CCA Star Florida Awards Banquet

Saturday, October 21, 2017 – 5:00pm

Join our captains at the CCA Star Florida Awards Banquet at Lake Eva Event Center | 799 Johns Ave | Haines City, 33844. Tickets are $50 and include the awards ceremony, performance, dinner, open bar, auctions and raffles. Buy online here at

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Shrimp Fest 2017

© 2017 – Florida Insider Fishing Report | R M Media, Inc.

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Yellowtail 2017

© 2017 – Florida Insider Fishing Report | R M Media, Inc.

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Targeting Yellowtail Snapper In The Keys Region With Capt. Randy Towe




The nice thing about the Florida Keys is the amount of reef structure we have. The rest of the ocean is barren sand bottom, and the fish don’t like to congregate around that because they’re vulnerable to predation, but anywhere you have structure where they can hide, there’s going to be a lot of fish, from baitfish to snapper and grouper to ocean pelagics.

In most of the Keys, there’s a very good bite for yellowtail snapper on the edge of the reef in 50 to 70 feet of water. That bite is consistent all year, but the best fishing is from June through September, when the seas are calm and there’s a lot of juvenile baitfish in the area.

You’ll want to run out to the reef, and just slowly motor around looking for a good rocky ledge where you’re marking fish, then get up-current of that spot and set out your anchor. A big key to successfully catching yellowtail snapper is current, which will spread your chum across a large area and draw the fish to the boat. If there’s not a lot of current, you’re not going to pull in a lot of fish.

We use lots of chum, often 25 pound blocks of ground chum in chum bags which we supplement with horse oats to draw the fish towards the surface. You can find schools of yellowtail snapper anywhere up and down that reef line from Key Largo to Key West.

Unlike a lot of the other snapper species, yellowtail snapper are extremely line and leader shy, so I like using no more than 12 pound test when targeting them. The standard yellowtail outfit is clear Sufix 12-pound monofilament with no leader, a 1/16th ounce HookUp Jighead with a small piece of bait or a whole silverside. The key is to match the drift of your bait with the drift of the chum, so if the current is really moving you might have to use a little heavier jighead.

You want to freespool the bait back into the chum line with no tension so it falls naturally with the other bits of chum. When the bite comes the line will accelerate, and all you have to do is close the bail and reel the fish in.

You can supplement your ground chum with glass minnows, which will really get the fish feeding aggressively. Another thing a lot of yellowtail anglers do is make chum balls out of Masonry sand, ground chum or glass minnows and oats. They’ll pour all the contents into a five-gallon bucket and mix it up, and sometimes even add a little menhaden oil for scent. Then you form a palm-sized ball out of the mixture with your hands, and set it on the cutting board to dry and harden.

Once it’s hardened, you softly place it into the water and let it fall out of your hand. The chum ball will sink to the bottom and when it hits break open, exposing all the chum. The chum that’s still in the sand will get picked at by fish for several minutes, holding them in the area.

Yellowtail snapper fishing isn’t difficult, but you need to make sure you don’t skimp on the chum, or you can get the fish feeding well in your chum line and then run out. If that happens, the fish will quickly wander off.

The average yellowtail snapper in the Florida Keys is around two pounds, with a lot of three and four pounders, and anything over five pound considered a flag yellowtail. With a little bit of effort and a lot of chum, you can catch enough snapper to fill your limit and provide dinner for your entire crew.

Captain Tips

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Amberjack 2017

© 2017 – Florida Insider Fishing Report | R M Media, Inc.

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Targeting Amberjacks In The Panhandle Region With Capt. Pat Dineen




Summertime is a great time of the year to chase amberjacks in the Panhandle because we have calm seas and a lot of fish on the reefs and wrecks. The entire key to finding amberjacks is to locate high relief structure, whether that’s natural bottom or a wreck or Artificial Reef like a tug boat, barge or aircraft carrier. Anything that sticks way up from the bottom will hold amberjacks.

I’ve caught legal amberjacks in 65 feet of water, but if you’re looking for the larger fish then you’re better to find that structure in 180 to 400 feet of water or more. That’s where you’ll find the 40 plus pounders, and I’ve seen several fish over 100 pounds brought to the docks the last couple of years.

You can usually mark the fish by motoring to the up-current side of the wreck or structure and making a drift back over it. The amberjacks will be holding 20 to 50 feet above the highest point. Once you see the fish and get a good idea where they’re holding, you can anchor up or drift and fish them.

If you’re looking for a lot of action, then Butterfly jigs or jigging spoons are the way to go. You drop these down to the bottom and then work them back up through the strike zone. You’ll catch a lot of fish that way, but the majority of them will be too small to keep. For deep jigging amberjacks you want a 5 ½ foot spinning rod with 30 to 50-pound braided line and a 60-pound fluorocarbon leader—something that’s not going to tire you out quickly.

To target the largest amberjacks, you want to use a big live bait like a blue runner, 10 to 12-inch mullet or small bonito—something that kicks hard and puts off a lot of vibration. I fish them on 30 to 50-pound tackle with a 60 to 80-pound leader and 6/0 to 8/0 circle hook depending on the size of the bait and the size of the fish.

Use enough lead to get the bait down towards the bottom, but you don’t want to be right on the bottom. A lot of times you can see your bait and sinker when you’re watching the bottom machine, which lets you lower the bait right into the strike zone. Use a 10 to 15-foot leader so the bait has a lot of freedom of movement. When it starts to kick away, you want it to be able to swim, as that’s what will light up the school and get them to feed.

If you’re making the fish, but can’t get them to bite, then it’s time to switch things up to a longer leader or a smaller hook, or even a livelier bait. Don’t be afraid to experiment until you figure out what it is the fish want.

Any time you hook an amberjack, you want to keep your baits in the water, because it seems like the entire school gets excited when a fish feeds or is hooked, so leaving baits down will lead to multiple hookups. It’s natural for other anglers to want to reel their lines up to keep from getting tangled with the hooked fish, but if one person gets a bite, it seems like everyone gets bit and has a fish on at the same time.

When you get the fish to the surface, look them over before you decide whether to gaff it or not. Amberjack populations are healthy, but we don’t see as many of the really big fish like we used to, and the fish you release today may be the 100 pounder someone catches a few years from now.

Captain Tips

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Bass 2017

© 2017 – Florida Insider Fishing Report | R M Media, Inc.

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Targeting Spanish Mackerel In The Central West Region with Capt. Geoff Page







From late August through October, the baitfish are really schooled up off the beaches, and that’s got the Spanish mackerel holding in those areas in big numbers. The bait schools are everything from full-sized threadfin herring to three inch minnows or the juvenile pilchards that have just hatched. When you have that much bait in one area, you can bet the mackerel won’t be far behind.

Along with the mackerel will be bonito, kingfish, sharks and all kinds of other gamefish looking to capitalize on the abundance of food in one area. These baitfish schools can be anywhere from 50 yards off the beach to a couple of miles out, but generally hold in 15 to 30 feet of water.

The easiest way to find the baitfish is to look for large flocks of birds diving on the water. Spanish mackerel are slashing-type feeders that have sharp teeth and bite baits into half, leaving pieces in the water for the birds to pick up. You’ll also see Spanish mackerel jumping out of the water as they chase baitfish.

Mackerel are a schooling fish, so where you find one, you’ll usually find more. Just get up-current of the school and either anchor and bring the fish to you by chumming, or drift down on the school casting as you go along. You don’t want to drive right up to the school, as that will usually put them down, and sometimes move the school from the area.

If you’re going to anchor and chum, you can put out a chum bag with they typical frozen ground chum, and that will draw fish, but most anglers like to supplement the ground chum with whole glass minnows or juvenile pilchards. Just toss them over a handful at a time, and then when the mackerel come into the chum line to feed you can throw jigs or spoons and do very well.

Spanish mackerel are super fast swimmers, so you want to work your lures fairly quickly to get the bite. They’ll also eat small swimming plugs and topwater plugs as long as your work them fast.

I like to fish mackerel on 10- to 15 pound 7 foot spinning rods with 3000 size reels. They’re fast and put up a good fight, so you want to make sure you have a reel with enough line to keep a larger fish from spooling the reel. I like to use 40 pound fluorocarbon leader with lures and #3 wire and a #2 long shank hook with live bait.

If you’re looking for larger fish, one of the best ways to catch them is to anchor up and chum and then toss over a live 4 to 5 inch pilchard on a wire rig. Hook the bait through the nose or back, and wait for the line to come tight. A lot of times the mackerel will bite the tail off the bait to keep it from escaping, then come back around and eat the rest of the bait, so don’t set the hook just because you see a fish charge the bait.

The average Spanish mackerel is one to three pounds, but there are fish to six or seven pounds in the schools. If you targeting the larger fish with live bait or larger lures, you won’t get as much action, but the fish you catch will be a better quality.

Captain Tips

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Snook 2017

© 2017 – Florida Insider Fishing Report | R M Media, Inc.

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Targeting Snook In The Southwest Region With Capt. Ron Hueston





Late August and all of September are still summertime in Florida, although the majority of fish have already spawned and are starting to move inshore or out to the wrecks. The largest concentrations of fish will still be along the beaches, around the passes and on the nearshore wrecks.

Since the freeze of 2012 when a lot of our snook died during a 10-day cold snap, the fish have been coming back strong. The largest fish are going to come from the wrecks, passes and bridge—deeper water areas, but there will still be some nice ones coming from the beaches.

There’s still a lot of small pilchards and glass minnows on the beach that time of the year, so the fish won’t move far from the steady supply of food. One of the keys to having success on the beach is to go where there’s not a lot of foot traffic or fishing pressure. Look for sections of beach that aren’t populated, and that’s where the snook will be cruising in tight to shore.

The best time for beach fishing is during the high tide. That’s when the snook move up into the trough right against the shore to feed. If you have a high tide in the early morning, you’ll have low light so the fish can’t see your lure as well, and a good population of snook right up against the shore.

Since the fish are feeding on small baitfish, you want to throw lures that represent what they’re eating in size, shape and color. Lipless crankbaits, shad-tail grubs, bucktails and swimming plugs in chartreuse, white or green and white all work well. You want them to be 3 to 4 inches in length, since most of the baits are small. One of my favorite lures for targeting snook in the surf is a ¼-ounce chrome or silver spoon, which mimics all of the different baitfish species.

On the nearshore reefs you can target them with swimming and diving plugs, or with live baits like a threadfin herring, Spanish sardine or pilchard. And if you’re looking for a trophy fish, put out a mullet head or chunk of ladyfish around the marinas or the mouth of a pass and it’ll get picked up by those big lazy female snook.

For tackle, I like 3000 to 4000 size spinning reels with 10 to 20 pound braided line and a seven foot fast action rod. Snook have great vision, so you want to make the longest cast possible, but still have the power to set the hook and move a fish that is trying to get into structure. On the beach, or anywhere the water is clear, you want to go with a light leader—say 25 to 30 pound fluorocarbon, so the fish don’t see it and shy away from your offering. The same applies to hook size—you want to use the smallest hook possible so that it doesn’t weigh down the bait and make it look unnatural. Because it’s still very warm, the best snook fishing is going to take place at dawn and dusk, the coolest periods of the day, and also when the light levels are low. On rainy or overcast days, the bite will go on all day.

Keep in mind that snook season is still closed in August, and pay attention to the differences in slot sizes between each coast. If you catch an undersized or oversized fish, handle it with care, and if at all possible don’t even take it out of the water when removing the hook. The less stress you put on a fish, the better its chance for survival, and the better the odds that someone else will have the chance to catch it again.

Captain Tips

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