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The Panhandle, Daniel Snapp

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The fish are in their usual cold weather patterns and to get a decent day on the water you may have to deal with the ever changing weather systems: cold, hot, windy, etc….it’s any body’s guess but when you do catch a nice day, fishing has been pretty good! The water is crystal clear and with a little sun has made for some great sight fishing up on the flats for reds and the bigger trout! However, you may have to put in some extra time to locate some decent fish. The colder water temperature this year has made finding quality trout and reds a little tricky at times.

The speckeled trout are still holding to the deeper holes in the bay and warmer water up in the creeks. Like I always stress, a slow presentation will be key in order to get the bite. A client on a recent trout trip caught two of the biggist fish of the day when he simply stopped retrieving the lure and it was just laying on the bottom! The reds are schooled up and have been hit or miss, you just have to put in the time searching the banks. There have been some good reports from both West and East bay but remember you will have to be in stealth mode if you even hope to get those fish to eat. Sheepshead are also a great fish to target this time of the year. Shrimp or fiddler crabs make great baits. Working docks, bridges, and the jetties should provide some steady action.

As always, I encourge you to give me a call if you have questions about fishing in the Panhandle at (850) 832-4952 or for additional information about Grassy Flats Charters, please visit

http://grassyflatscharters.com/.

In addition, checkout “Grassy Flats Charters” on Facebook for the most recent pictures and video’s along with “Grassy Flats Charters” on Youtube and Instagram.

Direct Links:

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Grassy-Flats-Charters/163603619161

Youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/Grassyflatscharters?feature=watch

Captain Daniel Snapp

Grassy Flats Charters

“Sight Fishing the Emerald Coast”

(850) 832-4952

The Skyway, Paul Bristow

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Mack Is Back! A phrase that many pier anglers love to hear, knowing that means the annual spring run of Spanish mackerel has begun in earnest at the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Piers. Mackerel limits were commonplace this week, and nearly everyone in pursuit of these fish caught at least a few during their visit. Sheepshead continued on a good bite this past week as well, and larger spawning schools of 50 – 100 fish have been seen at times moving around the pier structure. Squid have begun to appear in catchable numbers, and many anglers were surprised to find these aggressive visitors attached to their bait or artificial lure! Cobia and triple tail have entered the game this past week as well, with many fish sighted and some nice fish landed. Finally, smaller shark action has picked-up dramatically, making these toothy-critters a common catch for most people who were seeking this kind of action.

Spanish mackerel showed in excellent numbers at the piers this past week. Most limits of fish were taken along the shallow approach sections to the piers – essentially from the dumpster areas on back towards the tollbooth. Limits of fish were less common further out, but notably larger fish were caught by anglers further along the pier span. Gotcha lures and white or chartreuse nylon jigs were the top producers, but anglers were also starting to take mackerel by both silver & colored spoons. Anglers fishing lighter tackle and leaders seemed to outpace those fishing heavier tackle, but everyone was able to get in on the action when fish were feeding. There were times this past week when I noted 4 or 5 fish coming over the rail at the same time.

The incoming tide seemed to have a distinct edge on the outgoing tide for mackerel this past week. In addition, the late afternoon bites were much more productive than those earlier in the day. Fish were seen chasing lures two or three at a time during the best of the incoming tide, and anglers often just bounced their lure at the end of the retrieve to hook-up with one of the followers. Folks were even able to catch mackerel on some totally slack tidal periods this past week by switching to small 1/8 oz. freshwater crappie jigs worked fairly slowly near the bottom. Blue runners added to the fun for artificial lure anglers this past week and their presence is almost surely a sign that much larger Spanish and even King mackerel could show up at nearly any time.

Squid were a popular bycatch this past week, and were even targeted by visitors who cherish these aggressive cephalopods for both eating & bait. Squid most often gather at night along the edge of the line made by overhead lights, but they can also be taken during the day. When it is dark, they will shoot into the light to attack nearly anything in sight – often lures just as large as themselves! There are a wide variety of ways to take squid at the Skyway Piers, ranging all the way from jigging lures to throwing cast nets. Squid jigs are one popular method, and these are a simply a molded piece of plastic with several rows of wire entanglers (not hooks) that catch the tentacles of the squid. Squid jigs are simply jigged vertically where squid are spotted or in the shadow line after sundown. Squid also commonly hit pompano jigs with teaser flies and Gotcha lures – especially then these baits are presented vertically like the squid jigs. Some squid aficionados like to dangle an LED light, lantern, or florescent light stick near their fishing spot. Finally, when big schools are spotted at the surface, a cast net can often take dozens of squid in one throw.

Some surface cruisers made for exciting action over the past week at the piers. Cobia and tripletail were both spotted and landed by savvy anglers who watched passing rays and weed clumps. Both of these species cruise the surface, with the tripletail perhaps floating along more like a large brown leaf versus actually swimming. There have been plenty of large clumps of sea grass crossing through the piers lately – perhaps stirred up by some of the heavy winds and surf of the past several weeks. Cobia and tripletail are both as excellent on the table as they are exciting on the end of a hook. The best way to be ready for both species at the piers is to have a rod rigged and ready to cast sitting nearby your fishing spot. Cobia absolutely love a live pinfish and tripletail a live shrimp, but both fish can be taken on a wide variety of baits and artificial lures.

IRL: John Kumiski

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Creek Week Central Florida Fishing Report
I paddle fished solo three times this week, at three different creeks- the creek week central Florida fishing report.

The Indian River Lagoon Chronicles is now available as a paperback book, either from me or from amazon…

Upcoming Events-
-Fishing Seminar, Kayaks by Bo, March 17. In case you missed the first one. Please call to make a reservation (321) 474-9365
-Mosquito Lagoon On-the-Water Show and Tell Seminar, March 18. Learn the Mosquito Lagoon by boat! See this link…

Tuesday
My charter cancelled at the last possible minute. Within minutes the kayak was tied to the car roof and I was heading to St. Johns county, to Faver-Dykes State Park.

Last time I was there the boat ramp was mud. Now there’s a real boat ramp with a dock!

The boat was launched into Pellicer Creek and pointed east. The water was dark, not moving. It was quiet and no bites were forthcoming. An otter and several raccoons were observed, though.

I reached Pellicer Flats, where slimy filamentous green algae was found in clumps. The oysters looked healthy but I did not see a fish, or get a bite.

As I returned to the creek the water was moving, an incoming tide. After three hours of nothing, the first bite surprised me and I missed it. The second bite prompted a drop of the anchor. For an hour action was steady on the plastic shad, seatrout and a couple reds, nothing big, but all appreciated after staring down the skunk.

Wednesday
I’ve lived in central Florida since 1984, had at least one paddle vessel that entire time, and had never been on Turnbull Creek. That changed Wednesday.

It’s a beautiful little creek, winding through cordgrass marsh, surrounded by oak woods. The wind was blowing hard enough that just a few minutes out the road noise from US 1 was gone.

My first bite was a seatrout about six inches long. My second bite was a snook about eight inches long. My third (and final) bite was a redfish about 12 inches long. So it took four hours of paddling but I got some kind of miniature slam, again on the plastic shad.

Thursday
Deciding to keep it real local, I went to the Econlockhatchee. The plastic shad did not produce a fish. The fly fooled several fish- a stumpknocker, a redbelly, three bluegills, and a six-inch largemouth bass.

I was testing out a new (for me) mouse pattern I saw in Fish Alaska magazine, which is what the bass came on. It needs some modification but I think it will be good.

Another fly I’m working on is a foam caddis fly imitation. I’m tired of my dry flies sinking. A foam fly won’t need floatant, either.

the foam caddis fly

And that is the creek week central Florida fishing report.

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short- Go Fishing!

John Kumiski
www.spottedtail.com

Rick Grassett, Sarasota

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Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota & Tampa Bay, FL Fishing Report for 2/11/2018

Anglers fishing with me, out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, had good action catching and releasing trout and Spanish mackerel in Sarasota Bay and tripletail in the coastal gulf on flies and reds and trout on CAL jigs with shad tails in the Terra Ceia area during the past week. The best action was with big trout in skinny water in Sarasota Bay, tripletail in the coastal gulf and reds in skinny water in the Terra Ceia area.

Nick Reding, from Longboat Key and Mike Perez, from Sarasota, waded a couple of shallow flats in Sarasota Bay with me on Monday. The action wasn’t fast but they caught and released a few quality trout up to 22” on Grassett Flats Minnow and Clouser Minnow flies.

Alan Sugar, from MI, fished deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay with me on Wednesday and had some action catching and releasing trout and a Spanish mackerel on Ultra Hair Clouser flies. A couple of classmates from MD and DE whom I hadn’t seen in more than 40-yrs, Jim Willey and Gary Zlock met me at the boat launch at the end of my trip on Weds to say hello. We took a short trip to bend the rod on a few trout and shared a beer and a burger at the end of the day. Great to catch up!

Keith McClintock, from Lake Forest, IL and Jack McCulloch, from Lakewood Ranch, FL, fished the Terra Ceia Bay area with me on Tuesday. They had great action with several reds and trout on CAL jigs with shad tails.

The most memorable trip of the week was with Martin Marlowe, from NY, on Thursday. We hunted tripletail in the coastal gulf, found several and he caught and released the personal best tripletail ever caught on my boat! The big fish ate a shrimp fly pattern on a 7-wt fly rod, ran deep into the backing and put on a show jumping. We survived getting wrapped on the crab trap line to bring the fish to the boat. Congratulations Martin!

I was one of the seminar speakers at the 2018 Florida Fly Fishing Expo at the Plantation resort in Crystal River, FL on Friday, 2/9. The Fly Fishers International (FFI) event featured some of the best fly tiers and fly fishing anglers and guides in the state, including legendary Florida Keys fly fishing guide, Steve Huff. The show featured seminars, fly tying and fly casting clinics and demonstrations. I gave a presentation to an enthusiastic, standing room only group on fly fishing for snook at night and deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay.

Fish the windows of stable weather between fronts for the best action. Sunny afternoons and evenings with some protection from the wind should fish better this time of year due to warmer water. There should be good action with trout, blues, Spanish mackerel, pompano and more on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Fishing shallow water for big trout should also be a good option.

I think it is appropriate to discuss something here that has been bothering me for a while. Not that there’s anything wrong with catching and eating fish, but I think boat limits are needed for both guides and recreational anglers. With numerous species of fish available to catch and bag limits as they currently are for some species, it may be legally possible to keep a total of 30 to 40 or more fish depending on the species and number of anglers on a boat. I don’t think Sarasota Bay and surrounding waters can support that kind of pressure. Some people forget or never knew about the conservation battles that many guides, along with CCA, fought in the past with redfish in the 80’s, the gill net ban in the 90’s, snook regulations and more to get to where we are today.

With an increasing population and more anglers fishing, less habitat due to development and declining water quality due to residential runoff and agricultural pollution, fishing is bound to decline if we don’t all do something about it. Just my opinion, but as a guide for 28-years I promote catch and release fishing and conservation to all of my clients and I think it is important to set that example. I’m not trying to be judgmental, but just because we can legally kill a limit of fish doesn’t mean we have to, to be successful. Everyone is the captain of their own vessel and can set lower limits themselves. Guides are teachers, we can make a difference or have a negative impact. As I say every month in my fishing forecast, please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!

Tight Lines,
Capt. Rick Grassett
FFI Certified Fly Casting Instructor
Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters
Orvis Outfitter of the Year-2011
Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.
www.snookfin-addict.com, www.snookfinaddict.com and www.flyfishingflorida.us ;
E-mail snookfin@aol.com
(941) 923-7799

Mosquito Lagoon, Tom Van Horn

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Orlando Area and Mosquito Lagoon Fishing Report, February 11, 2018
POSTED ON FEBRUARY 11, 2018 IN FISHING REPORTS
Katmai Lodge on the Alagnak River in Alaska

The History

For all of you who were hoping to book a tarpon or lagoon charter and fish with me this summer, you will have to pack more than a lunch to join me on my new summer job as a fishing guide at the Katmai Lodge on the Alagnak River in Alaska. For most of my life I have dreamed of stream fishing and casting flies to salmon and giant rainbows in Alaska, and now my dream has become reality as I have accepted this summer job. My adventure begins in mid-June and ends 100 days later in August, and although there is much to learn, I’m up for the challenge. With that said, I’m hoping you will join me on my journey through my blog to photos and we can experience my new chapter in life together or you could book a trip with me at the Katmai Lodge and we can enjoy the experience firsthand.

Seminars:

Central Florida Offshore Anglers Association Rigging Seminar, (https://www.facebook.com/events/2034845600138589/), is tomorrow night in Winter Park, and I will be demonstrating both American shad and crappie techniques. So, if you live in Central Florida, this is your best opportunity to learn different rigging systems from me and a host of seasoned anglers and captains.

Black Drum Orlando Fishing

Early February Fishing Report from the St Johns River and the Mosquito Lagoon

Florida’s fishing season is in full swing as we were blessed with gorgeous weather and happy fish this week on both the the St Johns River (low sodium) and the Mosquito Lagoon (sodium). Although the winds were challenging on several days this week, we still managed some outstanding catching on both fronts.

The American shad run is in full swing on the St Johns River and in my experience, I can tell you it’s a banner year. On three different charters with both fly and spin anglers we caught catches in double digits. The bite has been outstanding with most fish being caught on small Roadrunners and Hardcore Shad Spoons. Good shad reports are coming from the entire span of Shad Alley from Mullet Lake Park to Hwy 50. In addition to shad, both sunshine bass and crappy have been in the mix, and I’m anticipating this action to increase when the threadfin shad spawn begins near the end of the month.

Hardcore Shad Spoons

Everything likes Hardcore Shad Spoons!

On the lagoons, the water is both shallow and clear making sight fishing good in the right weather conditions. In addition, the big black drum were my target this past week and the smiles on my anglers faces tell the rest of the story.

Here’s hoping you get out on the water this week and take a kid shad fishing. It’s and experience you will never forget.

As always, if you need more information or have any questions, please contact me.

Good luck and good fishing,

Captain Tom Van Horn

Flexible schedule a key in cold weather

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http://www.tampabay.com/sports/outdoors/Captain-s-Corner-Flexible-schedule-a-key-in-cold-weather_165150340

Getting offshore in recent weeks has been a challenge with high winds from cold fronts. Planning trips during this time of year is difficult, but a flexible schedule can result in fantastic conditions. We had a couple of days of exceptional conditions this past week as winds fell to nothing and the flat, calm seas looked something like a summer day. But a warm day doesn’t mean the fish are going to jump in the boat. The two major cold snaps in early January are still haunting us with some of the coolest water temperatures in a long time. On recent trips to depths of more than 100 feet, surface temperatures were in the mid 50s, which likely had temperatures on the bottom in the 40s. Red grouper are the main target offshore now, and they’re well adapted to warmer waters. But when temperatures drop this low, these fish tend to run deeper seeking more tolerable conditions. This is a problem now as gulf grouper anglers are prohibited in the take of any shallow-water grouper outside of the 20-fathom line (120 feet). The answer is a less-aggressive style of fishing. Normally we spend 15-20 minutes on a spot, but now it’s taking a bit longer to get these sluggish fish to take our offerings. Also, when we anchor, we drop a variety of baits such as live pinfish, frozen sardines, bonita strips and squid.

Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.

Warming trend should entice more fish to bite

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http://www.tampabay.com/sports/outdoors/Captain-s-Corner-Warming-trend-should-entice-more-fish-to-bite_165137103

We’re finally approaching stable weather. Hopefully rising water temperatures will entice the fish. Our most cooperative species — trout, sheepshead, flounder, redfish — have been the usual targets the past few weeks, but it has been spotty. My most successful days have been using live shrimp free-lined on the sand and rock bottom around the islands in St. Joseph Sound; and pitching under docks and along the main shoreline for redfish. Catches have been small for redfish, but occasionally we get a nice sheepshead nibbling on a cut piece of shrimp. I usually cut shrimp in two pieces and thread them onto a small No. 2 hook to allow sheepshead to eat the whole piece and slowly pull away, putting pressure on the line and getting hooked. They’re tricky, but with practice you’ll know when to start reeling. Trout have been keepers, with only a few more than 20 inches. Falling tides have been more successful, especially after the sun heats the incoming water on the flats. Water temperature will rise 2-3 degrees in the afternoon as the warmed falling tide moves across the flats toward the passes. Translucent, silver and chartreuse jigs have worked for trout, too. Presentations must be slower than usual, bouncing off the bottom occasionally.

Brian Caudill fishes from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. He can be reached at (727) 365-7560 and captbrian.com.

Redfish starting to return to the flats

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http://www.tampabay.com/sports/outdoors/Captain-s-Corner-Redfish-starting-to-return-to-the-flats_165044854

Small redfish schools are starting to work their way back onto the flats. I came across schools of reds on two charters last week. I hope this marks the start of redfish season. High afternoon tides will make it easier to get close enough to the schools. I have been starting out in the morning on low tides by working the edges of sandbars and flats all around Pinellas point. Casting quarter-ounce jigs rigged with soft plastic tails has produced many species. Trout, bluefish, ladyfish, pompano and jacks have provided fast action. The key to success is to work as much water as possible. Once the tide gets high enough, I work my way onto the flats looking for reds. Clear water and lower tides can make reds spook easily. I have had to take great care in approaching schools. I slowly work my way onto a flat and wait for reds to come to me as the tide rises. If fish run into bait on their own, they almost always eat what you offer. Once the tide is almost at its highest, I move to where I have caught reds in the past. Reds will eat just about anything when the presentation is right. If the tide is low, I like to use shrimp. It’s is easy to cast and lands softly on the water; this is key to not spooking reds. If the tide is high, pinfish, greenbacks, whitebaits, finger mullet and creek chubs work.

Rob Gorta charters out of St. Petersburg. Call him at (727) 647-7606 or visit captainrobgorta.com.

Fishing conditions have started to improve

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http://www.tampabay.com/sports/outdoors/Captain-s-Corner-Fishing-conditions-have-started-to-improve_165301994

The waters are still a bit cooler than the kind a bunch of fish like to aggressively chew in. Fishing conditions, however, have slowly but surely begun to improve. On a recon mission Tuesday, I visited both Sunshine Skyway bridge fishing piers and the bay and gulf piers on Fort De Soto. Though it wasn’t thick at any of them, I was pleasantly surprised by some bait at each structure. Though pier operators on the Skyway said fishing has been slow due to the chilly water temperatures, anglers on both sides have managed some silver trout, whiting, black sea bass and sheepshead. Not a lot of big ones have been seen, but later in the day, when the water warms a bit, anglers on the south end have tangled with a few mackerel. Until the water does warm, we’ll continue entertaining ourselves by outsmarting sheepshead in the bay and honing our skills hogfishing a bit offshore. With spring weather not far off, this is when I like to check my stock. I’ll begin gathering my hooks, trebles, wire and swivels in preparation for kingfish season. Starting to stockpile my gold-hook rigs now lightens the load of doing it all at once later (it just seems cheaper that way, though it’s not). I’ll take all my kingfish reels to the tackle shop and have them respooled. Replace bilge pumps and baitwell pumps, and get the water pump checked and batteries replaced, if needed.

Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.

Warmup holds promise of improved fishing

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http://www.tampabay.com/sports/outdoors/Captain-s-Corner-Warmup-holds-promise-of-improved-fishing_165167242

This week’s warmup is creating a buzz on the fishing scene. January’s onslaught of powerful cold fronts made it tough to get into any kind of a rhythm out on the water. Water temperatures have been creeping up this past week and the closer we get to 70 degrees the more we should start to see the redfish move around. Trout fishing has been very good throughout the Intracoastal Waterway despite a bit of a struggle to find clean water on the incoming tide. Northeast winds last week had us tucked up tight to the east side of the Intracoastal where we found trout holding close to flats dropoffs that were exposed much of the day due to the full moon tides. Freeline live shrimp up-current and let it drift with the tide to cover a larger area and fool the bigger trout. Leader size hasn’t seemed to matter much with the off-colored water. Lighter, thinner braided line will help get the needed distance on the cast. Redfish numbers seem to be growing.

Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 and via email at flatsmonster.com.