Tag Archives: charlotte harbor

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


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 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