fishing Forecast

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  • 12/29/2021 11:15 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Take Advantage of Sight Fishing Conditions
    by Captain Tom Van Horn

    First, let me wish all of you a very happy and prosperous new year. For me, 2021 was both challenging and rewarding.  In October I retired from guiding after 25 years helping anglers catch fish, worked the summer at the Katmai Lodge in Alaska, and spent quality time with friends and family. Although I have retired from my professional angling, I plan on continuing my monthly forecast and assisting and teaching anglers to be move successful and responsible on the water. 

    Photo: Tammy Wilson caught this image of Capt. Tom on an early morning outing chasing  American shad on the St. Johns River. 

    Winter has arrived with shorter periods of daylight and falling water temperatures on the Indian River Lagoon system and other Florida waters. These conditions present anglers with the best sight fishing experienced all year.  With less algae in the water and low water levels on the flats, sight fishing conditions greatly improve in January, but a stealthy presentation and long cast are critical to entice spooky fish. 

    As the sun warms the water, target shallow sandbars where both redfish and sea trout lay seeking the warmth of the sun’s reflection on sand.  On colder days, target deeper locations where the water is a few degrees warmer and slow down your presentation.  Lastly, fish metabolism slows as the water cools, so smaller baits and a very slow retrieval will increase your success in getting strikes. 

    On warmer days when the flats heat up, the feeding and tailing activity of redfish and black drum improves because the shallow water warms up faster. Another very important part of the equation is to match the hatch. 

    When targeting redfish, black drum, and sea trout during the colder months, I like to downsize my bait, slow down my presentation, and fish with a shrimp or crab imitation bait like the D.O.A. Shrimp or Crab.  

    In freshwater on the St Johns River - As the water temperature cools, both speckle perch (crappie) and American shad will move out of the lakes into the creeks and shallow river flats to spawn.  Crappie typically spawns along the shallow edges around structure during the full and new moon periods and once located will present anglers with limits in no time at all.  

    American shad will stage in the deeper corners of the river, and move up on the sandy shoals to spawn when the water temperatures and conditions are right.  Try slow trolling plastic crappie jig and lures like the Road Runner tipped with a minnow until you locate fish, and then concentrate your efforts matching the same techniques, depth, and area to improve your success.

  • 11/28/2021 12:03 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Tis the Season
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    Well, another year has gone, and so many great fishing memories have been made. We have got 31 days to finish up the year strong and catch more fish. The cold front bands that push through Southwest Florida will change up what we will be doing. So, on a low wind day fishing out in the Gulf of Mexico is the thing to do. On days when it's windy or the seas haven’t laid down, we’ll be fishing in the back bays and rivers. Water temperatures begin to fluctuate between cold fronts so fish will react to that.

    The bays, flats, and rivers will be an excellent place to be, especially if the wind gets going. Red fishing will be good, as they do not mind the cool off much. Snook are now hanging out in the Winter haunts and will be tough to catch on days when the water temperature has dropped dramatically. Slight drops in water temperature won’t be a game-changer, but when it drops over a day or two period say 10 degrees, that’s a problem. We do have sheepshead showing up and they love the cool offs. Sheepshead will be found both in the backwaters as well as all the nearshore reefs and wrecks. Typical sheepshead baits will be shrimp, fiddler crabs, and barnacles.

    Nearshore we’ll have a fun time on the nice days. We’ve got tripletail, big bull redfish, bonito, kingfish, pompano, etc. to catch. There’s still going to be plenty of bait available so no worries there. When running from place to place keep an eye out for the birds, as there going to show you where the schools of fish will be. Always have a big feather jig or your favorite swimbait rigged up. You’ve got a good chance of running into cobia now, both free-swimming and on structure.

    Offshore certainly relies on the weather. When the weather is nice grouper, snapper, kingfish, and amberjacks will take up most of the offshore time. The nice part about cooling off is that the gag groupers will come in closer. Gag grouper will be caught, often trolling in 30-45 feet of water. These fish will hang out along our ledges, wrecks, and rock piles throughout the region. Trolling deep diving plugs at about 5-6 mph will get it done. Finally, if it's really nice out, a trip to 150 plus feet of water these days will give anglers chances at sailfish, tunas, and perhaps a wahoo.

    Tight lines,

    Capt. Greg Stamper

  • 11/28/2021 11:58 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Capt. Charlie Conner Retires from Guiding
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    December marks 19 years that I have been chartering in the area. This will be my last fishing report before I retire after next year. It has been fun and exciting over the years, and I have met so many wonderful people along the way. I will be fishing through 2022 and retire with twenty years of taking anglers on fishing adventures. Thanks to all the readers of my reports over the years and I hope you keep on catching! Thanks 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 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. Hopefully, this winter will be milder, the water quality improves, and the fishing is great for everyone. 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 worthy of 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 2022 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's an ADVENTURE!

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    Captain Charlie Conner

  • 11/28/2021 11:53 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Multiple Targets Available for Winter Anglers
    by Captain Tom Van Horn

    Like November, December and January are months filled with outstanding fishing opportunities. The only significant difference is the impact cooler water temperatures have on the fishery and windy conditions, which are influenced by approaching and passing cold fronts. Fluctuations in water temperatures affect both fish behavior and angling tactics, so an understanding of where and how to fish can reward you with some memorable catches.

    American Shad and Speckled Perch (Black Crappie)

    Water levels are much lower this season on St Johns River system and good numbers of speckled perch (black crappie) are showing up in the upper St Johns River and the big lakes of Monroe, Jessup, and Harney. Fish structure or slow troll Road Runner jigs or live minnows near the bottom. Also, look for the American shad to begin showing up near the end of December on their winter spawning run. The American shad is an incredible species to catch on light tackle and fly, and if you have never experienced this fishery, you should give it a shot.  American Shad fishing is as close as Floridian’s get to the salmon runs of the north and we are catching them during the winter when the northern rivers are frozen.

    Ocean and Inlet Redfish

    Near-shore and in the inlets, large redfish were consistent outside Ponce Inlet, Port Canaveral and Sebastian Inlet last month, and they should remain steady. At both Ponce and Sebastian, look for redfish chasing bait on the surface during periods of slack tide, or feeding along the bottom during periods of falling tidal flow. At Port Canaveral, work the bottom in deeper water just outside the buoy line along the channel ledges and look for concentrations of Atlantic menhaden (pogies) and muddy water spots in the 15 to 30 feet of depth. These breeder size redfish will hit artificial baits, but live croakers, pinfish, pigfish, pogies and finger mullet are more productive. Remember, these are large breeder size redfish, so please step up the size of your tackle and handle and release them quickly and with extreme care.


    Snook fishing will remain steady in the surf and inlets, with Sebastian Inlet proving to be the most productive location. It is best to target inlet snook at night by drifting live pigfish and pinfish through the channel, or fishing bucktail jigs or large swimming plugs from the rocks and catwalks. This type of fishing can be quite challenging due to the number of anglers competing for the same fish and impatient and discourteous anglers, so please pay attention, be courteous, stay safe and enjoy the rewards. In areas north of Sebastian, the snook will move into protected backwater areas like creeks and deeper mud bottom canals to stay warm.

    Bluefish and Spanish Mackerel

    Large schools of bluefish and Spanish mackerel have been feeding on glass minnows (bay anchovies) along the beaches and outside the Inlets. When targeting these fish watch for bird activity and work small jigs or spoons very fast to avoid cut offs. These two species will attack a fast-moving lure chasing it from behind, thus missing the leader with their very sharp teeth if your lure is moving fast. A small trace of wire can be added ahead of your bait to reduce cut offs, but in some cases the keen vision of the toothy mackerel can reduce the number of strikes. Also, if you see pelicans diving on bait and then holding their bills down in the water to strain the water from the smaller baitfish before swallowing, you are in the right spot.


    The Flounder run is on with good catches being reported from both Port Canaveral and Sebastian. Anglers utilizing jigs, live finger mullet or mud minnows fished on the bottom are experiencing the best results. My favorite technique is to slow drift the Inlet passes; bouncing DOA jigs combined with a 3″ DOA CAL Shad Tail on the bottom. This tactic allows you to cover more ground, and once you have located a hot spot, you can anchor your boat and concentrate on the area. If you anchor and there is a lot of current, use a heaver jig and make your cast up current and bounce your jig off the bottom as it drifts back. Flounder season opens December 1st.


    Further off the beach kingfish can be found shadowing bait pods outside the Inlets. Either slow troll live baits on steel stinger rigs, or try dropping live baits into schools of bait in deeper water. This bite should continue if water temperatures remain above 74 degrees.  As we progress into winter, the kingfish will move out to the near-shore reefs where the water temperatures are warmer.

    Tripletail and Cobia

    December and January are also the month when tripletail become a primary target on the Port Canaveral buoy line, and as the water cools the bite should improve. When water temperatures drop below 70 degrees, look for cobia on weed-lines, near-shore wrecks, buoys, and other structure. Once the water temperatures drop below 68 degrees, target cobia on the deeper wrecks and hard bottom where the water is a bit warmer. Some cobia will remain on the deeper reef and wrecks all winter, but most will follow the warm water south and then return on their northern migration in March when the water begins to warm up.  In some cases, we experience a mid-winter warm spell and the cobia will move in from their deeper winter hideouts and we will have a mid-winter cobia run, but these occasions are infrequent. You just must keep a close eye on the weather and water temps, 68 to 72 degrees.

    Inshore Trout, Redfish and Black Drum

    On the inshore flats, both redfish and sea trout will remain in the skinny water as long as the water temperatures stay in the seventies. Fish in protected areas and sunny spots on cooler days, and look for fish to be holding in sand spots (potholes) until the sun gets overhead.

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

    Captain Tom Van Horn

    Mosquito Coast Fishing Charters
    407-416-1187 on the water

  • 11/05/2021 9:01 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    November, A Most Productive Month
    by Captain Tom Van Horn

    As a Florida native I can’t begin to count all of the outstanding fishing adventures I’ve experienced on the Indian River Lagoon Coast of Florida in November. We’re truly blessed by the opportunity to experience the natural side of such a magnificent resource, and blessed am I to have a loving and considerate wife who understands and tolerates my passion for the outdoors and stretching line.

    For a host of reason, November prevails as one of the most productive months to fish Florida’s east coast. It’s the season of the mullet, with waves of baitfish (black and silver mullet) migrating south through the lagoon and along the beaches. Currently the inlets are jam-packed with bait increasing the diversity of species one can expect to catch. Along with this seasonal migration come the cooler temperatures and an influx of predators on a quest for warmer waters and an opportune meal.

    As the water temperatures cool, look for the near-shore bite out of Port Canaveral and Sebastian Inlet to heat up. When the seas allow it, look for cobia and tripletail along the Port Canaveral buoy line, and on weed lines both inshore and offshore. Also, the cooler waters will trigger the snook and tarpon bite both along the beaches and in the inlets.

    On the lagoon flats, redfish and sea trout will begin their transition from finfish to shrimp and crabs as the mullet run wanes near the end of the month. Also, as the water levels begin dropping and the water cleans up, tailing redfish will become more common and sight fishing improves. When you’re in this situation, nothing beats a well presented DOA Shrimp or 3″ DOA CAL paddle tail as these tailing fish are targeting smaller baits.

    November is one of the best months to target snook at Sebastian Inlet. In addition, ocean flounder and oversized redfish have already begun to show up on the Port Canaveral buoy line and in the inlets, and their numbers will only improve as the month progresses. Other notable predators shadowing finger mullet and glass minnow pods are Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and blacktip sharks.

    On the inside, schools of pompano will soon begin to move off the lagoon flats through the inlets and invade the beaches in search of sand fleas (mole crabs), their favorite winter food. Also, look for large schools of ladyfish, small trout, jack crevalle, and Spanish mackerel busting pods of glass minnows in deeper water, and finger mullet near the shoreline and causeways. These schools are easy to locate by watching for bird activity, fish busting, and bait showering on the surface.

    November also serves as the beginning of crappie season on the St Johns River and all major freshwater lakes in Central Florida. As the cold fronts pass; I will endeavor to keep my lines tight, and promise not to take nature’s blessing for granted. See you soon on the Lagoon.

    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

  • 11/05/2021 8:48 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Cold Fronts Matter
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    With the end of 2021 near the cold fronts are coming and depending on how far they get through our state, will depend on what, when, and where we will fish. Sometimes we get lucky, being on the southern end of Florida, as fronts are usually weak when they arrive here. October had very little influence from cold fronts, so things really have not changed up much. The “Red October” will probably be even better in November for the back bays.

    The migration or push of fish has had a slow start with lack of cold air coming from the North. However, the biggest factor is when will our first significant cold front or two make its way past Tampa. As the weather to our North cools off we see migrating fish following the big schools of threadfin herring, menhaden, and pilchards South. The predators that eat these fish are not going anywhere unless the bait gets pushed South of here. Kingfish, Cobia, tripletail, bonita, and mackerel are just a few examples of what usually sets up home here in Southwest Florida.

    The back bays are full speed for redfish, trout, black drum, and pompano. The water temperature should stay in the high 70’s barring any substantial cold fronts. If water temperatures stay up snook and tarpon will continue to be targeted along our beaches as well as the near shore waters, and of course the back bays. Lastly in our back bays we usually stumble upon some strangers this time of the year. Permit, tripletail, and cobia are good examples of fish we pick up randomly during these changing times, so be ready for anything.

    The offshore guys will be watching the weather as cold fronts will make things rough. Those that choose not to make the long 40 plus mile runs can easily target kingfish throughout the area now. There is a lot of different ways to target these fish. Trolling large deep diving hard baits works well, or freelining blue runners in areas you already know they exist. Look for kingfish starting now regularly from 20-90 feet of water. Those that run out to the deeper waters will be able to find plenty of groupers, lane, mangrove, red snappers, and mutton snappers, as well as aj’s and kingfish. The regulations are constantly changing on these species, so be sure to download the fish rules app so you do not get in trouble for not knowing.

    Tight lines, Capt. Greg Stamper
    Fort Myers beach, Fl

  • 11/05/2021 8:44 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Winter Migration Begins
    by Captain Charlie Conner

    With the hot months of summer behind us, November brings milder weather to the Treasure Coast.  The dry season has arrived, so rain won’t be a huge factor now.  Water temperatures will begin cooling down as winter is fast approaching.  The winter migration of many fish will begin this month and bring exciting fishing action to anglers in the area.  Enjoy November and get out fishing soon!

    Black drum are moving into the area in November. Brody shows a nice drum
    he caught while fishing docks along Fort Pierce.

    Redfish can be found around docks and mangroves with DOA shrimp or live bait.  I love fishing docks this time of year.  You just never know what might be lurking under one.  I fish my lures from up tide of the dock, so that it will stay under the dock.  You only need to twitch it and can fish it much longer that way.  It’s always a challenge in getting a fish out from under one, but the excitement is well worth it.  Snook fishing will be good around the usual haunts.  Docks, bridges, and inlet fishing should produce some good snook action as the water cools off.  There will still be some tarpon around the area.  My favorite is the DOA Terror Eyz.  Live or cut bait will work also.

    The pompano are beginning to return to the river and will be a favorite target for anglers throughout the winter.  When fishing the surf, use sand fleas or clams and the same in the river.  Doc’s Goofy Jigs or Fish Bites are great artificial lures for the pomps. You should still find some flounder around on the sand flats of the inlet and river.  

    Look for mackerel, bluefish and jacks to fill up the inlet this month.  Most shiny lures will work on these predators.  You can also find them hanging in the channels up around Harbor Branch. Docks and bridges will hold black drum, sheepshead and the sand perch as they begin to arrive this month.  Live or dead shrimp always works best on these fish.  It might be breezy out there…..but the fish will be feeding!

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

    Good Fishing and Be Safe,

    Captain Charlie Conner

  • 09/30/2021 3:26 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Who doesn’t like October?
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    Another month of rain danced across Southwest Florida. Some areas got a few inches here and there, and other areas got soaked. Anglers this month will still need to dodge these storms occasionally, but as this month comes to an end things begin to calm down. Lightning both in the mornings and afternoons concern most boaters and will continue to do so for about another month. Fishing between or before storms was good for most anglers throughout Southwest Florida last month and should continue along with some new targets.

    The back bays cool off when we get a lot of rain consistently. This makes the fish happy and more active than it was during dryer weeks. Water temperatures in some areas will drop as much as 5 degrees on the surface. Redfish love this type of weather and the small schools that started to move around last month, now become bigger. We call it red October for a reason peeps, and there will be an abundance of them throughout the area. Snook, pompano, and spotted sea trout will fill in the rest of the main targets. As the waters north of us begin to cool black drum become much easier to target as well as pompano, bluefish, and mackerel.

    Nearshore was a combination of Snook, permit, snappers, and mackerel as of last month. These fish should continue to be found as main targets for about another month. Those that fish the wrecks within 9 miles will do well on permit when using live crabs on long leaders. Those that use shrimp, crabs, or threadfin herring weighted or on the bottom will catch Snook and by now black drum. The snook are all big “35” plus and the black drums are in the 30-pound range, so be prepared to handle fish of that size. Mackerel can be found by simply looking for the birds going crazy.

    Offshore will continue to be a storm dodging type of month. Often in our mornings, you will see the big storms far off on the western horizon, exactly where those boats would be heading. Those with good radar and weather instruments can make good decisions on which way to head and when. Those without the right equipment, stay home. Fishing for mangrove snappers as well as groupers will continue to be the best bet. 100 feet plus is usually a good starting point for the red groupers and 75 feet for the snappers. Kingfish, cobia, as well as tunas, will now start showing up more often.

    Tight lines, Capt. Greg Stamper Fort Myers Beach, FL

  • 09/30/2021 3:23 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    As the water cools the fishing heats up
    by Captain Michael Manis

    This is one of my favorite months as southwest Florida transitions out of summer but is still a month or so away from the first front that suggests winter is approaching. Cooler water temperatures put game fish on the move. This combined with moderate breezes provides opportunities from inshore shorelines to the beaches. Looking for redfish and snook, I still won’t venture too far into the backcountry, as I’ll stick to shorelines bordering the harbor’s perimeter. However, I will make my way off the beaches looking for migrating bonito.

    Snook, in post spawn, are looking to fatten up and will begin making their way from the passes and adjacent channels. They’ll begin the transition to river, and backcountry creek systems where the brackish water will help them tolerate the cooler months ahead. As they’ll be keying on the scaled sardines that are so prevalent, baitfish patterns are my fly of choice. In addition, the stronger tides on the week of the 4th and the 18th should really put them on the feed.  

    Redfish will be schooling throughout the bays and sounds that surround the harbor. Keep an eye out for mullet schools as there’s a good chance the redfish won’t be too far off. Redfish in groups can be very competitive when it comes to food and mullet kick up a lot of small easy prey species like grubs, crabs, and shrimp off the bottom. The redfish version of the drive thru. Here too, the redfish are also keying on the scaled sardine so the same fly patterns I’ll use for snook are perfect.

    Spotted sea trout are also a good bet. Look anywhere in two to four feet around any grass flat in close proximity to a pass. They like the higher salinity and cleaner water that flushes in from the gulf. All our inshore predator species are keying on the scaled sardine so here too I’ll stick with the same baitfish pattern.

    For a change of pace, bonito are migrating down the coast following schools of baitfish.  Take a run outside any pass and if it’s going off, you’ll know. Keep an eye out for diving birds as they’re picking at the scraps from the bonito blowing up on bait. It’s a feeding frenzy and you can get close enough to throw just about anything into the mix. It’s a great opportunity to get into the backing with a fly reel.

    Lastly, schools of black drum are bouncing back and forth between the U.S. 41 Bridge and the perimeter canals of Punta Gorda. They eat flies and will also get you into the backing.

    Until next month, good tides.

    Captain Michael Manis
    Punta Gorda Fly Charters

  • 09/30/2021 3:16 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Transition Fishing
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    Fall has arrived on the Treasure Coast. As we transition this month, the water will begin slowly cooling down for winter. It has been a hot summer, so don’t expect a huge temperature difference. October provides great weather and hungry fish. Plan on enjoying this month. It’s a fantastic month to be fishing!

    There will still be lots of hungry predators out there chasing them around the river and along the beaches. Live finger mullet, croakers, and pigfish will be the best live baits to use. DOA Terror Eyz and Bait Busters will be good artificial lures to use for snook. Try around the docks, jetties, turning basin, and bridges docks around the river. Lighted docks are especially productive when fishing at night.

    Redfish has continued to be a good bite for us again this year. There will be some good action for anglers around Fort Pierce. October will continue to be a productive month for those who seek redfish on the flats. The DOA 2 3/4“ shrimp or CAL grub tails are two of the best choices for redfish along with a variety of live and cut baits. The trout bite will be good this month. Get out early with a top water lure for some exciting action on the river. Switch to a DOA shrimp or CAL jerk bait later in the mornings. Harbor Branch, Queen's Cove, and Middle Cove are all great areas to fish for trout around the Treasure Coast.  

    Look for some sheepshead, black drum, and snapper to be moving in around the bridges, docks, and channel edges. The surf will be alive with jacks, snook, bluefish, and other predators, which will all be chasing the bait schools along the beach. Croakers and whiting will also be hanging along the beaches. It's another great month to fish along the Treasure Coast! Have fun and get out fishing soon!

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

    Good Fishing and Be Safe,
    Captain Charlie Conner

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