March is almost over and it’s started to really feel like tarpon season here in Islamorada. I just got back on the water about a week ago after celebrating the birth of my son, Felix! Mom and baby are healthy so we are thrilled about that. Fishing has been pretty good, we had a hard cold snap while I was away that really chilled the water down, and it stayed chilly until just a few days ago really. I know the tarpon fishing was tough while I was away, but now that it got warm again they’ve shown back up. In the backcountry a few days ago it was flat calm for a couple days. A horde of fish showed up from out in the gulf, and I’d guess numbers in the thousands – as far as you could see tarpon were rolling and busting. We found them one afternoon, and quickly hooked and caught a 100 lber, but by the time we got done fighting him the tide had quit and it was time to go home. The following day though we hammered them, and went 6 for 12 in about 3 1/2 hours! The best day I’ve had in a while, and certainly for this year so far. It was fun to see. Though the next day after that the wind kicked up to 25 mph, and had to take a day off. But yesterday and today it dropped down to 15-20 mph (and is going to continue to drop and be nice later this week!) We caught two tarpon both yesterday and today, yesterday way out there in the backcountry and today locally around the channels and bridges in Islamorada. We did see quite a few fish in the local areas, which I hadn’t seen until now, so that is a good sign too. Other than tarpon, there were some nice sharks to be had. We also got a cobia one day. Plenty of trout still in the bays too along with ladyfish and a few snappers. All in all it’s good fishing and hopefully this week will continue to be good – I have a feeling it will be with the weather and signs we are seeing.
Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Well I’ve still been pretty busy the last week though I’m taking this next week off expecting the birth of my first child! We’re due today but got a feeling it may be a little big longer. Fishing had been decent the last week though the last 3 days on the water I had (Saturday – Monday) were incredibly rough. Over the weekend we got hit by a minor front, not much of a temperature swing, but it blew 30+ mph for 2 days. Almost unfishable… But we made it out and did some snapper fishing around the islands. The weekend fishing was very good, both days we got our share of ‘jumbo’ snappers in the 18-20 inch range, I think a half dozen on Saturday, and 3 on Sunday, plus plenty of 12 inchers to limit out. On Sunday we also caught a juvenile tarpon which was awesome! Monday wasn’t quite as good, we were able to get our limit of snapper at least, but it was a struggle to get some barely over 10 inch legal ones. Though we did catch a couple big sheepshead too, and had plenty of shots at juvenile tarpon but they showed us no love. I noticed the water temperatures had dropped considerably with the wind and were in the high 60s, so I’m sure that definitely messed the bigger tarpon and sharks up for a few days. At least the few guys I talked to that tried that stuff, didn’t have much success. Before the bad weather, I had a great 3 days fishing with John and Jan Shulze. We had one flat calm day where we caught plenty of mackerel, then looked for tripletail without much success (didn’t see a single one!), but we did come across a school of free jumping tarpon. We spent the rest of the day after them, and landed two fish of about 80 lbs, one for each of them! Plus plenty of sharks including a hammerhead. Day 2 the winds started to kick up out of the north, but we made it into the bay and caught plenty of trout – it was almost every cast for about 2 hours! Then we made our way into the everglades creeks and had a slow pick of fish, but some quality, including a nice redfish, a handful of snook (we lost a big one too!), and Jan jumped a nice 30 lb tarpon on light tackle. The last day was the first snapper day that I mentioned. So they got to see a little bit of everything fishing with me for three days. Before that I had a couple of double half day trips and we caught a ton of mackerel on all those trips. Anyways looking forward to having the week off and adding a new fisherman (or woman) to the family! I’ll be back when I start fishing again.
Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Got out with Bob and Brian today and we did a mixed bag trip. Tarpon was a priority but conditions didn’t look great with it blowing 15-20 out of the east. We caught some mullet early and hit the backcountry channels. Not much happening we only had a couple sharks bite, and only saw 1 tarpon roll. Tried another channel and only one more shark. Slow start! We decided to regroup and bend the light rods a little. The trout bite was pretty good actually and we caught probably 20 or so trout, getting our limit for dinner which was great for them. We headed back towards Islamorada to try some local tarpon spots, and we got lucky and found a nice one for Brian. He hooked an 80 lber and landed him after 20 minute battle, and then it was about time to go home. Hopefully they’ll stick around tomorrow, may be doing the same routine we’ll see!
I probably will not be doing the daily updated reported on here any longer, but I’ll try to post something once a week or so. Check out my other website islamoradatarpon.com for daily updated tarpon fishing reports through the Fall!
Got out for double half days again today. This morning I had Colon, Lucas, and Lorry out. They were visting from the Cayman Islands! It was fairly windy but not too bad for my larger boat. We got out to the mackerel grounds in about an hour and had good fishing with the breeze. Lots of spanish mackerel, a few snapper and blue runners too. We hooked several big sharks and landed a large nurse shark. The black tips though were so big and with it being rough, they broke hooks and cut us off on both attempts! But fun none the less to see them go crazy jumping.
This afternoon I had Andy, Aiden, and Bob who fished with me last October for tarpon and had good fishing then. We did the same deal as this morning and it was still a good bite! The first fish in the boat cut my finger though so I was bleeding everywhere which wasn’t fun, but was still able to catch lots of fish! We again hooked several big sharks, and almost landed a couple, but they were still biting us off and it was tough fighting them in the bigger seas. But all in all a good couple half days with lots of rod bending action. Tomorrow I’m back on regular full day schedule, not sure what we’ll be doing but hopefully they’re biting!
Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Got out for double half days today. This morning the wind was cranking 15-20 out of the north, a little rougher than anticipated. I had Charlie down from Long Island and we ventured out to the mackerel grounds. It was a little bumpy getting their, but not too bad. We anchored up and had a little slow start but by the end it was pretty good. The mackerels took a while to get going, but at the end if was almost every cast. I think we landed close to 20 or so. We also got two large mangrove snappers for dinner for Charlie, which was perfect because he didn’t need a ton. After that we made our way home.
This afternoon I had long time customer Jeff Godlewski who comes down with his group from CDW in the spring usually for a big corporate work/fishing trip. We did the same routine, the wind had laid down nicely in the afternoon so it was a straight shot out. The mackerels bit OK again, and we also caught several nice snappers, one was a big lane snapper which was cool. We only gave it an hour and then tried to run out to a deeper wreck which I normally wouldn’t do on a half day, but Jeff didn’t mind the extra running time to try for something quality, plus it was pretty calm so I could get their fairly quick. We couldn’t get on the spot however because a boat was already there, so we ran inshore to the channels to try for a tarpon for the last bit. We saw a free jumper and got in the area with him, and started to mark a handful of fish on the bottom machine but not a ton. I never saw one roll though. We caught a few sharks, never had a tarpon bite, and then the tide quit and it was time to go. But a fun afternoon anyhow. I have the same deal tomorrow, two half days, so it may be a similar day as today we’ll see! Hopefully the fish cooperate just as well.
Capt. Rick Stanczyk