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Tag: Gulf of Mexico

West Central Florida Gulf Fishing Report, Capt. Ray Markham, 3/23/18

by on Mar.22, 2018, under TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

The official first day of spring was this week, and for much of the Suncoast it was under stormy skies with threats of tornadoes. Tuesday, the day before, had a foggy start that cleared out early in the afternoon, giving way to sunny warming skies that turned on a good bite for the last day of winter. It’s predicted to be clear but just a bit cool on the water so you can look for some fishy action to heat up your weekend.

OFFSHORE/NEARSHORE

Action in offshore and nearshore waters can be dependent on several things, and two factors stand out this time of year. Cold fronts that bring high winds stir up water and create turbid conditions that make it more difficult for baitfish and predators to breathe. Gills that draw oxygen out of the water have issues in turbid conditions. Recent weeks with fronts passing about every 6 days or so, have created those conditions, forcing many species to seek greater depths where cleaner water exists. Pelagic species like Spanish and king mackerel follow bait schools and the bait will move deep on offshore wrecks. Blackfin tunas continue to be caught on Hubbard’s Marina’s 39-hour deep water trips along with a variety of snappers and groupers. Captain Dylan Hubbard, of Hubbard’s Marina noted a slower bite for most species they targeted on the shorter trips that fish nearshore.

Cold fronts can also drop water temperatures in the shallower nearshore waters. Fish that remain in these depths experience a noticeable slowing of metabolism, making for diminished appetites. During periods of prolonged cold, fish that are in these depths will move deeper where temperatures are more moderate and will also see an increase in metabolism, making them look for food again.

At mid-week this week, wind predictions with a northerly direction will blow up to 20-knots but will come down by the weekend. Cooler nights in the 40’s are predicted through Friday with a slow warming trend by Sunday. As we get toward that time frame you can expect better conditions for both nearshore and offshore fishing.

INSHORE

Fishing has been tough inshore with recent fronts dropping water temps into the mid- 60’s. Fog, at times, has created navigation issues for inshore anglers and cool, windy, foggy mornings have been uncomfortable on the water. Many anglers are reporting a very slow bite for redfish, and in some areas guides report seeing fish that just plain won’t eat. Capt. Rick Grassett, out of CB Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key reports this scenario from Sarasota to Boca Grande. Capt. Grassett said that they are on fish that just don’t eat. I’ve seen the same thing while fishing areas of the South Shore of Tampa Bay all the way down to Anna Maria Sound. While red tide down south may contribute to this, I’ve also seen it while fishing lower Tampa Bay on the South Shore and Fort DeSoto area where no red tide is being reported. Snook fishing, on the other hand, has been quite good. Capt. Grassett has been running night snook trips with fly anglers and having good success with some of his glass minnow patterns. Trout fishing for his anglers has also been fair in the deeper grass areas of Sarasota Bay.

Anglers aboard my boat are having good action, mostly past the noon hour when temperatures approach the afternoon peak. Snook and trout seem to turn on when water temperatures approach the 70-degree mark. I’m having good success with CAL Jigs with Shad tails and on topwater MirrOlure Top Dogs with trout up to 28-inches. These bigger fish have been tough to come by in many areas, and quite a few guides are reporting mostly small fish under the minimum 15-inch limit. I’ve also been racking up some respectable numbers of trout on some of the Tidal Surge lures as well as many of the Paul Brown lures.

Anglers fishing Pasco and Hernando waters, where there is less fishing pressure, note good action for trout with DOA Deadly Combos with the DOA Shrimp under the float in areas ranging from 3-to 5-foot depths. Areas with sparse grass and sand bottom or with potholes are seeing the best action with larger trout. But the largest trout seem to be holding in the shallows where sun heats the water. The best of these spots are sheltered from wind too. These conditions promote warmer clean water that isn’t turned over and stirred up or cooled by the wind.

In the John’s Pass area, Capt. Dylan Hubbard reported some of the anglers fishing behind the marina catching good numbers of nice sheepshead, black drum, and some big flounder around the jetties and behind their docks. Live shrimp have been the most available bait. When we get some consistent sunny days you can expect to see some fiddler crabs back in the bait shops.

FRESHWATER

Cold windy days have made it tough on anglers doing some bass fishing. But for those who tough it out, some nice fish are being caught. Rattling crank baits like the Rat-‘L-Traps or square bill crank baits are go-to lures for many anglers in the spring when bass are active around structure or hydrilla, but on warmer sunny mornings, look for bass to move up on the shorelines around lily pads and grassy areas. If water temperature nudge up around the 80-degree mark many of the soft plastic frog patterns will produce well here, and big bass hammer these baits in the spring. After fronts many times jerk baits or stick baits like several of the Strike King suspending KVD or Rapala jerkbaits excel. Working these lures with an erratic sharp twitch can trigger strikes in post-frontal conditions.

Eric Bachnik, owner of L & S Bait Company that includes the lines of MirrOlure, Paul Brown Lures, Iland Lures, and Tidal Surge lures, fishes the Bay Area Bassmaster’s series with his daughter, Shelby, who’s a very accomplished angler as well. Shelby says one of her top producing lures right now is the Phenix Pro Series spinnerbait in a 3/8-ounce blue shad with a matching grub added. Her recent observations may indicate that bass have spawned and are in a post-spawn pattern. Some of the areas Eric and Shelby fish are holding shad by hydrilla beds. Here, she may throw the spinnerbait, a square-bill crank bait or even a ½-ounce chrome/blue back Rat-‘L- Trap, while her dad prefers the MirrOlure Lil’ John XL rigged Texas style on an Owner worm hook.

There are many schools of thought on lure choices and there are dozens of effective lures, depending on the given situation. Give some of these lures a shot and see if they don’t produce for you. ‘Til then…I’ll catch ya later!

Capt. Ray Markham

(941) 723-2655

Ray.markham@gmail.com

www.CaptainRayMarkham.com

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Homosassa Inshore Fishing Weekly Report, 3/19/18, Capt. William Toney

by on Mar.19, 2018, under Ozello to Crystal River

There is much to be said about good fishing. Earlier this week before the cold front most all anglers fishing on the Nature Coast experienced a excellent bite. Oh but what can happen in the time of 24 hours. As to be expected the day or two before a cold front and even during the front fish will turn on. Generally the wind will be from the south west and makes a good tide for our area and after the front it goes north west to north then north east and low low tides.
During the last cold snap I found some trout mid ways in the Little Homosassa River and St. Martins River. What both spots had in common was tall islands that blocked the north wind and the southern sun was shinning against the north side of the rivers, It was the warmest spot I could find for my clients and I , the fish must have felt the same way. It was old school fishing with a popping cork and live shrimp but over the course of a few hours we managed 7 keeper trout and a undersized snook. We dressed for the weather and were comfortable during the warmest part of the day.
Still good action on the nearshore rocks with more spanish mackerel moving in. The redfish bite has picked up on the inside keys at the last hour of incoming tide. Pinfish has been the best bait. Snook are scattered around but when you find then they are in tight bunches. Check around the outside keys with sandy holes to find them. High incoming tide will be in the morning this weekend.

captainwilliamtoney@gmail.com

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Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota & Gasparilla Sound, FL Fishing Report for 3/17/2018

by on Mar.18, 2018, under Bradenton and Sarasota, FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Anglers fishing with me, out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, had some action catching and releasing trout in Sarasota Bay, snook at night in the ICW and trout and redfish in Gasparilla Sound near Boca Grande on flies and CAL jigs with shad tails during the past week. The best action was catching and releasing snook on flies in the ICW at night.

Monday’s trip was cancelled due to wind and cool temperatures as a front moved through that day. Anna Maria Island winter resident Tony Merlis and his daughter, Jen Merlis, from MN, fished Sarasota Bay with me on Tuesday and had some action catching releasing trout on flies and CAL jigs with shad tails.

Martin Marlowe, from NY, and his son Bruce Marlowe, from SC, fished the ICW me on Wednesday night. It was Martin’s last trip with me before heading back north for the year and they finished strong. Despite cool water and a cold north wind, they had good action catching releasing numerous snook on my Grassett Snook Minnow fly.

Lynn Skipper, from Apollo Beach, FL, fished the backcountry of Gasparilla Sound near Boca Grande with me on Thursday and Keith McClintock, from Lake Forest, IL and Stephen Liska, from Naples, fished the same area on Friday. With water temperatures in shallow water in the low 60’s to start, fishing was challenging. We caught and released a few trout and a red on CAL jigs with shad tails.

The fishing world lost a gem when fly fishing legend, Lefty Kreh, passed away a few days ago. He was an author, photographer, outdoor writer and fly casting guru. A world class fly angler and casting instructor, he traveled the world pursuing fly fishing and sharing his knowledge. As rich as he was with knowledge, a conversation with him was like chatting with a family member or neighbor. I was fortunate to have had him as a guest on my boat twice. His wit and down home personality endeared him to many. He will be missed!

Rick & Lefty3aa

Fishing shallow water for big trout, snook and reds should be a good option. There should also be good action with trout, blues, Spanish mackerel, pompano and more on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Fishing dock lights in the ICW at night is always a good option for snook and more. Our natural resources are under constant pressure, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!

Tight Lines,
Capt. Rick Grassett
FFI Certified Fly Casting Instructor
Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters
Orvis Outfitter of the Year-2011
Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.
www.snookfin-addict.com, www.snookfinaddict.com and www.flyfishingflorida.us
E-mail snookfin@aol.com
(941) 923-7799

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Homosassa Inshore Fishing Weekly Report, Capt. William Toney, February 13, 2018

by on Feb.13, 2018, under Chassahowitzka and Homosassa

This week and last week were some of the best inshore trout and red fishing I’ve had this winter. Remember the year is young and the Nature Coast has experienced mid 70 degree weather. The flats near the outside rocky points are the best areas to target. The key to catching is having enough incoming tide to cover the limestone points so fish will concentrate to feed on the bait fish or shrimp on the rocks. On low water look for deeper depressions between navigable creeks to pole ( the best way ) to catch some of the largest trout of the year. I will admit my clients and I have put a few big trout in the box with no regrets and we have release a few also with high fives. Something I feel strong about is our environment whether it is deer hunting in our woods or catching fish in our waters. Those of us who spend allot of time hunting and fishing understand the importance of making sure the generation that follows us will be able to catch a big trout, redfish, scallops or shoot a nice buck.
The baits I used this week for some of the best trout and redfish were the Eppinger Rex gold spoon. One of America’s oldest lure manufactures, the spoon has caught (whacked) about as many squirrels or rabbits as the 22. riffle. When ask how to work a gold spoon I replied ” nice long cast like pitching a penny to a wall, lively on the retrieve with a steady reeling motion”.  Kid’s who can’t get this “put it close as possible to the mangroves and make it move on a upper water column retrieve”. Sorry to preach this week but just want you youth to be able to catch fish in a excellent enviorment long after the gold spoon has out lived us old salts. High tide will be early morning or late evening. W

 

captainwilliamtoney@gmail.com

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FWC approves regional bay scallop seasons for 2018 with some changes from original proposal

by on Feb.09, 2018, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST

 

Bay scallops

At its February meeting near Tallahassee, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved regionally-specific bay scallop open season dates for 2018, including a change to the season for Levy, Citrus and Hernando counties that was proposed in December. The Commission also approved a trial bay scallop season in state waters off Pasco County in 2018.

The following regionally-specific bay scallop open seasons will be created by executive order for 2018 only:

  • Franklin County through northwestern Taylor County (including Carrabelle, Lanark and St. Marks): July 1 through Sept. 24. This region includes all state waters from the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County to Rock Island near the mouth of the Fenholloway River in Taylor County.
  • The remaining portion of Taylor County and all of Dixie County (including Keaton Beach and the Steinhatchee area): the third Saturday in June (June 16) through Sept. 10. This region includes all state waters east of Rock Island near the mouth of the Fenholloway River in Taylor County and north of Alligator Pass Daybeacon #4 near the mouth of the Suwannee River in Levy County.
  • Levy, Citrus and Hernando counties (including Cedar Key, Crystal River and Homosassa): July 1 through Sept. 24 (previously slated for July 10 through Sept. 10). This region includes all state waters south of Alligator Pass Daybeacon #4 near the mouth of the Suwannee River in Levy County and north of the Hernando – Pasco county line.
  • St. Joseph Bay and Gulf County: Aug. 17 through Sept. 30. This region includes all state waters from the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County to the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County.
  • Pasco County: Establish a trial 10-day open season to run July 20-29. This region includes all state waters south of the Hernando – Pasco county line and north of the Anclote Key Lighthouse in northern Pinellas County, and includes all waters of the Anclote River.

These changes are for 2018 only. In late 2018 or early 2019, the FWC will consider setting the 2019 seasons for Gulf and Pasco counties, consider continuing the 2018 season structure for the remaining portions of the open scallop harvest area in 2019, and will work toward creating a more permanent season structure starting in 2020.

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West Central Florida Fishing Forecast, Capt. Ray Markham, 1/9/18

by on Feb.07, 2018, under TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Finally, a stable weather pattern with warmer days and lighter winds has been around this week, setting up the weekend for some great fishing opportunities.

OFFSHORE/ NEARSHORE

While I didn’t get many fishing reports from last week, I’d say that a lot of anglers were still waiting it out for the winds and seas to settle. This week has been another story with the weather but still very few reports and with the good weather this week I’d say folks are too busy fishing to send reports, but that’s a good thing! Just a reminder, that anglers are always welcome to send their fishing reports to me along with photos identifying anglers in the photos and any details of your catch.

Water temperatures in the Gulf remain quite cold in the low 60’s in depths out to about 15-miles but that hasn’t stopped Spanish mackerel from making a run at the beaches and inshore waters. Good action has been seen from Sarasota to Pinellas on nearshore waters this week and with a continuation of the warm weather pattern through the weekend, I would expect to see an even greater improvement. The predominant baitfish along the beaches has been glass minnows that the mackerel have been feeding on. Anglers looking to catch mackerel can troll #0 or #00 Clark Spoon Squids on flat lines and #1 or #2 planers to cover depths that these fish have been running in along the beaches. This will cover top to bottom from about 20-to 25-foot depths. For live baiters, anchoring up and deploying some glass minnow chum blocks like those manufactured by Aylesworth’s Fish and Bait under the Baitmaster’s Village Pride label, these chum blocks will draw mackerel to the boat and keep them around. Live shrimp or scaled sardines on long-shank hooks may be good bets rigged with 6-foot 30-to 40-pound fluorocarbon leaders on a light to medium spinning outfit spooled with a couple hundred yards of 10-pound braid or 15-pound mono. If a swivel is used, make sure it’s coffee colored or black and the smallest ball bearing swivel you can get. Sampo and Sea Striker Billfisher brands are some good ones that come to mind. Watch your bottom machine and look for hard bottom. This is where you’re likely to find the most action. But if you don’t have a bottom machine, look for stone crab floats in the Gulf and nearshore waters. These are usually found over rocky or hard bottom areas.

Hogfish continue to be in the catch for guys working depths from 30-to 80-feet. This fish that was once rarely targeted by anglers and considered top table fare by all was mainly targeted by spearfishers and a few anglers in the know. But with the advent of the internet and seminars at just about every fishing venue, this fishery has opened up and an increase in pressure has been noted by both anglers and rule-makers alike. Continued pressure and social media presence will likely result in more attention to and perhaps restrictions for hogfish. The species has been under observation by fish management for the past several years and extensive studies have already resulted in some changes. Currently the Atlantic state and federal waters have a regularly scheduled season closure effective through April 30, 2018, including all state waters south of Cape Sable in the Gulf, around the tip of Florida, and up the Atlantic coast. In West Central waters of the Gulf we currently have a 5-fish bag limit with a minimum size of 14” measured to the fork. Non-stainless circle hooks that are not offset are required when fishing for hogfish in Gulf state waters. Hogfish populations in our area able appear to be stable.

If you’re getting out to at least 100-feet of water, red grouper may be on your hit list. Some fairly good catches of red grouper are being caught west of the Sarasota/ Manatee County shores starting at that depth. The party boats out of Hubbard’s Marina continue to report good catches of red grouper along with an assortment of mangrove, lane, vermilion and a few other snappers.

INSHORE

Water temps inshore make a huge difference in the bite. Sometimes the temperature changes with the tide, and since the Gulf waters are cooler than the bays and inshore waters, the bite can be affected not only by the hours of sunlight but also the direction of the tide, whether it’s incoming or outgoing. Watching your temperature gauge on your boat is the best idea. If you don’t have one, an inexpensive pool thermometer hung over the side will give you an idea. This week, I’ve noted temperatures swinging from 71-degrees down to as low as 63-degrees in Tampa Bay waters and the surrounding backcountry areas. The warmer areas not only produce more fish but can even make for a topwater bite from trout, bluefish, ladyfish, and snook.

The South Shore of Tampa Bay from Apollo Beach to the Manatee River has been productive for anglers doing some trout fishing. Redfish have also been caught. Small schools of reds have been noted but many of these fish have been very spooky in the shallow clear water on sand where these fish have been holding. Long casts with fluorocarbon leaders are important for consistent catches and to avoid spooking the fish. Capt. Rick Grassett of Sarasota reported good action with trout, redfish, Spanish mackerel and bluefish over the past week for his fly and spin anglers fishing Sarasota Bay, nearshore Gulf waters and the lower Tampa Bay area. Contact Rick for more details via his website www.snookfin-Addict.com or through CB Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key.

Anglers aboard my boat, the Flat Back II have seen some good action with trout over the past couple of weeks. We managed some nice redfish on CAL Jigs with Shad tails and a few flounder along with limits of trout on MirrOlure Marsh Minnows, TTR MirrOlure hard baits, and CAL Shads. Bluefish continue to cut off our catches of trout. Jacks and ladyfish also provide more rod-bending action. With rising water temps in some of the backcountry areas we’re even seeing some action on topwater prop baits like the 5M and 21LS MirrOlures with both snook and trout.

The most consistent depth for trout action has been 3-to 4-feet. Bottomed out tides in the holes are holding these fish. Reds have been shallow and holding on yellow or white sandy areas. CAL Jigs with shad tails and MirrOlure Lil’ John’s have been productive.

FRESHWATER

The warmer weather this past week has really triggered the bass spawn in the West Central area. Anglers fishing Lake Tarpon, Lake Manatee, Lake Seminole and the Walsingham Reservoir have all reported catches of bass around the perimeters of the lakes. The top producing lures have been “creature-style” baits. Lizards, snake imitations, and similar lures are producing well now. Bass hanging just off the beds where depths drop are responding well to rattling crank baits like the Rat ‘L Trap in silver with a blue back and the Rapala Shadow Rap. Assorted soft plastics in the June bug color are working well for anglers flipping around the bushes and in heavy cover. It’s a great time to be on the water. ‘Til then…I’ll catch ya later!

Capt. Ray Markham

(941) 723-2655

Ray.markham@gmail.com

www.CaptainRayMarkham.com

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Homosassa Inshore Fishing Weekly Fishing Report, 2/9/18, Capt. William Toney

by on Feb.06, 2018, under Chassahowitzka and Homosassa

William’s Florida Sportsman Fishing4Cast for the Big Bend:

Looking forward into February and how this month is the last bitter sweet part of winter, the shortest month and a push into warmer weather. I know Florida has experienced a cold winter, we’ve had some cold water fish kill, but by the end of this month I bet there will be some green on the tree’s. Cold winters are just a part of our environment, the same as hurricanes. I believe this will help the Nature Coast have a long and productive spring fishing event because it will take some time for the waters to warm.
The near shore rocks are swarming with sheepshead on the incoming high tide. The rocks at eight feet are a good starting point, I like to drift past the structure to look at the amount of sheepshead before I commit to fishing it. The water has been clear enough to do this but some days cloud cover or wind can make it more of a search and blind cast mission. The further south of Homosassa channel the clearer the water is. Live shrimp is the best bait.
The trout bite has been getting better every day. It is a mix of deep creeks on the outgoing tide or on the incoming tide the outer points and limestone bottom usually exposed on low tide.This exposed rock will warm on the midday sun and trout will sun on top of it. For the areas around the creeks the bite is more near the channels or holes so that after a cold night the trout will move toward a shallow flat that warms up with the day.
The Homosassa Guides Association will have its annual fish fry on Sunday the 25th at 12 p.m. at MacRae’s of Homosassa. The plates are $10.00 that will include fish, hushpuppies, bakebeans, coleslaw and entertainment. Before this fish fry look for incoming high tide this weekend early morning.

captainwilliamtoney@gmail.com

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Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota, FL Fishing Report for 1/7/2018

by on Jan.07, 2018, under Bradenton and Sarasota, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Anglers fishing with me, out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, had some action with trout, pompano and reds on CAL jigs with shad tails in Sarasota Bay during the past week. A strong front early in the week, followed by a reinforcing front, forced the cancellation or postponement of several trips last week. However I was able to get out one day later in the week when conditions were better.

Keith McClintock, from Lake Forest, IL, Rick Anderson and brothers Garrett and Nate Anderson, also from IL, fished Sarasota Bay with me in a couple of shifts on Thursday.  Action wasn’t fast, but they caught some quality fish. We fished deep grass flats early in the day and they caught and released several trout to 18” on CAL jigs with shad tails. With a negative low tide, some sun and protection from the wind, we fished shallow water in the afternoon and found redfish concentrated in a few spots. They caught several reds to 26” on CAL jigs with shad tails. Nate finished the day up strong by landing a nice pompano also on a CAL jig with a shad tail!

RickAndersonSBCALShadred2

With water temperatures in the mid 50’s, sub-tropical species such as snook shouldn’t be targeted. Other species that are more tolerant of cold water, such as blues, reds, sheepshead and flounder are better options. Sunny afternoons with some protection from the wind should fish best. With high air temperatures in the mid 70’s forecast by the middle of next week, water temperatures will rise and there should be good action with trout, blues, pompano and more on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Shallow water action for larger trout and reds should also be a good option.

Tight Lines,
Capt. Rick Grassett
FFI Certified Fly Casting Instructor
Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters
Orvis Outfitter of the Year-2011
Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.
www.snookfin-addict.com, www.snookfinaddict.com and www.flyfishingflorida.us
E-mail snookfin@aol.com
(941) 923-7799

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West Central Florida Fishing4Cast, January 5-7 2018, Capt. Ray Markham

by on Jan.05, 2018, under TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Kicking off the New Year, frigid weather will make for some tough fishing conditions this coming weekend. A real concern is for the welfare of snook. Many areas have seen low 50’s water temperatures and they are sure to drop even more, putting snook at risk of freezing to death. Under these conditions, it’s best to leave these fish alone until waters warm back up. A bitter flashback of the freeze of 2010 and the snook kill is on the minds of a lot of folks. Fish stunned by the cold may not be dead. Leave these fish alone. A reminder for all that snook season is CLOSED and taking of any snook, dead or alive, is prohibited and is considered poaching. Report violations to FWC’s Wildlife Alert Program at 1-888-404-FWC. To report a fish kill, call 1-800-636-0511.

OFFSHORE

Weather conditions for the weekend don’t look good. Seas may begin to settle, but based on the reports at mid-week, time spent on the water will be uncomfortable at best this weekend. I would suspect a big temperature drop in the shallows out to 60-feet or so, will likely move gags back out deeper and slow the remaining species. But since gag grouper closed the last day of December, it may not matter to folks anyway. Some decent size red grouper should be available beyond 80-feet. Some fresh cut bait will be your best bet for these fish. A combo of cut sardine and cut squid puts out some scent that attracts fish. Triggerfish can get in on the feast if you’re out there. A brief season opened January 1 and only runs through January 15th, but it may give you an opportunity or two to target these tasty fish.

Greater amberjacks have reopened for a brief time through January 26th. For those who don’t have the boat to get out where these fish are, the 12-hour Extreme Trips, running Wednesdays and Sundays for the month of January out of Hubbard’s Marina, are experts at producing these hard fighting reef donkeys. Go to www.hubbardsmarina.com for information on hopping aboard.

INSHORE

Prospects for inshore fishing this weekend are not good and conditions will be very difficult at best with water temperatures plummeting over the week. Cold that moved into the Suncoast are putting a major damper on the bite. Don’t waste your time getting out at the crack of dawn. Fish metabolisms will be shut down until the water begins to warm, but when you do get out, fish live or artificial shrimp, like those from DOA Lures. Work all baits very slowly. Bucktails or jigs with soft plastic curly tails have a lot of action even when sitting on the bottom if there is just a little bit of current. Rigged on a light jig head an eighth ounce or lighter in tandem will allow these lures to fall slowly and trigger strikes from lethargic fish. Smaller baits will likely be more effective. One of the top producing lures much of the year is the MirrOlure MirrOdine. The line of lures has expanded to include a mini version of the lure as well as the “Heavy Dine”, a smaller profile that sinks deeper than the original to get down to the bottom third of the water column where most fish will likely be. Slow, in-your-face presentations will be the best way to entice fish to eat, even if not hungry, but the key to catching fish now is to keep the lure in the very small strike zone as long as possible.

Sheepshead are possibly the most cooperative fish during foul cold weather. Sheepies have been moving into bays and along beaches on artificial reefs lately. A hard blow toward week’s end will stir up nearshore waters, possibly making it unfishable, but area docks, bridges, piers and seawalls are prime spots for sheepshead fishing from now through March. These fish are getting fatter as they prepare to spawn. The average sheepshead will be in the 1- to 3-pound range, but you can expect to find some around 5 to 7-pounds inside the bays now. Smaller baits like a piece of fresh shrimp, clam, oyster, blanched sand flea, barnacle, or fiddler crab are all excellent baits, especially when rigged on small #2 circle hooks. The key to using these hooks is to avoid a hard hook set. Just reel when you feel the fish taking the bait. Use only enough weight to get the bait down and keep it in place. Areas with current may be best fished on or around the slack tide.

Winter trout like this pair held by Lynn Manzella of Apollo Beach, can be caught on the Deadly Tandem, a tandem rigged curly tail combo from DOA Lures.

Strong north winds blowing water out of the bays create pools of deep water where there are potholes and channels. If you have access to some of these deep water spots, you’ll likely find a wad of fish Trout have been moving in on the flats in bigger numbers lately. This is normal for the winter months. They are fairly hearty and can stand cold weather better than many species. Anglers aboard my boat have been catching some nice trout and some flounder as well. Like most all other species, a slow presentation on the bottom has been most productive.

FRESHWATER

This cold snap will slow things down on freshwater as well as salt, but bedding bass may move off and on the beds with weather changes. Crappie fishing is taking off. As we get more consistent cool weather patterns, these fish will form larger and larger schools, making them easier to target. Lake Tarpon has always produced good catches of crappie, a.k.a. speckled perch. Walsingham Reservoir is also a good location for specks. Missouri minnows are possibly the top natural bait for these fish. An assortment of soft plastic jigs is deadly on them as well. Bass Assassin makes a huge variety of small crappie tails. Another popular lure for specks are Hal Flies.

CB’s Saltwater Outfitters Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing School-Jan 20, 2018

CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, 1249 Stickney Point Rd, Sarasota, FL will have an Orvis-Endorsed fly fishing school on Sat, Jan 20, 2018. Located on Siesta Key, named Best Beach in America, the school will cover fly casting basics, line control, shooting line and the roll cast. Instructors, Capt. Rick Grassett and Capt. Ed Hurst, will also cover leader construction, fly selection and saltwater fly fishing techniques. The course, designed for beginning and intermediate fly casters, will focus on basics but also work with intermediate casters on correcting faults and improving casting skills. Cost for the school, which will run from 8:30 AM to 2 PM, is $175 per person and includes the use of Orvis fly tackle and lunch. Contact CB’s Saltwater Outfitters at (941) 349-4400 or info@cbsoutfitters.com to make reservations.
It may be a good time to catch up on your fishing shows on the DVR or rig some tackle, clean your reels, or possibly even get out and go hunting. Whatever you do, be safe and have a very happy and productive New Year. ‘Til then…I’ll catch ya later!

Capt. Ray Markham

(941) 723-2655

Ray.markham@gmail.com

www.CaptainRayMarkham.com

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Homosassa Inshore Fishing Weekly Report. 1/2/18, Capt. William Toney

by on Jan.02, 2018, under Chassahowitzka and Homosassa, Hernando and Pasco Gulf Coast, Ozello to Crystal River

Well this weeks New Years weather will remind us thin blood Floridians that in can be down right cold here. I will have to say that it will be tough fishing for the time being but if you have to go this is what I would do. Getting on the water early will not do anyone no good so stop and eat some breakfast first. Live shrimp is the next stop if they can be found. ( call ahead ) River fishing will lend the best action, start at the mid point of the Crystal River or Homosassa and work towards the east until you find biting fish. This may not happen until an angler meets the warm fresh waters flowing from the springs. Warm water means life and survival during extreme cold conditions. Shrimp on the bottom might get the bite and possible suspending plugs in deeper water as well as jigs. Offshore I would believe the sheepshead bite should be starting although I would recommend waiting until better weather.
One other option is bank fish. Citrus County has many options on the west side to cast a line without launching a boat. Homosassa has a few spots and down Mason Creek. Going north is Ozello Trail, Ft. Island Trail, the Barge Canal and on the other side try the Follow That Dream road way. Good thing about bank fishing is a warm vehicle is not to far away. Incoming high tide will be early morning or late evening this weekend.

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