fishing Forecast

  • 01/30/2021 3:31 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Sheepshead and Drum are Here
    by Captain Charlie Conner

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

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

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

    Fish tend to be sluggish in the colder water.  Be willing to fish deeper water if the temps drop below 68 degrees.  Working your lures or bait slower along the bottom will give the fish more time to react to it and will result in more bites for anglers.  We have enjoyed more normal winter weather and the fish bite has been good for us.  Winds will still be blowing, and the water will begin to gradually rise in temperature.  Have fun this month and get out fishing.

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

    Good Fishing,

    Captain Charlie Conner

  • 01/30/2021 3:19 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Many Species Available Inshore, Nearshore, and Offshore
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    As winter seasons go here in Central Florida, we certainly cannot complain about the cards dealt to us thus far.  Except for a few frosty mornings, gorgeous fishing condition has prevailed, and we’ve experienced some good fishing as well.

    On the flats, water levels are fallen in accord with our normal February conditions.  These low water levels typically force redfish, black drum, and sea trout into the deeper pockets on the flats where the water temperature is a degree or two warmer.   On colder days, falling water temperatures force most fish to seek deeper locations in search the warmest water they can find, and they become very sluggish. 

    As the sun warms the water, all it takes is a degree or two of change, and the fish will begin to move and feed in the shallows. On the sunny mornings, it is not uncommon to find redfish and trout holding in the deeper pockets within the shallow flats where water temperatures raise faster. 

    Additionally, warming water temperatures combined with sunny spring days make February one of the best months to sight fish for redfish, large sea trout, and black drum on the lagoon flats. For larger sea trout, fish at first light, sunset, or at night with natural baits, and target areas where mangrove edges, docks, and other structure are adjacent to deep water dredge holes, sloughs, or canals. 

    These same areas will also hold concentrations of small trout which can be caught throughout the day on small jigs and shrimp imitation baits like DOA Shrimp fished very slowly along the bottom.

    Offshore, kingfish have been thick along the inshore reefs and wrecks, and they will remain there if the water temperature stays above 68 degrees.  When targeting kingfish this month focus your efforts on the areas of 8A Reef, Pelican Flats, and Bethel Shoals to the south for best results.

    Look for cobia on the inshore wrecks like the Carol Lee, Dutch, and Sub Wreck out of Port Canaveral. Additionally, live bait is tough to find this time of year, so always carry a box of frozen Spanish sardines with you as backup.

    Near-shore look for tripletail concentrations to improve greatly along the Port Canaveral buoy line and under floating weeds and structures, and for cobia to move in shadowing manta rays if the surface water temperatures reach the upper sixties. 

    Now is also the time for shore anglers to target pompano, bluefish, weakfish, small black drum, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel and whiting in the surf and larger redfish and flounder around the inlets and jetties.

    Finally, windy days in February are a great time to check out those freshwater fishing holes on the St Johns River.  Currently good catches of American shad, speckled perch, warmouth perch, and largemouth bass are being reported. The shad run has been slow this year with more fish being caught south of Hwy 50.

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

    Good luck and good fishing,

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

  • 12/30/2020 4:17 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Crappie bite is hot on St. Johns River
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    It’s easy to say 2020 has been the most challenging year of my life.  We have all seen or experienced the devastation COVID-19 has placed upon us, but I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Although it has been difficult, I feel fortunate in many ways. 2020 is the nearest I have ever been to my family and close friends.  Everyone close to me has managed to stay safe, and life is good. More people are spending time in the outdoors and more people have a better understanding of the outdoors.

    With this said my resolutions over the years has been and continues to be to enlighten people on the many blessings angling and life in the outdoors provide, and as a veteran guide on the IRL I believe recreational anglers are making headway in many areas. Most of us understand the value of our limited resources and the challenges they face.

    Since the days of Teddy Roosevelt, recreational anglers are leading the way in conservation and resource protection. These efforts are constantly met with challenges, but the popularity and growth of our sport and its economic impact have changed the prospective of many policy makers. Therefore in 2021 I am challenging each of you who are passionate about fishing and the outdoors to reach out to someone new to the sport, and share your passion with them.

    Take this challenge in the New Year and introduce someone new to fishing, join us in one of our Junior Angler Education events or simply pick up some trash at your favorite fishing hole. Your efforts are important in preserving our sport for future generations to enjoy.

    Starting off with my all-time favorite fish, the American shad run on the upper St. Johns River has not yet materialized, but should be swinging into full gear by mid-January. The current water levels and water temperatures are moving in the right direction and the run should commence soon.

    And when this year’s run begins, keep a sharp eye out for Captain Tom and Three Quarter Time when you are passing through shad alley.

    Also, if you enjoy a fresh fish dinner occasionally, the specked perch (crappie) bite has been good and will continue to improve in all of the big lakes, rivers, and creeks in Central Florida.

    Inshore in the lagoons water levels should drop producing clearer and shallower conditions on the inshore flats, making sight fishing the best we will see all year. Silver mullet and other finfish have migrated out of the area for the winter, so anglers should switch to smaller shrimp and crabs and a slower presentation.

    When targeting inshore species during the colder months, I like to downsize my lures and fish with a shrimp or crab imitation baits like the DOA Shrimp and Crab. Also, January and February are key months for targeting black drum on sunny sandbars during colder weather and in deeper water channels around structure.  For the past several years, the black drum populations have expanded on our lagoons, so I’m eager to see how they show up in 2021.

    Near-shore, look for tripletail concentrations to improve greatly along the Port Canaveral buoy line and under floating weeds and structure, and look for cobia to move in shadowing manta rays if the surface water temperatures reach the upper sixties. If we expedience an extended period of warm weather, mid-winter thaw, look for a mid-winter cobia run to commence.

    Now is also the time for surf anglers to target pompano, bluefish, weakfish, small black drum, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel, and whiting off of the beaches and larger redfish and flounder around the inlets of Ponce De Leon, Port Canaveral and Sebastian.

    Catch-um-up in 2021 and reward yourself this year by taking a kid fishing and pledge to be a reasonable conservation angler.

    Tight lines and good fishing for generations to come and Happy New Year,

    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

  • 12/30/2020 12:17 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Deep water for best results.
    by Captain Charlie Conner

    Hard to believe that another year has arrived!  Happy New Year!  January should provide anglers with lots of exciting action this year.  Fishing in deeper water will provide you with better results on most days.  Working your lures and baits much slower will also give you a better chance at success.  Fish tend to become lethargic in cold water and are slow in moving to strike at lures.  Finding water that is a couple degrees warmer than the surrounding area can also give you an edge on finding fish.  Water temperatures have been mild so far.

    Photo: In memory of my wife, Eva, on one of our fishing adventures!

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

    Bridges will continue to produce sheepshead, black drum, croakers, sand perch and bluefish.  Most of the anglers on the catwalks prefer live or frozen shrimp for these fish.  The drum and sheepshead have once again arrived early, and action has already been steady for these tasty fish.  The inlet and turning basin will be full of bluefish, jacks and mackerel this month.  Live or dead bait on a jig head will give you plenty of action along with silver spoons or shiny lures.  Around seawalls, channel edges or deeper structure you can find grouper for catch and release action in January. Pompano fishing will depend on water temperatures for their location, but they will be in the area throughout the winter.  Surf anglers will be targeting these fish on days when the beach is fishable.  Enjoy fishing in January on the Treasure Coast!

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

    Have a wonderful 2021!
    Thanks and Good Fishing!
    Captain Charlie Conner

  • 12/30/2020 12:13 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Hello 2021!
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    I would have to say 2020 is a year we are all happy to be looking back on! However, as a friend of mine says, when we miss a fish “She Gone”! So, I raise my glass to 2021 for all the fun times and great memories to be produced. Now that we have entered a fresh start and the beginning of what guides call season, what will we be fishing for? The offshore fishing will be based on the cold fronts and timing out the wind associated with them. Nearshore fishing gets good for many of the pelagic species that much like the snowbirds, have decided to make Southwest Florida their home for a few months. Just like the offshore fishermen, the back-bay guides will also be watching what Mother Nature throws at us before making each days’ fishing plan.

    Typically, during the Winter months, you can expect our lowest tides to be in the morning hours. These tides fluctuate considerably from the “Mean Low” and are often influenced by the wind. Understanding the region you are fishing, and how wind direction will either help or hurt a tide in those areas, is a huge piece of the fishing puzzle. Light winds rarely do much of anything to influence tidal change however, when the winds start to reach the 10-15mph+ mark, you better get your learn on. During these Winter lows in my area winds that blow hard from an easterly direction hold water out, not allowing it to come into the bays and creeks. This effect combined with already below mean low Winter tides, can make things tough for many boats that draft more than twelve inches.

    In the back bays use these super low tides as a learning tool. Now you will be able to see every exposed oyster bar, sand flat, every edge, the tidal flow of the currents, and even where there is still a bit of water. If there is a bit of water in an area during these extremely low tides that means at a standard mean low, you will be able to run through those areas safely. Your knowledge of where the deep holes are now pays off big time. Since there is no water in many areas the fish must be somewhere, and that is in those deeper spots. Redfish, snook, sheepshead, trout, and even black drum will be the typically targets during these times.

    Nearshore the negative lows do not bother things much. The only thing that matters now is relatively low winds and some decent current. In between the fronts that push through, the water can get mucked up a bit. No worries though typically the water will clean up after a few tides come and go. On clean water days tripletail fishing becomes a fun thing to do. Running trap lines or fishing stationary structure, such as pilings works well for these prehistoric looking fish. Cobia will also be a big target for many anglers. Ironically even those who have no idea what they are doing will stumble into a cobia these days, simply by fishing public wreck numbers.

    The offshore bite will be great in as shallow as 80 feet for red groupers and 30 feet for gag grouper. Jigs or knocker rigs with grunts, pinfish, or squid will work most of the time. Many anglers will also troll big plugs in 25- to 50 feet of water and catch the gag grouper. Anglers trolling out deeper will certainly find kingfish, barracudas, AJ’s, and even sailfish. Mangrove snapper, lane snapper, and an assortment of other fish will be in the 50- to 80-foot range. Those that are targeting snapper should bring pilchards and shrimp with them.

    Tight lines,

    Capt. Greg Stamper
    Fort Myers beach, FL

  • 12/30/2020 12:08 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Wind and low tides
    by Captain Michael Manis

    It’s midwinter and working on the water has a way of making you curse the wind. In a best case scenario, we’re all hoping to pick our spots between fronts while enjoying sleeping in a bit. However, if you’re willing to brave the elements there are good options. 

    For the most part, If you run a shallow draft skiff or are even willing to wade, midwinter does provide some unique opportunities as fish can be easier to find. Because of the seasonally low tides, they have less room to roam on the flats and group up in deeper spots.  Moreover, these holes or depressions stick out even more when they’re surrounded by what is almost dry ground.  Too, the stronger the north wind the better. This pushes even more water out.

    My favorite tide is a morning incoming from a negative low and like last month, I’ll spend my time working around backcountry creek systems. I’ll downsize my flies throwing nothing larger than a 1/0 with a size #1 or #2 being typical. Deeper holes around mangrove points can be very productive for redfish, spotted sea trout and juvenile snook.  Because they’re vulnerable to the cold, I like to leave the larger snook alone. They can be seen laid up close to shore in the sand trying to warm up.

    As water drains on open grass flats, the same scenario plays out. Because they hold numerous small prey species, turtle grass flats hold lots of redfish and trout.  Here, small depressions or sand holes can be the only areas holding enough water for fish while they wait for the incoming tide. Many times, I’ve seen the smallest holes hold the best number of fish. They like to hang on the grass edge. 

     Canals hold lots of fish. Sometimes, when the wind seems relentless and you need to get out, they’re an option. Cement seawalls hold and radiate heat down through the water column making them the perfect winter hangout for all our game fish. That and the deeper water provide a more moderate environment to ride out the cooler weather. Typically, the outer perimeter canals fish best. 

    When the wind lies down, look for the pompano bite down towards Cape Haze Point. Usually, the hard bottom out a bit is one of the most reliable spots. In addition, keep an eye just outside the bar along the southern end of the west wall. 

    Sheepshead are just about anywhere there is structure and can be fished from land. The Placida trestle is a favorite spot as well as any dock.

    Until next month, good tides.

    Captain Michael Manis
    Punta Gorda Fly Charters

  • 11/29/2020 11:17 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Black Drum and Sheepshead Coming in Early
    Captain Charlie Conner

    What a strange year 2020 has been. I could never imagine what this year turn into. COVID and elections have affected everything in our lives, and we are just hoping things will be better in 2021. It has been a good year for fishing despite what is happening around us. December should prove to be an awesome month to fish.

    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. Trout, redfish and snook will be targets throughout the winter. 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.

    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. A mild winter will have them feeding in the shallows this month. It was a fantastic

    Pompano are already arriving in the area and not only provide great fishing action. Spanish mackerel and bluefish will continue to hang out in their favorite haunts of the river.

    Drum and sheepshead are arriving early again this year. Fish around docks, channel edges or bridges for these tasty fish.

    Photo: Hunter caught the biggest fish of the day with this nice black drum.  He lost another one a few minutes later.

    Jacks and ladyfish will be plentiful for anglers wanting fast action. There is a good variety of fish to target on any given day in any kind of weather conditions.

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

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    Captain Charlie Conner

  • 11/29/2020 11:13 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Tis the season
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    Well another year has gone, and so many great fishing memories have been made. We have got 31 days to finish up the year strong and catch more fish. The cold front bands that push through Southwest Florida will change up what we will be doing. So, on a low wind day fishing out in the Gulf of Mexico is the thing to do. On days when its windy or the seas haven’t laid down, we’ll be fishing in the back bays and rivers. Water temperatures begin to fluctuate between cold fronts so fish will react to that.

    The bays, flats, and rivers will be an excellent place to be, especially if the wind gets going. Red fishing will be good, as they do not mind the cool offs much. Snook are now hanging out in the Winter haunts and will be tough to catch on days when the water temperature has dropped dramatically. Slight drops in water temperature won’t be a game changer, but when it drops over a day or two period say 10 degrees, that’s a problem. We do have sheepshead showing up and they love the cool offs. Sheepshead will be found both in the back waters as well as all the near shore reefs and wrecks. Typical sheepshead baits will be shrimp, fiddler crabs, and barnacles.

    Near shore we’ll have a fun time on the nice days. We’ve got tripletail, big bull redfish, bonito, kingfish, pompano, etc. to catch. There’s still going to be plenty of bait available so no worries there. When running from place to place keep an eye out for the birds, as there going to show you were the schools of fish will be. Always have a big feather jig or your favorite swim bait rigged up. You’ve got a good chance of running into cobia now, both free swimming and on structure.

    Offshore certainly relies on the weather. When the weather is nice grouper, snapper, kingfish, and amber jacks will take up most of the offshore time. The nice part about cooling off is that the gag groupers will come in closer. Gag grouper will be caught, often trolling in 30-45 feet of water. These fish will hang out along our ledges, wrecks, and rock piles throughout the region. Trolling deep diving plugs at about 5-6 mph will get it done. Finally, if its really nice out, a trip to 150 plus feet of water these days will give anglers chances at sailfish, tunas, and perhaps a wahoo.

    Tight lines,

    Capt. Greg Stamper

  • 11/29/2020 11:07 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Working with the elements
    by Captain Michael Manis

    At this point, with the combination of weather changes and the holiday season, I’d have my gear ready and waiting for those few short openings. By that, I mean waiting between the fronts for those perfect days that make living in southwest Florida special. And even though I need at least a sweatshirt , now I don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn. In fact, I like to wait till late morning to let the sun warm things up.  Like last month, I’ll continue working the same pattern; but now, I’ll even push farther up my favorite backcountry creek systems.

    Basically, I’m following the fish. With reduced rain and cooler water, salinity and oxygen increases back here providing good habitat as well as a refuge from the windswept open flats. Also, after a cool night the sun will warm the shallow water over the darker mud and sand bottom quicker here than on open flats. The combination of low clear water will increase sight-fishing opportunities as there isn’t enough water for fish to get deep into the mangroves. 

    I like a late morning or early afternoon incoming tide coming off a negative low. Fish will work their way with the tide to warm up and feed. I’ll look for them laid up off the shoreline in deeper sand depressions.  If there’s enough water, I’ll still pole shorelines, but it’s the sand holes off the shoreline that hold the best numbers of fish.

    The baitfish so prevalent most of the year is scarce. Scaled sardines migrate offshore looking for more stable water temperature. Being a natural nursery, these estuarine creek systems provide a decent array of prey albeit of a smaller source like silversides, killifish, shrimp, and crabs. As a result, I’ll throw small, #1 or #2, baitfish and shrimp patterns.

    Most days, dealing with a strong northeast breeze, I like to work areas that provide as much lee as possible.  Out of Punta Gorda, I like to concentrate within Charlotte Harbor State Park on the east side between Alligator Creek and Pirate Harbor. Here, the labyrinth of creek systems can keep me busy all winter. I’ll even push as far back as the mosquito ditches.  North, towards the top of the harbor, I also like extensive area that includes the Myakka Cutoff, Tippecanoe Bay and Muddy Cove.

    Sheepshead are a good bet around docks and piers. If the wind is really cranking, the Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte canals hold good numbers. When calm, the artificial reef outside Alligator Creek is a great spot. Cut shrimp works well. 

    Lastly, when the wind permits, take a run over to the hard bottom off Cape Haze Point where pompano like to hang out and get in a few cast with a ¼ ounce Nylure jig.

    Until next month, good tides.

    Captain Michael Manis
    Punta Gorda Fly Charters

  • 11/29/2020 10:58 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Lots of Variety Available in December
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    Freshwater Fishing

    American Shad and Crappie

    Despite high 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. American shad are 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 learn how it is done. American Shad fishing is the closes 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.

    Nearshore and Inlets

    Near-shore and in the inlets, large redfish were concentrated outside Ponce, Port Canaveral and Sebastian Inlets 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 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.

    Schools of bluefish and Spanish mackerel have been feeding on glass minnows (bay anchovies) along the beaches and outside the Inlets. When targeting these species watch for bird activity and work small jigs or spoons 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 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 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 if 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.

    Red Drum and Seatrout

    On the Lagoons, water level is very high and the water is dirty.  With this said, focus your efforts on shoreline and backwater areas as sight fishing is incredibly challenging.  Also concentrate your efforts in areas of baitfish and fish with shrimp and crab imitation sort plastics or live shrimp.

    In closing, 2020 has been an exceedingly difficult and challenging year on many levels, but if you are reading this forecast, you have survived to fish another day. For me, I am at a crossroad in my life where spending time with friends and family has become a priority so I am not sure where 2021 will take me.  I’m not one to dwell on the past, but instead focus on the future. With this said, value your time on the water with family and friends and have a safe and enjoyable holiday.

    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

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