Incase you were wondering why I have not been posting updated reports is because my skiff is undergoing a major overhaul. It all started after running into Tom Gordon with Islamarine in Islamorada while on a mini vacation. Tom and I spoke about replacing my gas tank as the tanks were prone to leakage. A simple gas tank replacement turned into a total restore project that will leave me without a skiff for 6 weeks. Although not entirely boatless as I do have a loaner skiff borrowed from a good friend of mine.
My restoration project includes:
Gas Tank, Carpet, non skid, hull buffed, toggle switches, power pole blade, all new hardware, locking hatches and much more.
So far the renovation is coming along good and on time. Can’t wait to get her back on the water.
Well what does a fishing guide do when he takes a week vacation? Go fishing! I finally took some time away from guiding and Captain’s BBQ to head to Islamorada for a week with my good buddy Scott Crown. We went with high hopes on getting Scott on his first bonefish but with high water levels bonefishing was not a good choice. We opted to head offshore (all of six miles out) for yellow tail and we scored some of the biggest yellow tail seen in years. We didn’t have to wait long for our limit as we set out 25lbs. of chum and had the yellow tails and trigger fish ready to eat.
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The following day we met up with my friend and guide Brian Williams who said the bite around Cape Sable was going off so we booked a full day charter and head out at first light. Our first stop was an amazing sight as we rounded the corner and were greeted with sky rocketing tarpon! It was a sight to see as the tarpon were on a full on feeding frenzy and catching them was as easy as I have ever seen it. Artificial bait fish lures is all it took to hook these tarpon.
After jumping and landing tarpon we noticed bait fish getting busted on the banks, a few cast later we found out it was snook and redfish.
Once the tide slowed down so did the bite so we headed further back into the mangrove maze and started to sight fish in shallow water for redfish and snook.
We fished the shallows till the tide came up and could not see the fish anymore and made a move to fish mangrove shorelines with pilchards. Capt. Brian threw out a net full of pilchards to get the fish in a feeding frenzy and a frenzy it was. We caught snook and redfish one after another and even put a nice triple tail in the boat.
Capt. Chris Herrera
With high water conditions and fish spreading out the ole “popping cork” and shrimp combo has been working best. From jacks to redfish and lady fish to trout they all have pounced on the sound of “pop click” made by the popping corks.
October Fishing Forecast
Fishing the inlet for redfish is best during change of tides but not always necessarily true as some spectacular days have been had within the last two hours of outgoing tide. A fish finder rig with enough weight to hold bottom, 18 inch leader and 3/0-5/0 Daiichi circle hook is a rig I like to use to catch redfish and flounder. (For flounder change that hook to a j hook instead of a circle for a better hook up). Make sure you have at least 20lb. test line as the current will make a 6 lb. redfish feel more like a 20lber. Once the tide goes slack start dragging the bottom with your fish finder rig for flounder as this is doormat season. Tarpon can also be seen rolling and crashing bait while fishing the inlet so free line a live mullet with a circle hook and set it in the rod holder.
Heading inshore a topwater lure at first light will get blown up around areas that are holding bait. Once the topwater bite slows down you can switch to artificial lures that “match the hatch” which will be mullet so jerk baits, paddle tails and spoon are great lures. If live bait is your thing I would toss two lines out, one live mullet and another rod with cut mullet and see which one the fish like best. Best areas to target are oyster beds during low or high tides or shorelines at high tide that are holding mullet.
Night time dock light fishing is still great as trout, lady fish and snook will be popping the bait that drifts by the light all night long. Live shrimp is a local favorite hooked on a 1/0 circle hook and bb split shot. When you run out of shrimp go for the artificial lures like a D.O.A shrimp that will get just as many bites.
Snook should be great this month in the southern region of the county. Tomoka Basin is best fished on outgoing tides concentrating on the mosquito controls creek mouths with either live bait or artificial lures. Expect to catch not only snook but redfish, trout and juvenile tarpon as well. October brings us some great fishing so get out there and catch um!
Redfish action has been hot last week as the inlet bite turned on for a few days and everyone was hooking up. It is that time of year were the reds start to spawn and if you find them schooled up before the spawn you are guaranteed to catch one on almost every cast. Live mullet on a fishfinder rig is best to catch hungry spawning redfish.
On the flats, the early morning topwater bite continues as long as there is mullet present. Fishing around mullet schools with walk the dog style topwaters is an exciting way to catch not only redfish but some monster gator trout and jacks. If you have some kids that want to go to catching, load up on live shrimp and work structure as the mangrove snappers are fat and happy.
Early morning low tides has made it difficult to get shallow but not impossible. Polling in inches of water has given my anglers the opportunity to see what true shallow water fishing is all about. Sneaking up on redfish with their backs out of the water milling around crushing bait is no easy task but with stealth and good casting it is a blast! Soft plastic lures is best for this application since soft plastics with light weight hooks make for a quiet entry without spooking the redfish. Another lure that has worked but not as quiet is a topwater lure. The advantages of a topwater lure is you can cast it very far and do not have to worry about hanging up on the shallow oysters.
Here are a few pictures of this past week.
The early bird gets the worm has been the norm this week as slick calm mornings and low light made for some awesome topewater action. Redfish, gator trout, jacks and even flounder have been exploding on topwater plugs like Rapala skitter walks and spook jrs. Even if you are not hooking up there has been no shortage of attempts mainly from redfish on the flats.
Once the sun gets high the ole quartered crab has done the trick more so than any other bait but followed closely by cut pinfish.
Here are some pics of fish caught on charters over the last week.
Capt. Chris Herrera
What a memorable day of fishing for Darrin and his dad as Darrin nailed several upper and over slot redfish. We started at first light throwing some popping corks and shrimp with fish following but no takers so we switched to cut bait and it was on ! We had fish after fish and Darrin did a great job battling these pigs to the skiff.
Capt. Chris Herrera
What a fun charter Al, Larry and I had. We had some great overcast cool weather for this time of year and best of all the topwater bite was on! We threw Zara spook jrs. and Rapala Skitter walks till the paint was worn off. Larry had the hot hand and landed more than Al, although Al had his share of missed opportunites.
Capt. Chris Herrera
I had first time redfisherwomen Bianca accompannied by her father Vince who wanted Bianca to score some nice redfish. We hit the flats at first light armed with live shrimp, popping corks and cut mullet. We started with cut mullet without a bite for about an hour and I could not figure out why since this flat is usually loaded with redfish.
The wind ended up dying down so we trolled around with popping corks and live shrimp picking off a few redfish and flounder till I saw some mullet spook. As we inched forward and casted to the area that had nervous water we realized why we didn’t get a bite earlier, all the redfish on the flat had schooled up. Every cast into the school resulted in a hooked fish and screaming drag. Bianca did a great job for a first timer and landed every redfish she hooked.
Capt. Chris Herrera