Backcountry Fishing Reports

The latest backcountry islamorada fishing reports from Capt. Rick Stanczyk. These reports are the truth – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Remember all florida keys fishing guides fish the same waters and I take pride in ‘straight shooting’ with my florida keys fishing reports. I often fish the gulf of mexico, florida bay, the everglades, near islamorada, and the patch reefs offshore which are all under the ‘backcountry’ umbrella. I’ll let you know what I’ve been catching, and what I expect to be catching in the near future. Remember I’m on the water over 300 trips a year and I’ve been fishing here a long time. I try to include plenty of pictures as well as useful information so you’ll get a feel of how I fish and what to expect. Also if you want to appear in my fishing reports just let me know, I’m happy to add any of my customers by request! You can scroll down and click the title of any fishing report to read the full thing with pictures, as well as just look where the text stops and click ‘continue reading’.

1/23/23 Half day Patch reef action with Capt. Trentin

Always nice to get a text back from a customer saying how great of a time they had with one of my Captains!  Mike reached out to me a few days ago looking to get on a half day inshore fishing trip.  Mike wanted to try to catch a tarpon however knew it was not the greatest time of year.  After discussing options with him I told him Capt. Trent would be a good fit.  He’s fairly dialed in with the patch reef fishing as he worked on an offshore boat for the last several years doing a lot of that.  So conditions being favorable for that (calm) I said give it a go, and if you whack the fish out there then maybe spend the last part of the day trying for tarpon – that way you aren’t putting all your eggs in one basket.  He agreed and so that’s just what they did.  Patch fishing was excellent Mike caught a bunch of variety including this lunker school master snapper, very large for that species of fish.  They gave tarpon a go for the last bit and fished hard, Trent was able to get them plenty of nice big pilchards for bait, but alas no bites.  I myself spent part of the day tarpon fishing on my full day trip as well and we didn’t have any luck either.  There were some tarpon in the backcountry but it was still a tad on the chilly side in the 70-71 degree range, and they really like it up there closer to 75.  But still worth a shot and you don’t know if you don’t try.  The big blacktip sharks kept us busy though as well as plenty of mackerel and a few tripletail and snook which rounded out a productive day as well.  Anyways if you wanna get out and fish, lemme know.  I’ll shoot you straight and if my guys aren’t the ones for the job I want to make sure you are happy.

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Instagram: @richardstanczyk
Facebook: Islamorada Tarpon Fishing
YouTube: Bud n’ Mary’s Marina

 

1/20/2023 Capt. Trentin on the snooks on a half day

Capt. Trentin got out with some clients the other day for a short half day trip.  Snook and small tarpon were the desired species which sometimes can be tough on a half day especially if you have to run back in the park.  But they  gave it a go he said bait was fairly easy we’ve still been fishing with pilchards fairly often as overall its been a warm winter side from a couple times where it’s gotten cold.  When its cold everything wants shrimp but when its warm the pilchards are a plus.  They fished some islands in the middle bay and found some decent snook schools and caught a good handful along with some mangrove snappers.  They saw some tarpon but were not able to get any bites out of them but had plenty of fun with the snooks and other rod benders.  We’ll still be doing a fair bit of backcountry fishing for the next month but as soon as it warms up some big tarpon should start to show themselves.  The crew here is ready to go after them and the phone is definitely staring to ring for the spring time so make sure to get your dates locked in.  Capt. Trentin is available for evening tarpon trips whenever anyones wants to go if conditions look feasible too so that is always a good short notice possibility.

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Instagram: @richardstanczyk
Facebook: Islamorada Tarpon Fishing
YouTube: Bud n’ Mary’s Marina

12/9/22 December Madness with a Jurassic Park Slam!

Well the last day I was out a few larger size snook seemed to finally show up in some of spots.  This was good to see as I often take my dad out to target these larger behemoths and they just had not really been around in recent months as they were in previous years.  I will admit we did get kind of spoiled a few years back landing these very large monster fish and maybe it’s just back to reality now… but anyways it’s good to see a few roaming about.  The ones we caught the other day weren’t absolute monsters but they were good 30+ inch fish none the less in the areas.  So today I went out with Drew and Sam and knowing we had decent calm conditions for that we gave it a whirl.  It was also fairly calm and the bugs had been fairly horrendous in the creeks where I often fish plus the fishing in there just hasn’t been super red hot.  So we focused on the big boys and it was good enough for us.  First stop we landed a nice 18 lb black drum which was cool on a nice large shrimp.  Next stop a medium size snook which wasn’t a monster but good to see him none the less.  Next stop a much bigger one that was in the 34 inch range – whew we were on a roll and 3 good fish off 3 different spots.  After that we struck out a couple times but then we got the fish of the day about a 25 lb redfish!  Awesome to see as the big reds had really been absent this last year and we often see a few of them showing up in October.  Though everything as I mentioned previously seems to be a little late this year and it may only be Fall on the calendar right now with the way the weather/bait patterns are.  Anyways awesome fish and what I call a Jurassic park slam with a large red, drum, and snook!  After that things cooled down with the big boys we tried a couple other spots to no avail.  We went inside the creeks and had to jump around a bit we hit a few spots and had a bite or two on some of them but kept pulling the hook on our fish.  Finally we got to one last stop and we had a short rally catching 8 or so snook, decent size fish for in the creeks in the 3-6 lb range which was fun.  We had a little time left and hit a couple more spot for big boys on the way home and were rewarded with a couple more pretty large snook in the 33-34 inch range!  What a way to end the day!  So absolutely awesome fishing and I was glad as I had a trip a few days before that just a 3/4 day and we struggled a bit.  With the timeframe we had in that day I decided to stick around town to try and catch some local snook as it was a full moon/falling tide in the backcountry which can leave you with some tough fishing windows.  Unfortunately it wasn’t too productive no snook for us we did catch some jacks and small cudas, and we did eventually run to some islands a little closer in the bay and caught a handful of snook at least.  But today was much better and goes to show sometimes a longer time frame is just going to give you more flexibility which what you try and do and can pay off.  I have a few more days open between now and Xmas and I’ll be gone Xmas week.  January is more or less booked up for me I have a few dates left but I’ll likely be closing it off this week.  February I’ll open some days when we get back from our ski trip probably in mid January… that’s usually when we start tarpon fishing some but who knows what’ll happen next year if we don’t get any cold weather it may start in January?

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

: @richardstanczyk
: Islamorada Tarpon Fishing
: Bud n’ Mary’s Marina
Follow for daily updates!

12/4/22 Early Decemeber Snookin’ Action!

Well I have not fished much the last month or so.  Mostly have had Capt. Brandon running my trips on the seacraft.  Fishing has been decent bait has been easy with a nice long fall bait run going on.  We’ve had a few weak ‘cool’ fronts with some wind and not much temperature drop, but the water temps are starting to get into the lower 70s so it’s definitely not summer any more.  Today we had some winter level water levels finally with the flats getting exposed in the backcountry early on.  Fishing was a little tough to start but got better as the day went on.  Some times this time of year is what we call ‘transitional’ it’s not super cold yet but it’s not super hot either, so the weather is in between and the fish are kind of not super happy either.  Once it gets cold and stays cold they get adapted and just as with the summer they get adapted too, so when we have big weather fluctuations like a cold front you get a day or two of tougher fishing with smaller windows where it often gets good.  But you learn that from fishing through them year after year.  Anyways slow start but it picked up later on and we wound up with 20 or so snook with some nicer size ones in the mix.  We found some big girls at the end of the day too which was exciting to see as I haven’t been catching many big ones the last few months, it’s nothing like it was a couple years ago where they were making regular appearances!  Anyways ‘pops’ will be happy to hear that and is coming back from the Bahamas tomorrow so I’m sure we’ll get out a few times in the next few weeks.  Also lots of tarpon were jumping around back there too even in December, everything is just a couple months behind schedule with the warm warm fall, mahi still being caught offshore.  So again you never know what to expect when you go fishing here that’s what makes it so fun hopefully we get some cold in January and some larger snook and drums showing up, looking forward to that time.

I’m also taking bookings for January now if you want to get on the schedule I will be away from Xmas week, but I’ll be available starting Jan 4.  Drop me a line or call the marina office and ask for Capt. Rick.  If I’m not available ask for Capt. Brandon or Capt. Trentin they are running the other boats for me and are out there more than me these days so they are dialed in with the bite and we all work together to make sure you have the best trip possible!

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

: @richardstanczyk
: Islamorada Tarpon Fishing
: Bud n’ Mary’s Marina
Follow for daily updates!

Good backcountry fishing snook, reds, and tarpon!

Had John, Art, and Joe out for some backcountry fishing on the 4th of November.  We had a great trip catching some pilchards early on to start our day.  The backcountry was fairly lively we got into a decent snook bite early on.  Sharks were a bit of a menace but we avoided getting many eaten though unfortunately they got a few fish.  That was fishing some island moats on the last of the falling tide.  After the tide quit and we had our fun for the first couple hours, we moved further west to catch the tide coming in along some shorelines.  More snook action and a few redfish in the mix as well.  The number of reds hasn’t been great but there have been a few starting to show up and you may catch one for every dozen or so snook that you get.  The last fish of the day was a nice juvenile tarpon too for a cherry on top which was a nice way to finish.  The backcountry fishing should stay productive through the rest of fall it’s a nice time to fish with the weather cooling off slightly and happy fish around!

Capt. Rick Stanczyk

: @richardstanczyk
: Islamorada Tarpon Fishing
: Bud n’ Mary’s Marina
Follow for daily updates!