fishing Forecast

  • 01/31/2020 5:01 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Shad Run is Behind Schedule
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    Nothing has been routine about the weather so far this winter. Warmer and breezier conditions have only provided us with a few decent weather days in January, and the long-range forecast for the beginning of February is not looking too favorable. Also, there is still the chance of freezing conditions returning this year, but your guess is as good as mine. I’m not complaining, just stating the facts, because even with the worst weather we are still fishing and catching here in Central Florida.

    Normally, once the cold front pushes off the coast into the Atlantic and high pressure settles in, and fishing conditions can shift from miserable to magnificent overnight. One sign I watch for is the development of fog in the early morning hours. As high-pressure systems move off to the northeast, southeasterly wind shifts carry humid air off the Atlantic. Rising humidly levels are an indication of warming temperatures, and a falling barometer. These factors provide ideal weather for fishing the flats and running offshore once the fog burns off. When the next approaching front moves closer the winds will begin to back down from the south and eventually shift to the west just before the front hits. As a rule, the stronger the front, the more intense the wind speed and shifts will be. All of this information falls in the nice to know category if you are one of the lucky people who can pick their days on the water, but for most of us the best day to fish is whenever you have a chance.

    Another important point to remember when fishing inshore is falling water temperatures force most fish, bait included, 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 change and the fish will begin to move into the shallow flats to feed. On the sunny mornings, it is not uncommon to find redfish and trout holding in the sand pockets within the shallow flats where water temperatures raise quickly. Additionally, warming water temperatures combined with sunny spring days and clear water, make February one of the best months to site fish for redfish, large sea trout, and black drum on the lagoon flats. For larger sea trout, fish at first light, sunset, or at night with natural baits and target areas where mangrove edges, docks, and other structure are adjacent to deep water dredge holes, sloughs, or canals with mucky bottoms. These same areas will also hold concentrations of small trout, which can be caught throughout the day on small jigs and shrimp imitation baits like DOA Shrimp fished very slowly along the bottom.

    Offshore, kingfish are still be found along the inshore reefs and wrecks, and they will remain there if the water temperature stays above 68 degrees. When targeting kings, focus on the areas of 8A reef, Pelican Flats, and Bethel Shoals to the south. Look for cobia and amberjack to be holding on the inshore wrecks out of Port Canaveral. Additionally, live bait is tough to find this time of year, so always carry a box of frozen Spanish sardines with you as backup.

    Near-shore look for tripletail concentrations to improve greatly along the Port Canaveral buoy line and under floating weeds and structures, and for cobia to move in shadowing manta rays if the surface water temperatures reach the upper sixties. Now is also the time for shore fisherman to target pompano, bluefish, weakfish, small black drum, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel and whiting in the surf and larger redfish and flounder around the inlet jetties and.

    Finally, windy days in February are a great time to check out those freshwater fishing holes on the St Johns River. Currently anglers have been catching American shad, speckled perch, warmouth perch, and largemouth bass. Like everything else this year, the shad run is behind schedule. This past week I heard one good report of shad coming from the Marina Isles to Mullet Lake section of the St. Johns River, with only a few shad being taken south of Lake Harney. As the run progresses the shad should be moving into the shallows south of Hwy 46, so fly anglers get ready.

    Currently water levels are dropping on both the Lagoons and on the St Johns River, so please operate your vessels with caution when fishing in theses area.

    Remember when planning a fishing trip in February, keep a close eye on the weather, and fish whenever you have a chance.

    Seminar Schedule in February:

    Central Florida Offshore Anglers Association (CFOA)
    Annual Bait Rigging Seminar Monday, February 10th - 6:30pm
    Winter Park Community Center 721 W New England Ave 
    Winter Park, FL 32789

    This event is open to the public, and I will be covering Shad and Crappie as well as a Katmai Lodge Alaska Show and Tell. For more details visit

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

    Good luck and good fishing,

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

  • 01/31/2020 4:58 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Play what’s dealt
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    February brings the best of our Winter fishing patterns. During this month we can expect some cold dates, some windy ones, and hopefully some chamber of commerce days. Depending on what Mother nature deals us, will depend on what fish we go after. Typical temperatures will range from the upper 50’s to the low 80’s. Wind will tend to switch often as the tail ends of cold fronts will brush through from time to time. West to Northwest winds will follow these cold fronts making the days after tough for any offshore trips. Pre-frontal conditions will be the best bet for fisherman both inshore and off.

    Our back bays and near shore waters will be full of fish visiting Southwest Florida for a few months. Our deep holes around mangrove shorelines, docks, and even in our rivers and creeks can hold a lot of fish during these times. Black drum will be prevalent during this month and found in those places regularly. Shrimp becomes a don’t leave home without them bait during February. Fiddler crabs, cut baits such as ladyfish or mullet, and pilchards will bag plenty of other species.

    Sheepshead, redfish, snook, snappers, trout, and flounder are a some of those targeted. When water temperatures get into the low 60’s fish aren’t as aggressive so not moving your presentation and allowing the fish to come find it on their own works well. Anglers that want to throw artificial baits or flies should think low and slow on the retrieval for the best results. It also doesn’t hurt to try downsizing you baits, as sometimes that works better.

    Typically, black drum, pompano, mackerel, bonito, kingfish, and tripletail will keep the nearshore to offshore guides busy when they can get out. Don’t discount the snapper fishing however, as it’ll be good this month. Those snapper fishing will typically get out to 75 feet and find mangrove, lane, mutton, and yellowtail snapper.

    The colder water pattern brings fish in closer to shore. Those boats running  over forty miles will primarily be targeting red groupers. Finding bait hasn’t been much of a problem all last month, so hopefully it continues to be that way. Those fishing the nearshore wrecks and reefs should keep an eye out for cobia. Cobia often come check out anything that’s going on, then move on. These curious fish will give anglers a great fight as long as you’re ready when you first see them.

    Tight lines, Capt. Greg Stamper
    Snook stamp charters

  • 01/31/2020 4:55 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Fishing the winds of winter
    by Captain Charlie Conner

    The winds of winter have arrived in full strength! It will be blowing most days and make it a challenge for anglers to get out fishing. Winter is well established, and you can expect weekly cold fronts to blow through the area bringing windy days and cool temperatures with them. Water temps will fluctuate this month and you must adapt to the changes for better success.

    The sheepshead and drum have arrived early and are plentiful out there. You can find them hanging under docks or along channel edges. Live or dead shrimp always works well. It has been a good bite so far. Pompano can be found along beaches, in deeper areas of the grass flats and in channels. Doc’s Goofy Jigs are great for pompano with live shrimp and sand fleas good choices, too. Mackerel, jacks, bluefish and ladyfish will all be coming in with the tides and small shiny lures will work best for them.

    Snook fishing will be best at night around the bridges and jetties. Live bait or a DOA Bait Buster will be good choices. The trout bite has picked up and we are seeing more sea grass growing on the flats. I like to use a DOA Deadly Combo when looking for sea trout. Look for redfish around docks and mangroves with a DOA shrimp.

    Fishing your lures slowly will certainly give you more action on the river. Fish tend to be sluggish in the colder water. Be willing to fish deeper water if the temps drop below 68 degrees. 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. 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. Have fun this month and get out fishing

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

    Good Fishing,

    Captain Charlie Conner

  • 01/31/2020 4:47 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Working with the weather
    by Captain Michael Manis

    Even though it’s most likely we’ll see a couple cold fronts in March, we’re moving into what should be winter’s last blast.  As with last month, negative morning tides dominate much of the calendar providing opportunities to fish the incoming as the sun warms the flats.  As a result, I’ll stick to the same patterns I worked in January.  

    Last month, while hunting the backcountry working my way up tidal flows I kept finding redfish and snook against lee sides on the sand in small coves and dead ends. They were definitely in the warmest most comfortable spots that I found. Spots that I wouldn’t be able to access on low water but were navigable riding the incoming tide. Barely navigable I might add, in fact I was poling as the sand was rubbing the hull.

    I’ll split my time between the east side south of Punta Gorda and Gasparilla Sound and Turtle Bay. In Punta Gorda, access is easy from either Ponce or Laishley Park. The ramp at Placida provides the best access to Gasparilla Sound. Because of the shallow conditions, the fish are a bit on the wary side. With a bright sun, they’re on even higher alert.

    To adjust, I’ve downsized my tippet as well as my flies. For example, my total leader length is nine feet.  I’ll go from 25 to 20 to a 15-pound tippet using a blood knot between three-foot sections. For flies, I like #1 or #2 un-weighted baitfish or shrimp patterns. They hit the water softer.

    For anglers that can’t access these areas, there are other opportunities. Outside the backcountry on the grass flats spotted sea trout will be active. Two to four feet is best and just about anywhere adjacent to the intracoastal is a good bet. Pompano will be abundant on outside bar systems. I’ve always found the best bite on hard bottom like that off Cape Haze Point.

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

    Lastly, when you need to get out and the weather is a bit intimidating there are always the docks within the canal systems. Moreover, there’s plenty to go around without having to stray too far from the ramp. Between the Boca Bayou within Boca Grande, the Charlotte Harbor and Port Charlotte canals, and Punta Gorda Isles there’s lots of ground to cover. I’m not a big fan of fishing in someone’s back yard; but if you have company in town, it may be your only shot. With this being said, please be courteous and careful casting up under these platforms.

    Until next month, good tides.

    Captain Michael Manis
    Punta Gorda Fly Charters

  • 12/24/2019 9:40 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Jumping into 2020
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    We’re jumping straight into our two coldest months, and fishing will be good. We’ve had such a great December I’d have to think good fishing will only continue. Having a good Summer with minimal red tide affecting things, allowed for everything big and small to get through just fine. We’ve still got nice bait in the bays as well as schools of mullet. There’s a ton of bait moving nearshore and it’s got predators right behind it.

    The back bays will give anglers lots of options. Paying attention to water temperature variances from day to day will tell you what to target. For example, drastic water temperature drops over a one- or two-day period can make fishing for some species tough. Snook, tarpon usually of the juvenile size, and permit will probably not eat when it’s cold. Species like sheepshead, trout, pompano, black drum, and jacks don’t mind the cool offs as much, and become main targets for those cold days.

    The nearshore waters will be a great place to start especially during the low Winter tide time frames. Tripletail, bonito, kingfish, mackerels, and lots of bottom dwellers will fill plenty of time. Shrimp can be one of the best baits for most of the fish you’ll run into. Using them on jigs, popping corks, or just flat lined will work for about anything. The best part off having cold water means the shrimp you purchase will be bigger.

    The offshore guys will have to pick the days to go out, as we can get some windy days. The days it’s not blowing hard, they’ll be going out for sure. Grouper will be in closer than normal as well as snappers. The snapper bite will be at its peak in another month with fish found in as shallow as 50 feet. Kingfish considered an offshore species, can be targeted from within site of land out as far as you want. The boats that get out past 120 feet will run into African pompano, groupers of all varieties, and giant snappers, porgies, and amberjack.

    Tight lines, Capt. Greg Stamper

    Snook stamp charters

  • 12/24/2019 9:36 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Working backcountry tides
    by  Captain Michael Manis

    As we enter the height or what could be considered this winter’s midlife, the conditions or elements we face won’t differ all that much from last month. That being wind and low tides. I will try to put an emphasis on fishing the incoming tide. More importantly, I’d prefer to be setting up to cast at the beginning of the incoming and the fresher the tide the better.

     Because they’re tolerant to cold conditions, I’ll concentrate on redfish. In many cases, there’s a good chance they’ll be on the small side, rat sized redfish. This is due in part because I’ll most likely find myself as far back in creek systems as I can get looking for dead end coves covered with a sand bottom. After a couple cool months, this is a natural transition area for our game fish, as they’ll move up into these areas to warm up on the shallow sandy bottom.

    Multiple months of cool weather is also why I also like the early incoming tide.  Bait has been scarce for long enough that redfish will begin looking with some urgency. They feel the tide instantly and begin working up the creek or flat rushing to get a shot at what was unobtainable on low water. The low tide has left the mixed sand and grass dry. Crabs and other crustaceans come out of hiding to feed.  The fish know their chances are best early before the prey has a chance to vanish.

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

    Out on the grass flats, spotted sea trout should fish well.  Look anywhere from two to four feet off the intracoastal from Lemon Bay to Pine Island Sound. They’ll eat a fly as well as any soft plastic and of course, live shrimp rigged with a popping cork.

    In the harbor, pompano can be found on the hard bottom just off Cape Haze Point. A ¼ ounce Nylure Bomber pompano jig is all you need. Sheepshead are everywhere and can be fished from land as well as by boat. The Placida trestle can be fished from both land and boat and the Boca Grande trestle is a popular spot by boat. Every dock, pier, underwater structure, and artificial reef will hold sheepshead. A fiddler crab or piece of shrimp is your best bet.

    Until next month, good tides,

    Captain Michael Manis
    Punta Gorda Fly Charters

  • 12/24/2019 9:28 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Good variety continues in January
    by Captain Charlie Conner

    Hard to believe that another year has arrived!  Happy New Year!  January should provide anglers with lots of exciting action 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.

    Redfish can be found around docks and sitting on the flats on warm, sunny days.  Try a DOA shrimp around mangroves and docks for reds.  The trout bite has greatly improved this past year and it should continue to get better.  Snook season is closed for now and it will continue to be catch and release.  Bridges, docks and the inlets will be the best opportunities to catch snook this month.

    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 drum and sheepshead have once again arrived early, and action has already been steady for these tasty 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. 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.  Enjoy fishing in January on the Treasure Coast!

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

    Have a wonderful 2019!
    Thanks and Good Fishing!
    Captain Charlie Conner

  • 11/29/2019 10:45 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!
    by Captain Tom Van Horn

    It’s snowing up in Boston, people are stuck inside, and we’re sitting here drifting the tide.

    Every morning as the sun is rising, I take a moment to collect my thoughts. I’m always grateful for the favorable climate nature provides for us in Central Florida. It’s a discipline I’ve learned to enjoy. Just yesterday, I was sitting on the deck of Three Quarter Time watching the sunrise. I was dressed in my winter shorts with my feet in the water, pondering the days fishing adventure. With clear skies, gentle breezes, and water temperatures still in the upper seventies, which opportunity would I pursue? Is it near-shore, inshore, or fresh water? Decisions! Decisions! It’s a tough job, but somebody has got to do it.

    Like November, December is a month filled with outstanding fishing opportunities. The only difference is the impact of water temperatures on the fishery. Currently, the surf temperature is 77 degrees, and offshore water temperature is 80 degrees. Listed below are some of the opportunities presented in December:

    Inshore Flats

    Red Drum and Sea Trout Both redfish and trout will remain in the skinny water as long as the water temperatures stay in the seventies. Fish in protected areas and sunny spots. Look for fish to be holding in sand spots until the sun gets overhead.

    Black Drum
    Now is the time to target large black drum in the Indian River Lagoon in deeper water around structure and in schools of smaller drum working in the shallow flats.

    Fresh Water

    Good numbers of speckled perch (black crappie) are showing up in the upper St Johns River and lakes. Fish structure or slow troll jigs or live minnows near the bottom. Also, American shad will begin to show up on their winter spawning run near the end of the month. Targeting these species on light tackle is always great fun, and something I look forward to every year.

    Near-shore & Inlets

    Red Drum
    Large redfish were consistent outside Ponce Inlet, Port Canaveral and Sebastian Inlet last month, and they should remain steady through December. At both Ponce and Sebastian, look for these fish working bait on the surface during periods of slack tide, or fish for them off the tip of the north jetties using live bait on the bottom. At Port Canaveral, work the bottom in deeper water just outside the buoy line. These fish will hit artificial baits, but live pinfish, pigfish, and finger mullet are more productive. These are large oversized reds, so handle and release them with care.

    Snook fishing will remain steady in the surf and inlets, with Sebastian Inlet proving to be the better location. It is best to target the inlet fish at night, drifting live pigfish and pinfish through the channel, or fish bucktail jigs or large plugs from the rocks. This type of fishing can be quite challenging due to the number of anglers competing for the same fish, and the amount of impatience and discourtesy expressed.

    Spanish Mackerel & Bluefish
    Large schools of bluefish and Spanish mackerel have been present in the surf and outside Port Canaveral and Sebastian Inlet. Look for bird activity to locate these fish. Fish jigs or spoons fast to avoid cut offs.

    The Flounder bite is on with good numbers being reported from both Port Canaveral and Sebastian. Anglers are utilizing both jigs and live finger mullet fished on the bottom. My favorite technique is to slow drift, bouncing baits on the bottom.

    Tarpon & Kingfish
    Large tarpon and kingfish can be found shadowing bait pods along the beach and outside the Sebastian inlets. Either slow troll live baits on kingfish rigs, or drop live baits into schools of bait in deeper water. This bite should continue as long as water temperatures remain above 74 degrees.

    Tripletail & Cobia
    Tripletail have started to show up on the Port Canaveral buoy line, and as the water cools the bite should improve. When water temperatures reach 70 degrees or below, look for cobia on weed-lines, near-shore wrecks, buoys, and other structure.

    In closing, I would like to thank all of you who have allowed me the opportunity to serve you this past year, and I look forward to fishing with you again in the new year. As always, if you need information or have questions, please contact me.

    Happy holidays and God bless,

    Captain Tom Van Horn

    PS, Gift Certificates are available on my website and they make great holiday gifts for those anglers in your life.

  • 11/25/2019 10:39 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Clear and cool days and water
    by Captain Joe Garcia

    As you all may know I am strictly fishing either fly or artificial and the backcountry is amazing this time of year, the waters are clear, weather is amazing and the bite is on fire.  Time on the water is enhanced by good long days, taking full advantage of the weather and two tide turns.  Redfish, Trout and Snook are very cooperative and are receptive to pretty much anything we throw at them and with waters so clear sight fishing is outstanding.

    Rookery Bay and the 10k Islands have been solid producers, focus your attention to the open areas adjacent to bays and creeks. Throw popping corks over a Gulp or Sea Shad in the deeper areas, about 4ft and the Trout will keep you busy.  The Reds are in the holes and deeper creeks and have been taking 5 inch Shads and 4 inch paddle tail shads on jigs.   Sight fish the outer beaches for cruising Snook and some good size Reds, work out to the grass flats and you’ll be rewarded Trout for the table, if  you so chose.  The cooler water also have Jacks and Lady Fish in aggressive moods so multi species days are the norm and will ad to an already fun mix.

    The Glades are unique and the draw for me is how remote it is and how challenging it can be to dial in areas, they all look fishy!  Down in the Glades I like throwing the hard baits like the Rapala Coastal Series, it seems like they will pull in pretty much any critter out from cover and the strikes are aggressive.  With water being cooler the oyster beds and darker bottom bays will help bring up the temperature and as we know as little as a few degrees can make a huge difference.  The Trout bite has been solid with some gators on the bite, Redfish will be cruising along the mangroves as will Snook.  Now Snook … we’ve been encountering some studs back there so tie up stout leaders and be ready.

    We’ve been fortunate to have avoided the tide issues that have plagued areas north of us and water quality has been very good with no signs of fish kills anywhere.  Runs to the back can be daunting but can pay off in huge dividends if you can dial in the fish.   

    Tight line friends,

    Captain Joe Garcia
    Southern Glades Charters

  • 11/24/2019 12:13 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Working between fronts
    by Captain Michael Manis

    At this point, the beginning of winter, I find myself looking for windows of opportunity. By that, I mean waiting between fronts for calmer days where both the run and fishing are tolerable. And, even though the days are short, its nice not having to get out at the crack of dawn. In fact, I like to wait till late morning in order to let the sun warm the flats and provide some visibility. Due to lower tides combined with minimal rain, sight fishing can be good as there isn’t enough water for game fish to get deep into the mangroves. 

    Essentially, it’s this dynamic that provides the open water sand hole techniques that are so common on the winter low tides. I’ll still pole shorelines, particularly sandy sections, but it’s the sand holes off the shoreline that hold the best numbers of redfish and spotted sea trout that are most abundant. Being a subtropical species, our snook are not very comfortable and move up into areas where the water temperature is a bit more stable. Creeks, rivers, and canal systems are the type places they’ll call home until spring. Because of their vulnerability to cold, I’ll leave them alone. 

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

    I’ve been working the maze of mangrove island shorelines on the east side below Punta Gorda and I’ll continue this pattern as it provides decent protection from the northeast. However, now with dropping water temperatures I’ll push further back into the backcountry.  Here, in addition to more stable water temperatures and wind protection, I have access to quite a few adjacent creek systems. You can’t go wrong fishing anywhere around a creek mouth.

    Outside the backcountry, pompano should be on the hard bottom off Cape Haze Point as well as outside the bar along the southern end of the west wall. Spanish mackerel will be found around harbor channel markers. Bluefish should be mixed in within these same areas.

    For backup, if you’d like to get out and Mother Nature isn’t cooperating, there are always the canal systems. Whether it is Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, or the Boca Bayou, the docks in all the above will be holding fish. It’s not unusual to see sheepshead and black drum scattered around the pilings.  Moreover, as for sheepshead, this is the beginning of prime time. On the calmer days, the Alligator Creek Reef is a great place to drop a piece of shrimp or fiddler crab.

    Until next month, good tides.

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

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