Our Florida fishing report page offers up to date information on
fishing in the Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, Orlando and Boca Grande
area of Florida's West Coast. For more information on our Florida fishing charters and
tarpon fishing charters, please click the link below
"Hammer" (left) makes his grand
entry into the 200 lb. Giant Tarpon Club with this beauty while
on a (wet) Christmas fishing gift from long time friend Rich
Mate Brian Timmons (right) successfully released the fish alive
finished up in Boca Grande in the first week of July. Overall, it was
very much “other” than a typical year. There has been much speculation
and theory as to why that may have been. Red Tide, late cold fronts,
a paramount fish kill to the south, abnormal water temperatures, wind
directions, major freshwater influxes, and sharks have all been put
out there as possible reasons. I have long believed in the “cycle” of
fish that is determined by the mood swings of Mother Nature. She, above
anything or anyone, will determine the patterns of fish. Father Time
can only offer us what fish have done in the past and what we can only
hope for in the future. Add in the mystique of the Megalops Atlanticus
and the debate can be nothing more than entertaining breeze shooting.
Naturally the definition
of good fishing is different in the minds of each person you talk
to. For the waters of legendary Boca Grande and my long time client
base, it was far below par. Then again, even in a bad year, it
still can be the best in the world. There were many days where
it was business as usual with as many as 15 fish jumped in 6 hours.
Unusually, there were also several trips that all we could do
is get one bite. Fish acted funky by not entering the Pass for
periods of time. During these periods we fished deep in the harbor,
sounds and well offshore of the beaches. Migrating fish normally
seen traveling just outside the first bar of the beaches were
found (some days) as far out as 3 miles, acting as if they were
moving down the beach. By marking the area via GPS, they were
found there again for several days following. We found much success
by adapting to the patterns of the fish. However, by eliminating
the Pass, averaged “jumped” productivity in the double digits
fell short on several trips. Though a rare overall occurrence,
the spring 2003 fell more into the definition of “ that’s fishing”
than the “The World’s Best Tarpon Fishing”.
Ironically for whatever
reason, the fishing was stronger the further north you went. Areas
north of Venice such as Sarasota, Bradenton and Tampa Bay saw
unprecedented fishing for their areas by those not based out of
Greg Crouch (aft) ponders his possible entry into the 200 lb.
Giant Club but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades
(Thanx for the special times and all you have done for me/us over
Giant tarpon are still displaying extraordinary acrobatic displays
along the area's beaches.
The extraordinary tarpon patterns being
experienced from the Florida Keys and all points north continues.
Typically at this time we see a migration of post spawn tarpon moving
deep inside the larger rivers and bays to feed for the summer. For
the most part this transmigration has yet to take place. While the
fish have moved from hot spots that produced the past two months
-the best bite continues on the open Gulf. Hard bottom/ rocky “live
bottom” (particularly when located 1 to 2 miles outside of a pass)
and that are holding bait, continue to be the theaters of probability
at this time. The water in these areas remains “tea” stained from
the 15 inches of rain we have experienced the past two weeks. Bait
is abundant in the time proven areas and who knows? Maybe a major
bay migration of Gulf bearing tarpon will be late or not at all
as bay conditions exist in the Gulf at present. Inside the bays---resident
tarpon are being taken in some limited numbers on the major tide/solunar
periods and at night around the big bridges of Tampa Bay.
The summer doldrums are upon us. Savvy
permit hunters will find a few fish lingering on the wrecks and
reefs. Snook remain on the beaches and passes spawning. Pompano
are off with the influx of freshwater as of this waxed full moon
(expect them to improve with rising salinity). Spanish mackerel
will be in full blitz around the bait hatchlings found along the
beaches and on the flats. Expect bonita, ladyfish and scattered
tarpon to join in on the potpourri of bait as well. As we move into
August, redfish will school in both the largest numbers and sizes
on the flats, barrier islands, and passes.
Brian (left), Dad-Fran (center) and Patrick Baltmiskis found some
early summer permit more than willing to oblige to their crab
cocktail offerings on a recent trip.
The key to successful
summer fishing is picking and choosing your times in addition to locations.
Fish that will not feed in the heat of the day are most active early
and late. Add in the tides and solunar periods to the equation, and
there is some excellent Florida fishing to be had.
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Past Florida Fishing Report