fishing Forecast

  • 02/01/2018 9:44 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Timing out the cold fronts will give anglers options
    by Capt. Greg Stamper
       

    Although we may be lucky enough to see 75 degrees a few times in February, temperatures between the mid 50’s and low 70’s are more the reality until March. With a bit of lucky timing regarding cold fronts, anglers will have options.

    Wind becomes a big factor, especially that which comes driving down on us from the North or Northwest. Understanding the effects of cold fronts will dictate how successful your fishing days will be. Northern winds will silt up the backcountry waters in some areas, and mess with the tides in others. As strong fronts blow through they cool the water down. These post front conditions make things challenging for a few days.

    When fishing after a cold front our strategy turns to slow and low. No worries though, those are the days we’ll hide in the creeks and tributaries fishing deeper holes hiding from the wind. Fishing at the doorstep of these cold fronts is always a favorite of mine, and often gives us a good bite. Fish right up to the moment when those cold fronts come rolling in, and the fish will be chewing.

    Now, when we get East clockwise to Southwest winds we get the warmer weather and better fishing in general. So, now that we have the wind thing figured out what are we going to fish for?

    On days when it hasn’t been windy for a while, we fish the clear water. During days like this you will have the possibility of sight casting to redfish, black drum, and even sheepshead in the back bays.

    On cloudy water or dirty water days, try using shrimp or cut bait around the oyster bars and points for better action. Sheepshead will be a big target through February as the big fish spawn both inshore and on the reefs and wrecks. Black drum will continue to be a big target certainly thru March as they stay in and around the creeks, river mouths, canal systems with deeper water, and docks.

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

    Redfish will be a big target for many of us, as they can be found in small schools cruising around the flats.

    Flounder will show up from time to time, usually hitting small swim baits or jigs tipped with shrimp. It’s not easy finding a big flounder around here, so if you get one close to 20” you’ve done well.

    Pompano will still be plentiful both along the beaches and passes as well as on the nearshore reefs.

         On those beautiful days, when we can run around out in the Gulf of Mexico; tripletail, kingfish, grouper, sheepshead will all be fair game. On the days we have light winds it usually means clean water, especially since we tend to get very little rain during the month of February.

    Taking this into consideration, you will find that tripletail can be a great fish to target nearshore along the crab trap buoys, markers, and coastal signage. You can look for tripletail as you troll around for grouper or kingfish as crab traps are usually in the same areas grouper and kings will be found in. If you don’t want to move around a lot, you can always anchor up near your favorite reef or wreck and give them a go that way.

    When bottom fishing this time of the year, flounder and sheepshead will be around the same areas as the groupers, so rig up accordingly for both. I prefer dropping two rods that can handle a serious grouper, cobia, kingfish, etc... and have two lighter rods with simple jigs to get the action from snappers, sheepshead, flounder, pompano and such.

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

  • 02/01/2018 9:40 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Winding down a winter pattern
    by Captain Michael Manis

    Typically, February is an extension of the previous two months in that cooler north winds and low tides provide some decent backcountry sand hole opportunities. This is where redfish and spotted sea trout drop into the shallow depressions on the lower tides waiting for water to come back onto the flat. The flats are full of these depressions and they come in all shapes and sizes.

    On any given year, this month has the potential to start out resembling winter but can end up feeling like someone hit the light switch and all of a sudden it feels like summer. It’s like, what happened to spring? With that being said, it’s also not unusual to get a good cold snap in March. I guess the point is that as February winds down and transitions into spring; you just never know what kind of weather, with the exception of wind, that we’re going to see around Charlotte Harbor. 

    It’s not unusual to see quite a few shallow running skiffs working some of the more popular areas like Pine Island Sound and Lemon Bay. In the sound, I like fishing out of Pineland or the Bokeelia boat ramp and hanging tight to the western edge of the Pine island Shoreline in order to hide from the wind. In lemon Bay, I like the flats adjacent to and north of Buck Creek. These also provide protection from a strong northeast wind.

    Matlacha is one of my favorite areas and the shoreline outside Big Dead Creek and down through Buzzard Bay is well protected from the north winds. Here, the deeper cuts with strong current hold redfish, spotted sea trout and snook.

    The open harbor and adjacent bar systems also hold potential as winter winds down. Pompano are still on the bars like the one that runs the length of the West Wall and down onto Cape Haze Point. Spanish mackerel are scattered throughout the harbor and will be mixed in with lots of ladyfish outside the bars working the schools of glass minnows. Sheepshead are under the Boca Grande and Placida trestles in good numbers. This is a great spot to fish with or without a boat.

     Lastly, area canal systems can also be good. In particular, because of good tidal flow, the perimeter canals of both Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte hold lots of species. Redfish, black drum, spotted sea trout, and snook hang close to the cement seawalls that hold heat from the afternoon sun. Corner spots are prime as that is where current moves the fastest.

    Until next month, good tides.

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

  • 02/01/2018 9:37 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Winter lingers
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

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

    The trout bite picks up very nicely in February.  2017 proved to be the year of big trout in the Fort Pierce area.  I anticipate that 2018 will be another big fish year around the area.  CAL jerk baits and Deadly Combos are exciting ways to trout fish with artificial lures, while live shrimp on popping corks are the ol’ standard way to trout fish out on the river.  Redfish can be found in shallow flats around mangroves and islands.  We had a fantastic winter bite in 2017 around the docks and mangroves for redfish.  On warm sunny days, the reds will sit around the mangroves and soak up the sun.  Finding some along the mangroves will bring some good rod bending action to anglers this month.  DOA shrimp and CAL jerk baits can find some hungry reds hugging the mangrove lines when fished very slowly.  Docks are a great way to find plenty of fish waiting for something tasty to drift under them.

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

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

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

    Thanks and Good Fishing!
    Captain Charlie Conner

    www.fishtalescharter.com
    captaincharlie@fishtalescharter.com
    772-284-3852

  • 12/31/2017 5:35 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Sight fishing as good as it gets
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    I would like to begin this report by wishing all of you a happy and prosperous New Year.  2017 was an excellent year for me as I was blessed by great family and friends, a great job and lots of fishing, life doesn’t get any better than that.

    As water levels and temperatures drop, clear and shallow conditions on the inshore flats will make sight fishing the best we will see all year. Mullet and other finfish have migrated out of the area for the winter, so anglers should switch to smaller shrimp and crabs and a slower presentation. When targeting inshore species during the colder months, I like to downsize my lures and fish with a shrimp or crab imitation baits like the DOA Shrimp and Crab.

    January and February are key months for targeting large black drum in the deeper channels and around the bridges.  For the past several years the black drum populations have expanded on our lagoons, so I'm eager to see how they show up this year and target a few on the flats and to catch a few nice ones on fly.

    Now is also the time for surf anglers to target pompano, bluefish, weakfish, small black drum, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel and whiting off the beaches and larger redfish and flounder around the inlets of Ponce De Leon, Port Canaveral and Sebastian.   This bite is already good and should improve as we get further into the month.  When the weather permits, like to fish just past the surf break in my skiff and fish with small jigs tipped with a live sand flea.

    Lastly and my all-time favorite, the American shad run on the upper St. Johns River should be swinging into full gear by mid-January. And if this year's run is anything close to what we had last year, look out for Captain Tom and Three Quarter Time when you are passing through shad alley. Also, if you enjoy a fresh fish dinner occasionally, the specked perch (crappie) bite has been good in some areas and will continue to improve in all the big lakes, rivers and creeks in Central Florida.

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

    Good luck and good fishing and happy holidays,

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

  • 12/31/2017 9:22 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Targeting the right species will be key in January
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    Wow, where did 2017 go? As we welcome the new year and a bit of cooler weather we’ll be targeting species that like just that. Now for most 50 to 60-degree days are a welcome relief from the bitter cold up North, but to fishing peeps throughout South Florida we’ll be bundled up and ready for a snowmobile ride most mornings. With that said Happy New Year and get ready for a great 2018.

    During January we’ll be targeting several species. During the really cold days we’ll go after those that like that stuff, and broadening our horizons during the days things warm back up. The days right after cold fronts usually means we hunker down and target things that don’t mind the cooler temperatures. These fish are primarily sheepshead, trout, pompano, bluefish, mackerel to name a few inshore; and tripletail, kingfish, sheepshead again, bonito and groupers in our nearshore waters.

    Sheepshead go full speed this time of the year as they spawn in our back bays and nearshore waters. These spawning fish can easily get to the 6 to 8-pound class and are also great to eat. We target them along docks, oyster bars, and on reefs and wrecks regularly for about 3 months. Sheepshead will take a variety of baits such as sand fleas, crabs, barnacles, and shrimp. When targeting this bait stealing convict fish try downsizing the bait and hook so they are forced to deal with the sharp part immediately. Inshore I’ll use small jigs tipped with bait, and nearshore I use more of a chicken rig with size 1 hooks.

    Trout and pompano are two of the other fun ones to go after during cold spells, that are also good to eat. However, we’ll find lots of other snowbirds like the bluefish and mackerels that come in heavy during this time. There can be tons of action when going after these species and depending on where you are, you may find all in the same area. Typically, I’ll target the trout over grass flats using popping corks worked aggressively in 2 ½ to 5 feet of water. When near the beaches, passes, or nearshore I prefer jigs of many varieties and weights. Sometimes the fish are toward the top of the water column sometimes down, so you’ve got to try different techniques and jig weights.

    Now on the nice days when its not windy and temperatures are tolerable to a Floridian, we can target snook, redfish, tripletail, and other species. Usually it takes a few days post cold front to get these fish eating. We can run and gun out along the trap lines and markers for the tripletail, or we can fish in the back bay and target reds and snook. Typically, I’d recommend using live baits like shrimp, crabs, or whitebaits when available. One thing for sure if your using artificial is to slow things down. These fish will not be as aggressive and keeping baits near them longer usually works out well. Cut baits like ladyfish, sardines, or mullet can also be very effective. The cut baits work better in poor water quality conditions and the live stuff works better in clean water.

    So that’s January in a nutshell here in SWFL.

    Tight lines Capt. Greg Stamper,

    Snookstampcharters.com
    239-313-1764    


  • 12/31/2017 9:17 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Working with the fronts
    by Capt. Michael Manis

    In many ways, this is a period of contrasts where it can be difficult to find a routine. Sure, the mornings are consistently cool and tides are definitely low.  But for the most part, the wind seems to keep me guessing.  It’s like there are two types of distinct days right now.  Of course, these are determined by cold fronts and it’s either blowing or it’s really nice.

    On the better days when everything lays down and presents a chamber of commerce type day, it’s as good as it gets and our options really open up. On the other hand, when it’s howling, the best we can hope for is keeping the wind at our back and trying to work lee shorelines.

    On the calm days between fronts, I like to take advantage of spots and fisheries that are out in open water.  Try taking a run to the crab trap buoys just off the beach and keep an eye out for tripletail. I’ve thrown flies and plastics at these guys; but the best bait going is live shrimp. It’s also not unusual to see Bonita out here and don’t hesitate to take a look inside Boca Grande Pass as it can also hold some good numbers. If you want to get into the backing on your fly reel, try hooking up to a Bonita.

    The beaches can also be good. In fact, if you don’t have access to a boat, this is one of the best times of year to fish from shore. Sheepshead, whiting, pompano, and black drum are all possibilities. Just inside the passes, the Boca Grande and Placida trestles are loaded with sheepshead.  A bit further inshore, pompano should be on bar systems throughout the harbor. Cape Haze Point is your best bet.

    When it’s blowing, to keep run time at a minimum, I prefer spots that aren’t too far from a ramp. I’ll generally load at Pineland Marina in Pine Island Sound, or Ponce Park in Punta Gorda.  If you can get into the flats in any one of these areas, there are redfish, spotted sea trout, and flounder. These areas all provide decent cover when battling a strong northerly wind. Out of Pineland, the entire east side below the ramp is good; however, it can be very shallow and difficult to access without a shallow draft boat. From Ponce Park, there’s a maze of small islands between Alligator Creek and Pirate Harbor that provide lots of opportunities for the small skiff.

    Until next month, good tides.

    Captain Michael Manis

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


  • 12/31/2017 9:11 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Warm water will give you an edge
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    Happy New Year!  In past several years, January has traditionally been a cold month around the Treasure Coast.  Hopefully, 2018 will show us another mild winter and you won’t have to worry about the water temperatures as much this year.  Fishing in deeper water will provide you with better results on most days.  Working your lures and baits much slower will also give you a better chance at success.  Fish tend to become lethargic in cold water and are slow in moving to strike at lures.  Finding water that is a couple degrees warmer than the surrounding area can also give you an edge on finding fish.  Water temperatures have been mild so far.  We had great results last year on fishing deep sand holes on the flats that were being warmed by the sun.  We will certainly be doing that again this year.

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

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

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

    Surf anglers will be targeting these fish on days when the beach is fishable.  Flounder should be found around the jetties on the beach side and on sand flats around the inlet.  If you can find warmer water on the flats, you will most likely find trout feeding in those areas.  Last year, we were rewarded many days as the sun would warm up a patch of water and get the fish actively feeding.  Trout fishing in 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 2018 should prove to be another good year.  Ladyfish and jacks will be all over the river for fun action for the little ones.

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

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

    Have a wonderful 2018!
    Thanks and Good Fishing!
    Captain Charlie Conner
     
    www.fishtalescharter.com
    captaincharlie@fishtalescharter.com
    772-284-3852 
  • 11/30/2017 10:41 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Try the flats after they warm
    by Capt. Tom VanHorn

    Let me begin my December forecast by wishing everyone a very fishful holiday season.  Each year I’m amazed by how quickly the time passes, and 2017 was no exception.  So far my 2017 fishing season has been an excellent one.  Please visit my photo gallery on my website at http://www.irl-fishing.com/gallery and see some of the outstanding catches my clients made this year. It is my hope that you and those closest to you have a wonderful holiday season and spend some time on the water together.

    Although the water quality in the Lagoon system has improved some, overall conditions remain challenging with elevated levels and dirty water. I know many of you enjoy sight fishing, but with high and dirty water visually locating fish on the flats can be difficult, but in spite of these tough conditions we still managed some great catching adventures. As we progress into winter, water levels typical drop and clear up, so some of this forecast is based on my past experiences.

    Starting with the lagoons, both redfish and sea trout will remain in the skinny water as long as the water temperatures stay warm.  Inshore flats fishing is best once the sun warms the water a bit, so sleep in and enjoy a good cup of coffee before heading to the ramp on those cold mornings. Focus your fishing in protected areas and sunny spots, and look for fish to be holding in sand patches and areas with mucky bottom until the sun gets overhead.  Another tip is to fish with smaller shrimp and crab imitation baits with a very slow presentation as cold fish are sluggish feeders.

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

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

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

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

    On the upper Saint Johns River look for the American and hickory shad runs to commence near the end of the month, and intensifying in January and February.  Shad fishing is one of the most overlooked fisheries in Florida, and a fun fish to catch on both fly and light tackle gear. Additionally, all winter is crappie season, so don’t underestimate these tasty morsels. Currently water levels remain high, so please be careful while navigating these waters.

    In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who fished and worked with me this past year for your business and friendship, and I am looking forward to spending more time on the water with you in 2018. Also, now is the time to purchase your 2018  charter gift certificates by visiting http://www.irl-fishing.com/gift-certificates , so purchase a charter in advance for yourself or that special angler close to your heart, and go fishing with them.

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

    Good luck, good fishing and happy holidays,

    Captain Tom Van Horn
    Mosquito Coast Fishing Charters
    mosquitocoast@cfl.rr.com
    www.irl-fishing.com 

  • 11/30/2017 10:38 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Productive winter fishing patterns start now!Productive winter fishing patterns start now! 
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    December fishing can be productive! Winter has officially begun in Southwest Florida officially, and although we don’t see snow or even much lower than fifty, it can cool off from time to time. Fishing patterns have now moved full-swing into a winter pattern. Typically, water temperatures will stay somewhere in the 60’s. With that said, we’ll still get some awesome weather for parts of the month that makes everyone else north of us jealous. We’ve got all kinds of options both inshore and nearshore to target during this time. Depending on what mother nature dishes out, we’ll figure out a plan.

    There’s a lot going on nearshore around here during this time. Seasonally we still have plenty of bait around for the fish to follow through the end of this month. With that said, when the big pods of threadfin herring move south of us, so will several of the species that eat them. Cobia, breeder redfish, kingfish, and bonita are a few of the targets still plentiful during this time. Trolling large deep divers around the schools of bait or over hard bottom is a sure-fire way to get action during this time of the year. Paying attention to flocks of birds diving up and down will also give anglers a bunch of help on locating schools of fish. When running from place to place or doing my favorite on calm days, which is tripletailing, you can come across all kinds of cool targets. Always have a bucktail jig or swimbait rigged up and ready to go, as you never know what you may stumble on.

    The backcountry bite is now in a true winter pattern. Last month the snook showed up in and around the beaches and passes as they began their push back to the creeks and rivers. So, if it’s snook I’m looking for, that’s the place I’ll be this month. You can use artificial lures of many varieties for snook, I prefer something that’s plastic and rigged weedless. Redfish magics, money minnows, and DOA jerkbaits are a few of my favorites. As water temperatures cool off, and you begin throwing these types of rigs, start slowing down your presentation. Varying your retrieve can make a big difference as things cool off.

    Redfishing will still be good, although typically I only find over-slot fish around the nearshore wrecks and reefs, and smaller fish 15”-27” in the back bays. Trout fishing should be excellent the entire month as they tend to like the cool off and can be found typically in 3-5 feet of water over grassy bottom. A standard popping cork and live shrimp or DOA will get it done. Sheepshead fishing becomes very good for us throughout the region during this time of the year as they begin to spawn. Sheepies can be found typically up to 7lbs in this area regularly for months to come. The sheepshead is a nipper of baits, so smaller hooks and smaller offerings of shrimp, fiddler crabs, and even barnacles will work fine.

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

  • 11/30/2017 10:33 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Working Winter Flats
    by Captain Michael Manis

    In the backcountry, where I spend most of my time, this month marks a true turning point where everything generally changes. The transition that began late last month will come full circle and cold fronts, strong winds and low tides dominate.  Shallow flats chill quickly under these conditions. I won’t target snook, as hopefully they’ll be laying low up the many creek and river systems. Fortunately, redfish and spotted sea trout flourish in the cooler environment; so, that’s where I’ll concentrate my efforts.

    Because of the style I fish, fly and light tackle out of a small skiff, I’ll spend all my time fishing sand holes that are scattered throughout my favorite flats. When the wind is coming out of the north pushing out water on an already low tide, redfish and trout will gang up within these spots. Too, many times it’s the small sand holes that produce the best. By small, I’m referring to spots that are only a foot or two wide. Generally, the fish like to hold on the edge of the holes at the edge of the grass.

    I like small baits; for fly, small shrimp or baitfish patterns work well and I’ll even throw an intermediate sink tip line. Understandably, this line gets my fly down and because it’s a bit heavier, it helps punch the line into a stiff breeze. For spinning tackle, I like small plastic paddle tail and shrimp baits rigged on a standard 1/8 or ¼ ounce jig head. 

    Due to the wind, I try and keep my run time to a minimum so not to take too much of a beating. Fortunately, there are several good areas not far from a ramp. For the most part, I’ll fish out of Ponce Park in Punta Gorda, the east side from Alligator Creek all the way down to Matlacha provides welcome lee shoreline protection from the persistent north east wind.

    Also, don’t be surprised to hook into a few flounder working the sand holes. I’ve even caught them throwing a fly. Moreover, on milder days between fronts there should be a good pompano bite on the hard bottom off Cape Haze Point.  Around the corner outside the bar along the West Wall is also a great place.  Keep an eye behind the boat and when a few skip your wake shut it down turn around a make a few casts, you never know.

    Because of the sheepshead bite, this is one of the best times of year to fish from shore. The Placida and Boca Grande trestles are great spots to drop a fiddler crab or piece of shrimp. Stop by any of our local tackle shops and they’ll set you up.

    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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