Charlotte Harbor Fly fishing Action March 14, 2017

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... 

Continue

Charlotte Harbor – Pine Island Sound Fishing Report March 7, 2017

Conditions: Strong east winds drained a lot of water out of the backcountry over the weekend. Conditions will improve by mid-week as the wind subsides. Water clarity is very good. Water temps are from 65*-72*.

"Many of my redfish and snook spots are not holding bait or fish because of the low water conditions. Working potholes and deeper grass flats has been very productive..."

03-07-17 Fishing Report
Continue

Charlotte Harbor – Pine Island Sound Fishing Report 02-13-17

Conditions: We continue to have very good water clarity and quality due to the dry conditions throughout Charlotte Harbor. Water temps are in the low 70s. Average tides this week will provide for good flats fishing. The bite in Matlacha as well as Bull Bay and Turtle Bay has been good. Pine Island Sound's grass flats have been producing seatrout and redfish, concentrate on the deeper portions of the flats. The Keys along the East Wall of the Harbor are holding redfish of varying sizes and a few snook. If you're looking for trout in that area they'll be on the outside of the bar in deeper water.

The mid-day ebb tides will move the fish off the flats. Work the holes and edges until the water level increases.

02-13-17 Obsession Charters Fishing Report
Continue

Sight Fishing Tips and Tactics Seminar This Sunday

I'll be doing a seminar at the Florida Sportsman Expo in Ft. Myers on sight fishing tips and tactics this Sunday. The Seminar covers ways to catch more snook and redfish on both spin and fly fishing gear. I'll share some of the things I've learned while fishing on Charlotte Harbor the past 8 years like reading the fish's movements, finding productive water dealing with weather changes and more.

​My Seminar is at 1pm on Sunday. It's full of cool pictures and videos of fishing action from Matlacha, Pine Island sound, Charlotte Harbor's East and West Walls, Bull Bay, Turtle Bay and more. More info on the Expo including other seminars

Continue

Charlotte Harbor – Pine Island Sound Fishing Report February 1, 2017

Conditions: Water clarity is good. The water level is very low due to the winter tides. As long as water temps are in the mid-60s or above the fishing will be very good. Lots of snook around. The redfish have been a bit elusive (for me anyway). The fish have been moving back onto the flats with the incoming tide. Work the oysters and holes at low tide.

Bait the fish are feeding on: Shrimp, Crabs, Pinfish, some Threadfin Herring.

Lots of snook around. The fish have been moving back onto the flats with the incoming tide. Work the oysters and holes at low tide.

Fishing Report February 1, 2017
Continue

Paul Heytens Fly fishing Redfish in Pine Island Sound

​We saw this redfish rush the fly and eat in 12" of water. Paul caught it on a 9wt. Orvis Helios H2 rod and one of my whitebait flies.

Continue

Charlotte Harbor, Boca Grande, Pine Island Sound May Fishing Forecast

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.

2015 05 18 bogue tarpon8sm

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.

toadfly

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.

2016 04 14Piccone trout

 

Species to fish for this month: Tarpon, Snook Redfish, Spotted Seatrout.

Continue

Matt Stelzer - Snook on Flyrod

Matt gets his first snook on fly rod in Pine Island Sound.

Continue

Pine Island, Boca Grande, Charlotte Harbor Fishing Report April 18, 2016

Last Week - Excellent fishing! We had tons of fly and light tackle fishing action last week. And, this coming week will be just as good! I posted some killer video from last week's action, you can check them out on my blog's Florida Fishing Video section. There's over 30 videos posted.

2016 04 14piccone jack5

This week's Forecast

Conditions: Excellent all this coming week - Mid day high tides will provide moving water. Morning low tides will congregate the fish along the oyster beds and grass banks.

Species to fish for this coming week: Snook, Redfish, Spotted Seatrout, Jack Crevalle, Tarpon, Ladyfish, Spanish Mackerel, Cobia.

2016 04 14Piccone trout

Bait the fish are feeding on: shrimp, crabs, pinfish, ladyfish, Scaled Sardines, Threadfin Herring

Fishing Tactics: Start early and fish the edges of oysters and grass for trout, snook and reds. As the tide comes in move onto the flats fishing the sand holes for trout and reds.

2016 04 14piccone jack6

My fly fishing tip of the week: Lots of white bait (sardines and herring) around so olive and white deceivers are the choice.

My spin fishing tip of the week: MirroLure suspending twitch baits are the lure of choice. 2nd choice would be a bubble gum or new penny soft bait on a ¼ once jig head.

2016 04 11 snook1

7 day outlook: Fantastic weather with light winds from the E and NE will provide excellent fishing. The snook, redfish and jack crevalle action will be very good this week.

2016 04 07 Kern jack5

 

Continue

SW Florida - Pine Island, Boca Grande, Charlotte Harbor Fishing Report April 4, 2016

2016 04 02 16 Cadin spanish

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.
2016 04 01 gray trout1

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.

 

 

Continue

Pine Island, Boca Grande, Charlotte Harbor Fishing Report March 21, 2016

2016-03-15-redfish-stevens3
Keven Stevens and Jason Webber with a nice Matlacha Redfish. Check out the video

Spring is here and the fishing is excellent. Water temps in the high 70s with good water clarity. Snook Reds and trout all eating flies and lures.

Species to fish for this week: Redfish, Spotted Seatrout, Bluefish, Jacks, Ladyfish, Snook, Tarpon

Bait the fish are feeding on: shrimp, crabs, pinfish, ladyfish. Some whitebait in Matlacha Pass and on Bokeelia Shoals.

With the clearer and warmer water tactics change to fishing moving water along the grass flats and sight fishing for reds and snook on the sandbars and oyster beds. The fish will be more aggressive but also a bit spookier. Stay back and make long casts, if you can see the fish – they can see you too.

2016-03-14-redfish

My fly fishing tip of the week: I get asked about bite tippet a lot – Use a minimum of 20# for smaller fish. 25#-30# for baby tarpon and snook. Always use fluorocarbon. Check the tippet after EVERY catch. Not just by sight, do a pull test.

My spin fishing tip of the week: Same holds true for spinning gear: 20# for the little guys and 25#-30# for biguns. Check the tippet after EVERY catch.

We'll see a cold front pass through the first of the week. Winds should settle down and the fishing will be good through the weekend.

 

There's been some 10-12 pound jack crevalle cruising the flats - keep a 10 wt rigged with a white bait fly!

Check out the latest videos posts!

Continue

Pine Island, Boca Grande, Charlotte Harbor Fishing Report March 15, 2016

2016-03-14-redfish

The fishing is excellent on Charlotte Harbor right now! Water temps have climbed into the high 70s and the redfish, snook and sea trout are all loving it. This 29" redfish was caught sight fishing in 15" of water on an oyster bed in Turtle Bay. Dick and Curt who are staying on Boca Grande also caught trout and snook on jigs and twitch baits. Even with the 10-15 knot winds its easy to find good light tackle and fly fishing in the backcountry. the last two weeks in March are going to provide some great fishing for sure! 

 

Continue

Charlotte Harbor Pine Island Sound March Fishing Forecast

2019-03-01Yaw1

 

The fishing will be good on Charlotte Harbor this month despite all the news and social media hype about water releases from Lake Okeechobee. The water in and around Pine, Sanibel and Captiva Islands is brown (turbid) and has an elevated nutrient level but is not toxic.

 

Turbid water along the 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 4 billion gallons of Lake Okeechobee water a day is going into the Caloosahatchee. There’s 2 billion gallons per day going into the St. Lucie River and another 2 million gallons per day going into the Everglades through Shark River Slough. This will continue for several more weeks. No one disputes that something has to be done to stop the releases into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers. The water must be allowed to flow into the everglade as it once did. Unfortunately it will take 5-10 years to accomplish this.

dischargearea

 

This chart shows Charlotte Harbor. It encompasses 270 square miles. There are over 15 launch ramps on the Harbor providing access to great fishing. The shaded area is where the turbid water from Lake Okeechobee is. Fishing in this area will not be all that good in March. The rest of the Harbor will have great fishing for redfish, seatrout, sheephead, cobia, jacks, snook and more.

 

If you are fishing the lower east side of the Harbor in March you will find the best action will be during the dropping tide. If you are fishing the lower west side of the Harbor the incoming tide will provide the better action.  The upper Harbor will have good fishing conditions on all tides. Fish the deep holes around the mangrove islands for trout and redfish early and move to the grass flats as the water warms. The Snook will be around or on the sand flats and will eat when the water temps warm above 70*.

 02-16-16Perry1

 

My fly fishing tip of the month: Fish with bulky and brightly colored flies in the Upper Harbor and smaller, more lifelike flies in the lower Harbor. Slow down your presentations when the water is cold.

 

My spin fishing tip of the month: Downsize your lures, especially if your fishing jigs with soft plastic tails. We’ve been getting a lot of bumps and short strikes on the larger baits.

Continue

Pine Island, Boca Grande, Charlotte Harbor Fishing Report February 22, 2016

Charlotte Harbor is a 270 square miles of estuary with 15 boat ramps. There’s tons of productive water to fish. Yes, there’s lots of dirty water in Pine Island Sound but the rest of the Harbor and Gasparilla Sound has good clarity. Red tide has been moving in and out of the passes but with all the fresh water around it has not been an issue in the Harbor. The best fishing this week will be along the East and West Walls and in Bull and Turtle Bays.

2016-02-22TannerTrout3x

Bait the fish are feeding on: pinfish, ladyfish, shrimp, crabs

Species to fish for this week: Redfish, Spotted Seatrout, Bluefish, Jacks, Ladyfish, Snook

2016-02-22TannerTrout4Fishing Tactics: Sight fishing is limited to araes near the Sound do to lots of fresh water in the Bay. There's plenty of good blind casting action though. Fish the deep holes around the mangrove islands for trout and redfish. The Snook will be around or on the sand flats.

My fly fishing tip of the week: Murky water is a way of life on the Harbor after heavy rains. Embrace it, the fish are there and they will eat. Fish with bulky and brightly colored flies.

My spin fishing tip of the week: Downsize your lures, especially if your fishing jigs with soft plastic tails. We’ve been getting a lot of bumps and short strikes on larger baits.

7 day outlook: Seasonal temps early in the week. We’ll have some showers Tuesday and Wednesday. A cold front will move through late in the week. Most of the action will be Redfish and Trout with few snook mixed in. 

Continue

Brown Water in Pine Island Sound and along the Barrier Islands.

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.

Questions:

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.

lakeokeechobeereleasemoorehavenSmall
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.

dischargearea

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.

2012-04-redfish2

 

Let’s go fishing!

Continue

SW Florida - Pine Island, Boca Grande, Charlotte Harbor Fishing Report February 15, 2016

2015-02-24gillies-trout

Conditions: Water temps are in the mid to high 60s and will warm as the week progresses. Lots of fresh water runoff in the lower Harbor and Pine Island Sound right now. Better conditions exist in the upper Charlotte Harbor, the West wall and over toward Placida.

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: Mobility is the key right now. There’s lots of good fishing where you find clear water. You may have to run a bit to get away from the stained fresh water but when you do the fish will waiting for you.

My fly fishing tip of the week: Use bright colored bulky flies in stained water and natural colored smaller flies in the clear water. Strip slowly in the mornings, speed up as the water warms up.

My spin fishing tip of the week: Been having good luck with suspended twitch baits in soft rubber and hard plastic. Most of the hits have been during pauses in the retrieve. 

7 day outlook: Seasonal temperatures, with light to moderate winds. Chance of showers Monday night into Tuesday. Morning below average low tides will provide good bar and bank fishing. 

 

Continue

My version of the Schminnow

 

schminnow

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.  

Continue

Charlotte Harbor / Pine Island Sound Fishing Report January 4th, 2016

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.

2015-03-22-snook-mikeF

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. 

Continue

Charlotte Harbor / Pine Island Sound Fishing Report May 25th, 2015

2015-05-18-tarpon1sm 

2015-05-23tarpon5

Conditions: Hot- Backcountry water temps from Matlacha to Gasparilla are now in the high 80s. The beaches from Boca Grande to Sanibel are in the mid 80s. Thunderstorms are common as the sea breeze builds in the afternoons. Higher water levels are putting the snook and redfish up under the mangroves for most of the day. The Tarpon are rolling early but are running deep as soon as the sun gets bright.

 Bait: threadfin herring, Green back Herring, pinfish, shrimp, crab

Species to target this week: Tarpon, Snook, Redfish

Fishing Tactics: Mid day fishing now is very slow due to the heat. So, it’s time to trade sight fishing for early and late day blind casting. Watch for nervous bait, muds and pushes along the mangroves. Tarpon will be moving through the passes early and late. Watch for cruising beach tarpon before and after slack tide.

My Fly Fishing Tip of the Week: If the tarpon fishing is slow, spend some time fishing the troughs along the surf line for BIG snook. Small to medium sized whitebait patterns seem to be getting the attracting the most action.

My Spin Fishing Tip of the Week: Sluggos and Hogys rigged weedless are the hot setup for the mangroves right now for snook and redfish. Live crabs are working best on the beach for tarpon.

 7 day outlook: Moderate easterly and northeasterly winds giving way to the sea breeze will build afternoon thunderstorms. There will be good water flow on the beaches and in the mangroves all week. The redfish and smaller snook will be active early and late in the day. Tarpon are in good numbers both on the beaches and in Pine Island Sound but will be running deep mid day.  

Continue

Charlotte Harbor / Pine Island Sound Fishing Report May 18th, 2015

A couple pics from this week’s tarpon action

.2015-05-18-bogue-tarpon6sm  2015-05-18-bogue-tarpon2sm

Conditions: The tarpon are cruising the beaches with steady action other than slack tide. No big wind or heavy rain is forecasted so the fishing should remain good. There are a few big snook in the troughs and on the bars just off the breakers.

Bait: threadfin herring, Green back Herring, pinfish, shrimp, crab

Species to target this week: Tarpon, Snook

Fishing Tactics: Watch for pods of tarpon moving up and down the beach. If the action is slow move your attention to the Sounds.

My Fly Fishing Tip of the Week: We have had good luck sight fishing for tarpon along the beaches off Gasparilla and Captiva islands in 6-10 feet of water. If you get refused change your fly.

My Spin Fishing Tip of the Week: Live crabs have been hot this past week. Stay back from the pods as far as you can and make long casts.

7 day outlook: Chance of showers mid-week. Onshore winds could make for tuff beach fishing. But there are tarpon moving throughout Pine Island and Gasparilla sounds. Water temps are in the mid eighties, watch for rolling fish, they’ll be gulping air in this heat.

 

 

Continue