Florida Fishing Report - January 27
Florida Fishing Report
Central Florida?Bass fishing on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes has been outstanding, particularly around the new and full moons when the big females are coming into the shallows to spawn. During this week?s Bassmasters Bass Pro Shops Southern Open Gerald Swindle fishing on Lake Tohopekaliga caught 80-pounds, 13-ounces over three days (fish fish per day), including four fish over nine pounds. Work tubes, worms or creature baits for bedding fish, or throw a lipless crankbait for the prespawn fish out in deeper water.
Black crappie are biting live Missouri minnows or chartreuse jigs fished in 8- to 12-feet of water in Lake Kissimmee, with limits of fishing coming from the open water areas on the south end of the lake. The fish are full of eggs, but haven?t moved into the grass yet.
Lake Okeechobee?On the warm days, working a swimming frog through the grass is deadly on bass to nine pounds, said Scott Martin of Scott Martin?s Marina in Clewiston, which is on the south end of the lake. Work the areas around Ritta Island and the outside points of the Clewiston Channel. On the north end of the lake, anglers are averaging 30 bass a day using live shiners on the edges of the grass around King?s Bar or flipping an Eager Beaver into the reeds and buggy whips. Bedding fish can be found in the Monkey Box area, as well as in the marsh on the north end of the lake.
The best crappie fishing is at night in the Kissimmee River or the Harney Pond Canal using minnows, with most anglers catching their 25 fish limits. During the daytime you can still catch a good number of fish by using your depth recorder to mark the schools along the drop-off on the edge of the channel, then lowering a live minnow to them.
Inshore?The best fishing has been concentrated around the creeks of North Bay, East Bay and West Bay and around the steam canal in Panama City where spotted seatrout, redfish and the occasional flounder are being caught by bouncing soft plastics with a ¼ ounce jighead along the bottom. The key word here is ?slow,? work the baits about half-speed from normal. On the sunny days you can find redfish tailing on the flats across the entire region, particularly on the days when the winds are down?air and water temperatures don?t really matter. Live shrimp, gold spoons or New Penny colored jerkbaits will catch reds to 35 pounds around Destin.
Offshore? The beaches from Panama City to Pensacola are holding schools of breeder-sized redfish up to 40-pounds, most too far off to reach from shore. Assassin swim baits in Baby Bass color, SkitterWalks and live bait will get you all the action you want from these big throw-back reds. As you work your way offshore, the artificial reefs in state waters are holding some big amberjacks, along with grouper and red snapper, while the deeper wrecks have some nice tuna still around.
West Central Florida
Inshore?Seatrout and redfish can be found around the mouth of the Little Manatee River, Roberts Bay, Little Sarasota Bay, St Joe?s Bay and on the eastern shoreline of Tampa Bay, with Gulp! or Bass Assassin jerkbaits in brown, or white the most productive offerings. Sheepshead have moved in around Siesta Key and the Skyway Pier, with live shrimp and a 1/0 circle hook catching 8 to 12 fish per angler right now. Ladyfish are all over the grass flats of Lemon Bay, while redfish to 12 pounds are tight to the mangroves.
Offshore?Sea bass are the mainstay for offshore anglers fishing the rockpiles in anywhere from 15 to 45 feet of water. There are plenty of grouper in those same areas, so expect to catch them, but remember that grouper season is closed right now. Mutton and mangrove snapper are on fire in 150 feet of water off the Middle Grounds using live pinfish.
Inshore?Redfish are the hot bite for anglers sight casting the shorelines or working the points off oyster bars from Naples down to Chokoloskee. The winter tarpon bite hasn?t showed yet, but it?s due any day now, according to Capt. Ron Hueston of Naples. Throw gold spoons, soft plastics in natural colors like molting shrimp or rootbeer for the reds, and expect to pick up the occasional small snook along the way. Ladyfish, seatrout and sheepshead are all over the flats right now, with live shrimp fooling all three species. Sheepshead are schooling in the passes and working their way inshore to spawn, so shrimp, sandfleas or fiddler crabs will catch you enough for a meal.
Offshore?Grouper action remains consistent along the hard bottom areas anywhere from three to five miles off the beach. Use small pilchards in those same areas and you?ll catch a mess of mangrove snapper on the reefs and wrecks right now. Spanish mackerel and the occasional king are in the same area, so a lot of anglers are freelining a larger pilchard out back on #4 wire. If you stop along the offshore markers to catch live bait, keep a chartreuse jig rigged and ready for any cobia that might follow the hooked baits on your Sabiki rig to the surface.
Inshore?Spotted seatrout action out in front of Flamingo has been fantastic, with anglers catching up to 80 fish per day using live shrimp or paddletail (shad type) soft plastics in gold, green or rootbeer. Most of the trout are under three pounds, and are mixed in with ladyfish, so action is constant. On the warmer days there have been some good bonefish caught on the flats off Long Key, Marathon and Key West, mostly on live shrimp or fly fished for mudding fish in 2-4 feet of water. On the cold days, the barracuda fishing around the inshore wrecks in the Southern Keys has been fantastic using tube lures, while limits of mangrove snapper are coming from the bridges and cuts of Key Largo on live shrimp.
Offshore?The sailfish bite has been consistent from Fowey Light down to Sombrero, as a large portion of the sailfish population off Florida has moved south with the last few cold fronts. Multiple fish days are the norm, and 10 fish days are fairly common, with the best action on a north wind using live pilchards, threadfins or ballyhoo. On the reefs, yellowtail snapper fishing is fantastic using chum balls and shrimp or squid on a 1/16 ounce jig and 12-pound fluorocarbon leader. The big kings have moved into Key West, with live blue runners the hot bait for fish over 50 pounds.
Inshore?Pompano have moved into the coast from Vero Beach south to Palm Beach, with good concentrations around the Fort Pierce and St. Lucie Inlets. The most consistent bites in the Indian River have been on the incoming tides using jigs, although a good number of fish have been caught along the beaches as well. Spanish mackerel and bluefish to seven pounds can be found along the beaches, with large concentrations of fish north of the St. Lucie Power Plant, off Peck Lake and Lost Tree Village. Anglers on the Juno Beach Pier report a daily mixed bag of Spanish mackerel, bluefish, whiting and pompano. In the Indian River, spotted seatrout action remains consistent using Bass Assassin Texas Shads in Texas Roach color with a 1/8-ounce jighead.
Offshore?The sailfish bite that has been so hot has finally cooled, although anglers are still getting multiple shots at fish on a daily basis in 120- to 150-feet of water throughout the region. Dolphin, wahoo, blackfin tuna and bonito fill in the rest of the action on a typical day. Bottom fishing for snapper in 70- to 110-feet of water is outstanding from Jupiter Inlet south to Boynton Beach. Ballyhoo plugs, cigar minnows and Spanish sardines bounced on the bottom will fool limits of yellowtail, mangrove and mutton snapper. The deeper wrecks are hosting some big amberjacks right now, with the best action in 110- to 180-feet of water off Palm Beach and St. Lucie Counties.
Beach fishermen looking to target spinner sharks on fly will find them north of Palm Beach Inlet and off Hobe Sound Beach.
East Central Florida
Inshore?Spotted seatrout, redfish and black drum are hitting in the Mosquito Lagoon, particularly around the Haulover Canal. Similar catches of big drum (some to 80-pounds) and over-the-slot redfish are taking place at Sebastian Inlet on live shrimp or quartered blue crabs. For fast and furious action, work the warm water outflow of the Project Energy plant in Titusville, where a fast-moving jig will produce ladyfish, pompano or jack crevalle on just about every cast.
Offshore?Sailfish action remains steady off Canaveral, as does kingfish action in closer to shore. Bluewater trollers working the Steeples are on the south end of the region are taking wahoo, mostly small dolphin and some big blackfin tuna. Bottom fishing remains steady for sea bass, triggerfish and porgies, and cobia are starting to show around the Bethel Shoals buoy. Watch for tripletail to begin showing on the buoy line outside Port Canaveral if the water temperatures warm up. Northeast Florida
Inshore?The jetties at Matanzas and Ponce Inlets are producing a mixed bag of black drum, redfish and sheepshead for anglers fishing the bottom with live shrimp, crabs or finger mullet. Fiddler crabs or sand fleas will also produce sheepshead to seven or eight pounds if you can get them. Beach anglers are catching whiting, bluefish and pompano, with the best action on the days when the surf is less than 4 feet. Shrimp, clams and cut bait are the best options.
Offshore?When the weather windows permit a nice run to the offshore grounds, there is action galore at the wahoo store, as anglers are reporting multiple hook-ups using rigged horse ballyhoo or swimming mullet with a black and red and pink and blue Ilander Lure. High-speed trolling with Braid Speedsters or swimming plugs is also effective. Bottom fishermen are finding grouper and red snapper in 80- to 110-feet of water, but seasons are closed on these species. Black sea bass are filling in the gaps, along with triggerfish and the occasional cobia.