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Captain Favorite's Fishing Forum Jan. 14, 2013


Catch of the Week


Stuart Bridsman, from Mass., caught and released this snook on a CAL jig with a shad tail while fishing a Sarasota Bay sand bar with Capt. Rick Grassett.

BRADENTON – In this week's edition, Capt. Matt Ercoli gives a detailed year-end fishing report for 2012, and explains what anglers can expect in the new year. For the first time, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is hosting a python challenge that will run through February 10. Over 800 participants have signed up, and could win up to $1,500 in prizes. The Charlotte County Boat Show is coming soon, Jan. 15-20, there will be tons of new and used boats to see. As far as weather is concerned, a cold front is expected to arrive on Wednesday, so bundle up when you get out on the water!


Fishing Updates


FWC kicks off 2013 Python Challenge 

  • Nearly 800 people are registered and ready to compete to see who can bring in the longest and the most Burmese pythons from designated public lands in south Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) announced today at the 2013 Python Challenge Kickoff in Davie.
  • For competitors, the challenge is to harvest the well-camouflaged Burmese python, which can grow to more than 17 feet in the wild in Florida, with the chance of winning prizes of up to $1,500. Registrants are coming from more than 30 other states. They will have from 1 p.m. on Jan. 12  through midnight on Sunday, Feb. 10 to find these nonvenomous constrictors.
  • For the FWC, the primary goals of the Python Challenge™ are to raise public awareness and increase the agency’s knowledge base regarding this invasive species and how to better understand and address impacts on the Everglades ecosystem, including native wildlife.

Plant and Wildlife Walk in Sarasota Jan. 15

  • Jeff Weber, Sarasota County enviormental specialist, will lead participants on a nature hike through the pine flatwoods and oak hammocks of Red Bug Slough Preserve (5200 Beneva Road, Sarasota) from 9 to 11 a.m., describing plants and wildlife encountered along the way. Space is limited to 20. Register online at www.scgov.net (click "Calendar" on the left) or call 941-861-5000. 


Charlotte County Boat Show Jan. 17-20

  • The 12th annual Charlotte County Boat Show, presented by the Southwest Florida Marine Industries Assoc. will be held at the Charlotte County Fairgrounds (2333 El Jobean Road, Port Charlotte) Jan. 17-20. Admission is free but there will be a fee for parking. The show will feature hundreds of new and pre-owned boats displayed by dozens of boat dealers, plus the best in boating accessories and fishing seminars will be held throughout the day all four days. The show is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. 

Myakka State Park Moonlit Bike Ride Jan. 23

  • Embark on a sunset bike ride followed by a full moon on Jan. 23, Feb. 24 or March 24. Bring your bike for a 10 mile round trip ride starting at the ranger station and continuing to the birdwalk on the Upper Myakka Lake, where there will be a fire, warm drinks and a snack. On the return, participants will stop at the canopy walkway and take a look at the moon from above the treetops. Helmets are recommended; lights are required. There are limited spaces so reservations are required. Call 941-373-7839, $10 per person.


Mullet Festival Jan. 25-27

  • Come on down to Stan's Idle Hour bar (221 W. Goodland Drive, Goodland Fla.) Enjoy mullet and lots of other fresh seafood with good eats from a variety of food vendors. There will also be arts and crafts and live music and, of course, the annual Buzzard Lope dance contest (the strange dance that buzzards do over their roadkill), culminating with the crowning of the Buzzard Lope Queen. Admission is free, call 239-394-3041 or go to www.stansidlehour.net for more information. 

    Year End Fishing Report by Capt. Matt Ercoli


    It seems like it was only a few months ago since I wrote a New Years fishing report. It really is amazing how fast time flies, especially when you are busy doing something you enjoy. 


    I can’t believe this year will mark my 18th year as a charter captain and another year has gone by so fast. That equals over 43,000 snook landed in my boat---it may be closer to 48,000 and can you believe I took 97 percent of them off the hook. Not to mention probably an equal number of trout and redfish.


    Anglers on my boat have hooked and battled about 7,500 giant tarpon over the same time period. That’s crazy! In a million years if someone told me I would land 43,000 snook in my career I would never have believed them. It has been a great time, the good days and the tough days. I owe it all to my patriot customers. Thank all of you for making my dream to be a fishing guide come true. I wish all of you a happy 2013 and have high hopes that it will be prosperous for everyone.


    The fishing in 2012 was very good. Snook are making a strong recovery but, in my opinion, there is still no reason to open a season on them even thought we do have a fair fishable number.  


    On some of my best days this year, we caught over 100 snook in a day. The average size is small, but if the season remains closed, they will grow up soon.


    The trout population is really strong. I have been landing larger trout than ever. It really seems like there is a lot more trout around that are really nice size. The 20 plus inch fish seem to be more plentiful than I can ever remember. The longer I have been a charter captain the better I get at catching fish, but factoring that in areas I use to catch a ton of small trout seem to be holding a ton of larger trout, so I guess that’s why I say the Trout are doing so good.


    The redfishing remains strong as well. I can’t say it is better than when I started nearly 20 years ago, but it seems just as good and as solid as I can ever remember. Redfish in general from month to month are never as consist as snook and trout. The species is much more sporadic on their movement and patterns, so it’s hard to rate the health of the population; but I think they are holding strong.


    Tarpon, my personal favorite, is doing very good. It seems like every year the schools are getting larger and larger. That is good and bad. Tampa Bay tarpon fishing is quickly becoming world renowned as the best tarpon fishing in the world. The bad news is there is more boat traffic than ever out there fishing for them. Last year and the year before my best days saw over 40 Tarpon hooked in a single outing and those are all large mature fish.


    Offshore, with the tighter regulations, grouper and snapper fishing are very good; as good as I can ever remember it. Going out and getting a lot of bottom fish action never seems to be a problem.


    The pelagic fish seem to be doing great as well. I always see a nice large push of kingfish  in the fall and spring. Mackerel are thick as thieves. False Albacore seem to be everywhere and there are plenty of Amberjack. Cobias remain stable.


    The only migratory species that doesn’t seem to be prolific are permit and pompano. That may be because the commercial fisherman hit them hard. They are never consistent from year to year or month to month, so it’s tough to say with both species. 


    Sharks also seem to be a little thicker, which is always a good sign for the overall health of our ocean.


    The Goliath Grouper are still plentiful to catch, maybe not quite as thick as they used to be, but still plenty of action on them.


    Overall to me, in my professional opinion, our fishing is doing great and there is a lot of fish out there to catch. I look forward to great fishing in 2013 and I look forward to making some great moments for all the fishermen who choose to spend a day on the water with me. Again, I thank you all.


    I hope to see you on the water soon, it’s the time to plan your spring fishing and summer Tarpon trips as my calendar fills quickly after the first of the year!


    Have a great 2013!

    Capt. Matt




    Fishing Forecast 

     To create a forecast specific to

    your zip code visit


    High pressure centered off the southeast coast will continue to ridge back to the west across the Florida Peninsula and northeast Gulf of Mexico through Tuesday. This ridge will weaken and shift east by Wednesday as a weak cold front approaches from the north. This front is expected to arrive across the eastern Gulf of Mexico on Thursday.



    Southeast winds around 10 knots then becoming south in the afternoon. Bay and inland waters a light chop. Monday night will bring southeast winds around 10 knots. Bay and inland waters a light chop.

    2013/01/14Mon01:21 a,m,1.99H

    2013/01/14Mon09:06 a.m.-0.44L

    2013/01/14Mon03:08 p.m.1.28H

    2013/01/14Mon08:42 p.m.0.52L



    Southeast winds around 10 knots. Bay and inland waters a light chop. Tuesday night will bring southeast winds around 5 knots. Bay and inland waters smooth.

    2013/01/15Tue02:11 a.m.1.74H

    2013/01/15Tue09:38 a.m.-0.22L

    2013/01/15Tue03:36 p.m.1.4H

    2013/01/15Tue09:46 p.m.0.43L



    South winds around 5 knots then becoming west in the afternoon. Bay and inland waters smooth. Wednesday night will bring north winds around 5 knots then becoming east around 5 knots after midnight. Bay and inland waters smooth.

    2013/01/16Wed03:05 a.m.1.45H

    2013/01/16Wed10:09 a.m.0.01L

    2013/01/16Wed04:07 p.m.1.51H

    2013/01/16Wed10:56 p.m.0.34L



    Northwest winds around 10 knots. Bay and inland waters a light chop. Thursday night will bring northeast winds around 10 knots. Bay and inland waters a light chop.

    2013/01/17Thu04:09 a.m.1.17H

    2013/01/17Thu10:39 a.m.0.23L

    2013/01/17Thu04:42 p.m.1.6H



    Northeast winds around 10 knots. Bay and inland waters a light chop.

    2013/01/18Fri12:12 a.m.0.23L

    2013/01/18Fri05:33 a.m.0.94H

    2013/01/18Fri11:11 a.m.0.43L

    2013/01/18Fri05:22 p.m.1.67H


    Solunar Forecast


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