Crazy Weather, Hot Fishing
I would love to report that fishing has been wonderful and things here in Central Florida were just rocking and rolling along. However, like George Washington reportedly stated, “I cannot tell a lie.” Now, before you decide to close this report out, thinking there is nothing in it, or that it is all negative news, give me a few seconds; I promise, this report is NOT doom and gloom.
Florida, like most states in the southeast portion of the United States, has faced some very unusual weather over the last
two months. This weather has included cold fronts, tornadoes, high winds, massive hail, and torrential rain. This has not been a single event, has been a repeating series of events every 7-10 days. While fronts are not unusual this time of year, the weather in between the fronts has been. Usually, we have a day or two of winds after a front, followed by some wonderful, calm weather and a warming trend. Then, the next front, and the pattern goes until spring claims its foothold. This year that has not happened. The days in between the fronts have been just as windy and unpredictable as the days during the fronts. Our winds have been a constant 15-20, and their direction seems to rotate throughout the compass, throughout the entire day. This has been the biggest issue we have faced and it has made fishing more difficult.
Changing wind directions, high wind speeds, rain runoff and temperatures that drop as much as 20 degrees in an evening have kept the fish, and the fishing enthusiasts, guessing on what to expect. Snook haven’t been able to figure out if it is safe to stay up on the flats, or if they need to stay near drop-offs, so they can get relief from cooler temperatures. Redfish, looking for constant food sources, can’t determine which shoreline the bait will get blown to, or which area will provide some shelter and protection from the birds overhead, as the drift algae they rely on for camouflage gets blown from one side of a flat to the other. Tarpon, which were just starting to show up with warming waters, quickly returned to their winter haunts as the air temps dropped and the water temperatures on the flats dropped from 74 to 64 overnight.
These changes mean that as an angler or a fishing guide, you need to be flexible. You need to have several plans for a single day and you need to be able to change from one plan to another, and possibly back again, within a short amount of time. The same thing is true for your offerings for the fish too. You need to be prepared with several options and be able to make changes quickly. Redfish have probably been the most difficult fish for us to figure out in recent weeks. Whether we are fishing fly, artificial, or even live bait, they have been finicky. On most trips, it takes us a few fish to finally figure out what the redfish want to eat. Then, almost as sudden as you find a bait that works, they change their mind. In times like this, I find it necessary to have multiple rods rigged and ready to go, with different offerings. This allows us to have the best chance at catching fish. In fact, if I have two anglers fishing at the same time, we use two different baits. If one gets refused, the second stands a better chance of getting a hit if they have something different on. For fly anglers, I have multiple rods rigged and ready. If we get rejections on one fly, we simply switch rods out. Some days we’ve gone through all of the rods and then had to switch out flies. Then, after a few hours of success, they decide to switch and we go through the routine again.
Yes, it can be frustrating, but this flexibility leads to success and in the end, it makes for a better angler. You learn to observe every motion from a fish and understand what their behavior represents in their feeding behavior. Of course, there are those fish that simply don’t want to eat and it doesn’t matter what you offer. There is probably nothing worse than finding fish and placing a live, free-lined shrimp in front of them, only to have the fish run over, sniff it, and then swim off, leaving the shrimp scared to death but unharmed. Heck, even my go to crabs have been rejected on some trips. But we never give up, we just keep going and working it out.
The good news is that it appears we are finally going to end the pattern of fronts. As I sit here, writing, our last front passed through two days ago. Temperatures are back in the 60’s and 70’s for highs, where we had been near 90 before the front. Winds are going to blow for another day, and then they are supposed to return to “normal”. Remember, normal for us is still 10-15 when the afternoon winds kick in. Still, that’s a lot better than 15-25, with higher gusts. If these weather patterns stabilize, then our fishing is ready to go off. Snook, redfish, seatrout and tarpon are just waiting to start their spring feeding pattern, in preparation for their summer and fall mating rituals. These feeding patterns bring out the predator nature in them, as they try to fatten up, and make the aspect of catching them easier.
If you want to be a part of this action, then book your trip early. This week I’ve had to turn down a couple of clients because they waited until the last minute to try and book. I hate turning people away. My goal is to get anyone out that wants to enjoy the outdoors and let them see what natural Florida is all about. If you wait until the last minute, this can be difficult to accomplish, even if I try to find another guide that I work with. Spring to fall is our busy time, with all of our fishing action heating up, so for the best chance, don’t wait! Call me: 386-314-5998 or
Tight lines and screaming drags:
Captain John Tarr