All posts by Captain Jesse

Englewood Redfish
Englewood Redfish

For most of our anglers fishing fix we’ve been using whitebait and shrimp for plenty of trout and other inshore species. With these darker waters we’ve had over the past few months it can be difficult for the fish to visually locate food at distances more than a foot or so. That’s where the noise of the popping cork comes into play. Not only do fish feed by sight but also by smell, vibrations and more importantly… sounds of other feeding fish. With a popping cork, you provide almost all of the sense stimuli they normally use to feed. One of the most common mistakes I see on a regular basis with these noisy fish magnets is folks not leaving the bait in the same general area. How this is supposed to work is simple…Make a cast and with minimal movement to the bait, pop the cork with enough force to actually make a “pop” but not pull the bait off the hook. It should sound like a fish strike if you’ve done it correctly. Also this needs to be done without moving the whole rig more than a few inches from where you first made the original entry. Remember, you’re trying to call the fish to your bait and if you’re moving it 5 ft every time you pop that cork… well, you have defeated the purpose of the noise attractant. As far as rigging, I like to make my leaders (fluorocarbon) length close to but not on the bottom or in the grass. You want your bait to be easily seen when the noise draws them in for a closer investigation, not tangled up or able to hide in the weeds. Trying to fish mid column would be a more accurate description. Finish those popper corks with a split shot weight in the middle of the leader, a 4/0 to 6/0 circle hook and a live bait. Look for current rips at creek mouths, pot holes, grass flats and channels along mangroves.

For those early morning risers… you’re gonna do great throwing top water baits like the Heddon spooks, the One knocker spook and the spook jr in the bone color. You may also want to grab some live shrimp at your local bait shops like Gasparilla Marina or the Dearborn corner market. Stop by and see my good friend Taylor and his lovely wife Cindy and tell them Capt Jesse sent ya. They’ve got “bait till late.”

For the rest of our inshore news… still getting reports of quality redfish caught in places like the west wall and on up into Lemon and Sarasota Bay. Fish around structure like docks and up around the mangroves. Redfish will frequent our flats, bays and creek mouths in their quest for food. Look for them to be tailing in pods exceeding 30 fish. If you are finding them finicky… as they sometimes can be, a large live shrimp or chunked ladyfish still remain favorite “go to” baits. You might try Mirro-lure’s scented 3-3/4″ lil’ john soft plastic twitch bait, as it’s been the go to bait as we’ve fished these dark waters… rigged with 1/8th oz jig heads and the wind howling, still we were able to make very respectable casts. You can really sling that sucker without fear of it sliding off the jig head. Pending on the water clarity you’re fishing, colors like new penny, root beer and pink silver seem to be the ticket.

Don’t forget to take a peek out on the beaches. Bonita, Spanish mackerel, and king mackerel are migrating in big numbers and offer a great opportunity to bend a rod. Nearshore is the easiest way to find fish right now…just look for the birds. We’re still seeing tons of birds working mixed bags of big ol’ spanish and king mackerel, jacks and bonito from just outside of the passes… on out to about 3 miles. Remember to keep a stout outfit rigged and “at the ready” …you never know when that bruiser cobia will stop by to see what all the commotion is about. I’ll keep one of my Penn Spinfisher V 6500 on stand-by with a 7/0 circle hook with 50 lb leader just for this reason. More times than not they will absolutely knock the snot out of a piece of cut bait or a jig tipped with a hunk of squid.

If you’re ready to get out and see how we do it you can call us at 941-698-0323. You can also find Capt Kelly and I on Facebook, Instagram or our web page 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

Fall is my favorite time of year when it comes to fishing season. Rivaled only by tarpon season or spring time… ah the heck with it… I love fishing all year round here in SW Florida. These past few weeks have been amazing as far as the fishing goes. Something else can be said for the weather for sure! The early morning and later part of the afternoon topwater action has been unreal. I’ve been throwing Heddon’s spook jr and the 4.5” spook XT’s and I’ll tell ya they are by far the toughest topwater baits you’ll have the pleasure of throwing. If fishing top water hasn’t been on your fishing, well I’ll tell ya you are missing out my friend. The past few days have been absolutely ridiculous as far as the topwater action is concerned. When we have conditions like this darker water the fish have more difficulty visually finding food. Therefore they rely more heavily on feel and sound. That’s where the noisy splashing and rattling baits are king of my bait choice. Getting out for that early morning bite is awesome! If you’re lucky enough to happen upon one of the big schools of redfish that are plowing through our waterways…  oh boy!! If you’re watching and know what you’re looking at… well they are kind of unmistakable when you happen upon a school of reds. Now for this kind of fishing … placement is everything… what I like to do is have a number of rods at the ready…. One or two with live or cut bait that I have some range with and one with topwater. They move pretty quickly so try to anticipate the direction they are headed. I like to pitch that heavy cut or live bait out first and let it soak to give me a little time to get a few lines out as the school approaches that bait. Once you hook one it will spook the rest of the herd…. So that’s why timing is the key if you wanna have multiple fish hook up.

Gag and red grouper on the near shore reefs are still around but dirty water can hamper them. You might need to push out or look for cleaner water to hook up with keeper size fish.  Something that’s been working quite well for me lately as I’ve been checking new areas is using a 3-6 oz brightly colored pink and white Bomber cobia jigs. I’ll cut a small 3-4 inch triangle of cut bait (cigar minnow or squid), drop it down and drift over the area you’ve marked as a potential hot spot. Something else you may want look for on your machine is not only that “live bottom” but the bait and other smaller fish as well. Another thing I’ve had to do is alter the gain on my sounder. There have been so many jellyfish and thermocline layers around I’ve been picking them up as smaller bait schools. So turn that auto setting off and manually set it to filter out those jellies…. especially if you have an older machine. But, the bite is hot out there and if you’re thinking of splashing the dive gear…. 12-14 miles is where you’ll find the color change and cleaner water.

If you’re looking for some fast paced action… well you’re gonna enjoy the bite that’s happening right now. First, head out offshore a few miles and look for the schools of bait that are just outside and easily accessible. Don’t worry, you’ll know where they are because the birds are looking for them as well.  I’ve been throwing small spoons, stick baits and silver minnow’s and just about anything that has a hook on it around those pods and all kinds of things are crushing in those schools…. bonito, spanish mackerel, kings, sharks everything. You can’t miss them…just look for the birds and all the fish crashing bait.

That’s gonna do it for now. So put out the gone fishin’ sign, stock up on tackle, load up that livewell and head on out to your favorite fishing hole… or better yet get out and find some new ones and catch’em up. Just remember to leave a few to make replacements for tomorrow.

Captain Jesse McDowall
Florida Inshore Xtream fishing charters
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Hello SW Florida! It’s another fine day in our little slice of fishing paradise capital of the world. So is it hot enough for ya out there yet? Boy, August can be brutal which brings me to a little reminder for you. Late summer fishing can be hot as the weather at times but make sure to keep plenty of drinking water on the boat. Folks often underestimate how fast you can get dehydrated out there.

As far as our angling goes… the offshore grouper bite has been awesome for red grouper as well as gags. You may have to push out a bit further to find some cleaner water but well worth the extra fuel you might burn. On the other hand, mangrove snapper remain on the prowl and are very abundant on most of our locally published reefs.  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. Like I always say, it’s a balance between getting bit or getting broke. I run a larger 8 foot Penn 6500 Spinfisher V for my spinning outfit and spooled with 15-40 lb braid and for my conventional set I have 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. Keep the bait at a good distance from the sinker or weight. Snapper are a bit cunning and will rob you blind if you’re not playing an active role. The best way to catch these guys are to anchor on your favorite reef or “secret spot” and chum away to get them fired up. Then free line a 1-2 inch chunk of cigar minnow or threadfin down in that chum slick. Lots of factors are involved with getting this technique dialed in but once you do… its money!

For the inshore side of the house… My favorite right now is topwater. Artificial baits are easy to use and are reliable bait. I like the Heddon spook One knocker in the bone color. These topwater baits make for some explosive action to say the least. A few nights ago I had a snook come 2 feet out of the water when he struck that one knocker spook. That makes one show the pearly whites. Now one thing you gotta keep in mind is when you get one to bust that spook you’ve gotta resist the urge to do what I call “The Bill Dance Boo-yah maneuver “ aka setting the hook as hard as possible. Here’s why… first it’s a safety thing. You get crushed and you get all excited and as soon as that water boils behind that lure you snatch as hard as you can and all 6 of those hooks are approaching the boat at a very high rate of speed. Yikes! Also, take a look at the clarity of the water lately…not the clearest inside at the moment. When that fish is chasing the lure and you execute the B.D.B.M. that fish is sitting there with his bib on and empty dinner plate wondering where the heck my food just went.  Point being, don’t jerk that bait away before you feel the weight of the fish. I’ve had redfish swat at my lure 5 or 6 times before they finally got a good bite on it. Trout are very similar and will follow a topwater for 10 or 15 yards before they get it. Snook on the other hand… they rarely miss. Now we all know that there are times when it’s just too darn hot to sit and fish… try picking up a fishing bow set up. I’ve had folks on board that say that’s just as fun as the fishing trip. And just maybe you’ll get as luck as my clients did last week and have a big cobia swim out in front of the boat!!

Capt Jesse McDowall
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Hello again folks, Capt Jesse McDowall here. This time of year is my most favorite because here in SW Florida we have, yup… you guessed it, schools of big ol’ redfish!

When targeting redfish, my personal favorite bait for flats and back country are topwater lures. The best conditions for throwing these lures are the first few hours after sun up and when overcast conditions prevail. I like to throw top water baits like Heddon’s 4.5 Spook XT, Spook One Knocker, and Spook Jr. There is no substitute for the excitement and adrenaline rush when a huge snook or redfish crush that bait. Retrieving the lure is going to take a little practice. First and foremost let’s talk about what type of rod you should use. Graphite rods are much lighter than glass and won’t fatigue your arm after 5 casts. I like a graphite 7’ medium action rod with a fast tip. Work the lure in a “walk the dog” action and at a slow cadence. Most importantly, if a fish strikes at the lure… try your best not to jerk the rod to set the hook. This has hazards. If the fish misses that topwater, now you have 6 hooks approaching your head at a high rate of speed. Secondly, now you’ve just missed a second shot at that fish because it would have likely struck again if it didn’t feel the hooks. I’ve had redfish swat at a lure 5 or 6 times before finally getting hooked. As your fishing partner is laughing at you tangled up in your line, they’ve taken the opportunity to toss their bait on that fish you just missed.

As the sun creeps up into the sky, I’ll change over to scented soft plastic baits with an eighth ounce jig head. Work it in a twitch pause… twitch pause… type of pattern and you’ll see most of your strikes will occur on the drop. The key to this retrieve is to keep light tension on the line as the bait falls to the grass or sand and then a quick snap to make that bait “hop” out of the grass.

Offshore reports are still nothing less than excellent. We are seeing a lot of grouper and snapper on most of our known reefs as close in as 3 miles out! Gags and reds are being caught on trolling lipped plugs down to 30 feet and grouper will flat out rough up some live pinfish, squirrel fish, squid or any cut bait that you can get down to them. These guys are pretty territorial, so if you do manage to pull a good sized fish mark that spot and fish around it. If fishing hard bottom, more than likely that J.Y.D. has staked his claim and pushed out the smaller pups. Odds are you won’t pull another right there but they will be somewhat close by.

Nearshore, the easiest way to find fish right now is look for the birds. We’ve had great success with a mixed bag of big king and spanish mackerel, permit and bonito from just outside of the passes… on out to about 3-6 miles. Some of the nearshore reefs are still smokin’ hot. The mangrove snapper are still easy to chum up and the best way I’ve found to trick these sneaky rascals if you choose not to chum is very simple. Use ¼ to ½ oz lead jig heads with 20 inches of 20-30 lb fluorocarbon and a live shrimp. Pinch off the tail and thread him on the hook like you would a soft plastic. Drop down until you hit bottom and then lift about a foot. Hold it as still as you can and wait for that infamous peck peck peck … lift slightly and if there is weight, stick him!

Remember to keep a stout outfit rigged and “at the ready” …you never know when that bruiser cobia will stop by to see what all the commotion is about. I’ll keep one of my Penn Spinfisher V 6500 on stand-by with a 7/0 circle hook with 50 lb leader just for this reason. More times than not they will absolutely knock the snot out of a piece of cut bait or a jig tipped with a hunk of squid.

If you’re ready to get out and see how we do it you can call us at 941- 698- 0323. Find me on Facebook, Instagram or my web page 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


Fishing the past few weeks has been phenomenal! As discussed in the last fishing report, the nearshore bite is still on fire. Keeper mangrove and lane snapper along with red and gag grouper are still being caught within 10 miles.

The inshore bite is starting to heat up. With fall approaching, you know what that means…large schools of redfish roaming the flats in search of food. We’ve been seeing several large schools already in the Gasparilla Sound area and boy are they hungry. Toss whatever you can find into the school and you’re sure to hook up…topwaters, spoons, popper corks, jigs…you name it. When those reds are hungry, it doesn’t matter. Finding these reds, on the other hand, can sometimes be tricky if you aren’t sure what to look for. To the untrained eye, the schools will appear to be mullet schools. However, the redfish will push a much larger wake and will show more disturbance in the water. When you find a school, take a couple of minutes to determine their direction of travel (if any). Get upwind and position your boat to drift towards them. Motoring toward/into them will only spook them and make your goal of catching one even harder.

There’s still plenty of snook and trout around as well. Stay close to the passes and you’ll find cleaner water and a lot of bait. Snook like moving water to feed so find those areas where there’s current. Present your bait/lure with the current so it appears natural to the fish. Snook are very smart! Get out early and throw a Zara Spook topwater (bone color) and get ready for some heart racing action. If you prefer live bait, net up some white bait and put one on a free line. I like to use a 5/0 circle hook…smaller if the bait is smaller. If you want a family fun day on the water, take the kids trout fishing. Find a grass flat 3-5ft deep and tie on a Bomber Saltwater Grade Paradise Popper with shrimp or white bait. Be sure to pop the cork every 15-20 seconds to make some commotion. Well folks, get out there and get your FIX on.

Florida Inshore Xtream charters