April is here and so are the big tarpon! We had a lot of variation in weather throughout March including high winds that would change daily plus some late cold fronts. This led to some inconsistent fishing with the tarpon however we still caught a decent number of fish. Just not quite as good as the previous years. Though that could mean good things for the rest of ‘prime time’ tarpon season which is April through July. A later start often means fishing stays better longer this time of year as the fish aren’t already beat up and pounded on in the early part of the spring. Anyways yes the tarpon have shown up and are in many of the usual haunts – both in the backcountry and locally around Islamorada. In the backcountry there have been a good mix of sharks as well as the occasional cobia, goliath grouper, sawfish, and other various sea monsters! Locally the tarpon have started to feast on live mullet which is a truly spectacular site to see. Nothing beats watching a live mullet run for his life as a 100 lb fish is doing his best to gobble him down. We’ve had fish in all size ranges from 30 lbs up to 130 lbs. Last week one of the largest fish I’ve caught this year dragged us around for 2 hours and even through a set of bridge pilings! We had to throw the rod overboard on a float to float it through the bridge, and we got it on the other side and still landed the fish. The last few days we’ve landed multiple tarpon which is good and the bite seems to be getting a little more predictable. Hopefully the weather will stay warm as it should and the fishing should be good the next several months for the silver king. I do that more than anything else this time of year. I am booked pretty heavily the next couple months but I do have some evenings available. I am generally not doing evenings after my full day trips as I get a little too burned out and it is tough to keep up with the quality of fishing I like to provide my clients (catching enough bait, etc…). However I will be doing some short notice when I know conditions are good and I have plenty of bait available. Drop me a line if you are looking to get out, and don’t forget June and July are just around the corner and those are some of my favorite months of the year to fish for tarpon. It doesn’t book up quite as fast as April and May so you can probably get something in the books a few weeks to a month out.
Well spring has finally arrived! It has taken it’s time and the temperature is still on the chilly side, but we’ve had several flat calm days and the water has had a chance to warm back up into the mid 70 degree range. That means tarpon are starting to show up finally and that is what we all look forward to this time of year. Now that being said, with the water temperatures still on the low side we aren’t quite yet seeing the massive schools of hungry fish quite yet – you may have to put some time in just to get a bite or two. But it is possible and I’ve caught a couple the last few days. I would say currently it is still a good idea to keep the fishing options open and try maybe try for tarpon for part of the day as there are plenty of other things that are still biting well. We’ve had great spanish mackerel action lately in the gulf as well as loads of triple tail out there with some cobia mixed in. We had several days with our limit of triple tail, though you have to run far to find the larger fish. Cobias have been on some of the wrecks and occasionally following big sharks and sawfish up too. We had a few nice ones the other day off some gulf wrecks in the backcountry. In the everglades the snook and redfish fishing has been fair, though with the calm weather the bugs have been a little tough to deal with in some areas. Out front on the patch reefs there are still plenty of options including hogfish, porgy, snapper, grouper, and even a few permit on occasion. Last week we had one of my best days fishing ever in the gulf. We got lucky and got in on a school of lunker redfish between 20 and 35 lbs! We caught 15 of them in that size range, plus a big 15 lb snook. It was truly unbelievable I’ve never seen anything like it. All caught on simple shrimp and jig rigs. The day before we had caught one nice redfish of 25 lbs or so, and the following day there was just a massive school of them there. That being said I wouldn’t count on finding that again for a while, one of those things you just had to be here to see. Big schools of mullet are starting to show up, so the big tarpon migration should be right around the corner. Once we have a nice calm day where the sun shines I think some bigger schools will push in from the gulf and down from the atlantic side. As stated anything goes right now, but as we get later into March and especially April, tarpon will be the name of my game!
Here is a quick clip of a 300+ lb tiger shark anglers caught with Capt. Rick Stanczyk! Fishing in the shallow gulf (20 feet of water) with medium 30 lb spin gear and cut mackerel for bait. Don’t go swimming out here….
We finally had our first real cold front of the winter a few days ago. Temperatures have finally dropped into the 60s and looks to be cooling down a little again this weekend after slowly warming up some. Today we fished back in the everglades with my dad, his girlfriend, and friend Dave Peck. It looked to be the ‘ideal’ conditions for fishing some of the deeper canals and such this time of year. Usually after a good cold front in January when you have a nice slow incoming tide, you can get hordes of big snook and drum showing up in some areas back there. We ran back early and it was a foggy morning which is unusual here. Though this winter we’ve seen it a few times as it’s been super warm so any little temperature fluctuation with the moist air it can creep up. We fished a few areas using large shrimp on troll-rites. It was not a red hot bite and had I not had confidence in the conditions, I may have moved after not catching fish in the first 10 minutes. Though we waited it out and eventually we caught some nice snook, black drums, and couple straggling redfish. You would have to work the bait very slow and patiently, and only get a bite maybe every 10 or 15 minutes. But quality fish. Dave got a very big snook one of the largest I’ve ever had caught in light tackle of 15 lbs or so. It really ran like a beast all the way across the canal and was a good 5 minute battle. Later we moved deeper into the canal and tried a black drum hole. Same deal it wasn’t red hot action but eventually we got a double header of smaller black drums. Then Dave again caught a nice size black drum. Then a couple other smaller ones. Then before leaving I hooked a lunker 25 lber that we landed. What a fish he was a thumper! All good fun well now we tried some of the outside shorelines since the tide was getting high. We caught one little snook in one spot, then we tried another area and got into a load of redfish. Not huge ones but we probably caught a dozen or so plus a couple more snook. It was great to see the small reds as they have been a little scarce this year. Anyways it was a banner day with a total of 15 or so reds, 8 snook, and 8 black drums. We wrapped it up around 12:30 when we ran out of shrimp and made our way home. January is usually a very good month for this winter time fishery in the everglades, however this year it’s been a little more up and down with the lack of cold weather. Though as I said it looks to stay cool through into next week and hopefully we may got another front or two between now and the end of February. Otherwise the tarpon should be showing up early and there are plenty of other options too! I know the patch reef fishing has been very good we got into some nice hogfish, porgy, groupers, and variety of snappers out there the other day. And good spanish mackerel fishing in the gulf as well with some cobias and tripletail mixed in.
Well I’ve been out of town quite a bite the last couple months and have not been fishing frequently just a little here and there. Anyways we are getting back to busy time and I will be hard at it for a while here now. Fishing during the late fall/early winter has been up and down. We have yet to have any significant cold weather, most likely due to the ‘el nino’ in the pacific. It is keeping the warmer air to the south east. We’ve had some terrible rain the last month mixed in with high winds. Though today was gorgeous – it was nice to see the sun again after a wet week last week. Anyways we’ve been doing a little bit of everything and nothing has been great consistently. The mackerels in the gulf which are usually swarming now are there but you must have patience and work for them. Catching 15 in a day is a good day, not the muggings of 30-40 fish. In the backcountry there have been some drum, snook, and trout, though they haven’t been getting into the usual ‘winter time’ digs. The deeper holes where they are easy to catch on shrimp and such. A few here and there but there too you must work for them. Today we had a great day we were able to get live pilchards and pinfish and we worked some creeks and came away with double digit snook, a nice little tarpon and jumped a few more, and finished up with some small redfish to complete a SLAM. Now early this week after the hard rains fishing was very difficult back there. We fished some of the same areas and there was not much at all. We did catch 3 nice size snook which made the day, and then finished with a handful of trout and ladyfish in the bay. I would say the most consistent action is out on the patch reefs. We did well a few times out there with good numbers of porgy and mixed in are small mutton snappers, mangrove snapper, yellowtails, bar jacks, and a handful of hogfish. The hogfish haven’t been hot and heavy yet but once we get some cold (if we get some cold) that should turn on more too. Even a few cero mackerel have been out there too. Anyways if you are looking to get out there drop me a line, I would love to take you. If the weather stays warm just about anything is possible too!