Backcountry Fishing Reports

The latest backcountry islamorada fishing reports from Capt. Rick Stanczyk. These reports are the truth – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Remember all florida keys fishing guides fish the same waters and I take pride in ‘straight shooting’ with my florida keys fishing reports. I often fish the gulf of mexico, florida bay, the everglades, near islamorada, and the patch reefs offshore which are all under the ‘backcountry’ umbrella. I’ll let you know what I’ve been catching, and what I expect to be catching in the near future. Remember I’m on the water over 300 trips a year and I’ve been fishing here a long time. I try to include plenty of pictures as well as useful information so you’ll get a feel of how I fish and what to expect. Also if you want to appear in my fishing reports just let me know, I’m happy to add any of my customers by request! You can scroll down and click the title of any fishing report to read the full thing with pictures, as well as just look where the text stops and click ‘continue reading’.

2/23/24 Late February and it’s still cold in Islamorada!

Well the cold fronts just don’t want to stop coming… it’s been a late winter as I’m sure a lot of people are well aware.  In recent years we’ve often had warm spring highs in the 80s by the 1st week of February, with maybe only a light front or two coming through the rest of the spring.  This year though hold up – it’s been front after front since late January and many dropping down into the mid 50s.  Which isn’t a bad thing always it’s good for the winter time fishing snook, drum, redfish, trout, etc… however for tarpon not so much.  And tarpon is often our bread and butter and what we push the most but just have to remember we’ve always said February is early and this is why!  I did get out with my dad yesterday and we had a fun time.  Just fished for trophies… looking for large snook, drum, or redfish.  Didn’t find much early on with the fallling tide and cold water.  The water was in the high 50s the lowest we saw it, and mid 60s offshore in the backcountry.  But when the tide started rolling in the water cleared up a good bit.  We got one decent drum in one area then one of our last stops we got into a good school and caught another 4 or 5.  Not monster fish but good 12 to 16 lbers good fighters and great to see.  Overall our winter fishing has been a little tough the numbers of snook, reds, and drum is just not what it was a few years ago.  So that’s another reason we’re really ready for the tarpon to get here.  We’re catching them but you do have to put in some time and often pick a fish or two on a spot and move and hope for the same.  But I think the tarpon fishing will be very strong through spring and hopefully early summer, at least with the later start it should be better for the later season in that late May/June timeframe.

We still have availability through season with the Islamorada Tarpon Fishing team, and I myself have days personally still in June.  Give me a shout and let’s set something up!

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Instagram: @richardstanczyk
Facebook: Islamorada Tarpon Fishing
YouTube: Bud n’ Mary’s Marina

1/30/24 Cold Islamorada weather got us a big snook!

Got out with pops today we had another cold front come and dropped down into the high 50s here in Islamorada.  We only had a couple fronts in December/early january but now we’re getting a few more with another one on the way next week.  The cold gives us different fishing opportunities and depending when you catch it can be really good or really tough.  Often when it first gets cold can be tough especially in the early morning while temperatures are low.  But often once it warms up slightly by 10/11AM, then you can have stellar fishing on some days.  And once the fish are adjusted to it if its been cold for several days and the wind drops out, you can have good fishing the whole time.  Big fish tend to show up in and around those cold days some of the nicest catches I can remember, but of course you have to remember the time you put in for those bites.  Today I had my dad out and we were fun fishing.  It got cold and I thought might be ‘the day’ but the wind had cranked hard last night a little more westerly than we thought and it was pretty muddy everywhere we were hoping for that shot at a trophy.  Though we ended up making it happen getting a nice over slot snook of about 16 lbs at the end of our trip.  It suppose to get colder tomorrow night and then the wind is going to lay out for a few days.  You can bet one of those days will be productive as soon as that water clears up slightly which it can do pretty quick when those water temperatures drop drastically.  The cold water tends to have the sediment drop out quicker than when its hot.  I don’t know if I’ll get out again myself this week but Capt. Stephen is fishing Thursday and is open tomorrow and Friday.  If anyone is looking to go it’ll be a great time for the gulf with mackerels, snappers, and tripletails, and then have a shot at trophy big snook or cobia or something like that.  February is right around the corner and I imagine by the 2nd week we’ll be after some tarpon again.  I know before this front came in a few days ago the one slick calm warm day we had, tons of tarpon were around in the backcountry so I’m sure they are just waiting for the next warm up to come and play.

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Instagram: @richardstanczyk
Facebook: Islamorada Tarpon Fishing
YouTube: Bud n’ Mary’s Marina

1/28/2024 Epic Permit catch with Capt. Trent in Islamorada!

Capt. Trentin got out on the seacraft for a full day of fishing today.  It was a prefrontal day… suppose to drop down in the 60s tonight and possibly mid 50s tomorrow night.  But was nice and warm today and calm in some areas.  The type of day something magical can happen for sure.  Trent said they found tarpon rolling in quite a few places when they left the dock.  He ran to one of his favorite tarpon holes and ended up jumping 3 fish.  Not a bad bite for January!  After that they ended up running into some permit and floated a crab out for them and wham!  Hooked a big permit which they fought or about 45 minutes… what a battle he said.  Permit are one of the most sought after game fish in the Florida Keys and if you’ve ever caught one you can tell why.  They got hands on this fish so it was all smiles then.  After that the customers had requested dinner and hoped to get a legal mutton snapper.  With the calm conditions they snuck out to the deeper reef and got there target species a nice keeper mutton.  Also some big lane snappers so they had enough for the whole crew for dinner.  Quite a day!  I will say this front is coming in monday night and will get COLD but after that the wind lays down quickly but the temperatures will stay in the low 60s at night.  I think it’s a perfect recipe for some big fish action in the backcountry/near gulf.  If you want to get out there give me a shout!

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Instagram: @richardstanczyk
Facebook: Islamorada Tarpon Fishing
YouTube: Bud n’ Mary’s Marina

1/27/2024 Great January half day fishing in Islamorada

Capt. Stephen Byrd got out for half of a day today Saturday morning here fishing in Islamorad.  He had some guys just looking for action and requested to try and catch a little table fare.  Steve was up to the call he had found some good size mangrove snappers the previous evening while out fun fishing.  So they fished some local pilings today there however the big ones seemed to have moved on but they were able to catch there fill of legal size ones none the less.  They did end up finding some larger ones later on, nice mangrove snappers up to 15 inches!  Those babies can pull and such fun on light tackle.  They also had a few various jacks, lookdowns, and other species in the mix.  Capt. Steve had some time left over and they gave it a shot for bonefish on the nearby flats.  January isn’t often a great time for bonefish but we are in between cold fronts right now so the water temperatures have gotten to a tolerable level for those fish.  Sure enough they caught a double header within 10 minutes!   One fish was a very respectable sized one too about a 7 lber.  It was all smiles after that!  Great way to put a nice half day together here in the Florida Keys fishing in January.  Looks like we have a front coming the next couple of days and it will drop back down into the high 50s… so some of the coldest weather we’ve gotten this winter.  Good news is it is calming down right afterwards so by Tuesday through the rest of the week it’s suppose to be 10mph or less out of the north and stay chilly.  This should be really a good setup for some larger backcountry snook, drum, and possibly some cobia in the nearby gulf!  I’ll be getting out with pops on Tuesdays so we’ll see if that is the day but I think the rest of the week could be very good fishing too.  We’ve got a few more days available throughout so if you want to go, give us a shout!

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Instagram: @richardstanczyk
Facebook: Islamorada Tarpon Fishing
YouTube: Bud n’ Mary’s Marina

1/24/24 Windy windy days in January in Islamorada!

Awesome day in the Backcountry despite some heavy winds! I hadn’t fished much myself the last few weeks so was good to get out there. We had a cold front come over the previous weekend and howling winds since then, so water temps were a chilly 68 degrees. Not my favorite conditions but you gotta work with what you are dealt. We had dead low tide early on in the Everglades. Lots of water blown out with the wind. We spent a short time looking for bait but gave up after seeing the water temps and we had nice good sized shrimp. Had steady action all through the day. Never a red hot bite but seemed to pick a fish or two about everywhere we stopped. Stayed on the trolling motor most of the day and worked patiently. All in all a couple dozen of the target species snook, redfish, drum, and sheepshead. And also a few small snappers and other odds and ends to keep us busy. The ride to and from was easy on the Contender Bay even howling 25 mph we stayed dry and didn’t get beat up.
Spring time is booking up quick I don’t have much personally left for March, April, or May but have a few days open in February. Capt. Steve and Capt. Trent have some days open though running the other vessels. Everyone working together as a team you are in good hands! Weather gets nicer Friday come on and take advantage.

Sunday another front coming and it’ll drip back pretty cold.  But hopefully that’ll be the last of it.  February is when we usually start warming up enough to get some consistent tarpon fishing hopefully by the second week or so.  If you are wanting to have good shots at tarpon while getting to still enjoy slightly cooler temperatures compared to summer and be in the backcountry, February can be your month!  Drop me a line.

Capt. Rick Stanczyk
Instagram: @richardstanczyk
Facebook: Islamorada Tarpon Fishing
YouTube: Bud n’ Mary’s Marina