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Fishing with Capt. Jesse
home : features : fishing with capt. jesse
March 22, 2018

3/2/2018 2:54:00 PM
Fishing with Capt. Jesse
Ron with a beast of an amberjack he caught near Boca Grande.
Ron with a beast of an amberjack he caught near Boca Grande.

Capt. Jesse McDowall
Florida Inshore Xtream Charter Service

For most of March the forecast is usually about the same, windy with a slight chance of being able to fish. If you haven’t noticed by now, when they’re calling for 5-10 mph winds they mean more like 20mph. How come they can’t just say it’s going to blow like a son of a gun?  So as anglers, what we have to try to do is make our own predictions as far as weather conditions go and make a plan to safely get out and fish on days with northwest winds 15 to 20 mph with gusts to 35 mph.  So if you’re planning an outing and the conditions are “less than optimal” choose your spots according to the conditions. Remember it’s always a good idea to fish close to home or the marina when conditions are potentially risky or you think things may go south quickly. Let’s say you plan to launch at Placida and run to Pine Island Sound with 35 mph winds out of the north, well you’re just asking for trouble. When it’s time to run back to the ramp, at a minimum you’re gonna get all your gear wet! 

The red grouper have been spotty as well as the gags, but the lane and grunts are proving quite reliable. These guys will bite on just about anything you drop down, shrimp, small jigs tipped with cut bait or even cigar minnows. On the other hand, most of the snapper still remain on the prowl and are very abundant on most of our locally published reefs.  Mangrove or grey Snapper have very keen eyesight so if you are after these tasty adversaries you’ll need to downsize not only hook size but your line as well, which has a very small margin for error. It’s a balance between getting bit or getting broke. I typically will run a larger 8 foot spinning outfit and spooled with 15-20 lb braid. Light wire 2 or 3/0 circle hook and a minimum 3 ft of 20-25 lb fluorocarbon leader. Now here’s where a lot of tactics will differ and I could go on for a while with them. But the kiss method is in order. Be it a knocker, dropper or old school bottom style rig, all basically have the same common denominator. That is to keep the bait at a good distance from the sinker or weight and more importantly, having the ability to move freely is key. Snapper are a bit cunning and will rob you blind if you’re not playing an active role.  Because of their keen eyesight, the best times to catch these guys are to be anchored on your favorite reef or “secret spot” for the night using several bags of chum to get them fired up. Lots of factors involved with getting this technique dialed in but once you do, it’s money! 

Here’s good one. We watched another boat not far from us endure a battle of epic proportions, by the look of the rod. I chuckled as I watched and thought to myself “here we go, another battle with the reef monster.” But to my surprise it looked as if he was gaining line, could he actually have a nice fish on? Maybe he wrestled a nice grouper out of the junk, nicely done young man I reluctantly thought. As the fish finally broke the surface and the 2nd gentleman hoisted the spoils harvested from the brine, a thin wisp of a smile formed as the 14” sheepshead was held high for all to see. Point being if that were a grouper he would have had his heart broken and the stories would have stood the test of time as it reverberated through the generations of how the “big one” got away. Choose a rod appropriate to where and for what species you’re fishing for or may encounter 

Speaking of the right gear, we’ve been fishing with a gentleman from Switzerland this past week. He pulled in  some serious fish. One trip he pulled in14 goliath grouper all by himself and on another day he wrestled in 6 amberjack that weighed between 60 to 80 lbs. Talk about a beast. Now the right gear part comes in after we landed the first AJ, because somewhere during the fight he managed to completely rip out the front of his shorts ... thank goodness for underwear.

So put out the gone fishin’ sign, stock up on tackle. Load up that livewell and head on out to your favorite fishing hole, or better yet get out and find some new ones and catch’em up. Just remember to leave a few to make replacements for tomorrow. 

If you’re ready to get out and see how Kelly and I do it, give us a jingle or find us on Facebook, Instagram or our web page. Well folks, you know the deal...gotta get on out and get my FIX on! 

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