Florida Fishing Report

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Florida fishing report

Florida Fishing Report

Florida Fishing Report -No Bull

Our Florida fishing report page offers up to date information on fishing in the Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, Orlando, Bradenton, Sarasota, Port Charlotte 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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Chris Forrey with a close encounter of a different kind.

The Land of Giants

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It appears that spring has finally sprung in Florida. We experienced a long and cold winter this year, setting several historical records. The NWS has forecasted us to be in the upper 70s and low 80s for highs over the next week. Equally or more important is that the nighttime temperatures will reach the upper 50s to low 60s and onshore winds will prevail throughout this time.

The cold water sent the resident species deep into the backcountry waters and migratory species were all but non-existent. This resulted in difficult and unpredictable fishing the past few months. As the hours of daylight and darkness became near equal in March, the biological time clock triggered several species to move to their spring haunts, despite the cold water. With the recent warming trends in the weather pattern, spring fishing is now just starting to gel.

Inshore, the spotted sea trout have been the bread and butter species to fishing guides. The larger fish are massing together near spoil banks and small keys that dot the waters just off the Intercoastal Waterway in preparation for their spawn.In the open waters just off these areas, trout are schooling in good numbers and in typical “school” size.

Just inside area passes, those with keen eyes are finding massive schools of giant black drum ranging from 20 to 50 lbs. In the metro areas, the fish have been easy to find with the amount of boats fishing them. However, these fish are also in less frequently traveled water that is often gin clear and less than 4 feet deep. I’ve recently fished both scenarios. Hands down, I would rather spend a few hours searching from my tower in the shallow, clear water than partake in the other. The fish have been very receptive to sight-fishing with jigs and flies.

There have been a lot of spotty reports on the redfish. I’ve heard everything from, “they’re not around” to “they just won’t bite”. I’ve seen good numbers and sizes of fish in the metro area. These fish have been very difficult to approach, let alone catch, that I’ll agree with.

I have been doing best well to the north.  I have been searching the limestone bottom for mullet along the shoreline. Once located, I set up on point or off rocks just west of the mullet schools and then ambush the reds as they drop away from the shoreline with the mullet on the outgoing tide. Using this strategy, I have had many days with double digit catches of redfish that are upper slot to over-sized drum.


Adrian Morris with an over-sized "bull" redfish.

I was successfully securing a livewell full of scaled sardines on the past few trips. This is what I call “winter trap bait”. That is bait that was sent to the backwaters (trapped) after the passing of the first significant front last fall. I find this bait in a variety of locations, but most often in deepwater holes, particularly if they are spring fed. For over two decades knowledge of this early bait has always been my edge. Each year a little more of what I do slips into the hands of others, but for the most part I’ve managed to keep that edge in today’s modern era.

While pockets of bait have been staple to my success the past few weeks, that has nothing to do with what we really need.  What we really need is a good push of the migratory baitfish to come in from the south and the west. We are at least two weeks behind at this point for this occurrence. I think everyone has their fingers crossed that we’ll see some change with this waxing moon and warmer temperatures.

The bait migration is the catalyst to peak spring fishing. As the giant schools migrate along the coast, their apex predators come with them. Kingfish, Spanish mackerel, cobia, tarpon and grouper will all be viable targets once this occurs. Expect permit to show on the wrecks once the first word spreads of the arrival of king mackerel.

To say top tarpon guides are a little stressed right now by the cool water would be an understatement. We can most certainly expect to see some resident tarpon make an appearance just outside the deeper rivers and waters influenced by power plants. For now, the water cannot get hot enough for a tarpon fisherman. If all remains the same with Mother Nature, Father Time suggests that the dark moon in April should show some improvement on the giant tarpon scene.

Chris Forrey and Jerry Lacasse land a double of giant black drum.

Thea Blouch show she can do that too!


Each year tens of thousands of tarpon congregate along out coast in numbers second to none in the world. The beauty of this fascinating species is its character traits of purity and non-discrimination. Unlike other big game fish, tarpon inhabit areas close to land that are accessible by million dollar yachts, wooden row boats, or by standing on a fishing pier. They care not of what class of society you come from. They are not reserved for a social drift during martini hour, Grey Poupon and fine Cuban cigars. They like you just the same if you drink Busch beer, enjoy Vienna hot dogs and chew Copenhagen. They could care less if you offer them live, dead, or artificial bait. They will burn the gears of a Penn International reel just as they will a Zebco Rhino. Tarpon are American built.

When I reflect back over my life, few memories stand as vivid as the fury of a giant tarpon dancing off the bow of my boat. Morning has broken as the sight of a ballistic surface to air missile launches.

Stephanie Blouch keeps her hands dry and warm with help from bo, Adam Hartz.

Adam Hartz with a jumbo black drum taken in the gin clear waters of Pasco

ong time friend, John Moylan and son, John III were in town
for spring training baseball and a decent afternoon redfish bite.

The vibrations of beating hearts (fish and human alike) travel through the deck at mach speed and radiate up through my feet. Thunder fills my vitality with complete satisfaction. No matter if it’s under the cover of darkness, lost in time on a calm and gin clear flat, or off a busy highway with the roar of morning rush hour traffic as the backdrop, it is only silence that I hear while I serve eyewitness to the mystique of stalking this relic of an ancient animal.

I find a peerless nexus with those that share in my experience and take pride in being able to provide such opportunities to people from all over the world. It is the tarpon that creates perpetual bonds and timeless memories with those I cross paths with in life. It is these small snapshots in time that make the tarpon immortal and not its incredible 100 million years of being. We are fortunate not to catch them, but that they catch us and create treasured experiences that can never be taken away or replaced.

From the outside, the obvious attraction may seem superficial of small fortunes of fame and personal gain for a tarpon guide. However, the truth is, there is actually little of that in this sport. We do it for the love, passion and for the freedom that we can. And we will. 


The cost of freedom has never been easy in the shadows of the principals of our founding forefathers. That is the American tradition of the utmost consequence often missing in the bottom line of the fine print of hidden agendas. Politics and special interest have found their way into our fishery despite the will of the people. I remain vigil and I will not back down in what is equally fair in man’s meddling of tarpon.

For me, the intrigue of tarpon is found within the theater of serenity, euphoric desertion and sovereignty that I can share with many who have the same ambitions as myself. The ferocious rattle of the gill rakers, the majestic tail walk dance of the silver king, and the stamina of the wild beast against man are all simply bonuses. We merely play our role as pawns in a game held in the king’s court. A challenge we refer to as our annual calling. Many of you have become like family to me over the years. These experiences we share will never be taken away and I am looking forward to “catching up” with you real soon

Each year my entire peak season is a sell out. If you have the desire to experience the best giant tarpon fishing in the world in 2010, now is the time to contact me. 

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Screaming Drags and Tired Arms!

Robert McCue



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Florida Fishing Report

Last Update 26MAR10
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Florida Fishing Report