fishing Forecast

  • 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 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 , 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 

  • 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

  • 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

  • 11/30/2017 10:29 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Winter fishing is here
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    Here it is December already and the Holidays are almost upon us. Where has this year gone? I must say 2017 has been another great year for fishing all along the Treasure Coast. Both inshore and offshore have provided anglers with many great fishing adventures. Lots of things happened in 2017.  Hurricane Irma bought rain and that has ruined the water quality in lots of areas as Lake Okeechobee continues to get drained. 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 2018 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

  • 11/01/2017 4:50 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Loving the Mullet Run
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    November is renowned for delivering breezy easterly winds to Central Florida as our first significant cold fronts pass. Although windy, fishing remains outstanding in and around the inlets until water temperature drop below 70 degrees and as long as sea conditions remain fishable.

    In the inlets of Ponce De Leon, Port Canaveral and Sebastian, snook fishing will remain excellent during low light periods and at night as the baitfish traveling down the beach are forced in close to the jetties and other structure with the best action occurring during slack tidal periods, especially the end of high tide. During these periods hungry gamefish take advantage of slower currents and feed heavily. As the tide begins to fall gamefish move into their ambush locations to finish off their frenzy. Breeder redfish, snook, jack crevalle, bluefish, ladyfish, Spanish mackerel, sharks, and tarpon all share in the fury, so step up your tackle size and hold on.

    My favored technique is to castnet live mullet and drift them through the passes on a sliding sinker rig. Look for areas of feeding activity, birds diving and fish busting, and adjust the size of your weight based on current.

    The rig I use starts out with a Daiichi Bleeding Bait circle hook proportionate to your bait size to allow a natural swimming action. In simple terms, small bait small hook, large bait large hook.

    Next, I attach a 30-inch section of 30 to 40 pound test Gamma fluorocarbon leader to a 20-pound test braided mainline. If large tarpon are your target or are suspected, step your leader size up to 60-pound test. Before I tie on my hook, I slide my slip sinker on to the leader, then attach the hook, and finish the rig off by using a split shot, small swivel or plastic bead located between the barrel sinker and the hook adjusted to keep the weight off of the hook.

    As I drift through the passes, I like to cast parallel to my drift with just enough weight to keep the bait in the feeding zone, and increase the barrel sinker size as the current picks up. Additionally, as we near the end of November and finger mullet diminish, switch to croakers, pinfish or pigfish as bait.

    Finally and most important, fishing the inlet passes in November can be dangerous. So as I drift through the inlet I keep the helm manned with my engine running, keeping a close eye on boat traffic and sea conditions. Always be prepared for evasive action if needed.

    As the first significant cold front passes and surf temperatures reach the 68-degree mark, flounder slide into the inlets on their annual spawning migration out to sea. The exodus usually begins with the arrival of the smaller 1 to 3-pound gulf flounder (three spot), which are later joined by the doormat size 2 to 14-pound southern flounder.

    Many anglers prefer to anchor up and fish live finfish on the bottom, but I favor drifting the lagoon side of the passes bouncing a 1/4 ounce DOA CAL Jig 3" CAL Shad tail on the bottom. This vertical jigging technique allows me to cover more area and catch a wider assortment of species. Likewise, as lagoon temperatures cool, pompano are another likely target as they congregate on the lagoon side of the passes before moving out to their winter haunts along the beaches to feed on sand fleas (mole crabs) their favorite winter food.

    Cobia and tripletail fishing can be very good this time of year depending on ocean temperatures (71 to 74 degrees is best) and winter weather conditions. To target them, head east out of Port Canaveral or Sebastian Inlet looking for rips, sargassum and flotsam pushed in by the easterly fetch. Once you have located the floating structure, work the rip with the sun to your back looking for fish suspended underneath. You can catch them on spinning tackle or fly, or a live shrimp on a jig.

    Water levels are still on the high side in the lagoons, but as we move into the winter months falling water levels and cleaner conditions will facilitate increased sight fishing prospects for both redfish and sea trout. Additionally, we are currently near the end of our fall mullet run, so these inshore species of fish will be transitioning their feeding habits from finfish to shrimp and crab, so adjust your lure selections accordingly and look for more tailing fish up on the flats.

    Although coming down slowly the St Johns River is still at flood stage. As water levels drop and the ramps reopen, look for the crappie bite to kick in on the big lakes of the St Johns River. Cooler water temperatures will facilitate groups of crappie in deeper water in preparation for spawning. This seasonal transition marks the beginning of crappie season in Florida. My preferred methods are to slow troll several long lines out the side rigged with TTI Blakemore Road Runners tipped with live minnows as well with several vertical jigging rigs set up with tandem jigs tipped with live minnows. Crappie are often overlooked by most Florida anglers, that is until to catch a few and cook them up, and from that point on you are a crappie angler.

    If you are a crappie or American shad angler, the 9th Annual Central Florida Shad and Crappie Derby begins on November 1st and extends through the winter into spring. It's free for anglers and you can fish anywhere in Florida, so be sure you stop by a participating retail location before you hit the water and sign up. Visit for more details.

    Saving the best for last, the 4th Annual Catfish Toy Rod Challenge for Charity is approaching. This event is the most fun anglers can have with their clothes on. It is scheduled for Sunday November 26th from 8:00 to 1:00 PM at Mullet Lake Park near Geneva, Florida.

    The Toy Rod Challenge is a holiday season charity toy run for anglers. Teams of anglers compete and the largest total inches of catfish wins. Rules require anglers to use only toy rods as they compete for  the title of Catfish King and Catfish Queen. The highlight of the event is a boat parade and fish fry at the end. For more details on the Annual Catfish Toy Rod Challenge please contact me at

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

    Good luck and good fishing,

    Captain Tom Van Horn
    Mosquito Coast Fishing Charters

  • 10/31/2017 6:24 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Winter pattern begins
    by Capt. Michael Manis

    For the most part, this month marks the beginning of a winter pattern.  The combination of cyclical low tides combined with strong breezes associated with northern fronts change everything. In addition to dropping the temperature, the predominant northerly winds also push water out of the harbor making low tides even lower. This is the time small shallow draft skiffs have an advantage as many areas become just too difficult to navigate safely. Even with the shallower drafting skiffs, caution should be foremost as its way too easy to damage your boat as well as the shallow grass flats.

    In addition to changing the landscape, the weather is about to change the habits of our snook for a while. Being a sub-tropical species, they are particularly vulnerable to cold temperatures. They don’t like it when the water temperature drops below 70, and below 60, can be downright lethal.  It’s possible we won’t see this extreme until next month but you just never know. When the weather does cool, snook will begin moving off the flats and up creek and river systems where they can find more stable water temperatures.  

    Redfish and trout aren’t bothered by the cold and they’ll stay out on the flats; or, what’s left of the flats on low water. Under these conditions, the fish will gravitate toward the sand holes that are mixed in with the sand and grass. On the higher tide stages, they’ll move around on the flats; but, when the water drops out, they’ll have no choice but to drop into the slightly deeper holes. Deeper is a relative term and on the flats in and around Charlotte Harbor this can measure in inches. These depressions are referred to as “potholes” and they’re much easier to find when the sun gets up a bit.

    It’s more or less like sight fishing. There are flats all over that contain this kind of bottom structure; however, my favorite areas also include good amounts of turtle grass. Three areas in particular, Lemon Bay, and Gasparilla and Pine Island Sound hold some of my favorite flats.

    On the flip side, there are going to be days where the wind lays down and that’s the perfect time to get out those boats that can’t navigate the skinny water. Pompano should be all over the hard bottom off cape Haze Point and black drum are a good bet at the U.S. 41 Bridge. A piece of blue crab is great bait. All in all, it’s tough not to stick your nose out of one of the passes and idle around within a mile of the beach between Boca Grande and Little Gasparilla Pass. Keep an eye out for birds; you’ve got a shot at kingfish, bonita, spanish mackerel, big jacks and blacktip sharks.

    Until next month, good tides.

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

  • 10/31/2017 6:11 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Nearshore wrecks and reefs could be hot
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    November has begun and this month gives some of the best fishing available. With the cooling of the waters to our North, fishing in Southwest Florida will be great. Cold fronts will be the only concern during November as that’s about the only thing that can slow a bite down for a few days. Typically, as cold fronts push through we will watch the water temperatures.  A drop in water temperature can stunt the fishing for a few days at a time.

    With a little luck, we won’t see many cold fronts and day time temperatures will be in the low 80’s with mornings in the mid 60’s. These perfect conditions are conducive to good fishing both in the backcountry and along our nearshore wrecks and reefs. Redfish, snook, and trout will be the major back bay targets, as well as tarpon, cobia, kingfish and tripletail in our near shore waters.

    So now that we know what we’re dealing with let’s talk about how to use that knowledge to our advantage. On the days when the wind is low and preferably East, patrolling the crab buoys and markers is a great option especially for sight casters. Tripletail are a popular species for anglers of all skill levels, and are in good numbers throughout the area. This run and gun type of fishing also tends to find you coming across other pelagic species often.

    Bonita can be found quiet often and can be seen from miles away at times crashing schools of threadfins. Cobia are making their migration South following the same bait as the tarpon, so if you’re paying attention you’ll have shots at both. You’ll also see free jumping kingfish this time of the year. If you have a plug already rigged up and ready to go a quick troll around those areas will probably get you one.

    Now on days with wind I’ll be fishing the back bays, rivers, and creeks. The redfishing will be good and you can target them many ways. Cut baits, shrimp, skipping baitfish under bushes, or artificial lures are all very popular depending on your anglers’ skill level.  We’ll begin seeing more blackdrum, mackerel, and sheepshead as the water temperatures push closer to the low 70’s. This usually starts toward the end of the month, however its Mother nature driven so you never know.

    Snook if they haven’t already moved into the winter haunts, they will now. Targeting the creeks and rivers is a good start when looking for the line sider. Bait shouldn’t be a problem and if we don’t get to cold to fast it should be here.

    Our passes and nearshore areas will give those looking for action plenty to do. Targeting these areas when the wind isn’t coming from the West is a good bet. As the sand in these passes gets moved around bait becomes plentiful for lots of fish. I prefer throwing jigs tipped with a piece of shrimp. This technique will work for an array of species from pompano all the way to ladyfish. When fishing passes a rarely anchor down. Simply setting up long drifts through different depths of water will give you the best idea of what depth fish are in. Often starting near the sand bars is best. Tides move in and out also produce different bites so experimenting a little often helps.

    Tight lines,
    Capt. Greg Stamper

  • 10/31/2017 6:03 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Pomps a Possibility
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    November is always a fun month to enjoy the fishing along the Treasure Coast.  We are in the middle of our winter transition and you can also count on cooler temperatures that will start the thermometer sliding when it comes to the water temps as well.  The days will remain nice and warm, but the nights will become cooler this month.  It’s time to change your fishing tactics out on the water.  We enjoyed a very mild winter this past year and hopefully it will be the same again this winter.  

    The fall mullet run will continue into November and bring lots of action to the inlets, rivers and beaches throughout the area.

    Trout will continue to be a target of many anglers.  The trout bite will be good on the flats, but you must move to the deeper areas as the temperatures cool the water down.  Look for them to be in three to six feet of water this month.  My favorite lures are DOA shrimp or Deadly Combos when trout fishing.  Don’t forget to fish the sand holes and drop offs on the flats.  Many sand holes are much deeper than the flat and you can expect some nice fish to be hiding in them waiting for that easy meal to drift by.

    Harbor Branch is especially productive for me during this time of year as well as the Midway Road area.

    The pompano are beginning to return to the river and will be a favorite target for anglers throughout the winter.  When fishing the surf, use sand fleas or clams and the same in the river.  Don’t forget to try a Doc’s Goofy Jig for the pomps.  Many are located when they skip behind the boat wake.  Keep your eyes open for them.

    The snook bite will continue to be good, especially at night.  The inlet, jetties, bridges and docks around the river will be holding snook.  Lighted docks are very popular when night fishing.  Live baits, Bait Busters and Terror Eyz are very popular for snook fishing.  Don’t forget the spillways when the water is running over them.  They can be another very productive area for snook. 

    Redfish can be found hanging under mangroves during the day and will strike a DOA  2 ¾” shrimp or CAL jerk bait.  You might also find some hanging under some of the docks around the river.  Look for them in shallow water as long as the sun keeps the temperatures warm.  I love the CAL grub tails this time of year around the mangroves.   A gold spoon can be another good lure in winter for hooking up on a redfish.  We had a record year for over slot redfish this year.  The population continues to grow in our area.

    Docks and bridges will hold black drum, sheephead and the sand perch should also show up this month.  Live or dead shrimp always works best on these fish.  I love fishing docks this time of year.  You just never know what might be lurking under one.  I fish my lures from up tide of the dock, so that it will stay under the dock.  You only have to twitch it and can fish it much longer that way.  It’s always a challenge in getting a fish out from under one, but the excitement is well worth it. 

    You should still find some flounder around on the sand flats of the inlet and river.  The mackerel, bluefish and jacks will fill up the inlet this month.  Most shiny lures will work on these predators.  You can also find them hanging in the channels up around Harbor Branch.  It might be breezy out there…..but the fish will be feeding!

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

    Good Fishing and Be Safe,
    Captain Charlie Conner  

  • 09/30/2017 5:15 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Transitioning to schooling
    by Capt. Greg Manis

    This month continues the transition that began last month as we push slowly towards cooler weather. Although it’s still extremely hot during the day, I can feel the difference just before dawn. Before low tides and consistent north winds push our way, it’s time to take advantage of the best redfish angling of the year as the spawn peaks and fish are schooled up throughout the area. Although our redfish fishery is not what it used to be, there’s still nothing quite like setting up on a group of reds. Of course, catch and release is standard procedure. 

    Besides the obvious visual experience, there’s another advantage and even one disadvantage to working a group of fish as compared to the singles or doubles we find throughout the year. When grouped up, the fish tend to be a bit more aggressive as they have to compete for food. On the downside, it’s fairly easy to spook or scatter an entire school as all you have to do is alarm one fish and it can mess up the whole bunch. That’s just the nature of schooling fish; I see it with mullet all the time. It’s amazing how quick an entire school can just disappear. Fins and no fences we like to say.

    Fortunately, there should be groups of fish scattered throughout the bays and sounds that surround Charlotte Harbor. So, no matter where you load or fish from, you shouldn’t have to travel too far. To the north, Lemon Bay can be good and don’t hesitate to look on either side of the intracoastal around Stump Pass. Besides holding fish, I like the fact that it’s an idle zone outside the Intracoastal that means the fish aren’t getting run over all day. This makes a big difference.

    A little further south, the Placida area around the Boca Grande Causeway just outside the public ramp holds some good turtle grass flats that can fish well. On the other side of the causeway, over in Gasparilla Sound, all the flats from outside Gasparilla Marina to down past the Whiddens area and out towards Devilfish Key have potential. I also like to spend time in Pine Island Sound looking around the flats adjacent to the intracoastal in the Useppa and Cabbage Key area. If you like to load at Ponce Park in Punta Gorda, keep an eye out on the bar anywhere from Pirate Harbor down to Buzzard Bay.  

    Even though it’s prime redfish time; if you’d like, there are plenty of other options. Trout are scattered just about anywhere there is mixed sand and grass in two to three feet. Snook are transitioning and Turtle Bay and the west wall should fish well for catch and release. In addition, tarpon are in the upper harbor and the bridges are prime spots. Lastly, if you’re looking for a mixed bag that might include trout, jacks, spanish mackerel, and maybe even a red, try a drift or two on Cape Haze Point.

    Until next month, good tides,

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

  • 09/30/2017 5:12 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Red October
    by Capt Greg Stamper

    October is finally here and nicknamed “Red October” for a reason. Redfish will be top billing all month as they begin schooling up and chasing bait. Typically, this is the month in Southwest Florida when redfish school up on the flats, beaches, and offshore as they fatten up on the hordes of bait, crabs, and mullet available. It’s a great time to be fishing especially on the strong tide days as fish can be seen pushing water from great distances. The cool part about seeing pushes of water, is it isn’t always what you think it is. Often, you’ll be pitching baits at a school of redfish only to be greeted by snook, jacks, or trout all good with me either way. There’s a lot of other targets we will pursue throughout the month but redfish are certainly first choice when schooled up.

    Snook fishing is also very good during October, but being that the season is open they’ve also been subjected to a little more pressure. Regardless, if you know where they are, you can have a lot of fun with fish ranging as small as 18” all the way up to those pushing 40” plus. Your best bet is to put your trolling motor down and cruise slowly around the areas you think they should be in. Snook like to hang out in groups or packs this time of the year so if you see one, there’s probably a bunch more around so we’ll work those areas well. Snook can transition toward their Winter haunts during October if we get any cold fronts that make their way through the area. If no real cold fronts make it, then the fish won’t go anywhere till next month as there will be plenty of bait still on the beaches and nearshore waters. Last year that push to the rivers, creeks and similar winter haunts didn’t even happen till December, so it’s all up to Mother nature in that respect.

    Tarpon fishing can be outstanding October and November based on the cold fronts and what happens there. We had no real fronts make their way through Southwest Florida till December last year and thus we caught tarpon all the way till then as the schools of herring left end of the year. Tarpon will be found along our beaches, bridges, and nearshore feeding well till the water finally gets to cold and the bait continues its journey South. Typically, these migrating tarpon are around a hundred pounds so be sure to bring the right tackle to get the job done.

    Our nearshore wrecks and reefs are another awesome fishery during October. Permit, cobia, snappers, etc.. are all available to target as well as one of my favorites the tripletail. It’s not uncommon to catch tripletail upwards of 20 pounds down here over the next few months. Most tripletail are caught site casting, but those willing to put faith into their favorite markers and bridge pilings can also be generously rewarded. Tripletailing is a run and gun type of fishing, so covering lots of ground usually gives anglers the best chance of getting a big one.

    Finally, the cuts, river mouths, and passes heat up from here till it gets cold.  I use the word cold loosely as my Northern friends laugh when I say, “you realize it’s going to be 59 degrees tomorrow morning” but that’s cold for us! As we get close to the end of the month the water temperatures can drop into the high 70’s. That triggers pompano to start chewing, as well as trout, mackerel, and the occasional bluefish. When the water finally starts cooling off everything will change around here. So keep tabs on water temperatures and watch for those initial fronts moving down the coastlines and you’ll be able to plan out a great day of fishing for yourself.

    Tight lines Capt Greg Stamper

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