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Capt. Greg

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

Let’s hit the docks.

By Fishing Reports

Finally, I arrived at the ramp this morning to see slick flat water and air temperatures in the 60’s. As I backed the boat in I had some time to look around as I was picking my clients up at their house on the water at 9AM. So off I went to see if any of our miracle bait (sardines) had started to show back up yet. The water temperature was still 60 degrees so I wasn’t very optimistic, but I had an hour to burn. I checked two very popular spots and there was not a sign of them, still too cold. So I used the rest of the time to find some new fish as I new with nicer weather the water would be packed soon, and the community holes would all be overloaded. I was able to locate some good numbers of Redfish, Black Drum, and plenty of Snook, which I new would not eat.

As I pulled up to the dock my clients were right on time and off we went. We had another very low negative tide, so I decided that we would do some dock fishing, as they wanted to catch some fish for dinner.  We worked our way deep into the canal system of Gulf Harbors to a dock that always holds drum, and sheephead. The bite started very slow, pretty much like every day this week but when the tide started back in the bite picked up enough to make a few of them eat. After we got dinner we decided to see if any of the Snook I had seen would like a big shrimp, I was not very confident but it was worth a try. Once we got set up I could see the snook laying in the current, but we still had 60 degree water, we drifted shrimp to them but the result was same every drift. The Snook would just move to the side and a smaller redfish or Mangrove snapper would inhale the shrimp. This was good action but we decided to move on to other chances.

By now the sun was up and the air temperature was closing in on 80, it was turning into a beautiful day and I knew what this meant, it would be very crowded from here on out. I started going to check on some of my out of the way spots, but we only had an hour or so before we were done. So we went out a drifted some deep cuts and caught some ladyfish to stretch the line and get some cut bait for tomorrow. 

Tomorrow I will be starting a little later and I am hoping the water will warm up enough to find some sardines but I will have shrimp until they show up. Time to wash the boat and prep the rods for tomorrow.

 

Till tomorrow, tight lines

A little warmer fishing.

By Fishing Reports

Finally, a day that wasn’t too cold to start with. However we did have the wind and very low water again, but ill take it because the wind was east and the tide was just starting to roll in and the boat ramp was empty again!

Today I would be fishing one of my best clients and a couple of his friends, they fish with me at least 4 times a month and it is always a good time with lots of joking and usually a lot of catching. Once we got loaded up and heading out the river I noticed that the water temperatures had risen to a balmy 59 degrees, not optimal but the warmest starting temps I’ve had all week. I decided to head out to Anclote Island with the negative low and good anglers I was hoping that the Trout bite might turn on. However the water was still a little too cold for anything great, we got a few to eat our jigs but all in all it was not what I had hoped for. We left the island behind and headed back to the mainland with the idea of hitting the back bays and creeks looking for some redfish, and anything else that wanted to eat some shrimp. On the way back across the intracoastal we had to go by the last flat that I caught Pilchards (Bait) at, I figured I would check the water temperature. It was not quite there yet but it is getting closer and with the warmth of the next few days we should get there.

After checking the flat we proceeded to the first creek to see what we could get, there is one dock on the creek and while it wasn’t loaded with fish we did catch redfish, mangrove snapper, and a flounder. The water was really moving good today as we are right on the full moon so we moved to a small cove that is very secluded and protected from the wind. As we worked our way in I noticed a large amount of mullet and a few redfish scampering away, I thought this was it, and it wasn’t a home run but we did catch 4 very nice redfish up to 30 inches.

We were on a bit of a time schedule so we decided to move and try one more cove, by now the tide had slowed and so did our bite. The last hole gave us a good mix of redfish, black drum, snook, and more snapper.

Tomorrow finally looks like the day that our water temperature will get back solidly in the 60s, and hold there. One thing is for sure when the bait returns to the flats, the fishing is going to get hot as the fish will be making up for lost time. I look forward to the big Snook, Gator Trout, and Cobia that are right around the corner. Of course I wont have the pond to myself once we get the fair weather but that’s okay, they got some catching up to do!

Till tomorrow, tight lines.

You don’t know, ’til you go!

By Fishing Reports

Just when you don’t think it can get any worse, be careful what you wish for. Yesterday looked like a banner day compared to this morning’s weather, but you don’t know if you don’t go. With the air temperature in the low 40’s I decided we would let the sun get up before we embarked on today’s trip. The wind had not let up from yesterday at all, but it had clocked around to the north some. I knew this would mean a giant negative tide and plenty of exposed flats, thus trapping any fish in the nearby holes and troughs. It was a good plan in my mind, however, when we got halfway to our destination I could see solid muddy water and 2 to 3 foot swells with lots of white. I asked my clients if they were game and they were, I wish they had said no! After a 10-minute hell ride we arrived at the first hole only to find 50-degree water temperatures, it always amazes me how fast our water cools off. I knew immediately that this plan was a bust, but we had made the ride so we gave it a try. After 30 minutes, a couple moves, and several casts, we had zero bites, so I informed my crew we were going back through the washing machine to find some warmer and protected water in the river.

This would have been my first plan if it weren’t for the giant low tide making me think we would have no water in the river and trapped fish waiting in the holes. Well at least it didn’t take me all trip to figure that out, and once we got in the river it instantly got better for just the mere reason of less wind and warmer air. We planned to fish some spring-fed bayous and deeper docks as the water was coming in at a good clip. We arrived at the spring to find birds working, mullet flipping, and 64-degree water. We got warmed up with some ladyfish and Jack Cravelle, both were a welcome sight I can assure you. After the spring bite, we decided to see if we could find some Redfish or Black Drum hanging around any of the docks. We stopped at 3 or 4 docks before we found one with a 40-foot boat a good depth, which was holding a good bunch of just what we were looking for. The Redfish were not very big but the Black Drum were all 3 to 5 pounds and pulled like trucks in the deeper water. We even managed to get a couple of very nice Sheepheads although it took some practice to hook these bait stealers.

All in all, what started as a day I wasn’t sure we would even get in turned out to be a very good and more important comfortable day. One thing is for sure if the temperature in the morning is chilly and the North wind is blowing, I’m positive I will not be lured into the hope that fish will be stacked in the holes this time!

Till tomorrow tight lines.

What a difference a day makes!

By Fishing Reports

What a difference a day makes, yesterday we were greeted by 25 MPH South winds, high humidity, and fairly hungry fish. Today was 25 MPH North West winds low humidity and very uncooperative fish. None of this was a surprise as the weatherman actually got this one right, and I had already let my client for today know that we would reschedule to a better day, and had my day off all planned. And then my phone rang, it was a short conversation with a very determined angler that had his offshore trip cancel due to weather. It took some talking but he was able to talk me into giving it a try, and trust me it took some talking.

We met at the ramp at 7AM and there was already I stiff “breeze” out of the worst direction we can have it, NW. I once again warned that these were not optimum conditions for what we were going to do, but they insisted. So off we went to find some sheltered water with good tidal flow, and hungry fish…no problem. Well after two or three spots and two catfish we started to see the picture, however after 25 years I still have a few tricks up my sleeve. The water temperature was still 68 so I decided to try and catch some bait, It was blowing almost 30 by now and the water looked like chocolate milk but sardines have a good nose. We arrived at the flat I have been getting bait on and immediately saw no birds, no porpoise, and white caps, not what I was hoping for. I started chumming and threw the net, and to my surprise I saw silver, not a lot but enough.

So with our new bait I decided to change it up and fish some windy points, which were not hard to find. We caught a few Jack Cravelle and then had a big hit that we never turned, not sure what it was but I think a shark came though as the bite stopped on a dime after that. Unfortunately, that would be the best bite we had all day, most everywhere else we stopped and tried to fish was muddy or just to much wind.

The best part about today was I got to fish with Al and Craig two new clients on my boat that I would have not met if the weather had stayed nice. We had a lot in common as they are from New Hampshire and do a lot of hunting, We had a lot of time to talk about the hunting we have done in between bites. As I had warned, and I think they knew, the bite was slow. We did manage to catch a couple of nice redfish and the sun warmed it up to make it a pretty nice day.

Looks like we’re going to cool down tonight so tomorrow’s trip will have Shrimp and Jigs on the menu. Hopefully we get a little reprieve from the wind, but it will stay north so I will be doing one of my favorite things, fishing the potholes on a big negative tide!!

Giddy up,

Windy Fishing Success

By Fishing Reports

As I put the boat in the water this morning, I could feel the breeze blowing from the south. But as most in this industry know a south wind in the Spring is a very good thing. I was soon on my way to gather bait for my clients and I noticed one thing that was very strange for this time of year… I was all alone, just me at the ramp, just me idling out the river, and just me throwing the net for bait, It was a great morning.

As I stated before, I could feel the south wind, and as I broke the river I could feel it and see it. As I made my way south I could see pelicans diving and turns circling and figured bait was thicker today than it was yesterday. And the birds didn’t lie, I wasn’t easy but I had plenty of bait in short order today. As I started back to meet my clients for the day I could see schools of Jack Cravelle roaming the flats looking for food, all of these signals told me that it was a Spring day today!

 

I had a pretty solid game plan for my trip today and as I picked up my clients I could tell they were ready to get after it. Chris and his girlfriend Patty (who was a first timer to inshore fishing) got on the boat and we started catching fish right away. First were some Mangrove Snapper, Jack Cravelle, and Spanish mackerel, we bounced around fishing several rock points and channel edges on the big incoming tide we were getting. When Patty said she had the hang of casting and fighting the fish, we moved on to look for the bigger stuff. We moved to the north end of Pasco county to a creek that has some holes and bends in it, the fish have been lying in these holes waiting for the current to bring them a tasty treat or two. We got set up and drifted baits back with the current, almost immediately Patty’s bait was crushed by something large. It took off like a bullet and made several hard runs, we got it right to the boat and could see it was about a 30 inch Redfish, but that is as close as he would let us get, with a shake of his head he won his freedom. I will tell you this, the reason we as guides do this is because of the sheer excitement of someone catching a fish like that for the first time. We stayed in the creek and caught a bunch of big Sea Trout, some small Snook, and a few more Redfish, but none like the one that got away.

By now the wind was whipping up pretty good so we hit one more protected spot in the river and were able to boat a few more small Snapper and some nice Black drum. We ended the day with lunch at one of our waterside restaurants and Patty said she was ready for more, I’m sure Chris was very happy to hear that!

Not sure what tomorrow will bring as we have another small front coming through tonight, but I’m sure we will find something to stretch our lines.

Till tomorrow, tight lines

March Fishing Madness

By Fishing Reports

This week has started out on the cold side but has quickly warmed up, and we are again hopeful that springtime is here. I started the week filming with Capt. C.A. Richardson for his TV show “Flats Class TV”. We were able to put several nice Trout and Redfish on film but just couldn’t convince the snook to eat with the chilly water temperatures. We were at a disadvantage though….we were trying to fool them and not feed them. Meaning we were using artificial lures to catch our fish not live bait.

After two fun days actually getting to fish, today was back to reality and I was working to find fish for my clients. I had one of my longtime clients and his wife on the boat today, the weather was great low 80’s and sunny sky’s. I was able to secure a few different types of bait because I wasn’t sure what the fish would want to eat as the water temperatures are still in the mid 60’s. We started the day throwing shrimp and sardines in to a large pothole that was loaded with Trout and Snook, the Trout responded well with several fish over 20 inches coming to the boat. However the snook, with the colder water would not commit and all we could do is look at them. As the day progressed the water began to warm and we found some very excited Jack Cravelle swimming across some shallow grass and warmed up the drags on the reels for an hour or so. My client Anthony asked if we could target something for the table so off we went into the back country. This is a very normal request, but our area of the west coast of Florida is under a no take order for Snook, Trout, and Redfish, so this is not as easy to fulfill as it would be. Luckily for me our coast is loaded with Black Drum, basically the cousin to the Redfish, and a very good eating fish.

The wind had begun to really blow so moving into some protected water was a good idea. We found a small bayou that was protected from the wind and just happened to be loaded with the tasty drum. Black drum are by no means fish eaters, but they love shrimp and I just happened to have a well full of them to. I’m not sure how many we caught but three 24 inchers went in the well for dinner, and the rest got a free meal and some exercise for their trouble. The good thing about the water temperature in the 60’s is that it’s cold enough to keep the fish in the warm pockets, but warm enough to make them want to feed. This means when you find one of these pockets they are usually filled with several types of fish, and the pocket we were in was loaded, along with the Black Drum we caught Trout, Redfish, Flounder, Mangrove Snapper, and Jack Cravelle.

Were ended the day looking for a school of redfish I had found the day before filming with C.A. We located them but with the wind blowing right on them they were not very cooperative, we were able to get a Jack Cravelle to eat one of our baits but the Reds just wouldn’t stay put.

With the south winds blowing it is only a matter of time until our water hits the magical 70 degree mark. Until then its time to clean the boat and get ready for tommorows trip.

Transition Fishing

By Fishing Reports

February is a month of transition on Florida’s West coast. Some years it is cold, windy and a continuation of Winter and other years it is warm, humid and the start of Spring. As of now, it looks like we are going to be starting with Springtime, and with that the fishing is getting ready to explode.

Once we get the water temperatures to start climbing everything will fall into place. The migrating baitfish and the baitfish that hung out in our residential canals all winter will break out onto our shallow grass flats, and that will trigger the start of what we all know as the spring bite! The first to enjoy the presence of the baitfish will be the big Sea Trout, they will begin to gather on all of our barrier islands and any rock and oyster bars adjacent to deeper water. These Trout will be in large schools as they are preparing to spawn, so the action can be fast and furious if you hit the right spot. The next to find the bait enticing will be the Snook that have been on a pretty strict diet all winter. They will be waiting on almost every point that has any current and deep water near.

One thing that will be different with the Snook is they will move from point to point pretty quickly as they work their way out to the open grass flats to feed on the arriving bait. The feed will turn on and off with the tide, so make sure you keep a mental note of when the bite started for the next time out.

The third part of our inshore trio, the Redfish will be on the prowl for not only the influx of baitfish but also plenty of shrimp and crabs will become a lot more available to them. For this reason, the redfish will roam the grass flats in search of all of these tasty morsels. If you are looking for Redfish this month I would look around any structure, such as oyster bars, sand holes, deeper troughs, and any kind of debris that will hold food for them.

With springtime right in front of us, there are several other species that will start to become available. Spanish Mackerel, Kingfish, Cobia, several Sharks, Triple Tail, Flounder, and loads of Jack Cravelle.

As always the tides and weather will dictate the best days to be out there but one good thing with February is that once the water gets to 70 degrees the bite is on! Look to the calendar to see when the full and new moons are, these will be the best days!

Spring Fishing Report

By Fishing Reports

This has been a very constant year to say the least, a cool winter has led to a warm and very mild spring, and that have led to warming April winds. And through it all the fishing has been FANTASTIC, lots of big Snook, Redfish, and an abundance of big Trout.

The only draw back has been the Sardines that we use for bait, it has been tough to get and non existent for some. Luckily i have had a few little hidding spots that hold them and Ive been able to keep my clients fishing with the bait that the fish really want this time of year. This is the time of year that everybody waits for, Snook, Redfish and Cobia take center stage and that is what everybody is coming to catch. This spring has not disappointed in that aspect. This has been the best year in the past 15 years for Big Snook ( 35 inches +) they seem to be on every point and deep trough that has good water flow, and they are eating like they are starving!! The Redfish while not as thick as the Snook are here and when you have the right feed and approach them on the right tide you can have some big days 15 to 20 fish days are not uncommon. The Cobia have been going in and out with every little front we get, but when they are here all you have to do is get a bait in front of them and it is on. I have had a big advantage over them with the new boat and the hight i gain by using the tower on it. Once we spot the Cobia i am able to follow him and get the cast we need to catch him. There have also been loads of Trout and Mackerel around to but I very early target them this time of year as most of my clients would rather catch the big 3! If you are going after them though any of the Barrier Islands such as Anclote and both of its Sand bars are loaded with them, along with all the rock bars from Gulf Harbors to Dunedin, with Trout you will usually have company as once the school is found everybody will get in on the action.

Next week will be my last week in the north area as It is time to chase Tarpon in Boca Grande, the fish have been there for a while now and i can’t wait to start flying some Tarpon. I do have some afternoon trips still available but the mornings are booked solid until mid July, but give me a call if you want to catch a king, if I can’t take you I can help you find a full time Capt. to put you on one.

 

Capt. Greg DeVault

727-919-8666

 

 

Know what your getting

By blog

If there is one thing I have learned being in business for 19 years, it is that you don’t always get what you think your buying. I have a lot of clients ask my opinion on what type of fishing equipment they should buy from Boats to floats, I can only give my opinion on what I use and what I have used in the past. I get the same question about other guides also, and all I tell them is to talk with them and get a feel of who they are and what they do.

One very important thing in this business is to be flexible in how you fish and where and when you fish. I have always wonderdrd how somebody can fish out of the same dock year round, the fish migrate and the weather patterns dictate where they will be. If you are anchored to one place you only have a specific time to catch fish. Having your boat on the trailer gives me the ability to move with the fish and do different things, this make fishing fun!!

The next thing I find interesting is how some will fish out of only one type of boat. If you are a carpenter or electrician or a plumber you have the right tool for the right job, Well the same holds true for fishing, we do not fish the same tides and times everyday and we should have the right tools to get to the fish we are trying to catch. Now I know boats aren’t cheap…but if you are spending your money to catch fish I think you should have the best opportunity to do that. And having the right style of boat is the best way to catch them.

But back to my first statement…Know what your getting before you get on the boat. If you guide can’t tell you what your going to catch and how your going to do it…he or she is probably not on the water very often, remember you don’t know whats going on if your not out there. And in todays world of information and the ability to get it, you want to be careful of the “phone guide”, if your guide is always calling other guys to find out whats going on….you may want to get the number of the guys he is calling for your next trip!!

Finding a good guide is not easy to do, and this is the reason the good ones have a very long client list and very rarly do a lot of marketing. But if you talk to enough people you will get to the good ones, remember if your guide is doing a lot of advertising and has a very up to date website with all the bells and whistles, he has a lot of time to do that….And after 19 years at this, time is not something I have a lot of!!!

Good luck and good fishing and when you get to Florida’s West Coast give me a call and we will get out on one of my 3 boats to catch what ever you would like to!!

Fish on!

Capt. Greg DeVault

727-919-8666