring. As mentioned above, windy conditions have and will limit the fishable days.

    On the flats, the smaller male sea trout move up into the shallows first, and then call the females in to spawn by drumming loudly just after dusk when the conditions are right, usually on the first new moon or full moon in April, and then again on the new and full moons throughout the summer.

    As we move in near-shore, tripletail should become more dependable, and look for late season cobia as well. The cobia run has been sporadic thus far, with bait pods (Atlantic menhaden or pogies) arriving late this year. As the bait pod move in, look for Spanish mackerel, bluefish, redfish, giant jack crevalle, sharks, and smoker kings. Concentrate your efforts in these areas. When you see bait balled up and pushed to the surface, there is a high probability that feeding gamefish are pressuring the bait from below.

    In the inlets, look for good numbers of flounder, sheepshead and black drum around structure such as jetties and docks, and Spanish mackerel, blues, and large jacks in open water. Also look for the nighttime snook and tarpon action to heat up in the Sebastian Inlet.

    On the lagoon flats, fish the early morning and late evening with your favorite top water plugs for extreme trout and redfish action, and soft plastics and jigs in deeper water, 2 to 3 feet after the midday sun settles in. Remember, April is one of the months when larger sea trout are egg laden for the spawn, so it’s very important to handle and release the larger females with great care. If you are looking for snook and tarpon action inside, the Sebastian River will be the place to go.

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

    Good luck and good fishing,

    Captain Tom Van Horn

  • 03/28/2019 4:11 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    The Great Bait Chase

    by Captain Tim “SGT” Peterson

    The great fish migration is all about the chase, of baitfish that is. As the water warms up, the Menhaden, Blue Runners, etc., move into the area to feed. The pinfish, and croakers move into the shallows. Migratory fish start to move to our area in higher numbers this time of year.  

    By the end of the month, the summer fishing season could be mostly here.  With our 21st century technology, like water temperature readings we have a good chance of finding the water temperature breaks offshore look for water in the upper 60’s. Also, if you have a savvy captain, they will have a water temperature gauge that will read the temperature going down in 10 ft increments. Once we find the right temperature for the fish, we just need to make them strike!  

    An anglers best bet inshore in April is to catch Spanish mackerel and Pompano. Spanish Mackerel can be caught closer to shore.  Look for schools of bait fish.  They may even be jumping out of the water. You can catch them on Gotcha Plugs and Spoons.

    The pompano will be along the beach with the new moon. Later in the month, larger fish will be caught, some with eggs. Crab, Shrimp, and Sand fleas are popular baits. Black drum can be caught near bridges and docks with fresh shrimp or Berkley Gulp. From time to time, you will catch a Gar in the bay this time of year after good amounts of rain.

    Always keep a pitch rod ready for cobia with a larger eel with multiple hooks in its tail or they will bite them off every time, and 2-3oz bucktail with a baitfish or a large plastic eel.

    An anglers best bet offshore in April is to catch Gag Grouper about 8 to 15 miles out. They can still be caught in state waters. Gag Grouper season in Franklin county starts on April 1st so the boat launch will start to get pretty busy, especially on the sunny calm days. Get to your spots early. Grouper can be caught bottom fishing, or in the lower 25% of the water column. With that said, on a few occasions, I have had grouper chase a jig all the way to the top in 100ft of water. Gag and some Red Grouper are nearby on wrecks, ledges, or reefs.

    Large live bait works best, quality frozen Menhaden, Northern Mackerel, and Squid will put fish in the boat. Jigs of various types work. If you get to a spot on a reef, wreck or ledge and the fish aren’t hammering your bait / tackle within a minute, it’s time to move to a new spot. Always have a casting spoon or jig ready for king and Spanish mackerel and possibly a school of Mahi Mahi that come by. If your catching white grunts you are not on the spot to catch grouper. Stop being lazy and move the boat.

    The best bet to catch the readily available baitfish is with a cast net, pinfish traps, sabiki rigs, or a small hook  tipped with squid or gulp bait. The pinfish and croakers will be in water less than 8 ft deep, over grass flats. Offshore, in over 30ft of water just off of reefs, you can catch squirrel fish.

    The shrimpers have been in town since the begining of last month so many are using new penny shrimp gulp to fish inshore, and smaller shrimp fresh off the boat.  Many old time captains say the Spanish mackerel will be in town after the third heavy fog of the year.

    Most inshore fishing rods around are 4000 series rods rigged with 10-30lb test and 10-30lbs leaders. If you ask around, you will hear a wide range of what people like to use. When you get offshore on reefs, if you are using spinning set ups, I would bump it up to a 6000 series rod at least so you have enough drag to pull a fish off a reef or wreck. Offshore, we use 50-80lbs braid on the spinning tackle on reefs or towers. Bump up your leaders to match at 50-80lbs each.

    Until next month, practice your Fish Jitsu.

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

  • 03/28/2019 4:08 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Lots of Options
    by Captain Michael Manis

    With this month, southwest Florida enters what many consider the beginning of the fishing season. In and around Charlotte Harbor, the increase in activity on the water is quite noticeable. The increase in traffic is balanced out by all the available options. In essence, there’s just not enough time to take advantage of it all.

    It’s definitely the beginning of tarpon season.  At the top of the estuary, the upper harbor, looking for fish that have moved out of the rivers can be productive. They’ll spread out from the U.S. 41 Bridge to the mouth of the Myakka and down to the 20-foot hole off the West Wall. Indeed, you could spend the entire month hunting down these rolling fish. To the south, I like the deeper water along the eastern side of Pine Island Sound in the Demere Key area.

    For me, the spring snook bite is one of my favorite times of year and I’d like to spend as much time possible seeing how many I can get to eat a fly. In part, one of the things I like about snook is where they live. I enjoy being around mangrove structure and throwing flies in the holes and pockets of the roots. In addition, probably most of the snook that I hook will be from blind casting. I have hooked them sight casting; but, as the saying goes, if you see a snook, it’s probably too late as they’ve already seen you first.

    They’re scattered throughout the bays and sounds that surround the harbor. In addition, redfish can be found cruising up and down the same shorelines. Last month, it seemed as though I was seeing them while scouting shorelines just about everywhere I went. It did appear that the majority of fish I saw had moved out of the backcountry creek systems and were on outside shorelines. In particular, corners and points held the most fish.

    Keep in mind, snook are ambush feeders and do prefer moving water or strong current. It’s no coincidence that there seemed to be more fish in spots where the current moved swifter, around points. Generally, even though it’s tough to see with the naked eye, water or tide does pick up speed to make it around points or obstacles. What’s more, because the tides haven’t been real high yet like they will be this summer; it’s a bit easier to scout shorelines, as the fish can’t get too far back in the bushes yet.

    Typically, I’ll throw an eight-weight. It has enough punch to help with the wind and enough backbone to get a fish away from the bushes. I like a weight forward floating line rigged with a nine-foot leader. I tie them with a 40-lb. butt section to 30 lb. then tapered down to 20 lb. Each section is three feet and tied with a blood knot. For flies, I prefer weed less baitfish style patterns.  

    Until next month, good tides.

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

  • 03/28/2019 4:05 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Spring in the backcountry
    by Capt. Joe Garcia

    The warmer and more consistent waters in the backcountry have made for great opportunities for our target species such as Snook, Reds and Tarpon. Metabolism in the fish is stable and it seems that they are constantly hungry and aggressive. Tides are more predictable as well with the negative tides less of an issue allowing for some great access to remote areas. Along with this, the waters are a bit stained so stealthy approaches and close encounters can be the norm.

    The fly fishing in the back has been stellar and traditional patterns are top producers.  The patterns such as Gurglers for exciting top water strikes have no comparison, with Deceivers and EP Baitfish ensuring success in mid water, all these make choices very simple. Work them in a steady and conservative manner as in the warmer water and less tide flow they’ll appear more natural, think of a wounded or stunned prey. 

    The outer edges and beaches are where the EP Baitfish and the Schminnow rule.  The Snook and Reds that cruise here are accustomed to chasing bait so work these in an erratic and quick manner as to mimic baitfish darting and running from predators.  The waters tend to be clearer here and sight fishing these fish can be extremely exciting and productive. In these conditions you may get by with a bit lighter tippet with 30lb acceptable, but adjust to conditions accordingly.

    For tackle the 8 weight rod and reel combo is king in these conditions, but a good 9 weight can be a bit of insurance as well, especially when dealing with big fish in tight quarters! A good size Snook or Juvi Tarpon can make short work of a lighter line, so a bite tippet needs to be stout, I tie them with 40lb mono or flouro just to be safe.  A loop knot from here to the fly will ensure the action is fluid and natural.

    Tight Lines and have fun!

    Captain Joe Garcia
    Southern Glades Charters

  • 03/28/2019 4:00 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Awesome fishing to come
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    Well its hard to imagine its already that time off the year, but it is! This is the time of the year, to go after any species an angler may have on their bucket list. Tarpon, permit, sharks, tripletail, cobia, and snappers will be a big target near and offshore all month. Fisherman in the back bays and skinny waters will be targeting snook, redfish, trout, big jacks, and the occasional juvenile tarpon. Calling your guide now to set up a trip is my advice, as most of their good tide days are probably already taken. Clients that are proactive fishing year after year, have already been working on this month’s trip for a year now.

    So, what are we going to fish for? Well honestly that’s the hardest question when it comes to the options available now thru May. Sometimes captains must cater to the clients wants, like just having fun, lots of action, or just bringing home some fish for dinner. Other times individuals will leave the days trip up to the charter captain’s best judgement, and that’s when it gets good. Depending on the inshore tides or the offshore winds typically tells me what I’ll be doing. No one likes getting beat up offshore so from time to time you’ll be restricted to the backbays and rivers. This is a good thing though as snook fishing will be excellent the next few months from the Everglades All the way up the coast to Tampa.

    Redfish become plentiful throughout the region and can be targeted around oyster bars and sandbars during the low tides. During higher water I’ll be fishing the mangrove shore lines. Redfish will be fattening up on pilchards, shrimp, and crabs so using any of these for bait is going to work well.

    Tight lines Capt. Greg Stamper

  • 03/28/2019 3:57 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Spring brings baitfish and heavy feeding action
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    April is here on the Treasure Coast and brings Spring conditions to the area. Mild temperatures and windy days will be the norm this month. Fishing will be very productive as bait fills the river and the fish are hungry. It has been a mild winter and I am always excited to welcome Spring back again. Have fun and enjoy the fishing!

    The grass flats will be active with trout and redfish. I love using a DOA Deadly Combo in April to locate the fish. There will also be pompano cruising the deeper flats. Doc’s Goofy Jigs are great pompano lures when they are in the river. Mackerel, bluefish and jacks will be plentiful around the inlets and channels this month. Small shiny lures will find you some action.  April will bring lots of opportunities to the area.

    Snook fishing will continue to be good this month. Inlets, bridges and sea walls can give you a good chance at catching a slot fish. DOA Bait Busters, feather jigs, live pilchards or pinfish are all excellent choices for snook fishing. There are many great areas to fish so plan on getting some fishing in this month.

    Bridges will continue to hold sheephead, jacks, bluefish and some black drum. The sheepshead were in early and many have already left the river. The warmer water this year has progressed things earlier than normal, but there are still plenty of fish to be caught. Docks will hold the same fish and an excellent chance at hooking up with a redfish. The surf will hold whiting, pompano and a host of other fish feeding on the bait schools along the beaches.

    April is the first month that fish can enjoy all the many baitfish schools and they will be feeding heavily on the schools around the flats. With the mild winter the water temperatures have remained mild and will be warming up more this month. Expect lots of action all around the area and enjoy fishing in April.

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

    Good Fishing and Be Safe,
    Captain Charlie Conner

  • 02/25/2019 6:29 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Let Spring begin!
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    Spring is in the air here in Southwest Florida and the changes it brings are welcomed by everyone. It’s great when our water temperatures begin the climb back over the 74-degree mark permanently! With that said last March was cold, but I’m confident in that Groundhog for this year’s warm up. Spring training baseball is in full swing, people are fishing and golfing everywhere, or just outside enjoy what we’ve got.

    Fishing will have plenty of options for both inshore and offshore guides. Snook begin fattening up on baitfish that becomes plentiful. Most snook will now be out of their winter haunts and begining their spring as well. Redfish fishing although consistent throughout February, should continue to be good. March is usually when we start seeing bigger upper slot redfish, but after last year’s water issues I’m not sure that pattern will hold. Trout that have not shown up in my area until last week. Hopefully they will continue to populate as they become a fall back species for tough days. Pompano is now showing up in big numbers and can be fished for blindly or in the right situations sight casted. 

    Tarpon something South West Florida is known for starts up now. The big push of fish i.e. 80-200 pounders typically move in starting April. However, our local population, begins showing themselves as long as the water temperatures stay above 72. Tarpon will show up along bridges, in the rivers, and both near the beaches as well as out several miles. Targeting these fish can be done both day or night depending on what Mother Nature deals us. Depending on the size of the tarpon your targeting, leader size can go from 20lb for the juveniles “10-30lbers” all the way up to 80lb for the monsters. Hooks will vary depending on what your target size is, but in general I move up to a heavier hook sizes 4/0 and up when I believe the fish will be at least 50lbs. We’ll target them with crabs, threadfins, grunts, and other small baits both freelined and corked at times. Tarpon will eat plugs, big jigs, and soft plastics as well. Standard heavy spinning gear is most popular and anything that can hold 400 yards of line is recommended for the big ones.

    Cobia, permit, tripletail, and a variety of reef species fishing just keeps getting better in March. Targeting all these species is doable, having set ups ready for them is important as they can show up anytime. Cobia will usually just wander up to you while approaching wrecks so having a bait ready to go when coming off plain is important.  Tripletail may be spotted as you run out to somewhere, and permit can often be seen tailing in places as they feed on crustaceans.

    Tight lines, Capt. Greg Stamper

  • 02/24/2019 10:30 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Warmer weather will bring variety fishing
    by Captain Tom Van Horn

    As the days grow longer and the ocean begins its gradual warming phase, (68 to 72-degree range), the spring fishing bonanza on the east central coast of Florida kicks in. Thus far we’ve experienced a warmer than normal winter and as of this correspondence (February 24, 2019) the water temperature at the Canaveral Nearshore Buoy Station 41113 is 68.7 degrees. As usual, weather will serve as the determining factor in establishing the magnitude and progression of the bite and the predator species we love to catch.

    Increasing water temperature will facilitate the progression of bait pods (Atlantic menhaden or pogies) from the deeper water into the near-shore waters bringing the predator species with them. As always, sea and weather conditions will determine the number of fishable days we’ll experience in March. This is especially true for those of us who target ocean species in shallow water boats. We have already experienced some good cobia days and an excellent tripletail season which should only get better and migrating fish move into our area from the south.

    Nearshore Port Canaveral

    Other near-shore options in March consist of tripletail hanging on floating structure and weeds and large redfish, jacks and sharks shadowing bait pods along the beaches and in the inlets around mid-month. When site fishing for cobia and tripletail, consider fishing in the latter part of the day when the sun is overhead as the water is warmer and visibility is better. Also, keep a sharp eye out for large manta rays shadowed by cobia and always keep a chartreuse colored buck tail in the ready position to cast at any brown clowns wondering into casting range. Along the beaches and around the inlets look for snook in close to structure and a mixture of pompano, whiting, sheepshead, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, redfish and black drum in close to shore.

    Inshore Mosquito Lagoon

    As our water warms up and the silver mullet returns to the inshore lagoon flats, look for redfish schools to continue to form up in the skinny water. For the slot redfish, 18 to 27 inches, focus on areas of flipping and jumping baitfish (mullet) in water depths of 12 to 18 inches. For the larger redfish, concentrate your efforts along deeper edges of the flats and sandbars in 2 to 3 feet of water. Also, sea trout will continue to hold in the skinny water potholes, and the top-water sea trout bite will improve as the warmer water draws finger mullet back onto the central IRL flats. Additionally, schools of black drum will continue to inhabit the shallow water flats of the Mosquito Lagoon, North IRL with the larger black drum holding in the deeper channels and around bridge structures.

    St Johns River Freshwater

    Finally, the American shad run is waning on the upper St John’s River between the areas of Lake Harney and the SR 50 Bridge, as this year’s run has been slow to say the least. March is also the month to start targeting schooling largemouth and sunshine bass in the deeper bends of the river at first light feeding on schools of baitfish (threadfin shad). The indicator I use to locate these schooling bass is to look for large numbers of white pelicans, herons, and egrets working the banks. Once you’ve located the schooling fish, try throwing a 6” DOA Shad Tail on top or a rattle-trap or other small subsurface swim bait into the mix. Last year the bass fishing did not materialize in areas south of Lake Jessup, so I’m hoping for a better season this year. Water levels this spring on the St Johns River are currently dropping out, but a good spring rain event could easily turn that around.

    Spring is one of the best times to fish the Indian River Lagoon coast of Florida. So, if you are planning to visit the area, make sure you book your hotel and fishing guide early. Also, when the bite is on, the ramps fill up quickly, so arrive early, be polite and considerate with other anglers, because we are all on the water for the same reasons, to have fun and catch fish.

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

    Good luck and good fishing,

    Captain Tom Van Horn
    407-416-1187 on the water

  • 02/23/2019 5:01 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Pre-spring Fishing on the Indian River Lagoon
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    March always comes in like a lion!  You can expect windy days, but much warmer as we transition into spring.  Chances of rain are on the increase so watch the weather and plan your adventures carefully. Water temps will be on the rise this month and you can expect lots of exciting action around the Treasure Coast.  

    Trout will be moving onto the shallow grass flats as the sun warms things up.  Try a DOA Deadly Combo or live shrimp on a popping cork to locate trout.  A DOA CAL will also work well this month.  Look for redfish to be around mangroves and docks.  A DOA shrimp is always a good choice for reds.  Sheepshead, drum and snapper will be along channel edges and docks and willing to take a live shrimp.  Snook fishing will pick up around the inlets, bridges and docks.  Live pilchards are a favorite bait in March.  Mackerel, bluefish, jacks and many other predators will be coming in with the tides and feeding around the inlets and channels of the river.  Small shiny lures work best for these fish. 

    Pompano are in the river and along the surf and willing to take a Doc’s Goofy Jig, shrimp or sand flea.  They usually can be found in channels and deeper parts of the flats in March.  We have had great success on croakers the past few years.  There will be nice sized fish in the river and along the beaches feeding with whiting.  They are fun to catch and super to eat!

    Spring is almost here already.  Winter wasn’t so bad even though we complain about it.  It’s a good time to check equipment.  Both fishing and the boat should be checked a few times a year to make sure everything is in good working order.  Some of these windy days will provide a good chance to check rods, reels and safety gear for when good weather arrives.  Have a great March in 2018!

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

    Good Fishing and Be Safe,
    Captain Charlie Conner

  • 02/23/2019 4:46 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    It’s Spring, look for better fishing and more wind
    by Captain Michael Manis

    It’s easy to consider this spring in southwest Florida; but, I’ve experienced enough cold snaps to realize that winter has a way of hanging around longer than we’d like.  Even worse, some years it feels like spring never arrives and we go straight into summer. Mostly, we can count on some wind.  No matter what Mother Nature dishes out, the area is still in transition and the fish are more active.

    For starters, it ‘s been a cool winter and many of our redfish and snook have pushed their way up many of the creek systems outside larger flats.  Working the outside edges of these areas are one of my favorite places to throw a fly. Keep in mind, it’s not just the creek edges that’ll hold fish; they can be found cruising up and down the shoreline for hundreds of yards adjacent to the actual creek.  What I really like is that there are no shortage of spots like this throughout all our bays and sounds that surround the harbor.

    Because of this combination, outer shorelines and wind, I like a nine-weight as it really helps punch through the wind. I also like a weight forward floating line rigged with a nine-foot leader tapered down to 20 lb. test.  This tippet size helps keep me out of trouble near the bushes. I’ve been tying leaders with a saltwater monofilament leader material instead of fluorocarbon. It’s less expensive, plenty strong, and being a bit more supple makes it easier to work with.  

    Water temperature will dictate bait availability and consequently my choice of flies. If it warms up and scaled sardines move in from deeper water, I’ll throw more baitfish imitations. Here, a Puglisi mangrove baitfish or backcountry brown is good.  I also like deceiver patterns. If it stays cool, I’ll stick with clousers tied in natural tan, olive, and brown colors.

    When the wind does lie down, don’t hesitate to take a look outside the passes. Bonita and Spanish mackerel could be anywhere not far from the beach between Captiva and Gasparilla Pass. Keep an eye out for the birds as there’s a good chance they’ll be picking up bait that these aggressive fish are crashing at the surface.  During one of these frenzies, it’s relatively easy to get close to the school and it’s a great place to throw a fly.

     This is a great opportunity to use all those flies you tied and figured they were not worth throwing. In fact, you don’t want to use good flies. Both these species will tear them up. Moreover, without a small piece of wire as tippet, the mackerel will break you off more times than not. Too, that nine-weight will come in handy on a bonita as it’ll probably get you into the backing.

    Until next month, good tides. 

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

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