Early Spring Fishing Report
At the time of this writing it doesn’t feel like spring is starting. It is in the 50s and raining. Look for these cold fronts to taper off in the next month. The winds will usually continue for the month of March and April but it will begin to be a warmer wind.
This month will trigger the spawning of the sheephead and the black drum. Look for the most activity leading up to the full moon on the 16th of March and continuing through the new moon on the 30th. During this period is your best chance to get one of the big spawners. For the sheephead, look in areas within a mile or two around our local inlets. Fish around docks, rock piles or oyster outcrops. Use fiddler crabs for the smaller ones and a 1/4 of a blue crab for the larger ones. This is also the best time to catch a big black drum which will range from 30 to 80 pounds. Fish in the deeper water from the mouth of the inlet and throughout the deeper holes in the ICW. Look for water over 20 feet deep. Use a 1/2 of fresh blue crab on a 4/0 circle hook attached to a Carolina rig. Use bigger tackle that can handle these big fish. I use 6000 series reels attached to 80-100 lb. class jigging rods. Take extra time to vent these fish and revive them. Their eating quality is poor for any of the fish over 20 pounds. Read More→
There is a chill in the air. It must be November. The fish are starting their transition from eating mullet to switching to crab and shrimp. The beginning of November will have the last of the mullet run. It started with the finger mullet in October and by the middle of November the last of the big roe mullet will be heading south for the winter. The water temperature is in the high 60s. It will be dropping in the next few months with every passing cold front.
With the drop in temperatures the fish have started to move around. The winter species such as Blackdrum and Sheephead have started to show up in the creeks. Fish the deeper holes in the creeks or around structure or docks. Use a fiddler crab or a shrimp on a jig-head or fish finder rig to tempt these fish. Don’t be surprised if a nice redfish finds your bait as they will also be in the same locations.
Another species that prefers cooler water is the spotted sea trout. These fish love the water temperature in the 60s. Look for these fish along the deeper drops of the ICW or the holes around oyster beds in the creeks. I prefer using artificial lures to target trout. My favorite set up is a Z-Man paddlerz soft plastic on a 1/4 ounce jig-head. I also downsize my tackle in the winter time. I rig my reels with 10 pound Spiderwire and use 15 pound fluorocarbon leaders.
The last two years we have had mild winters and the water has only dropped into the mid-50s. These higher temperatures have helped our local snook population rebound. In the last few months there have been a decent number of reported Snook catches in our area. I have not heard of any keeper size Snook but many are in the lower 20s”. If we have another mild winter expect to have a good summer next year for these exciting game fish.
With all of these species the key is to fish your bait slowly. A fish’s metabolism slows with the cooler water so it takes them a while to eat your bait. Wait until your line comes tight before you set the hook.
This is a great time of year to get out on the water. Try to fish the days between the cold fronts, if possible. The fish are extremely hungry and the waterways are a lot less crowded this time of year. Put on a jacket and hat and enjoy our natural coastal environment. An added feature this time of year is enjoying the Nights of Lights from the Intracoastal. You will get a whole different view from the water.
Contributed by Capt. James Dumas
Inshore flats fishing – Drum Man Charters- www.drummancharters.com
The days are starting to get shorter and the kids are heading back to school. With this means cooler weather will be coming soon. This is some of my favorite fishing of the year. Starting in August and lasting into late November we have flood tides . These are extremely large high tides around the new and full moons. Look at the local tide charts for the tides that are +5.5 or higher. These are the days to go fishing. These flood tides bring the water level higher than any time of the year. This gives Redfish and Sheepshead access to areas that were previously untouched. These fish have one thing on their minds, EAT! They are swimming in a few inches of water gorging themselves on the fattening crabs and putting weight on for the upcoming winter. You can either get out of your boat and wade fish or use a microskiff like my Dragonfly Boatworks Marsh Hen and pole the flats. Look for the fish to either have their tails sticking up in the air or a portion of their backs out of the water. Throw either a purple crab fly or a ZMan crabz or shrimpz hooked weedless . Get ready for a great fight. It is a blast watching a 7 pound Redfish trying to get away in a few inches of water. This temperature drop will also start the Fall migration of mullet. This is where there will be acres of mullet and pogies working their way south off of our beaches. There will be tarpon, huge sharks, and bull redfish following these acres of bait. They will usually hang out until the second cold front of the Fall, sometime around early October. Keep a look out for the 100+ pound tarpon crashing the surface of the water in our inlets and near the Bridge of Lions and the Vilano Bridge. Use a live pogie or mullet on a 6/o circle hook attached to a five foot section of fluorocarbon . Now for some more inshore fishing. Our water temperatures are in the high 80’s in the back waters at present time. By the fall the water will be in the mid to lower 70’s . That will trigger the flounder to feed like crazy. Use a mud minnow or ZMan paddlerz in Houdini color on an 1/8 oz. or 1/4 oz. jig head . Fish near feeder creeks on the last two hours of incoming or the first two hours of outgoing tide. Retrieve them slowly along the bottom and have the net ready for landing them . They are masters for spitting the bait right next to the boat. Target the larger flounder, up to 15 pounds, with a 4″-6″ mullet on a fish finder rig. Fish around deep docks or rip rap and along the inlet rocks. Give these larger flounder extra time to eat the larger baits. If fishing off of the surf, there will pompano and black drum cruising the waves. Use a sand flea or a peeled shrimp on a size 1 circle hook attached to a double dropper rig. Use enough weight to keep you from sliding around in the surf. If you are looking for something larger, hook on a cut mullet or a cut whiting and catch large redfish and big sharks. If the redfish are over 27″ please handle them with care and release them back into the ocean after a few pictures.
Contributed by Capt. James Dumas
Inshore flats fishing – Drum Man Charters- www.drummancharters.com -904-687-9498
Capt. James Dumas
The weather is hot but so is the fishing. On the inshore fishing scene you either want to be out at
first light in the morning or in the evenings. The mid-day is hot and
creeks or on the flats. They are eating a well-placed soft plastic bait.
I prefer the ZMan paddlerz in the redbone color. If you are throwing
flies, a simple chartreuse and black clouser works great. For the live
bait angler a mud minnow or piece of cut lady fish on a jig head works
great. There are also flounder, trout, tarpon, black drum, sharks, jacks,
and ladyfish inshore during the summer.
For the surf fishing there will be whiting, Read More→