Today we fly fished the waters of upper Pine Island Sound and Captiva Island for snook, redfish and seatrout. A passing cold front and neap tides made for a less than perfect bite. but we prevailed and bent the rods on trout and jacks. Not very often you'll see me wearing two shirts and long paints in late April! We'll be back to typical weather and fishing conditions for the rest of the week.
Spin fishing Matlacha Pass Wildlife Refuge in Charlotte Harbor is a wondrous experience. Miles of grass flats, acres of oyster beds and light sand flats make for endless fly and light tackle fishing opportunities. Snook, redfish, seatrout, tarpon, jacks snapper to mane just a few speicies call Matlacha home. The waters are a bit challenging to navigate due to the meandering channels and oyster beds. But after a few trips you’ll be able to get to prime fishing spots in no time.
What’s biting: Snook, Redfish, Seatrout and Jacks.
Gear Used: light tackle spin fishing and fly fishing.
Conditions: The weather fronts are becoming weaker as we move further into Spring. Bait is becoming more plentiful and water levels in the upper Charlotte Harbor are improving.
Technics that are working: If clouds or water conditions keep you from sight fishing you can blind cast to edges and potholes around the grass flats for redfish and sea trout. On the warmer days, try fly fishing the back country. Make your presentations tight to the mangroves. The snook and redfish will be there escaping the heat. When fly fishing after a passing cold front switch to a sinking intermediate or sink tip line and fish the deeper channels and holes using weighted flies.
Tip: I have never met an oyster bed I didn't like. It's worth a few snagged flies to explore them. There are many of these beds in Pine Island Sound to explore.
Outlook: The exiting cold front will give way to light east and southeast winds. The water will continue to warm ushering the first of the 2014 tarpon run. Watch for them at the passes and of Boca Grande and Captiva.
Obsession Charters Fishing Report Friday, April 11, 2014
Big winds early in the week and rain on Tuesday stirred things up in Pine Island Sound and Gasparilla Sound. Monday we fished light tackle the mangroves along East Wall of Charlotte Harbor from Punta Gorda to Burt Store Marina escaping the 20-25MPH SW winds. Cloudy water and a drop in temperature after the front passed put the Sea Trout and Redfish into deep water. Patience and constantly changing up flies and lures did produce some fish. Surprisingly, the snook stayed on the flats and we were able to sight fish to them every day we were out. The wind shifted to ESE on Friday allowing more moving water on the incoming tides in the cuts of Turtle and Bull Bay. Some of the live bait fishers were seeing some action after a couple days of lockjaw.
The tarpon migration has been slow to start due to the endless fronts pushing through Charlotte Harbor and Boca Grande. There have been a few rolling and laid up tarpon spotted in Pine Island Sound and near the Passes at Captiva and Gasparilla so things are starting to happen. I’ll be fishing in Matlacha, lower Pine Island Sound and the Ding Darling Reserve several days the next two weeks. These are very fishy places for both fly and spinning gear.
A great day of spin fishing in the mangroves of Charlotte Harbor's East Wall for sea trout, snook and redfish. With an impending cold front coming and 20-25mph SSE winds the mangroves were the place to be. The Harbor had a 3' chop and the beaches were getting pounded by 3'-4' swells. The 5 mile run back to Ponce De Leon Park in Punta Gorda at the end of the dsy was easy. We stayed in 18" - 24" of water tight to the shoreline. The sandbar knocked down the chop just like a barrier reef. I love fishing here!
This is a long video but Bill left his phone at the Philly Airport and didn't get a chance to take and pics while we were fishing. I wanted him to have something to remember the trip by. Bill, those pulp log sized snook will bite the next time your down. We didn't get skunked the trout and jacks cooperated. Safe travel home to you and Fran!
Pesky cold fronts have made the fishing in Pine Island Sound and around Cayo Costa a bit challenging. Water temps are dropping 8-12* when the fronts come through. Cooler water means making adjustments. Spin fishing the deep holes with slower retrieves works As the temps rebound the fish become more aggressive and move out of the holes and onto the flats where fly fishing has an advantage. There’s been some big redfish in up in Charlotte Harbor. The sea trout have been very cooperative in Gasparilla sound. The Gulf beaches have been quiet with just a few ladyfish and Spanish around. Tarpon sightings are becoming more common in the Sounds as they have started dropping out of the backcountry. It won’t be long and we’ll be bending those Orvis H2 rods along the beaches.
Want to win a free 4 hour fishing Charter? Answer this trivia question: Where is “Meatball” used in this website and what does it mean? Everyone who emails me the correct answer will be entered into a drawing for a free four hour fishing or sightseeing charter in either Florida or Maine during 2014. Value $350, can be used as partial consideration towards an alternate Obsession charter of your choice. Drawing will be held on Wednesday, April 16th. Happy searching and good luck!
Light tackle and fly fishing is great this time of year throughout Charlotte Harbor. Snook, Redfish and Trout are active and in their usual haunts. Snook can be found on sand near mangroves try light colored soft plastic lures and white flies with a bit of flash. Redfish are up in the shallows and around oyster beds. The old stand by copper spoon and dark colored sinking flies are producing well. Trout are on the grass flats usually near an edge or deep hole. Use top water lures and flies for some real fun. Spanish Mackerel are spread out in the lower Harbor along the transitions from flats to deeper water. They love flashy lures and flies but you have to move them fast. Cobia and tarpon are spotty right now but that will change as the bait continues to move into Pine Island and Gasparilla Sounds.
Late winter low water levels make for productive fishing around the oyster beds. March is a great time to fish Charlotte Harbor's backwater. Caught this 23" redfish on a 1/4 oz jig head dressed with a root beer split tail. Finished the day up with a few spotted sea trout.
There are many whitebait flies available in synthetics and natural fiber. Always have a bunch of different ones with you. This particular one has an epoxy head that gets it down in the water. Whitebait patterns work on about any fish you'll find in Charlotte Harbor or the Gulf beaches.
Synthetic fiber baitfish fly - These are available at most fly shops. Make sure they are tied on 2X or 3X hooks. You don't need HD hooks for reds and snook but if you come across a back country tarpon you'll be able to keep connected to her beyond the first jump.
Preventative maintenance day and a break from the tarpon, snook, redfish and seatrout of Charlotte Harbor... New trailer bearings, new trailer tires, Galvanizing touch up, rebuild of spare wheel hub and yes, Fred Bogue, spin fishing reel teardown and lube, (all of them). Even had time to sort out what fly fishing gear stays in Florida and what comes to Maine. Long day but I'd rather do preventative maintenance that "repairs". I’m good to go until September now. Striped bass are in the Kennebec, Tarpon are returning to the beaches of Boca Grande. Great time to be alive just need to be in two places at once.
Monday and Tuesday we fished light tackle and fly along the beaches off Gasparilla and Cayo Costa in overcast and showers. The tarpon were spread out in pods both there and in the passes of lower Charlotte Harbor. As tropical storm Andrea approached Wednesday the winds and seas picked up making sight fishing all but impossible. The tarpon left the Harbor moving offshore to hunker down. The backcountry fishing suffered too as snook, redfish and trout laid up to ride things out. Thursday morning the dry tongue of the storm was sitting right over Charlotte Harbor. Launching in Punta Gorda at sunrise we caught a bucket load of silver trout (whiting) on structure before the wind and rain started. We were safely off the water by mid-morning. Thursday afternoon two twisters touched down in Charlotte County and wind gusts close to 50mph blew through Punta Gorda and Boca Grande. Friday was a bust because of the 2+” of rain and 3-5 foot seas that Andrea left behind. Saturday morning there were no tarpon to be found within in 3 miles of the coast… Sadly my long-time clients and dear friends Fred and Sara Bogue flew in on Tuesday afternoon to fish three days for tarpon. We still had a great time together by adjusting our plans and catching fish other than the elusive silver king. That’s fishing… Great memories are commonly made from things other than big fish – like sharing the Gulf’s first tropical storm of 2013.
The tarpon are settling down from the unrelenting pressure from Memorial Day weekend Boca Grande anglers. The fish in shallow water of Gasparilla Pass were still edgy on Tuesday but the pods that were in 15+ feet were much more at ease. Some of the tarpon have moved offshore to spawn as they typically do following the full moon this time of year. On their return, the fishing should be even better than it is currently; I love this time of year here in Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound. There are schools of Spanish and False Albacore (Little Tunny) a half a mile or so off the beaches. There are some snook in the toughs making for fun sight casting. As for the back country; with water temps in the mid 80’s, redfish and snook are back in the shade or in deep holes as the day heats up so go early and be patient. Spotted Seatrout are holding on the deeper grass flats. There are still some Spanish and Ladyfish around too. I’m rounding third and heading for home in my 2013 Florida guiding season. I do have a few open days before heading to Maine on June 14th so give me a call and we’ll go catch’em!
High pressure and westerly winds last week made inshore fishing a bit challenging. The beach had swells and white caps making chasing tarpon impossible. Mid-day high tides put the redfish way up into the mangroves. Monday and Tuesday the back country was shell shocked from the Flatsmasters redfish tournament. With all that, we still had some great days on the water. Thanks to some small snook, flounder, Spanish mackerel and the ever happy sea trout… The coming week should provide lighter winds, warming water and great tides. Tarpon fishing should be very good both along the Gasparilla beaches and in Pine Island Sound. The huge snook that are laid up on light bottom of Bull and Turtle Bays should be more aggressive as the high pressure moves off. The redfish will settle down and move back on the oyster beds and out of the mangrove roots. This is the beginning of late spring Prime Time in Charlotte Harbor and Boca Grande! I have openings in my schedule so give me a call and we’ll go get em! Nothing recharges the batteries like a relaxing fun day on Beautiful Charlotte Harbor. All skill levels welcome.
Sunday afternoon the fuel pump on the Yukon crapped out while we were picking up take-out at the Nav-a-gator. Take-out became eat-in at that point... Some the regulars suggested we have the Yukon towed to a garage 5 miles from our place so we called AAA. Then we bummed a ride home from Barb's sister and fiancé. Two days later we're back up and running. Other than an unexpected charge to the credit card it actually worked out very well. Veteran's Auto Repair treated us great just like my buddy Merle Ambrose would have in Maine. Barb got some down time to recover from a spill on her bike (she's fine, even peddled a mile home after it happened.) and took care of a bit of business she'd been putting off. We met some nice folks at Nav-a-Gators. And I got some painting done in the house. The Tarpon, Snook and Redfish will be there this coming week. Life is good!
The first tarpon are showing up. Just two pods on the beach at Boca Grande so far. Gulf water is 76*. Another 2-4* will improve things. Haiden Shea had a baby tarpon (3'er) spit the hook yesterday in Turtle Bay. Snook seem to be everywhere in Gasparilla Sound and Pine Island Sound this week but are not eating all that well. Redfish are moving in and out of the skinny water of Bull and Turtle Bay. Spotted searout, ladyfish and Spanish are at Bokeelia and the flats up toward Punta Gorda. The Shea boys and dad; Scott (Seaspray Kayak) had the full show yesterday... Porpoise, manatees, eagles, ospreys all were out in numbers. All totaled they caught 7 different species of fish. Haiden will be sending me some video from his Go Pro. I'm off the water for the next few days, spending some time with my bride! Trip to the beach, lunch at Sharky's And maybe a bike ride on today's itinerary...
Now this is more like it. 72* at 6am w/ 4mph southerly winds and clear skies at the Boca Grande causeway. Look out Charlotte Harbor snook and redfish!