Florida Fishing Report: Florida Fishing Charters

Florida Fishing Report

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Florida fishing charters

Florida Fishing Report

1SEP09


2009 Professional Tarpon Tournament Series Lady's Day Event- 2nd Place

L to R: Sarah Thayer, Robert McCue, Kimberley Ann Nobles, Liz Overstreet and Kyle Overstreet
Congratulations and Thank You All!

Thank You Megalops atlanticus
For All You Do!


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Giant tarpon have been the exclusive targets aboard the Bounty Hunter since April 15. The 2009 season has been an exceptional cycle of fish and big fish at that!

Back in May and in just a 3-hour tournament window there was a 217-, 198-, 178-, 175- and a 172-pounder weighed at the scale. In a nighttime event that took place from May 30th to 31st, there were over 70 tarpon caught and released.

The fish were in unusual patterns this year. There has been much speculation as to why this is. There has been talk that the tarpon are reacting to unprecedented fishing pressure. Others claim that beach re-nourishment along Gasparilla Island is the culprit. However people choose to explain the unexplainable, the key is adversity. This apparent change in fish behavior forced me to fish in ways I am not accustomed to.  In some cases I was not comfortable with doing so, but I obliged in this life of being a fish farmer. I’ve been making adjustments in my start and finish times as I have found fishing to be best during periods of fewer boats and more passive tarpon fishermen. Business as usual for us…whatever it takes.


A nice permit was rewarded to first mate Kyle Overstreet while out on a short busman's holiday following the Lady's Day tournament. Thanks Kyle for giving it your best!

2009 Team Sign Zoo- L to R : Capt. Chuck Jenks, Capt. Robert McCue, Capt. Greg Thayer, Kyle Overstreet (21st birthday). Thank you all!
On the Pro Tarpon Tournament scene, we took second place in the Ladies Day kick off event. With less than 10 minutes to go we were bumped into second place by just 16 ounces. The regular events have been very competitive. I am in a rebuilding year with a new team and a whole new style of fishing that I am honing. The team met its fate when a teammate took sick in week three.  This caused a break in the team mojo that we were not able to overcome. For the first time in my career, we did not qualify for the championship event and a repeat was not possible in 2009-that's life on life's terms.
Props to my teammates Chuck Jenks, Kyle Overstreet, Greg Thayer; Ladies Team- Kimberley Ann Nobles, Liz Overstreet and Sarah Thayer; Our Sponsors- 
Sign Zoo (www.SignZoo.com), 
Mercury Outboards (www.MercuryMarine.com), 
Dorado Boats (www.DoradoMarine.com), 
Lockjaw Gaff (www.LockjawGaff.com), 
Lenco Marine (www.LencoMarine.com), 
Motor Guide (www.MotorGuide.com), 
Costa Del Mar (www.CostaDelMar.com), 
Yeti Coolers (www.YetiCoolers.com) and
Pro-Techt Sun Shade (www.Pro-Techt.com).  
I want to give a special thanks to "JD", the Dorado Boats factory manager who fished with us as a substitute in week 4 and week 5.

I fought long and hard for this fishery and the recreational anglers who fish it. When a local newspaper cover shot image was given to me multiple times, I realized that it is time for me to check "PROFESSIONAL" fishing. 


A special thank you to "JD" for filling in on deck and during the last tournaments! 

I find myself on the fence as to what my responsibility is in all of this. Today I reflected throughout the day on the entire tournament of years past. I am not sure there is much left for me to accomplish or win in these events-I've done that.  I love to compete, but my conscience is with the fishery and my 23 years of professional guiding. During my recent epiphany I have re-learned a grateful appreciation for what I have and the people I spend my time with. My nemesis is my ego. With that in question through professional tournament fishing, I have come to a fork in the road and that is one I will have to take (borrowed from Yogi Berra).


A special and upcoming fisherman named Garrett Yarborough came into my world and helped me through a period of time serving on the deck. While returning from an afternoon trip, I stopped in a secret hole off the Intercoastal and near port. Garrett pitched his bait to the spot and what followed was one of the most skilled and epic battles I have ever witnessed between man and Giant Tarpon (pictured). Thank you Garrett!

As usual, the end of June saw the crowds dissipating with the conclusion of the tournament season. We enjoyed exceptional fishing in Boca Grande Pass and too, off the beaches of Gasparilla Island for several weeks. I found a "sleeper" area of fish to the south just a few miles and I enjoyed several weeks of fishing in seclusion. Boca Grande Pass eventually held just a single school of fish and those fish began to frequent the beaches of Gasparilla throughout July.

We experienced extraordinary fishing with artificial lures and live bait on the beach with post-spawn giants. After the fish actively fed for a week, they began to spend more time on the bottom and were less responsive to sight fishing. Again the crowds dissipated. "The bite was over" for many, though I had continued to fish the area by applying a trade niche.

Back in April I had found a consistent area for menhaden. I returned to the area in July to find the magic bait still present. I spent some of my "free time" cast netting menhaden and layering them in salty brine in preparation for some "Tampa style" dead baiting. My trips were producing double-digit numbers of flying giant tarpon for nearly 10 days until the fish had finally all but disappeared.
I found small pockets of tarpon in deep holes and that bought me more time with consistent big fish. That is what I do. An added bonus in these secret holes was the numbers of keeper grouper. Each day I was boating 5 to 10 gags in the 10 to 12 lb range. The succulent filets made great dinner fare and served as an added catalyst for further bonding with my guests during the early evenings back at the house.

During the latter weeks of July through to the present, I had consistent reports of the fish deep inside Charlotte Harbor and Tampa Bay. For me, I have gotten by with what I have learned over the years and remain on the fringes of the gulf. The trade off is seemingly less fish in exchange for larger fish, seclusion and serenity. I will likely find myself in the backwater with the week's waxing moon.

The numbers of fish in the harbor/bay tend to be bountiful and in an array of sizes. It is not uncommon to put up double digits of fish at this time, though like all fishing, there are many variables that enter into the equation.


In July, life friend Patrick visited me from Buffalo. I made new acquaintance with an exceptional and well manner young man, Patrick's son, Emmett (pictured). Once again, the tarpon provided the staple in the binds that tie us together. Thank you Patrick for your unconditional camaraderie and too.....the photo!  

Florida's top tarpon biologist, Kathy Guindon (R), prepares to sample a real GiantTarpon captured by Moscow's "gentle giant" Dema Penferov. There is only 1 original! Special gratitude to the stewards of our fishery!... Thank you!

The catfish have returned and that makes traditional live bait fishing with threadfin herring difficult. Larger baits such as ladyfish get the nod for additional lines around the bait schools. The time honed technique of casting and trolling plugs and swim baits (jigs ;-p) will account for most of the action.

The tropics seem tame this year and we have avoided any significant or prolonged unfavorable weather conditions to date. 

I expect the giant tarpon fishing to remain strong through September and potentially well into October when passing cool fronts will make finding the fish on a daily basis more challenging.

I will return to the flats for reds, snook and trout over the following weeks. By October the nearshore fishing for Spanish and king mackerel and gag grouper will reach it’s pinnacle with migrating bait schools, shorter days and cooler water. With the right conditions, we too can expect a hot beach tarpon bite in the same areas. Book now for the best in fall fishing!

Screaming Drags and Tired Arms!

Robert McCue

 


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