fishing Forecast

  • 02/28/2018 9:39 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    The Lavender Azaleas are in Bloom
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    I always use my lavender azaleas as an indicator for the arrival of the cobia migration north through our near-shore waters. Their magnificent blooms favor the same temperatures and weather conditions, and when the azalea blooms peek the time is right. Currently my azaleas are showing some significant blooms, but like the azalea’s delicate blooms, the cobia run will pass before you know it. 

    The current water temperature in Port Canaveral is 73 degrees which is an indication of a very warm February. As the ocean begins its gradual warming phase, 67 to 68 degrees, watch for the progression of baits schools (Atlantic menhaden and silver mullet) from warmer waters into the near-shore waters bringing the cobia and other predators with them. The warmer waters have also draw manta rays into the shallows shadowed by pods of cobia. Other notable species are tripletail around the buoys and under flotsam, heavy weight jack carvalle near the end of the month, large redfish, and sharks shadowing bait schools. Currently, the cobia have started showing up, and once the seas lay down, cobia mania will begin.

    Weather conditions through next Sunday are not looking good with gusty winds and seas up to 6 feet predicted, so let’s hope the cobia are still around when the seas settle down.

    Moving out into deeper water, the spring kingfish run should begin with the smaller kings showing up around the middle of March, followed by the smokers, 30 to 50 pounds, in April on the near-shore reefs and wrecks like Pelican Flats and 8A reef. If the bait moves in close to the beach, look for the larger kingfish to follow them. Also, April marks the beginning of the fishing season for many of the blue water anglers with the start of the April/May northern migration of dolphin in 120 feet of water and beyond, and the early part of the run usually includes some of the largest bulls taken all year.

    In the inlets and along the beaches, whiting, pompano, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel should remain a staple with sheepshead and black drum holding on jetties and rock piles. As we move into the later part of April, watch for the snook and tarpon action to improve in Sebastian Inlet and then move north following the bait progression.

    On the lagoon, high water levels will draw the slot size redfish schools up onto the shallow flats, with the larger breeder schools holding along the deeper edges and sand bars. On the cooler days, focus your attention on sand pockets or potholes, and once the afternoon sun warms the water, look for tailing fish on the shallow flats. Also, the end of March signals the return of silver mullet to the estuary, and the beginning early morning and late evening top water sea trout and redfish action.

    Last but not lease, mid-March brings largemouth, stripers and sunshine bass into the equation as schooling bass begin to form up in consistent patterns on the St Johns River. Last year, fifty bass days were not uncommon as schooling pre-spawn and post spawn fish push schools of menhaden to the surface at first light creating explosive top-water action. Additionally, the American shad run is showing signs of improvement, so give shad a shot while they are still here.

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

    Good luck and good fishing,
    Captain Tom Van Horn
    407-416-1187 on the water

  • 02/01/2018 9:48 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    The American shad bite is good
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    As winters go, we are in the grasp of our coldest winter in ten years and we are experiencing the effects on both the Lagoons and on the St Johns River system.  Although we have seen temperatures in the low 30’s we are fortunate to live in Florida where fishing is a year-round sport.

    On the St Johns River, we are experiencing one of the best American and hickory shad seasons I seen in years with catches being reported in the triple digits. We are still experiencing higher water levels thanks to Hurricane Irma and stronger currents which shad like as well as water temperatures in the 60’s which are ideal conditions.  Although the water level is higher, the level has receded within the banks bringing bait fish and grass shrimp with it, concentrating the fish as well. Last Tuesday while filming an episode of Ultimate Catch TV we boated over 100 fish between us on ultralight spin tackle and fly.

    Inshore on the flats water levels are extremely low, but the colder weather has created some cleaner water conditions throughout the Lagoon. On colder days, falling water temperatures force fish to seek deeper locations in search the warmest water they can find, and they become very sluggish. As the sun warms the water, all it takes is a degree or two of change, the fish will begin to move and feed in the shallows. On the sunny mornings, it is not uncommon to find redfish and trout holding in the sand pockets or potholes within the shallow flats where water temperatures raise faster. Additionally, warming water temperatures combined with sunny spring days and crystal-clear water make February one of the best months to site fish for redfish, large sea trout, and black drum on the lagoon flats.  The freezes we experienced in January have taken a toll on or snook population, and the windy conditions have proven to be tough to fish in.

    Near-shore, look for tripletail concentrations to improve greatly along the Port Canaveral buoy line and under floating weeds and structures, and for cobia to move in shadowing manta rays near the end of the month if the surface water temperatures reach the upper sixties. Now is also the time for shore fisherman to target pompano, bluefish, weakfish, small black drum, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel and whiting in the surf and larger redfish and flounder around the inlets and jetties.  We just have to wait for the seas to settle down to get out there safely.

    Offshore, kingfish are still present along the inshore reefs and wrecks, and they will remain there as long as the water temperature stays above 68 degrees. When targeting kingfish this month focus your efforts on the areas of 8A Reef, Pelican Flats, and Bethel Shoals to the south for best results. Look for cobia and amberjack to be present on the inshore wrecks like the Carol Lee, Dutch, and Sub Wreck out of Port Canaveral. Additionally, live bait is tough to find this time of year, so always carry a box of frozen Spanish sardines with you as backup.

    February is also the time to target tailing black drum and redfish in the Banana River Lagoon "No Motor Zone".  Unfortunately, I am limited to one angler on my NMZ charters, as I fish out of an Indian River canoe. 

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

    Good luck and good fishing,

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

  • 02/01/2018 9:44 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Timing out the cold fronts will give anglers options
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    Although we may be lucky enough to see 75 degrees a few times in February, temperatures between the mid 50’s and low 70’s are more the reality until March. With a bit of lucky timing regarding cold fronts, anglers will have options.

    Wind becomes a big factor, especially that which comes driving down on us from the North or Northwest. Understanding the effects of cold fronts will dictate how successful your fishing days will be. Northern winds will silt up the backcountry waters in some areas, and mess with the tides in others. As strong fronts blow through they cool the water down. These post front conditions make things challenging for a few days.

    When fishing after a cold front our strategy turns to slow and low. No worries though, those are the days we’ll hide in the creeks and tributaries fishing deeper holes hiding from the wind. Fishing at the doorstep of these cold fronts is always a favorite of mine, and often gives us a good bite. Fish right up to the moment when those cold fronts come rolling in, and the fish will be chewing.

    Now, when we get East clockwise to Southwest winds we get the warmer weather and better fishing in general. So, now that we have the wind thing figured out what are we going to fish for?

    On days when it hasn’t been windy for a while, we fish the clear water. During days like this you will have the possibility of sight casting to redfish, black drum, and even sheepshead in the back bays.

    On cloudy water or dirty water days, try using shrimp or cut bait around the oyster bars and points for better action. Sheepshead will be a big target through February as the big fish spawn both inshore and on the reefs and wrecks. Black drum will continue to be a big target certainly thru March as they stay in and around the creeks, river mouths, canal systems with deeper water, and docks.

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

    Redfish will be a big target for many of us, as they can be found in small schools cruising around the flats.

    Flounder will show up from time to time, usually hitting small swim baits or jigs tipped with shrimp. It’s not easy finding a big flounder around here, so if you get one close to 20” you’ve done well.

    Pompano will still be plentiful both along the beaches and passes as well as on the nearshore reefs.

         On those beautiful days, when we can run around out in the Gulf of Mexico; tripletail, kingfish, grouper, sheepshead will all be fair game. On the days we have light winds it usually means clean water, especially since we tend to get very little rain during the month of February.

    Taking this into consideration, you will find that tripletail can be a great fish to target nearshore along the crab trap buoys, markers, and coastal signage. You can look for tripletail as you troll around for grouper or kingfish as crab traps are usually in the same areas grouper and kings will be found in. If you don’t want to move around a lot, you can always anchor up near your favorite reef or wreck and give them a go that way.

    When bottom fishing this time of the year, flounder and sheepshead will be around the same areas as the groupers, so rig up accordingly for both. I prefer dropping two rods that can handle a serious grouper, cobia, kingfish, etc... and have two lighter rods with simple jigs to get the action from snappers, sheepshead, flounder, pompano and such.

    Tight lines, 
    Capt Greg Stamper
    Snook Stamp

  • 02/01/2018 9:40 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Winding down a winter pattern
    by Captain Michael Manis

    Typically, February is an extension of the previous two months in that cooler north winds and low tides provide some decent backcountry sand hole opportunities. This is where redfish and spotted sea trout drop into the shallow depressions on the lower tides waiting for water to come back onto the flat. The flats are full of these depressions and they come in all shapes and sizes.

    On any given year, this month has the potential to start out resembling winter but can end up feeling like someone hit the light switch and all of a sudden it feels like summer. It’s like, what happened to spring? With that being said, it’s also not unusual to get a good cold snap in March. I guess the point is that as February winds down and transitions into spring; you just never know what kind of weather, with the exception of wind, that we’re going to see around Charlotte Harbor. 

    It’s not unusual to see quite a few shallow running skiffs working some of the more popular areas like Pine Island Sound and Lemon Bay. In the sound, I like fishing out of Pineland or the Bokeelia boat ramp and hanging tight to the western edge of the Pine island Shoreline in order to hide from the wind. In lemon Bay, I like the flats adjacent to and north of Buck Creek. These also provide protection from a strong northeast wind.

    Matlacha is one of my favorite areas and the shoreline outside Big Dead Creek and down through Buzzard Bay is well protected from the north winds. Here, the deeper cuts with strong current hold redfish, spotted sea trout and snook.

    The open harbor and adjacent bar systems also hold potential as winter winds down. Pompano are still on the bars like the one that runs the length of the West Wall and down onto Cape Haze Point. Spanish mackerel are scattered throughout the harbor and will be mixed in with lots of ladyfish outside the bars working the schools of glass minnows. Sheepshead are under the Boca Grande and Placida trestles in good numbers. This is a great spot to fish with or without a boat.

     Lastly, area canal systems can also be good. In particular, because of good tidal flow, the perimeter canals of both Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte hold lots of species. Redfish, black drum, spotted sea trout, and snook hang close to the cement seawalls that hold heat from the afternoon sun. Corner spots are prime as that is where current moves the fastest.

    Until next month, good tides.

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

  • 02/01/2018 9:37 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Winter lingers
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    While winter is still around the Treasure Coast and weekly cold fronts will continue to bring cool nights and lots of windy days to the area, fishing will still be good out on the water.  It has been a tough winter so far with all the rain, winds and cold.  Water temperatures can dictate where and how you might fish on any given day this month.  January was a much warmer month this year.  When the water is cold, fish the deeper cuts and drop offs of the river.  Sunny days will bring fish up in shallower waters to feed and the bite can really get hot out on the flats.

    The trout bite picks up very nicely in February.  2017 proved to be the year of big trout in the Fort Pierce area.  I anticipate that 2018 will be another big fish year around the area.  CAL jerk baits and Deadly Combos are exciting ways to trout fish with artificial lures, while live shrimp on popping corks are the ol’ standard way to trout fish out on the river.  Redfish can be found in shallow flats around mangroves and islands.  We had a fantastic winter bite in 2017 around the docks and mangroves for redfish.  On warm sunny days, the reds will sit around the mangroves and soak up the sun.  Finding some along the mangroves will bring some good rod bending action to anglers this month.  DOA shrimp and CAL jerk baits can find some hungry reds hugging the mangrove lines when fished very slowly.  Docks are a great way to find plenty of fish waiting for something tasty to drift under them.

    Sheephead will be plentiful around the river and the larger fish will be coming into the river to breed.  They showed up early this year and January has been a great month for them.  Live or dead shrimp around bridges, docks and structure can provide lots of action in addition to some great tasting fish.  Sand perch and croakers should also be hanging around the inlet and bridges during February.  Pompano around the surf and on the deeper flats of the river can be taken on CAL grub tails, Doc’s Goofy Jigs and shrimp or clams.  Bluefish, mackerel and jacks will continue to haunt the baitfish around the jetties and turning basin.  Small, shiny lures will keep you busy.  There should be some flounder around the back sides of the jetties and on sand flats around the inlet area.

    February is a transition month on the river.  Winter has been challenging this year on the Treasure Coast.  We have enjoyed more normal winter weather and the fish bite has been good for us.  Winds will still be blowing and the water will begin to gradually rise in temperature.  Fishing your lures slowly will certainly give you more action on the river.  Fish tend to be sluggish in the colder water.  Working your lures or bait slower along the bottom will give the fish more time to react to it and will result in more bites for anglers.  Have fun this month and get out fishing!

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

    Thanks and Good Fishing!
    Captain Charlie Conner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Good luck and good fishing and happy holidays,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Tight lines Capt. Greg Stamper,

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

    Working with the fronts
    by Capt. Michael Manis

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

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

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

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

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

    Until next month, good tides.

    Captain Michael Manis

    Punta Gorda Fly Charters
    (941) 628-7895

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Have a wonderful 2018!
    Thanks and Good Fishing!
    Captain Charlie Conner

  • 11/30/2017 10:41 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Try the flats after they warm
    by Capt. Tom VanHorn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Good luck, good fishing and happy holidays,

    Captain Tom Van Horn
    Mosquito Coast Fishing Charters 

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