Florida Fishing Report: Florida Fishing Charters

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Encounters of the Mega Kind

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"Hammer" (left) makes his grand entry into the 200 lb. Giant Tarpon Club with this beauty while
 on a (wet) Christmas fishing gift from long time friend Rich Hansen.
Mate Brian Timmons (right) successfully released the fish alive and well.

We finished up in Boca Grande in the first week of July. Overall, it was very much “other” than a typical year. There has been much speculation and theory as to why that may have been. Red Tide, late cold fronts, a paramount fish kill to the south, abnormal water temperatures, wind directions, major freshwater influxes, and sharks have all been put out there as possible reasons. I have long believed in the “cycle” of fish that is determined by the mood swings of Mother Nature. She, above anything or anyone, will determine the patterns of fish. Father Time can only offer us what fish have done in the past and what we can only hope for in the future. Add in the mystique of the Megalops Atlanticus and the debate can be nothing more than entertaining breeze shooting.

Naturally the definition of good fishing is different in the minds of each person you talk to. For the waters of legendary Boca Grande and my long time client base, it was far below par. Then again, even in a bad year, it still can be the best in the world. There were many days where it was business as usual with as many as 15 fish jumped in 6 hours. Unusually, there were also several trips that all we could do is get one bite. Fish acted funky by not entering the Pass for periods of time. During these periods we fished deep in the harbor, sounds and well offshore of the beaches. Migrating fish normally seen traveling just outside the first bar of the beaches were found (some days) as far out as 3 miles, acting as if they were moving down the beach. By marking the area via GPS, they were found there again for several days following. We found much success by adapting to the patterns of the fish. However, by eliminating the Pass, averaged “jumped” productivity in the double digits fell short on several trips. Though a rare overall occurrence, the spring 2003 fell more into the definition of “ that’s fishing” than the “The World’s Best Tarpon Fishing”.

Ironically for whatever reason, the fishing was stronger the further north you went. Areas north of Venice such as Sarasota, Bradenton and Tampa Bay saw unprecedented fishing for their areas by those not based out of Boca Grande.


Greg Crouch (aft) ponders his possible entry into the 200 lb. Giant Club but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades (Thanx for the special times and all you have done for me/us over the years!).

Giant tarpon are still displaying extraordinary acrobatic displays along the area's beaches.
The extraordinary tarpon patterns being experienced from the Florida Keys and all points north continues. Typically at this time we see a migration of post spawn tarpon moving deep inside the larger rivers and bays to feed for the summer. For the most part this transmigration has yet to take place. While the fish have moved from hot spots that produced the past two months -the best bite continues on the open Gulf. Hard bottom/ rocky “live bottom” (particularly when located 1 to 2 miles outside of a pass) and that are holding bait, continue to be the theaters of probability at this time. The water in these areas remains “tea” stained from the 15 inches of rain we have experienced the past two weeks. Bait is abundant in the time proven areas and who knows? Maybe a major bay migration of Gulf bearing tarpon will be late or not at all as bay conditions exist in the Gulf at present. Inside the bays---resident tarpon are being taken in some limited numbers on the major tide/solunar periods and at night around the big bridges of Tampa Bay.
The summer doldrums are upon us. Savvy permit hunters will find a few fish lingering on the wrecks and reefs. Snook remain on the beaches and passes spawning. Pompano are off with the influx of freshwater as of this waxed full moon (expect them to improve with rising salinity). Spanish mackerel will be in full blitz around the bait hatchlings found along the beaches and on the flats. Expect bonita, ladyfish and scattered tarpon to join in on the potpourri of bait as well. As we move into August, redfish will school in both the largest numbers and sizes on the flats, barrier islands, and passes.

Brian (left), Dad-Fran (center) and Patrick Baltmiskis found some early summer permit more than willing to oblige to their crab cocktail offerings on a recent trip.

The key to successful summer fishing is picking and choosing your times in addition to locations. Fish that will not feed in the heat of the day are most active early and late. Add in the tides and solunar periods to the equation, and there is some excellent Florida fishing to be had.

Screaming Drags and Tired Arms!

Robert McCue


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Last Update 14JUL03
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