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

Florida fishing charters

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Bobby Stubbs (R) with a "smoker" king. Kingfish are migrating on their fall run south.

Mother Nature has offered us a very gradual cooling process and we are getting some extended fall play. Weather patterns the past two to three years have left little for me to write fondly of, but I will justly pay homage to the queen and say we appreciate it. Father Time will again gain the upper hand with his old pal Jack Frost, but neither is being seen in the foreseeable future.

Nearshore fishing is offering the best opportunities. Migrating bait stacks have the Spanish mackerel in frenzy. Diving birds are a dead give away of the speedsters below. Mackerel are notorious for running on the outside edges of the bait. As the baits on the outer edges move to the middle to avoid the mackerel, the bait becomes tighter and densely packed. The mackerel slice through the dark clouds of bait wounding the minnows and then circle back to feast on the falling morsels of food. Gulls and terns sometimes get so thick while feeding on the scrapes, they are often found by fisherman on their radar screens.

      Jay Steinbicker took this resident fall tarpon in the backwaters. 

Dr. Diaz hefts a beautiful fall snook. Snook are staging inside the deeper creeks and major rivers.

If you can keep a bait in the water long enough, school king mackerel to the mid twenty lb. class can be found in the same locations. For those specifically targeting kingfish, they are scattered in all depths and moving daily with the bait. Throw in the numerous sharks and the occasional cobia and the day will be busy but made with little effort.

Gag grouper are in shallow now. There has been a lot of floating grass making trolling plugs difficult. Best bets are going to your time proven spots in 8 to 35 feet of water and bottom fishing. To fire up the bite, start of with cut bait. Once you get a few fish feeding, lower down a jumbo live greenback while occasionally chumming with slightly wounded minnows. As the bite slows, cast the live baits in a semi circle behind the boat to get any fish hanging on the otter edges of your efforts. If you have not achieved your limit, check the surrounding hard bottom areas for “spikes” of bait. At this time of year, you often do not need to move far to get on more fish that often are around these “spikes”. King and Spanish mackerel are probable species in these same areas and a flatline fished in a rod holder is the way to get them

Inshore, snook, redfish and trout are making up the bags. The tides are now lower than the summer tides. Add in a northeasterly wind direction and you will have to plan your day according to how much water you have to reach the fish and whether there will be water on the structure that holds them. Catching snook, redfish and trout on the same spots is common now. Most productive areas are the last oyster bars guarding river/ creek mouths and the mangrove lines in the same areas at high tide.

Jacks, bluefish, and mackerel all are being taken on the flats at this time as well. While the giant tarpon are all but gone, they will remain a possibility just offshore in the bait pods. Juvenile tarpon are active and feeding in the deeper holes adjacent to the Gulf as well as deep inside the rivers.

Eventually a major blow will sweep the state and drop the comfort zone of many of these species below their liking. Florida is not often associated with having “seasons”, but going from summer to winter conditions all too often can happen overnight. It will take a short period of time for most of the fish to acclimate to the changes and then we’ll be in a typical weather pattern. For now-no complaints from me.

"Gator" trout are staging as we move into  winter.

Screaming Drags and Tired Arms!

Robert McCue


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Last Update 25NOV03
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