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

New Port Richey Fishing Report

By Fishing Reports

I always love to have repeat clients on the boat, almost 80% of my business is just that, and most have become very good friends. I have been able to watch the kids grow from 4 and 5 year olds that are excited about the bait to teenagers that are great anglers and make my job very easy. The best part is they all have learned what to expect when they get on the boat at certain times of the year.

On Saturday I had long time client Hogan and his son Caleb, as I approached the ramp I could feel the wind buffeting the truck and knew this was not going to work, there were some empty trailers at the ramp I recognized, but I was not going to put my clients through that. Luckily I had Sunday open and so did they and we were able to get out on a much less windy day although it was colder! I had them meet me in New Port Richey so we would have a shorter boat ride to the area I have been smoking the fish at. As I approached the area we were a little early but it was getting skinny and was still going out for another hour. We were able to get into one of the holes and get set up, and as the tide was falling we had fish on for 3 hours straight. We caught Several Speckled sea trout from 20 to 25 inches and dozens of Bluefish. We did all of this on ¼ oz. jigs from Bass Assassin and Mirr-O-Lure, and the bite stayed strong right up until the tides slacked off.

During the slack tide we decided to take a break and eat lunch, Caleb is a growing boy. After lunch the tide had turned and started to come in, so decided to go to another hole that I have been doing good in. it was very skinny getting in but we had the vessel to get there, and once there it was just like the previous hole with double hookups just about the whole time. Although the bite was hot the temperature was steadily falling all day and by noon it was pretty chilly, we decided to catch a few more big Gator Trout then decided to run to one more spot out of the wind and see if we could get the rest of the slam. We found some warmth but all we could get to eat were a couple of Redfish so we fell a Snook short of their slams, however after 100 fish morning they were ok with it.

Like I’ve said, this winter has been absolutely off the hook when it comes to the bite. And when you hit the tide and weather right you will catch a ton of fish.

Till tomorrow,

Capt. Greg DeVualt


Getting the hang of things — 40 years later.

By Fishing Reports

After 40 years on the water, I think I am starting to get the hang of this fishing thing. Last night I got a call from my client for today wondering about the wind we were going to see today, I began to explain to him about how it would be a warm south wind, and with the big negative low tide we would have the fish would be trapped in the holes, and we also have the boat to access the holes before anyone else. On top of that the water has averaged 56 degrees for the last week and the humid south wind along with the small approaching front will have them jumping on our baits. After explaining all that I heard a pause on the other end of the line and then he asked, “so it will be good?” I just laughed and said trust me, YES!

Well, I wasn’t wrong, although after putting my neck on the line I was hoping I could deliver. I had them meet me in Port Richey because I knew we would have a giant high tide when we came in and I have a little secret spot that is always on fire with a flood tide, again those 40 years at work. After a long ride to the trout hole, we pulled in and were all alone, although nothing less than an airboat could get where we were anyway. I told them to hit the sand hole in front of them and for the next 3 hours we had at least 2 rods bent all the time. We caught mostly Speckled Sea Trout in the 2 to 4-pound range but also had 15 or 20 bluefish crash the party. 

The bite stayed steady for the entire time we were in the hole and as the tide came in the fish got even more aggressive. After 80 or so trout, I offered the guys a chance to complete their slams by catching some Redfish and Snook, the readily accepted. I ran to a close by a flat that still was shallow but full of small sand holes and has a great Mangrove edge with some depth and with the incoming tide and the south wind, the fish were ready to eat. I set us up so we could cover the whole area with one cast, and the first two baits in the water yielded both anglers their snook they needed and were after. The action wasn’t as fast as the first hole but Snook and Redfish rarely eat with the same vigor as Trout. We kept covering the holes but all we could catch were those pesky Snook, but persistence paid off and we were able to convince 4 or 5 redfish to eat and the guys were able to complete their slams. 

It was almost 11 AM and the front was approaching so the south wind had freshened to about 20knots, I suggested that we make a run to my dilly hole and see if the water was high enough. We ran north to a quiet little spot off of Hudson and right away I could tell the water was right! As I got the boat into position one of the guys said they had been counting and we needed 24 fish to reach 150 fish for the day, and did I think we could get it here? I am pretty confident in this spot and my intuition, but 25 fish is a good day let alone hour, but I said sure no problem. I was very happy to see both rods double up on the first cast and stay that way for the next hour. Needless to say, we covered the 150 mark with ease. It was defiantly one of those days!

We still have a solid month of this type of fishing, not all days are like the one we had today, but if you call I may have some great news for you too!

Great fishing in the new year.

By Fishing Reports

2020 was defiantly a different and trying year, it forced most of us to readjust and alter the way we do things. I am very happy that I had the ability to be flexible and it was a blessing that I have the clientele that I have. Because of the flexibility of my clients, I was able to reschedule when needed and rebook almost all of the trips that were affected by the pandemic. I really want to thank everyone that has fished with me in 2020, because of all of you I was able for the first time to break the 300 trip barrier. I am now ready for a great 2021, I will be updating my fleet, I will be running a 2021 Bx 25BR Sea Hunt bay boat, and after Tarpon season I will take delivery of my new 2022 Shoalwater 23 cat. I am looking forward to seeing everyone again for some great fishing.

Now for the good stuff, 2021 has picked up right where 2020 left off, with some of the best negative low tide fishing we have seen in years. The Speckled Sea Trout have been big and abundant with 50 to 70 fish a trip, the reds have been plentiful and if you approach them quietly you can catch them at will. The biggest surprise has been the Snook bite, I have had clients catching 10 to 15 of them in 50-degree temps. There is one secret to it though, you have to have the equipment to get to them, I am finding them way in the back pockets on the lowest of water and luckily I have the only boat to access them. This is without a doubt one of the most exciting ways to catch fish, we are using very light tackle and fishing gin clear water so you see every bite. I am very lucky to live in the area of Florida that is blessed with a lot of small deep bayous and large expansive grass flats with large potholes in them that hold all these fish throughout the winter. I have been leaving from the New Port Richey area so we do not have to make long runs in the cold air and we can maximize our fishing time.  While the Snook, Reds, and trout are the main target, they are defiantly not the only targets out there. We have been catching Sheephead, Flounder, Mangrove Snapper, and Black Drum. These fish are all good table fare and we can keep them for the table, most of the time we are using live shrimp to catch them, however if you are patient enough you can get them to eat jigs. Most of these fish are coming from the deeper canals in our area like in Gulf Harbors, and Leisure Beach. But every year now for the past 10 or so years we get a school of Big Black Drum in the area, they are always on the move and never in the same place so most fisherman never see them. But if you do run across them they will eat until they feel pressured. These big ones (20 to 40 pounds) are not any good to eat so handle them gently and release them to fight again.

We still have a couple more negative tide cycles to go, and then we will start to see the first signs of springtime. The fish will notice it quickly, as we have had water temps in the low 60s all winter, and when they do be ready it is going to be a great Spring!

Mother Nature Rules

By Fishing Reports

One thing that is for sure this time of year is that Mother Nature rules. When the front’s roll through everyone knows what it does to our Florida fish, they lock up. However after over 30 years of fishing the Pasco, Pinellas area I have learned when it is time to fish and when it is time to stay in the warm house. Today was one of those days, even though the last 7 trips have produced over 100 fish each trip, today was not going to be that kind of day. I watched a couple of charters leave the dock already frozen to the bone, knowing they were only going for a very cold boat ride, and I just won’t do that to my clients. I had a nice warm breakfast with my clients and we rescheduled to a much nicer day this upcoming week.

Now for the good stuff, this past week, actually the last 8 days, have been incredible. The new moon phase has helped produce some of the lowest tides of the year, and with the post front, north winds the tides were even lower than normal. These conditions did two things, it pushed all the fish into any holes and troughs that they could get to, and the cooler water made them eat. It also helped keep everyone off the water, which is always a good thing. As most of my regular clients know this is my favorite time to fish because we are using artificials almost 100% of the time and we are normally the only ones fishing the fish, so we can catch them at will most days.  This has been the case this winter, the fish have been eating like there is no tomorrow and we have been able to get to the good spots looooong before anyone else with the boats I have. There have been a few surprises this winter, even with the cold water and lots of high pressure days the Snook bite has been off the hook, and big Snook at that. The rest of the wintertime crew has been right on schedule, the big Gator trout, and Redfish have been on fire with 50 to 60 fish out of just about every hole I can get to. This fishing should stay strong all the way through mid-February when our bait shows back up.

If this fishing sounds good to you there are a few things you need to be aware of, you will need to know where the holes are and depending on your boats draft you will need to know how to access them without destroying the grass beds. You will also need to learn the tides in the area you want to fish as they vary from area to area, and if you get caught in a hole on the outgoing tide you could be there awhile. The easy part is the bait, a simple 1/8 or ¼ oz. jig with any plastic tail will do the trick. If you decide to fish with a guide make sure you a very specific about what you want to do, as you want to be in a boat that can get you in and out of the holes with the fish. Without a doubt this is one of the best times to fish if you hit the conditions right!

Till tomorrow,

Capt. Greg DeVault

 

 

Incredible Winter Fishing – You have to see it to believe it!

By Fishing Reports

Well it has been a while since I have typed up a report, but I have a couple good reasons. The fishing since my last report has been absolutely incredible, with so many Snook, Redfish, Trout and many others coming to the boat that I did not want to raise the interest of some that like to…well lets say “follow the bent rod pattern”. So I just kept the great fishing between my clients and me. The other reason I had such a gap in reports was that I was slammed with work and really didn’t have the time or energy to sit in front of a keyboard and type. But today it is windy, cold and rainy so I finally had the time, even though the fishing is still spectacular !!

This time of year is by far my favorite time to fish, although we did catch bait up until Thanksgiving and caught a ton of great fish on them, now is the time when the true fishermen shine. The north winds have begun to blow and have brought with them the cold touch of winter, this means the bait that many can’t fish without is gone until late February and artificials will now rule the game. Another game-changer is the biggest negative low tides of the year are now taking place, and I have one of the only means of getting to the fish that these tides trap. I have been taking my clients to holes that most can only see from a distance for over a month now and we have been catching some great Snook, Redfish, and Gator Trout. 100 fish days have been the average since mid-November, and it will only get better and old man winter sets in the next couple months! 

The part a love about fishing this time of year is I can take my clients to water that is all ours, we do not have to share it until the tide finally comes up. And by then our day is done and they are wore out, and we do this all just a few minutes ride from New Port Richey, Hudson, and Tarpon Springs. We have been fishing the holes and troughs that hold water on the biggest low tides, and at times we are catching fish on every cast. The great thing is when the fish are this aggressive you can build confidence in anglers that are not used to using artificials.

I always ask my charters to check in with me to find out when the best tides and bites will be, but because of the lack of others fishing in the area there have not been many days that the bite was not stellar, just some days better than others. 

As I watch it rain I will finally have time to get Tackle sorted and reels respooled, the book is full and the fish are hungry. If you would like to get out for some of the best fishing we have seen, get ahold of me as I still have a couple days left in January.

Tight lines,

Capt.Greg DeVault

New Port Richey & Hudson Fishing Report

By Fishing Reports

This week has been getting better and better by the day, this is for two reasons. We were getting closer to the full moon as the week went on, and we had the first small cold front actually make it through the area. The front didn’t change much as far as the weather went but it did bring a lot of dry air and some very comfortable and cool mornings and evenings. These conditions only solidify the fish on the west coast of Florida to begin their fall migration into the backcountry and begin to feed to fatten up for the winter.

All my trips this week were started in Hudson, as the bait has been very easy for weeks now and it is a short run after I pick up my clients to where we typically start fishing. Most of the fish are ready to start the migration but are still stuck in limbo, as the water and air temps are going up and down. This makes the fish move accordingly. If we get a cold night or two the fish move up inside the canals, creeks and rivers, and then when it warms up they come right back out. But the one thing that is consistent is once they get in a spot they sit in it for a few days, the downside to this is once somebody finds them or is told about them, you may never get a chance to fish there!!

But back to the good stuff, the fishing off of New Port Richey has been good for the past few weeks now and this week we caught plenty of Snook, Trout, and even the redfish have started to show up in decent numbers. However, the best thing going for a month now was the Cobia bite, I have not said anything about it because I had it all to myself…well the cobia is out of the bag so to speak now. It did stay quiet longer than I thought it would for sure, but somebody is always watching.

The great part of this late cobia run was I was catching them the same way I was in the spring, on the backs of rays, which is always a blast. I also had two hard bottom areas in very shallow water that they were hanging out at. The size was also surprising from 20 inches to 40 inches they were all grouped together. I’m sure they will leave as the water cools down but they were fun while they lasted. Another thing I noticed this week is the big Gator trout that have started to show up, while I’m not catching a ton of them off the Port Richey coast their numbers are growing. This is a good sign of things to come this winter when the negative low tide will pull them into the holes and troughs and we will be fishing in the proverbial barrel. 

I love the Florida heat but a can say for sure I’m ready for the cooler weather and the fishing it will bring, I am booked solid for October but I still have a few days left for November and December. Remember those are the months for negative low tide trips, and I have the only boat in the area to get you to the fish when there is no water around. So don’t wait or you will miss the boat!

Till next time tight lines,

Capt. Greg DeVault

Port Richey Fall Fishing is Hot!

By Fishing Reports

The month of September is always one of my favorite months, you get a little bit of everything during this month. The heat and humidity are still hanging on, but a couple of times this month we will get a small hint of what’s to come. The wind will shift to the north the air will dry out, and the skies will be bright and blue. For the ones that have been on the water long enough they know what these clues mean to the fish…and the others, well they will follow as always.

September is not my busiest time by far, but I do have some very good clients that fish every month and September is no different. The fishing can either be on fire or just ho-hum this month, but if you fish the right tides and the right weather it is always hot. One of my favorite people and good friend Mike was down to give it a go and man did we hit it on the head. The snook bite was off the hook, with several fish to 30 inches coming to the boat. We found a couple of nice schools of redfish but they were not interested in our offerings.

Our day started at daybreak at Nicks Park in Port Richey, as Mike always goes with me to catch bait. This time of year the bait is still growing so 2 to 3 inch baits are the norm. I have been catching bait on a flat North of Hudson very easily and today was no different, it took 2 throws of the net and we were on our way to catch fish as the rest of the fleet was pulling in to get there bait. Seeing that we were going to have company today I elected to try a school of Redfish that I knew would see pressure later. We approached them quietly and got a few baits in them, but they were very disinterested. I’m convinced we have vampires fishing these fish in the dark!!

We had a strong incoming tide so we decided to run a little farther north to a creek I have fished that will hold Snook this time of year. This was the best move of the day as we were able to sit in that are for 2 hours and catch snook after snook. We would free line baits down with the current and before you could flip the bail back over your bait was smashed. Mike brought 6 slot-sized fish to the boat and several that were just under the slot, and when that bite finally died off we moved to another creek and started again. The highlight of the day was when Mike had our biggest fish try and take him into the bushes. The snook succeeded in making it to the tree line but Mike was masterful with the rod and “persuaded” the snook out of the trees and to the boat.

By now the tide was slowing and it was almost time to head to the dock but not without trying one more spot. We pulled up and put baits out, Mikes line got hit and drag started screaming, but that would be as close as we got to whatever it was. Maybe that’s why Mike is back every month….to get the ones that get away!

The air is defiantly cooler and the days are getting short, the snook and trout know its time to fatten up for winter soon. October and November are going to be awesome this year, my book is full for October but I do have about 4 days left in November, so don’t wait, in this game, you don’t want to be a day late and a dollar short… otherwise you’ll be just another Flats Invader.

Till Next time tight lines,

Capt. Greg DeVault  

 

We’re catching everything!

By Fishing Reports

Well, it was a busy first week back from Louisiana, and even though the days are getting noticeably shorter and the calendar says its fall, it is still summertime and hot! All my trips this week defiantly reflected that the fish are still in their summer patterns. So with that being said, there are a few things that you should always remember this time of year. Bring plenty of water, always wear sunscreen, and the best fishing will be early and late when you have the best moving water.

The week started out with low incoming tides in the morning so gathering bait was very easy. I ran north to a known area to catch it, I typically stay away from these areas but with empty boat ramps, I wasn’t too worried about pressure. All week bait was very easy taking two to three throws at the most, and the bait is growing nicely with most of the bait being 2 to 3 inches long.

I picked up all of my charters at Nicks park in Port Richey, mainly because with a big incoming tide I was going to be going north of Hudson to fish.  With the water temperatures being in the upper 80s I stayed on the outside edges of all the creeks and bayous that had good current flow and some depth. Summertime is not the time you can sit in one spot all day and catch fish, so we were jumping around from spot to spot most days. This was working very well as we would catch 4 or 5 nice fish at each spot and move on, it was a good thing it is summertime and during the week or I would not have enough spots to hit with the normal crowds.

During my charters this week we caught just about everything that swims in our waters, Redfish, Snook, Tarpon, Cobia, Jacks, Snapper, Grouper, Flounder, and Trout. Again not great numbers or size but a lot of spices and plenty of pulling. I did venture south one day to a spot off of New Port Richey that I love to fish on a low outgoing tide, it will typically hold redfish in good numbers on the end of an oyster bar. As we pulled up I set the Power Poles and could see mullet and Ballyhoo swimming around the bar, I placed a bait right on the edge of them and it was inhaled almost immediately. I nice redfish about 20 inches came to the boat, after that almost every bait that hit the spot was eaten by a redfish or trout until the tide stopped moving. After that we picked up and ran north to one of the Stilt houses off of Port Richey and tried to catch some snook, when we got there we could see the big snook swimming in front of us and with a few chummers they were blowing up waiting for us. It just so happened we had a snook virgin on the boat that day. She made a perfect cast right to where the snook were sitting and everybody on board jumped when we saw one of the big girls come up and eat the bait. It was a great fish and she pulled drag hard and fast and unfortunately for us we could not stop her and she broke off on some pilings. 

I know I am ready for fall and the cooler weather, but most of all the great fishing that is just around the corner. We will soon have the wintertime negative low tide that make it like fishing in a barrel if you have the knowledge and machinery to get to them. And I have both, so be ready to get on board and catch some fish.

Till next time, tight lines

Capt. Greg DeVault 

Fishing is great — no matter where we fish.

By Fishing Reports

Even though Marco and Laura ran us out of the Marsh a week early, they couldn’t stop us from fishing. We just relocated to where the weather and water were beautiful back home on Florida’s west coast. My clients that were going to Louisiana decided that since they already had the time off we might as well still fish, just here in Florida. Steve has a condo in Bradenton so we decided to fish the waters off of Sarasota, I am familiar with the area but haven’t been there in a while. 

We started at the crack of 7AM, and there is one thing for sure, the bait was much easier down south. They have bait boats on the water here and all you need to do is pull up and pay for your scoops of bait. It took 5 minutes and we had bait for the day!!

We had a low incoming tide so I decided to head to some old areas in Terra Ceia Bay, we fished points that had a little depth and current coming around them. We caught some nice Snook and a few Jack Cravelle but as the water filled up, the bite on the Mangrove islands died off. So, we decided to run into Sarasota bay and fished some grass flats that had a bunch of sand holes on them. As we pulled in we got the boat set up and the first thing we noticed was there was bait everywhere, but with good current we decided to give it a shot. The action wasn’t as fast as I would have liked but we were able to put a few more fish in the boat. We stayed there for about a half-hour and after seeing the bait multiply around us figured our bite was done here. 

One good thing about fishing an area you have not been to in a while is that all your spots are open, meaning you weren’t there to beat them up the day before. So we bounced from spot to spot for a few hours catching fish at most of them but nothing crazy. The tide had turned and started going out and the storm clouds were building, so I decided to run to a flat with mangroves on the edge with an undercut bank. When we got there the water was moving good and you could see some fish popping baits on the corner we were going to. We got set up and as the first bait pasted the point it was inhaled, as Steve came tight and a nice Snook instantly launched through the surface. While we were fighting that Snook another bait was drifting to the corner, and was again inhaled at the point. The Snook were in the 25-inch range, not giants but great fun and defiantly drag screamers. The big surprise cam when I started to chum the point after a short lull. We started to see the tell tale boils of redfish eating, and sure enough, when the baits were put in them they ate just like we were in Louisiana! We were able to catch several Snook and Reds off the point until finally, Mother Nature got us again.

Although it wasn’t Louisiana it was still a great two days of fishing with some of my favorite clients and friends. Steve is set to have neck surgery the end of the week so prayers go out to him for a safe and speedy recovery, the fish will be waiting for you bud!

Till next time tight lines,

Capt. Greg DeVault