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Palm Coast Inshore Report

After a week of cancellations we finally got a break in the weather which allowed me to start booking charters and pull the ole skiff from the garage. With calm winds and sunny skies we finally had ideal conditions to climb up on the poling platform and pole my clients to some nice upper slot sight fished redfish. Starting at low tide made for cleaner water and really schooled the fish together. Artificial lures like the slayer sst in white has been my go to color matched with a 1/8th ounce slayer jig head. Poling around submerged oyster bars as the tide rises has yielded some nice singles looking for something to swim by to ambush.

The trout bite is getting better by targeting them at low tide in deep creek holes. Freelining a live shrimp through the creek holes will result in a solid thump followed by a screaming drag by a gator trout. Lure fisherman jigging a soft plastic paddle tail or sinking twitch baits like a mirrodine will get the attention of any trout in the area.

 

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palmcoastfishing.com

 

 

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Capt. Chris Herrera

386-503-6338

www.PalmCoastFishing.com

February Fishing Forecast

 

As water temps hopefully continue to cool after January’s warm spell, water clarity will get better and better till it reaches “Gin Clear”. Hitting the flats once the sun is high and with incoming tide will give you sight fishing opportunities for redfish and sheepshead.  To find sheepshead on the flats look around oyster bars till you see the striped bandits nibbling away.  A stealthy approach is a must by either poling or quietly using your troll motor. A rig I like to use is a 1/0 Daiichi octopus J hook with a bb split shot a few inches above the hook, I then rig a shrimp weed less by cutting off it’s tail for sent and inserting hook through the tail and back into it’s body for a weedless rig. Bigger Sheepsheads will be hanging around deeper water structure like docks, bridges, channel markers and area Inlets. Fiddler crabs, oyster crabs and oysters are offering that are rarely turned down by sheepshead hanging around deep structure.

 

Trout fishing should be catch and release only as the season is normally closed but with new regulations trout remain open year round and bag limits are up to six instead of five fish. Look for trout to school up around ICW creek mouths, deep holes in creek bends and Matanzas Inlet. Small soft plastics like Fishbites Extreme paddle tails or curly tails on a ¼ ounce Slayer jig head will attract schooled up trout. Gator trout will be sunning on mud flats during the heat of the day and a live mullet swimming on the surface will tempt even the wariest trout.

 

Redfish schools will be on sun baked flats during higher tides and roaming the ICW during low tides. Multiple fish can be caught as long as you’re quiet and do not get to aggressive with your approach. Artificial lures is better in my opinion as you can get multiple cast to schools if spooked and don’t waste time rebating. Fly fisherman test their cast and accuracy by sight fishing laid up and cruising redfish on the shallow flats. My go to flies are flats bunnies, merkwans and just about any fly that resembles a bait fish.

 

Black drum are relatives to red fish and noted as good table fair when caught less than 5 pounds and can hold their own once hooked. Recent outings have produced good numbers of “puppy drum” which range from 2 to 6 pounds. Simple rigs are used to catch Black drum, one of my favorites is a Slayer inc. ¼ oz. jig head and a live or fresh dead shrimp hooked through the head. Since Black drum are bottom dwellers and feed almost exclusively on the bottom other good baits that produce “stink” are quartered blue crabs, clams and oysters. Black drum are primarily found in deeper water but during those cold spells look to sight fish them on the shallow flats.

 

 

Capt. Chris Herrera
www.PalmCoastFishing.com

386-503-6338

Palm Coast Inshore Report

What a fantastic day of fishing with Norm, Donna and Kent from Palm Coast. We had an absolute blast catching some upper slot slobs one after the other totalling over 50 redfish. Our bait of choice was live shrimp and mud minnows with mud minnows being the better choice. Our rig was a simple rig, it consisted of a 1/0 Daiichi circle hook with a medium split shot 1ft. above the hook. The key to catching numbers like this is fishing at low tide, having a shallow water skiff like a Hell’s Bay or sliding in on a kayak. Fish will seek shelter from the shallows by flowing into deep holes making them vulnerable to an awesome day of “catching fish in a barrel”.

 

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Capt. Chris Herrera

www.PalmCoastFishing.com

386-503-6338

Palm Coast Fishing report

Had the pleasure of hosting my dog trainers Ronnie and Jerry Day from Day’s End Kennels in Grantsville Georgia. Jerry and Ronnie drove to Palm Coast so my dog and I could finally reunite after a long 7 months turning him into a lean mean duck retrieving machine! After a day of training we turned our attention to fishing and had a great time catching some nice upper slot redfish. Fishing the low tides with live bait put plenty of redfish into the Hell’s Bay Professional.

 

 

Jerry Day

 

I invited Ronnie to an early morning duck hunt so I can see what Brisket learned while away at training camp. Brisket would not disappoint as he picked up every down bird.

 

 

Brisket first bird low rez

 

Capt. Chris Herrera

386-503-6338

www.PalmCoastFishing.com

 

Palm Coast Fishing Report

It is always a pleasure fishing with Don and who ever he brings along as a guest which was Buster. We had a great time fishing the creeks and flats of Palm Coast picking off some redfish at low tide pitching live shrimp and 1/0 Daiichi circle hooks into deep holes in the back of creeks. This is where the term “catching fish in a barrel” comes from as we had the fish penned up in a deep hole surrounded by shallow water.

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Palm Coast Fishing Report

Had the pleasure of taking repeat client Craig and his grandson RJ who wanted to catch a “Big Fish”. Our first spot produced the big fish on the first cast, a healthy 27 inch slot redfish that ate a live shrimp on a 1/0 Daiichi circle hook.

We continued working the oyster bar at low tide in this creek picking off some nice redfish for RJ. According to RJ we caught over 80 something fish but my count was more like RJ caught 14 redfish.

 

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Capt. Chris Herrera

www.PalmCoastFishing.com

386-503-6338

 

Palm Coast Inshore Fishing Report

You have good days, bad days and incredible days; this was an incredible day with Jim and Mike. I had a 3 boat charter lined up with 8 anglers who were all taking bets for biggest and most redfish. I knew our chances of winning were good but after the tally was complete it wasn’t even a competition. Before leaving the dock I told Jim and Mike that our chances of winning would be good if we gambled and go way up in a shallow creek where a school of redfish had been spotted days prior. The gamble was that the tide was going out and we were without a doubt going to  get stuck in the back of the creek with fish or without. Lucky for us we found a few fish that we pushed into a hole. We setup with live shrimp, Daiichi 1/o circle hook and bb split shot.

For the next 2 1/2 hours we caught redfish after redfish with the first fish being the biggest at 29 inches. After the smoked cleared we counted 48 keepers, 3 undersize and 1 oversize redfish. When the tide started to flood again we made our way out of the creek and headed back to collect our bet and brag a bit.

 

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Capt. Chris Herrera

www.PalmcoastFishing.com

386-437-2545

Palm Coast Inshore Report

Had a great time spending a few hours aboard Capt. Jim’s new boat this past Saturday as Jim, AJ and I participated in the Flagler County Sport Fishing club redfish/flounder tournament. As fishing guides we felt confident we could do some damage by covering as much active water as possible with artificial lures. We each picked a different lure and color and immediately went to work catching redfish on Slayere inc paddle tails, gulp jerk baits rigged weedless and a gulp jerk bait and 1/4 ounce Slayer inc jig head.

We each carried our own weight as Aj caught third place redfish, Jim took home the second place redfish and I was lucky enough to take home first place flounder.

Great day with great friends and good fishing to top it off!

my flounder

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Palm Coast Inshore Report

Creek bends, shallow flats, Inlets, docks and creek mouths, what do these areas have in common? Flounder, it’s that time of year when water temperatures (68 degrees) dictate flounder activity and the annual flounder run starts.

It’s fairly simple fishing as using a ¼ ounce Slayer Jig head with a finger mullet or mud minnow slowly dragged across the bottom. Other simple rigs consist of using split shots or an egg sinker (fish finder rig) and 14 inches of leader with a 3/0 Daiichi D16Z Octopus wide hook. For artificial applications any jig head and soft plastic combo (Z-man Paddle Tail) works well in deep water areas. Spoons, soft plastics and hard baits fished on shallow sandbars will produce flatties as well.

Flounder strikes or “thumps” as I like to call it are very distinct to other inshore game fish. When fishing for flounder patience pays a great part after feeling the “thump”. Flounder will grab a hold of your bait and sit on the bottom till bait stops moving around and that’s when the flounder will turn mullet or mud minnow around and swallow it head first which will initiate the second “thump”. Many “Old Salt” flounder anglers know the importance of feeling for flounder on the line by slowly lifting the rod tip to make sure the flounder is still attached to the line and then give some slack for about a minute before setting the hook.

Trout fisherman will get their limit and more using float rigs at Matanzas Inlet with shrimp being the top bait. The last 2 hours of outgoing tide and first of incoming is the locals preferred time to fish. Topwater plugs like a Spook Jr., Rapala or Mirrorlure can catch the biggest trout looking for a bite in the shallows or ICW drop offs at creek mouths. When the bite slows down on top switch gears to diving plugs like a Sebile Stick Shadd or curly tail grubs with a ¼ ounce Slayer jig.

Redfish will start to huddle in masses and seek the warmth of oyster beds during afternoon high tides.  Long casting spoons or jerkbaits will produce. For scattered redfish live or cut mullet on a fish finder rig tossed around points, creek mouths or oysters will do the trick. During low tides look for reds cruising shallow mud banks with their backs out of the water chasing small grass shrimp. Matching the hatch (live shrimp) or a FishBites shrimp on a weedless hook tossed in front of a belly crawling redfish will result in a catch.

 

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Capt. Chris Herrera

www.PalmCoastFishing.com

386-503-6338

 

Palm Coast / St. Augustine Flood tide report

tailing redfish

 

September brings cooler weather, the beginning of the mullet run        but most importantly those big tides that flood our spartina grass      flats. So what is so special about flooding the spartina grass you         ask? Simple, it gives us fisherman some unbelievable sight                   fishing for tailing redfish opportunities in north east Florida.

Flood tides occur during the months of August, September and          October with September being the peak month for tailing redfish        action. During these months the tides during new and full moons are much higher than the rest of the year by a foot or more which offer new feeding grounds for redfish and fishing grounds for anglers. Flood tide areas are mostly confined to the north east coast of Florida because of our extensive spartina grass flats.  The southernmost region for flood tide action starts at the Matanzas river in Crescent beach and goes for hundreds of miles north to the Carolinas with the primary spots in Florida being St. Augustine to Fernidina Beach.

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Flood tide fishing is all about picking the right days with the right tides by looking at your favorite tide charts,  whether it’s a tide app, tide book or online tide charts.  When looking at the monthly tide chart, look for the days that offer a tide height of 5.4 ft or better which will coincide with the new or full moon.  For fair weather days a 5.4ft tide height is a must but flood tides can occur during nor’easter storms that will push more water in than normal which create flood tide opportunities.

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Once you have your days picked out it’s time to get the proper gear and lures ready for some tailing action. When picking out lures you have to keep in mind that you will be fishing flooded grass which means weedless rigs are a must. That’s right, traditional topwater plugs, treble hooked plugs or exposed hooked lures are not going to work in this terrain. Instead go with a weed less rigged soft plastic lure that resemble what the redfish are gorging on and that would be any type of crab imitation soft plastic. You are not limited to just crabs as paddle tails and jerk baits have caught many fish in the past and will continue to do so in the future. I normally like to buy fresh water craw fish soft plastic lures that are dark in color matched with a 1/16th Slayer inc. XXX penetrator hooks with the point of the hook inserted back into the soft plastic for a weed less presentation.  When it comes to rod selection I prefer a 7’6” medium action rod which allows for long casting light lures matched with a 2500 series spinning reel lined with 10-15 lb braided line.  Flood tide is not just for lure anglers but this is some of the best fly fishing available to guys who like to throw feathers.  Crab patters with rattles or spoon flies are some of the most common flies tied to the end of one’s fly line.

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Now we are geared up to go catch some redfish but where do we go? This is where Google maps or any other mapping source you have come into play.  With today’s detailed topo maps you are able to see in great detail the short spartina grass fields used as feeding grounds by redfish. The spartina grass fields that are closer to a main creek that have several small feeder creaks leading in the grass typically hold more fish.

tailer 9-2-11  Approaching a grass field should be done as quietly and slowly as       possible so you do not spook the fish that are staged up and                 slurping in the feeder creeks while waiting for the grass to flood.         Approach the edge of a flat by poling or use of a trolling motor and     watch the grass start to flood waiting patiently for fish to start             crawling and tailing before poling or wading the flat.

Once redfish are spotted tailing, bail from your skiff or kayak and       approach with ninja like stealth and get ready to make the cast. Not   so fast though, it is all about timing when casting to tailing redfish.   The tail is used as a gauge as to which way the fish is facing but don’t cast yet as tailing redfish are much easier to catch when they level out and begin to swim before tailing again.  When you see the redfish tailing make sure to make a long leading cast as you do not want to spook him with the splash of the lure. After a long cast reel the lure with speed basically water skiing and don’t slow down until a couple of feet in front of the redfish. When the lure gets close stop reeling, let it sink and give it a little twitch when the redfish is a few inches away and get ready to set the hook when the line gets tight.

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There are several great free online sites that offer great tide info like NOAA   http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/http://www.tides4fishing.com/us/florida-east-coast/palm-valley,  (Tide Chart free) app for android phones and (Tide Graph) for I phones.  I personally prefer the Florida Sportsman tide book as it really gives you detail tide information for the whole year at a flip of a page.

Hooks can be purchased from www.Slayerinclures.com

Soft plastics can be purchased from http://zmanfishing.com/store/categories/elaztech