Pre-charter rituals

0500, alarm clock rings, in a groggy haze its time to get out of bed and feel my way through the dark bedroom to the bathroom. The night prior I lay my clothes out in order, from underwear to hat, so I can put them on without light. I quickly apply sunscreen and brush my teeth, then try to exit the bedroom without disturbing Lauren too much. As I pass through the kitchen on my way to the garage I flip on the coffee pot and grab my truck keys. I push the button and hear the loud growl of the garage door opening, I squint my eyes as the bright fluorescent lights come on. Everything is laid out in order the night before and this part is very routine in an attempt not to forget anything.

First grab the rods and load them into their rod holders on the boat. Next grab the towel and give the boat a quick whipe down to dry the condensation from the humid Florida night. Next unplug the battery charger and turn on the battery switch. Quick systems check to make sure everything is working properly. Then to the deep freezer for ice and, if needed, frozen bait. After the cooler is filled, I put on my rain gear and I go inside one last time. Opening the door I hear the coffee maker just finishing the pot, thats how I know I’m on time, and the aroma of fresh brewed Dunkin hits me from the laundry room. I grab my Yeti Tumbler and fill it with coffee. Time to peak in Vance’s room, write Lauren a note, and leave them both sleeping soundly. 

As I walk through the garage and down the driveway towards my truck I run through a mental checklist making sure I didn’t forget any needed equipment for the days fishing charter. I also quickly double check that the outboard motor is trimmed up, the trailer tires are full, and the trailer is hooked up properly. Inside my truck I wait for the glow plug light to go out and wake up the Cummins engine. Letting it warm up for a few minutes I hit the wipers and turn the vent on the windshield. The drive is peaceful at this time of day with very minimal traffic. As I drive through Matlacha I see other guides and recreational anglers alike pulled off to the side of the road in front of their favorite bait and tackle stores loading up on last minute essentials.

Arriving at the dead end of Maria Drive, you take a right turn onto a dirt/shell road and follow the pitch black tunnel of mangroves until you reach the parking lot and the one slip ramp. Usually theres a short line of other guides and commercial fisherman waiting to launch. The short wait allows time to unhook the boat from the trailer, power up the GPS, turn on the necessary lights, and load the last of the daily essentials… sunglasses, chewing tobacco, and wallet. The ramp is now open and after a tight U-turn and short reverse, the boats in the water. This process goes quick and we stay out of each others way.

I exchange pleasantries and secret spots from the day prior with other guides as the outboard warms up and ropes get put away. Its now time to reverse out of the slip and turn away from the one glowing street light that lights the ramp. It’s dark. In the distance some faint lights of South Seas Resort can be seen, but not much else. The water is high this morning so I bypass the short idle of the channel and jump across the shallow flat instead. Steering the boat south I take it wide out and around the clam lease then continue south for a few minutes. Once I get close to the flat I come off plane and idle into 3-4 feet of water and Power Pole down. I open the back hatch, get out a bag of dry chum and pour some into a small bucket, add a squirt of menhaden oil, and a splash of saltwater until its thoroughly mixed and has reached an oatmeal consistency. I also get out my 10′ Barracuda cast net and lay it on the deck for later.

This is now my favorite time if the day. Im standing on the bow of my boat coffee and chum sitting on the deck. Its still dark out with stars shining everywhere. I sip coffee and toss small pinches of chum into the water. For this 15 minutes all the world is right and nothing could possibly be wrong, it’s complete peace. The sun just begins to rise, slowly creeping up from behind Pine Island. Pine Island Sound begins to fill with life. It starts with a few minor splashes from bait in the water, or a local manatee coming up to the boat to say good morning. As the sun shows itself the birds flock in from all directions landing in the water nearby, just waiting for the bait to show up too. A few minutes later the sun has the sky on fire with amazing oranges and reds.

You can now see the greenbacks and threadfins dimpling the water in your chum slick. It’s time to put down the coffee and pick up the cast net. Its muscle memory at this point, fold the rope, grab the horn, with the same hand grab the net waste level and lift it off the deck. Pull off a few handfuls and up over your back shoulder the leads go. Now a couple more handfuls into my right hand then into position at the edge of the bow. Rock it back and forth then throw it, it opens pretty good, right on target. You can see the net light up with silver flashes, you’ve done good. Walk to the back of the boat dragging the net behind me, closing the bait inside. Drag the net up and over the side of the boat and open it back up into the live well. The baits gets acclimated to its new home as I throw a few more pinches of chum and ready the net. Repeat, until the well has too much bait for the days trip.

The sun is now up and its light out, you look around to take it all in and see you weren’t alone. A dozen other guides were near enjoying their own personal routines and rituals. It’s time to put away the cast net and get the 5 gallon bucket. Clean all of the seaweed and slime from the boat so its presentable for clients, take off my rain gear, and finish my coffee. Time to take it all in one more time before making the run to the marina and starting the fishing charter.

First week of April

April’s fishing charters started with ups and downs, the first few days brought in amazing fishing to include tarpon, snook, huge schools of mackerel and lady fish. Then a cold front came through and slowed things down big time for a couple of days. After the front we were still able to catch sharks, trout, and ladyfish. As I write this, the water and temperatures are hot again. The bait is bad and the fish are active. Tomorrow looks like another front blowing through, they are getting weaker and less often. This weeks fishing charters all have a primary focus on tarpon. The new boat is also in a race to the finish with all of the pieces now coming together quickly. Getting very excited to get into it and start using it for fishing charters.

End of March Fishing

The end of March has brought a wide variety of fish being caught. Recent fishing charters have caught tarpon, snook, redfish, lady fish, spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper, sharks, trout, and barracuda. The last week was a whirlwind with one fishing charter after the next.

One of my more memorable trips was the Disterhoft Family. They scheduled a four hour fishing charter and requested some sightseeing and some fishing. We started with a nice boat ride to North Captiva Island where we waded through some knee deep flats while the kids had blast chasing minnows, and crabs. Then we crossed the island to the Gulf of Mexico side where we enjoyed the completely private beach filled with beautiful shells. We then saw dolphins up close and toured other area “must sees.” Now it was time to start fishing. We caught a few barracudas and were set up to avoid the wind and hopefully catch some trout. With that, Keira’s bobber went under, after letting her know it was down she started reeling. The line came tight and the drag started screaming. With very little help Keira reeled in an almost 30″ snook. What an exciting afternoon, a great picture with her and her dad, and a memory she will never forget.

The new boat is almost done and will be delivered soon. The next few weeks of fishing charters will be focused on tarpon. To be one of the first fishing charters on the new boat, book your trip today.

Tarpon Season is here!

March 14th – 19th was a week of nonstop fishing charters. This weeks fishing charters covered a little bit of everything. Most of the trips began working huge schools of ladyfish and trout. This is fun action packed fishing as the fish are chasing bait to the surface of the water leaping out of the water entirely to eat bait. While the fish are pushing bait to the top pelicans are diving down from above to also eat the bait, and we are in the middle of it all steadily catching fish after fish. A few of the fishing charters were spent fishing the mangroves with live bait. We caught a lot of snook, redfish, and mangrove snapper to take home for dinner.

On Saturday’s fishing charter the goal was BIG fish. We started catching a bunch of ladyfish for bait, then went to a nice deep cut between two sand bars. I cut ladyfish into large chunks and set them out in the deeper water. It wasn’t long before a shark was on. We caught shark after shark with the highlight being a 5′ long spinner shark that jumped out of the water and performed some airborne acrobatics for my clients.

Sunday was a two boat fishing charter that I arranged for 6 people, and it was all about the Tarpon! We targeted them inshore in shallow water using cut bait. The morning started slow with an hour of looking for fish rolling. Once we found them the action picked up with the other boat hooking up and fighting a tarpon for about 15 minutes before breaking off after multiple jumps. After breaking off, the second boat was idling back to the previous spot and a few tarpon popped up next to their boat. A well placed threadfin lead to another hook up, ending with a quick jump and pulled hook. We then relocated and found a few more scattered tarpon rolling. We let the baits sit and out of nowhere one of the rods started screaming. After a huge first run from a giant tarpon we got 3 jumps approximately 100 yards out. This tarpon was a monster, not even being able to completely leave the water with its jumps, only getting about halfway out. While clearing the other fishing lines one became rapped around the line with the fish on it. The reel was opened into free spool and the rod was put in a rod holder to worry about later. First we had to chase down this tarpon. This tarpon refused to be caught. After another jump now even farther from the boat, I heard a snap and the reel was spooled. This tarpon took 200 yards of line wishing a few minutes and it wasn’t slowing down. Feeling defeated we began to organize everything after the mayhem. Out of nowhere the rod that was rapped around the line started screaming. The line from the original rod caught on a knot from the rapped line and we were now fighting the same tarpon on a different rod. This is the first time I’ve ever seen this. You really have no idea of that to expect with these amazing fish. The second fight lasted a few more minutes before the line slipped off of the second line and was gone. We set up again and had another big run but pulled the hook. For early season tarpon fishing in March I was very happy with the results and can’t wait for the rest of the season.

As I type this today I’m enjoying a day off, as a big cold front blows in with wind and rain. I spend the day making some boat repairs, checking the progress of the new boat, and going to the tackle shop. There are still openings for tarpon season, don’t wait book now to catch this fish of a lifetime.

March 5th-13th

The middle of last week brought a cold front that cooled the area off for a couple of days and changed the fishing some. The cooler temperatures of last week did not cool off the fishing, and did not stick around long. We have warmed up again nicely, taking full advantage of 80 degree temperatures in Southwest Florida. The water is also crystal clear and full of healthy fish.

Inshore fishing charters have produced a lot of healthy snook, and we have been catching good amounts of mangrove snapper. We have also been catching the occasional redfish during our trips, but they have slowed down some from last month. Tarpon are just starting to show up to the area seeing a few here and there. With the temperatures staying warm they everyone is anxiously anticipating their arrival in full force in the next few weeks.

Offshore/nearshore fishing charters have also been very productive. Theres large schools of bait along the beaches that have the spanish mackerel fired up. They are a fun fish to catch, especially when frenzied on bait schools, as they come shooting out of the water and go airborne while chasing bait. The nearshore wrecks and reefs have also been filled with great permit, and kingfish action. Come take advantage of the best spring time fishing charters in Florida, schedule your trip today.

Beginning of March

Southwest Florida has been absolutely being spoiled with perfect warm temperatures, light winds, and no rain to begin March. Each morning has started easily cast netting beautiful bait before returning to the dock to pick up my clients for the day. Once the clients are on the boat the fishing charters start very quickly by returning to the large pods of live bait that are prevalent in the bay. Ill position the boat ahead of the bait, and my clients will usually toss jigs into the bait pods. This is an awesome form of fishing its very visual as the fish are literally jumping out of the water chasing the bait. Using this fishing technique we have been catching plenty of spanish mackerel, trout, and lady fish.

After the clients have been properly warmed up and landed plenty of fish in this fishing frenzy, its time to slow it down just a little and target snook and redfish. The fishing doesn’t slow down much as Southwest Florida’s waters are very healthy and filled with fish. We will now switch to the live bait and fish along the mangrove shorelines. The action has been great catching a lot of snook and redfish throughout every fishing charter. Some of my clients have wanted to take fish home for dinner and for them we have ended the fishing charter catching mangrove snapper before retiring to the dock.

We are also flirting with Tarpon season, they are showing up to the south of us and will most likely be here in the next few weeks. There are still days available to check Tarpon off of your bucket list. Book your trip now to ensure your chance at landing a fish of a lifetime.

Late February Fishing

Southwest Florida has been blessed with beautiful spring like weather over the last few weeks. The temperatures have averaged in the 80’s and we’ve had plenty of days with light winds and no rain. The water is looking beautiful with no red tide. This weather pattern has allowed the bait to move back inshore and the fish are loving it.

The fishing charters from last week were seeing a lot of great fishing action. We caught several inshore slams (snook, redfish, trout) along with countless mackerel and ladyfish for fun. Each fishing charter has caught a lot of juvenile fish with big healthy adults mixed in. The highlight of the week was a very large 11 pound redfish that put up a huge fight on light tackle. Fishing is on fire, the water is gorgeous, and our weather is perfect. Schedule a fishing charter and take full advantage of the best spring fishing Southwest Florida has to offer.

Sheepshead

Sheepshead, the other white meat. With our comfortable weather and cooler water temperatures the sheepshead have invaded Southwest Florida in full force to breed. My recent fishing charters have discovered, the key has been a light monofilament leader with small hook and lead weight. Put a shrimp on the hook and toss at deep underneath a dock. Hold on because within seconds your shrimp will be getting picked at. This is where patience needs to take over, don’t jerk the rod, you will pull it out of their snarled excuse for a mouth every time. Once they’ve got the shrimp good slowly pull up on the rod and start reeling ensuring a solid hook set into their iron like jaws. They put up a good fight digging hard towards the bottom.

The action has been consistent with snapper, black drum, snook, and redfish mixed in. My fishing charters that want to bring dinner home have been catching enough to feed the families for a couple of meals. Sheepshead are a good white meat without a strong fishy flavor. They cook up nice with garlic butter and lemon.

As the weather stays warm and comfortable, bait is moving back in along with trout and spanish mackerel. To come and enjoy this beautiful weather and catch your dinner book your fishing charter today.

2019 Tarpon Fishing

Blue Line Fishing Charters is excited to be transitioning into our new bigger boat just in time for the 2019 tarpon season. Our tarpon fishing charters will be the first to experience this brand new fully custom built IMC Boatworks Rogue 24. This is a brand new boat with classic lines and design. I have fully customized this boat from bow to stern, designing it for hardcore fishing and comfort of the clients. The new boat will be powered by a 250 HP Mercury giving us plenty of power to cover all of Southwest Florida, this guarantees a chance to catch your trophy fish. More information and pictures to come of that.

Most important is that tarpon season is around the corner (April-June) fishing charters are starting to book. Don’t miss your chance to catch this world renowned sport fish, The Silver King. I’ve said it before, it is a love hate relationship with this fish but without a doubt, win lose or draw, tarpon fishing is an addiction. Don’t hesitate, mark it off your bucket list this year, but book soon as space is limited.

January 14-20th

The fishing in Southwest Florida has brought a good consistent bite so far this year. My fishing charters have gotten to enjoy a wide variety of fish including triple tail, snapper, sheepshead, redfish, jack crevalle, and snook. A lot of which have been going home with clients for dinner. The water is gorgeous and the weather has been good to us with chilly mornings and warm afternoons.

At the end of the week I was able to make it offshore fishing on an overnight commercial fishing trip with a friend of mine. We hit the weather window just right. It was the day before a cold front blew in so we were able to get off the water before the wind picked up, take advantage of the pre front bite, and take advantage of an almost full moon. We started at 3AM Friday morning loading the boat with supplies and ice, then heading to the ramp. We splashed the boat around 430am and headed west, quickly getting offshore and to a ledge in about 90′ of water before sunrise. We caught plenty of porgies and blue runners off the bottom, the blue runners were brought up and put on the big rod to be sent right back down. The amberjack bite started strong catching three back to back. Once that slowed down it was time to get in the water, another 12 amberjack were speared in short order. This was repeated at another spot, and then it was time to push further offshore and anchor for the night. As the breeze died down and the water slicked out, we set up over structure in 120′ of water for the night. As soon as the sun was down the bite turned on. Every drop we were getting bites as soon as the bait hit the bottom. We caught one snapper after the next until around 1AM. We then called it a night and laid down on the bean bag chairs for a few hours. At 530Am the breeze picked up and started rocking the boat pretty good, so it was time to pull the anchor and move again. We headed back in to around 90′ again and caught 8 more amber jack, cleaned all of the fish, and then made the run in before the wind got any worse. It was a great, long day, but came home with almost a ton of meat to sell to the distributor.