Sunday, November 30, 2014

Big Trout Comeback

It was a tough week out there with water temps that dropped into the 50's and winds that blew the water right off the flats.  Things finally started crawling back to normal today and some decent trout decided to eat.  My buddy Sam Peplinski nailed this 21" gator with a Gulp Shrimp under a cork in the north part of Buzzard Bay.  This is the first over-slot trout I've seen in almost two weeks so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for December. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Ultra Low Tides Off Pine Island

Anytime you get a negative low tide and a strong north wind you'll find scenes like this all over Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass.  This picture was taken right at low tide yesterday, which was a 0.0 in the Pass, and there is obviously a lot more water missing than the number would indicate.  Two hour later, the flats basically looked the same despite the incoming water.  This is a good reason to remember that a tide chart is actually just a "prediction" and the depths and times of water changes can vary widely, especially after a strong cold front like we just experienced.  I run a very shallow drafting flats boat and we were still bumping the bottom yesterday in several spots that I've always crossed before with ease.  You can be in for a long wait in you ground yourself hard enough this time of year so use caution out there. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My New Beavertail Ambush


Beavertail took over production of this very cool micro-micro skiff a month ago and I picked one up for myself last weekend.  I haven't hung a motor on it yet but I plan on getting a 6hp 2-stroke, which should push it to about 15mph.  I also plan on adding a 25qt. Yeti cooler with a grab bar to double as a front seat.  The Ambush is ideally a solo skiff but it is rated for two passengers.  The base price for the hull only is $2900.  Mine has a few extras such as the teak Seadek pad, motor mount, and push pole holders.  These boats are a blast and if you want to check it out give me a call.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

At Least Someone Is Catching Fish

This osprey nests in a tree next to my parent's dock on Matlacha and occasionally drops half eaten mullet into my dad's boat.  Today he was showing off with a nice 20" trout just a few minutes after I cancelled my afternoon charter because of the crappy weather.  This bird can be a real a-hole sometimes.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Beavertail Skiffs Demo Day On Matlacha This Sunday

2015 BT Lightning
Stop by the Old Fish House at 4530 Pine Island Road this Sunday starting at 12 noon and test drive some of the latest BT skiffs, including their awesome 20' Lightning.  Company owners Will and Elizabeth Leslie will be there to about their custom builds and financing.  You can also hear some great live music and eat some fresh local seafood.  These demos are always a lot of fun so hope to see you there. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Weird Matlacha Sunrise

I shot this picture just after sunrise on Matlacha Pass.  I didn't realize it at the time but someone was looking right back at me.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Best Redfish Action Of The Fall Off Pine Island

Maybe it was the approaching cold front or just the perfect incoming tides, but the fish came out in force this morning.  I was out in Pine Island Sound with John and Bruce, two members of the Reel Anglers Fishing Club, who were looking to catch their first reds.  I knew it was going to be a good day when the guys managed to check those fish of their list with a double header on their first casts. 
These fish were just under the slot but they kept eating one after the other for the next hour.  After landing more than a dozen rats off a big oyster bar we looked for some keepers and John came through with this one that was just under 27 inches.
We ended the day with 22 reds and one keeper trout.  I wanted to try for a snook to complete the Slam but couldn't pull myself away from so many easy targets.  I actually love it when I can spend and entire charter on just one flat.  Excellent morning and an nice change from the day before when I couldn't catch anything but lizardfish. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Two Pines Redfish

The northeast part of Matlacha Pass, also known as the Two Pines area, produced this 23" red for NY angler Dave Thuma.  We were tossing a very large white jerkbait along the mangroves and trying to catch one of huge snook I'd seen there the day before when this fish hit.  Dave wanted something for the grill so it was no disappointment. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Beavertail Lightning At The Ft. Myers Boat Show

The Harborside Event Center is home of the annual Ft. Myers Boat Show, starting today through Sunday.  The 20' Beavertail Lightning will be there along with their new 13' Ambush solo skiff.  The first day was a huge success and the show is busier than ever.  Stop by and say hello and check out these awesome boats. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Cobia In Matlacha Pass

Peter Boot from Toronto pulled this almost legal cobia off the back of a stingray in Matlacha Pass late this afternoon.  These fish aren't easy to find in our shallows but when you do they're easily caught.  This cobia slammed a Gulp jerk shad that landed five feet off its nose.  That's a typical response from these aggressive predators.  I just wish we would see as many of them in the skinny water as the offshore guys do.  There aren't many things that taste better than fresh cobia fillets. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Redfish Before The Cold Front

Our near perfect week of weather ended today right at 4pm when a cold front hit the island and brought a bunch of rain with it.  Fortunately we had several hours of great low water and a really nice amount of  tailing reds in Matlacha Pass.  Boynton Beach angler Andrew Wideroff drove over from the east coast and hooked a couple on both fly and spin.  He also landed a snook and trout to complete the Slam but they were on the tiny side and not worth photographing.  The weedless spoon fly is still the best thing to throw at tailing redfish and that's what fooled the one pictured above.  Just be sure to bonk them right on the head with it to get their attention. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Finding Live Bait Around Pine Island

Pinfish and greenbacks are so common right now that one throw of your cast net in the right area is all you'll need for an entire day of fishing.  The thick grass flats on the north sides of the island are crawling with these guys right now.  We found the ones in the photo just off the oyster bars on the east side of Jug Creek at low tide yesterday.  They went on to feed a couple dozen small snook in the creeks south of Burnt Store Bar right after we dumped them in the livewell.  The cooler water hasn't slowed the snook down in the least so far.  Good news as we head towards winter. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November's Redfish Tides

From this month's Nautical Mile newspaper:

November means one thing to me as a fishing guide here on Pine Island:  negative low tides.  Seeing that little minus symbol on the tide charts when the lows happen just after sunrise and just before sunset is almost as good as finding presents under the tree on Christmas morning.  These are some of the best conditions to chase tailing redfish and half of the days this month have a tide of 0.0 or lower.  For die hard skinny water anglers this is as good as it gets.

My favorite times to hit these ultra-shallow flats are about an hour before the bottom of the tide and then the first two hours of the rising water.  This is when I usually find the redfish feeding most aggressively because their prey, which is mostly crabs and shrimp, is easily pinned to the bottom.  This is also when you’ll find reds sticking their tails straight up into the air and waving them like signal flags.  It’s easily one of the coolest things you’ll ever see out on the flats.  

One other thing to look for out there are cruising stingrays.  The bigger rays attract fish like a magnet on certain flats in Pine Island sound and I’ve seen more than a dozen reds hanging on their backs waiting for a crab to flush from underneath.  This is also a common behavior for other species of gamefish so it’s not a bad idea to toss a lure or fly at any passing ray.  Some of the biggest trout and jacks I’ve ever seen have been landed this way.  The rays are easy creatures to spot on the negative low tides, too.  Just look for the large pushes of water or even their wingtips poking above the surface.  

Last month I wrote about the best way to go after low tide reds with flies, which is basically to bonk them right on the head with light spoon patterns.  That tactic obviously won’t work if you’re throwing heavier artificials with spinning gear.  One lure I’ve had great success with that doesn’t spook them as easily are Gulp Jerk Shads rigged on weedless swim bait hooks.  These can be dropped right in a school of feeding reds and usually get pounced on immediately.  With 10 pound braid you can throw these light Gulps very accurately over a surprisingly long distance.  And Gulps really are the one artificial that actually does work better than live bait (most of the time.)

The one last thing to know about working schools of fish on a falling tide is to obviously approach them with caution, and I don’t just mean that in order to avoid spooking them.  The water during a negative low can disappear quickly and for a long time, especially on a windy day after a cold front.  It’s very easy to get shoved up onto a flat or pole your way into an area while you’re chasing tailers and suddenly have no way back out, even in a very light skiff.  This would be a really miserable experience if it happened at sunset and close to the mangroves where the bugs live.  Keep in mind that the numbers you see on a tide chart are predictions and nothing more than that.  While usually quite accurate, the depths and times of posted tides can vary significantly, especially when strong weather happens.  Keep that in mind when you’re fishing around negative lows this month and you’ll keep yourself out of trouble.