All posts by Captain Jesse

American Red Snapper fishing

So for this week’s edition I thought I’d share a fishing trip with ya. You can understand it’s not that frequent that we get to go “fun fishing” as guides and even less common to get out after American red snapper. My Pathfinder 24TRS is an amazing fishing platform and can hold her own in a heavy chop and rough swells. Those seas are not what I’d call normal operation but it’s nice to know she can take “less than optimal” conditions. Needless to say, there are lots of stars that need to align to allow one to get out to (and more importantly back from) the 100-150 foot range needed to target ARS.

Safety First

A good practice when you don’t normally make those long runs is to file a float plan with someone you trust with departure and arrival times and an approximate position you plan to visit on your trip. That’s just the minimum. It’s better to have one of the emergency positioning beacons like an Emergency Position Indicator Radio Beacon (EPIRB) or a Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs). These devices are small radio transmitters, connected to a global government-run emergency network, which is used worldwide to alert Search and Rescue agencies in the event of a dire emergency. A cheaper alternative is a device similar to the SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger unit which works like a sat phone text messenger. I think you get the point about being a safe and prepared captain of your vessel.

Time to Fish!

Kelly and I set plans and waited for a clear shot to run out 50 miles. Finally, all stars aligned and last weekend we were able to make our first ARS run. We grabbed my son and my buddy Mike, loaded the coolers with ice and put some distance between us and the sunrise. Somewhere around 8 AM I backed off the throttle and settled down enough to look at the bottom… more importantly look for fish. Our first 10 min produced a school of small mahi mahi. If you encounter these guys, it’s important once you get one hooked to keep a hooked fish in the water at all times and swimming around the stern on a short leash. The others will hang around long enough to boat a few more before they move on. They were a lot of fun but remember… I was looking for snapper so we put a few in the box and moved on.

After a few stops, we finally find a good wad of fish and a few drops produced some really nice red grouper. “That’s getting closer, but still not red snapper,” I tell my buddy Mike. Onward my friend…Our next stop yielded a few more red grouper and a really nice scamp that measured a whopping 28 inches! “Still not red snapper Mike,” moving on! So now Kelly is at the helm for a bit and a few spots later she puts us on red gold! I drop down first and before it gets to the bottom I’m on! Oh yeah! I think to myself “This feels like a snapper!” Sure enough I soon see that red and white beauty I’d been dreaming about for so long. I quickly flip it in the boat and check the size on the ruler and 15 inches… dangit! It’s too short, back to the blue with you my friend. By now everyone is bowed up with fish and quickly have enough to fill our limit of two per angler. I got to say that was a fun trip and glad everything worked out as planned. We got a few snapper over 22 inches and a few of our red grouper topped out at 30 inches. So needless to say we pointed the bow of my pathfinder towards home before the afternoon storms hit. With red snapper season ending soon, you have limited time to get out and box a few reds for your dinner table. It will be well worth the effort and time invested!

Tactics

Our best red snapper bite was in about 140ft of water. When searching for fish, look for a mass of red on your bottom machine. At times, we were marking a solid 30ft of fish. The lighter blues and yellow indicate more of baitfish and lane or vermillion snapper. Don’t waste too much time on that spot but check around that area for the red mass as mentioned. Once we found the school, we dropped live pinfish on conventional gear with 5-6oz of lead with a traditional bottom rig. My conventional gear is spooled with 50lb mono with a 50lb flouro leader. We also did well using cut mullet on a 1oz jig head on Spinfisher 6500 spinning tackle.      

Folks, that’s gonna do it for me this week. Bookings for our fall season are already filling up and if you want to get your FIX on… give me a call @ 941- 698- 03 23 or… find us on Facebook, Instagram, You tube or our web page @ www.floridainshorextream.com.

 

scamp grouper while red snapper fishing

Tight lines and y’all stay safe!!
Capt Jesse McDowall
941-698-0323 or jesse@fixcharters.com

 

Boca Grande goliath grouper

Boca Grande, Englewood, Charlotte Harbor August fishing report

Boy it’s hot out there this time of year! For the most part of this year we’ve been dealing with week after week of battling high winds and water clouded with runoff from the daily bombardment of precipitation. Normally we have clearer waters on which to fish but as of late we’ve had to settle for stained, grass filled flats.

The offshore grouper bite has been awesome for reds, as well as gags. You may have to push out a bit further to find some cleaner water and bigger fish, but it’s well worth the extra fuel you might burn. On the other hand, mangrove snapper and lane snapper remain on the prowl and are very abundant on most of our locally published reefs and hard bottom. Snapper have very keen eyesight so if you are after these tasty adversaries you’ll need to downsize not only hook size but your line as well. Which, sadly to say…has a very small margin for error. It’s a balance between getting bit or getting broke. I run an 8 foot Penn 6500 Spinfisher V for my spinning outfit spooled with 15-40 lb braid and for my conventional set I use a Penn Fathom 40 spooled with 50 lb mono. For the snapper, I use a light wire 2/0 or 3/0 circle hook and a minimum 3 ft of 20-25 lb fluorocarbon leader. Now here’s where a lot of tactics will differ with bottom rigs and I could go on for a while with them. But I think for all around simplicity the old school bottom style rig is the best all-around rig. But they basically all have the same common denominator…to keep the bait a good distance from the weight and more importantly… the ability of the bait to move freely. Snapper are a bit cunning and will rob you blind if you’re not playing an active role. Because of their keen eyesight, the best times to catch these guys are to be anchored on your favorite reef or “secret spot” using several bags of chum to get them fired up and then free line a 1-2 inch chunk of cigar minnow or threadfin down in that chum slick. There are lots of factors involved with getting this technique dialed in but once you do… its money!

The beaches are still loaded with tons of fish…not only snook, but lots of fun fish like jacks, ladyfish, spanish and king mackerel. Also the pods of bait are just above small fry baits… so like I always say match that hatch and down size your bait choice to something close to what they’re eating. Watch for glass minnow schools because the jacks, lady fish and trout are gonna be close by. Try using lures with some weight to get more range… range translates into more time with baits in the water, which in turn… will get you more action.

If you’re ready to get out and see how Kelly and I do it, give us a jingle at 941-698-0323. You may also find us on Facebook, Instagram or our web page Florida Inshore Xtream.

Well folks, you know the deal…gotta get on out and get my FIX on! So … tight lines and y’all stay safe!!
Capt. Jesse McDowall
Florida Inshore Xtream Charter services
941-698- 0323
www.floridainshorextream.com
jesse@fixcharters.com

Boca Grande permit

Hot and humid. That’s something you’ll be hearing over the next few months. So I’d recommend fishing the offshore waters and escape the inshore heat. I’ve been seeing the water temps in the low 90’s. Offshore fishing is really heating up as the heat index is reaching 100 degrees. Remember to bring plenty of water with you as you’ll sweat… a lot. Look for birds diving on bait pods. There are lots of Spanish mackerel and bonito crashing bait. Getting small jigs like pompano jigs, spoons or soft plastics in the action is a good way to get some fast action… and that’s how you’ve got to retrieve it as well, fast! Barracuda tube lures are a blast if you’ve lost a few fish or lures to the “blade of the deep”. Be very cautious with these power hitters as I’ve seen them launch 10ft out of the water! 

The snapper and grouper bite has been pretty good. For best luck, go to your “secret” numbers…those that everybody and their brother doesn’t know about. If you don’t have any of these, visit the artificial reefs out past 10 miles and toss in a chum bag. The snapper have been responding well and we’ve been catching them by freelining a piece of cut bait on a 3/0 circle hook with 30lb flourcarbon leader. For keeper size grouper, we’ve been dropping live squirrelfish and pinfish on a traditional bottom rig. 

Boca Grande goliath grouperThe goliath grouper bite around Boca Grande has been hot. As of July 29, we have caught and released 186 goliath grouper. We just recently teamed up with FWC biologists and began collecting fin clips from each goliath grouper we catch. This data, along with other acoustic data, will allow researchers to compile a large genetic base and eventually be able to determine clans, movements patterns, and much more. 

We have swayed away from fishing inshore this summer because of the heat and the better fishing available in our nearshore waters. However, the inshore fishing has still been pretty good during the few trips we fished around Bull and Turtle bays. There are a lot of snook to catch. Look around the areas with significant water flow. We have a lot of little bait in the area and it is being funneled in and out of these areas holding snook. Easy catch! Freeline a white bait or threadie on a circle hook with the current and let the bait swim as naturally as possible. The redfish fishing has been less than in years past but they are still there to catch. There are some good numbers of reds in Bull Bay. We have been having the best luck with cut pinfish and ladyfish. The “fun fish” bite has been great. The flats around Devilfish have a lot of spanish mackerel, bluefish, trout, and jacks when the current is flowing right. A poppercork or jig with a soft plastic is the best bet.

If you’d like to get out on the waters of Charlotte Harbor and Boca Grande, give us a call and we can set you up for a fun filled day of fishing.

Captain Jesse McDowall
http://www.floridainshorextream.com/
941-698-0323

 

Welcome to Gag grouper season 2017 folks! Yes gag grouper season is open and smoking hot and here’s a few things to get you started. Both red and gag grouper can be caught on a wide variety of baits including trolled lipped plugs and natural bait like live pinfish, squirrel fish, squid, Spanish sardines or any cut bait that you can get down to them. I like to fish for these bottom dwelling brawlers with one of the simplest rigs there are and that’s the traditional style bottom rig. Now this is achieved by a few simple items. First being a swivel, not too fancy here just something that will prevent that lead weight from sliding all the way down to the hook. Ok, you’ve got your swivel and now you need a lead weight, I like 3-4 oz egg sinkers… not too heavy and yet heavy enough. So take that lead and feed it on the working end of your line and secure the line to that swivel with a clench or fisherman’s knot. You can also place a small bead between the lead and the swivel as to preserve the integrity of the knot. Next cut about 3 feet of 50 lb fluorocarbon, secure one end to the empty eye of that swivel… so one eye has the sinker and the other has the fluorocarbon. Next to finish out the rig you’ll need a man sized hook to tie on. For this I’d recommend a 7\0 circle hook. Circle hooks are a must when fishing for reef fish like snapper and grouper.  Use those bait choices I mentioned earlier and you’ll be screaming for Ethel to get the net! Oh and one last bit of advice… when you drop (to prevent tangles) try to flip that bait and sinker a short distance away from you to create a bit of an angle so when that sinker and bait rockets towards the bottom that cut bait is less likely to spin around your line and twist you up. Well I guess I can tell you one more trick, with that circle hook… don’t set it. The best piece of advice I can give you is just start reeling like crazy until you feel him pulling back and then lift. If you set the hook, you’ll be reeling up to re-bait. While you’re out there to take a peek for Bonito because they are in big numbers out off the beaches and offer a great opportunity to bend a rod.

For the inshore folks find a buddy with an offshore boat and fish for snapper, kings and grouper. (joking)  Overall the bite has been poor but not totally on life support. But one thing is rock solid is our snook fishing. But if you absolutely have to fish inshore it is that time of year again where the back country fishing will have its peaks and valleys. What I mean by that is you’ll have to balance your style of fishing accordingly. For instance… if you want to fish for snook and reds and the misses wants to see that tarpon leaping majestically in the air well, you kind of have to commit to one or the other because the water temperatures may not be conducive to accommodate both. So what you need to do is pick the best option and go for that one… my suggestion is take the misses to see that leaping king so next time you can go throw your topwater baits at first light. We’re slinging soft plastic on a lead jig head around the edge of the grass flats and around the pot holes. I like to throw pilchards under a popper cork and a 6/0 circle hook.  Water clarity is going to dictate which color you want to use and these are my recommendations for our waters would be new penny, root beer and lastly  gold and glitter.  I have been seeing some nice reds lately. Redfish, early in the am hrs those reds are up on the flats and will move under cover after the sun gets up over head, and soaking chunked ladyfish will most likely be your best bet… if you can keep the cats off of it.

Keep in mind that the dog days of summer are upon us so keep plenty of water onboard and stay hydrated…. Nothing ruins a day of fishing like a good heat injury… and if your heart is beating really hard and you’re not catching fish or about to crash your boat …. You might wanna drink some water. Once you get a little dehydrated your blood will thicken and your heart has to work harder to push it thru your veins…. So keep an eye on each other and have fun out there.

Folks, that’s gonna do it for us here at Florida Inshore Xtream charters. But… if you’d like to come on out and join Kelly and I for a great time on the water… give us a call @ 941-698-0323 or… find us on Facebook, Instagram or our web page @ www.Floridainshorextream.com

 

Wheeeeeeeeeee… the tarpon bite has begun!! Like I’ve said before when you are looking to target these elite battle hardened veterans you’ve really got to have your stuff together and trying to skimp on your gear is a very poor choice. You need good quality gear to even think about fishing for tarpon. Now there are many different manufacturers to choose from when selecting a set up for tarpon. I won’t sit here and tell you that this reel and that reel is the best and those reels are garbage. What I will tell you is what I’ve personally tried and tested and what will work for you. My set up is Penn Spinfisher V 6500 and I’ve mounted that bullet proof reel to an 8’ Penn Battalion fast action rod with 20-40 pound line rated capacity. I also have spooled that spinfisher with 40 pound power pro. These are a great starting point for you and remember when using braided lines, fluorocarbon is a must! I would suggest starting with 50 lb fluorocarbon  and work up or down from there. Next I’ll use a good quality 3 or 4x circle hook and I’ll attach that with a loop knot. Now for a bit of tarpon fishing etiquette… and this is something you really should heed. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to run up on some fellow anglers with your outboard. This will get you scuffed up quick. When making an approach on a pod of fish or other anglers working a pod. You want to stop well outside of where they are fishing somewhere around 200 yards would be a safe bet. Kill that 2 stroke and drop the trolling motor in and make you way over. Now you’re not ready to start sling that bait just yet. Try to get a “feel for what the pecking order is by loitering just outside of casting distance. This is your opportunity to observe what’s going on and what direction the fish are traveling. Try to position your boat so the fish will come to you. This way you are waiting your turn and not running over someone else’s fish. By doing this you’re asking permission and shown the other anglers a little courtesy and not just plowed in and push the fish away.  After that you’re in the rotation and can work the fish as well. Trout bite has been very reliable and a popping cork and a live shrimp prove a deadly combination. Hopefully with the warmer weather and the water temps creeping back up into the 70’s we’ll see better bait showing and more of our game fish species become more active. Topwater action is picking up for these aggressive little buggers as well. We have had some pretty good action slinging plastic in the past week. This type of fishing is absolutely amazing and probably my favorite bait to throw. But you’ve got to get the right motion or you’ll be wasting time. Walking the dog action envolves a zig-zag constant movement of left right left right hard enough to activate the rattles but soft enough to keep the bait in the water. It might take a bit of practice to get it just right but well worth it when it’s done properly.  If you can get out to some of the nearshore reefs … they’re covered up with some really great fish as well. I’ve been hooked up with good numbers of permit on the nearshore reefs and they love crabs!! Now I will tell you the bite has been a little on the slow side with these poor mid­-day tides lately. That should be changing later this week with the new moon. If you’re looking for trout, places with grass flats like pine island sound, east and west wall, are loaded with trout.  Look for large bait schools with birds diving on them up on the grass flats and moving water. Start shallow and work your way out into deeper water 5-6 ft.

Reds are chewing when you can find them and we’ve managed to boat some very nice fish this week. We should have a good bite starting back up with the better tides…bigger tides are making better water in the flats in the afternoon. The better bite for the past few days has been first light and a few hrs before dark. It’s sometime best to run out and fish until 10ish then go get some lunch, run some errands and then come back out for the evening bite.

 

 So happy fishing from us here at Florida Inshore Xtream charters and remember if you’re ready to get out and see how we do it you can call us at  941- 698- 0323. Find us on Facebook, Instagram or our web page www.FloridaInshoreXtream.com. Well folks, you know the deal…gotta get on out and get my FIX on! So … tight lines and y’all stay safe!!

 

Oh yeah… one last thing… keep your eyes open for sharks. They love to eat tarpon and they are out there!

 

Capt. Jesse McDowall

Florida Inshore Xtream Charter services

941-698-0323

www.floridainshorextream.com

jesse@fixcharters.com

 

Temperatures are rising and fishing is steadily getting better day by day around Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico. 
Inshore: The trout bite has been pretty consistent. There are good numbers in the potholes around Bull and Turtle Bay. If your boat can run fairly shallow, you’ll be successful with the reds and snook in the backcounty. There are also good numbers along the bars and in the creeks. 
Offshore: The snapper and grouper bite is warming up. Large mangrove and lane snapper have found their way to our customer’s dinner table. Keeper sized red grouper are out a little deeper. There is a TON of bait moving into the nearshore waters of Boca Grande and Englewood. Keep your eye out for kingfish and other pelagics chasing those bait schools. We even saw a sailfish last week! If fishing artificial reefs, keep an eye out for those permit. 

Tarpon are starting to show up so give us a call to set up your Boca Grande tarpon fishing charter. Peak season is May and June so don’t wait too long!

Other big fish news…the goliath grouper is picking up. If you’re looking to catch one of the largest grouper species or one of the most powerful fish in Florida, give us a call to set up your goliath grouper fishing charter!

Tight lines and good luck out there.

redtail

Fall can be a very productive time of year to fish. Water temperatures start to come back down and the fish become a bit more active. Boca Grande and Englewood offshore temperatures are already starting to creep below 80 degrees. Inshore Charlotte Harbor, snook and reds are starting to become more plentiful. Target these guys in the morning with your favorite topwater lure of choice. Our favorite topwater is Heddon’s spook one knocker in the bone color. Another good choice is the spook XT because the hooks are a bit sturdier and you are less likely to lose that monster snook. When using topwater lures, you want to utilize the “walk the dog” action. This involves a steady twitch and reel which takes a bit of practice, but once you get it dialed in, it’s game on. All too often we see folks overwork these lures either by twitching too hard or not twitching enough. You want to work the lure hard enough to get it to move side to side to activate the rattle but not so hard that you are pulling it out of the water. One of the most important things to remember is to NOT set the hook. A topwater lure produces violent reaction strikes, so many times the fish will miss the lure on that initial strike. Jerking or setting the hook will pull the lure away from the fish and you will most likely not be able to tease them back. However, if you keep that steady twitch, reel action consistent after the initial strike, you are more likely to receive successive strikes, increasing your hook up ratio. For topwater fishing, I prefer to use a 7’ rod with a 3000 or 4000 reel spooled up with 15lb braid and 30lb fluorocarbon. Always tie a loop knot to the lure to allow for even more action.

The trout bite has still been consistent and we’ve been catching them on topwater, live bait and other lures of choice such as Mirrolures’s mirrodine. For those that prefer live bait, I like to use a Bomber popping cork with about a 3’ flouro leader to target trout or a free lined white bait on a 5 or 6 ott hook to target snook and reds.

As fall approaches, be on the lookout for those massive schools of redfish. You’ll find them up in the flats foraging for food and eating everything in sight. These schools are very easy to spot and have a tendency to stay in the same areas for several days moving with the tides. So if you find them in a specific area today, check that area tomorrow during the similar tide. When you do find them, use your trolling motor to get ahead of the school so you have more time and better opportunity for bait placement.

Mahi mahi

The snapper and grouper bite has been great as well. Find a good patch of hard bottom, mark fish on your machine, and make a few test drops before deciding to anchor. Once you find a good number of fish, cut up that bonita you caught on the way out into large 6” triangular strips and send that to the bottom. I like to use a 3’ length of 50lb fluorocarbon leader with a 7 to 8ott circle hook with anywhere from 3 to 6oz of lead. Once the lead hits the bottom, reel up a crank or two so the lead is not getting snagged and you have a head start on getting that monster off the ocean floor. We pulled in several 27”+ red grouper using this tactic on our last trip out. While waiting for that big guy, drop a ¼ or ½ oz jighead with cutbait or livebait hooked through the mouth to target snapper. Remember to grab a couple bags of ice to toss in that Pelican cooler so you can keep your catch iced, fresh and ready for dinner.

Another reminder is to wear sun protective clothing and sunscreen where skin is exposed. Remember to reapply after swimming or diving. Our favorite brand of sun protective clothing is Huk. They are the top of the line and most stylish fishing shirt on the market. Hats, visors, and gaiters are also available with a multitude of color and style selections.

So if you’re ready to get out and catch some fish, feel free to give us a call at 941-698-0323.

Florida Inshore Xtream charters
Captains Jesse McDowall and Kelly Eberly
http://www.floridainshorextream.com

Charlotte Harbor snook

Spotted sea trout action is hot!

Capt Kelly and I have had fin-nominal days out on the water. The trout bite has been very reliable and a popping cork and a live shrimp prove a deadly combination. Hopefully with the warmer weather and the water temps creeping back up into the mid to high 70’s we’ll see better bait showing up and more of our game fish species becoming more active. Topwater action is picking up for these aggressive little buggers as well. We have had some pretty good action slinging plastic in the past week. Topwater fishing is absolutely amazing and probably my favorite type of lure to throw. But, you’ve got to get the right motion or you’ll be wasting time. “Walking the dog” action involves a constant zig-zag movement of left, right, left, right, hard enough to activate the rattles but soft enough to keep the bait in the water. It might take a bit of practice to get it just right but it’s well worth it when it’s done properly. My favorite topwater selection would be the spook jr or spook one knocker both in the bone or trout color.

Do yourself a favor and head on over to a great local sports store and talk to Malcom or Eric Cook at Cooks Sportland out on 41 in Venice. They have an amazing selection of baits, fishing supplies and whatever you need for your outdoor activities and have been doing so for the last 50 years. Grab a few of your favorite topwater baits and get to slinging. Like I said, my favorites are the spook one knocker and spook jr. Tell them Capt Jesse sent you and they’ll treat you like they treat everyone else… like family! You can find them at 4419 Tamiami Trl S, Venice FL (941) 493-0025.

Snook, trout, and reds have spread themselves all around the flats and mangrove islands so keep an eye out for them because there are some biiiiggg snook out there. One thing you’ve got to remember about snook is they are very smart and have very distinct eating habits. The way I can best describe this cunning opposition is to compare them to cats. You can put his favorite food in front of him and if he’s not hungry he’ll turn his nose up and walk away. But on the other hand, if the conditions are right they’ll crush that bait like it was his worst enemy and he stole his woman. Recently, we’ve been catching them by soaking cut bait in the potholes and along mangrove shorelines. Chumming with live bait works if you can find the numbers needed this time of year.

Here are a few more items I think are just as important as choosing what bait or place to fish.  How about eye wear or sun protection. Now if you’ve visited the dermatologist in your lifetime then you know they’d have us become nocturnal, avoiding the sun as best as possible. But, contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to apply sunscreen so liberally that you look like a walking ghost.  I’ve had folks onboard that caked so much sunscreen on throughout the trip I was nauseous at days end. Not to mention all of my gear, seats, tower and bait was coated with it as well. I have one small spray bottle of good quality name brand 100 spf non-greasy sun screen I use for my nose and face…that’s it. So having said that, the next best thing in my sun defense arsenal is my eyewear and sun protective clothing. I’ve used many different protective eye wear and I’ll be honest with you, not much difference between them all except for this new company I’ve been using lately. Salt Life optics… I’ve had the same pair since last summer and for someone like me to have a pair that long is really saying something. Now granted, they do get “weathered” but it’s the lenses that have captivated me. Salt Life sport optics with Zeiss lenses are another product that taken care of will last you quite a while.  Regarding apparel, another new line that I recommend is the HUK performance fishing apparel, known as HUK gear (pronounced hook). It’s a really cool line of performance gear that I’m sure you’ve seen us wearing in some of our pictures. Check them out at www.HUKGEAR.com.

If you’re ready to get out and see how Kelly and I do it, give us a call at 941-698-0323. You may also find us on Facebook, Instagram or our web page www.FloridaInshoreXtream.com. Well folks, you know the deal…gotta get on out and get my FIX on! So … tight lines and y’all stay safe!!

 

Capt. Jesse McDowall
Florida Inshore Xtream Charter services
941-698-0323

www.floridainshorextream.com
jesse@fixcharters.com

 

Oh Boy… winter time blues!!! Well, I know it is really winter time when Kelly has on 5 or 6 layers of clothing and her waterproof gloves out. It may be cold, but if you look for the right places to fish, winter time can be very productive. Creek mouths are a great place to start. They have the 3 keys to finding fish that I always try to stress…food, moving water and cover. Get these 3 things together and you’re sure to find fish. There are several creeks along the west wall of Charlotte Harbor and even a few in Turtle Bay worth fishing. Throughout the creeks, there are deeper holes and stretches that you’ll want to target.

Throughout the Harbor, sheepshead are still milling about and eating live shrimp cut into 3rds. Have plenty of shrimp because they are very good at getting your shrimp off the hook and leaving you fishing on credit. Another favorite bait for these buck tooth convicts would be fiddler crabs. Shrimp are in high demand right now at your local bait shops…so if you’re planning a sheepshead trip you might want to call or buy some a few days in advance.

Redfish and snook seem to be about everywhere right now. They’re hitting shrimp, scented soft plastics and chunked lady fish or pinfish. Look along the shorelines in shallower water because they’ll move into the shallows as the sun warms up the water. If you have a shallow running boat, you may be able to venture in the back country and fish the potholes. These are excellent spots to pick up trout, redfish, and snook. But, be very careful because we have had some very low tides and not many boats run skinny enough to get back there.

So whatever you plan on targeting during your fishing trip, go ahead and pick up some shrimp because it is a catch all. Trout and other fun fish such as ladyfish are still abundant along the bars and in the pot holes mentioned previously. You’re more likely to find fish in those areas with shallow shorelines/sandbars adjacent to a deep drop off. They like these spots as it provides an easy transition from deeper water for finding food into shallower water for warming up. I would recommend deeper grass flats on these cooler months for trout. I would start with live shrimp on a light wire 4/0 circle hook under a Bomber saltwater grade paradise popper with 20 lb fluorocarbon. For leader length…you will want to fish mid to lower part of the water column, too deep and you’ll just be feeding the pinfish and if it’s too far off the bottom they’ll probably not expend the energy to go looking for it.

Remember, the water temperature is hovering in the low to mid 60’s and warms in the latter part of the day. Most of our fish (like our residents) like it a bit warmer before they really get aggressive…so slow down on those retrieves.  The good news is that most of the fish are easily accessible on most of the sandbars, shorelines and oyster bars. Don’t get too close to the bars or shoreline or you may pass over the fish. For all the fish we’ve seen along the shoreline, there have been just as many milling around in the 3-4ft range. So don’t rush immediately to the shoreline; stop in that 4ft range and fish your way towards the shoreline.

For “fun fish” (jacks, ladyfish, trout, etc), look for bait schools and birds diving. This is usually an indication of fish in the area. Many times, they are all mixed in there together… sometimes you just have to weed through them to find the ones you’re looking for. A good, simple rig for winter time fishing is a live shrimp on a 1/4 or 1/8th ounce jig head. I like to remove the “fin” part of that shrimp’s tail, then feed the hook right where the fin was removed on the tail, letting the hook come out near the legs.

Nearshore fishing has still been productive if you can get out past the red tide and its affects we’ve been experiencing recently. Mangrove and lane snapper have been plentiful on hard bottom around the 8 and 9 mile mark. Nearshore reefs will be holding sheepshead and occasionally schools of permit passing through. But, if you’re seeing large numbers of dead fish in the area you’re trying to fish, you might be in an area affected too badly by red tide. It has a funny smell and some people experience a tickle feeling in the back of their throat. In this case, pack up and try elsewhere because many of the target species of fish will have cleared out. But, like I said, if you’re able to push out to around 8 miles, you’ll start to find cleaner water and more fish.

Folks, that’s a wrap for me. When you’re ready for a great day out on the water…

You can give us a call @ 941-698-0323 or find us Facebook, Instagram, or our web page @

www.FloridaInshoreXtream.com
Capt Jesse McDowall

CIMG4108

Okay, trout are definably on what we would say “the hunt”. They are hungry and looking for anything to eat! They’re mostly eating live bait like shrimp and white bait. When you find an area with plenty of trout, try changing up to soft plastics and have some fast fun. Soft plastics are a very good way to cover a large area quickly. Most of the time you’ll find the fish stacked up in the potholes at low tide and along the bars throughout the harbor. These are prime spots for tossing soft plastic. Many times when you find a good spot with plenty of trout, you’ll probably be catching just about everything… snook, reds, trout…oh and don’t forget the all elusive channel cat! One of my other favorite fish finding baits would be a shrimp and a popping cork. Bomber makes one that is very hard to beat. The Paradise Popper has a titanium wire which is very strong and will hold shape even after the most brutal of onslaughts. Another effective way to rig that cork other than the traditional 24 inches of flouro and a 6/0 circle hook is to substitute that circle hook for a ¼ oz jig head and soft scented plastics like mirro-lure’s lil’ jon or a Berkley gulp shrimp. With this method you get the best of both worlds the noisy popping action and the speed of the jig. I like to fish this if I am in a situation where my bait is limited.

This time of year the hot bite can be on shrimp one day and something else the next so it doesn’t hurt to pick up a few dozen live shrimp every time you go fishing because snook and reds love them as well. We’ve had very mild weather for the most this year… and there are still plenty of snook popping under the mangroves so try the topwater baits throughout the day. I use them as an indication of how aggressive the bite is. If they blow it out of the water then I’d say they are pretty active and keep slinging it. If they swat at it lazily and are not really crushing it then you might want to assess your approach and either slow down the retrieve or switch to another bait that you can work a little more slowly like the jig and popper cork I mentioned earlier. If we can get the wind to back off a bit I’d also recommend some of the near shore reef fishing. Soon the sheepshead will stack up on the artificial reefs and live shrimp will dominate as the go to bait choice. The beaches are still very productive as are our pass fishing like Boca Grande. Get out to the beaches or run out of a pass… all it takes is a half mile or so out off the beach… back down the throttle a bit, and look for the birds or fish flying out of the water. You’re sure to find large schools bonito and spanish mackerel. The outgoing tides are going to be the hot ticket as it dumps any remaining bait out into the Gulf. Flounder move offshore in the fall and winter months to spawn, so when you find some… there should be more in the area. Watch your bottom machine for structure and drops and work around them with those live shrimp as well. Some really nice flounder have been the guest of honor at several dinner tables lately so keep an eye out for them. Out on the beaches and out several miles be on the lookout for bonito, black fin tuna, spanish and king mackerel. Mackerel are making their fall run and are in big numbers and offer a great opportunity to bend a rod. Scoop up a few nets of big threadfin herring and see why we call them “smoker Kings”. Just look for the birds and keep your head on a swivel while running from one spot to another and I’m sure you’ll spot them with ease.

If you’re ready to get out and see how Kelly and I do it, give us a jingle at 941- 698- 0323. You may also find us on Facebook, Instagram or our web page www.FloridaInshoreXtream.com. Well folks, you know the deal…gotta get on out and get my FIX on! So … tight lines and y’all stay safe!!

Capt. Jesse McDowall
Florida Inshore Xtream Charter services
941-698-0323
www.floridainshorextream.com
jesse@fixcharters.com