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Palm Coast Fishing Spring Break Report

Fishing has been nothing short of fantastic for my spring breaker this past week in Palm Coast! Plenty of redfish and trout have kept the kids busy and grunting trying to reel them in and hold them for their photos. Smiles all around and bragging rights as most kids have been catching the majority of the fish.

 

 

 

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Palm Coast Inshore Fishing Report

Had the pleasure not only guiding Steve but helping him with the learning curve of finding new fishable areas. We started at sunrise while the wind was down but unfortunately the water was really high making sight fishing pretty tough. While learning technique and new areas to fish, I still like my clients to stretch a line when ever possible so we took our time working up a bank to a point that normally holds fish and today was no different. Steve made a perfect cast tight to the bank and started working a soft plastic jerk bait nice and slow when this upper slot redfish thumped it hard. Steve made a one motion solid hook set which made the redfish take off peeling line while Steve held on tight.

 

 

Capt. Chris Herrera

www.PalmCoastFishing.com

386-503-6338

Palm Coast / St. Augustine Inshore Fishing Report

What does a fishing guide do on his day off? Goes fishing! Well scouting more like it but we still consider it fishing.

Had the pleasure of fishing with local guide and friend Jim today as we set out from Bings scouting for our up and coming charters. We saw quality fish on every flat, oyster bars and drop off we know about that typically holds fish which put a smile on my face.

Every so often we would encounter fish that just begged us to catch them so we did.  Jim and I had 2 nice slot redfish slowly swim towards us after they gave up their location by crashing on a mullet minutes before. We both made 2 great cast resulting in 2 hooked fish that were quickly returned to the water to be caught another day.

We continued finding small groups of fish milling around untill we stumbled upon a nice school of reds, we doubled up again. Our choice of lures was a gulp jerkbait and owner 5/0 weedless hook and I used a Zman paddlerz with a mustad weight hook.

The bite is on fire right now and the weather is cooperating so give us a call and book your trip today!

 

One of the reds Jim caught this morning

Capt Chris Herrera

www.PalmCoastFishing.com

386-503-6338

 

 

 

March Fishing Forecast

Spring is around the corner and should bring the mullet out of their winter hiding holes. Redfish will start to scatter on the flats and will be hanging around the pods of mullet eating whatever gets kicked up. Look along Spartina grass edges, oyster patches during high tides and ICW and creeks for low tides. Slayer Penetrator 1/8 oz Predator jigs with a Slayer inc. sst paddle tail, Rapala skitter walk topwater plugs and hard plastic mullet imitators are proven lures that work for reds in March. Live mullet, cut mullet, shrimp and popping cork combo or a mud minnow on a jig head will produce Redfish for the live bait fisherman especially during low tides in deeper creeks around oyster bars.

Trout will be devouring top water plugs with the fish attracting sound of “Click Clack”  at first light along ICW, creek mouths and docks on outgoing tides. Throw that plug far up creek in shallow water and “walk the dog” into nearby drop-offs where trout tend to hang out. When the sun gets high over head whip out that jig and soft plastic combo or diving plugs for subsurface trout.

Bluefish will be around Matanzas Inlet mixed in with the trout at first light filling their bellies with soft plastic jerkbaits on ¼ oz jig heads. Later in the day Bluefish will feast on a live mullet on the bottom using a fish finder rig.

Look for Flounder at the inlets during change of tides using a fish finder rig and live mullet. Creek holes during low tides will hold Flounder as well and my favorite rig is a live mud minnow and Slayer 1/4oz Destroyer jig head. Keep your bait pegged to the bottom and retrieve it as slow as possible. If you think you’re going slow enough, stop and retrieve even slower till you feel that thump.

Capt. Chris Herrera

Palm Coast / St. Augustine Charters

(386) 503-6338

www.palmcoastfishing.com

Wind and More Wind

Looks like the fan is on right now but its set to low during the morning hours. Best fishing has been around low tides even when the wind is cranking. Bait fish are starting their spring movement and the reds are hot on their tails so look for bait schools and you will find the redfish.

A popping cork and live shrimp is a great way to find redfish during high water or when the bait is in the grass. Targeting points or grass banks with clumps of oysters usually a great place to use a popping cork. If the wind is low during first light start throwing a topwater plug.

 

 

Trevor with a beautiful Flagler beach redfish

 

 

Book your charter today and enjoy your Palm Coast Fishing trip!

Palm Coast Inshore Fishing Report

Could have not asked for better weather for sight fishing redfish this morning!

We were greeted  by a bunch of tailing redfish at first light and Tom didn’t hesitate on hooking up with a beautiful upper slot redfish caught on a Slayer inc. paddle tail and 1/8th ounce jig head.

 

With slicked out conditions we had ample shots at schooling redfish in shallow water even getting a chance at doubling up

 

With great conditions all morning long we caught plenty of redfish

 

Book your charter today and enjoy a Palm Coast Fishing trip!

Sight Fishing

January and February are by far my favorite time of year to fish for redfish as it’s “sight fishing season”. It all starts after cold temps cool the water below 60 degrees which kills the brown algae that makes the water look “murky”.  There are three major factors that play into a successful sight fishing trip, the 3 factors are Sun, Wind and Tides.

Early morning starts are not a must as best times are between 10 and 2pm where the sun is at its highest peak. Not only is the sun a major factor to sight fishing but so is the wind. Windy days make sight fishing for redfish a bit tougher but a smooth glassy non windy day makes it as easy as it can be to see fish. Tides is the last factor as you can catch them on both tides but low tides make it easier as fish get concentrated into shallow sloughs and troughs.

I prefer to fly fish while sight fishing with small shrimp patterns or small bait fish patterns but sight fishing is not limited to just fly fishing. Small soft plastics like paddle tails rigged weedless or with a 1/8th ounce jig head will trick many redfish into eating.

There is no other “tool” more important to sight fishing (other than what you are catching them with) than polarized sunglasses. Sunglasses come in many shapes and sized, lens color and materials, in my opinion the best for redfish is an amber or copper lens with frames that minimize the amount of light that leaks in from the sides.

 

 

Book your charter today and enjoy a Palm Coast fishing trip!

November Fishing Forecast

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.

 

 

 

Palm Coast Inshore Report

This has been the best summer weather that I can remember in my 14 years of guiding Palm Coast. For the past several months, we have been greeted with virtually glassed out conditions which help with reading the water. Poling the shallows quietly looking for signs of bait fish or redfish feeding has been our tactic to catch summer time reds. Depending on my Anglers ability, we target redfish on fly, lures or live bait. My go to redfish lures as of late have been watermelon/redflake soft plastic jerkbaits on a 1/8th ounce jig head, Rapala skitter walk topwater plug and gulp shrimp on 1/4 ounce jig head.

Live bait has put most of the reds into my Hell’s Bay skiff since most of my anglers this time of year or novice or young kids. My go to setups vary on the tide stages and depth I am fishing. Last few days during the extreme high tides we have been experiencing I have been using a popping cork with a live mud minnow or finger mullet. I like to target submerged oyster beds, especially if bait present or grassy banks that come to a point.

Beach water temps have dropped due to the thermocline (continuous west winds cause a thermocline) which pushed most of our migratory big tarpon away till waters rewarm but until then my anglers have been having a ball targeting juvenile tarpon. Learn how to catch juvenile tarpon here.

 

Juvenile tarpon inhabit our waters year round  but are most abundant during the summer.

 

Capt. Chris Herrera

www.PalmCoastFishing.com

386-503-6338

 

 

Juvenile Tarpon Tactics Palm Coast/Flager Beach

Juvenile Tarpon

 

When you hear the word “Tarpon” the images that come to mind are the 100 plus pound Silver Kings leaping out of the water thrashing about trying to free themselves. Tarpon are not born as these massive strong fish that test our equipment and angling skills but are born as a small larvae that grow in the back water estuaries for the first few years of their lives till their big enough to join the migration. While maturing in the backwaters these “juveniles” can be caught on light tackle, although not tackle bruisers they will pull and display a nice aerial display like no other.

 

 

Fishing for juvenile tarpon is most affective through out the summer months although they inhabit our northeast coastal region year round. What separates tarpon from other species is its ability to live in low oxygenated waters that contributes to the tarpon “roll’. During summer months the warm waters and low oxygen during low light conditions get tarpon rolling and make it a sight fishing opportunity. It’s commonly said rolling tarpon are happy tarpon and for every tarpon you see roll there are 10 below it, now these statements might be true sometimes but not all the time because I know through personal frustrating experience that not all tarpon that roll are on the feed.

There are certain factors that I noticed that would turn a tarpon with a small appetite into a feeding machine and that is weather and bait. I prefer to tangle with the silver king during lower light conditions in the morning or evening over bright sunny skies in the mid afternoon but with the afternoon thunderstorms Florida is known for, an epic bite can turn on like a light switch when the dark clouds appear and you can smell the rain.

 

 

 When it comes to juvenile tarpon tackle, your standard inshore gear will suffice, I personally prefer 7ft. medium heavy  rod with an 3000 series reel lined with 15lb. Power Pro braided line . My first step in rigging is attaching a 36 inch piece of 20-30lb Fluorocarbon leader with a improved Albright knot or any other leader to line knot you like to use. The next step is my shock leader that is usually a 20-inch piece of 40lb. Fluorocarbon bite tippet that ends with a 1/0 Daiichi octopus hook that is snelled.

 

 

Know that you have your rods and gear in check, you are on the spot and the fish are rolling, what know? If live bait is your thing, I would go with a large shrimp, I buy the biggest ones I can find. The reason I like shrimp over any other bait for juvenile tarpon is shrimp do not have the tendency to flee as quickly as a mullet or other baitfish. My second go to setup if large shrimp are scarce is a big mud minnow under a popping cork.

Tarpon have different styles of rolls and according to how a tarpon rolls is how you will present the bait. If a tarpon rolls in a very slow and lazy manner where he sits high in the water column in the same spot for several seconds a cast that is about a foot in front would be the best presentation. Now I don’t mean to literally hit him on the head but a few inches in front of him will normally do the job. When tarpon roll a little faster I choose to lead them by 5 ft. or so in the direction they are heading. Normally with a faster roll a tarpon will propel himself his body length within a second so leading him by his body length will insure your not casting on his back. And finally when a tarpon comes to the surface real fast and kicks hard that means they are sitting on the bottom and I usually add some split shot to my offerings and cast some where in the vicinity of the fish.

 

 

After the cast I will let out a few more feet of line and raise the rod tip to take most of the slack out, once slack is out I will slowly lower it letting the shrimp sink to the tarpon’s level and wait for the take. The bite will normally come within the first 5 seconds or so and if no take is felt I will slowly retrieve the shrimp back to the skiff.

 

 

 I always keep the bail open and ready to fire when I see a tarpon and again once the proper cast is made I count down to the take 1 one thousand, 2 one thousand etc… and then I feel the shrimp start to kick and squirm knowing that its about to become a meal and then it happens, the line goes tight. The first 5 seconds of the fight are the most important, as line starts to peel off the reel and at that moment I will start to tighten the drag and pay careful attention to “ bow to the king” as most juvenile tarpon will become air borne several times. The rest is up to you now that you’re hooked up and the fight is on, most juveniles will quit with in minutes or lay on their side for the release.