2023 is off to a great start for the Charlotte Harbor and Boca Grande area. January has produced a great number of fish. When the weather has allowed, the nearshore bite has been on fire. Sheepshead, snapper, triggerfish, and grouper have been the main targets. We’ve been seeing some tripletail along the buoys as well. Further out, the red grouper bite has been consistent.
Inshore, we’re seeing a lot of snook, redfish, and trout. For the snook and redfish, we’ve been soaking cut bait along the mangroves or in holes along the shorelines. Cut ladyfish has been producing better than cut pinfish. The white bait has been tough to find after the recent cold fronts, so we’ve been primarily using shrimp for bait. The inshore fish have been slurping them up. We’re seeing a lot of bait offshore so it’s only a matter of time before they head inshore and we’re consistently catching them. For the trout, we’ve been fishing in 3-4ft of water in what we call salt and pepper areas. These areas are comprised of a mix of sand holes (salt) and grass (pepper). A popper cork with either shrimp or white bait has been working great.
Tarpon and Goliath Grouper
In the coming weeks, we will begin targeting the ever sought after Boca Grande tarpon, aka silver king. The main season for Boca Grande tarpon fishing charters is May and June. We typically catch them throughout April as well when the waters are a lot less chaotic with a bunch of other boats. Another Boca Grande giant, the goliath grouper, has been making a comeback after the deadly red tide from 2018 that wiped out a significant number in our area. The cold front at the beginning of the year pushed some of the Boca Grande goliath grouper offshore but once the water continues to warm, they will be returning to fishable areas.
Jesse and I have recently acquired a new sponsor, Bajio. This newly formed company places an emphasis on preserving and improving the environment around coastal communities. They go above and beyond what many other mainstream companies are doing. Bajio is carbon neutral and uses sustainable sources for most of their products.
Boca Grande tarpon fishing will be upon us soon enough. Now is the time to look at your calendars and start planning your trip of a lifetime for the majestic silver king. Boca Grande Pass is one of the best locations to target tarpon. Nestled between the crowded cities of Sarasota and Ft Myers is our little slice of paradise. Tarpon begin arriving to our area in March and April. By May, there’s more tarpon here than imaginable. It’s not uncommon to see acres of rolling tarpon off the beaches of Boca Grande, Englewood, Placida and Captiva.
May and June are the peak times to catch Boca Grande tarpon but we’ll begin targeting tarpon in March and April and continue through July.
We have this term known as “hill tides” that we use when talking about the “best” tarpon fishing times. These are some of the biggest tides that we’ll see throughout the year. They occur around the new and full moon phases. We’ll see about a 2ft range of tide, which for our area is quite substantial. The dates below are Boca Grande’s new and full moons for 2023. On these strong hill tide days, the tide will begin to rage out of Boca Grande Pass…carrying crabs, threadies, and other food the tarpon sit waiting to devour. We usually begin these trips around 2 or 3pm and fish until sunset. It’s not uncommon to hook 10 fish during these trips.
BOCA GRANDE HILL TIDES
New moon – April 20 Full moon – May 5 New moon – May 19 Full moon – June 4 New moon – June 18
So if you’re looking to get into some Boca Grande tarpon action, give us a call today to secure your date for this tarpon season!
Captains Jesse McDowall and Kelly McDowall YouTube
Current Boca Grande area fishing report
The nearshore bite within 9 miles has been doing really well. We are seeing a good number of sheepshead, snapper, gag grouper, and smaller red grouper. As the water begins to warm up, we should start seeing mackerel move into the area.
Inshore, the redfish, snook, and trout bite has been consistent.