Byron Stout's Fish Finder: Jan. 12

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  • Byron Stout's Fish Finder: Oct. 12

    Byron Stout's Fish Finder: Oct. 12

    Friday, October 12 2018 8:18 AM EDT2018-10-12 12:18:30 GMT
    Travis Harrison's 24-inch bass took the big fish category in last Friday evening's inaugural Birdies and Bass Tournament at Eastwood Golf Course.Travis Harrison's 24-inch bass took the big fish category in last Friday evening's inaugural Birdies and Bass Tournament at Eastwood Golf Course.
    Travis Harrison's 24-inch bass took the big fish category in last Friday evening's inaugural Birdies and Bass Tournament at Eastwood Golf Course.Travis Harrison's 24-inch bass took the big fish category in last Friday evening's inaugural Birdies and Bass Tournament at Eastwood Golf Course.
    At least, according to reports, Gulf waters are clearing of red tide and getting back to good old green. Thankfully not blue-green, as in algae, which also is clearing from Caloosahatchee canals.More >>
    At least, according to reports, Gulf waters are clearing of red tide and getting back to good old green. Thankfully not blue-green, as in algae, which also is clearing from Caloosahatchee canals.More >>
  • Byron Stout's Fish Finder: Oct. 5

    Byron Stout's Fish Finder: Oct. 5

    Monday, October 8 2018 12:16 PM EDT2018-10-08 16:16:13 GMT
    James Stout and Jonah Kluch tag-teamed this 11-foot Lake Trafford gator, starting with 30-pound spinning gear, and adding a 65-pound outfit by snatch-hooking the beast Saturday morning.James Stout and Jonah Kluch tag-teamed this 11-foot Lake Trafford gator, starting with 30-pound spinning gear, and adding a 65-pound outfit by snatch-hooking the beast Saturday morning.
    James Stout and Jonah Kluch tag-teamed this 11-foot Lake Trafford gator, starting with 30-pound spinning gear, and adding a 65-pound outfit by snatch-hooking the beast Saturday morning.James Stout and Jonah Kluch tag-teamed this 11-foot Lake Trafford gator, starting with 30-pound spinning gear, and adding a 65-pound outfit by snatch-hooking the beast Saturday morning.
    The good news is state biologists are reporting some improvement in red tide conditions along the southwest coast. The bad news is, that's only relative.More >>
    The good news is state biologists are reporting some improvement in red tide conditions along the southwest coast. The bad news is, that's only relative.

    More >>
  • Byron Stout's Fish Finder: Sept. 28

    Byron Stout's Fish Finder: Sept. 28

    Friday, September 28 2018 5:54 AM EDT2018-09-28 09:54:33 GMT
    FGCU Student Mackenzie Hammett caught her nice red in the Hell Peckney Bay area of Estero Bay, while fishing with Estero River pro-staffer Conner Thompson.FGCU Student Mackenzie Hammett caught her nice red in the Hell Peckney Bay area of Estero Bay, while fishing with Estero River pro-staffer Conner Thompson.
    FGCU Student Mackenzie Hammett caught her nice red in the Hell Peckney Bay area of Estero Bay, while fishing with Estero River pro-staffer Conner Thompson.FGCU Student Mackenzie Hammett caught her nice red in the Hell Peckney Bay area of Estero Bay, while fishing with Estero River pro-staffer Conner Thompson.
    Yet another plague -- apparently anoxic conditions in nearshore waters -- is killing even crabs in huge numbers along Bonita and Barefoot beaches in south Lee County.More >>
    Yet another plague -- apparently anoxic conditions in nearshore waters -- is killing even crabs in huge numbers along Bonita and Barefoot beaches in south Lee County.More >>

Most of the biting over the past week has been by Jack Frost, nipping at local noses.

That said, some of the exceptions have been spectacular.

Send your fishing pics to Byron!

Some anglers have been catching and releasing snook -- sometimes dozens per day -- on artificial baits thrown in local canals.

And like many of Southwest Florida's fish, sheepshead also are very cold sensitive. But in a good way.

Largemouth bass may be the least likely to bite when cold winds blow under bright blue skies, but freshwater anglers have a great fallback in black crappie, which taste better anyway.

SNOOK: St. James City Capt. George Grosselfinger and his clients and friends have been catching dozens of snook, including some well into the slot size range, while throwing mostly hard plastic lures in local canals every day over the past week. Lots of husky crevalle jacks and the occasional trout (to 26 inches) also have been in the mix.

Cape Coral angler Buff Kinsey caught three snook to 25 inches, two trout to 22 inches, and two jacks Sunday evening while throwing rootbeer Haw River Shrimp jigs in the canals of Matlacha Isles, according to Lehr's Economy Tackle in North Fort Myers.

Norm Zeigler's Fly, Bait & Tackle Shop on Sanibel reports the snook bite is gaining steam, with good action reported from most of the creeks and bayous in the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, including Tarpon Bay, and from Blind Pass.

SHEEPSHEAD: Zeigler's reports sheepshead biting throughout Sanibel's back country, and Blind Pass always is a reliable prospect.

Lehr's reports crowds of anglers fishing out of the wind, and in the sun along Wildlife Drive in Ding Darling have been catching lots of sheepshead, with many from 16 to 18 and even 20 inches. Live shrimp also have been good for keeper black drum, a few mangrove snapper and mostly sublegal redfish and snook. One customer reported a line already starting to form by 6:30 a.m outside the gate, which opens at 7. Wildlife Drive is closed on Fridays.

Lehr's also reports Fort Myers anglers Raymond Allen and James Shaw caught 14 sheepshead including four from 17 to 18 inches , plus a couple of keeper snapper Monday at the Causeway Reef off Sanibel.

Fishbuster Charters Capt. Dave Hanson reports two very busy sheepshead trips in southern Estero Bay, beginning last Thursday with a catch of 20, including four keepers to 16 inches, plus a few small black drum and an undersize redfish for Chris Pammer and sons Jack, 10, and Jake, 11. Then Isaac Wengerd and sons Henry, 8, and Gus, 4, caught 17 sheepies including five keepers, plus a 16-inch drum, a 16-inch snook and an undersize snapper, all on live shrimp last Friday.

Also last Friday, Ohioan Gary Reagan used live shrimp to pull several keeper sheepshead out of pilings along Big Hickory Pass on his Get Hooked Charter with Capt. Matt DeAngelis.

King Fisher bay boats out of Fishermen's Village in Punta Gorda report sheepshead have been slowly bunching up, but the bite has remained relatively tough at the Charlotte Harbor Reef, and in local canals where a few snapper and trout also have been in the mix.

TROUT: The O'Malley family from Chicago freelined live shrimp around Estero Bay's Starvation Key to catch 27 trout with Capt. DeAngelis. The Estero River Outfitters pro-staff guide also recommends fishing the deep holes in coastal rivers and Estero Bay for fish holed up in slightly warmer waters.

Zeigler's is hearing of trout biting along the shorelines of North Captiva Island.

King Fisher bay boats report trout scattered in deeper potholes along Charlotte Harbor's northeaster flats, with a few beginning to retreat to the warmer waters of Punta Gorda area canals.

SHARKS: Late last Thursday afternoon, before it got really cold (Jan. 4), Eric Downing of Fort Myers used cut ladyfish to catch three sharks -- two lemons and one bull, all from three to four feet long -- in Big Carlos Pass, according to Lehr's.

FRESH WATER

LAKE TRAFFORD: Lake Trafford Marina in Immokalee reports Bob Hale and Bob Wilson used minnows and jigs to catch their limits of 25 crappie by fishing minnows and jigs along the shorelines, two days running.

Steve Skinner of North Fort Myers and his neighbors, David, James and Chuck Stout, used minnows on light tackle along the lake shorelines and lily pad patches to catch 51 specks on Sunday.

LAKE OKEECHOBEE: "We're not even fishing now," reported Capt. Mike Shellen, of OkeechobeeBassFishing.com. "There's no sense in going until it warms up," the veteran guide said of prospects for bass.

The prospect for crappie, on the other hand, is "all you want."

Specks have been biting well in the vegetation along Grassy Island, King's Bar, and Tin House Cove, as well as in the deeper waters of the Kissimmee River, and the Indian Prairie and Harney Pond canals. Jigs work well in the veg; minnows are the thing for fishing deeper waters.

HOT SPOTS

No. 1: Punta Gorda area canals for sheepshead, trout and snapper.

No. 2: Matlacha Isles canals for snook, trout and jacks.

No. 3: Ding Darling's Wildlife Drive for sheepshead and more.

No. 4: St. James City canals for snook and jacks.

No. 5: Estero Bay for trout and sheepshead.

No. 6: Causeway Reef for sheepshead.

No. 7: Lake Trafford for crappie.

LAKE OKEECHOBEE

No. 1: King's Bar for crappie.

No. 2: Kissimmee River for crappie.

No. 3: Tin House Cove for crappie.

No. 4: Harney Pond Canal for crappie.

PIC OF THE WEEK

Jonathan Tipples' snook was just one of 20 he caught recently, fishing St. James City canals with Capt. George "Artificials Only" Grosselfinger.

FISH TIP

This 14-incher was one of 17 sheepshead caught last Friday on shrimp by 4-year-old Gus Wengerd and his family, on their inshore Fishbuster Charter in southern Estero Bay. The annual winter run of sheepshead begins in the deeper holes and oyster-bar back country of area bays and salt creeks, and spreads seaward as the fish gather in spawning aggregations, through March.

Wildlife Drive (closed Fridays) was a great shore-based spot on Sanibel over the past week, and a Monday report of a catch of 14 at the Causeway Reef indicates the popular porgies already have moved into the nearshore waters of the Gulf. For a list of Lee County artificial reef coordinates, click here.


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