fishing Forecast

  • 03/29/2021 11:00 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Spring Fishing Highlights
    by Captain Tom Van Horn

    This month’s forecast focuses on 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.

    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 slow; 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 areas of bait pods. When you see areas of 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 topwater sea trout 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.

    Finally, freshwater largemouth and striped bass action has been and will heat up on the St Johns River. Look for schooling bass at first light feeding on threadfin shad from the Osteen Bridge to Lake Harney. My favorite locations are in the river bends near the power lines at Lemmon Bluff and at confluences of Lake Harney and the River.

    A good way to locate these schooling fish is to look for wading birds congregating along the shore. When in the feeding mode, these fish will take small plastic jerk baits like the 4-inch DOA Shad Tail, most small swim plugs, and small live shiners. Also, as the river rises and the velocity increases, the larger spawning channel catfish (freshwater cobia) move out of the big lakes into the river to spawn.

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

    Good luck and good fishing,

    Captain Tom Van Horn

  • 03/20/2021 11:49 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Cannot Complain
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    The back bays and shallow water fisheries have been outstanding and will continue to be that way. Redfish are being caught daily from 2” all the way up to 32” plus. Redfish can be found often now, and shrimp or cut baits will work best.

    The simple use of two or three rods with baits thrown along oyster bars or mangrove shorelines is common this month. Snook are already out of their Winter haunts and ready to eat before they get ready for their spawn in a month or two.

    Trout fishing will be the backup plan on days when the bite is tough, or you just want to have a lot of action. Lastly, we still have a chance in April to catch big black drum. Look for these fish close to, or in the passes. Black drum enter our bays in search of all the crabs, so keep that in mind as your bait of choice.

    Nearshore now becomes a lot about the tarpon fishing. Schools of tarpon will now be found from the 10,000 islands all the way up past Boca Grande. 40lb leader and a 5/o circle hook should get the job done. The popular baits for tarpon are crabs, threadfin, and ladyfish. Permit fishing is another great option, as there has already been a bunch of them caught last month. Snapper, black drum, and even snook around the wreaks and reefs will be the bi-catch.

    Offshore started up at the end of March, as the winds finally allowed fisherman to get out far. Far is at least 30 plus miles here, and those at the end of the month that got to 110 feet crushed it. This pattern will only get better as we move through April. Grouper, big mangrove snappers, lane snappers, African pompano, AJ’S, kingfish, and porgies will be the targets. Should you get out even deeper you will have a good chance at catching some tunas, and possible a sailfish.

    Tight lines,

    Capt. Greg Stamper
    Fort Myers Beach

  • 03/12/2021 10:53 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Full Spring Transition
    by Captain Michael Manis

    For the next two months, the combination of water temperature, bait migration, and tide schedules are promising.  Now, we’re in full spring transition.  First, as water temperatures climb into the 70’s prey species like the scaled sardine and threadfin herring will return from offshore and make their way into the harbor. With negative tides diminishing, they’ll begin setting up on grass flats closest to the pass like those of Jug Creek and Devilfish Key.  But as the month progresses, they’ll make their way into the many bays and sounds surrounding the harbor triggering a feed as predator species look to fatten up on the oily meat after the slim pickings of winter.

    In particular, snook that need to fatten up in preparation for the summer spawn will begin making their way out of the rivers and backcountry creek systems. Early in the month, I like to look outside the Myakka River towards the west side of the cutoff and Hog Island.  As the month progresses, I’ll make my way down the west wall paying close attention to shoreline areas adjacent to creek systems.  Moreover, the entire bar system from Cape Haze Point at the lower end of the west wall to Cayo Pelau at the southern end of Gasparilla Sound can really fish well. Snook from creek systems throughout Turtle and Bull Bay will make their way onto this bar system as Devilfish Key lies at its western edge.  

    Redfish will also key on the scaled sardine but will still be sticking close to the mullet. Because of the additional salinity from proximity to a pass, Gasparilla and Pine Island Sound are two of my favorite places to look this month. As a rule of thumb, never miss the chance to fish under the mullet.

    Like snook and redfish, spotted sea trout will also be taking advantage of the bait influx and should fish well. With water temperatures still relatively cool, look for flats in two to three feet with a mix of turtle grass and sand.

    In the upper harbor, it’s also the beginning of tarpon season. Resident fish will make their way out of the river systems and group up around the deeper holes outside the west wall and Pirate Harbor.  In particular, the 20-foot hole off the west wall is a good bet.  At first light it’s not unusual to find them rolling.

    Too, we’ll begin to see some early groups that have begun their migration up the coast out of the keys and everglades working their way towards Boca Grande Pass. I’ll start looking for some of these early arrivals in Pine Island Sound. Typically, I like hunting on flats that are full of sand holes in five to eight feet.

    Until next month, good tides.

    Captain Michael Manis
    Punta Gorda Fly Charters

  • 03/12/2021 10:49 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Good Variety in April
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    Spring has arrived on the Treasure Coast. Warm temperatures and windy days will be the norm this month.  April provides lots of opportunities to target lots of species.  Water temperatures will be in the 70’s.  Winter has been mild and I love fishing in April!  Have fun and enjoy the fishing!

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

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

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

    As always, remember, fishing is not just another hobby.... it’s an ADVENTURE!!

    Good Fishing and Be Safe,
    Captain Charlie Conner

  • 02/27/2021 3:18 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    It’s Cobia Time!
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    My azaleas are in full bloom and the current water temperature outside Port Canaveral is 69 degrees. What time of year is it?   It is cobia time!!  Currently the water temperatures are right, and the manta ray are starting to show up south of Port Canaveral, both indicators spring has arriver on the Space Coast and the fishing is heating up.

    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 will also draw manta rays into the shallows shadowed by pods of cobia. Other notable species are tripletail around the buoys and under flotsam, and heavy weight jack carvalle near the end of the month, large redfish, and sharks shadowing bait schools.

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

    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.

    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 bars or potholes. 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 feeding on threadfin shad schools.  Lastly, we can look forward to the shellcracker and bluegill spawn and the arrival of large channel catfish once the river water levels rise with the spring rains.

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

    Good luck and good fishing,

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

  • 02/26/2021 3:22 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Here we go!
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    Things are super busy now as March begins the first of the warming months. All the snowbirds are here now enjoying excellent weather and catching some fish! The fish we can now target begins opening greatly now, as we begin the transition into Spring.

     Weather now becomes a crap shoot as the cold front tails start to hit us less and less. The gradual warming of the water is going to start trending toward fantastic fishing this month. For guides it’s full speed for a while and that’s great as lots of memories will be made.

    One of the best parts moving into March is that we get to target both the transitional fish that visit us during the winter as, well as the resurgence of our Summer quarry. It is also the end of the strong cold fronts overall, and the beginning of Spring. Our prey will be everything from sheepshead, trout, and pompano all the way to the beginning phases of tarpon season.

    As we begin seeing fewer cold fronts effecting our water temperatures, the warming trends begin. At first its nothing considerable, but as we approach April it becomes apparent. Some days especially toward the end of the month we may even feel that first hit of higher humidity in the early morning hours. This is when we start hearing about permit, tarpon, and other species starting to move back into their timeshares.

    Pompano fishing along our beaches and certainly in our local passes will be good.  Jigs, small flies that mimic sand fleas or even small crabs will work well. Mackerel, ladyfish, bluefish, whiting, and even small sharks will be bi-catch during this time. The back-bays will be full speed for redfish ranging from 16 to 35 inches and found all over as bait schools work their way to the North. Snook now begin back in water temperatures they like and will be very targetable. Sardines, small mullet, and hand-picked shrimp won’t stand a chance as snook begin to move back out of their winter haunts.

    The offshore bite will continually get better and better. Anglers will have more chances to get out with less wind caused by cold fronts. This pattern gives anglers a lot more opportunities to catch mangrove, yellowtail, mutton, and lane snapper, as well as red grouper, kingfish, permit, and cobia. When running out to those offshore areas, don’t forget to stop around those shrimp boats posted up, as you never know what’s hanging around.

    Tight lines, Capt. Greg Stamper

    Snook stamp charters
    Snookstampcharters@gmail Fort Myers beach, Fl

  • 02/26/2021 3:18 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Fishing is Always Good in March
    by Captain Charlie Conner

    March has arrived bringing lots of windy days to the area. Utilize the winds to your advantage to get the best fishing opportunities. Warmer weather will bring water temperatures up into the 80’s. Fishing is always good this month on the Treasure Coast so get out and enjoy!   

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

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

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

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

    Good Fishing and Be Safe,
    Captain Charlie Conner

  • 02/26/2021 3:12 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Looking for warm water and mullet
    by Captain Michael Manis

    After the cool winds and low tides of last month, I’m looking forward to transitioning into spring. Although, it’ll still be windy and we’ll probably see at least one good cold front, both the air and water temperature should improve.  As a result, our fish will get more active. Also, in any bay and on every flat, keep an eye out for mullet schools as they can help us find fish. Because, mullet stir up lots of bottom sediment, game fish will hang underneath looking for shrimp, crabs, and crustaceans.

    Below Punta Gorda on the east side, snook and redfish will begin moving from the backcountry creek systems towards outside shorelines. I’ll start about two or three shorelines in and work my way out.  As the month progresses, they’ll stage further out.  Across the harbor, the West Wall can really fish well and it’s not unusual to see groups of redfish and snook making their way south out of the Myakka River. From Cattle Dock to Cape Haze Point can all be good.

    Around Cape Haze Point along the bar outside Turtle Bay can also be good. Toward months end, it’s not unusual to see snook that have pushed all the way down the bar system to Cayo Pelau at the bottom of Gasparilla Sound. Here, the grass flats adjacent to Devil Fish Key and across the harbor at Jug Creek at the northern end of Pine Island Sound are where the first schools of pilchards or scaled sardines will show up marking the true beginning of our spring season. For the most part, all grass flats in close proximity to passes are good.  Subsequently, Lemon Bay and Gasparilla and Pine Island Sound are always a good bet.  

    Right now, as water temperatures are still moderate, spotted sea trout are as active as they’ll be all year. For sure, they can be more cooperative than snook and redfish and some of the largest trout are caught this time of year.  Just inside the bar along the lower end of the west wall holds good numbers.  As a result, it’s a great area to target all three species. 

    The sheepshead bite is still going strong. Dock, pier, and trestle structures are best. From land, it’s hard to beat the Placida trestle. In the harbor, Spanish mackerel should be all over any marker. Along the bar systems that surround the harbor pompano can be found and the hard bottom off Cape Haze Point is one of my favorite spots.

    Until next month, good tides.

    Captain Michael Manis
    Punta Gorda Fly Charters

  • 01/30/2021 3:36 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    It Will Warm Up Eventually
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    We have had plenty of practice fishing Winter patterns in 2021, as the cold fronts continue to keep things cool. During this month we can expect some cold dates, some windy ones, and hopefully some chamber of commerce days. Typical temperatures will range from the upper 50’s to hopefully 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. Black drum will be prevalent during this month and found in both our nearshore waters as well as inland bays. Shrimp becomes a do not leave home without bait during February. Fiddler crabs cut baits such as ladyfish or mullet, and pilchards will bag plenty of other species. I do find that in colder conditions cut baits can be very effective. Sheepshead, redfish, snook, snappers, trout, and flounder are a some of those targeted.

    When water temperatures get into the low 60’s fish are not 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 does not 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 the gulf is calm. Do not discount the snapper fishing however, as it will 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. Those fishing the nearshore wrecks and reefs should keep an eye out for cobia. Cobia often come check out anything that is going on, then move on. These curious fish will give anglers a great fight if you are ready when you first see them. So that’s this months plan, as we should begin to see things warming up once March appears.

    Tight lines, Capt. Greg Stamper

    Snook stamp charters

  • 01/30/2021 3:33 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Winding Down a Winter Pattern
    by Captain Michael Manis

    Typically, even though we do get some cold snaps in March, this should be our last cool month and our last shot at extreme low tides. I’ll spend most of my time targeting redfish and spotted sea trout. Both of these species adapt well to cooler conditions and spotted sea trout out on the grass flats are easier to work in the wind. Mangrove shorelines don’t always set up putting the wind at your back and if you’re throwing fly the wind is always the elephant in the closet.

    Small fly patterns work well this time of year due to the limited available prey species. The scaled sardine or pilchard that is so prevalent most of the year have moved to deeper water looking for more stable water temperatures. As a result, our predator species are forced to rely on local prey species like killifish, crabs, and shrimp. For example, I like a #1 or 1/0 clouser or  kwan pattern.  

    If possible, I like to work the low water out on the open flats first thing in the morning looking for trout as the fish have no choice but to group up in the deeper depressions or holes. As the tide begins to come in, I’ll make my way into the backcountry and begin looking for redfish along the shorelines. It’s important to get back there before the water gets too high as they’re easier to sightfish. When the tide gets up, they move tighter to the mangroves and blend in well. However, keep in mind, they do tend to lay up out in the open this time of year and many times I’ve caught myself looking towards the shoreline only to find the fish set up outside the skiff. 

    I’ll spend some time along the harbor’s east side but plan to work mostly in Pine Island Sound. Towards the backcountry the water has been clean and the fish appear to be healthy. First thing in the morning on low water, access is difficult so the boat traffic and pressure is minimal. That changes in the afternoon. Also, if it does warm up towards the end of the month, just off the shallow grass flats is a good area to spot early season tarpon. 

    Pompano are here and it’s not unusual to see them skipping boat wakes. Outside the bar along the lower end of the West Wall is a good place to look as well as the hard bottom off Cape Haze Point. Here, it’s hard to beat a 1/4-ounce Nylure jig.

    Sheepshead are everywhere around structure. Trestle and dock systems are good choices. A piece of shrimp or fiddler crabs are the bait of choice.

    Just like last month, if you need to get out and the wind is relentless canal systems are an option. They hold lots of fish. Keep in mind, you’re fishing in someone’s backyard so be respectful while skipping up under those docks.  

    Until next month, good tides.

    Captain Michael Manis
    Punta Gorda Fly Charters

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