Fishing report, Biscayne nights- Everglades days, 17 January

This will be my first report of the New Year (and long overdue since I didn't post one at all in December..). The weather seems to have finally settled into a normal winter pattern down here in paradise. Last year was anything but normal since the rainy season (which normally gets going in early May...) didn't get started until the end of June (making this past year an extraordinary dry one until then....). At the end of October when we usually get our first fall cold front -once again not the usual since our first very mild cold front wasn't until late November with hardly any other cold fronts at all until after the new year a week into 2016... To add to the confusion, the dry season usually starts at the end of October each year... This past December it rained heavily for almost three weeks... Now what we're finally into 2016, let's hope that weather patterns return to a more standard pattern since fish movements and how they behave month to month is very much weather driven...

We did three nights earlier this month in Biscayne Bay as part of a four boat charter fishing a group of Norwegian anglers (they were a treat....) with a layover on their way down to South America. The winter shrimp run hadn't properly begun so we all struggled a bit for the few tarpon we saw. The other boats were fishing shrimp and had fair results each night. My anglers were fishing with flies and we struggled - only hooking one tarpon in three nights. Snook in docklights provided some action - but still things in the Bay at night were a bit slow. All of that will change the moment a good shrimp run gets going (any night now...).

Down in the 'Glades we've been finding lots of small speckled trout that eat everything tossed their way each day. My last day there, last Wednesday, I quit counting when we'd caught and released over twenty at just one spot in less than 30 minutes on lures. Mixed in with the trout were the usual small jacks and both large and small ladyfish hitting everything they saw. Right in the middle of that early action was a big pompano (we don't get many pomps in the interior but when we find one it's usually on the large side...). Here's a pic...

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Note the lure still in place.. we catch a bunch of fish each day on little more than a light jighead with a Gulp tail -in this case a 1/8 oz head with a 4" mullet tail.... That fish went home for dinner...

The rest of the day was similar with lots of small and barely slot sized (16-17") trout wherever we went. Moving into the rivers that drain into the Gulf coast -things began to change. One of my anglers, at 18 just beginning to get into fishing, used one of those same jigs to hook up on what we thought was a large grouper in around seven feet of water. That fish was very strong and quite fast, running across the river then back before reversing again and screaming for the other side again - always right on the bottom. It eventually found a snag and cut us off, but not before really opening the eyes of a first time visitor to the 'Glades... Later that day we did a bit more grouper fishing -this time with live bait... Our first fish was a surprise - a really big snook that looked to be from 36 to 40" long - not exactly what you'd expect in winter (another result of our strange weather these past months, this was the second time in four weeks that a grouper spot was holding big snook long after they should have left to move back inside....). That fish took the same young angler to school -after several head shaking runs right at the surface it dove down under the boat and managed to shake free of the hook... and me without a single photo of that big girl... Later on that same spot got loaded up with sharks of every size and after a few of them we decided to go elsewhere...

The one high point of these past few weeks in the 'Glades has been the number of nice sized (16 to 20") tripletail we've been finding along the coast to the north of the Shark river. Here's a pic of one of them.....

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We've been able to catch more than one fish at each spot whenever we've chosen to make the run....mostly just using the same jigheads with Gulp tails. These fish will also jump on a chartreuse and white Clouser that comes their way when I have a fly angler on board...

Here's my forecast for the coming weeks -at night, locally, all that's needed is for the shrimp run to get going with water temps that aren't too cold for the many small tarpon between Miami and Miami Beach each night. For the Everglades, now that we're in a more usual weather pattern, each cold front will move more and more fish back into the interior. Fairly quickly, the speckled trout will begin showing in larger sizes, redfish will be found in good numbers along shallow sheltered shorelines (along with quite a few snook) and the sightfishing will be good inside until spring... Once we're firmly into a winter pattern the giant tarpon will again show up inside of Whitewater as long as it doesn't get too cold. Once they show up, like magic, all the top tarpon fly anglers will appear as well. When the giants are in residence we'll have the best shallow water tarpon fishing anywhere in south Florida until the end of March when the Keys will begin to shine....

Be a hero, take a kid fishing!
Tight Lines
Bob LeMay
(954) 435-5666

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