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Fishing Reports

Boca Grande Tarpon Fishing report

By Fishing Reports

We have made it into June and the midpoint of the Boca Grande tarpon-spawning season.  There have been literally thousands of Tarpon in Boca Grande this year, and with the full moon this week we have more on the way. The crowds have continued to thin out as several guides and recreational fishermen have wrapped up their vacations and gone home.

In some ways, they left just in time as the weather this week turned ugly with a Tropical storm in the gulf we had plenty of rain and wind. But in some ways they missed it, they could have been treating their clients to some of the best fishing we have had this season. As the storm was developing we were treated to some very low barometric pressures, making the Tarpon go haywire. With the pressure so low the entire mass of Boca Grande tarpon moved out of the deep confines of Boca Grande pass to the nearby beaches of Gasparilla Island. And with the full moon, we also had a massive school of Tarpon move south from Sarasota down the beaches to us. It was one the largest congregations of fish that I have ever seen, there had to be at least 30,000 tarpon on the beach that morning. And the bite was insane, both morning and afternoon trips were outstanding as we had double-digit hookups during both.

Nobody is sure why every Tarpon moved to the beach but it was nice for the first day, after the first day the pass fisherman had no choice but to come to the beach. Unfortunately, the edict on the beach and in the pass are completely different, not to complain, but I’m not sure what universe you can drive up to a school of fish with your outboard running and still expect them to bite. Needless to say it was evident who the Tarpon fishermen were and who chase schools around a pass.

Even amongst all the motors, there were enough fish on the beach that you could find fish that would eat without any problem.

 Although all the trips this week were very good one, in particular, stood out in my memory. It was Friday mornings trip, and by then the entire fleet had finally found the fish, so we started early and were on the beach at daybreak. As we idled down the beach we found a nice school of tarpon slow-rolling and looking very happy, we launched a couple of crabs into them and immediately we were hook up. The tarpon instantly took flight and put on a show like no other, unfortunately, the acrobatics drew some unwanted attention and by the time we landed our fish there were 3 boats that had moved in on our school. As I looked around I could see a steady stream of boats coming to the beach, it was obvious the tarpon had not returned to the pass. So instead of trying to fish around all that we decided to take a chance and leave the big groups to find our own, and boy did it pay off. We found a school of 100 tarpon miles from anyone all by themselves looking very happy! The first cast was tight before I could make the second cast, but we were still within cast distance of the school. We put the second crab in them and it was also instantly eaten, after we landed that double we could still see the school rolling gently to our south. It was defiantly a magical group of fish, after the first double we moved in and doubled up 2 more time and on the last approach we hooked our fourth double from them but one finally came off. The school yielded 9 hooked fish and 6 to the boat in less than 2 hours, to say the least it was awesome!

 It is amazing how good the fishing can be if the Tarpon are approached the right way, perhaps if beach fishing is not your forte just sit back and observe for a while it is really not that hard, but one mistake will mess up a school of fish for everyone.

 June is a great month for Tarpon and with a lot less guides here it is going to be a banner month, its time to go!

 

Till Tomorrow tight lines,

Capt. Greg DeVault 

 

Silver Blessings

By Fishing Reports

May and June are always an extremely busy time of year for most of the full-time guides. This year, with all that we have been experiencing there was no guarantee just how busy we were going to be. But thank God above for watching over us and keeping me so busy I am truly blessed.

This past week saw some of the best weather of the year in Boca Grande with light winds and sunny days the fish were all over the place, in the Passes on the beaches and on many of the shallow grass flats. The only issue is the tides we are experiencing, the big outgoing tides that pull all the crabs and shrimp out of Charlotte Harbor have been occurring in the middle of the night. This means the Tarpon are feeding like crazy on those night tides and when daylight comes they are not very hungry. We have been seeing tons of fish but getting very few takers, however these tides will be turning around this week and the big outgoings will be in the afternoon and the bite will be insane.

I had some repeat clients this week and fished doubles every day to get everyone on the boat, but it was well worth it as everyone was able to fight the King and some got to land their very first Tarpon, a feat not everyone can accomplish. One thing is for sure, the Tarpon have defiantly fallen into a pretty predictable pattern. The daylight bite from 5:30 am till 7Am has been great in the Pass, the Tarpon are all over the surface, busting the surface and eating the crabs as fast as they see them. But it is the pass and during the week its not bad but on the weekend the pass is invaded, and with all the boats running over the fish and then dropping lead through them they settle to the bottom and the real bite is over. Luckily though there have been plenty of fish in other places and most of the Pass jockey’s don’t have the know-how to be able to fish them in these areas.

This week will be another week of doubles but the bite will be much better as the tides will be in our favor this week. The incoming morning tide will have them feeding right up to the tide change, and then once the tide starts flowing out and bringing the crabs to the pass the bite will be on! As I have said in past reports if you have not had the chance to fish for Tarpon you really should give it a try. It is very addicting and turns into an annual trip for almost all that have ever tried it. If you want to give it a try, send me an email and I will put you on the Cancelation list and next years email nonfictions. 

Till tomorrow tight lines,

Capt. Greg DeVault

There are tarpon everywhere!

By Fishing Reports

It has been another gorgeous week in Boca Grande, with more Tarpon in the waters than we have seen in many years. The water temperatures have reached the mid 80’s and the Tarpon have shown up on most of the beaches and all the passes in the area. The water has been extremely clean and clear, making for some of the most beautiful colors and scenery on any coast. The clear water has however made for a tougher bite, only because the Tarpon use their eyesight for feeding and they see everything, so the crystal clear water makes it hard to hide the leaders we need to use to catch the fish. But we have been able to tempt a few fish everyday, and our landing to hookup ratio is very good. We are landing about 80% of our fish, mostly due to good sharp hooks and no lead to pull the hook out of the fish.

I fished everyday this past week and the one trip that sticks out in my head was on Wednesday, we started in Boca Grande pass where the daybreak bite has been awesome. With darkness still over us the tarpon have been eating every crab that gets in front of them, and this day was no different. We put out two crabs and the first one was eaten before it sank five foot, and as we reeled in the other to get out of the way, it also came tight! We were able to fight both fish as there were only a few boats in the pass, and with drags screaming both fish erupted through the surface together. That is where our double ended, as one of the Tarpon was able to lose its hook, but the other stayed tight and was boat side as the sun came up. With a quick fight we were able to get a fast and healthy release.

The rest of the trips this week were fairly similar, except for starting off with a double hook up, the fish that were brought to the boat were much larger this week as is normal for the last week of May. Most were in the 120 to 130 pound class, but we had a few that were in the 150 to 160 class and one that I estimated at 180 pounds, that was a big girl.

Tarpon fishing is very rarely a solitary endeavor anymore, in fact there are usually more than a few boats in the area, especially in Boca Grande pass. However you get to see several great Tarpon jumps and there is always action from folks fighting fish. There is one thing that is very upsetting though, and that is how some anglers handle these great fish while at boat side. You should never lift the fish out of the water, if you want a picture lean out over the gunnel and gently lift the head to the surface and snap your photo. I have witnessed this week to many anglers and some “ captains” literally grabbing the Tarpon by the bottom jaw and lifting the fish over the gunnel and leveraging half the body out of the water for there photo, this is a sure death sentence for the Tarpon. Hopefully they will learn how to take care of these great fish and not be so selfish.

Tarpon season is just getting started and we have a long way to go, there are more fish moving north to us from the south and with a full moon the first week of June the bite is going to be off the hook!

Till tomorrow tight lines,

Capt. Greg DeVault

It’s beach time baby!

By Fishing Reports

With three full weeks under my belt on this year’s tarpon season in Boca Grande has finally started to get some normalcy to it. The fish have finally left the pass and moved out on to the surrounding beaches. It is nice to see happy fish rolling up and down the beach with nobody driving over them and dropping balls of lead on them. 

Again the days in Boca Grande start early with a 6am pick up we are on the beach before daylight looking for the telltale swirls and slicks of happy schools of fish. Today I was fishing my longest tenured client and good friend, we have literally been fishing together since 1999. 

Apparently the holiday weekend was starting today, as we drove past Boca Grande pass it was already full of boats zipping around trying to get on top of the fish. Anyway we moved on down the beach in search of the Tarpon. It wasn’t long before we spotted some rolling fish, I put the trolling motor in the water and moved us into position for a cast. The first crab hit on the edge of where the fish were rolling and as the crab sank it was inhaled by a hungry Tarpon, as soon as the line came tight a silver missile erupted through the surface and started peeling drag. It took about 20 minutes to get the Tarpon boat side for a quick picture and then revive her and off she swam. 

The sun was up and we could now see just how big the school of Tarpon actually was, and it was no problem getting back in position for another shot at them. The Tarpon were still rolling slowly which is always a good sign, we fired two crabs into the mass of fish and were again rewarded with a hungry Tarpon that wanted nothing to do with his chosen breakfast. Again the fish did everything it could to lose us but the Owner hook stayed put and the Tarpon was boat side for another quick picture and release.

By now there were a few boats starting to migrate down the beach and our school had been discovered, so we decided to move north up the beach and look for more Tarpon rolling happily along. It didn’t take to long before we saw a large area of muddy water, as we approached it the side scan on my Simrad showed me that there was a school of Tarpon making the mud. We again set up and put crabs into the area, it took a few minutes but one of the lines came tight and once again we were fighting a silver king. This one was a little slicker than the first two and was able to throw the hook back at us after three spectacular jumps. 

 The rest of the morning went very similar to the first hour up until 10am, when it seemed as if the dinner bell quit ringing. After throwing crabs at several different schools with no takers we decided it was time for lunch and called it a day.

 It is very nice to have fish on the beach and not have to deal with the traffic in the ditch.

 

Till tomorrow tight lines,

Capt. Greg DeVault 

Boca Grande Tarpon Season has been AWESOME so far!

By Fishing Reports

May is always one of my favorite months to fish as it means Tarpon are here, and the past couple of weeks have made that statement very true. This year’s Boca Grande Tarpon season has been awesome so far with tons of fish here and more on their way up from the south. The last couple of days we have finally seen a reprieve in the wind, at least for a couple of days. 

On Saturday I was able to fish a good client and his two sons, who were on their first trip to Boca Grande, and the Tarpon did not disappoint. As we arrived at the pass while it was still dark, but you could see the white water from Tarpon blowing up on the surface. There were already a handful of boats there already and it was obvious that the tarpon were having crabs for breakfast, we quickly baited up and got a crab in the water, and before I could get the second crab in the water the first drag was already screaming and the fight was on. We fought a 100-pound tarpon for about 20 minutes before we had him boat side, the bite continued for about an hour and we were able to jump one more tarpon. As the sun came up the rest of the fleet showed up and just like that the bite died off.

On Sunday I had longtime clients and great friends Kevin and Becky, they brought along their niece and her husband Travis. We again arrived in the pass before daylight to see the Tarpon happy and on the surface busting crabs, we quickly got a crab out and hooked a Tarpon who made short work of the crab and unfortunately our hook also. As we eased to the outside of the tarpon to move back into position,  but it was obvious that the rest of the fleet was not sleeping in today. It did not take long for the Tarpon to go to the bottom and hunker down and quit eating. We decided to leave the weekend warriors in the pass and go find some quieter water and happy tarpon on the beautiful beaches of Boca Grande. We were able to locate a small school of Tarpon and got set up and put crabs in them, it took about 5 cast to them before Travis’s line came tight and a huge 150lb. Tarpon exploded through the surface. The fish took us up the beach for about 15 minutes and when we got her boat side we were very close to the beach, so we decided to get Travis the picture he has wanted for a long time, a beach shot.  After some great shots we revived the big girl and watched her swim off in the crystal clear water. 

With all the boats in the pass, the beach traffic was very light and we were able to get right back on our school of Tarpon, we got set up and Kevin made a great cast and the line came tight almost immediately. The Tarpon blasted through the surface twisting and flipping like an Olympic gymnast, and when she hit the water she also made a beeline for the beach. Kevin had the fish boat side after three more jumps and we found ourselves right on the beach again, so we decided to take advantage of the opportunity and get Kevin and Becky their beach shot also.

Today is the first rainy day we have had and it looks like we are finally going to get into our summer patterns with afternoon storms this week, this will fire up and already good bite here in Boca Grande. If you have never fought a giant Tarpon or just want to do it again give me a call and we can get it set up.

Till tomorrow tight lines,

Capt. Greg DeVault

There’s nothing like tarpon season!

By Fishing Reports

There is nothing quite like Tarpon season. Every day starts at 4:30 and ends usually around dark and in between, there are some of the greatest memories any fisherman will have.

After picking up my clients this morning at Boca Grande we headed out to Boca Grande pass to see what was happing. As usual, the pass was loaded with fish and because it was the weekend it was also loaded with boats at 6AM, but the fish were extremely active and everyone with a crab on there hook was hooked up. We moved to the west of the fish and put out two crabs and set our drift to go right through the school on the incoming tide, just as I started to mark the giant school on my Simrad one of our lines came tight and a bolt of silver crashed through the surface, we were ON! As the other line was brought in, it also came tight and another Tarpon flew through the air….Double, and we were 10 minutes into the charter. As with most doubles, the fish very rarely go the same direction, so we tightened the Shimano drag down on the smaller of the two and attempted to guide him as best we could. A double on the beach is not a problem, but in the pass it is not exactly what you want, however, we were able to get one of the fish under control while the other fish with a very tight drag was jumping like a rabbit and would finally throw the hook. We could now concentrate on the other fish and after a great fight we had our first fish of the morning boat side.

As the morning proceeded, it became very apparent it was the weekend, by 8am the pass was very crowded and we decided to leave the weekend warriors and go find other Tarpon. We decided to run down the beach in search for some schools of fish, but it was slim Pickens as the water is still a little to cool for them to be in good numbers out there yet. And the weekend traffic was again making it tough to find Tarpon that were happy. So we decided to run south to a big sandbar that traditionally has Tarpon on it early in May, as we arrived I saw a few fish role and got us set up to intercept them. The water is so clear right now that you can see everything in it and it makes it very easy to spot and follow the fish. The group of Tarpon were moving right to us and we put two crabs right in their path, as soon as the Tarpon got to them one of our lines came tight and we were hooked up again. This time we had plenty of room and we were able to watch the Tarpon fly through the air several times before finally dislodging the hook. But man what a show she put on, and that is really the best part or fighting a tarpon, especially after you get your picture with one first thing.

Tomorrow is Sunday and I’m sure the crowds will be back, but it will be Monday soon!

 

Till tomorrow, tight lines

Capt. Greg DeVault

Boca Grande Tarpon Fishing

By Fishing Reports

Hello again, it has been a little while since my last report, but May and June mean Tarpon season and all that comes with it. I move down to beautiful Boca Grande Florida for a couple months and do nothing but chase tarpon for my clients for two months. This also means very long days, with most days having two trips, so I start at 5 AM and if I’m lucky I’m done by 8 PM. But I would not have it any other way and now that I have gotten into somewhat of a routine the reports should be much more consistent.

This report will kind of be an over view of the first 13 days here in Boca Grande. As usual for early May the one constant is the wind, seems like we are always dealing with it until mid May. However the Tarpon have shown up in huge numbers and Boca Grande Pass is choked full of them, unfortunately this is the only place they want to be right now. So the beaches that are usually flush with migrating tarpon are not seeing many traveling fish, and the little hidden spots that will usually produce are also void of the silver kings. The only problem that this brings up is it puts all of the fisherman in one area, the pass, and the pass is wide open to the wind. But on the up side the Tarpon have been hungry, we have been hooking and landing several fish on each trip. Small crabs have been the ticket to get them to eat and stay on the hook, we have had a very good hook up to landing ratio this year so far and hopefully that continues. 

For those that have never experienced the thrill of catching a giant Tarpon, there is nothing quite like the strength and speed of a Tarpon. They will take 100 yards of line in an instant and then rocket 10 feet in the air doing all types of twist and flips to dislodge the hook. It is a instant rush of adrenaline and for those that have had the chance to do it, it is an addiction.

There is another part of Tarpon fishing on the coast of Boca Grande that gets over looked by many just because the Tarpon garner most of the attention, and that is the shear beauty and tranquility of the water we fish in for these fish. A lot of our day is spent idling along some of the prettiest beaches the state of Florida has to offer, a lot of time without another boat in sight. And the waters are so clear that the sand turns them into an amazing turquois color that is mesmerizing, and then there are the Tarpon that give any angler the memory of a lifetime with just one jump!

It is not hard to understand why so many people come back each year to do battle with the king and then just sit back and soak in all the natural beauty that goes with it. If you have not done this yet, you really need to.

Till tomorrow tight lines,

Capt. Greg DeVault

New Port Richey Trout & Cobia

By Fishing Reports

Fishing report 4-21-20

March and April can be very tricky months to fish at times, it can be the best of the year or it can be very tough sometimes on two consecutive days. The main reason for this is because we are still getting cold fronts trying to move through the state, some make it and some don’t. It is never easy to predict what the fish will do after we have had a week or so of warm beautiful weather and then a front comes through and literally the weather turns 180 degrees. That was the case this morning as I got to the ramp to head out for bait. The warm humid air and light south winds were replaced by cool crisp air with a sturdy northwest breeze, not optimal conditions for where I have been catching bait, but the water temperature held up through the night so I was hopeful it would still be there.

As I arrived on the flat it was much choppier and the water was no longer gin clear, but as I started to chum up the bait I could see the flashes of what I was looking for. The first throw was a good one but that would be it, for the next hour every throw would only hold ten or twelve pilchards and a few pinfish. I kind of expected it and even though I had to throw the net several more times than I wanted to, I was able to get enough bait to make it through the day.

As I was heading back to Anclote River Park in New Port Richey to meet my charter, I was wondering what the weather change would do to the fish. One way or another I was going to find out soon enough. We were right on the start of a good incoming tide, so I decided to run south to a rock jetty off of Tarpon Springs that I have been doing very good on big Gator Trout on just this tide. As we pulled in I could see the current was moving around the top of the jetty and through the hole just like we needed it to. The only good thing about a NW wind was it was right at our back for this spot and we could stay off a good ways and make long cast with it. After four or five casts and drifts through the hole we finally connected with a nice Trout, I was slightly worried they may have moved with the change in wind direction but they stayed home. We stayed there for an hour or so and caught a good number of trout, but with limited bait I didn’t want to burn it all here.

While we were catching the trout, the wind had noticeably dropped off and we had almost slick conditions by the time we were ready to move on, something I was glad to see and also very surprised to get.

We left the jetty and ran north, I was going to jump ahead of the tide and go to one of my spots off of Hudson for some snook. As we were running across the shallow flats I saw a Cobia following a big Stingray, Finally. I swung around and my client made a perfect cast, and the Cobia ate the bait immediately. When he got boat side I was able to lip him and he measured 39 inches, a very respectable cobia for sure. We stayed in the area and idled around to see if we could see anymore and boy were we rewarded for our time, we ended up staying on that flat for the rest of the charter catching four more Cobia and seeing at least fifteen or sixteen others, it was the best Cobia day I had had all spring for sure.

I will say I am not easily fooled by my home waters very often, but today got me for sure, as I was not expecting anything like what we experienced. It is a good reason to always be alert and always looking around, that one cobia I saw turned a so so day into on of the best this spring.

Till tomorrow, tight lines

Capt. Greg DeVault

Port Richey Inshore Slams

By Fishing Reports

Todays forecast was much better than yesterday’s for sure, no rain light winds and temperatures in the high 80s. And again our weatherman missed it by a mile, I drove out to get bait in the rain and by ten o clock it was blowing 20+ knots, at least he got the temperature right! The rain was not a deterrent today as it had stopped by the time I got set up on the bait flat. I was hopeful for another easy day throwing the net, and I was finally rewarded, it only took three throws of the net to fill the well with beautiful pilchards. I had a little extra time before I had to pick up my charter so I decided to do a little scouting, it is always a bonus to be able to locate fish for future trips, as I usually have just enough time to get from the bait to my clients during the average morning.

After doing some looking I headed north to the Cottee River in Port Richey to meet my Charter. The sun had come out and the wind had not yet started to blow so I decided to run north of Hudson to get away from the weekend crowds. We started in a little back bay and had to wait on the tide to start moving so we would have a little depth for the fish to be comfortable. Once the water started moving we got a few good bites and turned them into Snook, but as soon the bite started it seemed to shut down just that fast. We moved to another little bay and had the same result, I’m not sure why, but it seemed like we could only get one or two bites at each stop. Once the tide got high I decided to go to an area that I had not been to in a while, it was a big flat that was solid rock and usually had big Trout and redfish on it. As we pulled in the wind had started to blow so I let it push us into the area silently, we got set up and put the bait out, it took a while but the fish finally moved in. we hooked big Gator Trout two at a time for thirty minutes or so, and just as fast as the other spots the bite stopped, at least we got more than two to bite. We decided to run back south off of New Port Richey to look for Cobia, it was pretty windy but the sun was bright and high in the sky and with the gin clear water I could see very well. We looked for almost an hour and only saw two stingrays, I’m not sure what happened to our stingrays and cobia this month but they have been noticeably absent. 

We moved into a very small bay that gets very little pressure and on a busy day like today that is what we needed, the tide had just started going out so I was hopeful for a good bite. It took a couple moves but we were able to get a decent bite going, a couple nice Snook, a few Redfish, and some Jack Cravelle were all there to fight. As we headed back in the river going toward the dock, I began to understand why the bite was short in most spots, as it was like a parade of boats going both in and out. Thank god tomorrow is Monday and the traffic on the water will be light!

Till Tomorrow, tight lines

Capt. Greg DeVault

Iffy weather, great fishing.

By Fishing Reports

So today was another day that proves fishermen are much better meteorologists than any weatherman on TV. The weather for Saturday was supposed to be beautiful until the afternoon, and I had two trips today to boot. I figured the first one would be fine but the second one might be iffy, but as I dropped the boat in the water I could feel the heavy air and moist breeze already, and I knew I would be re-planning my day on the fly. Sure enough, as soon as it started to break dawn you could see the dark skies already approaching from the NW. Luckily bait was fairly easy and I was able to load the well with enough bait for both trips in about an hour, a vast improvement over the rest of the week. However, by the time I was done rinsing off the boat I could hear the rumbles of thunder in the distance, we still had some sunlight as my morning charter arrived so we decided to give it a go. I decided to run north to a channel edge that had some nice trout on it and if the rain got to us we would be running south to safety. I guess you can’t blame the weatherman too much at least he got the day right for the rain, but he was 7 hours off! Once we arrived the skies were starting to get very dark, we put out the baits and the trout hit immediately. We put a few in the boat pretty quickly, but the skies were looking very ominous. We started to get some light rain, but my crew was troopers and decided to fish on, unfortunately, it was only the beginning of a lot more rain. We ran south toward lighter skies and decided to give a jetty off of Tarpon Springs a try, we were able to get south of the rain but the thunder was still banging and we knew our time was short. We got set up and had a few nice hits, but we could literally see a wall of water coming our way and the flash of lighting with it. We decided not to test Mother Nature and to the dock we went.

My second charter was to start around 1:30 that afternoon, and after looking at radar and talking with my charter we decided we would be ok, as the rain system was not a very big one and after a couple hours it was gone. I met my second charter at Anclote River park in New Port Richey right on time and although we still had some light drizzle, the skies would soon clear and turn into a beautiful afternoon. We had a decent out going tide so I decided to run north off of Port Richey to a small bay to catch some snook. Once we got set up we could see the water was moving out, and the first bait was hit hard by a nice snook, unfortunately, he was able to get to a dock and break us off. We managed to catch a few small snook and a redfish before we moved on. As the tide got lower the speed of the tide slowed dramatically and the bite was tough for the next few hours. We jumped spot to spot and caught a couple fish in most of the holes but it was slow. We had about two hours left in the trip and the tide was going to start coming in and I was hopeful the bite would turn on. I ran south back the jetty off of Tarpon Springs I had been chased from earlier. The tide had just started in and within a few minutes of seeing the water movement we were in the fish, we had a solid bite of big Gator Trout, Jack Cravelle, and a few snook for the rest of the trip. 

 We ended the day with a double hookup on some very nice Trout, as we headed back to the dock I was amazed at what gorgeous afternoon the rainy weather had turned in to.

 

Till Tomorrow, tight lines

Capt. Greg DeVault