fishing Forecast

  • 12/31/2016 7:16 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    The Cold Weather Challenge
    by Capt. Doug Stamper

    Whelp, its 2017 so Happy New Year to all!  January traditionally is the coldest month of the year. Besides having our Northern friends laughing at our snow ski outfits as they show up wearing tee-shirts, we’ve got bigger problems.  Fishing in the cold weather can be challenging at times, however as guides we’re going either way.  We’ve gotta catch fish regardless of the fronts, winds, and occasional rain. 

    We will have some blessed days in January usually a few days after the cold front blows through until the day the next front shows up, and we’ll also have those tough ones a few days after they initially come through. So, should you be fishing on the cold days, giving it some time to warm up a bit helps. So, what are we going to target?

    Sheepshead are popular during the cold times, and traditionally show up in big numbers as they spawn in both the backcountry and around our near shore reefs. Targeting these conniving, shrimp stealing, buck toothed convict fish can be trip savers on the coldest of days.  You’ll be able to find sheepies around docks, oyster bars, seawalls, and on the nearshore wrecks and reefs in good numbers. Try downsizing your hooks and using pieces of shrimp verse an entire one to land more of them. Fiddler crabs, shrimp, and even barnacles on a hook all work well. Barnacles you say? Yep in fact that’s one of the clues that the big boys are showing up. If you drive by a local bridge and notice what appears to be an area of barnacles that’s missing, that was the work of a sheepshead expert picking up some bait or chum. But don’t tell anyone about that trick please.

    Trout fishing will remain steady during the coolest of days. Working water depths up to 6 feet, with a lower and slower presentation will help you get more takes. The grass beds being dark in color will hold a bit more heat so targeting them in those areas often works out well. Throwing around the sandy pot holes when working clear water gives you that transition line that can be very productive. Traditionally a popping cork with my go to DOA shrimp works out just fine. When corking experiment with leader length as a foot here and there can make a big difference.

    Fishing the creeks and rivers systems in your area will be a smart move when it gets cold, and if you’ve been on fish in one area continue to push further and further back up those creeks till you can’t go any further. With winter, we usually have clear water so sight casting laid up fish is a possibility. These areas are usually snook, redfish, and black drum hangouts during the cold months. Although snook get a bit of lock jaw during the coldest of days as the water temperatures begin to increase in temperature a few days after a front blows through these estuaries can be a great place to fish. A variety of baits will work ,but in general smaller baits will work best. You can throw flies, plastics, and if you’re lucky enough to find some bait you’ll be in good shape.

    When we do get beautiful days and light winds I enjoy running out to the near shore wrecks and reefs. I’m usually in no hurry if its cold out, so no crack of dawn runs needed. Now you can change things up and go after gag groupers, snappers, tripletail, and kingfish. Gag grouper come into the shallows when it gets cold out. Some areas will have them in as little as four feet. You can troll big plugs around which works well in the deeper waters say 15-45 feet, or you can drop a variety of baits down to the bottom. When trolling you’ll inevitably come across a kingfish while targeting your grouper. Make sure you pay attention while running out there, as tripletail can become a great bi-catch.

    Tight lines, Capt Greg Stamper

  • 12/31/2016 7:09 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Dress in layers and enjoy January fishing
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    Happy New Year! In past several years, January has traditionally been a cold month around the Treasure Coast. Hopefully, 2017 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 2016 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 2017 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 2017!

    Thanks and Good Fishing!

    Captain Charlie Conner

  • 12/31/2016 6:58 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Wintertime is Shad Time
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    As we usher in the New Year, it’s once again time to reflect back on the events and accomplishments of 2016. It’s also time to think about what stands before us in the year to come. My resolution last year was a simple one. One I knew would be easy to accomplish, good for my health, broaden my horizon, and would be extremely enjoyable. It didn’t involve any major life style changes or hard work. I simply resolved to spend more time on the water, to watch more sunrises, and to catch more fish.

    This year, I’m making a commitment to myself to expand on last year’s resolution by enlightening others to the rewards I’ve experienced.

    Winter on the Indian River Lagoon coast of Central Florida is not defined by any specific dates, but rather the temperature difference generated by passing cold fronts. These temperature variations are subject to change from year to year, and they are hard to predict. Average daytime temperatures usually range from the 50’s in the morning to around the 70’s in the afternoon.

    Likewise, water temperatures average in the upper 60’s, but they can drop as low as the 50’s with extended periods of cold weather. On warm sunny days, water temperatures will increase as much as four degrees on the sunny shallow flats and sandbars. All of these factors greatly affect species targeted and method used.

    Although the majority of my fishing is saltwater, low sodium becomes my preference in January when the St Johns River system recedes within its banks bringing the micro baitfish and grass shrimp off of the flooded plans into the main river channel.  To me fishing is fishing, so in the winter I love to downsize my tackle and target the American shad run and the spawning season of largemouth bass, crappie and brim.

    This year the current river conditions are perfect and the bait is heavy, so on those windy pre and post frontal days, the protected areas of the St Johns will not only save the day, but they will also provide for some excellent light tackle fishing. Oh by the way, the shad are starting to show up with several nice shad photos being posted.

    On the flats of the north Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon redfish and trout will seek the warmest water they can find. Work the deeper edges of flats in the morning and then move into warmer wind protected flats around mid-day to afternoon.

    An early start is not a requirement this time of year. Both redfish and trout love to sun themselves in the shallow water sand pockets in grassy areas. On colder days, fish the deeper holes utilizing a slower presentation. Other species encountered in January are black drum, flounder, ladyfish, bluefish, and sheepshead. January is the best time of year to find large black drum tailing on the flats, especially on the Banana River “No Motor Zone”. Shrimp, small chunks of fresh blue crab and clams are the preferred bait for these fish, but they will take both artificial and fly if presented properly.

    Inlet fishing has been hot this past week with Sebastian being the most productive. There are still reports of flounder in the cut, but the bite has slowed. Good numbers of pompano, ladyfish, jacks, and sheepshead have been reported, and these fish should remain plentiful through January.

    Near-shore, the tripletail have started to show up on the Port Canaveral buoy line, and the numbers will increase as the month progresses. The other hot ticket near-shore has been the run of kingfish we’ve experienced this past week. Once the seas subside, king mackerel in the 5 to 10 pound range will be holding along the near-shore reefs in 70 to 90 feet of water. Last week anglers experienced some of the best kingfish action of their lives on 8A Reef out of Port Canaveral. My preferred method of catching these fish is with live bait, but with pogies (Atlantic menhaden) hard to catch this time of year, slow trolling dead sardines dressed in a king buster skirts works well.

    Again, the primary factor in catching central Florida fishing in January is temperature. So keep an eye on the forecast and plan your day accordingly. As always, if you have questions or need information, please contact me.

    Good luck and good fishing in the new year,
    Captain Tom Van Horn
    (407) 416-1187

  • 12/04/2016 6:56 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    It’s Been a good year
    By Captain Tom Van Horn

    It is difficult to fathom the fact that another year has passed us by. Thus far my 2016 fishing season has been a great one. Please visit my photo gallery on my website at and see some of the outstanding catches this year. Although the water quality in the Lagoon has been challenging, we still managed some great catching adventures. It is my hope that you and those closest to you have a wonderful holiday season and spend some time on the water together.

    Starting with the Inshore 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 pockets until the sun gets overhead. Also, now is also the time of year to target tailing black drum in the Banana River Lagoon No Motor Zone.

    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 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 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 off 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.

    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 2017. Also, now is the time to purchase your 2017 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 and good fishing and happy holidays,

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

  • 12/04/2016 6:48 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    December swings in water temp will influence fishing success
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    The month of December is the big swing month for Southwest Florida. This is the time of the year when serious cold fronts can make their way through us causing big changes. Depending on what mother nature chooses to bestow upon us, we either get another few weeks of great fishing or it gets a bit more challenging as water temperatures can drop below the mid 60’s. Water temperatures being the driving factor, we see certain signs telling us the change into winter fishing has begun. 

    First and foremost, are the schools of threadfin herring and pilchards that seemingly disappear overnight along with the tarpon as they follow warmer water south. These schools of bait can handle a slow drop of water temperatures, but should we get a serious drop in temperature over the course of a day or so, they’re gone! Strong consistent north and northwest winds also scream winter has begun and can make for some tough days after each frontal boundary pushes through. Oddball predominantly northern species that show up randomly such as bluefish, and the ability to catch offshore species very close to shore like kingfish, also clue anglers into switching things up to standard winter-time South Florida fishing patterns.

    So, what are winter fishing patterns here in Southwest Florida? Well, when we get big dips in water temperatures usually after a day or two, fish should start eating again. We do change up our techniques during these times, and for the sake of argument, these techniques are used basically through February. “Slow and low” takes first place for lots of different fish. We still throw artificial lures, plugs, swimbaits, and flies just a little different than we do in the summer time. “Slow” because often with the cooler water our fish tend to be a bit sluggish and stubborn to bite at times. “Low” because in general that’s where most of the fish are laying up on darker bottom that may be a degree or two warmer in places. 

    Fishing in December should the temperatures fall of quick, can still be productive in the backcountry haunts as well as river mouths and creeks. The areas feed by springs can be especially good as the water temperatures will variate less. Power plants that use water to cool off their generators can hold large amounts of different fish as the lay around in a spa like environment. So target those areas if you can directly after cold fronts.

    Cut baits become very effective for species like redfish and snook. Cut baits are very simple rigs, so when thrown near mangroves or structure usually with a deeper edge and just left there, will eventually get you a take. Trying a variety of baits such as ladyfish, mullet, pinfish, even sardines can produce very good results when times get tough.

    Downsizing your baits is another winter tactic. As most of the bait left around after cold fronts is quite small, you’re basically matching the hatch. Not to mention the fact that some fish prefer it a bit cooler, like sheepshead, and if your hook is too big you won’t have much luck catching those. Depending on water quality, downsizing your leader can help a lot. Usually after a good blow the water is a bit mudded up so you don’t have to downsize. However, to be frank, I prefer more action with a few broken lines versus little action any day.

    Now on the flip side, the weather can stay nice and most everything will still be available to target and eager to play. Snook, tarpon, redfish, trout, sheepshead, and pompano will all be feasting as they get fat before food supplies move out with the winter. Mornings will be cool and afternoons will be downright beautiful. Water clarity should be very good without the wind from fronts, giving anglers options to sight cast fish laid up in the shallow waters. Ideally the water temperature is in the low 70’s during this scenario, or at least the upper end of the 60’s. Often slow trolling on your trolling motor or even drifting across open flats can be very productive this time of the year. Fish like to sit in the potholes or along the flats edges waiting on an easy meal.

    Tides still play a big factor here, and if your only able to fish for a few hours be sure to pick times of the day when water is moving. As we move through December, tides begin to swing dramatically during the full moon phase and can become very low. Negative lows may drop close to a foot of water lower than what many anglers are used to. You have options here as well. There are two positives when fishing these extreme lows in the backcountry. One positive, is now as an angler you can easily see structure, holes, and tidal flow routes for the next time you’re out fishing the beginning of outgoing. The second is that the fish get pushed into the few areas that still have some water and are near the flats where they were eating earlier.

    When targeting fish during these low tides, be aware of not spooking out fish in the areas your targeting them. Often these fish are just laying together in areas waiting for the opportunity to feast on the incoming. Get off the motor earlier than you normally would and, when applicable, try making longer casts to your favorite holes. Fish tend to pile up in areas and often you’ll have opportunities at several fish in the same spot. You can always move closer if you must, right? However, once you blow out a spot, it’s blown out! While fishing these low tide fish its always better when throwing artificial baits to fan your cast as far away from them as possible, slowly working the water closer and closer to them - like a water sprinkler. The same technique works just the same for live baits and cut baits. Throwing a bait right on your quarry’s head usually doesn’t work out so well.

    These beautiful days allow anglers to fish whenever they want to, and enjoy Southwest Florida. Heck, last year we had great weather all the way until January 3rd!

    Tight lines,

    Cap.t Greg Stamper


  • 12/04/2016 6:39 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Between front creek systems
    by Capt. Michael Manis

    Right now, if possible I’d have my gear ready and waiting for those few short openings. By that, I mean waiting between the fronts for those perfect days that make living in southwest Florida special. And even though I need at least a sweatshirt, now I don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn. In fact, I like to wait till late morning to let the sun warm things up.  Like last month, I’ll continue working the same pattern for redfish and trout; but now, I’ll even push farther up my favorite backcountry creek systems. 

    Basically, I’m following the fish. With reduced rain and cooler water, salinity and oxygen increases back here providing good habitat as well as a refuge from the windswept open flats. Also, after a cool night the sun will warm the shallow water over the darker mud and sand bottom quicker here than on open flats. The combination of low clear water will increase sight-fishing opportunities, as there isn’t enough water for fish to get deep into the mangroves. 

    I like a morning or early afternoon incoming tide coming off a negative low. Fish will work their way with the tide to warm up and feed. I’ll look for them laid up off the shoreline in deeper sand depressions.  If there’s enough water, I’ll still pole shorelines, but it’s the sand holes off the shoreline that hold the best numbers of fish.

    The baitfish so prevalent most of the year is scarce. Scaled sardines migrate offshore looking for more stable water temperature. Being a natural nursery, these estuarine creek systems provide a decent array of prey albeit of a smaller source like silversides, killifish, shrimp, and crabs. As a result, I’ll throw small, #1 or #2, baitfish and shrimp patterns.

    Most days, dealing with a strong northeast breeze, I like to work areas that provide as much lee as possible.  Out of Punta Gorda, I like to concentrate within Charlotte Harbor State Park on the east side between Alligator Creek and Pirate Harbor. Here, the labyrinth of creek systems can keep me busy all winter. I’ll even push as far back as the mosquito ditches.  North, towards the top of the harbor, I also like extensive area that includes the Myakka Cutoff, Tippecanoe Bay and Muddy Cove.

    Sheepshead are a good bet around docks and piers. If the wind is really cranking, the Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte canals hold good numbers. When calm, the artificial reef outside Alligator Creek is a great spot. Cut shrimp works well.  

    Lastly, when the wind permits, take a run over to the hard bottom off Cape Haze Point where pompano like to hang out and get in a few cast with a ¼ ounce Nylure jig.

    Until next month, good tides.

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

  • 12/04/2016 6:30 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    December changes tactics on the river
    by Capt. Charlie Conners

    Here it is December already and the Holidays are almost upon us. Where has this year gone? I must say 2016 has been another great year for fishing all along the Treasure Coast. Both inshore and offshore have provided anglers with many great fishing adventures. Hopefully, this winter will be milder and the fishing great for everyone. 

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

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

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

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

    Winter fishing is already here. Change your tactics with the weather and follow the water temperatures more closely to make your fishing more productive. Let’s make 2017 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


  • 11/02/2016 5:30 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Back to the backcountry
    by Capt. Michael Manis

    Change is in the air. We’re approaching a winter pattern around the harbor as sporadic northern fronts combine with seasonally low tides. As well as contributing to cooler temperatures, these winds also push water out of the harbor escalating these tides. Typically, I’ll turn my attention to redfish and spotted sea trout. Both species tolerate cold well.

    As we get away from summer rain, our water clears up, cools down, and salinity increases. Consequently, I’ll start pushing into the backcountry and getting up into some of our many creek systems. As the oxygen and salinity increases, fish will begin moving in as well. As the water cools, a favorite prey species, scaled sardines, move offshore looking for more stable water temperatures. This forces the reds and trout to rely on shrimp and small crustaceans that these creeks provide as well as a refuge from erratic conditions.

    Therefore, I’ll begin throwing smaller clouser type patterns. I like the way it emulates the motion of a jig and gets down in the water column where small crustaceans hide. Unlike some patterns, it doesn’t stop moving during the retrieve when the angler is not stripping. A sinking bait is a good representation of fleeing prey.

    I like creeks that hold deeper edges off points and bends. If possible, I’ll pole in on a low incoming tide as fish will take advantage of the early tide stage to forage for previously unavailable and vulnerable prey. Fortunately, there are plenty of options. Out of Punta Gorda, the east side south of Ponce Park all the way to Matlacha has more real estate than most of us have time to explore. At the top of the harbor, Hog Island and the Myakka Cutoff provide another expanse of mangrove creeks. Lastly, the west wall incorporates enough of these areas to keep anyone busy all winter.

    When the wind lays down, pompano provide a change of pace. I like looking outside the bar along the southern end of the west wall and off the hard bottom outside Cape Haze Point. Here, a clouser is perfect as a ¼ ounce Nylure jig is the artificial of choice on a spinning rod. It’s not unusual to find them jumping your boat wake while running outside the bar along the wall.

    Sheepshead is a good bet. In fact, from shore, it offers one of the best opportunities all year. Docks, piers, and seawalls are all good. The Placida Trestle is very popular. The bait of choice is cut shrimp and fiddler crabs.

    Until next month, good tides.

    Captain Michael Manis
    Punta Gorda Fly Charters
    (941) 628-957895 

  • 11/02/2016 5:22 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    November offers lots of options for fishing the backcountry
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    Fishing during the month of November can be very good because there’s plenty of different species to go after. During November the weather often dictates the plan, so if we get lucky like last year then it will be good all month! With that said, as we get bits and pieces of cold front tails, the windy days will make things a bit tougher -- especially if the high pressure gradients reach us. On the days that the wind blows hard, we’ll predominantly target the fish in the backcountry, where we can hide from the wind a bit. The North winds and Northwest winds can make things a bit sporty, and puts a bit of a hamper on the bite at times. However, get the right days with the soft winds and the fishing can be fantastic. Fish still have to eat and when you have those nice days or weeks, the bite is on. Our temperatures can range from the 60’s in the mornings to highs in the low 80’s, making for some cool early morning rides and pleasant afternoons. As air temperatures cool off, anglers begin to pay more attention to water temperatures as we would like it to stay in the mid 70’s for another month!

    When fishing nearshore this time of year you still have chances at tarpon, cobia, and kingfish to name a few. Calm mornings with east winds give anglers options to run outside along the beaches and see what’s going on. Tripletail begin showing up in full force hanging out on any piece of structure available. Most tripletail won’t be big, but occasionally you’ll be rewarded with a solid size fish. Often this time of the year the nearshore wrecks and reefs can also be great times, so it doesn’t hurt to check out a few of them with live baits, our trolling plugs.

    There’s lots of options for fishing the backcountry waters as redfish, snook, and trout are all available and willing to eat, minus the first day or so after a cold front comes through. Snook are now in their winter homes and settling in. Fishing docks along our bays and rivers can be a fun time, as long as you’re willing to lose some tackle. Snook will also be along mangrove shore lines, still hanging tight to the structure usually over sandy bottom. As the temperatures begin to cool off, you’ll also have a longer period to hunt your quarry since the water temperatures won’t be too hot after mid-day as they are during the summer.

    Redfish will continue to be a good bet as redfish, and their cousin the black drum, will be the target more often moving forward. Redfish don’t mind the cooler water temperatures and should continue to be active thru December. Targeting redfish along oyster bars and other structure using shrimp or even cut baits like ladyfish will work well during November. Other options for those that enjoy casting will be spoons, jerk baits usually rigged weedless, and flies.

    Sheepshead will begin to show up more and more especially as the water cools off. Most of the sheepies won’t be fat yet, but they will be eating as their spawn will start up as soon as things cool down even more. The sheepshead will be found both on our wrecks and reefs, and targeting these sly bait robbers can be difficult at times. Small hooks and pieces of shrimp verse the entire shrimp work well. Often when you feel a sheepshead picking at your bait, you can simply move it a foot or two away to finally trigger that fish to commit.

    The passes throughout the region will continue to be a great spot for action, and occasionally we’ll have a few visitors like bluefish show up. Most of the fish in the passes are smaller in size starting late this month, but if you’ve got kids then that’s a great way to get you day started. Besides you never know when a pack of mackerel, pompano, or jacks may storm by and clean house.

    Tight lines,
    Capt Greg Stamper

  • 11/02/2016 5:13 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    If large tarpon are your target, step your leader size
    By Capt. Tom Van Horn

    Although November’s notorious for greeting us with a blustery easterly fetch, fishing in the Mosquito Lagoon, Indian River Lagoon and the inlets of Ponce De Leon, Canaveral and Sebastian will remain outstanding until ocean water temperature drop below 70 degrees. Water levels are still elevated in the wake of Hurricane Mathew, but they will continue to fall and the water clarity has cleaned up. In a few weeks fishing conditions on the lagoons will be perfect. Currently a high pressure system has been blasting us with a strong easterly wind, but sooner or later Mother Nature will have to inhale and ocean conditions will bless us with some fishable days.

    On the lagoons, falling water levels and cleaner conditions will facilitate increased sight fishing prospects for redfish, black drum and sea trout. Currently water levels in the lagoons remain elevated allowing excellent access to the backwaters, but on the flipside all of the sandy shoals are submerged, so if you are not familiar with the lagoons please exercise caution while under way.

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

    One of my favored techniques when fishing the inlets in November is to cast net live mullet for bait, and drift them through the passes on a sliding sinker rig. Look for areas of feeding activity, birds diving and fish busting, and adjust the size of your weight based on current. The rig I use starts out with a Daiichi Bleeding Bait circle hook proportionate to your bait size to allow a natural swimming appearance. In simple terms, small bait small hook, large bait large hook. Next, I attach a 30-inch section of 30 to 40 pound test Gamma fluorocarbon leader to a 20-pound test braided mainline. If large tarpon are your target, step your leader size up to 60-pound test and your main line to 50 pound test. Before I tie on my hook, I slide my slip sinker on to the leader, and finish the rig off by using a small swivel located between the barrel sinker and the hook adjusted to keep the weight off of the hook. As I drift through the passes, I like to cast parallel to my drift with just enough weight to keep the bait in the feeding zone, and increase the barrel sinker size as the current picks up. Additionally, as we near the end of November and finger mullet diminish, switch to live pinfish on pigfish as bait. Most importantly, pass fishing in November can be dangerous, so as I drift through the inlet I keep the helm manned with my engine running, keeping a close eye on boat traffic and sea conditions, and always be prepared for evasive action if needed.

    As the first significant cold front passes and surf temperatures reach the 68-degree mark, flounder slide into the inlets on their annual spawning migration out to sea. The exodus usually begins with the arrival of the smaller 1 to 3-poung gulf flounder (three spot), which are later joined by the doormat size 2 to 10-pound southern flounder. Many anglers prefer to anchor up and fish live finfish on the bottom, but I favor drifting the lagoon side of the passes bouncing a 1/4 ounce DOA CAL Jig 3" CAL Shad tail on the bottom.. This vertical jigging technique allows me to cover more area and catch a wider assortment of species. Likewise, as lagoon temperatures cool, pompano are another likely target as they congregate on the lagoon side of the passes before moving out to their winter haunts along the beaches to feed on sand fleas (mole crabs) one of their favorite winter food.

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

    Last but not least, Hurricane Mathew runoff has pushed the water levels on the St Johns River up to flood stage in some areas and a strong easterly fetch in Jacksonville has held up river discharge, but the water levels have and will begin to drop fast. Currently, good reports of speckled perch (crappie) are coming in from the big lakes of Harney, Jessup and Monroe just in time for the 8th annual Central Florida Shad and Crappie Derby ( In addition to a good crappie bite, increased water levels equal increased currents, which sets the stage for an excellent channel catfish bite.

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

    Good luck and good fishing,

    Captain Tom Van Horn

    Mosquito Coast Fishing Charters


    Special Note: Now is the time to purchase fishing charter holiday gift certificates for those anglers close to your heart. Please visit my website ( and purchase yours online.

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