Florida Fishing Report: Florida Fishing Charters

Our Florida fishing report page offers up to date information on fishing in the Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, Orlando and Boca Grande area of Florida's West Coast. For more information on our Florida fishing charters and tarpon fishing charters, please click the link below

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Happy Holidays

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The Fall Solstice is Now Upon Us

Suk (left) with a nice flats cobia

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Late fall conditions moved in the past few weeks and the water temperatures are now holding below 70 degrees. While warm water was welcome this late in spring, it’s best now for the water to stay cool for the fish to develop into a natural winter pattern. We have experienced a very mild fall thus far. The mix of warm water and short days created a situation of some fish staying put with the warm water and other fish moving per their biological time clock stimulated by the hours of light to dark ratio. Good cool water (not freezing!) will congregate the fish in typical winter haunts and make finding them a snap. While some spotty patches of scaled sardines are still available, the best bet is to skip the bait catching and go right to work with artificial lures or live shrimp.

The winter trout fishing has gone ballistic. School-sized trout can be found over the open grass flats from 4 to 10 feet in depth. If it’s the jumbo “gators” you want, moving into the shallows around river and creek mouths, cul-de-sacs, oyster bars, dredge banks, and onto the “drops” behind the barrier islands will help you find the fish well over 20 inches. In the shallows, soft jerk baits  get the nod.  In deeper water, jigs have been working best. While over these deeper flats, one can expect bluefish, ladyfish (“10-pounders”) and Spanish mackerel to occasionally crash the party.

Redfish have been both inside and on the outside. Either way you will find them close to land in the potholes, island points, or sunning on the shallow flat rocks. Reds are suckers for slow moving jigs hopped across the bottom while trying to locate them. Once found, pinning down a select shrimp to a small jig head is a deadly combination. These same areas are holding a few snook, sheepshead and black drum that are willing to oblige to the tipped jig head.

The waters of the power plant (and adjacent/influenced flats) are holding a few pompano and permit. Jacks have been ravenous in the same areas. Each year the first fronts of the year pull in many cobia that are migrating south for winter. 

                        Doug Klender with a "gator" trout
There have been some decent schools around this past week. There are many methods to catching cobia on the plant’s warm flats. My technique is simple. I like to drift while throwing soft-plastic jerk worms or eels. Once I hook a fish I will drop the anchor and sit. Often the hooked cobia will bring the school with it. All anglers on board need to be ready. As the fish gets close to the boat, another fish in the school will immediately inhale a simply “flipped” jig presented in front of the school. We will keep one of the hooked fish in the water at the side of the boat and continuously pick off other curious fish out of the school. Once the fish catch onto us and leave the area, we pull anchor and start the process all over again with a new drift. Many of the fish average about 10 to 12 pounds. However, in near each pod of fish, there will be several fish that you can sight-cast to that exceed 30 lbs or more.

A crew of happy snook anglers

The giant tarpon are all but gone. The juvenile tarpon stack tight in the cooler water and make excellent targets for casting. Your timing has to be exactly right and too, the water not too cold, but they can be the “cherry on top” for an action packed day on a variety of winter species. The giant tarpon will be returning in just a few months. As a reminder, please reserve your time just after the New Year to ensure availability for the best giant tarpon fishing in the world. The 2004 giant tarpon season was one of the best in recent memory once the late cold fronts ceased.

In almost two decades of professional fishing, I have met a lot of people and created some great friendships. While life offers many trials and tribulations, the memories and bonds of I have created with many of you, I will forever hold near my heart. We have shared awesome experiences and learned much about each other while we retreat to the serenity of the sea for peace and solitude. Some days we caught em’, others we did not. While the catching varied, the fishing was always great.

 “The old man dreamed about the lions.”

At this special time of year, I want to say thank you and extend my warmest wishes to you and your families for a Happy Holiday.

Screaming Drags and Tired Arms!

Robert McCue


Dana Christy with a juvenile tarpon


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Last Update 14DEC04
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