September and October are two great months to fish the
Everglades National Park. Daytime air temperatures will average around 91 in
September, and 87 in October. Water temps will hover around 86 in
September, and 81 in October. Typical to our summer months, September
heats up by midday and the bite will drop off. We should still get some
storms early in the day, which will cool things off a little and produce an
early-evening bite. October shows a much-welcomed cooling trend, which
will help prolong the bite throughout the day.
We are seeing some fantastic schools of large live bait pour
into the area. The influx of bait is nature's way of telling the fish it's time
to fatten up, because believe it or not, fall is on its way.
If live bait is your thing, the large thread herring and
pilchards are here and they are following the tides. They will be close to the
shorelines at high tide, and will be out just a little deeper during the low
tides. Follow the tide line looking for the birds and you will be rewarded with
the best bait around. If you cannot get on the bait in a reasonable amount
of time, look for some nice 4- to 6-inch finger mullet near shore for some
fantastic snook candy.
Snook are around and in good numbers. The big mommas
are feeding on a strong, out-going tide around the outside barrier
islands. They will begin their move to the inside this time of year, and
can also be targeted around the "close in" back waters, before heading way back
in the late fall. Try those live baits for your best numbers. Artificials
are always fun and Gulp! Shrimp, DOA Baitbusters, and a good topwater plug will
The trout are around the shallow grass flats in good
numbers. The key to catching them is to hit your favorite spots during the last
hour or two of the incoming tide. Most of your bites will happen in the 3- to
5-foot depth range. They will hit artificial baits just as well, if not better,
than some live baits. I prefer a 3/8-ounce buck tail jig that has a little
flash in the hair. If you have some shrimp, put a tiny piece on the jig hook
and the smell will drive the trout insane.
Fall is one of our best seasons for consistent reds. It's
hard to beat the sight of tailing reds in the calm waters around an oyster bar!
I prefer to fish for them with live pilchards or thread herring, either
naturally on a circle hook, or under a popping cork. Live shrimp work
well under a popping cork, too. Of course, many artificials are equally
good. I really like a Gulp! new penny shrimp on a 3/8-inch red jig head, or a
gold Johnson Spoon.
Tarpon are still around, more so in September than October,
although not in as many numbers as early summer. The big gals will be out
feeding on the outside bays and flats early in the morning and again late in
the afternoon. Naturally, they are looking for ladyfish, thread herring and
pilchards. My choice is to live line one of these delicacies out to them on a
nice stout spinning rod. If you can sight fish the tarpon, artificials
will also work well. I like a large soft plastic bait like a DOA. Juvenile
tarpon can be targeted in the back rivers and will generally take a shallow
running C.A.L. jerk bait.
Other fun targets are around feeding on all of the live bait
in the area. For some drag-screaming action, you can usually get into some
nice schools of mackerel, bluefish, large jacks, and ladyfish. If you aren't
sure what to use, see Mike at Tall Tales Bait and Tackle in Naples and he will
hook you up with what you need.
Tight Lines, and remember to make someone giggle today!
Capt Pete Rapps
September and October bring the start of
fall. This means cooler weather, shorter days, and great fishing! September is
still a very hot month, but it is the turning point for many species as they
head into their fall patterns. This is truly one of my favorite times to fish.
Snook are one fish that I normally start
targeting in September as they are just getting done with their spawn and start
their journey from the beaches and spoil islands to the backcountry and flats.
All that has changed due to the cold weather snook kill. Yes, we still have
plenty of healthy snook, but the population has been hurt. I have targeted them
less this year and tried to let them be so we can have a good stock for the
years to come. I must stress that if you do catch these great linesiders, make
sure you only have them out of the water for a minimal length of time, and that
you handle them with care to ensure they will live to see another day.
One of my favorite species this month,
which was not hit by this year's record cold temperatures, is the redfish.
September and October are the prime months to catch big trophy reds. They are
schooled up on the flats by the hundreds in search of just about any food you
throw at them. In most cases, a trolling motor is a must for a stealthy
approach. Good places to start looking for fish are at oyster bars, points,
potholes, or good mangrove lines. Always try different techniques and bait.
Fish are a lot like us because they don't eat the same thing every day. They
like to eat a variety of foods, so make sure you try throwing more than just
My preferred tackle for redfish is a Daiwa
Tierra 2500 spooled up with 10-pound Fins Windtamer braided line. Match this
with an eight-foot Daiwa Coastal spinning rod for longer casts, and a 25-pound
fluorocarbon leader with a 1/0 Daiichi Bleeding circle hook and you'll have the
right tools for the job!
Going into the latter part of October is a
great time to start sharpening your artificial skills for trout fishing. Once
we see a few cold fronts and the water temperature starts to hit that mid
70-degree mark, the trout fishing in Tampa Bay really starts to go insane.
Trout fishing is some of the best fishing there is. They are easier to catch,
limits are laxed, and they love to eat artificial bait. If you're a novice with
artificials then this is a great fish to start with. Two of my favorite baits
to throw are DOA Shrimp and DOA TerrorEyz. DOA CAL is another great one.
When looking for good spots, just find a
healthy grass flat and good tidal movement. I also like to target potholes.
Remember, trout are very slimy and this slime is critical in protecting the
fish, so try not to handle the fish you intend to release. A de-hooker makes
this really easy to do and you should get one if you don't already have one.
So, whatever you decide to fish for this time of year, I believe you will have
a tight line and a bent pole.
Capt. Jason Prieto
This edition of GAFF brings world-class inshore fishing opportunities to
the Charlotte Harbor estuary. You will find a multitude of species throughout
this fishery that should be eager to take your bait of choice. Angling with
artificials will be at its peak, with extended mornings highlighted by topwater
explosions from tempted redfish and snook. Trout fishing will excel as well, as
will fishing for large jack crevalle, Spanish mackerel, and plenty of others.
For those who prefer using live bait, expect banner days on the open water
flats and along mangrove shorelines.
primary fall species to target are snook and redfish. Keep in mind that we did
lose some snook over the winter and it is a good idea to have a quick
photo-and-release plan in place when you catch them. What I'm doing on my
charters to facilitate this is smashing the barbs on my Bomber Saltwater Grade
Badonk-A-Donk topwater lures, which enables a quick release without harming the
Good news: we discovered this summer-through daily
observation and counting-that our snook population did not incur the fatality
rate other localities did. It is yet to be determined if snook harvest season
will open this fall, but we should get the FWC determination on the
closure/opening very soon. I, for one, am fine with keeping the fall harvest
season closed (which will be a year) to allow the species to fully recover and
regain it prominence in our fishery.
will begin their fall push during this issue of GAFF. It is not uncommon to
find an abundance of schooling redfish throughout the Charlotte Harbor estuary
on any given day. Keep your eyes open for what looks like a "mullet school on
steroids" because it's likely to be redfish. Cut ladyfish chunks are hard to
beat, especially when tossed under a lively, green mangrove tree with plenty of
cooler water moving underneath. Remember to use a circle hook when fishing cut
baits. This prevents unnecessary gut hooking and increases your hook-up ratio.
My grandfather taught me as a boy that the best angler on
the boat is the rod holder, and this is a perfect opportunity to use it. Soak
your 1-inch cut ladyfish chunks and watch for your line to begin to walk away.
This is the sure sign of a redfish chewing your bait as it unknowingly hooks
itself on the circle hook. Another trick I like to use is trimming the tail off
of live pinfish to slow them down when I use them for bait. Redfish are less
likely to chase baits when it's hot and a tasty, slow-moving pinfish is the
perfect bait to entice a strike.
species are well into their schooling migrational patterns. Keep your eyes open
when running close to crab pot buoys for my fall favorite: the elusive
tripletail. If you're fortunate enough to enjoy fresh tripletail for dinner,
you will find it delightfully light, yet flavorful. FISH ON, FISH ON!Capt. Chris O'Neill
you're looking for the best in fall fishing, give me a call. I specialize in
family-friendly, world-class fishing adventures. The next three months offer
some of the best artificial and topwater inshore fishing action available on
the planet. Schools of hungry redfish and snook are waiting anxiously to eat
your bait as they forage in preparation for their wintertime migrations.
have definitely read our last forecast in GAFF and finally gotten the message
to quit working us guides over so hard. Months of tough fishing have been
followed by some of the best fishing we've seen in years. Some years we just
hit it right and despite winter fish kills and a serious oil leak in the Gulf,
here in southwest Florida the fishing is only getting better every day.
Mark that inshore flats grand slam right
off your bucket list this summer. My bet is that throughout the next few months
we are going to go "all in" and say it is one of our best years ever.
Our snook population definitely took a beating, but not bad enough to keep our
anglers from rockin' out lengthy linesiders. Big spawning snook can be found on
our beaches and passes. Such a great sight to see giant females with schools of
buck snook around! Yes, our population did survive and yes, we are going to
continue to be one of the best snook fisheries in the world. These fish are a
ton of fun to catch on the beaches during low-light hours throwing topwaters
right into the surf line. Along the same beaches, keep an eye out for some
sweet schools of tarpon, which are still around in good numbers. Getting out
early and enjoying a beautiful sunrise will definitely help you increase your
chances for getting on some bruiser fish before the water temps heat up in the
mid-day summer sun.
Summertime is definitely a ball when it
comes to offshore fishing. One of our favorite fish here in south Florida is
the permit and they're stacking up on our offshore numbers. These fish have
been running big and strong, screaming drags, and making our customers happy.
The perfect permit outfit consists of the same rods you'd use for tarpon. Dropping
down to a 30-pound fluorocarbon leader will definitely help you get more takes.
But, picking up a dozen, frisky, bodacious blue crabs from Shack Baits by Punta
Rassa on the way out will help ya knock 'em dead.
Permit are not
the only fish on these structures, you'll also run into huge schools of
mangrove snapper that are spawning this month on the full moon. We will
definitely be doing our fair share of evening snapper trips! Anchoring up
current and getting your "chum on" is the most successful way to get
the big school behind your boat. Make sure you've got the proper gear for
bottom fishing-your ARC dehooker, venting tool, and circle hooks. Forget any of
these at the dock and risk getting yourself a fat fine.
Also this month
we really start nailing the keeper red grouper on the 55-foot ledges and hard
bottom. Using 50-pound braid and a jigging spoon is a great way to cover a lot
of bottom. These jigging spoons have also been enticing strikes from cobia and
nice kingfish as well. If you want to whack and stack some fish offshore for
the freezer or go catch and release some snook and tarpon, this summer is going
to prove to be RED HOT!
Tight lines and
& Capt. Lacey Rush
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Going into the middle of the
summer you can count on one thing for sure-the heat. July and August bring lots
of heat, but they also bring lots of good fishing. I like to start my trips
very early this time of year and end them before the afternoon thunderstorms
kick up. Although we've had major setbacks this year with the unusually cold
winter and unfortunate oil spill, I can tell you we are still having a great
year of catching.
One of the main species to
target this time of year-and a favorite of mine-is the tarpon. Although the big
pushes of fish seem to take off the first part of July, there are still fish
that stay here all year round. They are what I call resident fish and they seem
to really turn on in August. I have found that a nice-sized greenback,
threadfin, pinfish or pass crab on a freeline or under a cork-depending on the
depth of the fish-works very well. Tides are always very important to monitor
when targeting tarpon. Weeks adjacent to the new and full moons are the best
weeks to target tarpon because the tides are the strongest.
Another great species to
target this time of year is mangrove snapper. They'll begin invading Tampa Bay
around the wrecks, artificial reefs and ledges throughout the summer. The best
bait is greenbacks. In addition, I like to use a lot of chum-this works great
and brings the fish to you. Rigging is very simple. Use your typical
light-tackle rod and reel combo matched with 20-pound fluorocarbon leader, a
light weight-depending on the depth of your fish (split shots work great), a #1
Daiichi circle hook and you will soon find a great fight on your hands. Snapper
are not only fun to catch but they are one of the best eating fish.
Sharks are another fun
species to target. Shark fishing is easy and can be very exciting. A chum block is the first step; since
sharks rely on scent to track down food, you will need the chum block to create
the scent. Sharks eat fish, so all
you need to do is go to the flats and catch ladyfish, mackerel, bluefish or any
other type of fish that is easily caught. (Be sure they are in season and slot)
Take the fish and fillet their sides, throw the carcass out as chum and then
just hook a piece of the bait on a 7/0 Daiichi circle hook and simply throw it
off the back and wait. I like to use lighter spinning gear; a 4000 Daiwa
Coastal reel with a Daiwa Coastal 30-pound rod is a nice combo. Make sure to
spool it up with 50-pound Fins PRT braided line to make it easier to use the
light tackle on the bigger sharks. Lastly, hook up and hold on!
Whether you decide to tackle
100-pound sharks in the middle of the bay, catch mangrove snapper on the wrecks
and artificial reefs, or try your luck at catching that trophy tarpon as the
sun rises-you will not be disappointed. Tight Lines!
start to the Boca Grande tarpon season should keep spawning poons in the pass
well into July. Expect resident fish to thrive and feed aggressively throughout
the summer and be found in the open waters of Charlotte Harbor. If you enjoy
the cool temps of night fishing, the US41 and I-75 bridges in Punta Gorda
provide epic tarpon and snook explosions under the lights. Tie on a Bomber
Saltwater Grade A-Salt Long A (16A) and hold on tight as you twitch retrieve
this lifelike lure through the lights. The irresistible action and realistic
color patterns will drive the fish crazy as they try to eat it. My color of
choice is Silver Flash/Chartreuse.
Tripletail tops my list for opportunity fish in this edition of GAFF. It
pays to spend a few extra minutes when running between spots to drive by a few
crab pot buoys in Charlotte Harbor's vast open water. "Trips" provide
world-class table fare and are a lot of fun to target. Free lined shrimp or
white bait are my go-to baits for this species. The trick to not spooking them
is to continue running on plane past the buoy when a fish is identified. A
change in rpms will normally cause the fish to drop down beyond visibility.
Make a wide turn and approach the fish from upwind. Drift with the wind or
minimally use the trolling motor to stage the vessel just far enough away to
reach the target. A suspending tripletail typically will take your
well-positioned bait every time. Bring your electric knife to the fillet table;
their prehistoric scales are similar to cutting through Kevlar.
will be in full swing along our beaches during the summer months. It's tough to
beat strolling down our beaches at first light in search of a hungry linesider.
Keep your eye's focused on the trough a few feet out from the beach. Many
anglers make the mistake of casting too far from the shore. Most beach fish run
and stage along the troughs only a few feet into the water in search of bait
schools trapped within the ebb and flow of the tide. Live shrimp will come in
handy for this venue. A good pair of quality polarized sunglasses increases
your odds of locating and sight casting to the snook of your dreams. Wiley X
offers premium polarized optics that reduce the sun's glare, enabling you to
see fish before they see you. Don't forget that snook harvest season is closed
and a quick pic and release will allow the fish to be caught again another day.
from our beaches you'll find exceptional nearshore angling opportunities in 30
to 60 feet of water. Permit will be stacked up like cordwood on established
structure and red grouper will be patrolling in the same vicinity. Free lining
crabs into the danger zone is a great way to hang summertime Permit. For a
mixed bag, nothing beats slow trolling Bomber Saltwater Grade CD30s around your
favorite reef for a plethora of species. Remember to use non-offset circle
hooks when bottom fishing reefs in the Gulf of Mexico.
fortunate to live and fish in one of the best fishing "holes" in the world. I invite
you to visit and experience what "Old Florida" is all about. Englewood is every
vacationer's dream, offering wonderful beaches, great atmosphere and a slow
pace to relax with family and friends. For anglers, nothing beats a great day
on the water with a professional fishing guide that will put you on the fish,
clean your catch, then send you and the family home with memories of a lifetime
and fresh fish for the grill.
Let's go fishing... and don't forget to bring the kids!Capt. Chris O'Neill
Thank the tides for finally giving us tired, sun-burnt, worn out, crabby fishing guides a break in the weather. In late March I was cruising across Pine Island Sound huddled tightly behind the center console of my 2410 Ranger Bay boat. Trying my best to drive with two total strangers squished against my right and left shoulder to stay WARM! That freaking cold, windy weather was making all of us guides just plain pissed off at Poseidon. He not only sent 15 plus knot winds for 6 months, but he also hit us with record breaking cold temperatures and fish kills. In late March my Hummingbird is reading 52 degree water temps. Leave it to Southwest Florida to boomerang back, though, because two days later its 65 and yes, that was a big tarpon that just skied through those ballyhoo! Spring is officially here!INSHORE
With the sudden change in weather, May and June will prove to be the absolute best fishing of the year! Those big ol' snook that have been in a state of hibernation for the last few months are now shallow and cruising the shores of the Caloosahatchee River looking to chow down. The extreme lack of food in our ecosystem this year due to our harsh winter is making our big predator fish put there guard down and eat our flies and baits exceptionally well. Fishing for snook, redfish, and big seatrout with artificials this month will be extremely productive. If you live baiters out there can't get your wells full of pilchards, don't be scared to pick up some artificials and start slingin'. Fishing a 3 ½-inch Yozuri suspending Sashimi jerkbait on 20-pound Power Pro fitted to a 7 ½-foot G-Loomis spinning rod is definitely my top pick this spring for every single kind of predator fish that swims in southwest Florida. The new Yozuri Sashimi comes in a circle hook series which is proving to be extremely effective on fish that normally would shake off of treble hooks. So, if you're casting or trolling this plug, fish eat it and it just stays locked in their lip. With all of the manatee slow zones in this area, letting a plug out the back of the boat next time you are cruising through the miserable mile just might make that next monotonous idle zone fun and productive!OFFSHORE
With the influx of all of the baitfish that so kindly worked there way back into our area this late spring, our offshore fishing really starts to get red hot. Big king mackerel along with herds of cobia can be found on some of these killer nearshore wrecks. Nice mangrove snapper up to eight pounds are starting to come to the docks with more frequency. Along with mangrove snapper, some decent hogsnapper are also being caught now on the piles of debris from our old Sanibel Causeway just south of the Sanibel Lighthouse. These artificial reefs are home to some of the big spawning-size snook that were fortunate enough to find deeper warm water and bait to survive the freezes of 2010. These big fish can be caught during lowlight hours by fishing live bait on heavy braid. Nice gag grouper are also still very close to shore and are still giving us some nice pulls when we troll in that 25- to 30-foot depth range.
Juvenile kingfish mixed in with bonita can be found within five miles working the schools of bait. Closer to the beaches expect to start seeing our most prized fighters that come to this area... Da Poons! Fishing live threadfin herring around rolling schools of tarpon just off the beaches is going to be the most productive. Cutting these fish off as they make their way up to Boca Grande to spawn is a ton of fun. Weather you want to fly fish or fish with light tackle, this next month is going to be super sweet, so get out there and soak some of this up!
Capt. Chris and Lacey Rushwww.rushcharters.com
Well, we've had a crazy start to our year with this record breaking cold weather. I have lived here my whole life and I can't remember days that were this cold. We did lose some fish from the extreme temps, especially snook, but everyone should remember this is nature's path and everything will be OK at the end of the day. With that being said, this abnormal weather has made for some changes in the normal patterns of the fish. I have really had to go to the drawing table this year, as my recent log served no good. I have found that everything is behind a month or so. For example, in April I targeted areas that are normally good in March. This method has proven fairly effective.
So, going into the two best months of the year you can expect the snook fishing to really take off. My favorite bait are greenbacks, aka, snook candy. They cannot resist a frisky greenback under a popping cork or on a freeline. Remember, water is still clear, so use a 3-foot section of 25-pound fluorocarbon leader and a #1 Daiichi Bleeding circle hook. Another method that works really well when the weather starts to get really hot and they start to slow down is cut bait. This is one of my favorite ways to target snook when the heat arrives. Remember, snook fishing is closed statewide until September. Practice a gentle release and make sure to revive the fish fully.
Redfish are also in full swing this time of year. There are huge schools milling the flats in search of all types of food. Using a stealthy approach is a must. Most fish have been caught a time or two, so you really have to be quiet and stay as far away as possible. This means you need to make long casts and braided line is a big help. I prefer to use 6- to 20-pound Fins Wind Tamer. This will enable you to make farther casts so you can stay back away from the fish. Cut bait is my favorite bait, but if you want to use artificials, you can't go wrong with the DOA shrimp.
Trout are also a great species to target. They are great table fare and slot limits are between 15 and 20 inches, so it's easy to catch keepers. They are easy to catch on both artificial and live bait and they don't seem to mind a little bit of noise from the boat. This is a great species to go after with young kids. My personal favorite bait is the 4-inch DOA CAL, matched with a 1/8-ounce jig head. Locating a grass flat with good tidal flow is a great place to start. Potholes, troughs, and creek mouths are all great trout spots.
Tampa Bay is a great area to target the shallow water grouper. There are multiple artificial reefs, ledges, fish haven, and lime rock bottoms throughout the Bay. Live bait is my favorite method for targeting shallow grouper. A simple knocker rig or even freelined bait works great, depending on the water depth and tidal flow. Another great method is trolling the edges of the ship channels with Mann's Stretch 25 or 30 plugs. You can also find success using a downrigger or plainer.
Tarpon is the last species we will be targeting during April and May. As stated earlier, I think it will be closer to May since everything has been running behind schedule. Most bridges, passes, and beaches will be holding good numbers of tarpon. My favorite bait for tarpon are the pass crabs that flow in and out with the tide. You simply scoop up the crabs with a long handled net as they flow out of most passes. Big pinfish and threadfins are also good bait and are often a little easier to find. Heavy tackle is a must. I like 6 feet of 80-pound fluorocarbon leader with 50-pound Fins PRT braided line.
Remember, tarpon are catch and release, so make sure to take your time while reviving these exciting fish-especially the big ones.
Capt. Jason Prietowww.steadyactionfishingcharters.com
It's summer. Summer is actually an abbreviation for snook, tarpon and redfish. After the brutality of this last winter, this summer is going to be extra pleasing.Snook The freeze of 2010 forced closure of the spring harvest season and it will not open again until September 1st. The bigger fish moved inshore on cue in April, but they seemed fewer in number, at least at first. May and June are some of the best months for topwater fishing for the large she-snook. Hit the water very early for the best bite. If you're fishing with me, our plugs will be hitting the water an hour before sunrise. The fish this time of year are some of the biggest, so it's time to step up to 20- to 30-pound tackle. The low tides are in the morning in May and June, so the mornings mean we will be fishing the incoming. When the tide floods and the sun's high, it's time for a nap. Fish again at sunset to catch the evening bite.Redfish will still be around in May and June and are some of the biggest of the year. Occasionally, the schools of breeding bull reds will come in from offshore in late June. These fish are typically 40 inches plus. Look for redfish on top of the bars during the higher stages of the tides. These fish will take topwater baits on the bars, but jigs on the edges are usually more productive.Tarpon This is the time to fish laid-up fish on fly of light tackle! Book early! The passes hold the silver dinosaurs during the hill tides. It's Poon-Time!Permit The schools thin out a bit, but are predictable in their patterns. Speckled Trout are still here in numbers, but small. They tend to hold in deeper water as the temps heats up. Cotee Live-Eye jigs with a swimming shad tail near the bottom is superb. Cobia They will be here until mid to late June. As the water temperature rises, the "gummers" will migrate a bit farther south. The big fish are usually caught in May and seem to get smaller as time goes on.Black Drum There are schools of large fish meandering the outside, but with the tarpon, snook, permit and cobia so hot, why bother?Snappers Lots. Live shrimp under the mangroves.Gag Grouper Wait until fall!Sheepshead Some, but look towards October and November.Action Fish Jacks, ladyfish, trout. Catch them until you are tired-once you locate them.Call us to Plan Your Next Adventure! Capt. Charles Wrightwww.ChokoloskeeCharters.comwww.EvergladesKayakFishing.com239-695-9107
A typical summer day for me normally begins by guiding guests to countless snook under dock lights and area bridges well before dawn. Many anglers enjoy fishing under the stars without the heat and hazard of the sun. Night fishing is what I call "easy fishing" for guests, typically producing 50 or more snook in two or three hours of sight fishing to piles of hungry snook. If you have not experienced this, I invite you to head out at night and take a look at your local canal, pass or bay docks that are well lit. Approach with caution and respect the property. Homeowner's understand water is public property, but the dock and its contents are private property. Tying up to private docks and making excessive noise is a no-no, so do the right thing and you will have a great time catching lots of fish.
Pitching live pilchards into the snook feeding frenzy zone is great fun and the easiest way to catch countless snook in this setting. Another option is to work the shadow line with topwater or subsurface lures. Larger snook frequently tuck into darker areas with less current to easily ambush aimlessly passing prey. Work lures and livies, utilizing the flow of current, from the shadow into the light, just as bait would naturally present itself.
It's tarpon time in the world's best "poon" fishing hole. Boca Grande Pass is ground zero for arriving summertime anglers from around the globe. The sight of thousands of sunrise tarpon rolling on the water's surface is a truly magical experience. Estimates suggest that fifty to a hundred thousand tarpon migrate into Boca Grande and the Charlotte Harbor estuary during this edition of GAFF to spawn and feed. Jig fishing "the pass" is preferred by most guides and can easily yield ten or more sizeable hook-ups during a typical five-hour morning charter. Anglers that want to avoid the hustle and bustle of BGP take to the beaches and the interior waters of Charlotte Harbor for fly, live bait and plug sight casting opportunities. Peak BGP tarpon season runs from late April through June, but resident and plenty of migrating tarpon will remain in Charlotte Harbor until the fall. If you haven't fished this area for tarpon, NOW IS THE TIME!
While the majority of our local captain's are on the hunt for tarpon, the pristine backcountry waters in our area are left alone to the fish. Translation, no pressure equals world-class inshore fishing for BIG snook and redfish. It is not unusual to steer my guests into a backcountry honey hole on the way to BGP and throw a Bomber Saltwater Grade Badonk-A-Donk topwater lure as the sun rises. The sheer exhilaration of witnessing a big push of water and a giant snook or oversized redfish blasting the world's best topwater lure out of the water is extremely hard to describe. Keep your eyes open for a backcountry tarpon or an occasional cruising cobia while you're stalking reds and snook. Cast the Badonk-A-Donk lure in their vicinity, twitch-twitch, walk-the-dog and its FISH ON!
If you've seen any of my 2010 TV shows, it is no secret that I like to catch Goliath grouper. Goliath's are as close to any man-vs-beast battle the Gulf waters have to offer. Goliath grouper are plentiful but remain on the endangered list, so an immediate release is required. Do not attempt to target these mammoth fish without the adequate gear and manpower to handle the fight. If you've ever strapped yourself to a 500+ pound bucking Brahma bull and played tug of war, you know what it's like. If not, it may be a good idea to hire a pro guide for the angling thrill of a lifetime.
Besides the above-mentioned world-class fishing opportunities, we have a multitude of other species to target. The near shore waters have football field sized schools of bonito, Spanish mackerel and king mackerel. Last but not least, BGP will be home to giant hammerhead and bull sharks in search of distressed tarpon and it's not unusual to lose a tarpon on two after you hook up. It does not get any better than this folks!
If you are on the hunt for "WOW" fish-this is the time. If you are considering a charter, I invite you to visit my website at www.tailchasercharters.com or give me a call (941) 270-7867.
As always, "don't forget to take the kids fishing".
Capt. Chris O'Neill
January and February are the coldest months here, as is pretty much true everywhere. While the Everglades National Park has, arguably, the best winter fishery in North America, spring is still very much welcomed. The winter produces some excellent fishing, but in comparison to the warmer months, the fish are much smaller. However, March and April are typically the months where we step-up our tackle and come off the lightweight winter gear. The water will still be relatively cool and clear, so sight fishing the shallows is still very good during these months—particularly with a fly. Snook The freeze of 2010 will remain in the memories of snook anglers for years to come. Here in the Park, we were told this was the hardest cold snap since 1927. Like the rest of the state, the snook here took a beating with a massive January fish kill. As such, the harvest season will not open again until September 1st. Most of the bigger fish will still be offshore until the water warms. So, expect more of the big she-snook in April than in March. The largest fish are usually sight fished in the shallows with fly or very light spinning tackle. Stealth, stealth, stealth!Redfish are still plentiful, being more tolerant to the cold, although not in the numbers that you will find in the fall. Redfish prefer something stinky, as they seem to have more “nose” than “eyes.” With fewer snook around, expect a lot more trout.Tarpon Simply put, March and April are primetime! Book early! The tarpon youngsters move out of the “corn” so we can finally get to them. The big fish lie up in the shallows but eagerly wake up for well-placed bait. Schools of fish move along the coast and in the backcountry—you’ll find them where you expect them. It’s Poon Time!Permit move back in massive schools. They are big, dumb and hungry. The best fish for me! Believe it or not, a pink Borski slider fly stripped as fast as you can works well, but not as good as a live crab.Speckled trout are still here in numbers. A rising tide with jigs and Clouser minnows works. Catch all you can stand.Cobia The migration is on! The cobia are here and will stay until mid-June. The fish start off big but seem to get smaller as time goes on.Black drum schools are still in the backcountry. Finding them is the key. Once you find them they’ll likely be in the same place for a while. Fish slow. When you think you are fishing slow enough, slow it up more! However, by summer, kiss them goodbye. Count on lots of small fish on the outside.Snappers Plenty. Live shrimp under the mangroves.Gag grouper While not known as a grouper fishery, they are here until the water really begins to warm at the end of April. Moving water, big baits and patience. Find one and you’ll have a spot for two months (if you aren’t too greedy). Rattle-traps work great.Sheepshead Still on every oyster bar.Action fish Jacks, ladyfish, Spanish mackerel and bluefish. Catch them until you are tired—once you locate themCall us to Plan Your Next Adventure! Capt. Charles Wrightwww.ChokoloskeeCharters.comwww.EvergladesKayakFishing.com239-695-9107
Twenty-ten couldn’t have greeted us sportsman any better. As fisherman we’ve had some of the most fantastic fishing of our lives. This isn’t just coming from a young guide of only 11 years here in Sanibel, but also from some of the most notable and legendary fisherman in our area. The last 12 months have seen a heavenly supply of bait pour through our area. Everything from shiners to ballyhoo to pinfish and shrimp are making our bays as healthy as we’ve ever seen. All of the baitfish food is producing some extremely healthy fish populations. Throughout all of Pine Island Sound and Estero Bay, giant sea trout have been swimming in thick numbers. Sea trout can be caught on nearly every flat that has diving birds and 3-5 feet of turtle grass. These fish are full of roe, which is evident by there gigantic bellies. Our closed trout seasons have really benefited our trout populations overall and proved to be a real success story. On recent charters, Capt. Lacey has also been whacking nice oversize snook by fishing deeper water in the Caloosahatchee River on the harder outgoing tides. With water temps creeping above 65 degrees, these fish will continue to bite throughout the harsh winter we are having in southwest Florida. If our wintertime fishery is any indication as to what’s to come this spring, hang on for some seriously killer flats fishing this year! Venturing offshore, our fishing just can’t get any better… can it? This year has really been sweet for us here at Rushcharters. With the addition of our federal fisheries permits we have been able to take our clients out to some of the more untouched spots past 9 miles. These areas have been just overloaded with giant mangrove snapper up to 8 pounds. These fish have been gorging on the plentiful bait supplies, and getting fat as butterballs. The most notable fish this month has got to be the gag grouper. The gags are really growing in numbers this year—numbers unseen by even the old-timers around here. Most any ledge in 25 to 45 feet of water has just been covered up with fat gag and red grouper. Dropping a pinfish down with an ounce of lead has been lights out. One thing I like to do while dropping down a pinfish is to stop it occasionally on the way down. Cobia love to hang above the structure and this gives them time to take the bait before it hits the bottom, crawling with hungry groupers. On the way to and from our numbers, stopping to throw plugs at the many schools of bonita and big king mackerel has been a ball. We use the Yo-Zuri Sashimi Bull SW in the sardine color and it has been awesome seeing these powerful fish bust it on the surface. From big kingfish to giant groupers, book a trip with us and get ready to get whipped! Tight lines and good times, Capt Chris & Capt. Lacey RushWWW.RUSHCHARTERS.COMVisit us on the web for online charter reservations!239-482-0193 Office239-980-1436 Lacey239-229-5388 Chris
Well, spring is upon us and fishing in the west central is as good as it gets. Cold fronts really start to become less frequent and weak. Longer days help heat up the cold waters on the backcountry and flats, and the fish just seem to be sick of winter. This time of year they come out of their cold-weather haunts making up for lost meals during the winter and eating everything in sight! One species that is great in the wintertime and continues to be a fun target through early summer is trout. Trout are one of the easiest fish to catch, not to mention, great table fair. There are some basic techniques that will put a fish in the boat on every cast. One is a popping cork with a shrimp or soft plastic of your choice. The trick is to simply pop the cork every few seconds. The popping sound is something a trout just has to investigate and you can use this technique with both live and artificial bait. While the water is still very clear, I like to downsize my leader to 20-pounds to reduce its visibility. I also like to go with ultra-light braided line. My preferred line is 4-pound Fins Smooth Cast. Another species, which is by far the most targeted this time of year, is snook! This is my favorite species to target, especially in the spring. Live bait (Greenbacks) is the trick, as these fish have been in hibernation for a couple of months and they haven’t eaten much. The trick to figuring out when they will make their way out of the rivers, from under the docks and all of their other winter homes is water temperature. Sixty-eight degrees is my favorite number. This will be the ticket to a successful snook trip. Twenty-five-pound Ohero Fluorocarbon leader, matched with a 1/0 Daiichi bleeding circle hook, will give you the edge when targeting these linesiders. IMPORTANT REMINDER: SNOOK SEASON IS SHUT DOWN THIS YEAR UNTIL SEPTEMBER due to the freeze earlier this year. We still have plenty of healthy snook in the west central area and catch and release is fine—just handle all fish with care so their numbers will rebound and there will be plenty for our kids to catch!Redfish are another species that really take off towards the later part of spring. Mid April we start to see big schools of up to 400 fish milling around the shallow flats in search of crabs, shrimp, and other types of bait. One of my favorite baits for redfish is cut pinfish or greenbacks. Free lined or with just a split-shot, makes a great rig. Again, like with trout, I like to use 20 or even 15-pound fluorocarbon leader, as these fish are very spooky. When targeting redfish you need to have a good, quiet trolling motor, or even a push pole, as most schools will be spooked from the slightest sound. Master all mentioned above and you will enjoy some great inshore fishing.There are plenty of other species to target in the area. We have big schools of mackerel and grouper stacked up on the ledges in the Gulf of Mexico. Tarpon are also making their journey up the coast along with many others. The only way to catch them is to get out on the water. See you out there—tight lines!Capt. Jason Prieto
Many angling opportunities arise as spring migration patterns are in full swing. I must declare, with so many species available, it’s hard to stay off of the water, even on my few days off. Techniques like topwater, subsurface and live bait will all produce exciting battles of epic stature this month.Snook are by far my favorite species to target. After a long, colder than normal winter, these fish have been feeding like it’s their last meal. Pick your tides and lean toward fast moving water to find the best snook feeding situation. Live bait is not required this time of year when stalking snook, allowing maximum usage of artificial lures. My go-to artificial bait for a myriad of species is Bomber’s Saltwater Grade Badonk-A-Donk topwater lure. The lure is perfect considering it comes in three sizes from 3.5 to 4.5 inches, enabling anglers to “match the hatch” with their particular situation. The rugged design and quality finish will attract and withstand the most aggressive saltwater predators. Keep your eyes open for big mature redfish. The local passes are home to plenty of big red drum in search of food and action, mainly in deeper water during the spring months. You will also find redfish in the 16- to 32-inch category schooling throughout our shallow water flats. Artificials like Bomber’s Saltwater Grade Redfish Flasher or Extreme Popping Cork rigged with soft plastics are deadly. As we approach the hot summer months, your odds early and late in the day are best with this species. Pay special attention to mangrove-lined shorelines, especially as the day warms and fish seek shade, food and cooler water.Tarpon season is right around the corner here in the “Tarpon Capital of the World.” By the time you get the next issue of GAFF, things will be popping with upwards of 100,000 migrating tarpon in our backyard of Boca Grande Pass. Guides from all over the state, as well as angling clients from around the world, descend on our fishery to get the unique opportunity to hook and release the giant Silver King. Myself, I can’t wait for these amazing fish to arrive. Soon I’ll be starting my mornings off jig fishing Boca Grande Pass, having lunch with clients, and then heading out to the beaches for world-class sight fishing opportunities on the Gulf of Mexico. WOW!I am fortunate to live and fish in one of the best fishing “holes” in the world. I invite you to visit and experience what “Old Florida” is all about. Englewood is every vacationer’s dream, offering wonderful beaches, great atmosphere and a slow pace to relax with family and friends. For anglers, nothing beats a great day on the water with a professional fishing guide that will put you on the fish, clean your catch, and then send you and the family home with memories of a lifetime—along with fresh fish for the grill! Let’s go fishing… and don’t forget to bring the kids!Capt. Chris O’Neill
Men at Work
This harsh winter we've been having so far in southwest
Florida has really turned on the fishing. Warm water temps have caused hoards
of bait to start piling up on our nearshore ledges and wrecks. Blackening out a
well with bait before cruising offshore will help you bring these normally
bottom-feeding fish to the surface. Heavy chumming around wrecks in 60 to 80
feet of water will bring grouper and big mangrove snapper to the surface.
Fishing for these fish on 50-pound braid with 8-foot heavy
spinning rods is a ton of fun, but the only way to catch these fish on lighter
rods and downsized tackle is to bring them to the surface. Keeping a steady
stream of whitebaits flickering and fluttering to the bottom will also bring up
amberjacks, mackerel and cobia. In recent trips we've been having a lot of fun
with this method, producing some really big numbers on almost all of our
offshore trips. With most of our days here still reaching the 80s with light winds,
if anyone wants to get some last minute offshore fishing in before the winds
kick up this winter, look us up on the web and book your trip online.
Women at work
it get any better any were in the world than right here? I know that's saying a
lot, but we all have the tendency to get spoiled with how good we really have
it here. With water temps still in the 70s and bait being so abundant, our
tarpon, snook and red fishing has continued to be superb. Big tarpon are still
being caught in our bays, especially around the big schools of mackerel and
ladyfish. These big, resident tarpon have been caught by us, as of late, by
freelining 5- to 10-inch ladyfish off the back of our boat while drifting
through the schools that are hitting on the surface. This strategy equals "lights out" for tarpon and big black
Giant schools of reds are still around and on this last new
moon have been chewing hardcore. Once you find the big schools, be ready to
have some fun. With these fish being so aggressive, fishing them on
artificials-especially topwater plugs-just can't be beat. Watching a 10- to
12-pound red engulf a Rapala Skitterwalk is really a ball. Fishing them on
seven-foot, medium-heavy rods, with 10-pound Power Pro will help you get that
bait out a long ways in front of the school.
After bending the rod on some reds, get up in our bays and
creeks and search out water temps of at least 70 degrees and that's were you'll
find the snook. These fish are chowing down before our temps cool down.
Chumming aggressively for these fish with live bait will identify their
shoreline hangouts. Try using the smaller baits in your well for chum and have
those 4- to 5-inch whitebaits on standby to throw at the boils.
Whether you want to flyfish for tarpon or sightcast for
snook, it's all still available in our area. El Niño, we love you, for keeping
us fishing guides busy on the water and catching our customers' boatloads of
fish. If things keep up, we may not get a winter vacation, but that's all right
Capt. Chris and Capt. Lacey Rush
What better time to go fishing than after the holiday rush, with all of
the new fishing goodies we just got for Christmas and that insatiable urge to
put them to good use?
We are in the heart of winter, so this means we have some of the coldest
water temperatures of the year, but that won't slow the fishing down one bit.
This is a great time of year to grab your favorite artificial lures and get out
on the water!
The winter fishery is wonderful here in Tampa Bay. One of my favorite
species to target is sheepshead. They are one of the best fighting and eating
fish around and they're plentiful this time of year. Sheepshead love structure,
so you will find schools around every other piling and dock. Look for heavy
barnacle growth. One method is to scrape the barnacles with a shovel (this will
act as chum) then simply drop your line as close to the piling as possible and
hold on. I like to use a 1/8- or ¼-ounce jig head matched with 20-pound
fluorocarbon leader. This, matched with the Fins 4-pound PRT, will be the
perfect rig. Artificial reefs are great areas to target too, and there are
plenty throughout the bay.
Trout are another species that is plentiful in Tampa Bay. Break out your
favorite artificial and hold on. Trout like the colder water temperatures and
they don't spook away from artificial baits. Fishing for trout is very easy.
Find a flat with healthy grass and good tidal flow, start up current and just
drift. As you drift, simply make casts with your favorite plug or soft plastic.
My favorite rig for trout is a 1/8-ounce Texas-rigged weedless hook with a
Berkley Gulp white colored 3-inch shrimp. Work your bait according to the
depth. Another great approach is a Cajun Thunder with a DOA shrimp. Just pop
the cork and trout cannot resist this technique. One last tool that will help
slow your drift on windy days is a drift anchor or sock. Remember to handle
trout with extreme care, as they are a delegate fish.
Redfish are also plentiful during the winter months. Most of the big over-slot
fish have pushed off to deeper water, but there are plenty of slot fish that
hang around throughout the winter. I like to target residential canals and
docks. They make great winter homes for redfish and many other species. A live
shrimp tail-hooked is a great bait to use. I like to down size my leader to 20
pounds and use a #1 Daiichi Bleeding circle hook. A slow approach works best
and this is why my bait of choice is shrimp. Artificials work well also and you
can cover more area in less time. Soft plastics are another favorite of mine.
You can use the same rig as mentioned above for trout.
Cobia is another exciting species to target in the
wintertime. They are tremendous fighters and can weigh up 50 pounds. Pinfish
are the preferred bait to use. I like to step up my leader to 40 pounds and use
a 4/0 Daiichi circle hook. Your rod and reel size should reflect the size of
the fish you are targeting. Of the many areas to target cobia, some of my
favorites are the warm water outflow areas. These are power plants that use the
bay water to cool their generators. On the outflow side of the power plant, the
water will maintain a steady 75 degrees all winter. This attracts manatees and
rays, and cobia are usually right behind them. Sight casting is a great method
or you can simply anchor up and create a chum slick.
Whatever species you decide to target, with a little
planning and patience, you should be in for a great time and good fishing in
Four years ago, I turned the page after an exciting
twenty-year career in the United States Army as a Hovercraft Pilot. The service
was an amazing experience allowing me to deploy my fishing habit to some of
world's most remote locations. Now, I spend almost every day on the vast
ecosystem known as Charlotte Harbor. I nearly have to kick myself to make sure
it is not a dream. Truly, I am very fortunate to have 270-square miles of
pristine shallow water to call my place of work.
The months of January and February bring plenty of wonderful
fishing days along with cold fronts that typically occur every four to five
days in southwest Florida. Your best bet is to be very familiar with your local
weather forecaster and try your luck just before or shortly after a front blows
through. The next two months will also give us plenty of negative tide
situations that require additional consideration when planning your trip.
Wading to your favorite sand hole is a great way to find concentrated redfish
during these cooler months. The northerly winds take a toll on our tides and
keep at least a foot of mean low "average" depth from flooding the flats. Once
you learn how to fish the ultra-low winter tides, you will find that it is much
easier to find fish. Of course, the need for a skinny-water boat factors into
I typically use cut sardines or plugs this time of
year. I also like to throw the new
Bomber Saltwater Grade flair-hair jig, tipped with a piece of shrimp. It is the
perfect lure for sand holes and over grass flats. If you have not seen this durable
"bucktail on steroids" you need to check it out. The speed of retrieve should
be half of whatever you think is slow during the cooler months.
Don't forget about trout and sheepshead. The winter and
spring months put these two fine-eating fish in the cooler on most days.
Sheepshead will take up residence along near coastal dock structures in
preparation for their spawn. I like to use the smelliest frozen shrimp I can
find to get sheepies to bite. Use a 1/8 oz. chartreuse long-shank jighead,
tipped with the frozen shrimp. Fish vertically along structure and prepare to
lose plenty of bait to these snaggle-toothed thieves.
Tail Chaser Tip:
Fish leeward points and passes on windy days. Fish the muddy
bottom shorelines of Bull and Turtle Bays to find warmer water. These areas
provide sanctuary to wintertime snook and redfish. Trout can be found in four
to six feet of water along most grassy flats.
National Park - November & DecemberCapt. Charles Wright
November and December bring big changes to Everglades National
Park. The cooler water temperatures transition the entire fishery.
November is very much like October, except better. All the
summer species are still here responding well to summer's fishing techniques.
The winter species arrive in numbers with some great additional opportunities.
November also brings along the first of winter's cold fronts. They are actually
"cool" fronts this far south, but the fish don't seem to know that. With the
passing cold fronts, you must switch to winter fishing techniques.
Snook harvest season closes
December 15. Please keep that in mind with your bookings. Until the water cools
significantly, the big snook will be inshore. However, by the end of December,
they will move well away from the "cold" shorelines.
fall snook are my favorite. They are post-spawn and seek to fatten up before
the water cools. Fall snook are usually more aggressive than at any other time
of the year. Typically, a bit smaller than then the summertime fish, they are,
however, feistier and usually much better fighters. It is hard to resist
throwing top water plugs in the morning. When this bite wanes, begin working
your way down the water column. Sight fishing the shallow flats for linesiders
is very tough to beat, as well.
Redfish should still be plentiful
and sight fishing should be superb. Their numbers are not as great as in
previous months, but they remain a staple in November and December.
Tarpon: This year continues to be
the best tarpon fishing I can remember. While there are plenty of big fish
around in November and early December, it is the juveniles that keep our focus.
Jerk baits and flies are the best.
will be on the structure for the duration in early November. By the end of the
month, the schools will be gone. They are also a few, large resident fish
around, but they are hard to target.
Trout is closed for harvest in November and December. However, they'll
provide non-stop action if the snook fishing slows.
Cobia: The cobia swarms arrive by
the end of October. November and December are excellent months for our "brown
marlin." By the end of December, however, they do not eat as often and can get
finicky if it is cold.
They are here year round and can provide good action. The smaller ones are
usually taken with fresh shrimp. The bigger fish take artificials. You must
work the bait very slowly. When you think you are working it slow enough, slow
it up some more!
Snapper: Lots... live shrimp under the
in December than November. Passes, cuts and moving water will produce.
Sheepshead move in here in November. By
December, they are very numerous. Fresh shrimp on the bottom is best.
fish, and Spanish mackerel... catch them until you are tired... once you locate
you on the water!
Capt. Chris Rush -
crazy to say fall is in the air with the temperatures still reaching nearly 100
degrees on some of the stillest days, but some of us fishing guides can see it
Island Sound is starting to get schools of redfish. Several hundred at a time
will bunch up around some of the lower keys. Early, calm mornings are the best
time to look for them in big numbers as they chase the ever-abundant ballyhoo,
which have really gotten thick up in our bays. Cubed ballyhoo on a 1/0 Owner Super
Mutu, freelined in front of a cruising red, and it is "lights out" for that
with a good redfish bite, the snook are still lurking around our passes and
local beaches. Some of these fish will be in the 40-inch range, but will only
weigh about 15 pounds. These fish are "spawned out" and starting to fatten up.
Hand-sized pinfish, using 1-ounce splitshot, fished around structure near the
passes on the stronger tides, is what Lacey and I have been catching everything
from tarpon to snook on this month.
our wrecks have been loaded with schools of juvenile Spanish mackerel.
Following these big schools of fish, at times, are whopper cobia. This last
month, Kevin Altom, from Missouri, caught a nice 35-pound cobia drifting a live
eel from Shack Baits next to the schools of Spanish mackerel.
fishing continues to be strong with some really nice mangrove snapper and
grouper still being plucked from the bottom on nearly every trip.
should have fun these next few months with such a great variety of fishing to
lines and good times,
N-D '09 Tampa Bay Area West Central ReportCapt. Jason Prieto
As we approach
the end of the year, you are probably finding yourself getting ready for the
holidays. Fun things like shopping, hanging Christmas lights, eating turkey and
trying to get all of your honey do's done! With all of this going on you're
probably also finding that you're just not able to do much fishing. Well, this
is one of the best times of the year to fish. This is when the three major
species (Snook, Redfish, and Trout) are readily on the flats, backcountry and
rivers, and they are feeding frequently as they get ready for winter.
you will continue to see big schools of redfish milling around on the flats
feeding on various types of crustaceans, shrimp, pinfish and greenbacks. If you
are targeting redfish, a stealthy approach matched with a long accurate cast
will prove affective. My tackle of choice is 4-pound Fins braided line for
optimum castability and a #1 Daiichi bleeding circle hook. Downsize the leader
material to Seaguar 20-pound leader. This will prove to be most effective.
Targeting points are mangroves and oyster bars on a high tide. On low tide, I
like to target troughs, drop offs, and potholes.
As the latter
part of the month approaches, harsh cold fronts will start making their way
down more frequently. This will push the snook off the flats and into the
creeks and rivers. As this happens I turn my attention more towards snook. They
seem to stage up thick in the rivers and their feeding habits are the best this
time of year. When targeting snook my favorite live bait is greenbacks. Most
bait, by this time, has moved to deep water, so using a good, heavy cast net
that sinks fast is a must. I personally like the Calusa 10' x 3/8" bait net! I
like to use a lot of chum bait, too, as this will really entice the bite.
Trout is a
species I like to target as water temperatures start to get in the mid 60s.
When targeting trout, I prefer using artificials. I like to throw soft plastics
with a Texas rigged hook. Trout really start to show up on the flats. Just find
a healthy grass flat with good tide movement and simply drift along. This will
enable you to cover a lot of area. If it is a windy day, using a drift sock
will slow your drift. If you want to use live bait, a shrimp under a Cajun
Thunder popping cork will prove to be a deadly combination.
any of the above species this time of year will definitely be worth taking a
little time off from work or your busy holiday schedule. You'll see just how
good wintertime fishing is in Tampa Bay.
O'NeillN-D '09 Boca Grande / Charlotte Harbor Fishing
This time of year is why we live and fish in Florida. Cool evenings and
pleasantly warm days offer the perfect mix for angling adventures in our
region. Our inbound flow of seasonal residents is in full swing, resulting in
plenty of great new inventory and energy in our local bait and tackle shops.
Without a doubt, this is the best time for backcountry, bay and nearshore
fishing in Southwest Florida.
Thousands of hungry migratory snook have staged in the rivers and
backcountry estuaries seeking warmer dark bottom waters and a food source to
hold them over for the January and February cold snaps. Snook are very
aggressive and eager to take live and artificial baits. I'm throwing Bomber's
new Saltwater Grade 4" Badonk-A-Donk topwater lure in bone or silver mullet
color until mid-morning, rigged on a 7' medium-heavy Fin Nor Ahab rod. Line of
choice is 30-pound Cajun "red" braid, spooled onto a Fin Nor Mega Light ML4000
reel. This deadly combination of gear is guaranteed to handle the rigors of
tackle busting, oversized snook and redfish.
November is redfish month on all of my charter boats. Big, oversized
fish are abundant and motivated to chew in open water sand holes. Try rigging a
live pinfish on a 4/0 Owner light wire circle hook with a small split shot
placed 3 inches above the hook. Another Tail
Chaser tip is to trim the pinfish's tail in half, which will slow him down.
Redfish are lazy and will always strike wounded bait first.
To complete our Charlotte Harbor Slam, spotted sea trout are everywhere.
The smaller 3 ½" Badonk-A-Donk lure in silver flash or citrus scale colors will
reek havoc when targeting upper-slot trout. The low-pitch frequency emulates
our local grunt baitfish population and triggers vicious strikes when you
walk-the-dog across open water grass flats. Try a slower twitch-twitch-pause
walk-the-dog retrieve and hold on when the lure gets blasted out of the water
right before your eyes.
I fire up the Tail Chaser boat in
search of another skinny water sight fishing opportunity, I smile and say to
myself, "fish on, fish on." Make
plans to visit our area to see what "old Florida" is all about.
For lodging information, check out my host resort www.buchans.com.
Grab the kids and come on down!