fishing Forecast

  • 05/01/2017 5:16 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Redfish Rule
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    Finally, the windy months of March and April are almost behind us and we can look forward to the great fishing weather that May has to offer us on the Treasure Coast.  Other than the usual windy days, it has been a pretty mild winter and spring has arrived. Look for warmer temperatures and little less blustery days. As the water temperatures climb, the fishing will steadily improve on the river.   The water is already in the mid 70’s and that means the fish will be hungry.  It will provide fantastic mornings for top water and lazy afternoons to drift the flats.   May is one of my favorite months on the water!

    Redfish will be our main target throughout the month of May.  The past several years have bought us schools of slot sized redfish along the Indian River.   Most of the fish we have caught have been in the 18 to 30 inch range. The mangroves have produced lots of redfish action again this year.  They have been sunning on the flats and May gets their blood pumping and turns on the feeding.  I always have three lures ready during May…DOA shrimp, CAL jerk baits and top water lures.  Gold spoons and the DOA 2 ¾” shrimp will also be great additions to the arsenal when fishing for redfish.  As the fish school up, look for them around the edges of the flats.   Most of the river here on the Treasure Coast has been holding redfish and you should be able to find some on your favorite flats.   I tend to enjoy the east side of the river, but we have found many on the west side as well.
    Snook fishing in the early mornings will bring some rod bending action as they head up on the flats for an early morning or late evening meal.  Top water lures (like the new DOA PT-7), Baitbusters and DOA shrimp are all great lures to tempt a snook into biting.   We have been broken off numerous times by big snook under the mangroves.  Docks will also hold snook lurking around for an easy meal. Live shrimp is hard to beat around the docks.  In the inlet areas, try around the seawalls and bridges with live bait, Terror Eyz, feather jigs or deep diving plugs.  I love early morning for great snook fishing opportunities!  Snook season will close May 31st.

    Trout will continue to feed on top water at first light and live shrimp on popping corks during the day.   As the sun rises, they will head off the shallows to deeper water in the two to four foot range.  We have had some nice gator trout of late and should see some still big trout throughout the month of May.  I have had great success with CAL jerk baits and Deadly Combos this year in place of live shrimp.  If you are using live baits, try big shrimp or pilchards on the flats.  Both sides of the river have been productive in early mornings.  Winter fishing for trout has been good this year and spring should continue to give you some great action.

    Bridges will hold the usual sheepshead catch, while snapper will be moving into the river along with flounder. Jacks and ladyfish will be patrolling the areas and creating havoc all over the river.   Beaches will produce whiting with still a few catches of Spanish mackerel and bluefish along with the usual whiting.  Tarpon will begin their trek into the river and you can start looking for them in the St Lucie River, Big and Little Mud areas and the channels of the river.   May is a great month to fish the Treasure Coast….plan on a trip out on the river soon!

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

    Good Fishing and Be Safe,
    Captain Charlie Conner

  • 05/01/2017 5:09 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Variety on the Gulf Coast
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

         May is a spectacular time of the year in Southwest Florida. Tarpon take center stage as the top billing through June; however, there are many other fish species to target. A few of the side shows this month will be snook, redfish, permit, cobia, trout, etc. This means plenty of options for anglers of all levels and ages. Should you find yourself along the Gulf Coast, it’s practically a sin not to wet a line somewhere this time of the year. May is typically a month of good weather as we begin to set into our summer weather patterns of light east winds in the morning, followed up with the afternoon sea breezes taking over, giving us some rain late evening.

         Tarpon will be found along our beaches, in and around our back bays and sounds, along with schools of fish offshore all eating crabs, threadfin herring, glass minnows, and pilchards. Typically, these fish are part of the spawn and can range from a modest 80-pounder all the way up to 225-pound behemoths. We also begin seeing a lot more juvenile tarpon that begin to show up in schools in our back bays and rivers. These juvenile fish are usually between 10 and 40 pounds, will be around throughout the rest of the year, and can be targeted rather regularly.

         Snook are another big target during the month of May and can often be seen cruising down the beaches edges looking for easy meals. We target beach snook often by slow rolling down the shores all ready to throw our choice of bait upon first sight of cruisers. These fish typically swim in packs when they’re big and in larger schools when they’re small, so you’ll see them if the water stays clean. Snook fishing this time of the year is like hunting and can give mixed results as every day is different, and just like hunting, it doesn’t always work out. Snook will take a variety of baits from flies, artificial, and both live and cut baits. As the water gets a bit dirty either from storms or Lake Okeechobee water releases, you’ll still have chances to catch snook by just having faith in the areas you saw them last.

         Redfish, trout, pompano, and jack crevalle will take up another big part of the guide’s life this month. Those clients that aren’t into 30 minute to hour-long fish fights will prefer targeting them. There are plenty of great areas to target these quicker fighting fish throughout my region. Fishing the passes and mouths of rivers and creeks will find anglers catching plenty of different species. Redfish will typically be found cruising the flats during the low tides as they work their way to the mangrove shorelines and bushes during the highs. Trout will be a bit deeper than the reds in general, but will occasionally be found up in the skinny water right next to those reds as well. Trout fishing is great, especially for kids this time of the year, as the action can be almost constant. Pompano, jacks, mackerel, and lots of baby sharks will fill our passes up and can be caught with simple shrimp-tipped jigs worked aggressively.

         Nearshore fishing for permit, cobia, sharks, and tripletail finishes up my list of things to do in May. Permit are a lot of fun on the calm slicked out days as they can be seen in large schools feasting on the crustaceans floating buy. Cobia offer a sporty fight, are delicious to eat, and tend to be a surprise visitor as they meander around with curiosity seeing what’s going on. Most of the time you’ve just got to be ready for a cobia as he may only give you one shot by before he’s on his way. Sharks are basically easy pickings should one target them this time of the year and are often caught as bi-catch while tarpon fishing. Finally, always keep your eye open for a tripletail while moving around as you never know what piece of junk that big one may be found on.

    Tight lines,

    Capt Greg Stamper

  • 05/01/2017 5:04 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    May offers good fishing onshore or off
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    As our length of daylight and the water temperatures increase, so do the fishing opportunities along the Lagoon Coast of Florida. May is one of the better fishing months on east Florida's coastal waters, so make sure your lunch is packed, mental health days are scheduled, and I will see you on the water.

    Near-shore along the beaches, concentrate your efforts in the areas of active bait pods (pogies). Typically, when you see concentrated areas of bait with birds feeding on the surface, big fish are just as active underneath. Species feeding on these pods include tarpon, jack cervalle, redfish, cobia, and sharks. Near the end of the month, you can add kingfish into the mix. Also, tripletail and flounder numbers should be improving around the Port Canaveral buoys. At the inlets and beaches, Spanish mackerel, snook, redfish, jack crevalle, bluefish, flounder, sheepshead, and black drum are just some of the species available this month.

    Blue water trolling should be excellent in May, with the larger dolphin being the focus of most blue water anglers. Also in the mix are tuna, wahoo, kingfish, sailfish, and an occasional marlin. When targeting these species, work areas of color and water temperature changes (lines) in 120 feet of water or deeper, and in areas of concentrated floating weeds and debris. In addition, don't forget that kingfish and cobia are present on the near-shore shoals, reefs and wrecks like Bethel Shoals, Pelican Flats, Chris Benson, and 8A reefs.

    On the lagoon flats, redfish and spotted sea trout will provide the majority of the action for light tackle and fly anglers. For sea trout, fish your favorite top-water plugs at first light in about two feet of water concentrating in areas were bait is present. After the morning top-water bite fades, switch to your favorite soft plastic jig fished in three to five feet of water alone the edges of flats or spoil islands. The water has warmed to the point where the jack crevalle, ladyfish, snook, and tarpon will begin to show up in good numbers. In addition, there is a huge showing of finger mullet this season, so it's time to break out your DOA Bait Busters. Schooling redfish and other predators find the Bait Busters difficult to resist when retrieved quickly just under the surface of the water in areas of concentrated mullet schools. Remember when using the technique; keep your lure moving until you feel the fish on the line.

    As always, if you have any questions or need information, please contact me. Good luck and good fishing,

    Captain Tom Van Horn
    Mosquito Coast Fishing Charters

  • 05/01/2017 4:56 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Prime Time
    Captain Michael Manis 

    After months of working low tides around creeks and adjacent shorelines, it’s time to go tarpon fishing.  Now, that doesn’t mean it’s not a great month to hunt redfish and snook.  In fact, because of all the options, May is one of my favorite months to be on the water.  As for tarpon, they typically begin showing up first in the upper harbor between the West Wall and Punta Gorda. These are resident fish that come out of the rivers and generally eat pretty well. 

    A free lined live bait or big piece of cut mullet work well. Moreover, If you can get out early and see them rolling, they’ll take a fly. A big Puglisi Peanut Butter pattern in black and purple or black and red are two of my favorites. I’ve had my best luck throwing a clear tip intermediate sink tip line. It won’t be too long after these fish show that the migratory fish coming up from the keys begin to filter through Pine Island Sound and Boca Grande Pass and should start staging up anywhere between Cape Haze Point and the hill just inside Boca Grande Pass. These fish can be fished just the same as the river fish; although, small live blue crabs are a great bait for this bunch.

    Because of tarpon fever, the backcountry sees less pressure and this provides a great opportunity to get in some redfish and snook fishing. Particularly, first thing in the morning, you could find yourself with a flat or shoreline all to yourself.  This month, I like to look for redfish from the south end of the West Wall all the way around Cape Haze Point and into the entry shorelines leading into Turtle Bay. For snook, the east side of Charlotte Harbor is one of my favorite areas. I like the cuts and outer shorelines north of Matlacha as well as those north of Pirate Harbor.

    May is going to fly by and they’re just too many options. Therefore, I like to hunt for tarpon first thing in the morning then maybe hit a shoreline or two in the afternoon looking for redfish. Because, the harbor spots where I’ll look for tarpon are in close proximity to some of my favorite shorelines, this can be done without burning too much fuel. Lastly, whether in the harbor, on the beach, or on a flat, don’t be surprised if you see a big school of jacks, a cobia, or one of the many sharks that are scattered throughout the area. Keep an eye out for birds and have a rod ready.

    Until next month, good tides.

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

  • 04/04/2017 11:29 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Full Spring Transition
    by Captain Michael Manis

    This month begins what’s considered the beginning of some of our best fishing. Springtime is always a great time to be on the water as the water temperature is warming but the air temperature’s still comfortable. It’s transition time as some of our favorite game fish are on the move and are looking to eat after the slim pickings of winter. With this winter producing moderate temperatures, it’s really not surprising that what we like to call “spring fishing” began a bit early and the patterns that I like to start working around April have been in full gear since last month.  

    I’ll typically make my way out of backcountry creek systems and start to work more open water. I’ll stick close to outside shorelines but it’s not unusual to find both redfish and snook holding off the shoreline. On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself poling tight to the mangroves while spotting fish moving off from outside the boat. Moreover, these were always the larger fish.

    This is the case throughout the bays and sounds that border Charlotte Harbor. Now, I like working the east side and spend as much time as I can from Pirate Harbor down to Matlacha. There is plenty of shoreline and lots of deep cuts with good current.  The West Wall should also fish well and I’ve had lots of good days inside Turtle Bay. Keep in mind, it will probably remain windy this month and I realize it’s more comfortable fishing a lee shoreline. However, I’ve had some of my best days working the windy shoreline as the wind and waves were pushing bait up onto the shoreline and snook, redfish, and trout all seemed to be staged up and waiting.

    If you find yourself on the East or West Wall and are looking for a change of pace, don’t hesitate to drop off the bar and spend some time casting for cobia. Pompano are still around and the hard bottom just off Cape Haze is one of the best spots around. In the same area, small black tip sharks can be found all along the entire bar that runs from Cape Haze Point to Cayo Pelau at the base of Gasparilla Sound. 

    Spanish mackerel should be scattered all over the harbor. The easiest way to find one of these schools is to find the birds. Lastly, keep an eye out for tarpon. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the upper harbor around the ladyfish and spanish mackerel.

    Until next month, good tides,

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

  • 04/04/2017 11:18 AM | Anonymous

    Tarpon Time
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

         Spring has now sprung, which means fishing will be good down here in Southwest Florida. This is a magical time for anglers as bait becomes plentiful and so do the fishing options. For guides, additional species become selected targets as bait schools push their way north along our beaches and backcountry waters. This is a great time of the year for anglers since options ranging from tarpon, permit, cobia, and tripletail become active in our nearshore waters while snook, redfish, trout, and big jacks can be pursued in the backcountry as well as along our beaches. Shark fishing begins picking up as well, and the reason is clear -- the larger game fish species that the sharks prefer to prey upon start to move in with the spring weather.

         Tarpon, perhaps what we are best known for in Southwest Florida, begin spawning and can be found in large schools patrolling along our beaches and nearshore waters. We will catch plenty of these silver kings using a variety of baits both live and artificial. This can mean catching fish up to 150 pounds regularly. Tarpon will be in town spawning until around mid-June, when they begin to spread back out up and down the coast. The cool part about being down here in Fort Myers is we have them through December, and in another month or so, we will get a large push of juvenile tarpon as well.

         Snook fishing becomes one of my favorite targets during this time of the year as more and more anglers pursue tarpon, leaving areas holding snook less pressured. Snook begin to patrol the beaches, passes, and rivers stalking schools of sardines, threadfin, and mullet. There are many ways of catching these linesiders, from sight fishing to enticing them of off our local wrecks. Your best bet is live bait; however, artificial, flies, and cut baits all work. I usually use a medium heavy fast action rod with 20# braid, 30# fluorocarbon leader, and a 2/0 circle hook for most snook, until I start seeing fish above the 34” mark. For big snook, you’ll need to bump up the rod, line, leader, and hook size accordingly.

         Redfish, trout, pompano, and mangrove snapper are just a few of the other inshore species that we target a lot during the spring months. As most guides do, we cater to what our clients want, so if it’s about numbers and action these species can keep you busy for most of the trip. Not to mention some folks just aren’t up for 30-40 minute fights and prefer something a little less tiring.

         Permit schools begin rolling into town, and if you’re lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time, it can be quite an experience. Permit love dining on crabs, but will eat shrimp and clams as well as any other crustaceans that are around. When targeting permit, it is best to move quietly preferably on a trolling motor while paying close attention to what’s happening on the surface as well as on your depth finder. Permit in these waters can be up to 30 pounds and have excellent eyesight. When you target this species, be sure to have a reel that can handle long runs and can hold at least 400 yards of line.

    Tight lines,

    Capt Greg Stamper
    Snook Stamp Charters

  • 04/04/2017 9:54 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    April should be fantastic
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    As March blows out of the area, you can still plan on some windy days ahead in April. The transition into the summer pattern is well under way and soon the winds will die down and you can enjoy those calm days of summer once again. Expect the fishing to be especially good this April as water temperatures warm up and spring takes over the area. March was a little warmer this year and the fishing has been good. As the river fills with bait schools, you can bet the fish are hungry and will be feeding heavily. Have fun!

    Redfish and trout will become more active around the flats. They will be shallow early and gradually move to the edges of the flats as the sun get higher in the sky. Look to areas like Bear Point, Harbor Branch and Round Island for trout to be feeding on the flats. On a calm morning, break out the top water lures and switch to jerk baits, like a DOA CAL 4” Arkansas Glow or Watermelon. Shallow running Mirrolures will also entice the trout into biting. Don’t forget to use the Deadly Combo or CAL Airhead for more exciting trout action on the grass flats. There has been a lot of redfish activity throughout March and it should make April a fantastic month. Redfish can be found on sandy flats around the docks or try the Moorings and Bear Point for a chance at a nice size red. DOA shrimp or CAL grub tails in root beer or glow colors are great ways to find a redfish along with a trusty gold spoon. 

    The snook season has my anglers out seeking that slot fish this year. The bite has been good around the inlets and will improve on the flats as well. Snook season will close May 31st so you still have time to find that slot fish. We have had good luck with the DOA TerrorEyz on snook this winter. Docks will hold sheepshead, jacks, redfish and many other species. I like either a DOA shrimp or TerrorEyz around docks. Fish them slowly to keep them under the dock as long as possible. Drop a live shrimp or pinfish under a dock as well for a great chance at hooking up. There are many great areas to fish so plan on getting some fishing in this month. 

    Bridges will continue to hold sheephead, jacks, bluefish and some black drum. The big jacks will be invading the river this month. They are not great to eat, but provide a tough battle on light tackle. Ladyfish will be all over the river and keep the kids smiling. The inlet will continue to hold bluefish, jacks and mackerel. While April might be a little windy, it is still a great month to fish the Indian River. 

    April is the first month that fish can enjoy all the many baitfish schools and they will be feeding heavily on the schools around the flats. The water has already been warming up and you can see the changes in the bite already. Early morning can bring lots of good results this time of year. It was a warm winter this year and the fish are anxious to enjoy the arrival of the bait schools…..and so are we!

  • 04/04/2017 9:40 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Time for migrating fish
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    I can't help but get excited about the many different angling opportunities spring brings to the Indian River Coast of Florida. I'm always grateful and blessed to live, breath, and fish on the east central coast of Florida, and with the windy March behind us, I'm ready to set the hook.

    Some of highlights of fishing on Florida's east central coast during the spring are: the weather is still cool and enjoyable, and as the waters warm up the fish begin to shift into their feeding mood. Some examples of this behavior are the cobia moving north up the coast, and the spotted sea trout moving into their traditional spawning areas on the inshore flats. Like many saltwater species, the cobia and sea trout spawn in aggregations or groups, not on beds. In the case of the cobia, traditional spawning areas are off of the central east coast of the US, and in the northern Gulf of Mexico. 

    As the fish migrate north, they burn energy and feed heavily along the way, hence the cobia run we are currently experiencing. On the flats, the smaller male sea trout move up into the shallows first, and then call the females in to spawn by drumming loudly just after dusk when the conditions are right, usually around the beginning of the first new moon or full moon in April, and then again on the new and full moons throughout the summer.

    On the lagoon flats, fish inthe early morning and late evening with your favorite top water plugs for extreme trout and redfish action, and soft plastics and jigs in deeper water, 2 to 3 feet after the midday sun settles in. April is the month when sea trout become egg laden for the spawn, so it's very important to handle and release the larger females with great care.  Water levels on the Mosquito Lagoon remain very low with clear conditions and both redfish and black drum fishing should remain good as long as the clear conditions last.

    Offshore, April marks the beginning of the fishing season for most blue water anglers. It represents the start of the April/May northern migration of dolphin in deeper water, 120 feet and beyond and usually brings in some of the largest bulls taken all year. April also marks the beginning of the Easter kingfish run on the near-shore reef outside Port Canaveral. It's the time of year when most of the larger kings, 30 to 50 pounds, are taken off 8A Reef, and Pelican Flats.

    Moving in near-shore, tripletail should become more dependable, and look for late season cobia as well. The cobia run thus far has been so so; with bait pods (Atlantic menhaden or pogies) arriving late this year. As the bait pod move in, look for Spanish mackerel, bluefish, redfish, giant jack crevalle, sharks, and smoker kings. Concentrate your efforts in areas of bait pods. When you see areas of bait balled up and pushed to the surface, there is a high probability that feeding gamefish are pressuring the bait from underneath.

    In the inlets, look for good numbers of flounder, sheepshead and black drum around structure such as jetties and docks, and Spanish mackerel, blues, and large jacks in open water. Also look for the nighttime snook and tarpon action to heat up in the Sebastian Inlet.

    In the freshwater lakes and rivers, largemouth and striped bass action has will heat up on the St Johns River. Look for schooling bass at first light feeding on treadfin shad from the Osteen Bridge to Lake Harney. My favorite locations are in the river bends near the power lines at Lemon Bluff and at the south end of Lake Harney were the St Johns Riiver dumps in.

     A good way to locate these schooling fish is to look for white pelicans and other wading birds congregating along the shore. When in the feeding mode, these fish will take most swim plugs, and small live shiners. Also, several years back we caught southern flounder in Lake Harney fishing treadfin shad on the bottom under the schooling bass. 

    Also, spring is the time of year the larger catfish move up the river and into the creeks following the rising water. I know to most, they’re not a glamour species, but try telling my good friend Mike Murray that. Lastly, the bluegill and brim will be spawning soon on the lakes, so look for popping bug fly fishing to heat up in our local Central Florida lakes.

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

    Good luck and good fishing,

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

  • 03/02/2017 6:24 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Freshwater or salt, take your pick
    By Capt. Tom Van Horn

    Fishing in Central Florida has shown some improvement in this past week with our best action coming from anglers fishing freshwater locations like the St Johns River.  Extremely low water conditions experienced this year are the complete opposite from last year, but last week’s rainfall has water levels moving in the right direction. The Haulover Cannel water gauge ( ) is showing an 8-inch increase and the St Johns River gauge near Lake Harney ( is showing a 7-inch increase. These increases should have fish on the move this week and make navigation a little safer.

    March is notorious for rough waters, but when conditions get bad on the open waters of the lagoons and offshore, it's time to shift gears and consider some of Central Florida's freshwater lakes and rivers.  The wonderful thing about living in Florida is there are always places to fish.  Although the weather conditions get windy and cold, we still managed to catch fish on both the St Johns River and the Mosquito Lagoon.  Fished with four different parties this past week with three on the St Johns River and one in the Mosquito Lagoon and in spite of the gusty winds we caught a mixed bag of American shad, sunshine bass, striped bass, largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappie and brim on the St Johns, and some nice black drum and redfish on the Mosquito Lagoon.

    In March, I always use my lavender azaleas as an indicator for the arrival of the cobia migration north through our near-shore waters. Their magnificent blooms favor the same temperatures and weather conditions, and when the azalea blooms peek the time is right. Currently my azaleas are blooming, but like the azalea’s delicate blooms, the cobia run will pass before you know it.

    The current water temperature in Port Canaveral is 71.4 which is ideal, so watch for the progression of baits schools (Atlantic menhaden and silver mullet) from warmer waters into the near-shore waters bringing the cobia and other predators with them. The warmer waters will also draw manta rays into the shallows shadowed by pods of cobia. Other notable species are tripletail around the buoys and under flotsam, heavy weight jack carvalle near the end of the month, large redfish, and sharks shadowing bait schools. Currently, the cobia have started showing up, and once the seas lay down, cobia mania will begin.

    Moving out into deeper water, the spring kingfish run should begin with the smaller kings showing up around the middle of March, followed by the smokers, 30 to 50 pounds in April on the near-shore reefs and wrecks like Pelican Flats and 8A reef. If the bait moves in close to the beach, look for the larger kingfish to follow them. Also, April marks the beginning of the fishing season for many of the blue water anglers with the start of the April/May northern migration of dolphin in 120 feet of water and beyond, and the early part of the run usually includes some of the largest bulls taken all year.

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

    On the lagoon, rising water levels will draw the slot size redfish schools up onto the shallow flats, with the larger breeder schools holding along the deeper edges and sand bars. On the cooler days, focus your attention on sand pockets or potholes, and once the afternoon sun warms the water, look for tailing fish on the shallow flats. Also, the end of March signals the return of silver mullet to the estuary, and the beginning early morning and late evening top water sea trout and redfish action.

    Last but not lease, mid-March brings largemouth, stripers and sunshine bass into the equation as schooling bass begin to form up in consistent patterns on the St Johns River. Last year, fifty bass days were not uncommon as schooling pre-spawn and post spawn fish push schools of menhaden to the surface at first light creating explosive top-water action. Additionally, the American shad run is showing signs of improvement, so give shad a shot while they are still here.

    As always, if you have questions or need information or would like to book a fishing charter, please contact me.

    Good luck and good fishing,

    Captain Tom Van Horn

  • 03/02/2017 6:15 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Late March begins Spring fishing
    By Greg Stamper

    March especially late March is the month when things start to warm back up. We look forward to watching the water temperatures begin to slowly warm and with that, the fishing gets better. Patients is still important early in the month as we wait for the water to warm up above 74 consistently. Spring is in the air which opens a bunch of options for fishermen.

    Early in the month we’ll still be fishing for the cold weather fish like sheepshead, trout, mackerel, etc. Sheepshead will continue to be found both in the backcountry as well as on the nearshore wrecks and reefs in good numbers. Trout don’t seem to mind the cooler water and should be consistent over the grass flats in 2 to 4 feet of water. Throwing D.O.A. shrimp either tied to a popping cork or thrown by itself to get your share of spotted sea trout. Redfish will certainly be available and can be plentiful, caught on everything from cut baits to top water artificials. Redfish can be really good on the right tides this time of the year, so plan to target them when the waters moving in or out of the backcountry well. Fishing the passes when the water isn’t silted up can also be productive in early March. Pompano, mackerel, jacks, baby shark and the last of the bluefish will be available on jigs tipped with shrimp worked aggressively.
    Later in the month assuming we don’t get any strong cold fronts, Spring time begins. This is the beginning of awesomeness for South Florida. Snook, redfish, permit, tarpon, and other fun things begin to show up as bait schools begin to travel from the South. Snook my favorite fish to target but not kill, get on the move this month. Snook will be fattening up as the water warms and be found in great numbers at times. The sure way to catch them is with live baits of several varieties. Baits such as pilchards, pinfish, threadfin herring, and pig fish all work excellent freelined on a 2/o or 3/o circle hooks with 30-40lb fluorocarbon leader. Fly fishing for them can be a challenging way to spend your day. Fly-fishing for the little ones isn’t too tough if your accurate with the cast. The big boys however can humble even a seasoned angler rather quickly at times.  Lastly throwing artificial lures both soft and hard can give an angler a fun day and other species as well.

    Tarpon being something South West Florida is known for, starts up now through December and can be targeted many ways in lots of areas.  The big fish typically move in to begin their spawn April through June, however fish in the 100lb class and below are showing up now. Tarpon will show up along bridges, in the rivers, and both near the beaches as well as out several miles. Targeting these fish can be done both day or night depending on what Mother Nature deals us. Depending on the size of the tarpon your targeting, leader size can go from 20lb for the juveniles “10-30lbers” all the way up to 80lb for the monsters. Hooks will vary depending on what your targeting but in general I move up to a heavier hook strength from size 4/0 up when I believe the fish will be at least 100lbs. We’ll target them with crabs, threadfins, grunts, and other small baits both freelined and corked at times. Tarpon will eat plugs, big jigs, and soft plastics as well. Standard heavy spinning gear is most popular and anything that can hold 400 yards of line is recommended for the big ones.

    Cobia, permit, tripletail, and a variety of reef species fishing just keeps getting better in March. Targeting all these species is doable, so having set ups all ready for them is a good thing. Cobia will usually just wander up to you while approaching wrecks so having a bait ready to go when coming off plain is important.  Tripletail may be spotted as you run out to somewhere, and permit can often be seen tailing in places as they feed on crustaceans.

    Tight lines
    Captain Greg Stamper
    Snook Stamp Charters

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