fishing Forecast

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  • 03/24/2020 4:34 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Spring Fishing Highlights
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    Some highlights for fishing on Florida's east central coast during the spring are the weather is still cool and enjoyable, the waters warming up and the fish begin to shift into their pre-spawning feeding mood. Some examples of this behavior are the cobia moving north up the Atlantic coast, and the spotted sea trout transitioning into their traditional spawning areas on the inshore flats. Like many saltwater species, the cobia and sea trout spawn in aggregations or groups, not on beds. In the case of the cobia their traditional spawning areas are off the central east coast of the US, and in the northern Gulf of Mexico. As the fish migrate north, they burn energy and feed heavily along the way, hence the cobia run we experience each spring.

    On the flats, the smaller male sea trout move up into the shallows first, and then call the females in to spawn by drumming loudly just after dusk when the conditions are right, usually on the first new moon or full moon in April, and then again on the new and full moons throughout the summer.

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

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

    On the lagoon flats, fish the early morning and late evening with your favorite top water plugs for extreme topwater sea trout action, and soft plastics and jigs in deeper water, 2 to 3 feet after the midday sun settles in. Remember, April is one of the months when larger sea trout are egg laden for the spawn, so it's very important to handle and release the larger females with great care. If you are looking for snook and tarpon action inside, the Sebastian River will be the place to go.

    Finally, freshwater largemouth and striped bass action has been and will heat up on the St Johns River. Look for schooling bass at first light feeding on threadfin shad from the Osteen Bridge to Lake Harney. My favorite locations are in the river bends near the power lines at Lemmon Bluff and at confluences of Lake Harney and the River. A good way to locate these schooling fish is to look for wading birds congregating along the shore. When in the feeding mode, these fish will take small plastic jerk baits like the 4-inch DOA Shad Tail, most small swim plugs, and small live shiners. Also, as the river rises and the velocity increases, the larger spawning channel catfish (freshwater cobia) move out of the big lakes into the river to spawn.

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

    Good luck and good fishing,

    Captain Tom Van Horn
    http://www.irl-fishing.com
    407-416-1187


  • 03/21/2020 9:28 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Crazy as it is
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    Well, March turned into April this year as social distancing became exactly what guides do. The fishing was unbelievable as the waters continued to warm with no cold fronts. We got to 76 degrees by late March making things excellent. The strong winds we had earlier in the month finally let down, giving all fisherman a glimpse of what’s coming forward. The early Spring brought everything back ahead of time this year. Those fishing offshore, finally had their first die down of winds, giving them a chance to go out deep. Near shore guides were loving the warmup as fish began their migrations early. The back-bay guides continue to reap the benefits of the closers and have been blessed with some unaccepted visitors.

    The back bays and shallow water fisheries have been nothing short of outstanding, and will continue to be that way. Redfish are being caught daily from 20” all the way up to 32” plus. Redfish can be found almost anywhere right now, and shrimp or cut baits will work best as spreads for reds will work all month. Snook are already out of their Winter haunts and ready to eat before they get ready for their spawn. This could possibly happen earlier than July this year, so be ready. Trout are finally becoming a staple again, which is nice as guides can now get the backcountry slam done easily again. Lastly, we still have a chance in April to catch big black drum as they enter our bays in search of all the crabs pouring out. Look for them near passes and flats near deep water and you can impress a few clients.

    Nearshore, permit will be pouring in all month. Permit are crab eaters so if you don’t have them, don’t bother. This is the start of the big boys, and fish up to 40lb’s can be expected so bring the right gear. Wearing out a big permit is never a good thing, and you’ll probably get it eating by a goliath if you go light on the tackle. Cobia will be your by-catch when permit fishing, so have a rod ready for them as they will just show up. It’s tarpon time, and a bunch were caught last month so expect a bunch in April.

    Offshore started up at the end of March, as the winds finally allowed fisherman to get out far. Far is 30 plus miles here, and those at the end of the month that got to 110 plus crushed it. This pattern will only get better as we move through April. Grouper, big mangrove snappers, lane snappers, African pompano, AJ’S, and porgies will be your quarry.

    Tight lines,
    Capt. Greg Stamper
    Snookstampcharters.com, Fort Myers Beach
    239-313-1764

  • 03/21/2020 9:25 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Spring offers multi-species to target
    by Captain Charlie Conner

    Spring arrives on the Treasure Coast in April! Mild temperatures and windy days will be the norm this month. This month will be fun and exciting with lots of species to target. Water temperatures will be in the 70’s. It has been a mild winter and I am always excited to welcome Spring back again. Have fun and enjoy the fishing!

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

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

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

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

    Good Fishing and Be Safe,
    Captain Charlie Conner

    http://www.fishtalescharter.com
    email: captaincharlie@fishtalescharter.com
    772-284-3852

  • 03/21/2020 9:20 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Full spring transition
    by Captain Michael Manis

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

    In particular, snook that need to fatten up in preparation for the summer spawn will begin making their way out of canal, river, and backcountry creek systems. Early in the month, I like to look outside the Myakka River towards the west side of the cutoff and Hog Island.  As the month progresses, I’ll make my way down the west wall paying close attention to shoreline areas adjacent to creek systems.  

    Furthermore, the entire bar system from Cape Haze Point at the lower end of the west wall to Cayo Pelau at the southern end of Gasparilla Sound can really fish well. Snook from creek systems throughout Turtle and Bull Bay will make their way onto this bar system as Devilfish Key lies at it’s western edge.  Also for snook, the east side below Burnt Store to Matlacha is worth exploring. Shorelines towards the outside are the place to look.

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

    Redfish will also key on the scaled sardine but will still be sticking close to the mullet. Because of the additional salinity from proximity to multiple passes, Pine Island Sound is one of my favorite places to look. As a rule of thumb, always fish under the mullet.

    The spotted sea trout bite has been consistent the past couple months and should continue throughout the spring. Here too, Pine Island Sound should fish well. Throughout the upper sound, most flats with a mix of sand and turtle grass are worth working.

    Until next month, good tides,

    Captain Michael Manis
    Punta Gorda Fly Charters
    941-628-7895
    mike@puntagordaflycharters.com
    www.puntagordaflycharters.com

  • 03/01/2020 12:13 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Let the games begin!
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    It’s the busiest time of the year from now thru June for seasoned guides and March begins the first of the warming months. Visitors flock throughout Southwest Florida to watch spring training baseball, hang out in excellent weather, and catch some fish! The targetable species opens greatly now, as we begin the transition into Spring. It’s not to say that the weather will always be spot on but, it’s going to start trending toward fantastic most of the month. As guides it’s full speed for a while and that’s great as lots of memories will be made.

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

    As we begin seeing fewer cold fronts effecting our water temperatures, the warming trends begin. At first its nothing considerable, but as we approach April it becomes apparent. Some days especially toward the end of the month we may even feel that first hit of higher humidity in the early morning hours.

    Pompano fishing along our beaches and certainly in our local passes will be full speed. Shrimp tipped jigs, small flies that mimic sand fleas or small crabs will be your best bets. Mackerel, ladyfish, bluefish, and even small sharks will be bi-catch during this time. The back-bays will be full speed for redfish ranging from 16 to 35 inches and found all over as bait schools work their way to the North. Snook now begin to get curious and will be very targetable, especially during the warm weeks. Whitebait, small mullet, and hand-picked shrimp won’t stand a chance as snook get ready to move back out of their winter haunts.

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

    Tight lines, Capt. Greg Stamper
    Snook stamp charters
    239-313-1764
    Snookstampcharters@gmail.com
    Snookstampcharters.com


  • 03/01/2020 12:04 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Fishing action will pick up with warmer temperatures
    by Captain Charlie Conner

    Inshore:

    The winds of March have arrived!  Warmer weather means winter is over and spring conditions are just around the corner.  Chances of rain are on the increase so watch the weather and plan your adventures carefully. Water temps will be on the rise and you can expect lots of exciting fishing action around the Treasure Coast this month. 



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

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

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

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

    Good Fishing and Be Safe,
    Captain Charlie Conner

    http://www.fishtalescharter.com
    email:
    captaincharlie@fishtalescharter.com
    772-284-3852


  • 03/01/2020 11:54 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Fishing season is here
    by Captain Michael Manis           

    At this point, options around our bays and sounds are beginning to open up. With water temperatures climbing out of the 60’s and bait beginning to move in from offshore the dynamics of our estuarine system are definitely in transition. After the slim pickings of winter, snook, redfish, and the spotted sea trout will be looking to add some fat from the oil and protein the scaled sardine and threadfin herring provide. For me, that means moving away from deep inside backcountry creek systems to outside shoreline edges that border open water.  Most likely, I’ll turn my attention towards spring snook while keeping an eye out for some early migrating tarpon.  

    As the weather warms, negative tides diminish and more water surrounds mangrove shorelines, snook should be on the move throughout the harbor. To the north, outside Tippecanoe Bay on the Hog Island side could be good as fish make their way out of the Myakka River. Likewise, the northern end of the West Wall from Cattle Dock Point south is good shoreline. In fact, the entire West Wall is worth a look. A bit further south, the outside shoreline between Turtle Bay and Bull Bay, between Gallagher’s cut and the southern end of Cayo Pelau, has real good potential.

     Look for redfish and trout to be hanging out on flats that have healthy sea grass, particularly turtle grass, and in close proximity to a pass. Because, when the scaled sardines move in they tend to hold in those particular areas. The flats off Bokeelia at the north end of Pine Island Sound and outside Three Sisters, Devilfish Key, and Cayo Pelau on the Boca Grande Side tend to hold good numbers.

    Furthermore, the bar systems that run along both the east and west sides of the harbor should provide shots at both jack crevalle and cobia. Jacks can be seen pushing water on top of the bars and cobia are typically just off the outside edge. 

    It may be a bit early, but after what seemed like a long winter, it’s time to start scouting for signs of tarpon. Naturally, they’ll move up the beaches and will duck inside the passes lying up in sand holes on their way north. It’s down there in Pine Island Sound, but Foster’s Bay just north of Redfish Pass is a good place to start. From there, I like exploring the deeper holes toward the eastern side between Demere and Panther Key. It’s a lot of real estate, but if the wind will allow, it’s an easy drift.

    Until next month, good tides.

    Captain Michael Manis
    Punta Gorda Fly Charters
    mike@puntagordaflycharters.com
    www.puntagordaflycharters.com

  • 03/01/2020 11:51 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Bait pods on the move
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    For number of reasons, I always look forward to the glorious bloom of my azaleas. Their magnificent colors are not only pleasing to the eye, but they also signal the end of winter and the beginning of the spring bait migration. As the days grow longer and the ocean begins its gradual warming phase, 68 to 72-degree range, the spring fishing bonanza on the Indian Lagoon Coast kicks in. As usual, weather will serve as the determining factor in establishing the magnitude and progression of the bite, and forecasting Florida weather is left only to fools.  Also, like the bloom of the delicate azaleas, the bite will sometimes pass quickly before you have a chance to really experience it. 

    Water temperature increases will facilitate the progression of bait pods (menhaden or pogies) from the deeper water into the near-shore waters bringing the predators with them. Sea conditions will determine the number of fishable days we’ll experience in March. This is especially true for those of us who target deep-water species in shallow water boats. The cobia should be moving into our area soon, and both the bait pods and cobia have begun to show up on the near-shore wrecks and reefs outside Port Canaveral and Sebastian Inlet. 

    Other near-shore options consist of tripletail hanging on floating structure and weeds and large redfish and sharks shadowing bait pods near the beaches and inlets. When site fishing for cobia, keep the sun to your back and consider fishing in the latter part of the day when the sun is high.  Also, always keep a buck tail jig in the ready position to cast.

    As the water warms up on the inshore lagoon flats, silver mullet will begin to return from their winter vacation as they migrate north.  This change marks the beginning of spring feeding transition where predator species feeding habits shift back from crustaceans to fin fish and topwater trout fishing plug fishing improves.  If you haven’t herd, redfish populations on the lagoon have diminished along with the seagrass, so catching them can be challenging.  The redfish are still out there, but you must look long and hard in the right locations to find and catch them.  Water clarity has improved greatly this year, so let’s pray for the return of seagrass and the baitfish it supports.  Our savior thus far has been the schools of black drum that are abundant if you look in the right places ranging in the 15 to 25 pounds.

    Finally, the American shad run has on the upper St John’s River between the areas of Lake Harney and the SR 50 Bridge has been slow thus far. Also, March is the month to start targeting schooling largemouth bass in the deeper bends of the river at first light feeding on schools of baitfish (menhaden). The indicator I use to locate these schooling bass, is to look for large numbers of white pelicans, herons, and egrets working the banks. Once you’ve located the schooling fish, try throwing a rattletrap, other small subsurface swim bait or a DOA Shad tail. Currently, the black crappie bite has been good, and the bluegill and shell cracker will be on the beds soon.

    All in all, spring is one of the best times of year to fish the Indian River Lagoon coast of Florida. So, if you are planning to visit the area for a fishing adventure, make sure you book your hotel and fishing guide early. Also, when the bite is on, the ramps fill up quickly, so arrive early, be courteous and considerate with other anglers, because we are all on the water for the same reasons.

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

    Good luck and good fishing,

    Captain Tom Van Horn 
     www.irl-fishing.com  
    407-416-1187 on the water


  • 01/31/2020 5:01 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Shad Run is Behind Schedule
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    Nothing has been routine about the weather so far this winter. Warmer and breezier conditions have only provided us with a few decent weather days in January, and the long-range forecast for the beginning of February is not looking too favorable. Also, there is still the chance of freezing conditions returning this year, but your guess is as good as mine. I’m not complaining, just stating the facts, because even with the worst weather we are still fishing and catching here in Central Florida.

    Normally, once the cold front pushes off the coast into the Atlantic and high pressure settles in, and fishing conditions can shift from miserable to magnificent overnight. One sign I watch for is the development of fog in the early morning hours. As high-pressure systems move off to the northeast, southeasterly wind shifts carry humid air off the Atlantic. Rising humidly levels are an indication of warming temperatures, and a falling barometer. These factors provide ideal weather for fishing the flats and running offshore once the fog burns off. When the next approaching front moves closer the winds will begin to back down from the south and eventually shift to the west just before the front hits. As a rule, the stronger the front, the more intense the wind speed and shifts will be. All of this information falls in the nice to know category if you are one of the lucky people who can pick their days on the water, but for most of us the best day to fish is whenever you have a chance.

    Another important point to remember when fishing inshore is falling water temperatures force most fish, bait included, 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 change and the fish will begin to move into the shallow flats to feed. On the sunny mornings, it is not uncommon to find redfish and trout holding in the sand pockets within the shallow flats where water temperatures raise quickly. Additionally, warming water temperatures combined with sunny spring days and clear water, make February one of the best months to site 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 with mucky bottoms. 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 are still be found along the inshore reefs and wrecks, and they will remain there if the water temperature stays above 68 degrees. When targeting kings, focus on the areas of 8A reef, Pelican Flats, and Bethel Shoals to the south. Look for cobia and amberjack to be holding on the inshore wrecks 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 fisherman to target pompano, bluefish, weakfish, small black drum, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel and whiting in the surf and larger redfish and flounder around the inlet jetties and.

    Finally, windy days in February are a great time to check out those freshwater fishing holes on the St Johns River. Currently anglers have been catching American shad, speckled perch, warmouth perch, and largemouth bass. Like everything else this year, the shad run is behind schedule. This past week I heard one good report of shad coming from the Marina Isles to Mullet Lake section of the St. Johns River, with only a few shad being taken south of Lake Harney. As the run progresses the shad should be moving into the shallows south of Hwy 46, so fly anglers get ready.

    Currently water levels are dropping on both the Lagoons and on the St Johns River, so please operate your vessels with caution when fishing in theses area.

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

    Seminar Schedule in February:

    Central Florida Offshore Anglers Association (CFOA)
    Annual Bait Rigging Seminar Monday, February 10th - 6:30pm
    Winter Park Community Center 721 W New England Ave 
    Winter Park, FL 32789

    This event is open to the public, and I will be covering Shad and Crappie as well as a Katmai Lodge Alaska Show and Tell. For more details visit https://mycfoa.com/.

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

    Good luck and good fishing,

    Captain Tom Van Horn
    www.irl-fishing.com
    mosquitocoast@cfl.rr.com
    407-416-1187 on the water

  • 01/31/2020 4:58 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Play what’s dealt
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    February brings the best of our Winter fishing patterns. During this month we can expect some cold dates, some windy ones, and hopefully some chamber of commerce days. Depending on what Mother nature deals us, will depend on what fish we go after. Typical temperatures will range from the upper 50’s to the low 80’s. Wind will tend to switch often as the tail ends of cold fronts will brush through from time to time. West to Northwest winds will follow these cold fronts making the days after tough for any offshore trips. Pre-frontal conditions will be the best bet for fisherman both inshore and off.

    Our back bays and near shore waters will be full of fish visiting Southwest Florida for a few months. Our deep holes around mangrove shorelines, docks, and even in our rivers and creeks can hold a lot of fish during these times. Black drum will be prevalent during this month and found in those places regularly. Shrimp becomes a don’t leave home without them bait during February. Fiddler crabs, cut baits such as ladyfish or mullet, and pilchards will bag plenty of other species.

    Sheepshead, redfish, snook, snappers, trout, and flounder are a some of those targeted. When water temperatures get into the low 60’s fish aren’t as aggressive so not moving your presentation and allowing the fish to come find it on their own works well. Anglers that want to throw artificial baits or flies should think low and slow on the retrieval for the best results. It also doesn’t hurt to try downsizing you baits, as sometimes that works better.

    Typically, black drum, pompano, mackerel, bonito, kingfish, and tripletail will keep the nearshore to offshore guides busy when they can get out. Don’t discount the snapper fishing however, as it’ll be good this month. Those snapper fishing will typically get out to 75 feet and find mangrove, lane, mutton, and yellowtail snapper.

    The colder water pattern brings fish in closer to shore. Those boats running  over forty miles will primarily be targeting red groupers. Finding bait hasn’t been much of a problem all last month, so hopefully it continues to be that way. Those fishing the nearshore wrecks and reefs should keep an eye out for cobia. Cobia often come check out anything that’s going on, then move on. These curious fish will give anglers a great fight as long as you’re ready when you first see them.

    Tight lines, Capt. Greg Stamper
    Snook stamp charters
    239-313-1764
    Snookstampcharters@gmail
    Snookstampcharters.com

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