fishing Forecast

  • 01/29/2019 11:33 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Fishing through the cold fronts
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    February is upon us and that means we’ve got about 2 months left of cold fronts before we start our Spring. Last February was a great one as we had awesome weather. Of course, we hope for the same, but Mother nature will do as she pleases. Watching the cold fronts as they push down from up North and timing out the day’s you fish will be smart. Fishing right up to the cusp of the fronts moving through can bring on some excellent bites. Another part is how much the water temperatures change pre and post front. If the temperatures of the water drop slowly over a few days, fishing will still be good. Likewise, sharp drops in water temperatures can make for some tough days.

    So, what are we going to target? Well in my neck of the woods Southwest Florida, it will be mostly redfish, pompano, trout, black drum, and sheepshead. However, when conditions are right, we have good chances at snook, tripletail, flounder, jacks, and an occasional tarpon. Should we have a February like last year everything will be in play. When we get the cold fronts that drop temperatures quickly, we stick to the basics.

    Redfish will be found in their typical areas throughout our region. Although most of the fish will be below the 27-inch mark there will be some big one’s cruising in the back bays. Most fish will be hanging around the mangroves during higher tides foraging on shrimp, crabs, and baitfish. During the lower tides and outgoing tides, they’ll be near oyster bars and drop offs waiting for their food to be forced off. On calm days for anglers that are fishing our nearshore waters, you may run into breeder schools of bull reds. These schools usually hold upwards of 200 fish usually between 35 to 45 inches. Often, we’ll find these schools with the help of birds or because we run by them when going from place to place. One piece of advice I’ll give is look for muds in 20-40 feet of water as the big schools stir the bottom up when they move around.

    Sheepshead and black drum will be another top biller in February. Typically, they’ll be found in deeper water. When I say deeper water, I’m talking about 3-10 feet around us here in Estero-bay. Targeting these species can be done several different ways, however for me using crabs or shrimp is my go-to. These fish are also found on our local wrecks and reefs. I’ve ran into them as far out as 45 feet here and I’m sure they’ll be found out further. I’ll still use the same baits just a longer leader and more weight to get things down and stay in place.

    Pompano, trout, flounder, and other species such as blue fish, mackerel, and small sharks will start to invade all the cuts and passes. On days when the wind direction and seas are nice these are great areas to find action. Fishing these areas are great for kids or just those that want to have some fun. It’s also an easy way to bring home a few fillets for dinner, should customers want. Jigs tipped with shrimp work great for me and can usually get the job done consistently. Moving water is the only important part in these areas, and I don’t care if it’s coming in our going out.

    Tight lines,

    Capt. Greg Stamper
    Fort Myers, Florida

  • 01/29/2019 11:30 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Trout bite will rise, sheepshead plentiful
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    Winter is still around the Treasure Coast. Weekly cold fronts will continue to bring cool nights and lots of windy days to the area. You can bet that fishing will still be good out on the water.  This year has been a milder winter so far with better conditions than last year.  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.  2018 proved to be a good year for trout in the Fort Pierce area.  I anticipate that 2019 will be another productive 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.  We had a fantastic winter bite in 2018 around the docks and mangroves for redfish.  On warm sunny days, the reds will sit around the mangroves and soak up the sun.  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.  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.  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's an ADVENTURE!

    Good Fishing,

    Captain Charlie Conner

  • 01/29/2019 11:27 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Working with what’s left of Winter
    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.  More than likely, I’ll target redfish and spotted sea trout and work the best available turtle grass flats. If the wind kicks up, I’ll stick close to adjacent lee shorelines.  As with last month, low tides may restrict access.

    As a result, I’ll try and get out early while the tide is still running out. This allows me to get on the flat I’d like without damaging the sea grass. The only downside is that you’re there to stay until tide comes up.  On the bright side, you might find yourself nearly alone on the flat, as anglers that didn’t think ahead will be locked out. This advantage will go away soon when winter tides subside.

    I’ll split my time between Pine Island and Gasparilla Sound and like the Pineland and Placida ramps, respectively. My favorite flats contain a mix of sand and grass and I like to work the sand hole edges. 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’ll downsize my tippet as well as 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 a #1 or #2 and really like clouser style patterns. Particularly, around the holes with bright sun, the fish tend to stay down and the little bit of weight can make a big difference. If I’m up on the grass working tailing fish, I’ll go with an un-weighted baitfish or shrimp pattern. 

    For anglers that can’t access these areas, there are opportunities. Off the intracoastal on the deeper grass flats spotted sea trout will be active. Two to four feet is best. 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 be chasing bait around channel markers and artificial reef systems. Sheepshead are just about everywhere. In particular, piers, docks, bridges, and artificial reefs. I’m even seeing them all over the flats.  

    Lastly, there are always the canal system docks when you need to get out and the cold wind and low water are limiting your options. Between Boca Grande, Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda, 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. Redfish, snook, and, sheepshead move into these systems with the perimeter canals fishing best. 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
    (941) 628-7895

  • 12/30/2018 4:54 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Central Florida East Coast Fishing Forecast, January 2019
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    As  I welcome the New Year, it is once again time to reflect on the events and accomplishments of 2018, and to count our many blessings. We are truly blessed to live in Central Florida where angling and spending time on the water are year-round endeavors. I am also thankful for another great year of fishing with my clients and friends on the waters of the Indian River Lagoon estuary and our Central Florida lakes and rivers. Thank you all for a year filled with adventure on the water, and many great memories.

    In preparation for this forecast, I first reviewed last year’s fishing photos, and I was taken back by the number of quality fish caught and the enjoyment expressed on the faces of the victorious anglers. My good friend and mentor Captain Rodney Smith always suggest I begin with the end in mind, and the end in this case is conserving and protecting the natural resource we all love and cherish.

    Before I get started with January's outlook, I'd like to provide a short recap of last week's fishing. First, the shad have arrived with over 20 hickory shad caught aboard Three Quarter Time yesterday on a 5-hour trip to the St Johns River. In early December I was concerned by the low water levels and lack of current on the St Johns, but a mid-December cold front dropped over 4-inches of rain greatly improving both the river level and flow. The crappie bite has also been very good on Lake Monroe this past week with several reported limits being taken. On the Mosquito Lagoon this past month water clarity has improved, and some decent catches of redfish were experienced.  Lastly, nearshore fishing out of Port Canaveral has been very good when weather conditions are favorable.

    January Fishing Outlook

    Winter on the east central coast of Florida cannot be defined by any specific dates, but rather by the temperature differences generated by passing cold fronts as they swing south across the state. These variations are subject to change from year to year, and are impossible to predict. On the average, daytime temperatures usually range from the 50's in the morning to around the 70's by afternoon. Likewise, water temperatures average in the upper 60's, but they can drop as low as the 50's during extended cold periods. On warm sunny days, water temperatures can increase as much as ten degrees on the shallow flats and sandbars. All these factors greatly affect the species targeted and the methods used.

    For starters, the American and hickory shad is my preferred winter freshwater fishery as they move up the St Johns River on their annual spawning run. Both water conditions and numbers of early arriving shad are looking good.  These species are easy to catch and great fun on light tackle spin and fly tackle and the fishery is very accessible especially on those windy days. Included with these species are sunshine, largemouth and striped bass, crappie, brim and bluegill, and channel catfish.

    Inlet fishing can be good in January weather permitting, with Sebastian and Ponce De Leon Inlets proving to be the most productive. There are still some reports of flounder moving through the inlets, but the bite has slowed considerably. On the inside at Sebastian Inlet, look for good numbers of pompano, ladyfish, and jacks located on the flats both north and south of the inlet.  Also, January is the month when the breeder size redfish move into the passes and feed in the mouth of the inlets during the last part of the falling tide. As the tidal currents slow down, the large redfish push up to the surface chasing baitfish. These monsters are brood stock, so please handle and release them with care.

    On the flats during the winter, redfish and sea trout will seek the warmest water they can find. Start out working the deeper edges of the flats in the morning and then move into the warmer wind protected flats around mid-day to late afternoon. An early morning start is not necessary this time of year if the weather is cold. Additionally, both redfish and sea trout love to warm themselves in the shallow water sand pockets "potholes" within the grassy flats. On colder days, focus your attention on the deeper holes using a very slow presentation. When targeting redfish and trout in these deeper holes, I prefer using shrimp imitation baits like DOA Shrimp in the clear or nightglow colors fished extremely slowly.

    Along the beaches, pompano will remain the staple for most surf anglers, with a mixed bag of whiting, slot size black drum, Spanish mackerel, and bluefish added in. Try fishing with sand fleas (mole crabs) if you can catch them, cut fresh clams, or freshly peeled live shrimp. Currently, the Canaveral National Seashore is closed due to the Government shutdown which is proof that politics and fishing do not mix.

    Near-shore, January is the month when the tripletails become consistent on the Port Canaveral buoy line, and their numbers will increase as the month progresses. The other hot item near-shore is king mackerel holding along the 70 to 90-foot reefs of North Pelican and 8A. Also, bottom fishing on deep structure should remain consistent if the weather holds.

    In closing, I wish you a happy, prosperous, and fishfull New Year, and if you care about a sustainable fishery, make it a point to share your passion with others.

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

    Good luck and good fishing,

    Captain Tom Van Horn
    Mosquito Coast Fishing Charters
    407-416-1187 on the water

  • 12/28/2018 6:43 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Slow your presentation
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    Happy New Year! In past several years, January has traditionally been a cold month around the Treasure Coast. Hopefully, 2019 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.

    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  2019 should prove to be another good year. Ladyfish and jacks will be all over the river for fun action for the little ones.

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

    Have a wonderful  2019!

    Thanks and Good Fishing!

    Captain Charlie Conner

  • 12/28/2018 12:15 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Low Water Incoming Tides
    by Captain Michael Manis

    As we enter the middle of our winter season, wind and low water will be a constant. As they’re tolerant to cooler conditions, I’ll concentrate on spotted sea trout and redfish. I also want to work the beginning of an incoming tide. In addition, I’ll split my time working sand holes on open grass flats and making my way back up back country creek systems. Up these creek systems, I like dead end coves covered with sand bottom.

    After a couple cool months, these creeks are 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 these game fish 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. They know their chances are best early before the prey has a chance to vanish. 

    Additionally, I’ll downsize my baits. Clouser deep minnows work well over the sand holes out on the grass flats and small baitfish patterns are good up the backcountry creeks. Out of the wind, I prefer a seven-weight. However, if I’m out on an open flat in the wind, I like the punch a nine-weight delivers. A floating line is a good all around choice.

    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.  

    My favorite open grass flats contain a mix of sand and healthy turtle grass. Game fish like to hold on the grass edges that they use as ambush points. Mostly, they’re full of spotted sea trout; but, on a low incoming tide these flats provide a good opportunity to target tailing redfish. They’re being opportunistic just like the fishery in the creek systems. Pine Island and Gasparilla Sound as well as Lemon Bay are worth a look.

     In the harbor, pompano can be found on the hard bottom just off Cape Haze Point. Also, keep an eye on your boat wake as you’re running outside the bar along the west wall. Sheepshead are everywhere and can be fished from land as well as boat. On land, the Placida trestle is very popular. Every dock, pier, underwater structure, and artificial reef will hold sheepshead.

    Until next month, good tides.

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

  • 11/30/2018 1:14 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Winter fishing offers variety
    by Captain Tom Van Horn

    For starters, let me begin with an apology for not posting many reports in October and November.  It’s not because I haven’t wanted to fish. It’s because I couldn’t.  You see on October 22nd I had an accident at home while working on my house.  Although I only fell eight feet off of a ladder, I sustained critical injuries resulting in an eleven day stay in a trauma center.  Result was seven broken ribs and three fractured vertebra.  I’m currently on the mend, but it’s is looking like I will continue to be landlocked until just before Christmas.  These are challenging times for me, but the good news is I survived to fish on another day.

    December’s Fishing Forecast

    As the cold weather settles in on the northern two thirds of America, many anglers only dream of a location where stretching line is a year-round endeavor. They long for a warm setting occupied by happy fish tailing in the shallows as the mid afternoon sun warms the flat. Such is the life of anglers in many parts of our country, and thank God we live on the Indian River Lagoon coast of Florida where catching is a year-round sport.

    Like November, December is a month filled with outstanding fishing opportunities. The only significant difference is the impact cooler water temperatures have on the fishery and windy conditions, which are influenced by passing cold fronts. Fluctuations in water temperatures affect both fish behavior and angling tactics, so an understanding of where and how-to fish can result is some memorable catches.

    Freshwater Fishing

    American Shad and Speckled Perch (Black Crappie)

    In spite of low water levels on the St Johns River system good numbers of speckled perch (black crappie) are showing up in the upper St Johns River, and the big lakes of Monroe, Jessup and Harney. Fish structure or slow troll Road Runner jigs or live minnows near the bottom. Also, look for the American shad to begin showing up near the end of the month on their winter spawning run. The American shad is an incredible species to catch on light tackle and fly, and if you have never experienced this fishery, you should book a day with me and I’ll show you how it is done. American Shad fishing is as close as Floridian’s get to the salmon runs of the north and we are catching them during the winter when the northern rives are frozen over.

    Saltwater Fishing

    Ocean and Inlet Fishing

    Near-shore and in the inlets, 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 redfish chasing bait on the surface during periods of slack tide, or feeding along the bottom during periods of falling tidal flow. At Port Canaveral, work the bottom in deeper water just outside the buoy line along the channel ledges and look for concentrations of Atlantic menhaden (pogies) and muddy water spots in 15 to 30 feet of depth. These breeder size redfish will hit artificial baits, but live pinfish, pigfish, pogies and finger mullet are more productive. Remember, these are large oversized reds, so step up the size of your tackle and handle and release them with extreme care.


    Snook fishing will remain steady in the surf and inlets, with Sebastian Inlet proving to be the most productive location. It is best to target inlet snook at night by drifting live pigfish and pinfish through the channel, or fishing bucktail jigs or large swimming plugs from the rocks and catwalks. This type of fishing can be quite challenging due to the number of anglers competing for the same fish and impatient and discourteous anglers, so please pay attention, be courteous, stay safe and enjoy the rewards.

    Bluefish and Spanish Mackerel

    Large schools of bluefish and Spanish mackerel have been feeding on glass minnows (bay anchovies) along the beaches and outside the Inlets. When targeting these fish watch for bird activity and work small jigs or spoons very fast to avoid cut offs. A small trace of wire can be added ahead of your bait to reduce cut offs, but in some cases the keen vision of the toothy mackerel will reduce the number of strikes. Also, if you see pelicans diving on bait and then holding their bills down in the water in an effort to strain the water from the smaller baitfish before swallowing, you are in the right spot.


    The Flounder run is on with good catches being reported from both Port Canaveral and Sebastian. Anglers utilizing either jigs, live finger mullet or mud minnows fished on the bottom are experiencing the best results. My favorite technique is to slow drift the Inlet passes, bouncing DOA jigs combined with a 3″ DOA CAL Shad Tail on the bottom. This tactic allows you to cover more ground, and once you have located a hot spot, you can anchor your boat and concentrate on the area.

    Tarpon and Kingfish

    Further off of the beach, tarpon and kingfish can be found shadowing bait pods outside the Inlets. Either slow troll live baits on steel stinger rigs, or try dropping live baits into schools of bait in deeper water. This bite should continue as long as water temperatures remain above 74 degrees.

    Tripletail and Cobia

    December is also the month when tripletail begins to show up on the Port Canaveral buoy line, and as the water cools the bite should improve. When water temperatures drop below 70 degrees, look for cobia on weed-lines, near-shore wrecks, buoys, and other structure. Once the water temperatures drop below 68 degrees, target cobia on the deeper wrecks and hard bottom where the water is a bit warmer.

    Inshore Trout, Redfish and Black Drum

    On the inshore flats, both redfish and sea trout will remain in the skinny water as long as the water temperatures stay in the seventies. Fish in protected areas and sunny spots on cooler days, and look for fish to be holding in sand spots (potholes) until the sun gets overhead.

    In closing, I would like to thank all of you for your support this past year. 2018 was an incredible year of catching, with too many great memories to mention. Guiding anglers in Central Florida is a great job, and I’m looking forward to our next adventure in 2019

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

    Good luck and good fishing,

    Captain Tom Van Horn
    Mosquito Coast Fishing Charters
    407-416-1187 on the water

  • 11/30/2018 1:10 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Working with the wind
    by Captain Michael Manis

    At this point, the beginning of winter, we’re all hoping that the cooler water temperatures will put to an end to the annoying red tide. Typically, 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 game fish.

    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.

    This is one of my favorite times to fish Pine Island Sound. I like the protection Pine Island provides from the northeast and it has some of the best mix of turtle grass and sand anywhere. The area from Pineland down to Demere Key is good and some of the biggest trout in our watershed come from the deeper holes between Cove key and Captiva Shoal.

    Off the flats, 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. The Alligator Creek Reef is also a great place to drop a piece of shrimp.

    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.

    Until next month, good tides.

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

  • 11/30/2018 1:03 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    And so Winter fishing begins
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    December is the month of big changes around South Florida. Most people up North are jealous of our weather, but we do chill off from time to time. On average we can see afternoon temperatures in the mid to high 70’s, with the possibility of morning temperatures in the high 40’s to 50’s. Of course, dropping into the 40’s is rare for us here. Occasionally we do get the tail end of cold fronts though, giving us a taste of that chilly air.

    Guides up and down the coast will be planning out their trips based on when or if these cold fronts come through our fishing zones. We will start fishing winter patterns now and will continue through mid-March. Winter will set in sometime before month’s end making water temperature a topic for guides and fisherman at the early morning dock talks.

    So, what are winter fishing patterns, and when do they become relevant? Water temperatures usually start in the low 70’s at the beginning of December. Hopefully we won’t see temperatures get below 65 degrees, as that’s when it gets tougher. Keeping tabs on what the water temperature is daily will give you an indication of what to expect while fishing.  A slow drop in water temperature won’t affect the bite much. However, a sharp drop in water temperature over a day or two will definitely make things difficult.

    Typically, you’ll hear guides talking about low and slow when the water temperatures are cold. This theory holds true for the days when the water temperature has dropped significantly over the course of a day or two. The fish that live in shallow waters begin to hang out in their winter homes. These homes are often the creeks, rivers, canal systems, and deep-water holes nearby.

    You’ll start seeing a lot of sheepshead pictures soon, as that’s a popular target when it does get cold. Targeting them around rock piles, docks or on the local reefs is most common. Using small jigs or hooks with a small piece of shrimp on them works well. Sheepshead typically nit-pick your bait, so giving them as little of a piece of shrimp as possible works best. They’re not referred to as a convict fish for no reason.

    Tripletail will be another big target this month, as the crab traps are well-seasoned now. The big fish arrive in Southwest Florida from now until April. This is one of the things cold fronts help us with here. The colder the water gets in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, the more tripletail we have pushed South right into our backyard. Last year was an epic year for tripletail with fish weighing up to 31lbs. Search for them around any structure whether it be buoys, markers, a piece of floating debris, or even bridges. Fishing for them with live bait, flies, or lures all works well. The best part of tripletail fishing is clients get to see the fish, watch it eat, and then fight it.

    We’ll begin to see a big push of pelagic fish with this cooling water. Bluefish become a common catch especially in the passes on moving water. Pompano love the cool water and will be happy to bite. Flounders begin to show up, to about 22”.  Groupers begin to move into the shallower waters within 9 miles of shore, where you’ll also find kingfish, bonito, and occasionally big bull reds. We should also continue to see decent amounts of bait available both in the bays and the Gulf.

    Tight lines Capt. Greg Stamper

  • 11/30/2018 1:01 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Change your tactics for winter
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    Here it is December already and the Holidays are almost upon us. Where has this year gone? I must say 2018 has been another great year for fishing all along the Treasure Coast. Both inshore and offshore have provided anglers with many great fishing adventures. The hurricanes left us alone this year and we anxiously await to see if our newly elected officials will work on the water issues for us. Hopefully, this winter will be milder, the water quality improves, and the fishing is great for everyone.

    December brings on the winter months and changes fishing tactics on the river. The water temperatures continue to fall and your fishing must adjust to the weather. Water temps can dictate where you fish and how you fish.  Finding water a few degrees warmer than normal can mean the difference in catching and fishing.  We will get many days of breezy winds that will hinder getting to some favorite spots out there. That's one of the reasons I love fishing in this can always find somewhere to fish! Not only does the cooler weather affect the fish, it also requires us to dig out the ol' winter fishing clothes.  I’m not too proud to get out the long johns on a cold winter day.   It can get pretty chilly some mornings!

    Trout, redfish and snook will be targets throughout the winter. Snook season closes December 15th, but many anglers will still play catch and release with them. Fishing around bridges, docks and inlets can bring great action with snook hanging around the deeper waters of the river. Using live bait, DOA Baitbusters & TerrorEyz, jigs and bomber lures can help you catch one worth a photo opportunity. Trout will tend to hang around the deeper cuts of the river. Move off to three to six feet of water for trout. Live shrimp on popping corks or DOA Deadly Combos will work the best for them. I love to work DOA CAL jerk baits or CAL Air Heads this time of year on the flats. You can also find snook and redfish hanging around those areas as well.

    Pompano have already arrived in the area and not only provide great fishing action, but fantastic table fare. Spanish mackerel and bluefish will continue to hang out in their favorite haunts of the river. Fish the inlet, turning basin and channels for them. Jack Crevalle will be traveling around in packs chasing bait all over the river. Flounder should arrive soon and hang around the inlets, docks and sandy flats of the river. Ladyfish is a great way to spend a few hours with the kids on the water. The bridges will be holding sheephead, black drum, croakers and sand perch for those anglers. Live or dead shrimp is always the best bet from the catwalks. There is a good variety of fish to target on any given day in any kind of weather conditions.

    Redfish can be found around local docks during the winter months and a live shrimp or DOA Shrimp can entice them into striking. Don't forget about the deeper cuts along the mangroves for redfish and snook in December. Using stealth is essential when fishing the shallow waters for redfish. We had very good success at finding the reds in shallow on sunny days on the grass flats.  A mild winter will have them feeding in the shallows this month.  It was a fantastic redfish bite all last winter and I am looking for it to be just as good this year.

    Winter fishing is already here. Change your tactics with the weather and follow the water temperatures more closely to make your fishing more productive. Let’s make 2019 the year that we see improvements to the water quality in our area.  If we all do our share to protect our rivers, we can insure the future generations will enjoy the same experiences we have been blessed with.

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

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    Captain Charlie Conner

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