Florida Fishing Report: Florida Fishing Charters

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Florida fishing charters

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View Recent Fishing Reports published in the St. Petersburg Times by Capt. McCue


Slams~Grand Slams~Game On

Peak fall fishing is upon us. Inshore gamefish are on the retreat and feeding in effort to store body fat for winter.
Bounty Hunter's long time friend, Adam Bresovits with our signature "Grand Slam" (snook, redfish, trout, tarpon).

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While many of the species have been in typical fall patterns for a couple of weeks, remarkably missing was the ever so elusive snook. To some degree the snook were present in places I had nearly unto myself until the late 90s, but that I choose to no longer fish due to over exposure resulting in the fish's reluctance to bite. In our area, these spots still serve as holding and staging areas for the fish, but the consistency of those feeding snook is gone.

When I decided to concede to this modern era of flats fishing, I knew I had to develop new strategies to uphold my integrity as a fishing guide and still produce these special fish on demand, even though they remain on the back page of my daily playbook. I now rely on transition periods to produce snook and those can be very difficult to predict in advance, particularly in the fall. A passing front last week dropped the water temperatures into the mid 70s. Accompanied with a waxing moon, the snook started to show in my transitional spots and we obliged.

Redfish have been off the hook all year. Over the past several weeks, however, I have not been finding the huge numbers of over-sized fish that I had been catching last winter and spring. Double-digit catches remain typical, though the fish I am catching are predominantly lower- to mid-slot sizes. The undeviating presence of the reds has kept the rods of happy clients bent and that works for me too.

I have not spent a lot of time targeting trout. For the most part, I have been able to come up with a few trout on the hook during prolonged redfish bites. Last week I had a trip with several youngsters on board and found the trout off a hump in some deep grass flats very cooperative on nearly every cast.

The winds have been up and that has made it a day-to-day call in reaching the frenzied action on the outer edges of our offshore grass flats. When the conditions are right, jumbo Spanish mackerel, jacks, cobia, sharks, tarpon, grouper and the oddball snake kingfish have been easy catches on one drop of the anchor. 

Jack Hinkle with a "Slam" (snook, redfish, trout)

Trout, redfish and an occasional flounder are daily bags. Weather or not.

Employing a fine tuned chum line of ground fish, fresh dead bait and live scaled sardines over scattered rocks and surrounding potholes in the grass has been staple to our success.

The most consistent place for grouper has been on the 20-foot contour line and west to 35 feet. Occasional run-ins with tarpon and offshore redfish have occurred in these same areas, but with no rhyme or reason. The key, as always, is the abundance of migrating bait. Slow trolling live mullet and large blue runners have been producing smoker kingfish off the tanks in Hernando and Pasco 4. If you do not have large baits and patience, you will not know they are there. The school kings and more frequent reports of smokers are being caught primarily to the south where the runs to the fish are much shorter and easier to stay on top of when fishing. The winds and the phases of the moon are variables in making these trips successful, if they even happen at all.

Excellent water quality this year likely played a major factor in the phenomenal showing of tarpon in 2007. I had extended my stay to the south into the second week of August this year. Family commitments brought me back north, though I still continued to make frequent visits to both Boca Grande Pass and Charlotte Harbor until a couple of weeks ago.

The giant tarpon took residence in some very familiar places, and on exceptional outings, I was putting as many as a dozen giants in the air. More often than not, we were blessed in complete bliss without a boat in sight. To the north, scattered fish remain off the beaches, in the bays, rivers and just offshore in the potpourri of migrating baitfish. The fish are moving now and that subjects us to dynamic unknowns on a daily basis. For this reason, I avoid attempts at exclusively targeting them, but I will accommodate them when we cross paths.

Thank you Megalops atlanticus for all that you do.

The juvenile tarpon have been consistent. Negative low tides have revealed them in the lower bends of the rivers, canal junctions, and even on the flats off the power plant. Their presence and temperament have served us well in accomplishing the pinnacle of flats fishing, the "grand slam" (tarpon, snook, redfish and trout).

Mother Nature will daily dictate the availability of bait and particular species of gamefish, as well as our ability to get to them as we move towards winter. Only passing cool fronts followed by warming trends will yield extended play.

I have been contributing written fishing reports the St. Pete Times the past couple of months and that has consumed some of my time in writing for my own website. I will adapt in balancing my writing time as I get more proficient in making this adjustment as a glorified farmer. In the interim, you can follow these regularly published reports by following this link to our Featured Articles page.

Screaming Drags and Tired Arms!

Robert McCue

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Last Update 31OCT07
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