fishing Forecast

  • 11/29/2020 11:13 AM | 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 its 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 offs 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 back waters as well as all the near shore reefs and wrecks. Typical sheepshead baits will be shrimp, fiddler crabs, and barnacles.

    Near shore 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 were the schools of fish will be. Always have a big feather jig or your favorite swim bait 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 amber jacks 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 its 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

  • 11/29/2020 11:07 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Working with the elements
    by Captain Michael Manis

    At this point, with the combination of weather changes and the holiday season, 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; 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 late 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

  • 11/29/2020 10:58 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Lots of Variety Available in December
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    Freshwater Fishing

    American Shad and Crappie

    Despite high water levels on the St Johns River system 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 the month on their winter spawning run. American shad are an incredible species to catch on light tackle and fly, and if you have never experienced this fishery, you should book a day with me and learn how it is done. American Shad fishing is the closes Floridian’s get to the salmon runs of the north and we are catching them during the winter when the northern rives are frozen over.

    Nearshore and Inlets

    Near-shore and in the inlets, large redfish were concentrated outside Ponce, Port Canaveral and Sebastian Inlets last month, and they should remain steady through December. 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 15 to 30 feet of depth. These breeder size redfish will hit artificial baits, but live pinfish, pigfish, pogies and finger mullet are more productive. Remember, these are oversized reds, so step up the size of your tackle and handle and release them 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.

    Schools of bluefish and Spanish mackerel have been feeding on glass minnows (bay anchovies) along the beaches and outside the Inlets. When targeting these species watch for bird activity and work small jigs or spoons fast to avoid cut offs. 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 will 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 either 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.

    Tarpon and Kingfish

    Further off the beach, tarpon and 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.

    Tripletail and Cobia

    December is also the month when tripletail begins to show up 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.

    Red Drum and Seatrout

    On the Lagoons, water level is very high and the water is dirty.  With this said, focus your efforts on shoreline and backwater areas as sight fishing is incredibly challenging.  Also concentrate your efforts in areas of baitfish and fish with shrimp and crab imitation sort plastics or live shrimp.

    In closing, 2020 has been an exceedingly difficult and challenging year on many levels, but if you are reading this forecast, you have survived to fish another day. For me, I am at a crossroad in my life where spending time with friends and family has become a priority so I am not sure where 2021 will take me.  I’m not one to dwell on the past, but instead focus on the future. With this said, value your time on the water with family and friends and have a safe and enjoyable holiday.

    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

  • 10/29/2020 9:36 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    November Transition
    by Capt. Greg Stamper 

    With the end of 2020 near our focus turns away from watching low pressure systems. Our concerns of fish changing patterns moves from the warm waters of the Gulf and Atlantic, to the Florida state line. 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 making it this far down are usually rather weak. With that said we hope all the fronts stall out near Tampa leaving us with incredible fishing till the years end. 

    The migration or push of fish has already been going on through October. However, the biggest factor is when will our first significant cold front or two make its way past Tampa thus effecting Southwest Florida. We have already seen many of the migrating fish that have followed the big schools of threadfin herring, menhaden, and pilchards that are everywhere in our area. 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 has already set 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 and substantial cold weather. If water temperatures stay up snook and tarpon will continue to be targeted regularly as they continue to fatten up for the future months of cooler water coming. Lastly in our back bays we usually stumble upon some strangers this time of the year that occasionally are just doing a drive by to see what is going on. 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 able to target a lot of different species now. Those that choose not to make the long 40 plus mile runs can easily target kingfish throughout the area. 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 are two of the easiest ways.

    Look for kingfish starting now regularly from 15-50 feet of water. Those that run out to the deeper waters will be able to find plenty of red grouper, lane, mangrove, and mutton snappers, as well as aj’s and kingfish. The timing of these trips very much depends on the weather so again paying attention to the cold fronts coming from the North will be important. Typically, the days leading up to a front arriving are your best bet. 

    Tight lines, Capt. Greg Stamper  
    239-313-1764 Fort Myers beach, FL

  • 10/29/2020 9:31 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Pompano Return to the River
    by Capt. Charlie Conner 

    November has arrived on the Treasure Coast.  2020 has been a tough year for everyone.    It was a hot summer, but things have been milder lately and it should provide us with some great fishing conditions this month.  Water temperatures have been in the mid 80’s as we transition into winter fishing.  Look for some windy days this month with chances of rain.  Enjoy November and get out fishing soon! 

    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 are great for using artificial lures for the pomps. You should still find some flounder around on the sand flats of the inlet and river.    

    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.   

    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 should also show up 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  

  • 10/29/2020 9:24 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Time for a change
    by Captain Michael Manis 

    Towards the end of last month, first thing in the morning, it was noticeably breezy and cooler. This began the transition from late summer and fall into what could be considered a winter pattern. It’s not the winter we’ll see in the next three months, but it’s a change from the last couple months.  

    As well, as we get away from summer rain our water clears up, cools down, and the salinity increases. As a result, like our snook seeking stable water temperatures, I’ll begin pushing further into the backcountry to get up into some of our many river and creek systems. As the month progresses and especially after a good cold front our snook should be in full transition mode. As these conditions make bigger fish vulnerable, I’ll concentrate on smaller fish. Most likely, I’ll put in a good amount of time along the east side south of Punta Gorda among the expanse of tidal creeks that can be found from Alligator Creek down to Buzzard Bay outside Matlacha.  

    Redfish and low water are a great combination. For those with quiet shallow draft skiffs, the next few months provide lots of opportunity. For stealth, poling is preferred; It’s more work but well worth the effort. I like the east side of Pine Island Sound below Pineland Marina. Across the harbor, the flats and small creek systems at the northern end of Bull Bay as well as the flats between Whidden’s and Catfish Creek can be good.  

    With the cooler mornings, the spotted sea trout bite should improve. In Gasparilla Sound, the thick turtle grass flats off the Three Sisters Islands outside Boca Grande can hold good numbers of trout. In Pine Island Sound, the deeper turtle grass flats , two to four feet, anywhere off the intracoastal are worth a look.  

    As the water cools, a favorite prey species, scaled sardines, also look for more stable water temperatures and move offshore. This forces our gamefish to rely on shrimp, small crustaceans, and localized bottom associated prey fish. Therefore, I’ll begin throwing small clouser type patterns. They’re a good match for this smaller prey and I like the way they emulate the motion of a jig and get down in the water column where small crustaceans hide. Unlike some patterns, they don't stop moving during the retrieve when not being stripped and actually drop like a fleeing prey.  

    On the bars surrounding the open harbor, pompano can 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, the clouser again is a perfect fly. On a spinning rod, a 1/4 ounce Nylure jig is tough to beat.  

    Lastly, look for sheepshead to begin stacking up around any artificial reef, dock, or pier structure. Moreover, I’ve been seeing good numbers along many of the shorelines I fish. From land, the Placida trestle is a favorite spot. Here, shrimp and fiddler crabs are the bait of choice.  

    Until next month, good tides. 

    Captain Michael Manis 
    Punta Gorda Fly Charters 

  • 10/29/2020 9:14 AM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    November Signals End of Mullet RunNovember Signals End of Mullet Run  
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn 

    It’s hard to fathom all the outstanding fishing adventures I have experienced on the Indian River Lagoon Coast of Florida in November. We are truly blessed by the opportunity to experience the natural side of such a magnificent resource where catching is a year-round experience. 

    As the water temperatures cool, look for the near-shore bite out of Port Canaveral, Ponce Inlet and Sebastian Inlet to heat up. These inlets have been on fire all of October and the bite will continue as long as the seas are fishable. 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. 

    November prevails as one of the most productive months to fish Florida’s east coast. It’s the end of the of the mullet run, with waves of baitfish (black and silver mullet) migrating south through the lagoon and along the beaches. Currently the inlets are 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. 

    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 shown 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 strive 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 any questions or need more information, please contact me. 

    Good luck and good fishing, 

    Captain Tom Van Horn 

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

  • 09/29/2020 6:29 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Sheepshead around the bridges.
    by Capt. Charlie Conner

    COVID-19 still hangs over everyone on the Treasure Coast, but you can foresee things slowing down a little.  We transition into fall this month and 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!

    Later this month the fall mullet run will start winding down.  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.

    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.  Redfish has continued to be a good bite for us again this year.  Their population continues to grow and provide some awesome 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. 

    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

  • 09/29/2020 6:20 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Fall Bait Migration Heats up Bite
    by Capt. Tom Van Horn

    Believe it or not, fall has arrived here in Central Florida.  Shorter days and prevailing easterly breezes have set the stage for some excellent fishing.  This past week the King Tide (highest I ever seen) and tropical squalls well offshore made fishing challenging, but conditions are improving and so is the catching.

    The fall bait migration is in full swing on Florida’s central east coast with good concentrations of migrating baitfish working south down the beach and through the lagoon exciting both gamefish and angler alike. Triggered by shorter days, cooling water temperatures, and approaching cold fronts, pockets of mullet stream down the beach harassed by hungry predators. As the bait works its way south in the troughs of the surf, bluefish, ladyfish, jacks, Spanish mackerel, redfish and snook keep them hemmed up close along the surfs edge, with tarpon, blacktip and spinner sharks lurking in the waves eager to fulfill their position at the top of the food chain.

    As the baitfish move out the inlets on the falling tide, breeder redfish, tarpon and snook, take advantage of the easy meal as the fleeing mullet are forced away from the shelter of the shoreline. Additionally, October and November are the best months to target snook at Sebastian Inlet if water temperatures stay above 70 degrees.

    Once the water temperatures near the 68-degree mark southern and gulf flounder moving through the inlets usually follow the first major cold front. It is difficult to predict the precise moment of the run, but serious flounder pounders know when the moment is right, and they’re often rewarded with doormats from 8 to 14 pounds.

    In the deeper water, both tripletail and cobia move into the depths of 40 to 60 feet of water shadowing pods of threadfin herring (greenies) and Spanish sardines (cigar minnows) pushing south along the Canaveral shoals, often hanging just below the abundant flotsam carried inshore by the easterly breezes. Once you locate weeds and other debris, look for tripletail to be hanging just below the floating structure. Live shrimp and small jigs tipped with shrimp work well when targeting these brim on steroids. It helps to fish later in the day keeping the afternoon sun to your back to improve your range of sight, and always keep a medium heavy rod rigged with a one ounce chartreuse or white buck tail jig ready to throw to any cruising cobia.

    Also, look for the fall kingfish run to commence as well as an occasional sailfish or black fin tuna on the near-shore reefs and wrecks like 8A and Pelican Flats.

    In the lagoons, breeder schools of redfish are in deeper water through the north IRL. These schools of oversized redfish are our brood stock, so if you target them please step up your tackle size (20-pound test) and handle and release them with extreme care. In addition, schools of pompano will begin forming up and moving thought the inlets invading the beach in search of mole crabs (sand fleas) their favorite winter food.

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

    Good luck and good fishing,

    Captain Tom Van Horn

  • 09/29/2020 6:16 PM | Ron Presley (Administrator)

    Red October!
    by Capt. Greg Stamper

    It is called red October for a reason as the redfish fishing in our area gets good. The back bays and near shore waters are now cooling off a bit signaling to all our fish friends Fall is in the air. The offshore bite as well as the nearshore bite will follow suit as this transition occurs. You can expect great reports this month for all species including those beginning their migrations South. We’ve got about another month of rain, but were close to the humidity starting to give us a break.

    We will start off with the shallow water as the Fall bite started early this year. This was kind of expected as it seems everything happened a month early since last November. It is the year 2020 so I am not surprised with anything these days. Redfish have been schooling up since early September in my neck of the woods, giving anglers plenty of big number days. This early grouping up of redfish should continue all month making things fun. Snook fishing continues to be excellent and the move to the back bays, rivers, and creeks will not start until we get our first cold front or two. Trout are finally caught with regularity in Estero bay which seemed to be the last place they filled back into, after our horrible red tide issues years back. Pompano, mackerel, and bluefish will be the next targets to go after once the cool downs begin.

    Nearshore fishing is great for tarpon in October. Large groups of tarpon are now pushing South from the panhandle down. These fish are following the schools of threadfin herrings down the beaches and easily targetable. Find the bait and the fish will not be far. Some years these big schools of tarpon will stick around through December, especially if it does not cool down much. Cobia will be another fish that will been seen in this same pattern. I would recommend hitting some of the wrecks around these schools of threadfin, as when you see one cobia this time of the year there are many. Those same wrecks should continue to hold mangrove snappers, groupers, and certainly barracuda.

    The offshore bite should get a little closer as the water temperatures drop a bit. The trend toward September’s end for many anglers seemed to confirm this already beginning. Good size mangrove snappers, lane snappers, and even mutton snappers can be found in 75 feet now. Grouper of the large size will be in about 100 feet plus, and using squid, pin fish, grunts, or jigs is the standard. Those that troll out that far will continue catching blackfin tuna, occasional kingfish and amber jacks.

    Tight lines,

    Capt. Greg Stamper Fort Myers beach, Fl

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