December came and went pretty fast. I hardly had time to update photos, my blog, and keep up with all the trips. I found myself fishing double shifts a lot of days, and some just straight 12h+ days with the same anglers. The fishing was spectacular when the weather cooperated, and was not so bad on most of the days that it didn’t. I made several trips offshore to slightly deeper haunts than the usual inshore trips. These ventures were met with with coolers, boxes, and even baitwells filled to the brim with Gag and Red Grouper, Cobia, Amberjack, Tripletail, big Snapper, and even a few Yellowtail. The catch and release action was hot on Amberjack up to 85lbs, with an average of 25lb+. These fish were all caught on relatively light tackle that made for a great battle. Sharks, Goliath Grouper, and the typical inshore catches rounded out the month.
I have been working diligently to perfect Goliath Grouper fishing with minimal impact on the fish. I have seen far too many Goliaths lately with 2, 3, or even 5-6 hooks in their mouths, many of them stainless…often with leader trailing. I have even caught a few smaller fish around the phosphate piers that have heavy gauge stainless aircraft cable leaders down inside their gullet where it cannot be removed. These fish are unfortunately not going to survive whoever is putting them through this. I mainly blame people not thinking about the fish and only thinking about landing one of these monsters. Having seen the same fish landed on my boat several times within a matter of a week or two, I feel a connection to the fish and see that managing them on a local level with respect to our treatment of the fish as guides and fisherman is the key to their long term viability as a target. I am proud to say that I did not lose a single hook to a fish throughout over 150 landings this month. I lost some rigs to the bottom, but never to a hooked fish. All fish landed were lip/jaw hooked with only non-offset, non-stainless circle hooks (even though this is not required by law inshore). This allowed my anglers to enjoy the sport that these behemoths provide, as well as allowing me to remove not only our hooks and line, but hardware left by less informed/respectful anglers. I have well over 100 hooks removed from fish that we landed. This is not counting the numbers of J-hooks and leaders down the gullet that could not be removed.
Its important to think about the management of a fragile species such as Goliath Grouper not only in order to keep the population healthy, but to realize that is uninformed and irresponsible handling of these fish that causes there to be excessive regulation that could one day make it impossible to fish for these valiant fighters even for sport. Many people cannot believe that these fish exist, don’t know their story and history, and are eager to learn about them and learn what they can do to help manage the species. Nothing makes an angler (Even a novice or “Vacation Angler”) more protective of a species than viewing that fish as a worthy adversary. This is why fish such as Tarpon are so heavily protected by both law and peer-angler action, while other species such as Bonito (little Tunny) dint receive the same scrutiny and protection.
Goliath Grouper grow slowly and are found in limited numbers. Though it may seem like twenty to thirty of these fish in a single spot is a huge number, when you see how many anglers are targeting them on a more frequent basis you realize that it is an extremely limited resource. I welcome anyone to try to fish for these beasts on their own, or with an experienced guide (yes many of the issues described are caused by guides themselves) with an eye towards conservation of the species. Your primary goal should be to fight the fish for as little time as possible (usually less than 5 minutes even on the largest catches), remove all hardware, revive and release them in a healthy manner. The use of stainless hooks and leader, J-hooks, and fishing in a manner that causes you to hook and subsequently break-off many fish rather than landing those that hook is dangerous to this fragile fishery and can ultimately ruin the great time we are all having with such a magnificent fish. Educate yourself (yes even guides may have something to learn, including myself), think about the fish and put their health and safety above your desire to catch and land these fish. Nothing is worse than seeing a 50lb juvenile Goliath that you know will die because someone chose not to think about the consequences of their actions. That is one fewer 300, 400, 500, or even 600lb Goliath that we will have later to latch onto.
With my rant over, The fishing has been spectacular. Goliath trips have seen an average landing number of 10-12 fish on a 4-6 hour trip with no less than twenty fish this month over 225lbs and a few over 400lbs. Gag and Red Grouper, Amberjack, and even stray Cobia have been reliable when the weather permits getting to them. The Redfish and Snook were off to a finicky start in December, but really shaped up to be one of the best months yet for oversize fish. It has been difficult to find fish inside the slot limit (max 27″) on some spots this month. Fishing has become so reliable for these overslot fish that when I have folks out that really want to keep a red for the grill, I purposely don’t fish these spots because I know we wont end up with a slot fish if our life depended on it. Catching fish too big to keep is always a good problem to have.
On a side note, Sharks have been showing up more and more frequently lately, and I think an off-season shark excursion may be necessary over the next month or two as I have seen several IGFA line class quality Blacktips and Whalers that someone needs to take a crack at. It takes a lot of preparations, patience, and perseverance to pursue some of these records, but nothing holds more weight to a fisherman than an International Game Fish Association world record.
I’m putting a few photos from a group of guys that came down for 8 days from Texas and fished every day for 10+ hours. I am pretty sure they had a great time as 2 of the 3 had never caught a fish over 10lbs before they arrived. You also can see some videos of their Goliath trips on YouTube. If you have photos from a recent trip with me, by all means email them and I will try to use them wherever I can. There is always room for more photos. As time goes by and things settle down (those of you who have been out on trips with me know I never sit still and am always working to make sure we catch more and bigger fish) I will try to take more photos of my own so I don’t have to rely so heavily on your guys!
November has come and gone, and judging by the cold fronts we have had Winter is definitely in full swing. This month has been one of extremes. With some welding work to be done on the tower I had several days without a craft from which to fish. This gave me some much needed down time to spend with my family. Once the boat was back it was game-on once again with trips back to back for the rest of the month.
During this time the weather also played some extremes on us. I woke up to temperatures in the mid thirties on two occasions before it slowly worked its way back up in the much more appropriate fifties and sixties in the morning . The day time highs stayed up in the seventies, and the cold blasts were short lived, which helped to keep the water temperature up a little bit, and stave off any kills or major trauma to the snook population. Luckily things are back to normal, and the fishing cant be better.
I had the pleasure of having Linda and Brian out for two days that both proved to have their weather influences. The first day was out was Thursday, with the cold front moving in on Wednesday…OUCH! Some large bluefish moved up onto the flats (5-8lb) in lieu of the nice school
of over slot reds that had been there before. The Snook slowed down and became sluggish, and it was overall a fairly tough day. We managed to get some fish, and hooked a couple big goliaths. We fought the good fight on the big boys, but just couldn’t stay connected. Our second trip out we hit some nearshore wrecks and discussed trolling techniques for lipped plugs, and then decided to drop some lead and see who was home. Linda hooked into a nice 28lb cobia on our second or third drop and made short work of bringing him to the gaff. With dinner aboard it was time for Brian to do his part. He hooked up and lost a few, had some hits, and then set the hook onto a nice fish. The 50lb braid peeled of the reel, and the stout spinner doubled over. We tightened the drag several times before we got a good handle on the fish. When Brian would gain an inch, the fish would take back two. This went on for a good ten minutes plus as we discussed what color the tasty 30lb grouper he hauling up would be. The fish fought just like it should and I was putting money on a nice black or gag. When we finally saw color I said it was I thought it was an AJ because I caught some silver. This pegged me as strange because it wasn’t the thump-and-run of the typical “reef donkey”. When the fish finally came into view, we had a good chuckle. Brian had been tussling with a 5lb AJ that was foul-hooked in the back half of the body facing away from him. So not only was the strong little fish facing away from him (doubling its ability to strip off some drag), but when Brian made headway it was pulling the fish backwards through the water which made it seem like it had a lot more heft. We had a good laugh, snapped and photo and had to head for the barn at high speed to beat the storms that had blown up almost on top of us. We made it back dry, and Linda and Brian at least had several bags of fresh Cobia to take home for their efforts.
I also had the pleasure of having some good friends out from Colorado. They stayed for several days, most of which I was booked up and didn’t have a lot of fishing time. I finally had a cancellation and wanted to show them what South Florida fishing is all about. We filled the live well with some Jack Crevalle and headed down to Boca Grande the Friday after Thanksgiving. We arrived to find the typical Goliath drop spots pretty well loaded with not much action. I was a little disappointed, but not put off. We started dropping baits, working our way through each spot very thoroughly. Finally after about fifteen to twenty minutes we get the perfect drop and I see the tell-tale THUMP! on the end of the stout 130lb IGFA blank. I tell Erik to start reeling and the rod doubles over to the waters edge. We pulled away from the piers, and Erik made a good show of gamesmanship playing the fish to the surface. This was by far the largest fish he had tangled with before, and I had prepared him well. After a few minutes we saw a nice 85-100lb Goliath coming up from the depths. We unhooked the little devil and sent him back to the depths quickly and safely.
We sent our last bait down after about another twenty minutes and managed one more little guy of about 30lbs. This one decided to get a little bit feisty and bit down firmly on my bare hand! He roughed me up a little bit, but I feel it is only fair considering we may tangle again the future….possibly many times before the end of both our lives.
My other days out on the water this month were filled with great folks, and good fishing. Barring the first couple days of the cold front the fishing was pretty hot. We managed some beautiful reds to over 25lbs, some nice slot snook to cap off our season (snook season is closed on the Gulf Coast and in the Keys starting December 1), some nice keeper gag grouper to 17lbs from just over 6 feet of water, snapper, sheepshead, Cobia to 45lbs, a big mess of pompano, and even a couple tarpon in the 10-15lb range. The black drum starting moving in, and I did see several bruisers pushing 40lb+ but didn’t really spend the time to hook into any.
December should be a great month it looks like. The water temperature n the offshore waters is still hovering at, or above, 70 degrees which is slowing the big grouper bite, but they are definitely on their way in. Within the next month we should start to see regular limits of Gags and nice reds come from 20 to 60 feet of water. The kings are getting a little larger, but still not too many fish over the 30lb mark this fall. Either they moved through fast while the weather was blowing, or they aren’t here yet. Only time will tell.
The inshore fishing should also be spectacular. The reds have started to really pile up and are being found in good numbers. I have seen more over slot snook in the last week than any time short of high summer season. The trout bite has been on fire, but the gators haven’t shown up just yet. Our largest trout as of this month was about 28″, so we may have a few weeks to go.
Grouper – live pinfish, whitebait, or 4-5oz white bucktail jigs with 6″ glow curly tails (my go-to)
Cobia – same as the grouper but fish them a little farther off the bottom.
Goliaths – anything over 2-5lbs that you can legally use for live bait!
Redfish – Exude RT slug in golden bream or new penny, mirrodine (no XLs right now), live whitebait, ladyfish chunks (fresh)
Snook- 4-6″ whitebait (if you can find it), ladyfish chunks (fresh), or the Exude RT slugs/ Comida.
*Both reds and snook have been absolutely hammering the big topwater plugs in the mornings and evenings. Just find schools of mullet during low lite and work the outer edges.
Tripletail – hand picked shrimp
Pompano – good ole’ short nylon jig worked pretty fast with a shrimp tip if you need to spice it up.
Be safe on the water,
Well, October has come and gone. Looking back the weather was good, the fishing was great, and the company I had for trips was some of the best I can say I have ever had. With fully 24 days fishing with clients last month I can say I spent a lot of time away from home out on the water. October saw a lot of changes towards the end of the month. We are officially into fall and the fall weather and fishing patterns are in full swing. The first strong cold front always gets things accelerated a bit.
October saw a list of species caught that is too long to post, but I can say that it included too many Snook and Redfish to count, Cobia, Permit, Sharks of various species to 250lbs, grouper, snapper, trout, triple tail, Tarpon, Bluefish, Mackerel and more.
I had so many great trips last month that its hard to pick a few to talk about specifically. However, I did have a terrific time with a great family from Scotland that fished 3 days with me in October. Rather than fishing 3 days in a row, or one week they were able to fish 1 day per week for 3 weeks straight. This gave us a bit of a break between trips, afforded them the ability to experience several different weather patterns, and made it feel like fishing with old friends when they showed up to the dock.
The Macdonalds split their trips up with Gordon (patriarch of the family), youngest son Craig, and eldest Neil on the first trip. We spent a good 6 hours picking on snook around the mangroves with good action all day. Towards the end of the day we wandered onto a school of 200+ redfish and managed to get a triple hookup and several doubles on overslot reds in shallow water. I don’t know how many we caught, but I am sure that everyone on the boat caught a few in about an hour of mayhem.
Their second trip consisted of Gordon and middle son David. We fished the beach in the morning with some success on Snook, and poked around Lemon bay the rest of the day with a mix of Jacks, Snook, Snapper, and even some juvenile grouper. David absolutely destroyed Gordon in their contest of not only size and number, but also the number of species. I think David wracked up somewhere around 8 species for the day not including any catfish!
Day three it was up to Gordon and his wife Eleanor for 4 hours chasing snook around the mangroves again. After dropping her off at the dock to head back for some golf with the boys, Gordon said he wanted to pick a fight with some strong fish on light tackle and didn’t care what they were. This time of year I know just where to take him. We pulled up to some local shore associated structure, tossed out a bait, and the game was on. Gordon spent the next 3 hours fighting a mix of big jacks and snook to well over 25lbs. We started out with 10lb spinning outfits and worked our way all the way up to 30lb spinning gear with the drags locked and were still getting burned on 100yd runs UP CURRENT!
Towards the end of the month I had a terrific time fishing Steve, Jim, and Jim’s son Richard. We fished all day Saturday and Sunday with a nice mix of Snook, Reds, and various other flats dwellers. Day one produced overslot reds, underslot snook, and a good mix of jacks, ladies, etc. By day two I began to affectionately refer to Jim as “Jack” because of his uncanny ability to catch Jack Crevalle almost instantly from every spot we fished. “Jack” was the proud owner of a 36″+ female snook that he wrestled from deep under the cover of some snagly mangroves on 10lb braid. We didnt possess this big girl for long enough to get a photo, but she was an official catch. I would however like to point out to him that this happened before he started his shenanigans with the Jacks! Steve and Richard also possessed their own fishing super powers. Richard was able to catch Snook, Snook, and nothing but Snook! No matter where we fished (even the best redfish holes around) Richard was always hooked up to a linesider! He hooked some upperslot fish, but was run into the structure, got broken off by gillplates, or had just darn bad luck pulling hooks with these bigger fish. Steve’s powers proved the most usefull. After landing a beautiful Lemon Bay Redfish that was over the slot by less than 1/4″ I told him “Now Steve, you guys wanted dinner so make sure you dont catch any more of those overslot fish. Keep it under 27 inches”. To my surprise Steve landed a perfect 26.9″ red on the very next cast. He followed that up with a Day Two 27″ red that was on the money by the thinnest of hairs! He didn’t catch a red that was outside of 26.8-27″ for the rest of our time. They were great guys, and I cant wait to spend some time with them again!
As I mentioned, I think that I had the best group of folks out this past month than I have ever had in such a short amount of time. Beyond fishing clients, I made some great friends this month and I look forward to keeping in contact with all of them as well as fishing with them in the future. Thanks to everyone for a great October. If I didn’t mention your trip, please know that they all mean a lot to me and I just have a limited amount of time to write these reports!
Take care, and have happy holidays starting this month. My presents for Christmas come early in the form of outstanding fishing in November and December!
October has been one heck of a run. With hardly a day off (this is a good thing for a guide) I haven’t had much time to keep up with things such as my blog. The fishing has been good, though the early cold fronts shook things up a little bit towards the end of the month. I ran well over 24 trips in October and I think all of them went great with lots of Reds, Snook, Cobia, Mackerel, Sharks, Snapper, Grouper, Trout, and a few Tarpon. The bait migration is in full swing and the Snook and Reds are on the move (albeit in opposite directions). The fishing is excellent both inshore and offshore, and should continue to improve throughout November.
Several mornings a week my wife, who takes care of my website, likes to read me search terms that people typed into search engines that landed them at my website. Some of them are insightful, interesting, encouraging, etc. On the other hand, some of them are just plain weird! Usually as she reads them, I spout off answers. After doing this for a few months we decided I should put pen to paper and actually answer some of these questions. The following are some questions that people asked their favorite search engine and chose to visit my site looking for the answer. Bear with me, this month might be a little long but I am going to try to do this every month from here on out so it should get a little more manageable. In reading this, if you come up with any questions you want to see answered, just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org ENJOY!
food quality of florida amberjack?
Contrary to popular belief they are excellent. When cleaning them, you need to remove ALL of the dark red meat from the fillets. This usually means filleting, skinning, and then re-filleting about 1/2″ off the backside of the fillet. You should be left with pure, white meat. Excellent grilled, in fish tacos, or as sushi (its head and shoulders better than Hamachi). They can get wormy when they are very large, or in the heat of summer. Just cut off the wormy sections if you find some, they are harmless.
largest shark found in charlotte harbor?
Actually, within the Harbor it would have to be the Great Hammerhead, known to reach weights of over 1200lbs. They are not often found much farther into the harbor than just inside Boca Grande Pass. If you actually meant back in the harbor, Bull Sharks can be found throughout the harbor and generally range about 50-250lb.
is the goliath grouper dangerous to man?
There is no record of them injuring humans, but I have heard from many respected parties that they are POTENTIALLY dangerous. I can say that attempting to catch them on heavy tackle is very dangerous, and should not be attempted without compitent “spotters.” If you have not dealt with very large fish before you should not even think about it.
What is the World Record for Goliath Grouper?
I get this a LOT. It is actually the second most common search that lands people on my site behind my name. There is not one for most line classes because they are federally protected. You cannot set a record until they open a season for them. They are known to reach over 800lbs, and some scientists believe they could possibly top 1000lbs at some point.
what is the difference between nearshore and offshore charters?
I don’t know that there is an actual definition, but I like to distinguish between the two just so that clients know what they are getting into. In Gulf of Mexico waters I would say nearshore is anything less than 20 miles, offshore is beyond that.
what is the legal size for snook in southwest florida?
28″-33″. There are two closed seasons, and they change frequently (as do the sizes) so its best to check before you head out.
best tasting fish gulf of mexico?
Hmmm….this is a tough one. I am going to go with Tripletail on this one. My top five would be Tripletail, Grouper, Hog Snapper, Snook, and Cobia.
what is the requirements for world record fishing lines?
Mono that tests at or under the line class (a maximum of 130lbs). Generally speaking you should go with a good quality “IGFA” line meant to not overtest. The diameters are also a lot higher for a given line, which will help a lot when handling big fish. I like Ande tournament in high vis yellow. With IGFA lines I always go with high-vis colors for boat-side fish handling.
little fish that swim with sharks in sw fl?
should i stay on boca grande?
Sure. Other places very close with equally nice beaches would be Little Gasparilla, Englewood Beach, Manasota Key, Venice Island, Captiva Island, Sanibel Island or even check out http://www.myfloridafishingvacation.com.
anyone live year round in boca grande?
best time to go to boca grande florida?
It depends on what your looking to do. Tarpon season is April through August and in to September. Snook and Redfish may be caught year-round, but the largest Reds may be caught November through February. The Near-shore and offshore action is particulary good Spring and Fall.
is the water at boca grande clear?
Sometimes, it depends on the tide and weather.
map of barrier reef in boca grande florida.
Thats pretty tough considering there is no barrier reef on the west coast of Florida. There are shoals, but no reef.
what fish are caught in sanibel fl during october?
Redfish, Snook, Trout, King Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel, Snapper, Grouper, Mullet, Pinfish, Flounder, Grunt, Squirelfish, Tomtate, Pilchards, Threadfin Herring, Cigar Minnows, Glass minnows, lizardfish, Whiting, jack crevalle, leather jackets, Banded Rudderfish, Seargent Major, Toadfish, Triggerfish, Amberjack, Barracuda, various sharks, Ladyfish, Cobia, Permit, Cero Mackerel, Pompano, Palmetta, Ballyhoo, Black Drum, Tarpon, Menhadden, Hardhead Catfish, Gafftop Sail Cats and I am sure I missed a few.
what is key west style chumming?
Key West style chumming is a term used to refer to hanging a semi filleted carcass off the side of the boat to distribute a scent line. It was started in the shallow inshore waters of the Florida Keys, specifically key west. This type of chumming works particularly well in shallow areas with good current flow.
what baits used for tarpon in boca grande fishing tournament?
It depends on the tournament. The “tarpon Jig” during the PTTS. Threadfins, crabs, squirelfish, and carfish during the “old style” tournaments. If you see it on TV, its most likely the tarpon jig. Check out http://www.H20lures.com.
recommended artificial casting plugs for gulf of mexico inshore fishing?
Mirrolure Mirrodine XL.
what is the best artificial bait for fishing in the gulf?
If I had to pick just one, it would be a white bucktail jig. Followed closely by a chrome diamond jig.
temperature of the water off little gasparilla island?
what is the temperature of the gulf of mexico in boca grande fl?
78 last week
how to grouper fish boca grande?
A fishfinder rig with 1-8 oz (depending on the weather and line) with a live pinfish or whitebait, possibly cut ladyfish. Drift over the ledges keeping the bait as close to the bottom as possible without snagging it. Concentrate on the edges and the drops into the holes. Be prepared to unhook hundreds of undersized reds and gags.
what channel is the charlotte tarpon game on?
I have no idea.
what fish swims in the sw florida waters?
There is only one?
where to catch goliath grouper in port charlotte?
Under the bridge.
food fish deep-water florida po?
when to fish what in charlotte harbor florida?
top ten sharks in south west florida
Tiger, Great Hammerhead, Mako, Bull, Scalloped Hammerhead, Blacktip, Spinner, Lemon, Dusky, Bonnethead in that order.
what kind of fish are running in charlotte harbor?
Redfish, Snook, Trout, Ladyfish, Flounder, Jacks, and Tarpon.
is black drum in fl considered good eating?
Only small ones.
best plug for trolling hard bottom for gag grouper in southwest florida?
Manns Stretch 30, 40, and gigantus or Large “striper” syle soft plastic swimbaits on a jig if you have a Z-wing.
how to catch redfish near boca grande?
1) Cast cut ladyfish under docks, mangroves, and along potholes. 2) Wait 20 minutes.
any reason i cant use offshore equipment for inshore fishing?
It sure wont be much fun using your TLD 30 to catch 6 lb redfish. I use inshore equipment for offshore fishing all the time though.
sharks most commonly found in charlotte harbor in florida?
Bull, Lemon, blacktip, spinner, atlantic sharpnose, bonnethead not necissarily in that order
best time to catch red snapper at charlotte harbor?
I am going with never. Red snapper inhabit more offshore waters. If you are refering to mangrove snapper (They are also red in color) then you can catch them year round, best at night around full moons and new moons in the summer.