February 24th 2013 fishing report by Captain Van Hubbard
Wonderful weather and great fishing from Venice to Boca Grande this past week.This is still the most unique and challenging fishing I’ve encountered in the forty years I’ve lived guiding our local waters! As we travel from Stump Pass Marina through Lemon Bay down to Charlotte Harbor I see large areas with no fish at all. I have not seen a mullet jump in a week, that’s scary! The good news is when we find fish they are concentrated. It takes more boat riding but we usually discover fish. We have not seen any dead fish recently but we have seen some slightly discolored water on the 18th. The best news is that red tide seems to have dissipated and I don’t have a clue as to why; I’m just thankful it’s gone.
The sheepshead have been thick on all near shore artificial reefs recently. We are passing the Full Moon when I expect many to spawn. Some will remain near the reefs and many will return inshore to feed and fatten back up. This fishery should remain strong for another month. It’s been a red hot bite when winds allow us outside. We save the bigger ones and they eat like grouper.
Pompano have blessed us regularly recently. With this fish nothing is guaranteed except that they don’t sit still and while a favorite they are challenging. Doc’s Goofy jigs with my custom pompano flies have been best but we are catching several on the rattle corks with shrimp. Fish are sometimes in normal places and more often recently; where we find them. Share info with friends because these fish are not going to be here tomorrow! Be prepared to move a lot and burn some fuel to score consistently. My new, efficient Evinrude E-Tec 200 is saving my bacon here! Several times we found pompano looking for trout. My friend Captain Matt Coleman made our day last week by sharing a hot spot he stumbled into pompano while trout fishing; it was hot two days and dead the third? That’s why we call it fishing and these tasty devils are the craziest.
Snook were biting well but it got cooler they slowed so we’ve concentrated on eating fish since that bite has been hot. When our waters warm back up we’ll get after the snook again. Some have been minnows around if you want to invest the time to chase them. Remember the risk if you run into bad water! We have done well on shrimp when we find hungry snook so far.
Trout seem to be hiding and will show up anytime in numbers. I believe this because; we had plenty of specks and I’ve not seen many dead ones. It’s time for them to start spawning and that means they bunch up! So get ready for hot trout action when this occurs.
Redfish are here and can be caught if you don’t mind putting in the effort. Reds are targeted by lots of anglers and the tournaments so they get chased constantly. The more any fish gets chased the harder they run and spookier they get! We have reds just expect to work for them or get lucky.
Spanish Mackerel are scattered but we are catching a few. They are skinny which shows minnows are not easy to find. This will improve soon. Also we are hosting a small, fifteen boat Mack Attack, fun event from Whidden’s Marina on April the 7th. This is a family event and no money prizes we are raising funs for the Bit of Hope Ranch and Boca Grande Historical Museum. We are going to have raffle prizes and a fish fry after to meet and share our experiences. We want to revive our exciting mackerel fishery and promote family fun fishing this is not a competitive event! Please let me know if you’re interested?
One more tip to remember. Observe the water color and tint carefully because fishing will dramatically change if tainted waters flow into your spot! We are catching fish so fast sometimes that I don’t notice the gradual shift from green to a yellowish tint; then it is redder and the fish shut down! It’s time to move and the brighter the sun the faster it seams to bloom. Several times last week we went for red hot to red tide in ten minutes but caught fish there again the next day. Go figure I’m just sharing what is happening? Thank you for your support. Let’s go fishin’ soon. Captain Van Hubbard www.captvan.com
PS book Boca Grande snook and tarpon trips now!