fishing Forecast

  • 05/03/2018 12:16 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Pick your species
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

          May is just a perfect time to be fishing throughout Florida and especially here in Southwest. The options are endless for both the inshore and offshore angler. There’s all kind of action from all the fun things to catch. We’ll be targeting snook, redfish, and tarpon primarily, but permit, trout, pompano and cobia will be in the mix. 

         Snook are plentiful this time of the year, and the season will therefore be closed. That’s probably a good thing for the population as snook will be cruising in schools along our beaches in big numbers. On good calm days this is the place to be with flyrods or spinning tackle, sight casting to fish anywhere from 15 inches to 45. The snook will be tight to the beaches as they keep tabs on the schools of bait that are plentiful. Snook will also stack up on the wrecks and nearshore reefs and are usually of the large variety. Using a threadfin on the bottom usually on a tarpon rod can be productive to give anglers a chance at one of them.

         Tarpon is now in full swing and can be found in and around all our passes and up and down our coast. These fish will be moving around in big schools and can often be seen rolling or free jumping on the good days.  Crabs are the number one choice around here and threadfin herring a close second. The size of the nearshore and offshore fish ranges from 80 pounds up to 200, so prepare accordingly. Personally, I prefer catching to juvenile tarpon that now stack up in our back bays and around structure in good numbers. These fish can also be seen rolling around in schools but free jump less. These back-bay tarpon are usually 10-40 pounds are a blast.

         Redfishing will be great this time of the year and can often give anglers several fish each trip. There’s a lot of glass minnows and white bait on and around the flats so sight fishing is an option. The times where the water is churned up can make things a bit tougher but using search baits such as top water plugs or the old faithful gold spoon can help you find them.  You still have the option of putting out spreads for reds, as this is an easy way to catch them and takes minimal skill. The hurry up and wait approach catches tons of redfish all year long.

         Finally, for those that just enjoy a fun time there will be lots of fun with pompano, trout, ladyfish, snappers, etc. Those who like constant action or have kids this is for you. Jigs tipped with shrimp are a sure way to catch a variety of species when worked through the water column correctly. If the anglers aren’t good casters, then a simple popping cork and shrimp can still produce. Remember the guide is working for you, so let them know what your looking to do and if the opportunity presents itself they’ll make it happen.

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

  • 05/03/2018 12:05 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)
    Early morning snook should be good

    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    Finally, the windy months of March and April are almost behind us and we can look forward to the great fishing weather that May has to offer us on the Treasure Coast.  Other than the usual windy days, it has been a pretty mild winter and spring has arrived. Look for warmer temperatures and little less blustery days. As the water temperatures climb, the fishing will steadily improve on the river.   The water is already in the mid 70’s and that means the fish will be hungry.  It will provide fantastic mornings for top water and lazy afternoons to drift the flats.   May is one of my favorite months on the water! 

    Redfish will be our main target throughout the month of May.  The past several years have bought us schools of slot sized redfish along the Indian River.   Most of the fish we have caught have been in the 18 to 30 inch range. The mangroves have produced lots of redfish action again this year.  They have been sunning on the flats and May gets their blood pumping and turns on the feeding.  I always have three lures ready during May…DOA shrimp, CAL jerk baits and top water lures.  Gold spoons and the DOA 2 ¾” shrimp will also be great additions to the arsenal when fishing for redfish.  As the fish school up, look for them around the edges of the flats.   Most of the river here on the Treasure Coast has been holding redfish and you should be able to find some on your favorite flats.   I tend to enjoy the east side of the river, but we have found many on the west side as well.

    Snook fishing in the early mornings will bring some rod bending action as they head up on the flats for an early morning or late evening meal.  Top water lures (like the DOA PT-7), Bait Busters and DOA shrimp are all great lures to tempt a snook into biting.   We have been broken off numerous times by big snook under the mangroves.  Docks will also hold snook lurking around for an easy meal. Live shrimp is hard to beat around the docks.  In the inlet areas, try around the seawalls and bridges with live bait, Terror Eyz, feather jigs or deep diving plugs.  I love early morning for great snook fishing opportunities!  Snook season will close May 31st.

    Trout will continue to feed on top water at first light and live shrimp on popping corks during the day.   As the sun rises, they will head off the shallows to deeper water in the two to four foot range.  We have had some nice gator trout of late and should see some still big trout throughout the month of May.  I have had great success with CAL jerk baits and Deadly Combos this year in place of live shrimp.  If you are using live baits, try big shrimp or pilchards on the flats.  Both sides of the river have been productive in early mornings.  Winter fishing for trout has been good this year and spring should continue to give you some great action.

    Bridges will hold the usual sheepshead catch, while snapper will be moving into the river along with flounder.   Jacks and ladyfish will be patrolling the areas and creating havoc all over the river.   Beaches will produce whiting with still a few catches of Spanish mackerel and bluefish along with the usual whiting.  Tarpon will begin their trek into the river and you can start looking for them in the St Lucie River, Big and Little Mud areas and the channels of the river.   May is a great month to fish the Treasure Coast….plan on a trip out on the river soon!

    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
    captaincharlie@fishtalescharter.com
    772-284-3852


  • 04/03/2018 9:16 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Calm days of summer just around the corner
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    As March blows out of the area, you can still plan on some windy days ahead in April. The transition into the summer pattern is well under way and soon the winds will die down and you can enjoy those calm days of summer once again. Expect the fishing to be especially good this April as water temperatures warm up and spring takes over the area. March was a little warmer this year and the fishing has been good. As the river fills with bait schools, you can bet the fish are hungry and will be feeding heavily. Have fun and enjoy the fishing!

    Redfish and trout will become more active around the flats. They will be shallow early and gradually move to the edges of the flats as the sun get higher in the sky. Look to areas like Bear Point, Harbor Branch and Round Island for trout to be feeding on the flats. On a calm morning, break out the top water lures and switch to jerk baits, like a DOA CAL 4” Arkansas Glow or Watermelon. Shallow running Mirrolures will also entice the trout into biting. Don’t forget to use the Deadly Combo or CAL Airhead for more exciting trout action on the grass flats. There has been a lot of redfish activity throughout March and it should make April a fantastic month. Redfish can be found on sandy flats around the docks or try the Moorings and Bear Point for a chance at a nice size red. DOA shrimp or CAL grub tails in root beer or glow colors are great ways to find a redfish along with a trusty gold spoon.

    The snook season has many anglers out seeking that slot fish this year. The bite has been good around the inlets and will improve on the flats as well. Snook season will close May 31st so you still have time to find that slot fish. We have had good luck with the DOA TerrorEyz on snook this winter. Docks will hold sheepshead, jacks, redfish and many other species. I like either a DOA 2 ¾” shrimp or TerrorEyz around docks. Fish them slowly to keep them under the dock as long as possible. Drop a live shrimp or pinfish under a dock as well for a great chance at hooking up. 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 big jacks will be invading the river this month. They are not great to eat, but provide a tough battle on light tackle. Ladyfish will be all over the river and keep the kids smiling. The inlet will continue to hold bluefish, jacks and mackerel. While April might be a little windy, it is still a great month to fish the Indian River.

    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. The water has already been

    warming up and you can see the changes in the bite already. Early morning can bring lots of good results this time of year. It was a cooler winter this year and the fish are anxious to enjoy the arrival of the bait schools…..and so are we!

    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

  • 04/03/2018 9:08 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Backcountry to the beaches
    by Capt. Greg Manis

    At this point, we could find ourselves fishing anywhere from the backcountry to the beaches. As the water temperature warms, bait will move into the harbor from offshore where it’s been holding in the deeper more stable environment all winter.

    As a result, snook should begin staging up along shorelines adjacent to creeks and cuts looking to fatten up for after the slim pickings of winter. On the east side, anywhere from Ponce Park in Punta Gorda all the way down to the Big Dead Creek and Buzzards Bay area outside Matlacha is good country. On the other side of the harbor, the edge of Bull Bay where it intersects with both Gasparilla Sound and Turtle Bay can be good.

    Redfish should be scattered on the flats and I’ll look out in the open around sand holes as it’s not hot enough for them to be heading for mangrove cover. Around the intracoastal, anywhere from Stump Pass in lemon Bay to Useppa in Pine Island Sound is a good bet.  In addition, don’t be surprised if you run into spotted sea trout while fishing for snook or redfish.  Cobia is also an opportunity. In particular, keep an eye on the outer edge of the bar from Alligator Creek down past Pirate Harbor on the east side.

    Out in the harbor, Spanish mackerel will be scattered all over the place. Looking for birds is a great way to find schools of these fast moving fish. The birds hover over all the bait that’s being pushed to the surface by the mackerel.

    Also, in the upper harbor, we should begin to see our first tarpon. These are resident fish coming out of the rivers. They’ll generally be somewhere in the vicinity of the 20 foot hole. The numbers of ladyfish in the upper harbor probably have something to do with why the tarpon like to hang in the area. In addition, I’ve seen schools of big jacks making their way through this area.  

    Typically, towards the end of the month we’ll start to look for the first of the migratory tarpon working their way up the coast. My favorite way to set up for this is to anchor off Murdock Point outside Johnson Shoals and just wait for something to come down the pike.  It’s all sight fishing and I’ll either throw fly or a live crab. The anchor is attached to a buoy for a quick release.

    Until next month, good tides.

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

  • 04/03/2018 9:01 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Let the games begin!
    by: Capt. Greg Stamper

      April is a great time of the year to be fishing in SWFL! We’ve got it all, like tarpon, permit, cobia, and tripletail to name a few. Our perhaps you’ll want to play in the shallow back-bays for snook, redfish, trout, and big jacks. There’s also shark fishing as an option as they’ll be full speed. The reason is clear, the larger game fish that the sharks prefer to have show up with the massive schools of bait.  So, there’s lots of decisions as to what we’ll be doing, and the weather should be great!

         Tarpon become a big deal and are what we are best known for in Southwest Florida during the next few months. The spawn for tarpon begins now, and they’ll be found along our beaches and nearshore waters. Targeting these fish is usually best on the stronger tides closest to the full moon and with the right kind of bait. I prefer crabs or threadfins, but many tarpon are caught using cut baits and artificial as well. Tarpon will be in town spawning until around mid-June, so if you miss a few good days there will be more. Our typical near shore tarpon will be around 100 pounds and are backbay fish will be 10-40 pounds.

         Snook fishing becomes one of my favorite targets during this time of the year as more and more anglers pursue tarpon, leaving areas holding snook less pressured. Snook begin to patrol the beaches, passes, and rivers stalking schools of sardines, threadfin, mullet, etc. You’ll find that most snook like sandy bottom so looking for them along mangrove shorelines with just that works well. It’s also important to remember that releasing snook verse harvesting them is the right thing to do. This ensures the fishery will continue to be strong for the future. When you do catch a nice fish, get a quick picture then put her right back in the water. Reviving the fish well before releasing her is just as important to assure survival and lots more snooklets in the future.

         Redfish will be happy this month and will be another target many anglers will want to catch. There’s plenty of options as to how we’ll attack them, but the easiest around here is spreads for reds. You can use a variety of baits from shrimp to frozen mullet. Now for those that are good casters, I prefer slowly moving down shorelines, oyster bars, and occasionally docks. Doing this we can throw artificial like DOA shrimp, Swimbaits usually rigged weedless, or perhaps walk the dog for some top water action. This type of fishing keeps anglers busy and can be very rewarding when you get that bite.

         Trout, pompano, jacks, ladyfish, and mangrove snapper are just a few of the other inshore species that we target this month. As most guides do, we cater to what our clients want, so if it’s about numbers and action these species can keep you busy for most of the trip. These fish are great for kids or those who just want an enjoyable day with some fun action. Besides some peeps aren’t up for fighting a fish for 30 minutes anyhow. Targeting these fish is simple, try using a simple popping cork with a live shrimp below it.

         Permit have been rolling into town, and if you’re lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time, it can be an experience. Permit are crab eaters but will eat shrimp and clams as well as other crustaceans. When targeting permit, it is best to move quietly preferably on a trolling motor while paying attention to what’s happening on the surface as well as on your depth finder. Permit have excellent eyesight, so using a long fluorocarbon leader say 25lb is a must combined with a 2/0 circle hook will do the job. When you target this species, be sure to have a reel with a good drag that can hold at least 300 yards of line.

         Finally its shark time!  We’ve gottem all starting now and on a good day we can catch a ton. Hammerheads, blacktips, spinners, grays, nurse, etc. all here all fun. It’s a great time for those that want to catch something big. Most of the sharks will be 3-4 feet, but occasionally we’ll get a 7-8 footer. 6/o circle hooks and a variety of baits should get the job done both free lining and weighting a bait down.

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

  • 04/03/2018 8:55 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)
    April's Fishing Outlook

    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    As many of you have heard by now a brown alga bloom in the inshore waters of the Banana River Lagoon has raised its ugly head again.  This is sad news for some parts of our east coastal estuaries and the no-motor zone, but if there is a bright side to this story, this event has open the eyes of many who prefer to look the other way when it comes to the health and preservation of our fragile resources.  Another positive note is the alga bloom is currently isolated to the central Indian River Lagoon and has not occurred in the portions of the Lagoon system north of SR 405 (NASA Causeway) and the Mosquito Lagoon.  This forecast is based on my past experiences fishing in a healthy lagoon system, so I may be off a little on my predictions this month.

    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-spawning 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. 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 usual, 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 thus far 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,

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

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

  • 02/28/2018 9:53 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Spring has Sprung, it’s time to fish!
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    I’m not sure what that furry oversized squirrel from up North was thinking, but Spring has sprung here in Southwest Florida. This is an exciting time for all of us that enjoy catching fish throughout the area. With the warming of the water bait, what eats the bait, and what catches them increases daily.  Throughout the area it’s a super busy time, as local Spring training is in full swing and all the guides are booked up catching fish. This is the month that our water temperatures start to consistently stay above 78 degrees thus we’ve got happy fish.

    Redfishing gets good this time of the year. We’ll be looking for schooling fish along grass flats, oyster bars, and even our near shore wrecks. All kinds of different baits will work. Artificial lures from top water to deep divers will get them, as well as live baits and cut ones. In the back bays when we’re not slow rolling on the trolling motor, we’ll put out spreads for reds. Basically, we throw a variety of baits on jigs, chicken rigs, or freelined along shore lines or structure and wait’em out. This is a very productive method to catch reds, snook, trout, etc…

     Snook fishing gets good this time of the year as their moving out of their back-bay winter haunts and can be found on the open flats, beaches, wrecks, and river mouths consistently. Live bait is your best bet as I’ll usually use whitebait or threadfins. Depending on the size of the snook your finding, a typical 30-pound fluorocarbon leader and 2/0 hook works well. Should you run across large snook using your 40-pound leader and moving up a hook size will usually do the trick. 

    Tarpon will be starting to show up, especially if we continue this warm weather pattern we had through February. This will be the beginning of the spawn and you can expect to see lots of reports beginning to show up near everglades national park soon. This push of tarpon will then be heading up the coast following the schools of bait and trailed by many of us trying to catch them. Fishing with crabs or threadfin herring are the best bets during the first month or two for the silver kings.

    For those who just want to have fun and not fight a fish for 40 minutes, we’ve got pompano, trout, jacks, macks, bonita and a bunch of other options. We’ll do a lot of popping cork fishing and jigs tipped with shrimp to target most of these fish. Fishing for these targets is a lot of fun and you don’t have to be an experienced angler to have a great time with these. These are the typical family outings or just those anglers that want to soak up the beauty of or area during their stay.

    So to wrap things up, we may get a few more cold fronts here and there. Februarys weather was excellent, and our water temperatures have already risen to 78 degrees. Even a future front or two isn’t going to change much as far as the progression of Spring. Fishing is going to be good moving forward and your better give your guide a call if you haven’t already done so. It’s going to be a busy season for us and we’d love to get you out.

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


  • 02/28/2018 9:48 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Spring transition
    by
    Captain Michael Manis

    Again, its transition time around the harbor, only this time we’re heading into spring. The winter pattern of low tide sand hole fishing is about to change. We’ll still get to deal with the wind, but warmer air and water temperatures should begin to bring the bait in from offshore and the fish will get aggressive. It’s not unusual to see a good cold snap in March, but overall, it’s a big change from the past two months. Typically, I like to pick up where I left off last month, working the edges of the deeper cuts and creek systems along the east side not far from Matlacha.

    This is the time of year that I like looking for snook. In particular, the younger males can be a lot of fun on fly. This area holds redfish and spotted sea trout so there’s plenty of opportunity. At the top of the harbor, the north end of the west wall and the shorelines at the edge of the western entrance to the Myakka cutoff can also be good spring snook spots.

    Towards the end of the month, it’s even possible to see some resident river tarpon show up in the upper harbor. Generally, April is prime for this bite, but if it’s warm enough, late March could be good. Cobia will also begin to appear around the bars that surround both the east and west walls. I like to pole or run the trolling motor down the outside edge and look for groups of cow nose rays, as it’s not unusual to find the cobia close behind. In addition, these bar structures should still be holding some pompano.

    The sheepshead bite should still be strong anywhere there is structure. The Boca Grande and Placida trestles are very popular as is the artificial reef off Alligator Creek. On windy days, some live shrimp thrown up under any canal system dock can make for a good time. The Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte canals hold good numbers.

    Any of the bays, sounds, and flats that surround the harbor will be holding redfish and spotted sea trout. On average, tides will run higher allowing easier access to most flats. At the north end, Lemon Bay should fish well as should all the flats in the Placida area adjacent to the public ramp.  Any shoreline area in Gasparilla Sound close to the intracoastal is also a good bet. Turtle Bay has potential as well as around Cape Haze Point and up the West Wall.

    Across the harbor, all the flats adjacent to the intracoastal in northern Pine Island Sound are also worth a look. The intracoastal provides such a strong flow of clean water from the passes that it provides great habitat. So, for anglers with minimal time to get out and look it can make finding productive spots a bit easier.

    Until next month, good tides.

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


  • 02/28/2018 9:39 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    The Lavender Azaleas are in Bloom
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    I always use my lavender azaleas as an indicator for the arrival of the cobia migration north through our near-shore waters. Their magnificent blooms favor the same temperatures and weather conditions, and when the azalea blooms peek the time is right. Currently my azaleas are showing some significant blooms, but like the azalea’s delicate blooms, the cobia run will pass before you know it. 

    The current water temperature in Port Canaveral is 73 degrees which is an indication of a very warm February. As the ocean begins its gradual warming phase, 67 to 68 degrees, watch for the progression of baits schools (Atlantic menhaden and silver mullet) from warmer waters into the near-shore waters bringing the cobia and other predators with them. The warmer waters have also draw manta rays into the shallows shadowed by pods of cobia. Other notable species are tripletail around the buoys and under flotsam, heavy weight jack carvalle near the end of the month, large redfish, and sharks shadowing bait schools. Currently, the cobia have started showing up, and once the seas lay down, cobia mania will begin.

    Weather conditions through next Sunday are not looking good with gusty winds and seas up to 6 feet predicted, so let’s hope the cobia are still around when the seas settle down.

    Moving out into deeper water, the spring kingfish run should begin with the smaller kings showing up around the middle of March, followed by the smokers, 30 to 50 pounds, in April on the near-shore reefs and wrecks like Pelican Flats and 8A reef. If the bait moves in close to the beach, look for the larger kingfish to follow them. Also, April marks the beginning of the fishing season for many of the blue water anglers with the start of the April/May northern migration of dolphin in 120 feet of water and beyond, and the early part of the run usually includes some of the largest bulls taken all year.

    In the inlets and along the beaches, whiting, pompano, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel should remain a staple with sheepshead and black drum holding on jetties and rock piles. As we move into the later part of April, watch for the snook and tarpon action to improve in Sebastian Inlet and then move north following the bait progression.

    On the lagoon, high water levels will draw the slot size redfish schools up onto the shallow flats, with the larger breeder schools holding along the deeper edges and sand bars. On the cooler days, focus your attention on sand pockets or potholes, and once the afternoon sun warms the water, look for tailing fish on the shallow flats. Also, the end of March signals the return of silver mullet to the estuary, and the beginning early morning and late evening top water sea trout and redfish action.

    Last but not lease, mid-March brings largemouth, stripers and sunshine bass into the equation as schooling bass begin to form up in consistent patterns on the St Johns River. Last year, fifty bass days were not uncommon as schooling pre-spawn and post spawn fish push schools of menhaden to the surface at first light creating explosive top-water action. Additionally, the American shad run is showing signs of improvement, so give shad a shot while they are still here.

    As always, if you have questions or need information, 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

  • 02/01/2018 9:48 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    The American shad bite is good
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    As winters go, we are in the grasp of our coldest winter in ten years and we are experiencing the effects on both the Lagoons and on the St Johns River system.  Although we have seen temperatures in the low 30’s we are fortunate to live in Florida where fishing is a year-round sport.

    On the St Johns River, we are experiencing one of the best American and hickory shad seasons I seen in years with catches being reported in the triple digits. We are still experiencing higher water levels thanks to Hurricane Irma and stronger currents which shad like as well as water temperatures in the 60’s which are ideal conditions.  Although the water level is higher, the level has receded within the banks bringing bait fish and grass shrimp with it, concentrating the fish as well. Last Tuesday while filming an episode of Ultimate Catch TV we boated over 100 fish between us on ultralight spin tackle and fly.

    Inshore on the flats water levels are extremely low, but the colder weather has created some cleaner water conditions throughout the Lagoon. On colder days, falling water temperatures force fish to seek deeper locations in search the warmest water they can find, and they become very sluggish. As the sun warms the water, all it takes is a degree or two of change, the fish will begin to move and feed in the shallows. On the sunny mornings, it is not uncommon to find redfish and trout holding in the sand pockets or potholes within the shallow flats where water temperatures raise faster. Additionally, warming water temperatures combined with sunny spring days and crystal-clear water make February one of the best months to site fish for redfish, large sea trout, and black drum on the lagoon flats.  The freezes we experienced in January have taken a toll on or snook population, and the windy conditions have proven to be tough to fish in.

    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 near the end of the month 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.  We just have to wait for the seas to settle down to get out there safely.

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

    February is also the time to target tailing black drum and redfish in the Banana River Lagoon "No Motor Zone".  Unfortunately, I am limited to one angler on my NMZ charters, as I fish out of an Indian River canoe. 

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

    Good luck and good fishing,

    Captain Tom Van Horn
    Mosquito Coast Fishing Charters

    mosquitocoast@cfl.rr.com

    www.irl-fishing.com
    407-416-1187 Cell

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