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Boca Grande and Charlotte Harbor

Capt. Van Hubbard
May 16, 2000
Boca Grande - Saltwater Fishing Report


Tarpon are gathering in the Boca Grande Pass; but the boats are packing in too. This is a place we expect company, so this is no big deal. The majority get along all right but the exceptions really stick out. We’ll discus the Pass fishing systems later, for now we’ll just let you know it’s tarpon time in Boca Grande. The tournaments are getting started too.

We fished in the Ladies Day Tarpon Tournament, Saturday. Ann Dever and the Placida Rotary Ladies Team blessed me with their company. The Kickoff Party was great several Boca restaurants contributed the food, fun was the name of the game. Fishing started at a respectable 9AM and the lines out was 12:30PM . Long enough to catch a few fish but not an extended ordeal. Ann Hollins landed the first fish with Bill Caldwell of Boca. They won based on time. There’s a rumor she had and extra guardian angel from the heavens. We will all miss Christine Hollins. Ann’s mother in law and friend passed recently, I know some of you just read the fishin’ reports.

Anyway fishing was fine there were about 8 tarpon caught and released by about fifty boats. Conditions were different; we even had a short refreshing shower. It’s clouds kept us shaded. There were a lot of boats the first hour. Miller’s also had a Jig Tournay going until 10AM but things some how worked out. That hour was to congested for me but the rest of the Ladies Day fishing was great. Money adds to much aggression to such tight quarters. We had so much fun we’ve already reserved a spot for next years event. The awards party was great, fine foods were provided by the SeaGrille. This is a great event and recommended highly.

Boca Grande Pass is fished in the traditional method by drifting live baits with the current flow . Depths vary in and around the Big Hole, so they mark the Dacron lines by sewing in a green thread at 42 feet and a red one at 60 feet. The boats set up and drift matching the speed of currents, precisely presenting their natural baits. Most skippers can learn this but it’s been mastered by Boca’s local fishing guides. Most fish the traditional launches, inboard engines, to allow fishing over the transoms. The hook up then pull their fish away from the fleet to land em.

We also have the jig fleet. Most jiggers make very shorter drifts. They aggressively attempt to keep their lines right in the middle of schools of tarpon. Many days you wont see any traditional tarpon guides in the pass because of these difference. There is a big controversy about weather the jigs catch the fish or the fish eat the jigs. That’s another story in it’s self.

You can imagine many of the problems that develop as these to different styles converge. The traditional drift covers most of the pass while the jigger often goes only 50 feet and zips back around disrupting the flow of boats. Of course we have exceptions; we have a few very courteous jig fishermen. But as we see this creates problems. Then add amateurs, with not a clue drifting haphazardly through the middle with no one at the helm and things go from bad to even worst. Oh yea, also add the assorted tourist boats (sailboats, trawlers, etc...) Sightseeing looking at fish and not at the fishing boats and your start getting the big picture. This is a great place to let a professional be your guide. The Boca Grande Fishing Guides Association offers a free pamphlet with directions on fishing and a listing of skilled local tarpon guides. Smooth flow of traffic allows proper presentations of all baits and better fishing for all. If you can’t fit into the system stay out of the way. There are other places to fish. The Pass is open for all but that does not mean it’s all right for you to mess up others. Please don’t be selfish. Sounds simple enough.

Snook have been inconsistent for most of us. Weather is a big factor but we are a big part of the problem. To many of us chasing to few slot sized fish. Most of the fish we’re catching have other anglers hook marks. We do still have a fair number of undersized fish but without breeders this can not last. We need to stay on this or lose this fishery. Sink or swim.

We also had some pompano last week. Not a lot but fresh fish dinner. Reds and trout are still the main game on inshore trips. Mackerel are the best bet for an easy meal. Try trolling away from the tarpon fleet around the Pass or other near by waters.

Good fishing, let’s go.

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Professional guide since 1976. starting at John's Pass in St Pete./ Tampa Bay area, now 28 years in Boca Grande & Charlotte Harbor/Lemon Bay specialties sight fishing; big tarpon, snook, reds, pompano, big kings, cuda, cobia, etc... If it swims our back country, inside, or near shore waters He has the experience to help you catch em. Captain Van is an expert pioneer live minnow/natural bait guide, "Lures by God" as he calls em; but he can fish lures or fly. Safe & comfortable 23' Dorado with T-

Contact Info:

Let's go Fishin' inc.
PO Box 146
Placida, FL 33946
Phone: 941-740-4665
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