Florida Fishing Report: Florida Fishing Charters

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Creme de la Creme

Top Left: Derick Nakamuira was all smiles when a 15- minute jack crevalle interrupted his party while targeting redfish and trout
 in north Pasco County (take home bag image: Right)

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It appears that the forecasters may be correct and that Florida will experience an El' Nino winter. We had a few significant cold fronts around Thanksgiving and in the first week of December.

It took a little bit of time for the fish to become acclimated to the water temperatures that fell into the upper 50s and lower 60's. The fish massed in their usual winter oases and though we had to physically work for them using artificial lures, the fishing was great! Jacks, ladyfish, trout, pompano, permit, bluefish, redfish, flounder, tarpon, mackerel all were making up the daily bag that on a typical day easily exceeded 100 fish per trip.  Yes, every trip!

We enjoyed an extended warming trend that kept extending! Next thing I knew, the water was holding in the upper 60s and low 70s. The fish began to spread out and scatter. I had been turning my back on live-scaled sardines that had greeted me every morning since the first week of December and was now obliging to their presence. The sardines were staple in achieving 50 fish days, just half of what we were catching under cooler conditions and artificial lures. 

Adam Bresovits  and "Jungle Jim" (below) with a couple of  after dark winter snook. Snook retreat well inside our area rivers in winter and are often great targets just as the sun drops and the fish relate to deeper water for insulation.

Even the snook came out of the backcountry and faced their bodies perpendicular to oyster bars exposed to the southern tilt of the sun. Snook? On the flats in December? Not good.

We cooled back off last week. Things appeared to return to somewhat normal winter scenarios, but not completely. We continued with the phenomenal trout bite. On the days with the afforded luxury of flooded rocks and oysters, redfishing remained unusually strong.

On warming trends, the gator trout are found on the very edges of the flats at low tide and around oyster bars and creek mouths on high tide. After a passing front, these areas will be vacant, however, the "schoolie" speck and silver trout fishing is strong in the areas adjacent to the barrier islands when the shallows are just too cold. These same areas are producing redfish, bluefish, mackerel, ladyfish and an occasional flounder. Some jumbo jacks are where you find them. They are out roaming about expecting to rampage the flats on the warm spells, but not far from their winter retreats of the rivers and or power plants.

Four of my last 5 attempts at the tarpon have been successful with hook ups. Juvenile tarpon are year-round residents in our area. The fish are neo tropical and very sensitive to changes in the water temperatures, particularly on the cooler side. So far, the deeper pockets of the rivers have remained warm and the tarpon are enjoying their security. The snook traditionally frequent these areas, though I try not to target them during the closed season. At some point, conservation-minded anglers need to give these fish a rest!

Normally by this time, I've already made a few treks to the other coast to pass some time flying kites and drifting for sailfish in the Gulf Stream. While there has been plenty of fish caught along Sailfish Alley in 2006, it has been an off winter so far with the warm air. I hope January will see the blustery north winds that make the trips worth wild. My friends say there has been a hot swordfish bite this past week. We scrapped it for last Saturday night due to high winds. They will retry tonight.

I am hoping winter settles in. I can hardly believe I am saying that, but in my life, I have long learned that the best peak spring seasons come after at least a more normal winter. Traditionally, El' Nino in Florida means it will be colder, but later.

We are just a few months away from the peak of the giant tarpon season. Now is the time to make your plans for 2007!

Happy New Year and All the Best in 2007!

Mike Erickson took this silver gem on a cool December morning on a Cotee Liv' Eye chartreuse jig. The juvenile tarpons remain somewhat active in area rivers with the mild temperatures we have been experiencing as of late.

Screaming Drags and Tired Arms!

Robert McCue


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Last Update 1JAN07
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