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Fishing Reports

Perfect Timing and Fish Biting!

By Fishing Reports

Well, it has been a minute since my last report but it has been so busy that even the part-time guides think they are full-time. You will never hear me complain about being busy, and thankfully for me it is just a normal Spring. But anyone who has been on the water in the last month knows this spring has been anything but normal. Every weekday looks like a weekend day so I can only imagine what the actual weekend days look like. It has been a challenge to put my clients on the type of fish they have become accustomed to catching on my boat, but the good thing is most of the people on the water tend to follow more than lead, so there are plenty of great fish to be caught as long as you know how to find them.

Since my last report in March, I have ran 45 trips so I will just do a summary of how the bite has been instead of the normal trip by trip report. The biggest factor this spring has been Mother Nature, no surprise there, but her timing has been impeccable. Every time our water temps would reach the magical 75 degree mark she would open the Northern door and cool us right back off. It always makes me chuckle when I hear the part timers complain about how “ they had everything figured out” and then Mother Nature had to cool us off. But that is the difference in a part-timer and a full-time captain, we know where to go when the weather turns. The silver lining to these cool fronts we have had this spring is every time they happen we get a reset on the start of springtime, and the fish have responded every time! The Snook bite has been incredible with a bunch of slot and over-slot fish. They are moving out of the warm backwaters and looking for food. Snook are very repetitious and frequent the same areas over and over, and with 3 perfectly timed fronts in March I was able to catch these big girls several times in the same place.

The biggest surprise this spring has been the Redfish, we finally have good numbers of them and it has been evident on most charter this spring. I do still think they need to stay under a closure to help them come back strong, but I have been catching a lot of top of the slot fish and over-slot fish. The Trout fishing has been as good as ever, they are bunched up a little tighter but the numbers are great. March is the month we catch the biggest Trout of the year and once again March held true to pattern, I had 5 clients catch trout over 27 inches, all of them released to make more like them. Springtime means Cobia time, and this March started off with a bang. I had 4 or 5 trips in early March where we boated multiple Cobia, then the first front came through and the Cobia decided to take up residence elsewhere. From then until about 4 days ago we just picked at them here and there, then I tried an area from the past and bingo the big southern stingrays were there with the Cobia in tow.

It has been a great Spring for fishing and as we transition into summer the focus will be 100% Tarpon, I will miss the inshore bite we are having but at least I won’t have to worry about the bird dogs from West Pasco then!

 

Till Next time,

Capt. Greg DeVault

New Port Richey – All kinds of fish!

By Fishing Reports

And just like that, they were gone. Well most of them, what a difference a day can make. Most people I know are not fond of Mondays, however, they are probably my favorite day of the week. Monday usually means that most people are going back to work and will not be on the water, so in my world, Mondays are a great day! 

As with most of my Mondays, especially the ones around the full or new moon, they are reserved for my best clients, and today was no different. Rob and his crew had a great day with a warm south wind and a huge incoming tide, and when I got to the boat ramp in the morning there was not another trailer in sight.

I decided to make a short run south off of New Port Richey to a new area to catch bait, the flat I had been using saw a lot of pressure over the weekend. Once I got set up and started chumming it only took just a few minutes for the silver flashes to start to show, I was able to fill the well with two throws of the net and had the boat cleaned and ready to fish by 7:15. I was not meeting Rob until 8:30 at Nicks Park in Port Richey so I decided to do a little looking around to see if the fish had hung around through the weekend. I was pleasantly surprised to see fish on just about every point and rock bar I looked at, and bait was swimming on just about every flat.

I met the guys at the ramp right on time and we started our day, we had a tide change right at 8:30 so I decided to run to some deeper canals that would have moving water before the flats. We pulled up and the first 3 or 4 baits were inhaled pretty quickly but then it died off as the tide stopped. I knew once the water turned and started in it would fire up again, so we waited it out, and after about ten minutes the water was moving the opposite direction and the bite was on. One thing about these canals is the depth makes for a potpourri of fish, we caught fish for a solid hour Snook, Redfish, Speckled Trout, Mangrove Snapper, Jack Cravelle, and even a flounder or two.

The tide was starting to come in and the south wind was picking up to about 20 kts, I knew with the hard wind we were going to have a BIG tide, and I knew just where we needed to be. I made a run north to a great little spot near Hudson that has a creek with a deep corner that always is hot when the tide flows hard. We got set up and drifted the first baits down to the bend and it looked like bowling balls hitting the water, the Snook were very excited to see there lunch! We sat in that spot for the rest of the trip and caught Snook up to 35 inches two and three at a time, it was one of the best bites I’ve had all spring. We ended the day with lunch at Hooters in Port Richey and Rob securing his dates for the good moons in April and May.

I will say it was nice to be able to let the spots set up and get right to fish and not worry about racing to get there before some boat Invades it! This has been the best spring in a while for big Snook and with the cobia starting to show the next two months are going to be awesome!

 

Till tomorrow,

Capt. Greg DeVault

Lures, Live Bait, and Weekends

By Fishing Reports

This weekend was the final straw, starting this Fall I will only be running weekday Charters while I am fishing the West Coast of Florida. The number of boats and people on the water this weekend was unbelievable, and I know after the first couple of spots I hit, I am fishing behind at least one or two other boats. I will leave the weekend to the part-time guides and those that have to be onshore during the week. 

With all that being said, I was lucky enough to have big negative tides this weekend and on Saturday my clients wanted to throw all artificial lures. I had them meet me early Saturday morning at Anclote River Park in New Port Richey, so we would get out before most of the crowd. I didn’t need a live well full of bait, and we were going to be running skinnier than anyone on the water, so we had our pick of where we wanted to fish for the first few hours. My client had one request and that was to get Snook, we accomplish that request at the first hole. A beautiful 30-inch fish ate a ¼ oz. Bass Assassin jig and just like that the pressure was off, not that there really was any, it was a fun day with lots of laughs and trash-talking. I was lucky enough to have two anglers that could cast and knew how to fish very well, we ended up catching a bunch of Speckled Trout from 10 inches to 20 inches, a few Redfish, and several Snook from 20 to 30 inches. We finished up around 2 o’clock and as I left the ramp I was amazed at how many people were just getting to the ramp to go out.

Sunday was a different story I would be using the sacred crickets and figured I better get an early start on gathering bait as the flat I have been catching at would be crawling with boats due to its proximity to the ramp. I got to the flat just before dawn and by 7:30 was done with bait, I had some time to kill, so I just sat back and enjoyed the show that unfolded before me, it is painfully obvious that too many people are watching YouTube to learn how to catch bait! With bait and clients on board, we started our adventure. The first few spots were great we caught several nice Speckled Trout, and got some decent Snook, along with some hard pulling Jack Cravelle. I had the cover of a negative low tide to be able to pick and chose my fishing areas until 11AM or so. And to the Carolina skiff that was trying to beat me to a spot I was heading to all I can say is “ know your limitations” Carolina skiffs do not run skinny, and we smoked to Snook in that hole!

Once the water got up and everyone had access I had to get creative, we ended the day fishing a wide open flat for redfish that I had seen in the area. I trimmed the motor all the way up so it looked like we were stuck, and that actually detoured a few passer-byes. I then crushed most of the bait in my live well and broadcast it downwind and up tide of where I thought the Redfish would be, it took about 15 minutes but the first line came tight and it was Redfish on for the last hour. We also lured in some nice Trout and a few Jacks. 

All in all, I had two good trips this weekend with great clients, the worst part of both days was dealing with the masses of people at the ramp, that are let’s say not very adept at using a busy boat ramp! I know one thing, I’m glad tomorrow is Monday!

 

Till Tomorrow,

Capt. Greg DeVault

Fishing is spectacular!

By Fishing Reports

I’m not sure there is anything better than fishing on Florida’s west coast during the spring. We have great weather, beautiful water, and the fishing is spectacular. These last 4 days have been a perfect example of all those ingredients and it has lead to some great charters, it is no wonder 90 percent of my spring book is repeat clients.

With the forecast we had for today and it being a Friday, I decided to get an early start to avoid the mayhem that would be the boat ramp after daylight. And I knew although there is bait everywhere, somehow, one boat on a flat always draws a crowd. So my plan was to have bait by the time they got out, and luckily the plan worked well, it only took 2 throws of the net to secure more than enough bait for the day and I was leaving while the crowd was just getting set up. 

I was fishing my good friend and long time client Rob, who just became a grandfather this very morning CONGRATULATIONS. I had them meet me at Nicks Park in Port Richey, we had a very low tide that had just started in and I had a plan for fishing from New Port Richey then North. As i approached Gulf Harbors I could see some of the weekend fleet fishing the community rocks, those poor fish must wear helmets with all the baits they get thrown at them! I decided to move inside and set up on a much less pressured point, the water was flowing in hard and it only took a few moments before the first bait was inhaled, and before we knew it all three lines were tight and Snook were jumping like they were dancing. We landed 10 or Snook, and a hand full of Jacks and then the Trout moved in, but the water had risen to the level I was looking for, and we decided to move north off of Port Richey where I have been wearing out the Snook. 

As we approached the spot the water was just the right depth and we slid into position, I told my clients to be ready as the action was usually very fast in these conditions. The fish proved me right, as soon as bait hit the water there was an explosion and the drag started screaming! This was perfect, well almost, the only problem was instead of big Snook they were big Jack Cravelle. But that was okay as there is nothing that pulls like a big Jack. We pulled on Jacks for the first 30 minutes and then the Snook decided to make their presents know and we started to get Snook in between the jacks, one thing is for sure the drags got a workout for a solid two hours. The water was still rising and I had a small out-of-the-way spot I wanted to try, so we made a small move to a little bayou and put the crickets to work. The bite was defiantly slower than the last spot but anything would have been, it took a few minutes for one of the lines to come tight and when we got the fish boat side it was one of the prettiest Redfish I have caught all year, and one of the biggest at 30 inches. We stayed until the tide quit and caught the biggest Snook of the day in the same little nook, a beautiful 35-inch fish.

With the tide turning to go out and lunchtime calling I decided to hit one more spot in the Cottee river as we needed two trout for everyone to complete their slams, we pulled up to the shore and put the baits in a big school of Mullet. The baits were hit almost immediately, unfortunately, they turned out to be Redfish, not all bad! We had to suffer through 6 or 7 mid-slot Redfish before we finally got the Speckled Trout we were looking for, and just in time, as we were HUNGRY!

With the great weather, I am not sure what tomorrow will bring, I’m sure there will be A LOT of boats, but I have a new client that wants to fool them not feed them so I will be fishing and catching while most of the fleet is looking for crickets.

Till Tomorrow,

Capt. Greg DeVault

 

We’re not here to catch “tourist fish”!

By Fishing Reports

One thing that is always true in everything we do is that change is inevitable, but there are times I do wish I could just freeze time for a few weeks. Yesterday was one of those days, the day started out with a cool morning and beautiful sunrise and the bait came back to the flat and was very easy. Three throws and my live well was full, I called my clients and told them I would be early to the pickup site in New Port Richey if they wanted to get an earlier start. I knew this would help our day as I saw a lot of the “part-time” fleet heading out to get bait as I was coming in. 

We had a strong incoming tide and with the earlier start, I knew we could fish some not-so-secret spots before the others got to them. I had some clients today that I haven’t fished with in a couple of years so I told them we could go and get the good stuff but we may have to wait on the water to come up a little, or we could go catch some Mackerel, Bluefish and others on the deeper flats. I thought their response was funny as he said, we are not here to catch “tourist fish”, I laughed and was happy to hear him say that, because I can honestly say that kind of fishing is usually a last resort for me! While we let the water rise we started on some rock piles off of Port Richey and we greeted with a solid Speckled Trout bite, nothing huge but several fish in the 20 to 24 inch range. As we were packing up to move to the next area I suggested we go and run a line of crab traps that were fairly close, I told them we start to see Triple Tale in our area this time of year. We looked at 30 or so traps and we did see one small fish but he was not interested in anything we had to offer, so I decided to run back to the coastline and start our quest for “ Non Tourist Fish” as they called them. Today was only a 4-hour charter so we had a couple of hours left, I had a couple out-of-the-way areas holding good fish so we went straight to them. As we pulled up to the first one I could see fish moving over the sand bottom but could tell what they were. The first bait on the water revealed their identity, we had stumbled on to a school of nice Redfish. We kept our distance and made a long cast and spent the rest of the trip in that one spot, it started with all redfish coming to the boat 2 and 3 at a time and then some big Speckled trout joined the party. I had a fun group of anglers and the trash-talking was continuous, however, the girls did out fish the boys on this trip.

One thing I have done this year is to fish away from the crowds, it is only February and the amount of boats is crazy, do yourself a favor and spread out and look for fish on your trolling motor, do not “ Buzz” the shorelines looking for fish, this ruins the habitat and it spooks fish for a long ways, and it just means you are lazy. And if you see a boat Power Poled down don’t run to close, you can come back later and see what I was catching!!

We are defiantly into spring and the fishing will get better for at least another month, don’t wait to get your days I still have a few for March and April and if I’m booked I will make sure I get you with a full-time professional guide.

Till Tomorrow,

Capt. Greg DeVault 

Transition fishing in New Port Richey

By Fishing Reports

February has once again proven that it is a month of transition in our area. Last week we had water temperatures in the low 70s with fish all over the outside points and bait on every flat. This week has started out with a weak cold front that brought dry air and cool nights, the water temperatures dropped into the low 60s and the fish retreated to more comfy areas, and the bait left the flats they were so abundant on. 

This is where my week started, the easy bait and easy catching from last week was put on hold. I didn’t even try to catch bait on Sunday, we had a pretty low tide so we started throwing Artificials in all the potholes catching some nice Trout and used shrimp to get some nice sheepshead in the deeper canals. It was defiantly a step back into winter. Monday was defiantly warmer and we had a pretty brisk south wind, which is always good for this time of year. I had my clients meet me at 8am at Nicks Park in Port Richey, I figured if the sun got up and the south wind blew it might warm the water and trigger a bite. We ran to the flat that I have been catching bait at for a quick look, and with a few pieces of chum I saw the telltale flashes of silver. It was only a 4-hour trip so with a couple of throws of the net we had enough crickets for the trip. I wasn’t sure if the fish would move out as fast as the bait did, but we had to start somewhere, typically the Snook are slower to reappear than the bait, and the first couple spots were proof of that. I decided to jump into a small lagoon just north of Gulf Harbors that always holds some redfish, once we got set up we were able to pull 4 nice reds out of the lagoon. It is funny how redfish will stay in an area and let you catch them over and over, this spot only has about 10 or 12 reds but every time we go in there they eat, and have very red mouths to prove it! We had about an hour left in the trip and the water temperature was climbing, I had a deep hole that is pretty consistent in the spring and was fairly close. We ran north of Hudson and with the south wind and we had a lot of water. It took a little looking and then some convincing but we were able to finish with a bang. The water warmed up enough to put the Snook in a feeding mood. 

The next few days look to be awesome with light winds, and strong tides we should see the second start to springtime!

Till tomorrow,

Capt. Greg DeVault

 

 

New Port Richey Big Snook and Redfish

By Fishing Reports

Sometimes as a guide we have to fish when the clients can fish. I had a repeat client today that could only go today, we lucked out with the air temperature, but we did have to deal with a weak tide cycle, and a stiff wind although it was out of the south. This morning started early gathering enough bait for the day, which was a little harder than the past 5 or 6 days, but I got it done and wound up being the marker for all those that slept in. I had my clients meet me at Anclote River Park in New Port Richey and we started our day. The first few spots we still had a trickling outgoing tide so I decided to fish some deeper canals in Gulf Harbors. With the slow water, it was a slow bite, but we managed to get a few small Snook and some very nice Speckled Trout. We close to a favorite dock of mine that usually always holds some nice Mangrove snapper, and they wanted some dinner so we decided to give it a go. We didn’t catch a bunch but it was enough for a good dinner. 

I had two saltwater virgins on the boat, and both had heard the stories about how awesome catching a big Snook was. So after the snapper dock, I went ran south to a spot that gets overlooked all the time, I had to wait to go it as there were some bird dogs in the area and I’ve learned a spot like this is valuable. Once we got in and set up I could tell the fish were looking to eat, the first two baits were hit as soon as they hit the water. We landed two decent Snook in the 26-inch range, and then we all heard what sounded like a toilet flushing! Immediately Mike’s drag was SCREAMING, it was a good thing the water was low and the big girl could not get into the mangroves. It took a few minutes and Mike had his trophy at the boat, the Snook measured 39 inches and was 21 inches in girth, she was a true trophy, especially for his first one ever. Dave was next up and when his drag took off we could tell it wasn’t the giant Mike had but at 35 inches it was a great fish! We stayed in the spot for another hour catching Snook, Jacks, and a few Reds but the tide never pushed in hard to really turn them on. We still had an hour or so left and I knew all the community holes had been hit, so I snuck into another spot I haven’t been to since last October. We again got set up and it took ten minutes or so to get the first bite but it was a beautiful Redfish and after that they came one after another. We wound up staying there until it was time to go, and landing 10 or so nice redfish. 

 I wasn’t expecting much this morning with the tides and conditions we had, but we were able to make it happen. All three guys had slams and we had two trophy Snook, it was a great day.

 I have one day left in February and only a couple in March if you want to get on these great fish give me a call, there is a difference.

Till Tomorrow,

Capt. Greg DeVault

 

February fishing – understanding the conditions.

By Fishing Reports

The beginning of February is always a guessing game for anglers, do you keep hitting the potholes and shallow flats that we have been smoking the big Gator Trout and Reds or do you spend time catching bait to entice the first Snook that poke their heads out. After over 35 years of dealing with this, I think I have started to get a feel for it. Every year I watch the “new” guys start throwing their nets for bait the first time they see or hear the telltale “Flick”, however, I have learned there is more to it this time of year than simply having bait. The conditions have to be right for the fish to actually want to eat the bait, especially the Snook, the reds and trout will eat it if it is put right in their face and they don’t have to work for it. Remember they are still locked into eating crustaceans for the most part. With that being said I don’t see the point in getting soaking wet throwing a net when I can spend more time fishing and catch more fish without bait. I do however pay attention to what is going on out there and when all the conditions get right I will gladly throw the net and feed them what they want.

The past 7 days have been that week, the tides, water temperatures, and weather conditions all lined up for the start of what is going to be a great spring. While the bait is not everywhere if you can get it the Snook started eating like they just got out of jail, and the Trout and Redfish are inline right behind them. The last 7 days there was a noticeable pattern that got better and better as the week went on, it was easy to see it coming if you knew what to look for. The water temps got to 71, we had A LOT of low pressure around us and the south wind blew in the warm water and made for big tides. I’m not sure why but I had the water to myself for almost the whole week, maybe it was the weather or maybe most just missed the signs, either way, I’m not complaining. I called some of my best clients and told them this was the week, and they were rewarded for it, we caught 20 to 30 Snook every day ( our best day was 60 snook) with fish up to 39 inches, the big Gator Trout were very happy to see the sardines ( although we still caught a lot of them on plastics) the Trout ranged is size from 18 to a giant 28-inch monster, and the Redfish were plentiful along most of the Pasco County coast. There is something almost magical when you get on a bite like I had this week, you can seemingly do no wrong, every spot was loaded with fish and they were hungry. These are the days that remind how good it was back when I started. I know it won’t stay this way for too long, as soon as the bird dogs find the bait the backcountry will look like glitter with all the chumming that will happen…. Here is some free advice, fish them before you feed them, and chumming is supposed to fire up the fish, not find them, a good guide will already know where they should be.

It has been a hell of a week and I wish I had all the pictures from it but I lost my phone to Davey Jones and half the pictures with it, but that may be a good thing. We are just getting into the springtime bite and we will for sure get a couple more cold fronts to mess with us, but if you are with a guide that knows what to look for and how to adjust the fishing will be stellar! 

I have just a few days left in February and March, lets go fishing!

 

Till Tomorrow,

Capt. Greg DeVault

 

Transition Fishing

By Fishing Reports

Transition is the word of the day, as we move into the end of January we start to get longer days and warmer days and nights. These two factors combine to start to bring our water temperatures up from the mid 50’s to the mid 60’s. This triggers our local fish to change the habits from spending their days lounging in the warm muddy holes and canals to the sparkling flats and open waters where they can search for food. This is one of the times a seasoned guide will fall back on past experience to know where the fish will be and where they are heading.

While we are nowhere near our springtime bite going off yet, it is not that far away. My charters over the past couple days have proved that, holes that were packed with trout and redfish have began to thin out as the fish feel the warmer water. We are on the start of the full moon tide cycle, which means we have big negative tides in the morning and solid incoming tides around noontime. Water temperatures that were in the mid 50’s last week have risen almost 10 degrees, and while there are still fish in the holes we aren’t catching them on every cast. And the Snook have started to move in to the areas inhabited by Bluefish and Trout.

While all this sounds a little troubling it really isn’t, especially for the guys on the water everyday, as we see the transitions right in front of our eyes. And I am able to adjust and fish where the fish are, now granted the 100 fish days will slow down until we get another cold front (and we will get at least one or two more) but the saying of a day late and dollar short is in full effect this time of year. 

One of the other changes that has been happening is the arrival of all the birds looking for the coveted sardines, and while they have been here all along it really has not been worth the time catching them, that however will change in the upcoming weeks. As long as the water keep warming up the fish we are after will feel the need to chase and begin to eat the fast moving sardines, but again I am looking into the future, not far but still in the future. 

So with all that to process we were still able to get on some great fish this week off of New Port Richey, the Trout were hungry and the Bluefish were very aggressive while they were around and today we were able to score on some redfish that I have been hiding and waiting for the right tide and wind. While I do love fishing the negative tides for all the fish stuck in holes only I can get to, I can not lie I do love to watch Snook that have been waiting for the first sardines, blow holes in the water trying to eat them! There is not much time left before spring is here and February is going to be a great month, and I only have a few days open!

Till Tomorrow,

Capt Greg DeVault

You don’t know if you don’t go!

By Fishing Reports

My Grandfather used to say “you just don’t know if you don’t go.” Well, that is a very true statement, however, if you read or follow social media the only time to go is during a full or new moon on a warming trend. My Grandfather had another saying to” Anyone can catch fish when its easy.” And that is very true, however, after a long career of putting people on fish, I like to think I can make them eat in most conditions and with any skill level. That’s where today’s charter comes in.

I very rarely have room for new clients except in the hottest parts of the year (July) but I had taken a couple of days off to get hunting camp closed up for this year, and I was on my way back a day early and got a phone call from Dave. He was in town and wanted to get out on the water, he told me he called a few other Capts. but they were not really interested in going tomorrow because of the weak tides we are having right now. I was thinking the same thing but told him to meet at the Nicks Park in New Port Richey in the morning and we would make it happen.

We had a decent high tide to start the day so I decided to go to a shallow flat just to the north of Port Richey, as I poled us into the flat I could see the telltale wakes from Redfish pushing across the flat. Both guys made a good cast and as Dave was retrieving his Mirro Lure one of the Reds engulfed it and the fight was on. After 3 or 4 drag burning runs, we had the fish next to the boat, but he turned his head just right and popped off.

As we got reset it took some time before we started to see the fish again and this time they wanted nothing to do with what we were offering. I knew these fish had been getting some pressure from other fishermen lately and combine that with slow-moving tide made for spooky fish. We were happy to get the one red and I suggested we run south to an area I have been spanking the big Speckled Trout at. Once we got there I got the boat situated and we started casting, this area is a deep flat that is covered with sand holes that the Trout like to lay in. it took a while but we got just enough water movement to trigger a bite, it wasn’t fast and furious like it has been but we managed 40 or 50 nice trout in a few hours. 

We had about an hour left in the trip and I had noticed some birds hitting the water and this time of year that can mean good things. As we pulled up to them I could see fish hitting the surface everywhere, both guys cast and were instantly hooked up, again the drags were humming and when they came to the boat I could see we had found a school of big Spanish Mackerel. They caught a dozen or so each before we packed up and headed to the dock.

I’m sure my Grandpa would have said “I told you” if he were still here to catch them! Not only did we have a great bite we were treated to one of the prettiest days on the water in the past month, and Dave will get to see just how good the bite can be when he gets on my boat in two weeks…. when we have a good tide and the fishing is easy!

 

Till Tomorrow,

Capt. Greg DeVault