fishing Forecast

  • 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

  • 03/02/2017 5:55 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Early spring transition
    By Captain Michael Manis

    Again, its transition time around the harbor, we’re heading into spring. The winter pattern of low tide sand hole fishing is about to change. We’ll still get to deal with the wind, but warmer air and water temperatures should begin to bring the bait in from offshore and the fish will get aggressive. It’s not unusual to see a good cold snap in March, but overall, it’s a big change from the past two months.

    Typically, I like to pick up where I left off last month, working outside shorelines adjacent to backcountry creek systems. Out of Punta Gorda, I’ll work south from Alligator Creek down to Pirate Harbor and it’s not out of the question working all the way down to Buzzard Bay in Matlacha. I’ll target snook, redfish, and spotted sea trout.  At the top of the harbor, the north end of the west wall and the shorelines at the edge of the western entrance to the Myakka cutoff can also be good spring snook spots.

    Towards the end of the month, it’s even possible to see some tarpon show up in the upper harbor. These are resident fish that come out of the rivers. Generally, April is prime for this bite, but if it’s warm enough, late March could be good. Cobia will also begin to appear around the bars that surround both the east and west walls. I like to pole or run the trolling motor down the outside edge and look for groups of cow nose rays as it’s not unusual to find the cobia close behind. In addition, these bar structures also should still be holding some pompano. Hard bottom is the key and I’ve found them up and down both the east and west walls on any given day. I’ve also run into them inside Boca Grande Pass just across the intracoastal on the Cayo Costa side.

    The sheepshead bite should still be strong anywhere there is structure. The Boca Grande and Placida trestles are very popular as is the artificial reef off Alligator Creek. On windy days, some live shrimp thrown up under any canal system dock can make for a good time. The Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte canals hold good numbers.

    Until next month, good tides.

    Captain Michael Manis

    Punta Gorda Fly Charters
    (941) 628-7895

  • 03/02/2017 5:26 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Wind may dictate March fishing
    By Capt. Charlie Conner 

    March has arrived on the Treasure Coast and, traditionally, we can expect windy conditions along with some rain clouds most days.   It might dictate where and when you can get on the water, but at least we aren't cutting holes in the ice to fish!  Water temperatures will continue to rise and the fish will be actively feeding on the flats.  Winter was a little cooler and windier for us in February.  March brings the transition into Spring and things will warm up again. Take advantage of the good days and get out fishing soon!

    As the sun warms up the water again, look for fish to travel into the shallows to feed. Trout will continue to be most prevalent in the deeper grass flats in two to four feet of water. Those anglers using live shrimp on popping corks, Deadly Combos, CAL jerk baits and top water will have the best chance at hooking up with a trout. I like to fish the edges of the shallows where the water drops off to these depths. You can find trout in four to six feet of water and they will move onto the shallower flats to let the sun warm them as the day goes on. Depending on weather conditions, there are many areas to fish.  Round Island, Bear Point and Harbor Branch are always popular to fish in March.

    Redfish will get more active this month and you can find some tailing on the flats in early mornings.  Top water, DOA shrimp, CAL grub tails or gold spoons are good choices for finding a spot tail on the flats.  Don't forget to fish around the mangroves also.  So far this winter, there has continued to be a good redfish population around the river and the fishing has been fantastic for them. I tend to like the east side of the river for redfish, but you can find them on the west side also.  Work your baits slowly along the bottom for best results.  This has been a good winter to allow us to enjoy a terrific redfish bite around the docks and mangroves with nice sized slot fish.  Learn to read the water so you don’t miss what is happening around you.
    Anglers will continue to target snook around the inlets, docks and bridges on the Treasure Coast.  Live bait always works best, but feather jigs, TerrorEyz and DOA Bait Busters can also get you hooked up. Most of the action will be at night with best results on the high ends of the tides. As the water warms up around the area, the snook action will liven up also. Those fishing the flats can also find snook feeding early or late in the day. Fish the mangroves during the rest of the day. There has been a very good juvenile snook population on the flats this year.  Top water, twitch baits, TerrorEyz or CAL jerk baits can do the trick in March on the flats.

    The pompano bite has been better this year with the cooler weather bringing them into the area.  Whiting, Bluefish and pompano will be hanging around the beaches this month. The inlet will be holding Spanish mackerel, jacks and bluefish. Jack Crevalle and ladyfish continue to haunt the river and provide fun catch for all. Bridges should give up catches of sand perch, sheepshead and black drum on live or dead shrimp.

    Spring is just around the corner on the Treasure Coast.  It won't be long!  Take some time to check all your equipment now and be ready as the weather improves to get out on the water. Make sure your reels are in good working order.  Check your rods for broken or cracked tips and guides. How old in that line??  Get ready now on some of these windy days ahead, so you will be ready to head out to the water soon!  Have a great March in 2017!

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

    Good Fishing and Be Safe,
    Captain Charlie Conner

  • 02/01/2017 11:27 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Wind will dictate February bite
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    February is the hump month for fishing in Southwest Florida. Although we may be lucky enough to see mid 80’s a few times, temperatures in the 70’s are more like the reality until we get into March. During February’s coolest periods, anglers need a bit of lucky timing in regards to cold fronts. Wind, especially that which comes driving down on us from the North or Northwest, will dictate how successful the fishing days will be.
    Northern winds will silt up the backcountry waters, and mess up the tides as they’re usually brisk. As strong fronts cool the water down, it can create tough conditions for a day or two. East to Southwest winds will bring us the warmer weather and better fishing. Fishing at the doorstep of these cold fronts is always the best-case scenario.
    When fishing after a cold front has just passed, it will be tough as barometric pressure will be rather high for a couple of days following. Likewise, fishing right up to the moment when those long Southwest to Northwest cold front cloud boundaries come rolling in, the fish will be chewing. So, now that we have the wind thing figured out what are we going to fish for?
    On days when it hasn’t been windy for a while, anglers may find that the water gets rather clear. During days like this you will have the possibility of sight casting to redfish, snook, and even sheepshead. Since it does take a few days for the water to clear up, try using shrimp or cut bait around the oyster bars and points when the water is still dirty.
    Sheepshead will be a big target through February as the big fish spawn both inshore and on the reefs and wrecks. Snook will continue to stay in their winter haunts certainly until March so stay in and around the creeks, river mouths, canal systems with deeper water, and docks.

    Trout fishing will be good, and it won’t be uncommon to catch on every cast. You’ll find the trout in 3 to 5 feet of water in good numbers and occasionally find big ones or “gators” up on the flats while red fishing.

    Flounder will show up from time to time, usually hitting small swim baits or jigs tipped with shrimp. It’s not easy finding a big flounder around here, so if you get one close to 20” you’ve done well. Pompano will still be plentiful both along the beaches and passes as well as on the nearshore reefs.
    On those beautiful days, when we can run around out in the Gulf of Mexico; tripletail, kingfish, grouper, sheepshead and the occasional flounder will all be fair game.

    On the days we have light winds it usually means clean water, especially since we tend to get very little rain during the month of February. Taking this into consideration, you will find that tripletail can be a great fish to target nearshore along the crab trap buoys. You can look for tripletail as you troll around for grouper or kingfish at times, since crab traps are usually on hard bottom, the same areas grouper and kings will be in.

    If you don’t want to move around a lot, you can always anchor up near your favorite reef or wreck and give them a go that way. When bottom fishing this time of the year, flounder and sheepshead will be around the same areas as the groupers, so rig up accordingly for both.

    I prefer dropping two rods that can handle a serious grouper, cobia, kingfish, etc... and have two lighter rods with simple jigs to get the action from snappers, sheepshead, flounder, pompano and such.

    Tight lines,
    Capt Greg Stamper, Snook Stamp Charters

  • 02/01/2017 10:55 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Low tides and sand holes
    by Capt. Michael Manis

    Typically, February is an extension of the previous two months in that the weather is dominated by cool north winds and low tides. With spring on the horizon, I like to venture out of the creeks to adjacent shorelines to take advantage of some backcountry sand hole opportunities. This is where snook, redfish and spotted sea trout drop into shallow depressions on the lower tides waiting for water to come back onto the flat. The flats are full of these depressions and they come in all shapes and sizes.
    Places like Gasparilla Sound and Bull Bay hold good fish and are easily accessible from close by ramps. In particular, Bull Bay fishes real well on these tides. Small shallow draft boats can also take advantage of some exceptional fishing in Pine Island Sound as well as Lemon Bay. In the sound, I like fishing out of Pineland or the Bokeelia boat ramp and hanging tight to the western edge of the Pine island Shoreline to hide from the wind. In lemon Bay, I like the flats adjacent to and north of Buck Creek.

    On those rare calm days, the open harbor and adjacent bar systems also hold potential. Pompano are still on the bars like the one that runs the length of the West Wall and down onto Cape Haze Point. Spanish mackerel are scattered throughout the harbor and will be mixed in with lots of ladyfish outside the bars working schools of glass minnows. The Cape Haze and Alligator Creek artificial reef systems hold good numbers of sheepshead. Both of these reef systems are well marked. In addition to the reefs, sheepshead are still at the Boca Grande and Placida trestles in good numbers and are great spots to fish with or without a boat.
    Lastly, area canal systems can also be good. In particular, because of good tidal flow, the perimeter canals of both Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte hold lots of species. Redfish, black drum, spotted sea trout, and snook hang close to the cement seawalls that hold heat from the afternoon sun. Corner spots are prime as that is where current moves the fastest. Until next month, good tides.

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

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