Capt. Rick Davidson (firstname.lastname@example.org), Editor
It’s been a plentiful harvest at Steinhatchee this fall. The redfish, trout, Spanish mackerel, and gag grouper have been enjoying the lack of scallopers and the cooler water temperatures, and looking to bulk up before the winter…just like the ants in the children’s fable. There were lots of fishermen waiting to oblige them. Inshore, our guides got some great catches of specks and reds, and the offshore gag and red grouper bite was excellent, as you’ll see from our guides’ reports. Lots of huge amberjack came to the cleaning tables as well. I had some interesting trips this month. Fishing with Doug Barrett earlier in the month, we found some nice upper-slot redfish and caught this nice flounder that ended up on a plate at Fiddler’s Restaurant, stuffed with crabmeat. Through the month we caught a large number of good trout, bluefish and redfish. However, the trip of the month (and possibly the year) took place on the last weekend of the month. With negative tides, Capt. Tommy Thompson and I fished one of the offshore bars, which was almost out of the water miles offshore. After catching some excellent bluefish and Spanish mackerel, and tons of ladyfish, we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of what every angler wants to find this time of year…a school of giant oversized redfish getting ready to migrate offshore, never to return to the shallows. You can see those pictures in Tommy’s report below. They averaged around 20 pounds and after losing several due to tackle that wasn’t quite up to the task, we managed to land a few. It was a great trip.
Unfortunately, gag grouper fishing is closed after November 15, but you’ve still got some time to get some of the finest eating in the gulf. Check with some of our offshore guides for trips early in the month, and red grouper will continue to be available the rest of the year. Begin with finding some hard bottom or structure and fish live pinfish or squid on the bottom. With no action, try trolling deeper lipped plugs through hard bottom areas. The kingfish are present offshore around schools of whitebait, Spanish mackerel are everywhere from offshore to the shoreline on the flats. For some guaranteed action, set up on offshore bars like Nine Mile Bank with a chum bag and just wait for the Spanish and other predators to show up. Redfish are continuing to school in some deeper waters and some can be found close to shore, around oyster bars and creek mouths when there are schools of mullet present. For the large bulls, fish suspending plugs such as the Mirrolure series, from the 52M in water over 5 feet in depth, and the Mirrodine or Catch 2000 series in shallower water. On calm mornings, always give topwaters a try first for some real thrills. Trout are available on the flats around sand patches in 3 feet of water, but the larger fish are holding in deeper water right now. It should be an excellent month to catch some fine fish. As always, you can get all lures, live and dead bait and chum, and rods, reels and line at the Sea Hag Ship’s Store. Take advantage of the fine fall fishing this month.
Here are some reports from our excellent guides:
Captain Steve Rassel http://www.lastcastras.com 352-359-5902
Fishing in October was like fishing in March conditions this year, with plenty of wind, a few cold fronts and low water throughout the month. Of course, plenty of trout were around also. Knowing how to catch under these conditions is why the guides earn their money. Limits of trout were common. Plenty of red fish also, with a few over 20 pounds. The low water moves the reds out from the bank where they can be caught near or in the channels that feed Pepperfish Keys or Dallus Creek. You still can find some Spanish around the sand bars with a few sand trout sprinkled in. The bigger sea bass are now showing up in the deeper flats and channels. November will be great for trout and red fish so come on down and catch some.
Capt. Scott Peters, Jr. http://www.captscottjr.com/ 352-356-7502
Bad To The Bone Charters
Some pics of October fishing at its finest! I’m looking forward to a Louisiana redfish tournament, but give me call anytime.
Capt. Tommy Thompson
"Mixed bags" is the name of the game in November. I expect to continue to find nice trout drifting the 4 to 6-foot flats, especially those pocked with white sand spots. As for reds, I'll get as close to shoreline points and creek mouth bars and sneak up on the fish. Long casts and stealth are important this time of year when the water's gin clear. There will also be Spanish mackerel and bluefish along the grassy edges of the big offshore sand bars north of the river, and if we're lucky maybe a big 'bull' red or two, like the ones shown above.
If you're interested in some more in-depth information about fishing Florida's Big Bend, take a look at my weekly Fishing4Cast on the Florida Sportsman Magazine Web site at http://www.floridasportsman.com/4cast/bb, the Florida Sportsman Big Bend Action Spotter column in each month's issue. All of the Big Bend fishing 4Casts are now available to to viewed on my editorial website.
My award-winning fishing guidebook, The Saltwater Angler's Guide To Florida's Big Bend and Emerald Coast, might be a help to you if you spend lots of time at Steinhatchee (or anywhere from Chassahowitzka to Pensacola). It's got LOTS of secrets, tips and tricks, so don't forget to pick up a copy at the Sea Hag Ship's Store the next time you're at the marina. You can learn more about the book at www.saltwateranglersguide.com
Also, my book, The Inshore Advantage, Aerial Photos of the Shallow Waters near Steinhatchee, Florida is again available ONLY at the Sea Hag's Ships' Store. Although pricey ($75), the hardbound book with its 26 high-resolution color photos, taken at very low tide will give you a decided advantage in that you'll get a close-up look at the details of the shoreline from Pepperfish Keys to Sponge Point. The photos are also overlaid with GPS numbers and place names to help you better understand the shoreline. Also included are two articles, Steinhatchee Inshore Waters and Navigating Steinhatchee's Rocky Shoreline.
Captain Randall Hewitt www.hookedonreds.com 386-208-3823 (C) 386-294-1257 (H)
Captain Brian Smith, www.bigbendcharters.com (352) 210-3050
I just previewed the upcoming weather on NOAA (National Organization Against Anglers) and they have predicted rough sea conditions next week. In late fall, there isn’t enough strong southern warm weather to deflect or ameliorate the blows from the north. The thick cold dropping down on us can be quick and severe making offshore conditions draw a red-letter cautionary or worse note forecast. So wise offshore fishermen make weather a prime consideration, adjust and shove off during calm breaks. No fish is worth the prolonged beating a rough sea delivers. Call me a wuss, but I’ve white knuckled the wheel with the right and a pipe with the left hand while turning my head one way to breathe air not water. I’ve had some straight-up talks with Jesus during such times. One time watching a motor cowling submerge time after time will make one respect the sea. All that wrote to say, if your ‘little voice’ tells you NO; pay attention and enjoy life another day. Offshore fishing is a different animal than chasing trout and reds on the flats regardless of how rough it is floating and bobbing above the grass. Sport fishing is supposed to be fun for all aboard, the fish caught are extra.
Now, in recent time, offshore fishing has been memory making. My charters and other captains’ crews have come back with fine catches. Grouper fishing has vastly improved. The 55-65’ zone is quite productive. The frozen baits are great. Live bait can be better but not worth the time to catch, best to buy it, if available. Trolling will produce some grouper, but expect time between knockdowns. However, kings may fill in the gaps. A short #5 wire leader is a good idea. Amberjack are on the regular haunts busting live baits, vertical jigs and such. AJ’s are a ball to deal with and fine eating. Here on the left coast, amberjack average 15-25 pounds and don’t have the worms found on larger AJ’s south or on the right coast. We did a Habanero jelly glaze on grilled amberjack fillets and it turned to gluttony twice. Once was when served and the next was a bedtime snack. A breakfast nibble was great as well.
Florida snapper are running at or above two pounds on hard bottom at forty foot or better. If you’re like me, the FDA should regulate those fillets, because addiction is at first bite. When the weather breaks, I’m running off to get a cooler full of fillets for winter feasting.
Captain Steve Hart, www.legallimitscharters.com (352) 498-0299
The overall report for November is good, Gags have been biting well in the 45'-55' range both on live and frozen bait. Red Grouper have been more scattered but I have not tried anything much deeper than 70'. Amberjack have been doing well and good size along with some nice cobia on occasion. Florida Snapper and Sea Bass have been plentiful in depths from 35' on out. All and all the fishing has been good and don't forget that the last day for Gags is Nov.15. Be safe and I hope to see you on the water soon.
Captain Wiley Horton http://www.tunersportfishing.com/ 352-284-0990
SEA HAG GUIDES