Winter Fishing Bliss

It's a beautiful time in the Florida Keys as we settle into the winter weather and the different fishing patterns to follow. As the water temperatures drop and the north winds roll in, we start to explore many new options with the seasonal availability of new fish species.

We have several different options of charters this time of year as patterns start to change. On my 4 hour trips, we have the option to do what I like to call "grocery shopping" for snapper, grouper, porgies, mackerel, and jacks closer to home. Its not uncommon to catch over 100 fish on a good day and only within a stones throw of the marina. This is great for the family who would like to experience their first time Islamorada fishing charter and enjoy a fresh fish lunch or dinner with loved ones to conclude a rewarding trip out on the water. Have your catch cooked up for you at some of my favorite Islamorada restaurants including lazy days, lorelei, or shrimp shack to recap some of the great highlights of your day.

On 6 hour charters I like to make the 20-30 mile run into the edges of the Gulf of Mexico for spanish mackerel, trout, snapper, grouper, and the occasional cobia. What I love most about this trip is the various ways to target especially the mackerel with fly, bait, or artificial. From your first time angler, to the most seasoned fly fisherman, this is a trip to remember. Spanish mackerel hit with true force, take blistering runs like few other fish, and make for good table fare as well. I like to build up the trip by starting with smaller fish and proper angling fundamentals, then swing for the home run by trying for a goliath grouper, large shark, or cobia. Goliath groupers can potentially get over 400 lbs. and its very possible to hook into one over 100 on light tackle! Although protected, these fish put up an agonizing fight that will leave even the most macho of men feeling spent. Some of these larger sharks and groupers we see in the Gulf are truly remarkable animals to see in less than 10 feet of water!

Anglers with their sights set on a type of fishing experience involving a higher level of difficulty tend to book 8 hour trips this time of year. On this kind of charter I like to run into Everglades National park for snook, redfish, tarpon, black drum, and trout. With the negative tides and lower temperatures, Everglades National Park comes alive with winter wildlife we don't get to see at other times of the year. Rosiette spoonbills, white pelicans, ospreys, crocodiles, manatees, and dolphins surround as we are entranced in an ecosystem detached from the modern world we live in. Its like going back in time as we fish in areas that are encompassed by nothing but winding creeks, shallow mud flats, and mangrove shorelines that seem virtually untouched by anyone except for the person who created them. Here we find big numbers of good size snook in the 20-35 inch range, redfish up to 10lbs., and small to large tarpon. The occasional gator trout and black drum make their way in the mix as well. Generally, I like to use a jig head with live shrimp or a soft plastic to get down to these lethargic fish. We work our baits slower, and cast meticulously into difficult mangrove pockets or potholes on the flats where the fish are staging to get warm. Shallow water warms up faster than the deep so if the sun is high, we fish shallow. If the water temperature stagnates and overcast skies block the sun, we fish the deeper edges. Persistence fishing pays off during this time as the fish seem to concentrate in specific areas more than normal.

Whichever trip you prefer, I will always try my best to put you on fish based on the conditions provided for the day. We may have our sights set on one particular goal in mind, but its best to be flexible as to what type of fishing we do this time of year. Conditions change and can make for one door to close, but another one to open fruitfully. I supply various types of tackle so that we can adapt and change at a moments notice if need be. Feel free to call, text, or email anytime for further information, and to book your Islamorada Fishing Charter.

Remember, the tug is the drug and if you chum they will come!

Tight Lines,

Capt. Drew Nobregas

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