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Capt. Greg

New Port Richey Snook Fishing

By Fishing Tips

Snook fishing in New Port Richey

The coastal waters off of New Port Richey are teaming with fish, we have several species that live here year round and some that migrate in and out every spring and fall. Without a doubt one of the most sought after is the Snook, and we have them year round.

The Snook off of the Sports coast range in size from 12-inch juveniles to 40+ inch monsters, and believe it or not they live in the same areas and eat pretty much the same things. When it comes to favorite foods for snook it is hard to beat the Pilchards that inhabit our waters from March to November, however they are not the only things the snook eat. Pinfish, Mullet, Ladyfish, Shrimp, and pretty much anything smaller than they are and all are on the menu, and they are very aggressive toward most artificials that imitate small baitfish.

The coastline of Pasco County offers the Snook just about every type of cover they need, from deep canals and spring fed rivers for the cool winters to shallow Mangrove edges and deep rocky channels for the snook to ambush prey. Pasco County also has Anclote Island, a barrier island that provides a beautiful spawning area for the snook in the summer time. All of these types of structure are utilized by the snook at different times of year for different reasons.

Winter time (Nov, Dec, Jan) is a time when the snook will head into the deepest and warmest areas to survive the cold winter water, Snook must have water that maintains 60 degrees or above to survive. We have two rivers the Cottee and Anclote Rivers, both are spring fed and stay warm enough for the snook to survive, there are also plenty of deep water canals that offer the same sanctuary to the snook. The fishing for snook this time of year is good but there are better times.

Springtime is the time when the bite really turns on (Feb, March, April, May) the pilchards show up along with several other baitfish and the snook begin to move out of their winter homes and are hungry. As the water steadily warms the bite will increase until the water temps reach the upper 80s, Just about any mangrove edge or point with some current will attract the snook, they will also begin to show up on the grass flats preparing to move to the beaches of Anclote island for the summer spawn.

Summer time is a great time to catch snook on the beaches of Anclote Island, as they will move out there to spawn. There favorite food this time of year is the grunt, but they will still eat just about anything that gets in front of them. The snook will congregate on the points in the beach especially on the ends of the island where the current is the strongest. Summer time is the time of year that more 40+ inch Snook are caught than any other season.

Fall is almost as good as springtime but the Snook aren’t quite as aggressive as they are in Spring, and the whole scenario is basically Springtime in reverse, instead of coming out of the rivers and canals to feed, they are feeding to go back into the rivers and canals for the cool winter waters. The areas that we will catch them on is the same as it was in the spring, the main bait will be Pilchards.  Structure and good current flow are the main factors needed for a good bite.

New Port Richey is one of the northernmost areas on the west coast of Florida for Snook,  we have a very large and healthy population of them and the local regulations have helped keep there numbers in good shape. If you get a chance to come to our beautiful part of the state make sure you book a charter to get out and catch some Snook, you will be hooked!

Capt. Greg DeVault

West Coast Spring Slam

By Fishing Reports

Today was the day everything came together. There will be more days like today but this was the first one of this year that my clients were able to put together my version of the West coast spring slam. The slam consists of a Tarpon, Snook, Trout, Redfish, and Cobia. 

I had a feeling it was going to be a good day when I left the dock, the ramp was empty and it was slick calm. As I arrived at the bait flat I could hear bait flipping all over the place, I started chumming and it took 2 throws to fill the live wells. I met my charter at the dock in New Port Richey at 8:30 am and we eased out the river to a little cove that I saw tarpon rolling in the past few days, we still had about an hour of outgoing tide so I was hoping for a flurry on the last of the tide. I threw some chummers out and the tarpon began to roll and get active, the first bait in the water was hit instantaneously, after three very energetic jumps he was gone. It didn’t take long for the next hookup, this one stayed attached and I was able to leader the fish but he jumped off right at the boat. Technically it was a catch, we just didn’t get the photo. 

We jumped a couple more little tarpon before the tide died out and so did the bite. I decided to run south to a deep channel off of Tarpon Springs that I have been catching some nice trout out of. As we pulled in the water was already moving in so I was sure the bite would be on immediately. We put three baits in the water and it took about three seconds to hook three very nice trout. The bite stayed strong for the next 30 minutes, and every bait that hit the water was eaten very quickly, we caught several nice Trout, a couple Redfish and some jack Cravelle. As the tide filled up the channel the bite slowed, so we decided to run back north to the area that I crushed the snook at yesterday. As I was running north over the grass flats of New Port Richey I noticed several nice big Southern Stingrays swimming around, a sure sign the Cobia were near. We arrived at the bay off Hudson and the water was just starting to flow in, we gave it a few minutes to settle down and then put baits into the drift. It took a couple minutes but the bite exploded again, every bait that drifted down to the spot was hit upon arrival. We caught several snook from 25 to 32 inches, and lost a few that could not be stopped. 

We had a couple hours left to fish so I decided it was time to go check out the flat I had seen the Stingrays on. Cobia is a sight casting deal, you idle around looking for the Stingrays and the Cobia will be following. It took about five minutes to find the first one, and after several great casts, he just would not eat. I decided to leave him and look for another Ray, it took another five minutes or so to come across another one, only this time there were two Cobia on the Ray. Mason put the bait right in front of them and the bigger of the two fish peeled off and ate it, that never happens, but it did this time. We were able to land a 37-inch Cobia, Masons first.

The spring bite is in full swing and the month of April is going to be awesome, so if you have not booked your days don’t wait they will fill up fast with the great weather and fantastic bite!

Till tomorrow, tight lines

Capt. Greg DeVault

The water is heating up and the bite is on fire

By Fishing Reports

Mother nature just keeps making them prettier and prettier, although I would not mind if she would turn the wind down just a little bit. It’s hard to believe that less than a month ago the water was in the low 60s and the air temperatures were struggling to get to 70. But now we have had almost 3 straight weeks in the upper 80s and our water temps should get to 80 by this weekend, and that combined with the full moon the first week of April will mean some of the best fishing we have seen all year.

Today’s charter was a local client that scooped up one of the cancelations I had from all this craziness going on. It is rare that I get any canceled trips this time of year, but it happened and Steve took full advantage of it. I had them meet me at Anclote River Park in Tarpon Springs at 8:30, after I had gone out and caught bait. I was back early, as the bait is still very easy, I took the spare time to retie some of the rods for the days charter.

As we move away from the new moon our tides are starting to get weaker and have less range, but we overcome this by fishing areas that are pinched down and force water threw them. The first spot we hit was loaded with big gator trout, almost every bait that swam down the cut was crushed. The bite stayed strong until we decided to leave to go try and get some snook to bite. I wanted to try a little bay up in Hudson that I have not been in for a few days, when we got there the water was moving but not very fast. There are two docks on the bay that the current runs under and usually always hold fish. We got set up and could see fish under the docks, we put baits in front of the docks but the snook would not eat at all. We decided to eat a sandwich and let the tide get flowing better, rather than keep bombing the fish. This plan was a good one as once we finished eating, the tide had picked up and the first bait that passed the dock was inhaled by a large snook that bolted right back under the dock and broke us off. We would get several shots at fish but only get one of them to the boat, but sometimes just seeing the hit and feel the sheer power of these fish is enough.

We left the little bay and headed back south toward New Port Richey, as Steve wanted to see if he could get a tarpon to go with his snook. I wasn’t sure it was going to work as the little Tarpon prefer a swift current and we just didn’t have it. I loaded up the chum slinger to see if I could wake them up, well it seemed like everything but the little Tarpon showed up. We caught Jack Cravelle, Trout, Snook, Ladyfish, and even a flounder but no Tarpon. Oh well, not every plan works out, but it was a fun day on the water and we had absolutely gorgeous weather.

Hopefully tomorrow we get a little less wind and more hungry fish, the second is a given as we are in spring and they are feeding!

Till tomorrow, tight lines

Capt. Greg DeVault

Port Richey rod bending fishing action!

By Fishing Reports

Thank god for Monday, that is something only a guide would say. But it is true, after the crowds that were at the boat ramps and on the water this weekend, it was a very welcome sight to see an empty boat ramp this morning. And the number of boats on the water was significantly lower than this past weekend. I will say the light pressure and empty parking lot made for much less stress loading and unloading for sure.

Today’s charter was a very good friend and client, he is actually the very first paying charter I ever took fishing, and he is still fishing with me 25 years later, man have we caught some fish together.

I left the ramp at sunup to go and catch bait, since bait was everywhere I went to a close by flat and what a good choice. Bait was extremely plentiful and it came into the chum almost immediately, two throws of the net and I was done. I called my charter and told them I would be there early so we could go when they got there. We loaded up an hour early and left the dock in Port Richey heading down the river to what would be a stellar day on the water. The first spot we went to was in the Cottee river and with the low water I was seeing some small Tarpon rolling. We got set up and threw the first baits in and were met by a Jack attack, every rod was bent and drags were screaming. We got rebaited and I decided to chum to see if we could draw in the small Tarpon, but the jacks were persistent. We did get one Tarpon to eat and do some aerial stunts for us, but he came unhooked and that was it for the Tarpon.

The tide was starting in and flowing hard, with the water temperature at 78 I knew the time was getting right for the Snook to go off. We ran south to a little bayou in New Port Richey that has a deep trough running through it, which funnels water right to the fish. Little did I know at 10 AM this would be the last stop I would make all day. The guys put three baits out and it immediately sounded like drag in stereo, large snook hit all three rods and they were screaming. We landed two of the three and both fish were over 30 inches, this bite went on for 3 ½ hours and only got better as the tide came up. I lost count but I would have to say we landed in the neighborhood of 30 snook, and had a few Jack Cravelle in the mix also. The biggest surprise was the 3 redfish over 30 inches, which were mixed in with the snook frenzy.

After a lot of retying leaders and hooks, the bite finally slowed, but it never did stop. It was time to go and we really left them biting.

With all the craziness going on around us right now it is nice to have a job that allows me and my clientele the ability to escape the world and just enjoy what mother nature has to offer, if you have the ability to get out now is the time, the bite is on FIRE!

Till tomorrow, tight line

Capt. Greg DeVault

 

Great fishing with good friends.

By Fishing Reports

Today was another early start to the day as I knew that today being Sunday would mean another busy day at the boat ramp. You don’t hear people say this very often, but “Thank god it’s Monday” tomorrow. One thing that has not changed is the weather, it has been absolutely gorgeous now for almost two weeks. And the fishing is still going strong, although today was a little slower than the past couple days but I’m sure it was from the number of boats on the water and it is still very good.

We are right on the new moon, so the mornings have very low tides with incoming water starting around 7 or 8am. This is one of my favorite scenarios to fish on, my boat has the ability to run very shallow and get into areas before the tide comes up. We can get set up, and as the water rises the bite typically turns on.

Today’s trip was a fun one, my good friend and client Mike and his brother Chris were on board for the day. They met me at Nicks Park in Port Richey at 6:30 am and went with me to catch bait, it took a few more throws than it had been taking but we still got plenty for the day. We left the bait flat and headed south toward Tarpon Springs to a hole I have been catching a little bit of everything. I knew we were there early but I was hoping for the best, unfortunately, the tide was slack and fish did not have much of an appetite. So we decided to head north to a small bay in New Port Richey that has been holding some nice trout and snook. It took some coaxing but we managed to get some very nice trout and jack cravelle, but could not get the snook to go. The bite again died down so off we went to a creek I was in yesterday to try and get the snook fired up. We were a little ahead of the tide but when it started moving in the snook started popping. Chris started with a nice snook around 26 inches, and then Mike followed with one just a little bigger. The bite stayed strong for about an hour or so, we were able to catch a few more snook, some trout, and jack cravelle, but the big bite came on Chris’s line and we got a very good look at the big snook as it leaped out of the water, unfortunately, that was the only look we would get, like they say, it was the big one that got away.

It was getting close to the end of the day so we hit one more spot in the Cottee River, it is a dock that always holds fish. We set up and chummed, and almost instantly we saw some fish crashing the baits. The guys caught some Jacks right off the bat, then a couple trout, and then the big hit…but yet again the snook managed to elude us while I’m sure laughing at us.

It was a very fun day with great guys and beautiful weather. This week is forecasted to be another gorgeous week and cant wait to get out there again.

Till tomorrow, tight lines

Port Richey Florida Fishing Report

By Fishing Reports

Without a doubt today was Saturday, I had a feeling it might just get a little crowded today so I arrived at the boat ramp around 6 AM, way earlier than I needed to be there for bait. But it worked out good as there was only one other boat there and I was able to launch and be on my way to catch bait well before the sun came up. It always amazes me as to what a different world it is on the water when it is pitch black, it is quiet and just a little eerie, as you don’t readily see all your points of reference. But most of the time you are the only one out there, as was the case this morning, at least for now.

Today’s charter was a friend of one of my regular client who was referred to me, he said his grandson would be with him and they wanted action. With the tides we have this week and the water temperature in the mid 70s, I told them we would be very busy.

I met them at Nicks Park in Port Richey after I returned from my favorite bait flat, I had a full live well and off we went. I decided to start at one of the trout spots I have been fishing this week to get the action going, it is always good on a hard incoming tide like we had this morning. We got set up and Evan launched a bait into the water, it was eaten almost instantaneously and he was pulling on a large gator trout. Just like the past week or so the bite was fast and furious for almost an hour, we had a few jack Cravelle mixed in and Evans dad caught a very respectable 28-inch snook.

Once the bite slowed a little and the water had come up we decided to see if we could get Evan his very first inshore slam. We moved to a small bay that was lined with mangroves, I threw out some chummers to see if I could locate what we were after. There were several explosions and as we moved in our anticipation was high. All three of them launched baits into the area where the fish had showed themselves, and like they were playing centerfield all three floats were gone immediately. Evans started pulling hard and kind of rolling and bobbing, I thought to myself…Redfish. And it was a beautiful 28-inch redfish, Evans first redfish and 2/3rds of his slam. His father had a nice red and the third fish was another Jack Cravelle. We stayed in there and caught a dozen more fish, a mix of Jacks and reds. But not the snook Evan needed for his slam, so off we went to a sweet little honey hole I have been going to in the Hudson area all week. I picked the biggest bait I could find in the live well and hooked it up for him, he launched it out and I told him to hold on. It took a few minutes but his bait started going nuts and all of a sudden he was crushed, Evan was pulling and holding on, and when it got boat side he had completed his slam with a 29 inch snook! But his dad couldn’t let Evan have all the fun and while we were taking photos of Evans fish we could here the drag singing on his reel. Once at the boat, we measured him to be 31 inches.

It was amazing to see how many boats were out today, but having a boat with the ability to run extremely shallow usually gets me to the fish first and that makes a big difference when the water is crowded. I have no doubt that Sunday will be similar to today, and I have one of my very best friends and clients. It will be a great day.

Till tomorrow, tight lines

New Port Richey and Tarpon Springs bite is hot!

By Fishing Reports

I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record but, wow, what a spring bite we are having. I keep thinking to myself that the bubble is going to burst, but each day the fishing just gets better than the day before, and the weather only gets better and even more beautiful. Daytime temperatures in the mid 80s and nighttime temperatures in the mid 60s are keeping the water temperatures at the optimal 75 to 78 degrees.

Just like the past several days I cruised out to the bait flat by cover of darkness and again I had the area all to myself, bait once again was very easy, three throws and I was on my way to pick up my charter for the day.

I once again met my charter at the docks at Anclote River Park in New Port Richey, these were new clients and I wanted to start them off right. I decided to start at a hole I had been crushing the big trout at on the high incoming tide, today I had the exact opposite tide, low outgoing, so I wasn’t sure how the bite was going to be. We got there and set up and just like the other day, and again the bite was fast and furious and non-stop for the hour we stayed there.

After catching 75 or so big trout, the guys decided they wanted to go try for some of the snook I had told them about. I headed north to a little spot off of Port Richey that I had not been to in a while. This spot is a long undercut Mangrove edge that the incoming tide runs straight down, we got the boat in position and I had the guys go two at a time as room on the edge we were fishing was limited. The first couple baits drifted by unmolested, so I took a net full of chummers and sent them out to try and inspire a bite. It took a minute or two but the freebies started to get popped, and the snook gave away their location. We adjusted the boat and the next baits were smashed, we got one 30 inch fish and one that was unstoppable, however, she did give us a look at her when she jumped and she was large!

After we got done with that mangrove edge we slid back into a small bay to see what was in there, what we found was a huge surprise. One of the lines came tight and the drag started singing, and then it broke the surface doing cartwheels like only a Tarpon can do. We wound up jumping a couple and landing a couple. To say it was a surprise is an understatement, but the way this spring has been going, not much surprises me at this point. We finished the day off with a small school of redfish I have been playing with, and while they weren’t fired up we did get a few to eat and stretch our lines.

I love having new clients as it usually means a lot of firsts will happen and today was no different, three first were completed, first Tarpon, first Snook, and first Redfish. As they departed the boat they assured me they would be back.

Back at it tomorrow hopefully the weekend traffic will be light, HAHAHA.

Till tomorrow, tight lines

Capt. Greg DeVault

Great weather, Awesome fishing!

By Fishing Reports

We are having one of the most beautiful Marchs I can remember in recent history. The weather has been absolutely amazing with light winds, and temperatures in the mid 80s. The water temperatures have reached 75 degrees and the fishing has gone absolutely haywire. We are experiencing one of the best bites I have ever seen for giant gator Trout, Snook, and I am seeing great numbers of redfish. The only thing that have not shown up in good numbers yet are our Cobia, but I am seeing a lot of big southern stingrays so they are not far away.

Now that the Bait and weather have stabilized my morning routine at the ramp has become pretty repetitive, the one good thing is the flat I have found bait on is still a secret, and I’m thankful for that as I drive by the flat I was using early in March and see 10 to 15 boats crowded and throwing nets. Bait is getting easier and easier, today it took about 20 minutes start to finish and it is big pilchards, which is what the Snook and big Trout want.

I met my charter for the day at Anclote River Park in New Port Richey, we had about 2 hours of incoming tide so we headed north to and area that had some rocks and a lot of current. The first bait in the water lasted about 2 seconds before and big trout devoured it, from that point on it was all I could do to keep up with baiting hooks and taking off fish. After 50 or so trout we decided to go and see if the snook would bite, so I headed north to another creek in the Hudson area that I have been fishing. We still had a good incoming tide and once we got set up the bite was fast and furious until the tide slowed and finally stopped. The size of the snook is defiantly increasing we had a few in the 30 inch range and one that we could not stop.

With the slack tide we decided to go and look for cobia until the water started to fall. We ran back south toward New Port Richey to the flat I had seen some big rays on and started our search, we came across 5 large stingrays but none of them had any followers. After 20 minutes or so we decided to go back to what was working. I had a little hole on the way back to the boat ramp that usually produced on the outgoing tide. We pulled in and again it was almost instant hook ups, the big trout were fired up and popping baits as soon as they hit the water. We emptied the well there and the jack cravelle showed up and even a snook or two.

At the end of the trip we caught at least 75 trout over 18 inches and a dozen or so snook to 31 inches. With the weather getting better and better and the water warming up, the bite is only going to get better and better.

Till tomorrow, tight lines

Capt. Greg DeVault

Just another day in Paradise!

By Fishing Reports

Just another day in Paradise, that is what it has been for the last week here on the waters off of New Port Richey. We have had very light winds, crystal clear water, and air temperatures in the low 80s, for getting out and catching fish it just doesn’t get much better.

Today I was fishing a good client that was lucky enough to snag a day that had to be rescheduled by another client. I left the dock to go catch bait around 6:30 AM and the crowds were still very light, but it is springtime and I knew that would not last. So I opted to go to my quiet flat that I was at yesterday to get bait, which turned out to be a good idea as I had bait in three throws of the net. I was again done early so I did some more scouting to see if fish had moved around, I am starting to see a lot of big Snook moving to the outside and getting hungry.

I met my clients at the dock in Tarpon Springs at 8:30 am and we headed north to fish some creek mouths as we had about an hour of incoming tide left. We got set up and I had them drift some baits back with the current to the first points on the creek, we immediately hooked two snook, one 24 incher and the other we’re not sure as she could not be stopped! Unfortunately, the big snook ripped through the mouth of the creek and disrupted the whole thing. We stayed till the tide quit but the bite never got going again, we picked up and moved father north off of Hudson to try and get ahead of the tide again. We pulled into a flat with a few big oyster bars that were covered with mullet, I knew this would be good as soon as the tide got moving. I was not wrong, for almost an hour every bait that hit the water was consumed by something bigger. We caught Big Trout, Redfish, Jack Cravelle, and Snook all off the same bar. That is one of the best things about spring is all three species live together and eat at the same place.

After the bite finally died off in Hudson we headed back south toward New Port Richey to finish up the day. I have a little honey hole that has developed this spring on every incoming tide, is a deep channel with some submerged rock that for some reason is holding a bunch of BIG gator trout. Once we got set up I instructed them to cast into what seemed to be the middle of nowhere, however as soon as the pilchard made a move he was gone. The great thing about this spot is that after the trout get going they attract other fish like jack cravelle and redfish. We literally used every bait in the well today between chumming and catching, and on the last bait we caught a monster trout.

I haven’t been looking hard but it is just about time to start seeing some Brown Bombers (Cobia) on the flats, so in the next few days we will be looking in the shallow flats for sting rays with very long tails. Cobia fishing is about to begin!

Till tomorrow, tight lines

Be careful what you wish for

By Fishing Reports

I’ve always heard “Be careful what you wish for”,  well I have been wishing for some warm weather and light winds. And today I got it, slick flat water and 68-degree air temperature. When I dropped the boat in the water it was 65 degrees, today was looking up for sure. My plan was to go and see if our supply of pilchards had returned, as I left the ramp I was the only boat there, I was optimistically hopeful about the crowds.

I put the boat on top and cruised to the bait flat, it was literally like a mirror. As I slowed down I was again the only one in sight, could it really be happening like this, time would tell. Now the only thing I had to hope for was to see the flash of silver in the chum, and to my delight, it only took about 5 minutes before that happened. The first throw had about 50 of the magical crickets in it and I was happy I would not spend my morning throwing the net over and over. As I was cleaning the boat up to get ready to meet my charter, the first boat finally showed up, but it would not be the last!

I left the flat and worked back to the dock to meet my charter for the day, Eric Is a great client and friend and I was looking forward to today’s trip. We were set up to meet at 9am and they were right on time. We loaded up and left the dock, the group was very excited to see that I had filled the well with shiny pilchards. Our first stop was a springtime spot that always loaded up with big gator trout when the conditions are right. Unfortunately, everything was right except for the water temperatures, we are still fighting cold water in a lot of places, and this was one of them. We gave it 20 minutes or so and decided to move back inland to find some warm water, as we were running across the flat I saw a very large school of very large fish. As we spun around and dropped the trolling motor I could see it was a bunch of BIG black drum, about 200 of them. Luckily I still had some shrimp in the live well, and while its not their favorite food, we were able to get 10 year old Hoog hooked up to about a 45 pounder that wore him out. We chased the school of drum around for about an hour and could not stay attached to another one. But it was very cool to see them roaming around the flat. We left the Drum to go get some Snook and Trout, we were able to get set up on a rock pile that was loaded with trout, but only a few of them were hungry. I was able to get everyone a few trout and off we went to find some snook. We decided to fish a dock with a lot of current and got set up and caught them two at a time until they decided enough was enough. We ended the day in a small creek where we could see Snook and Redfish swimming around, we set up and drifted some pilchards to them. The bites were almost immediately and after 4 or 5 of both species we decided to call it a day.

One thing is for sure, the empty boat ramps of the beginning of the week are only a memory. I do not want the cold and wind back, but maybe just enough to keep the boat traffic low. One thing to remember, we do have loads of bait but if the fish aren’t ready to eat it they wont, so you better have what they want. Time to load the boat and get it ready for tomorrow’s trip.

Till tomorrow, tight lines