Boca Grande fishing report Charlotte Harbor Fishing report September 17th 2013
I’m sure you have heard the phrase there is no better time to go fishing than now, which is normally true no matter how good or bad the fishing is. Well, let me tell you, NOW is the time to go fishing in Boca Grande and Charlotte Harbor. A good friend of mine who is also a fishing guide once told me that we do not know how fortunate we are to live in Charlotte Harbor. He backed his opinion up with a very valid point, there is only 2 places in North America where you can consistently target tarpon for 6 months a year. One is the 100 mile stretch of islands known as the Florida Keys, the other place is Charlotte Harbor, my back yard. Sometimes I take for granted the great fishing that Charlotte Harbor offers. Where else can you catch 20 pound snook and redfish, 40+ pound kingfish, all the sea trout you could ever want, and top that off with a 150+ pound tarpon? Your choices are very limited. Now where could you catch all those species in September, October, and November? There may be another place that I do not know about but I can’t think of one. Now where can you catch all those species in the fall months in the SAME day all within a 10 mile or less radius? The only place to do this is Charlotte Harbor.
What does this have to do with my fishing report other than bragging and boasting about how great the fishing can be in Charlotte Harbor? Well, like I said, there is no better time to go fishing then now. I have been catching all the species and then some (gag grouper) on a daily basis. I have not done a whole lot of snook and redfish fishing the 6 months, in fact I have spent probably less than 10 days in the last 6 months fishing for them. However, the last few weeks I have just gone out and went fishing. Meaning, I didn’t know which of my spots was holding good snook, I had no idea where the schools of redfish were, I didn’t know where the bait was. I just went fishing blind. What I figured out was, the snook were chewing their butts off at every spot I went to, I couldn’t get away from the redfish, and while I was running from spot to spot I saw tarpon all along the way.
Tarpon fishing is my bread and butter, it is also my passion. Don’t get me wrong, I love to fish the backcountry for snook and redfish but tarpon have my heart. So for someone like me to be able to just randomly go backcountry fishing after tarpon fishing for 6 months straight and be able to find fish so easy at every spot I went to is pretty remarkable and unheard of. Normally it takes me a few days to figure out the general areas and tides that are holding fish. I will strike out at a few spots but after a little scouting over a couple of days I can figure it out. The past few weeks I have not struck out, I can not find a spot that doesn’t have redfish or snook or both. They are feeding on the outgoing tide and the incoming tide, it doesn’t matter. Oh, and the bait. Sometimes it seems we spend more time looking for and trying to catch bait then we spend fishing. I ran down the outside of Boca Grande along the beach. I saw flocks of sea gulls and pelicans right along the beach having a feeding frenzy. I stopped the boat, idled to the birds, threw my cast net once, and caught so much white bait (pilchards) that I could not lift the 12 foot net back into the boat myself. The last time I tried to catch whitebait before this day was March. Fishing guides struggle just like every other fisherman, sometime not as much but it happens. One day you are fishing for tarpon and the next you have a client that wants to catch snook. Two totally different types of fishing with different equipment and in totally different areas. And like I said there is a learning curve and it can take time to get “back” on the fish. But not right now, the fishing is simpley AWESOME!
So, enough bragging and back to the fishing report. There are snook all along the beaches and in the passes still. There are snook in the backcountry in areas such as Turtle Bay and Bull Bay. The large schools of redfish, up to a few hundred, are staging on large open flats, the best flats are ones that have some sort of structure on them like oyster or sand bars.
Now to my favorite fish and the species I’m most qualified to wright a report about, TARPON! The tarpon fishing right now is the BEST of the year. We may not have as many tarpon as in the spring around but being able to fish around several thousand fish with not a boat in sight is pretty darn good. However, the biggest difference between tarpon fishing in May and September is that the fish are post-spawn and eating is their primary objective until they get pushed back south after a few coldfronts pass through our area. The only factor that will make tarpon fishing difficult right now is the weather, i.e. the wind. Last Thursday, September 12th, was the best day of tarpon fishing I had ALL season long. For as far as you could see there were tarpon blasting glass minnows. This is one of the greatest spectacles that a tarpon fisherman can witness. To see a 100+ pound fish skyrocket out of the water through a school of bait is quite spectacular, too see thousands of 100+ pound tarpon skyrocket through schools of minnows in nothing short of jaw dropping.
So, when is the best time to fish? Right now is the answer, I wish the fish would bite like this every day, I wish they would bite this good next month. They may but I do not have a crystal ball, all I know is the fishing has been epic for the last few weeks, it was great yesterday, it was great today, and I suspect it will be great tomorrow. But, this great fishing we have now will end, it will end sooner rather than later. So do yourself a solid and go fishing today!