Florida Fishing Report: Florida Fishing Charters

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Joan Christy with one of several juvenile tarpon she landed. 


The Bite Light is On

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No variable affects fishing more than the weather. We’ve certainly had our share. High winds and plenty of rainfall was the worst of it for us in the area. They were not as fortunate 100 miles to the south and to the east. When tragedy strikes, the good nature of man sheds a silver lining on a dark cloud. Relief efforts in the areas directly affected by the storms have been swift and overwhelming in rebuilding lives torn apart by the wrath of Mother Nature.

Hurricanes are nature’s way of cleansing the ecosystem. With the worst behind us, the final process of has begun. The deck is being shuffled, new & cooler water is abounded, and the fish are relocating with a fierce appetite.

The staple to good fishing now is introducing or importing quality bait to hungry fish. The bait has been thick and large. While the adverse conditions have required a lot of running around to find the fish, it has not taken long to determine if they are there. Coupled with low fishing pressure, they are hungry and near immediately responsive to quality bait.

The best thing going are the redfish. On some days I have found fish schooled up on near every oyster bar or rock pile near every creek or river. The fish generally are all slot fish (18 to 27 inches), with a few over-sized bulls mixed in. I had one day last week where we caught over 30 fish on a single spot with a single angler. Dropping the anchor on just one spot for over half the day is something a guide deserves every once in while. I have seen a couple large schools of bulls pushing around very shallow. With this last week’s quarter moon and northeasterly winds, the water stayed low all day. For the most part, it was very difficult, if not impossible, to approach these nervous fish in the ultra shallow water. The moon is now waxing and the winds are forecasted to subside this weekend. I’ll be back for them then.

Bob Greenwald and grandson Bobby stayed doubled up on the snook. Young "masta Jones" is gaining salt on grandpa-fast!

The cooler water has sparked the snook bite. The key has been finding clean and moving water. The snook have been scattered around flooded mangroves and oyster bars around the creeks, rivers, residential canals,  and other rip raff. The fish are in transition and will stage in typical fall locations with each passing cool front the next 8 weeks. October and November are excellent months for getting a few.

I have found a few spots holding spawning trout around the cuts as incidental catches while targeting reds and snook. A good cool snap will send these fish back to the shoreline from their summer retreats just offshore.

Fran Baltmiskis and mate Brian Timmons heft a giant tarpon. 2004 was one of the best showings of tarpon all along the Gulf Coast in recent years.

Giant tarpon have given most of the diehards the slip since the change in weather. There are still some giants around. However once a pattern is established, the winds kick up and I subsequently have to start over. This factor has leaded me to not target them as intensely as I have in late summer- years past. It was a banner year for giant tarpon. We got off to a slow start with a late and cold spring. Once that variable changed, it was one of the best seasons in recent years all throughout the Gulf Coast. The late summer plug fishing was fantastic. On near every targeted trip, my anglers had multiple fish days consistently in July and until Frances in August.

Juvenile tarpon are yearlong residents of the area. They frequent the deep holes of the major rivers and residential canals. No matter the size of a tarpon, they are still tarpon. Some days they show better than others. If they are up and active, the bite light is on. If not, excellent fishing is just around the corner on the variety of fall species.

The wind has been pesky the past 10 days and has made it difficult to get just offshore for the Spanish mackerel and shallow water grouper. The good news is that the wind is blowing from an easterly direction and all that does is clean the water up fast and send the bait closer to shore. With the bait moving towards the shoreline and combined with the general southward migration of fall, hot fishing will be found nearshore on grouper, mango snapper, king & Spanish mackerel and cobia.

We sit now just outside the peak fall fishing and we will now get to fish the benefits of Mother Nature’s flushing. Hold on!

Screaming Drags and Tired Arms!

Robert McCue


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Last Update 21SEP04
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