Inshore Fishing Report
January brought a variety of species to our anglers fishing inshore. On one of Capt. Justin Rieger’s recent trips on the Snook Nook charter boat he guided his clients to 19 different species. Snook, Trout, Redfish, Pompano, Black Drum, Sheepshead, Croakers, Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish, Jacks, Bonefish have all been making recent catch lists among other species.
Snook season reopens on February 1st in our area. The Snook fishing was on the slower side during some of the cold fronts that we were getting with the water temperatures dropping to the high 60s at certain times. There has been a pretty good jig bite for those fishing the causeways at night with a good amount of slot sized and larger fish being caught. The First Light flairhawk jigs have been flying off the rack which is always a strong indication of a good bite! Staying on the artificial side, anglers have been finding success with artificial shrimp such as the Thumper and Vudu Shrimp fishing shadow lines at night as well as with paddle tails such as the NLBNs by slow rolling them across the bottom. For those fishing during the day, the water has been warming up over the past few days with some warmer weather and anglers have been finding success with live baits such as Croakers and Pilchards fishing docks and bridges. Fishing artificial shrimp, live shrimp and paddle tails around the mangroves and on the flats has been producing some Snook, Trout and a few Redfish. When we are met with the cooler water, look for these fish to be close to structure or in deeper holes as they will use those areas to stay warm. You will also want to slow down your presentation in the cooler water situations.
We have started to see some better numbers of Pompano caught inshore recently. Look to find the Pompano in the cleaner water on the Sailfish Flats, in the inlet and in the crossroads if you are fishing from a boat. You will often see the Pompano sticking with the tideline and moving with the clean water as it comes into the inlet and up through the crossroads and onto the sailfish flats. By following the tideline you may at times be able to stay in the fish a bit longer. There is plenty of bycatch to be had when jigging for Pompano, you’ll get Spanish Mackerel, Jacks, Snappers, Croakers, Bonefish, Bluefish and more. We saw some of the largest bluefish we have seen in our area in a while back in mid January with several fish around the 15lb mark. For those Pompano fishing inshore from land, the Jensen Causeway has been producing some fish on the east side relief bridge. They haven’t been caught in huge numbers, but there have definitely been some fish around. We saw the best bite for them later in the season last year so don’t be too discouraged!
The Black Drum bite has been pretty steady around the bridges, the 10 cent and Roosevelt bridge have seemed to produce the most fish while there have still been some around the Stuart and Jensen Causeways. Live shrimp on a jig head, live crabs or chunks of blue crab have been producing the bites. Sheepshead fishing has been steady as well, we typically see some of our best Sheepshead fishing in February. Focusing on structure with heavy barnacle growth will be your best bet as you can typically find a few around those areas. Fishing channel markers and crab trap buoys north of the Jensen Causeway is another solid option as you can find Sheepshead, Black Drum, Croakers, Triple Tail and more this time of year. Sometimes you will also find some big Snook around the markers waiting for their next meal.
Nearshore Fishing Report
We’re still seeing plenty of Spanish Mackerel at Pecks Lake for those looking to get in on the action. Fishing Gulf Stream Flash Minnows, Gotcha Plugs, Clarkspoon Mackerel Tree Rigs and spoons will be your best options to throw at them. You can also look at some of the nearshore reefs to find Lane Snapper, Sheepshead, Mangrove Snapper and a variety of different species with shrimp on a jighead.
Offshore Fishing Report
We had plenty of windy days in January which limited opportunities to get offshore but when conditions permitted, there have been some fish around. We’ve had a pretty good Blackfin Tuna bite, a lot of the tunas have been caught at Pushbutton Hill and on the back side of it. If you want to troll for them, you can troll ballyhoo, rigged squid with a skirt, cedar plugs or feathers to get a bite. We see a lot of Blackfins caught jigging around this time of year as well, both by vertical jigging and slow pitch jigging. If you want to jig for them, it doesn’t hurt to bring some sardines to cut up to have a little chum in the water to attract them. If you want to fish live baits, you should be able to get bit as well. There have been some scattered tunas in shallower as well, but the most consistent reports have been coming from around Pushbutton. We’ve been seeing some Mahis and Sailfish scattered around as well. These fish have been moving around and haven’t really stuck to a certain trend with all the fronts we have been getting so you will need to cover some water looking for fishy conditions such as color changes, temperature changes, debris or signs of life like bait or birds before putting your lines in to increase your odds. A very useful resource for Facebook users is joining the Treasure Coast Fishing Hub group for daily updates and reports from fellow anglers. You can join the group by using this link, https://www.facebook.com/groups/1980300408862732 . If you’re looking for live bait on the water such as Threadfins, Pilchards or Goggle Eyes, give Bryan or Mike with Stuart Live Bait a call to reserve your baits, 772-985-0425.
Bottom fishing has been producing Lane Snappers, Mutton Snappers, a few Mangrove Snappers, Triggerfish, Amberjacks and Almaco Jacks. The Lanes have been primarily caught at some of the nearshore reefs in 60’-90’. They aren’t too picky and you can fish a chicken rig baited with squid or sardines for them. You can also find some tasty Triggerfish in the same areas you’ll be catching the Lanes. The Muttons have been in the 70’-90’ range and you will want to fish a long leader for them, typically around 40’. Bigger baits such as grunt plugs, whole ballyhoo or live baits typically produce a few more quality Mutton bites. There have been plenty of Amberjacks and Almaco Jacks around on the wrecks as well if you want to drop a live bait or jig and battle them!
February typically provides our first good showings of Permit and Cobia nearshore. The action typically kicks off mid to late in the month and continues into March. You can look for Permit at the Powerplant boils, Upside-Down Barge and the Piper Barge. Your best bet is using live crabs when available either free lined or on a jighead. For the Cobia, you can look in the same places that you’re targeting Permit as well as at the Sandpile. When you’re fishing these areas, you can fish live baits, you will typically want to spread them out and have one as a surface bait, and put a few down deeper at various depths ready for one to swim by. You will also want to look for sharks as you will typically see them following close to the sharks on their backs, typically pitching a Cobia jig to them when you see them in those situations is the most effective option. It’s not a bad idea to always have a rod rigged with a Cobia jig this time of year incase you see one when you’re catching bait, run across a turtle, shark or ray with Cobia on them, or even reeling up a fish as sometimes the Cobia will follow your hooked Snapper to the surface.
Surf Fishing Report
We’ve been seeing some solid action on the beach when the weather has permitted. The catch list from the surf has included Pompano, Permit, Croakers, Whiting, Bluefish and Spanish Mackerels. The Pompano have all mainly been caught in the deeper troughs on the long rods. A lot of the action has been north on beaches around Middle Cove, but there have been fish scattered up and down the island from Stuart Beach to Ft. Pierce Inlet. The popular bait choices have been FishBites EZ Flea, Electric Chicken Crab and Flesh/Pink Crab as well as Sand Fleas for those looking for the Pompano. Capt. Paul Sperco is here at the shop on Thursday mornings for all your surf related questions if you need a quick lesson! Capt. Paul also typically drops a fresh batch of rigs off on Thursday mornings if you’re looking to get a few as they typically sell out pretty quick! We’ve been seeing a good amount of Permit caught from the surf as well, it seems like we are seeing more and more caught on a yearly basis which is great to see! If you want to go after the Permit, you will want good clean water as they typically won’t be around if the water is dirty. You can look to target them after we get a good west wind that will push the dirtier water offshore. The Pink/Flesh Fishbites and EZ Flea FishBites have been producing some Permit bites. They will be caught in the same range where you are casting for your Pompano in the deeper troughs. There has been Croakers and Whiting in the troughs closer to shore, FishBites paired with pieces of shrimp will get the job done on them. We’ve also been seeing a lot of Bluefish which can definitely be aggravating if they cut your rig off, but can be a blast for those casting spoons. There have been some Spanish Mackerel mixed in with the Bluefish as well.
The 4th Annual Sand Spike Shootout is scheduled for March 23rd & 24th and the headquarters and weigh station for the event will be right here at the Snook Nook. The Sand Spike Shootout is a two day Pompano and Whiting tournament benefiting the Indian Riverkeeper and presents opportunities to win some great prizes. If you’re interested in signing up you can visit the following link to get registered, https://www.theindianriverkeeper.org/sand-spike-shootout/?fbclid=IwAR2WfqyTEd-oWmkBZRY2ZtMmrvtPL4rtuBb4Aj0XiPnu-Bj4tQYHkN5WupM .
Lake Okeechobee Fishing Report – Capt. Angie Douthit
Fishing on the big O has been nothing short of wonderful, with customers catching their PB’s
bass and limits of of crappie. The bigger bass have, for the most part being caught fishing with
live-bait/shiners. Customers who enjoy throwing lures to catch their PB have been successful
with plastics such as worms and flipping-style lures like a Gene Larew salt craw or tube.
Customers often ask when wanting to book a trip “can we fish with live bait and throw some
artificial lures in the same trip”? The answer is yes, this type of fishing day accomplishes several
things…customers have the opportunity to fish with live bait if they have never tried it before
which can be very relaxing but also challenging and lure fishing, which gives them the
opportunity to ask questions and to learn new techniques and apply that knowledge to their
next fishing adventure. Typically when young kids are involved I often suggest live-bait fishing
which can at times offer more/faster action on the water and something the kids will
remember having fun fishing Lake Okeechobee. When it comes to the crappie trips, I strictly jig
for them in the shallows in/around the beds using a 10ft BnM Ultra Light pole, rigged with 6lb
Stren mono clear-blue line and a small round jig head and small tube. Customers who book a
“speck” trip will learn a new technique if they have never tried it before and go home with one
of the best tasting freshwater fish you can eat. If you haven’t tried it, now is the time to book
your “speck”trip, the spawn season will last until mid April this year. . If you’re a crappie angler
and have no idea as to where to start or go on the lake, I can tell you that a good place to start
is Harney Pond and Indian Praire canals as well as the Kissimmee River. Both canals is a great
place to work the edge drifting or a slow troll with minnows which gives you the opportunity to
cover water. Both canals offer wind protection when it’s just too windy to fish the lake. Plastic
colors for crappie to try are: chartreuse; green; white color patterns with a blue; orange; black
or white colored jig head. I hope this information helps you to have a more productive day on
the water and remember to show courtesy when using boat ramps by prepping your boat in the
designated boat prepping lanes, not while you’re parking in front of the ramp which holds
everyone up. If you need help, just ask !! To book you’re next fun-filled, productive day fishing
Lake Okeechobee call/text me at 863-228-7263. If you’d like more information regarding trip
cost, what to bring, recent customer pictures and their catches and etc log onto
www.southfloridabassfishing.com I offer Veteran and one-person trip discounts and can
accommodate group trips and offer a deep hotel discount with the best hotel in Okeechobee.
For all your tackle and live bait needs stop by Big Water Bait & Tackle located in Lakeport just
West of Harney Pond canal and see Jack or Kathy. My sponsors include: Toho Marine located in
St Cloud, Florida; Mercury Marine; Gene Larew; Bullet Weights; Real Magic; Rapala; BnM Poles;
Mid-South Tackle; G-Loomis; Gill; Navionics; Lews and Maui Jim.