Another summer is coming to an end here in SWFL. I hope everyone had a fun summer with their families and friends. I took some time away this summer myself to spend time with family and made some new memories on the water. Fall is around the corner and with the seasons changing so does the bite.
I am thrilled to walk into Fishin Franks and see larger sized shrimp making a come back. These are great for fall red fish. They cant resist a jumbo shrimp walking by them. Fish them free-lined or on your favorite jig head. If you aren’t a bait guy, gold spoon’s and soft plastics will do the trick. These reds are starting to school up, feeding the best during early morning hours. The rain forecast this week could throw this off. I am welcoming weather forcast, this rain will cool down the water even more and could increase the bite.
Snook season opens this week. You can buy your snook stamp anywhere you buy a Florida fishing license. Catching and releasing in our area will greatly help the population grow. Their population was decresed by the freeze a few years back, still recovering. Target them with live bait in deep pockets along the flats, or right along any sandy drop offs. Working a top water lure along the shoreline around first light will lure a hungry snook out to eat.
If your fishing from the shore line you have a lot of great options too. The white bait is along the beaches from Boca Grande to Englewood. Snook and flounder have been prevalent along gulf beaches, jacks mackerel, trout and a few small tarpon in lemon bay. Have a great week on the water and try to avoid the rain, the fish dont mind they are already wet!
Mallory Herzog- BigBullyOutdoors
If you haven’t noticed by the amount of boats this weekend the tarpon have finally come into boca grande and surrounding waters. They are feeding best on crab, although I did watch a guy hook into a 100lb tarpon using a live jumbo shrimp. Threadfins also are great live bait for these guys.
Oh yea and you have to bow when they leap into the air. This is something I forgot this weekend. We were in the fleet of boats inside the pass. A pod rolls right next to me, I throw my crab in like I’ve done a thousand times before but this time FISH on! I was so excited that as she lept out of the water and almost on to my our friend Al’s boat, I just stood there frozen in awe! Well there will be many more this season and I’m sure I won’t forget next time.
After some heckling from my captain about my failure to bow he found a pod that was all alone, he hooked into the biggest one in the school! She was so large she couldn’t even jump fully out of the water. After a 45 min fight this big momma wore though the leader, but not before I got a few snapshots!
Get out there! The fish are here, don’t be intimidated by Boca Grande. Assert yourself and make your way towards the school. Pay close attention to other fishermen when you get out there. This will help you to know if they are jigging or live baiting. Also when to use a trolling motor and when to use your larger motor. Franks fishing club is meeting Tuesday & Wednesday this week and is ALL about tarpon. Make sure to attend if your after a silver King. Good luck!
Raygin made the long drive from Ohio to visit friends and I’m so thrilled her friend Whitney stopped by for a fun day on the water. We planned to go out for goliath grouper and shark. You might remember Raygin from a previous sharky post about a year ago if you follow our blog! Every year Raygin is here more and more. Eventually I’ll convince her to just stay forever.
We started the day out looking for some big sharks. This time of year they are pretty scattered and loving near shore wrecks for an easy meal. After awhile Aiden started fishing with some shrimp on the bottom to pass time. He was quickly hooked up on a few sharks of his own. Kids love these on light tackle. Thx Raygin for the great pics!
After the bigger sharks didn’t want to cooperate we headed over to see if the goliath grouper would play tug of war. I’m not sure if it was all the snapper they stole earlier in the day or they just wanted to test my patience but the bite was slow!
Finally after a few snags and stolen baits Raygin was hooked up! She did great getting this powerful fish out of the structure near by. Mid fight the rod broke, she held on as Andrew hand lined. This goliath decided to make a quick release shortly after being brought to the surface.
What an adventure! Broken gear, big fish and a lot of fun. Near the end of the day we even got a visit from the local dolphin we call “friend”. Becareful not to pet or feed her, she is known to bite, and its illegal to do either. Always a beautiful day on the water giving your boat a show better than any seaworld or aquarium!
Tom’s friend Andrew was in town on a fishing vacation. His first stop was Miami area for peacock bass and snake heads. His last stop was our Gulf coast for a little pull of a Goliath grouper. Guys day out on the boat, both Andrew’s and Tom headed out in search of a local moster grouper, the conditions were perfect. They brought along some frozen mullet for bait but soon learned these grouper were going to be picky today. A few tries with the mullet on the knocker rig and no luck. Not a nibble. Then they started to notice some large jacks schooling around the area and caught a couple on swim bait’s. These are fun to catch and drag screamers at this size! They make nice goliath and shark bait as well. Since the mullet werent working the guys gave the jacks a try!
That sure did the trick! Andrew hooked one on the line and sent it down next to the piling where the grouper like to hang out. It wasnt down on the bottom for 3 mins before he was hooked up! Andrew was in for the workout of a life time, these fish are pretty strong and know how to take you into structure to cut your line. After a fight on the 80w reel Andrew landed his first goliath grouper! Check out the video below of his adventure, watch in HD for best quality.
Tom has been wanting to get a big fish every since he purchased his boat! We took him out to a spot where we knew he would feel some serious pull on his Penn 80w! It was a beautiful day and conditions and currents were in our favor. Andrew carefully maneuvered us next to the structure where these massive goliath grouper like to hang out! As Tom held on to his reel I tossed his bait against the side of the pilings. It took a few passes, getting adjusted to the current flow and weight of the bait.
We started to get bites right away, one of them stealing our bait before tom was hooked up! Its a fun feeling on the boat to feel the grab your bait the first initial bump is the best! After a short fight Tom and the 80w whooped this fish’s butt! A few snapshots and she was de-hooked, back on her way down to be caught another day! So much fun catching these from the boat, I cant decide which is more fun, boat or beach?! Great catch Tom and fun day on the water!
Shark season is in full swing here in south west Florida. They are following the tarpon and looking for a quick tasty meal! The family and myself headed out for a night of shark fishing from shore.
I decided we needed to try a new area since boca pass has been SO crowded with fishermen & boats making it a bit hard to land a fish. Shark guys I can’t stress enough that you must start cleaning up after yourselves!!!! Last time I was in the pass I gathered up a cooler full of garbage from just the spot I was sitting in. Bonita tails all over and at least 4 leader sections and glow sticks laying all over the sand. We also spoke with a park ranger who was very upset over some late night gate vandalism. They are working on installing a security camera due to the increased vandalism at this location. Land based shark fishing is under intense scrutiny already. We don’t need to add garbage piles and vandalism to the list of complaints!
We set out on a side beach of boca grande. It was a beautiful and quiet evening and I was really hoping for a bite! A group of people were having a BBQ, playing fetch with their dogs and we were all just having a blast! About 25 mins after the sunset a hungry sharky picked up my bait! I was using one of our avet 80w with 100lb mono. She put up a good fight in the wavy conditions. After about 20 mins I landed a beautiful Lemon Shark!
Lemon sharks are easily identifiable by their second dorsal almost as large as their first. A lot of people mistake them for bullsharks (which I’ve done myself in a rush) and even nurse sharks! The second dorsal is key to identifying this shark! These are the only shark species that can bite their own tails! Watch your fingers and toes and handle with care!
Lemon sharks are protected in Florida so we worked hard to keep her in the water while we measured, tagged and snapped a few quick pics! She measured 8 foot even and was a pregnant female, the surf conditions made for an easy release. As soon as we took the tail rope off she wiggled away and released herself! Can’t argue with that!
Later that evening we assisted some guys down the beach land TWO 8 foot plus bullsharks back to back! Their camera wasn’t functioning so thankfully I was able to tag one of their fish and get them a few pics to remember their awesome catches! They even let my son have a turn on the reel which made his night! Thanks for sharing Scott, you made Aiden’s night! I love meeting kind & positive shark fishermen.
If your headed out this weekend please remember to respect your fish and those fishing around you. You can do this by cleaning up your mess and any other mess you find along the beach! There’s so much plastic in our ocean already! If we all work together to clean it up the beaches will be even more enjoyable! Good luck my fellow fishermen! Have a fun and safe holiday weekend!!
May 1st was going to be my night! I set out after a certain kind of fish. Andrew finally landed his hammer after 4 years of trying and I really wanted to catch one myself. Knowing what they are eating and where they are located we set out with big things in mind. I anxiously awaited sunset. This is when we’ve been getting the most bites. Just as the sun vanished into the horizon my 80w went screaming towards cayo costa and had no signs of stopping!
I quickly strapped myself in to only watch my line vanish before my eyes. I gave more and more drag. Still this fish was not stopping. I yelled down the beach to some fellow anglers for some help to reel up our other rod in-case we had to make a run down the beach. Now im getting concerned as I only see about 200-300 yard left on the spool and can hardly stand up. I had my trauma sheers in my hand in case I needed to cut the line. Austin Wholean and friends came to my relief and we put a STOP to this fish with 100 yards or less on the spool. Now we had to use some serious muscle to gain back the line.
In the previous weeks we’ve lost a fish to the many tarpon boats across boca grande pass. We knew we had to keep this fish from running out of the pass. I soon knew that I couldn’t do this alone, as I almost fell face first into the sand. The power behind this fish on locked drag was something I’ve never felt and I have been spooled twice previously. All 5+ guys worked on hand- lining so it was easier for me to gain line back. It WORKED! I was able to gain back about 600 of my 750 yards before disaster struck. Just as I was getting excited about possibly landing this monster she ran again and this time right towards the tarpon boats. I made the decision to stop her. All hands on deck. I held the spool and the guys dug their feet in the sand and held on the best the could. Unfortunately the line snapped near shore and I never saw her. The breaking strength of 100lb suffex mono is holding the spool, while five guys play tug of war. WAY over 100 lbs. I’m a firm believer that if its meant to be your fish it will be. I am grateful to be privileged enough to feel this ocean beast’s power. We play tug of war with these elder’s of the sea and especially the ones we loose keep us coming back for more!
Pictured above is the line of helpers! Andrew at the front & Austin and I at the reel!