Light winds and no rain! Perfect fishing weather. There are some jack crevalle and huge snook on the flats so up-size your leaders and bite tippets.
03-28-17 Fishing Report
Gordon and I pre-fished Bull and Turtle Bays a day prior to one of my March charters. The wind was 15 and gusty out of the NE. We found most of the fish holding in deeper water but once we found them the snook, sea trout, jacks and ladyfish were very willing to bite our lures. There's some pretty cool underwater video included in this one. Enjoy!
John Albin and Jim McCadie joined me for a few days of fly fishing. We fished Matlacha, Pine Island Sound and the Cape Haze Peninsula. Water temps and water clarity provided some excellent sight fishing opportunities.
Dry conditions continue. Water levels in the Harbor are low. Water Temps are in the mid-seventies. Water clarity is very good...
Charlotte Harbor is Florida’s second largest estuary encompassing 270 square miles. Over 80% of its shoreline is preserved land. There are more than 15 boat ramps and many kayak access point on the Harbor providing easy access to great fishing.
May light tackle and fly action: May is all about tarpon. The spawning migration has started and there have a few tarpon being caught in the Sounds, Passes and along beaches the past two weeks. By mid-month the fishing will be in high gear. The back country waters are in the low to mid 80s so the best fishing will be early and late in the day. Mid-day will provide lots of lookers and refusals unless you’re pitching bait. The large snook are moving their way to the beaches and the sounds.
Conditions: We are settling into our early summer weather patterns with offshore winds early switching to sea breezes in the afternoons. Water temps will be in the low to mid 80s. April was very dry so the salinity in the lower harbor and the sounds are average or slightly above. The upper harbor fishing has slowed somewhat do the warm weather and lack of rain. Greatly reduced Lake Okeechobee discharges into the Caloosahatchee River has improved the water quality in lower Pine Island Sound.
Bait the fish are feeding on: shrimp, crabs, pinfish, ladyfish. Some whitebait in Matlacha Pass, upper Pine Island Sound, Gasparilla sound and on Bokeelia Shoals. There’s lots of threadfins and greeenbacks on the beaches.
May Fishing Tactics: The back country; with the warm and dry conditions fishing becomes an early morning game. Go early fish the moving water near the mangroves until the sun gets up. As soon as it gets bright shift you attention to deeper cuts between islands and keys and the depressions in the mangrove creek mouths. The deeper edges of grass flats will hold sea trout throughout May.
My April Fly Fishing Tip: Many of my clients want to fly fishing for tarpon in May. I carry two set ups on the boat for them. A floating line with a suspending fly for the fish coming over the shallow bars and a sink tip line with a weighted fly for when the fish are laid up or doing daisy chains in deeper water. prespawn tarpon can be finicky, the fly placement is key. Many times they will only move a few inches to eat.
My April Light Tackle Tip: Don’t get in a rut using a particular tarpon bait. Crabs are wonderful bait but if you are getting refused show them something else. Pinfish, whitebait, cut ladyfish, sail cat tails, even shrimp can turn on the finickiest tarpon.
Species to fish for this month: Tarpon, Snook Redfish, Spotted Seatrout.
Conditions: Great weather this week will provide awesome fishing. We’ll have smaller incoming tides so the fish in the back country will be scattered. There will be moving water near all the passes which will help congregate fish making those areas better choices. Good water quality and salinity throughout most of Charlotte Harbor. Lower Pine Island Sound and Punta Rassa water conditions continue to improve.
Species to fish for this week: Redfish, Spotted Seatrout, Bluefish, Jacks, Ladyfish, Snook, Spanish Mackerel. There’s a few tarpon and cobia around mid-Harbor structure and the deep holes.
Bait the fish are feeding on: shrimp, crabs, pinfish, ladyfish. Some whitebait in Matlacha Pass, Gasparilla sound, Upper Pine Island sound and on Bokeelia Shoals.
Fishing Tactics: Early morning low tides will expose the oyster beds and leave little water on the grass flats. Work the edges of both. Spotted sea trout and reds will be cruising there waiting for the tide to come in.
My fly fishing tip of the week: Look for moving water and bait. That’s where the fish will be this week due to lack of tide and current in their normal ambush spots. White bait and shrimp patterns are working best. Keep that 12Wt. rigged and ready for Mr. Tarpon - there here.
My spin fishing tip of the week: The suspending twitch baits are still the hot lure. Keep some bite wire handy – the jacks and Spanish mackerel will cut you off. Have a heavy rod rigged with 60# leader and a DOA Baitbuster for that tarpon that just might roll next to the boat, it’s that time of year.
7 day outlook: Seasonal temps, light winds and sunny most of the week, there’s a chance of showers on Friday. Small incoming tides all week won’t provide much moving water in the back country.
Conditions: Early morning low tides will provide great fishing along oyster beds, the edges of the grass flats and the deeper mangrove points. Water clarity and salinity continues to improve in lower Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass. The rest of the Harbor has very good conditions and excellent fishing. Fishing pressure should be lower this week now that spring break is behind us.
Species to fish for this week: Redfish, Spotted Sea Trout, Bluefish, Jacks, Ladyfish, Snook, Spanish mackerel.
Bait the fish are feeding on: shrimp, crabs, pinfish, ladyfish. Some whitebait in Matlacha Pass, Gasparilla sound, Upper Pine Island sound and on Bokeelia Shoals.
Fishing Tactics: Look for moving water near structure. Snook, redfish and jacks lay in wait at these ambush points. As the tide reaches flood move to the edges of grass flats and fish the potholes for staged up reds and trout. At high tide snook and redfish will cruise the mangrove shadows looking for an afternoon snack.
My fly fishing tip of the week: Keep an 8 or 9 Wt. rod rigged with a wire bite tippet. There’s been several schools of jack crevalle and spanish mackerel throughout the Harbor. Also, it’s time to keep that rigged 11 or 12 Wt. tarpon rod with you. I’ve been seeing a few rollers in the deeper sections of the lower Harbor and upper Pine Island Sound.
My spin fishing tip of the week: Keep a rod rigged with a short wire leader for the spanish and jacks. Best offerings for these toothy critters are hard plastic swimming plugs, poppers and metal lures. The flashier the better.
7 day outlook: Cooler temps and off-shore breezes until mid week. The wind will shift to on-shore Wednesday. A slight chance of showers on Wednesday evening and Thursday. Winds should be light to moderate all week. We’ll have morning incoming tides this week providing lots of moving water.
Lots of Media hype - But, there's plenty of good fishing to be had. (See my 02-15-16 Fishing Report)
Brown water along Florida’s Lee County coastline is being caused by freshwater released from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River. Such releases have taken place for years during the rainy season but they rarely happen this time of year. The releases are due to recent record rainfall and are necessary to keep homes, businesses and agriculture around the lake from being flooded and destroyed. Currently there is 4 billion gallons of water a day draining from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River. There’s also 2 billion gallons per day going into the St. Lucie River which flows to Florida’s east coast. The releases will continue for several weeks - until the lake level drops 4 feet. This must be done so the lake can hold rains that will come in June, July and August.
Is the water in and around Pine, Sanibel and Captiva Islands safe? Yes, it’s not polluted nor is it toxic, just brown. It’s much like what takes place on the Kennebec River in Maine after every big rainfall.
WINK News CBS affiliate Ft. Myers photo
Do these releases hurt fish and the ecosystem? Temporary releases like these do not cause long term damage.
Is the fishing productive in the brown water? No. Just like the Kennebec, the reduced salinity and lack of clarity makes for tuff fishing.
Will the good fishing return? Absolutely, soon after the water clears and the salinity increases the bait and the sport fish will return.
A bit of perspective:
This chart shows Charlotte Harbor. It’s the 2nd largest estuary in Florida encompassing 270 square miles. The oval shows the area that I fish. The shaded area is where the brown water is. There’s miles and miles clean and productive water to fish. Gasparilla Sound, Turtle and Bull Bays, Cape Haze and the West Wall all have great fishing for redfish, seatrout, jacks and snook. With over 12 launching ramps on the Harbor it’s easy to get to the fish.
In a few weeks the discharges will be reduced. Pine Island Sound and its barrier Islands will once again provide great fishing. But for now, know that there’s lots of great fishing to experience on Charlotte Harbor and lots of great swimming and sunbathing too.
Let’s go fishing!
The original Schminnow was created by Norn Zeigler a journalist and fly shop owner on Sanibel Island in 1995. It is a widely used fly throughout Pine Island Sound, Charlotte Harbor and most of Southwest Florida.
My version has a small Estaz body and tail of both bucktail and synthetics. I tie these flies with mono, bead chain or dumbbells eyes to allow them to be fished at varying depth. Hook size ranges from #2 to 1/0. The fly is easy to cast and fishes well at all retrieve rates. Though the Schminnow was designed to catch snook, it will catch seatrout, redfish, jacks, tarpon and even flounder. By the way, Maine striped bass and bluefish eat them too.
Conditions: We will have extremely low morning tides this week. Water temps will be cool in the mornings but warm up in the afternoon. Pine Island Sound, Ding Darling, and areas around Sanibel and Captiva will have poor water quality due to the record level of discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River. Even Matlacha Pass will see some water issues this week. The upper Harbor, East and West walls will provide better fishing opportunities.
Bait the fish are feeding on: Some whitebait in the upper harbor, pinfish, ladyfish, shrimp, crabs
Species to fish for this week: Snook, Redfish, Seatrout, Jacks, Ladyfish
Fishing Tactics: Typical winter tactics include taking advantage of extremely low water levels by fishing edges and structure. Cool water requires fishing slow and deep. As the water warms on the mud and grass you can speed your retrieves back up.
My fly fishing tip of the week: Slow presentations along the edges of oyster bards and banks with crab or shrimp patterns should produce this week. Use weighted flies or sinking intermediate lines to get down to the fish.
My spin fishing tip of the week: Jig heads with soft plastic tail fished slow along edges and bars should work. Take advantage of this week’s super low tides by fishing structure and contours.
7 day outlook: This week will be mostly dry with morning lows in the 50 warming into the 60s mid day. West – northwest winds will drop on Wednesday. There will be very large tide swings this week. Water temps will cool due to the nighttime lows.
Note to Self: Remember to pull the drain plugs in BOTH of your livewells when putting the boat up for the winter...
I estimate this block of ice, cast net, scrub brushes and who knows what else to be about 125 pounds and is 10" think. It's been melting since we left Maine on Saturday morning and hopefully by the end of today it will be gone. Can't wait to see what is in there. Today we finish unpacking. Tomorrow is boat cleaning day. Friday the fishing gear gets sorted out and rigged. I'll be fishing on Charlotte Harbor this weekend!
This is something Barb and I already knew - Punta Gorda on the southeastern side of Charlotte Harbor is a great place to excape the cold. Trip Advisor agrees, it listed PG as its most afordable southern destination.
We live just across the bridge in Port Charlotte but spend most of our time in Punta Gorda. Great restaurants and shops, We love the farmers market, I launch from two of PG's boat ramps almost daily and pick up my Florida fishing charter clients at the area hotels. PG hosts several festivals and fishing tournament throughout the year. Oh, almost forgot Barb's favorite ice cream shop Scoops is at Lashley Park right on the River Walk.
And the fishing... PG has great snook, redfish, trout, cobia, jack and mackerel fishing minutes from their boat ramps. Spin fishing or fly fishing, you'll have a great time in Punta Gorda.
I retired the ol' Yukon Denali and have a nice (newer) GMC crew cab pickup. Problem - no secured rod storage with a 5'-6" bed... Enters my friend Fred Bogue, a beach and jetty angler who has struggled for years just such a problem. Fred sent me a link to Big Sky Rod Box in MT. Great product and really nice folks but, it only holds up to 6 fly rods... Next I contacted my buddy and sales rep at Hammond Lumber; Matt Stelzer for a bit of brainstorming on available materials. After three days in my workshop here's the result.
Constructed from metal roofing panels and aluminum angle over a 1/4" plywood substrate
Weighs about 50 pounds and removes in minutes by undoing four U bolts.
Holds 9 fully rigged rods up to 9'-6" long. Nicely cushioned cradles, watertight, ventilated and lockable. Even has enough room to accommodate my 8' one piece tarpon spinning rods.
Charlotte Harbor / Pine Island Sound Fishing Report January 4th, 2016 - Happy New Year Everyone! Welcome to the first of 2016 weekly Fishing Reports from Charlotte Harbor Florida. My guiding season kicks later this month and I'm looking forward to enjoying the sun and warmth of Southwest Florida through early June.
Conditions: Typical January fishing conditions this week. Low water levels and dropping water temps.
Bait: Mullet, Ladyfish, pinfish, shrimp, crabs
Fishing Tactics: Cool temps and northeast winds will move the water and fish from the mangroves into the potholes and troughs. Concentrate on deeper water with slower presentations.
Species to target: Redfish, Snook Seatrout, Jacks, Spanish Mackerel and Ladyfish.
My Fly Fishing Tip of the Week: Cool water tactics, swap to a sinking or sinking intermediate line and weighted flies. Fish edges and holes.
My Spin Fishing Tip of the Week: Fish slow and low during cool water conditions.
7 day outlook: Average temps and northeast winds subsiding mid-week. 40% chance of showers on Wednesday.
Chris From the Razzor Ranch in Zolfo Springs and his long time friend Mike had a great day of light tackle tarpon fishing off Captiva and Sanibel Islands. Perfect conditions and only three other skiffs in sight. We fished on pods of happy tarpon for two hours. By the way, the Razzor Ranch puts on a great hog hunt, I went there a couple weeks ago with my buddy Greg Straut and had an excellent time.
Tarpon Prime Time is here, I have openings in May, airfair and rooms are now at off season rates! FMI go to the rates and resevation page
5/5 Best guide I've met - 4/9/2015By: gkilloug fished Matlacha, FL
"Dave Pecci is the kind of guide you'd want to fish with every day. Dave is a passionate (die hard) angler who works as hard as any guide I've seen to keep his clients on fish. He should be running clinics on boat control... He's also a great teacher, but he offers instruction in a patient and calm way, you almost don't realize he's coaching you until the casts get better, the presentations improve, and you start hammering fish. It doesn't hurt that he's a great story teller and also just an all-around good guy (and those pastries he brings...). I'll be fishing with Dave again the next time I'm in the area without a doubt. Can't wait!"
5/5Look no further... - 3/25/2015 By: FlyByNite fished Pine Island/Matlacha, FL
"Capt. Dave is a joy to fish with. He uses top shelf fly fishing and spinning gear, is a wealth of local knowledge, and doesn't rely on two or three "honey holes" to provide action. He will work to keep your day on his boat action-packed. West coast Florida is filled with amazing, scenic back-country fishing and Capt. Dave is the guy to take you there."
Conditions: Water temps have fallen into the high 70s due a weekend cold front but will rebound quickly. Good tidal flow will get the fish feeding again.
Bait: threadfin herring, pinfish, shrimp
Species to target this week: Redfish, Seatrout, Jacks, Ladyfish, Bluefish.
Fishing Tactics: Fish structure early and mangroves later in the day.
My Fly Fishing Tip of the Week: Fish will be staged on the edges in deeper water until mid day when the flat warm.
My Spin Fishing Tip of the Week: Fish deep along edges with jigs until mid day then swap to suspending baits and move to the shallows as the water warms.
7 day outlook: The cold front from the past weekend is long gone and the water temps will rebound by mid week. Early afternoon high tides will provide good moving water. Its going to be a great week!