fishing Forecast

  • 12/31/2017 5:35 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Sight fishing as good as it gets
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    I would like to begin this report by wishing all of you a happy and prosperous New Year.  2017 was an excellent year for me as I was blessed by great family and friends, a great job and lots of fishing, life doesn’t get any better than that.

    As water levels and temperatures drop, clear and shallow conditions on the inshore flats will make sight fishing the best we will see all year. Mullet and other finfish have migrated out of the area for the winter, so anglers should switch to smaller shrimp and crabs and a slower presentation. When targeting inshore species during the colder months, I like to downsize my lures and fish with a shrimp or crab imitation baits like the DOA Shrimp and Crab.

    January and February are key months for targeting large black drum in the deeper channels and around the bridges.  For the past several years the black drum populations have expanded on our lagoons, so I'm eager to see how they show up this year and target a few on the flats and to catch a few nice ones on fly.

    Now is also the time for surf anglers to target pompano, bluefish, weakfish, small black drum, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel and whiting off the beaches and larger redfish and flounder around the inlets of Ponce De Leon, Port Canaveral and Sebastian.   This bite is already good and should improve as we get further into the month.  When the weather permits, like to fish just past the surf break in my skiff and fish with small jigs tipped with a live sand flea.

    Lastly and my all-time favorite, the American shad run on the upper St. Johns River should be swinging into full gear by mid-January. And if this year's run is anything close to what we had last year, look out for Captain Tom and Three Quarter Time when you are passing through shad alley. Also, if you enjoy a fresh fish dinner occasionally, the specked perch (crappie) bite has been good in some areas and will continue to improve in all the big lakes, rivers and creeks in Central Florida.

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

    Good luck and good fishing and happy holidays,

    Captain Tom Van Horn 
    Mosquito Coast Fishing Charters 
    mosquitocoast@cfl.rr.com 
    www.irl-fishing.com 
    407-416-1187 Cell

  • 12/31/2017 9:22 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Targeting the right species will be key in January
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    Wow, where did 2017 go? As we welcome the new year and a bit of cooler weather we’ll be targeting species that like just that. Now for most 50 to 60-degree days are a welcome relief from the bitter cold up North, but to fishing peeps throughout South Florida we’ll be bundled up and ready for a snowmobile ride most mornings. With that said Happy New Year and get ready for a great 2018.

    During January we’ll be targeting several species. During the really cold days we’ll go after those that like that stuff, and broadening our horizons during the days things warm back up. The days right after cold fronts usually means we hunker down and target things that don’t mind the cooler temperatures. These fish are primarily sheepshead, trout, pompano, bluefish, mackerel to name a few inshore; and tripletail, kingfish, sheepshead again, bonito and groupers in our nearshore waters.

    Sheepshead go full speed this time of the year as they spawn in our back bays and nearshore waters. These spawning fish can easily get to the 6 to 8-pound class and are also great to eat. We target them along docks, oyster bars, and on reefs and wrecks regularly for about 3 months. Sheepshead will take a variety of baits such as sand fleas, crabs, barnacles, and shrimp. When targeting this bait stealing convict fish try downsizing the bait and hook so they are forced to deal with the sharp part immediately. Inshore I’ll use small jigs tipped with bait, and nearshore I use more of a chicken rig with size 1 hooks.

    Trout and pompano are two of the other fun ones to go after during cold spells, that are also good to eat. However, we’ll find lots of other snowbirds like the bluefish and mackerels that come in heavy during this time. There can be tons of action when going after these species and depending on where you are, you may find all in the same area. Typically, I’ll target the trout over grass flats using popping corks worked aggressively in 2 ½ to 5 feet of water. When near the beaches, passes, or nearshore I prefer jigs of many varieties and weights. Sometimes the fish are toward the top of the water column sometimes down, so you’ve got to try different techniques and jig weights.

    Now on the nice days when its not windy and temperatures are tolerable to a Floridian, we can target snook, redfish, tripletail, and other species. Usually it takes a few days post cold front to get these fish eating. We can run and gun out along the trap lines and markers for the tripletail, or we can fish in the back bay and target reds and snook. Typically, I’d recommend using live baits like shrimp, crabs, or whitebaits when available. One thing for sure if your using artificial is to slow things down. These fish will not be as aggressive and keeping baits near them longer usually works out well. Cut baits like ladyfish, sardines, or mullet can also be very effective. The cut baits work better in poor water quality conditions and the live stuff works better in clean water.

    So that’s January in a nutshell here in SWFL.

    Tight lines Capt. Greg Stamper,

    Snookstampcharters.com
    239-313-1764    


  • 12/31/2017 9:17 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Working with the fronts
    by Capt. Michael Manis

    In many ways, this is a period of contrasts where it can be difficult to find a routine. Sure, the mornings are consistently cool and tides are definitely low.  But for the most part, the wind seems to keep me guessing.  It’s like there are two types of distinct days right now.  Of course, these are determined by cold fronts and it’s either blowing or it’s really nice.

    On the better days when everything lays down and presents a chamber of commerce type day, it’s as good as it gets and our options really open up. On the other hand, when it’s howling, the best we can hope for is keeping the wind at our back and trying to work lee shorelines.

    On the calm days between fronts, I like to take advantage of spots and fisheries that are out in open water.  Try taking a run to the crab trap buoys just off the beach and keep an eye out for tripletail. I’ve thrown flies and plastics at these guys; but the best bait going is live shrimp. It’s also not unusual to see Bonita out here and don’t hesitate to take a look inside Boca Grande Pass as it can also hold some good numbers. If you want to get into the backing on your fly reel, try hooking up to a Bonita.

    The beaches can also be good. In fact, if you don’t have access to a boat, this is one of the best times of year to fish from shore. Sheepshead, whiting, pompano, and black drum are all possibilities. Just inside the passes, the Boca Grande and Placida trestles are loaded with sheepshead.  A bit further inshore, pompano should be on bar systems throughout the harbor. Cape Haze Point is your best bet.

    When it’s blowing, to keep run time at a minimum, I prefer spots that aren’t too far from a ramp. I’ll generally load at Pineland Marina in Pine Island Sound, or Ponce Park in Punta Gorda.  If you can get into the flats in any one of these areas, there are redfish, spotted sea trout, and flounder. These areas all provide decent cover when battling a strong northerly wind. Out of Pineland, the entire east side below the ramp is good; however, it can be very shallow and difficult to access without a shallow draft boat. From Ponce Park, there’s a maze of small islands between Alligator Creek and Pirate Harbor that provide lots of opportunities for the small skiff.

    Until next month, good tides.

    Captain Michael Manis

    Punta Gorda Fly Charters
    (941) 628-7895
    mike@puntagordaflycharters.com
    www.puntagordaflycharters.com


  • 12/31/2017 9:11 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Warm water will give you an edge
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    Happy New Year!  In past several years, January has traditionally been a cold month around the Treasure Coast.  Hopefully, 2018 will show us another mild winter and you won’t have to worry about the water temperatures as much this year.  Fishing in deeper water will provide you with better results on most days.  Working your lures and baits much slower will also give you a better chance at success.  Fish tend to become lethargic in cold water and are slow in moving to strike at lures.  Finding water that is a couple degrees warmer than the surrounding area can also give you an edge on finding fish.  Water temperatures have been mild so far.  We had great results last year on fishing deep sand holes on the flats that were being warmed by the sun.  We will certainly be doing that again this year.

    January is typically a windy month and it will continue the tradition if recent weather gives you an insight to the coming month.  You might enjoy one or two days a week that is calmer, but expect it to be windy most days.  Using the right ramps can make your day a little easier in dealing with the weather.  There are many ramps around the area that allow you to launch depending on wind direction.  The river can be rough some days, but you can still fish most days if you plan your trips carefully.  It is a great month to fish in spite of weather conditions that might not be to your liking.

    Bridges will continue to produce sheepshead, black drum, croakers, sand perch and bluefish.  Most of the anglers on the catwalks prefer live or frozen shrimp for these fish.  The inlet and turning basin will be full of bluefish, jacks and mackerel this month.  Live or dead bait on a jig head will give you plenty of action along with silver spoons or shiny lures.  Around seawalls, channel edges or deeper structure you can find grouper for catch and release action in January.  Snook action around the jetties and bridges will be active mostly at night for anglers using feather jigs, Terror Eyz and live bait.  Snook closed on December 15th, so it will be catch and release for them. 

    Redfish can be found around docks and sitting on the flats on warm, sunny days.  The new 2 ¾” DOA shrimp, Terror Eyz or CAL jerk baits work great for wintertime fishing.  We had fantastic results around mangroves for redfish last year.  CAL paddle tails in the 411 color were a hit with the reds.   Docks will be loaded with sheepshead in January with nice sized fish.  They have moved in early this year and have been hungry!  Pompano fishing will depend on water temperatures for their location, but they will be in the area throughout the winter.  

    Surf anglers will be targeting these fish on days when the beach is fishable.  Flounder should be found around the jetties on the beach side and on sand flats around the inlet.  If you can find warmer water on the flats, you will most likely find trout feeding in those areas.  Last year, we were rewarded many days as the sun would warm up a patch of water and get the fish actively feeding.  Trout fishing in 2017 rewarded us with many big fish in the 25” to 30” range.  CAL jerk baits and Deadly Combos were very successful on the trout, and 2018 should prove to be another good year.  Ladyfish and jacks will be all over the river for fun action for the little ones.

    January Tips:  Dress for the weather.  We might get one or two days each week that might be warmer, but most days will be on the cooler side.  There can be a 30 degree swing in temperature on some days.  Dressing in layers can keep you comfortable throughout the day in January.  Once you become cold, it's hard to warm back up again.  Keep yourself comfortable and enjoy some good fishing in January.  Stay warm and safe and enjoy the winter!

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

    Have a wonderful 2018!
    Thanks and Good Fishing!
    Captain Charlie Conner
     
    www.fishtalescharter.com
    captaincharlie@fishtalescharter.com
    772-284-3852 
  • 11/30/2017 10:41 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Try the flats after they warm
    by Capt. Tom VanHorn

    Let me begin my December forecast by wishing everyone a very fishful holiday season.  Each year I’m amazed by how quickly the time passes, and 2017 was no exception.  So far my 2017 fishing season has been an excellent one.  Please visit my photo gallery on my website at http://www.irl-fishing.com/gallery and see some of the outstanding catches my clients made this year. It is my hope that you and those closest to you have a wonderful holiday season and spend some time on the water together.

    Although the water quality in the Lagoon system has improved some, overall conditions remain challenging with elevated levels and dirty water. I know many of you enjoy sight fishing, but with high and dirty water visually locating fish on the flats can be difficult, but in spite of these tough conditions we still managed some great catching adventures. As we progress into winter, water levels typical drop and clear up, so some of this forecast is based on my past experiences.

    Starting with the lagoons, both redfish and sea trout will remain in the skinny water as long as the water temperatures stay warm.  Inshore flats fishing is best once the sun warms the water a bit, so sleep in and enjoy a good cup of coffee before heading to the ramp on those cold mornings. Focus your fishing in protected areas and sunny spots, and look for fish to be holding in sand patches and areas with mucky bottom until the sun gets overhead.  Another tip is to fish with smaller shrimp and crab imitation baits with a very slow presentation as cold fish are sluggish feeders.

    When the weather is nice and the seas are fishable offshore, solid concentrations of kingfish will be holding on the inshore reefs and wrecks in 60 to 100 feet of water.  Several prime locations to target December kingfish are the north end of Pelican Flats and 8A reef out of Port Canaveral.  The kingfish bite should remain steady as long as ocean water temperatures stay above 74 degrees.  When near-shore waters approach the 70-degree mark, start looking for cobia and tripletail along Port Canaveral buoy line and the shallow waters just off and in the bight of the Cape. These two species normally hold around floating structure, but they also tend to free swim once the water temperatures warm up in the afternoon.

    If the ocean conditions are a bit too rough, good concentrations of breeder redfish will be holding in the inlet passes of Ponce De Leon and Sebastian. Try drifting the passes during the falling tide bouncing live pinfish or croakers along the bottom.   In the Port Canaveral shipping channel, work the edges of the channel using the same technique. Remember these are oversize redfish, so please step up the size of your tackle to lessen the stress of the fight, and release them with extreme care to be caught again on another day.

    Snook fishing will also remain steady around Sebastian Inlet as long as the water temperatures stay warm. It is best to target inlet snook during periods of slack tide fishing live pigfish, pinfish, or croakers at night in the channel under the A1A Bridge. Another notable species worth mentioning when speaking of inlet fishing is flounder.  Depending on surf and lagoon temperatures, the flounder migration can stretch into December, with stragglers filtering through the passes all month.

    If the winds are westerly, concentrate your efforts along the beach, and look for pompano to begin moving off the inshore flats to the deeper troughs along the beach.  Also, look for schools of bluefish and Spanish mackerel shadowing pods of glass minnows and other bait is the surf.  To target both blues and Spanish, watch for birds working bait pods, and through small jigs like the D.O.A C.A.L. and spoons with a fast retrieval to avoid cutoffs.

    On the upper Saint Johns River look for the American and hickory shad runs to commence near the end of the month, and intensifying in January and February.  Shad fishing is one of the most overlooked fisheries in Florida, and a fun fish to catch on both fly and light tackle gear. Additionally, all winter is crappie season, so don’t underestimate these tasty morsels. Currently water levels remain high, so please be careful while navigating these waters.

    In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who fished and worked with me this past year for your business and friendship, and I am looking forward to spending more time on the water with you in 2018. Also, now is the time to purchase your 2018  charter gift certificates by visiting http://www.irl-fishing.com/gift-certificates , so purchase a charter in advance for yourself or that special angler close to your heart, and go fishing with them.

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

    Good luck, good fishing and happy holidays,

    Captain Tom Van Horn
    Mosquito Coast Fishing Charters
    mosquitocoast@cfl.rr.com
    www.irl-fishing.com 

  • 11/30/2017 10:38 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Productive winter fishing patterns start now!Productive winter fishing patterns start now! 
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    December fishing can be productive! Winter has officially begun in Southwest Florida officially, and although we don’t see snow or even much lower than fifty, it can cool off from time to time. Fishing patterns have now moved full-swing into a winter pattern. Typically, water temperatures will stay somewhere in the 60’s. With that said, we’ll still get some awesome weather for parts of the month that makes everyone else north of us jealous. We’ve got all kinds of options both inshore and nearshore to target during this time. Depending on what mother nature dishes out, we’ll figure out a plan.

    There’s a lot going on nearshore around here during this time. Seasonally we still have plenty of bait around for the fish to follow through the end of this month. With that said, when the big pods of threadfin herring move south of us, so will several of the species that eat them. Cobia, breeder redfish, kingfish, and bonita are a few of the targets still plentiful during this time. Trolling large deep divers around the schools of bait or over hard bottom is a sure-fire way to get action during this time of the year. Paying attention to flocks of birds diving up and down will also give anglers a bunch of help on locating schools of fish. When running from place to place or doing my favorite on calm days, which is tripletailing, you can come across all kinds of cool targets. Always have a bucktail jig or swimbait rigged up and ready to go, as you never know what you may stumble on.

    The backcountry bite is now in a true winter pattern. Last month the snook showed up in and around the beaches and passes as they began their push back to the creeks and rivers. So, if it’s snook I’m looking for, that’s the place I’ll be this month. You can use artificial lures of many varieties for snook, I prefer something that’s plastic and rigged weedless. Redfish magics, money minnows, and DOA jerkbaits are a few of my favorites. As water temperatures cool off, and you begin throwing these types of rigs, start slowing down your presentation. Varying your retrieve can make a big difference as things cool off.

    Redfishing will still be good, although typically I only find over-slot fish around the nearshore wrecks and reefs, and smaller fish 15”-27” in the back bays. Trout fishing should be excellent the entire month as they tend to like the cool off and can be found typically in 3-5 feet of water over grassy bottom. A standard popping cork and live shrimp or DOA will get it done. Sheepshead fishing becomes very good for us throughout the region during this time of the year as they begin to spawn. Sheepies can be found typically up to 7lbs in this area regularly for months to come. The sheepshead is a nipper of baits, so smaller hooks and smaller offerings of shrimp, fiddler crabs, and even barnacles will work fine.

    Capt. Greg Stamper
    Snookstampcharters.com
    239-313-1764

  • 11/30/2017 10:33 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Working Winter Flats
    by Captain Michael Manis

    In the backcountry, where I spend most of my time, this month marks a true turning point where everything generally changes. The transition that began late last month will come full circle and cold fronts, strong winds and low tides dominate.  Shallow flats chill quickly under these conditions. I won’t target snook, as hopefully they’ll be laying low up the many creek and river systems. Fortunately, redfish and spotted sea trout flourish in the cooler environment; so, that’s where I’ll concentrate my efforts.

    Because of the style I fish, fly and light tackle out of a small skiff, I’ll spend all my time fishing sand holes that are scattered throughout my favorite flats. When the wind is coming out of the north pushing out water on an already low tide, redfish and trout will gang up within these spots. Too, many times it’s the small sand holes that produce the best. By small, I’m referring to spots that are only a foot or two wide. Generally, the fish like to hold on the edge of the holes at the edge of the grass.

    I like small baits; for fly, small shrimp or baitfish patterns work well and I’ll even throw an intermediate sink tip line. Understandably, this line gets my fly down and because it’s a bit heavier, it helps punch the line into a stiff breeze. For spinning tackle, I like small plastic paddle tail and shrimp baits rigged on a standard 1/8 or ¼ ounce jig head. 

    Due to the wind, I try and keep my run time to a minimum so not to take too much of a beating. Fortunately, there are several good areas not far from a ramp. For the most part, I’ll fish out of Ponce Park in Punta Gorda, the east side from Alligator Creek all the way down to Matlacha provides welcome lee shoreline protection from the persistent north east wind.

    Also, don’t be surprised to hook into a few flounder working the sand holes. I’ve even caught them throwing a fly. Moreover, on milder days between fronts there should be a good pompano bite on the hard bottom off Cape Haze Point.  Around the corner outside the bar along the West Wall is also a great place.  Keep an eye behind the boat and when a few skip your wake shut it down turn around a make a few casts, you never know.

    Because of the sheepshead bite, this is one of the best times of year to fish from shore. The Placida and Boca Grande trestles are great spots to drop a fiddler crab or piece of shrimp. Stop by any of our local tackle shops and they’ll set you up.

    Until next month, good tides.

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

    mike@puntagordaflycharters.com 
    www.puntagordaflycharters.com

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

    Winter fishing is here
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

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

    December brings on the winter months and changes fishing tactics on the river. The water temperatures continue to fall and your fishing must adjust to the weather. Water temps can dictate where you fish and how you fish.  Finding water a few degrees warmer than normal can mean the difference in catching and fishing.  We will get many days of breezy winds that will hinder getting to some favorite spots out there. That's one of the reasons I love fishing in this area....you can always find somewhere to fish! Not only does the cooler weather affect the fish, it also requires us to dig out the ol' winter fishing clothes.  I’m not too proud to get out the long johns on a cold winter day.   It can get pretty chilly some mornings!

    Trout, redfish and snook will be targets throughout the winter. Snook season closes December 15th, but many anglers will still play catch and release with them. Fishing around bridges, docks and inlets can bring great action with snook hanging around the deeper waters of the river. Using live bait, DOA Baitbusters & TerrorEyz, jigs and bomber lures can help you catch one worth a photo opportunity. Trout will tend to hang around the deeper cuts of the river. Move off to three to six feet of water for trout. Live shrimp on popping corks or DOA Deadly Combos will work the best for them. I love to work DOA CAL jerk baits or CAL Air Heads this time of year on the flats. You can also find snook and redfish hanging around those areas as well.

    Pompano have already arrived in the area and not only provide great fishing action, but fantastic table fare. Spanish mackerel and bluefish will continue to hang out in their favorite haunts of the river. Fish the inlet, turning basin and channels for them. Jack Crevalle will be traveling around in packs chasing bait all over the river. Flounder should arrive soon and hang around the inlets, docks and sandy flats of the river. Ladyfish is a great way to spend a few hours with the kids on the water. The bridges will be holding sheephead, black drum, croakers and sand perch for those anglers. Live or dead shrimp is always the best bet from the catwalks. There is a good variety of fish to target on any given day in any kind of weather conditions.

    Redfish can be found around local docks during the winter months and a live shrimp or DOA Shrimp can entice them into striking. Don't forget about the deeper cuts along the mangroves for redfish and snook in December. Using stealth is essential when fishing the shallow waters for redfish. We had very good success at finding the reds in shallow on sunny days on the grass flats.  A mild winter will have them feeding in the shallows this month.  It was a fantastic redfish bite all last winter and I am looking for it to be just as good this year.

    Winter fishing is already here. Change your tactics with the weather and follow the water temperatures more closely to make your fishing more productive. Let’s make 2018 the year that we see improvements to the water quality in our area.  If we all do our share to protect our rivers, we can insure the future generations will enjoy the same experiences we have been blessed with.

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

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    Captain Charlie Conner
    www.fishtalescharter.com
    captaincharlie@fishtalescharter.com
    772-284-3852

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

    Loving the Mullet Run
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Good luck and good fishing,

    Captain Tom Van Horn
    Mosquito Coast Fishing Charters
    407-416-1187


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

    Winter pattern begins
    by Capt. Michael Manis

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

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

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

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

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

    Until next month, good tides.

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


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