Tuesday, July 29, 2014

July Grouper Fishing

Typically, fishing for grouper in July is purely an offshore event. Due to the more restrictive regulations over the last few years, populations of keeper grouper inside of 10 miles appear to be on the rise however. Fish to thirty inches have been caught in the last few weeks.  As these grouper are not really concentrated in these depths at this time of year, patience is the key to landing fish big enough to take home for dinner.  Starting out with baits that are oily and create a lot of “small fish activity” is a good approach. Baits such as squid or frozen sardines are perfect examples of this. 
Oftentimes, small fish, such as Key West Grunts, are the first to come to the boat but, eventually, if fishing the right area, grouper will follow. Once grouper start to be caught, the action usually picks up for a short while and, in many cases, the fish size progresses from smaller to larger fish during this increase in action…then the bite slows again.  It’s time to leave at this point and start the process over at another location.  Both gag and red grouper are available in 35 to forty foot depths.  These near shore fish will likely be slowly fished out as the summer progresses.  Replacements for these fish will start to arrive in September and October when local waters begin to cool.  At this point, look for the best near shore grouper action of the year, with limit fishing a realistic expectation within 10 miles of shore.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Captain Stewart Ames
Gone Fishing Charters           

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Capt. Brian Caudill Fishing Report

Hi everyone! Welcome to my latest fishing report. We are in the middle of summer and as usual, we have to adjust to the temperature and behavior of the fish we target. I have had most success around the moon phases with the best tidal flows. Mid- July has had a surprisingly high number of Tarpon in my area as well, kind of a nice bonus, although the numbers are starting to dwindle.
Snook have been gathering in good numbers around the jetties and troughs on the beach. I am using grunts (pigfish) caught in pinfish traps I set out each day. Also, sardines have started to work well again as the small hatchling baits have taken over the beaches and the flats. Snook will begin to leave these areas in late summer after they have spawned, but for now there a few left around to pick on.
Redfish have been best on the higher tides. I have caught the majority of Reds around the mangroves and oyster bars, coming out after the high tides start to turn, eating as they exit the cover of the bushes. Most fish are at the top of the slot 25 - 28 inches. Cut baits have worked best since there aren't great numbers of fish to target. The scent of cut pinfish attracts them, however patience is the key. Sometimes the bites are spread out over time.
Tarpon season was good! I started out fishing around the Skyway bridge until the population of fish increased in my home waters of Dunedin. Several fish were caught and released, the biggest around 150 lbs. I utilized different methods depending on the area. Around the bridge, I used a chunking method. Cutting threadfins and sardines, letting the pieces drift back with the tide. Then, freelining a cut piece on a hook, enticing a Tarpon to eat. On the beaches, I floated grunts or pinfish 5 - 6 feet under a cork in the path of fish moving with the tides. There are fewer groups in the area now, mostly single fish making their way south.
Trout, Flounder, and even Grouper are still fish we can target. Some days we have to change things up to keep the bite going. I will always give my best effort even when the fishing is slow. Over the next month I expect to see the best bite in the morning. The sunny days will continue heating the water, pushing fish to deeper edges and higher tidal flows to stay cool.
There is still plenty of fishing left to do before the kiddos go back to school. If you've been thinking about a trip, now is a great time to book with me! Don't let summer slip by! Let's go fishing!

Capt. Brian

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Captain Jason Prieto Fishing Report

Mangrove Snapper Invade Tampa Bay!!!

Summer is hear and weather is VERY hot. This doesn't slow fishing down in Tampa Bay,you just have to adjust what you target and fishing around the heat. I have a very simple but proven strategy, fish early and move to deeper water.
This fit's the mold for Mangrove Snapper as they invade most wrecks and reefs throughout Tampa Bay. Snapper fishing is some of the best fishing of the year. You can find hundreds of fish on the any type of structure. Small Greenbacks is the bait of choice and it is plentiful on the flats during the summer months.

Tackle of choice is your typical flats spinning rig with the only change is downsizing you hook to a #1 circle hook and adding the adequate amount of weight to get bait down. Last but not least is fishing around the tides. I have found to have the best Snapper fishing on a slower tide OR the beginning and end of an tide. The slower current will enable you to get your bait to the bottom. The rest is just catching fish. 

Snapper fishing can make for some good summer fishing and great for the dinner table. Tight lines!

Capt. Jason Prieto
 Owner: Steady Action Fishing Charters

Regional Director
 Florida Guides Association

Co Host:
Tampa Fishing Outfitters Radio
1040 Tampa Bay NBC Sports
Airing Every Sunday Mornings from 8 to 9 AM

Outdoor Writer:
Tampa Tribune South Shore
Onshore/Offshore Magazine
Gaff Magazine

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Summertime Snook

I recently headed out to catch some nice Summertime Snook. It was very hot . The weatherman said it would get over 93 deg, with a 40% chance of afternoon thunder storms. Sound familiar? The tide was going to be high @ 2:46 pm. I started out catching 9 Grass Grunts and several Pinfish of assorted sizes. Then headed for a favorite 'Snook Spot' along Caladesi Island. I selected an area with a bluegreen trough that is a adjacent to a sandy bar with lots of current. I anchored up so my kayak would be along the edge of the trough, but on the sandy bar a bit. That way I could keep the wind, WNW to NW at my back and the trough and the sun in my face. This place is a good spot so I wanted to ready, right away. I grabbed a rod and reel, but discovered that I only had a 20# flourocarbon leader. From then on I would be on the edge of what I would call the safe # test leader needed to consistently catch big Snook. So then I checked my tackle bag and found I was without 30# flourocarbon leader. Got to go any way!  If I get a hit I need to start reeling very fast in order to get a good hookset and get the hook in the Snook's lip rather than down in side her mouth which would generally get sheared off by drag pressure and/or  the abrasive teeth inside the Snook's mouth.  I selected a big fat Grunt, which I hooked up through the nose, with a #4/0 Owner Cutting Point hook ( I use cutting point hooks because they penetrate through a Grunt's nose easier )and then freelined the grunt down current, through the bluegreen trough. It only took a few seconds and the Grunt was taken by a 35" Snook. On the next three casts ( which resemble an under hand toss, because the Grunts are so large that an overhand cast would usually kill the Grunt ), the results were similar, with one exception, the 4th Snook  broke my leader ( even though I cut off the 4"-5"of frayed leader after each fish) . Where is that 30# leader ,when you need it ??  With that, the Snook stopped biting. I fished Live grunts and Pinfish to no avail, for about 30 more minutes. During those 30 minutes, it seemed like every recreational kayaker and SUP paddler out there decided that where I was fishing would be a great spot to cavort around, even though they were going over my lines ( I didn't hook anyone ).  I guess no harm, no foul. Then I decided to try something else. I cut up a dead Grunt into 2 nice sized chunks and changed to a #2/0 Mutu Light Owner Circle hook and casted right back in the same bluegreen trough and the fun started again.  I caught one and had one break my line, again.
I had a pretty good day. I caught 3 Snook on live Grunts 1@ 35", 1@ 33", 1@ 37" and lost one. On cut bait I caught 1 Snook @ 35" and lost one. Remember, if the Snook quit biting, try some other method. They may still be hungry but won't bite until you show them an alternative.  Good Luck and Tight Lines!    Kayak Bob     PS  Don't forget the 30# flourocarbon leader material. I have learned my lesson.

Kayak Fishing Tampa Bay

Big drum are a challenge by kayak.   Can you get them away from the pilings like Abe did? 
July is a month for incredible fishing.    For the overall Tampa Bay area expect redfish, trout, flounder, black drum and some pompano to be great targets.   The trick to getting in on action is to use your "night vision".   Anglers who transition to low-light fishing do much better than those who fish at midday.  

For pompano and flounder, try the Gulf passes just before sunrise when the tides are flowing.    The yellow Silly Willy with a pink teaser is a great pompano "catcher".    The 12 Fathom 3-inch Mullet on a ¼ ounce jighead can be fished deep in the Pass to tempt flounder, many of which will be near 20-inches in length.   The pass action may be trumped by the bridge options.   The same Silly Willy/Teaser rig will tempt pompano and black drum at the bridges.   

For redfish and trout, get on the grassflats that get good tidal flush and work the areas that hold baitfish schools.    Keep moving until you find significant food sources and then make long casts into that area to connect on beautiful trout and hard-fighting redfish.   The water temperatures have soared so be ready to shift to another target if these fish aren't eating.   The passes and bridges mentioned above are a "best bet" if the fish are sulking in the shallow hot water.  

Flounder exited some of the inshore areas but are being caught around the passes and nearshore structure.  They should move back in again before too long.   The 12 Fathom SlamR and Mullet are great flounder baits. 

Neil Taylor
Owner and guide: 
(Cell) 727-692-6345 
Owner and site administrator: 
Co-host: Outdoor Fishing Adventures, 8 to 9AM Sundays on 1040 "The Team" ESPN Radio

More reports by Neil Taylor
Lower Tampa Bay report:    http://www.capmel.com/index.php/article/165
Capmel.com "The Kayak Report":    
http://www.capmel.com/index.php/article/198Upper Tampa Bay report:     http://www.capmel.com/index.php/article/166  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Heat Is ON but Snook Don't Care

A July begins, fishing for large snook is in mid stride and chances for catching a fish in the mid to high thirties (inches) exists every day…good tide or not. Areas like Honeymoon Island and Caledesi State Parks are excellent locations to track down this great gamefish.  With the Fourth of July Weekend just about over, local fishing pressure should return to normal with the "long weekend warriors" heading back to work.. 

The good news about snook is that they are very predictable in terms of where they hold.  They return to the same locations every year unless sands have shifted and their favorite cuts and swash channels have been filled in. Therefore, they are easy to find. Granted, fish typically show up in a few new locations each year, but even these spots are predictable…new deeper cuts near passes with good water flow. To make locating them even easier, these fish are quite often very visible as they are in shallow and clear water.

So why do anglers say that snook are “smart” or hard to catch. This is mostly a function of their feeding habits.  Snook will bite with reckless abandon…if you are lucky enough to arrive when they are hungry.  A more common scenario is to pull up on fish, maybe 20 or 30 of them that are plainly visible, and cast at them for 15 to 20 minutes with not one fish showing any interest.  If the angler is lucky enough to not spook them off during this time maybe, after 30 minutes, a fish eats, followed by two more and, in a matter of minutes, the fishing day has gone from no fish to three very nice fish. Patience is a key to snook fishing.  Typically, several groups of fish need to be targeted before the reward of a first bite is achieved. Don’t spend too much time picture taking or admiring your catch.  Take your picture, revive your fish carefully and get back in the game. The clock is ticking before they shut off again.
As most of these beach locations are free from structure, these large fish may be caught on relatively light tackle.  Just remember that when a fish is landed, keep it in the water except for when a picture is actually being taken and do not release a fish until it can easily and comfortably swim away on it’s own. If dolphins are in the immediate vicinity, slowly trolling motor away from the area or up close to the beach or structure you are fishing in order to minimize the chance of the dolphin getting an easy meal once your fish is released.

Captain Stewart Ames
Gone Fishing Charters           

Captain Brian Caudill July Fishing Report

What's Hot: Hot summer days and a weaker tidal phase has kept the water temperatures high in the back country this week. Some days have seen water temps near 90 degrees on the flats, turning most anglers focus to the beach and near shore fishing. Most fish have responded by moving out of the shallow waters, finding deeper edges with any sign of moving tides. Trout are holding on the deeper grass flats near the passes midday, in 5 - 8 feet of water. The bigger female trout are being caught in the troughs and ditches along the beaches, chasing baits that are being pushed around by the surf and tides. Even redfish are being hooked along the beaches, as they are also looking for a cooler environment.  Snook are still stacking up around the points and cuts where the current moves more moves swiftly, offering a steady stream of food and flushing water.
Bait: Sardines are still the main choice for most species this time of year, but remain difficult to find at times. Early cast netting along the bridge lights before dawn has been easiest. Chumming on the usual grass flats has been slow, attracting thousands of "net wrecker" sized hatchling baits. Downsizing net size to 1/4 inch mesh will result in less baits hung up. Use the smaller baits on a #1 - #2 hook to catch trout and other fish, foraging for a small, easy meal.

Capt. Brian Caudill

Thursday, June 19, 2014

It's all about Quality

With the summer solstice quickly approaching, hot days are here to stay.  The large seatrout have thinned significantly and, although still avaiable in lesser quantities, a quality limit is no longer a sure bet.  More importantly, many anglers tend to focus on the larger fish that are now avaiable in inshore waters.  Most charters over the last three to four weeks have focused on just this and with few exceptions, the goal has been achieved.  Often, fewer then 10 fish have been landed, but the mix usually includes up to a half dozen large snook and 2 – 6 redfish with more than half typically being over slot (27 inches plus). 
Snook numbers on the beach jumped in June with large groups of fish now being sighted every day.  Fish are being caught using two methods.  The first is fishing deeper swash channels in or near the passes.  Often times, the snook are difficult to see in these deeper areas, but easier to catch as the cover of deep water tends to make them a little more careless. These areas are fished on the moving tides with baits repeatedly being drifted through the same area until a fish responds. Often, an angler’s casts will be ignored for 20 – 30 minutes and then three fish will be hooked in the next few minutes….just snook being snook. The other approach is to search for these fish off the beach over the sand.  Large groups of fish can be found and, if approached with some stealth, can be enticed into eating.  Using light tackle…10 lbs test…this fishing takes skill and patience but is hugely rewarding when a large fish is seem coming to and eating the bait…and then streaking off down the beach.  Runs of 30 – 50 yards are not uncommon with larger fish and occassioanlly one of these large fish will go completely airborn.  The only drawback of this light tackle is that these fish will put up a strong fight and may exhaust themselves.  Care must be taken to keep these fish in the water once landed and, in some cases, these fish may need to be revived for several minutes…holding the fish by the bottom lip and slowing pulling it through the water.  Also, be aware of dolphins in the vicinity.  These mammals certainly consider snook a high quality food item and a tired snook is easy pickings.  If a dolphin won’t leave the area, bring the snook back close to shore in the swash or next to the cover where it was caught to give it the best chance of escape…and only release the fish when it is ready to go.  This is usually indicated by it biting down on the anglers thumb and swishing it’s tail repeatedly.
Redfish action has been best on the higher phases of the tide.  With limited numbers of fish in the area, certain groups of fish are being hit pretty hard, making them a little more eleusive than your standard redfish.  Nevertheless, persistently working stretches of productive mangrove shorelines will usually produce some quality fish. Bottom line…almost every fish being caught right now is picture worthy…even if most need to be released.
Captain Stewart Ames
Gone Fishing Charters           

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Captain Brian Caudill Fishing Report

Welcome to my latest report. The last month has been so busy, lots of fish stories but I'll keep it short and to the point. Summer rushed in with a vengeance. It seems like recently we had some cool weather. Now it's warm every day and the fish are responding. Mostly moving towards the beaches for the spawn season and enjoy the cooler, moving waters.
                First, Snook have been grouping up better and better over the last few days. The large females are gathering on the shallow beaches inside the passes to the eastern shorelines. There are also lots of single, "rogue" Snook visible, cruising the shore. I try to approach these shallow beach Snook very carefully, making long casts, leading them slightly. They rarely respond well to baits landing on their heads in such shallow waters. Also, a regular practice of mine and many of my colleagues is to use grunts, officially known as "pigfish" caught in pinfish traps left out overnight. Snook along the rock jetties and troughs along the beaches cannot resist a grunt put in front of them. Many of the larger fish caught are on grunts. Summer months are closed for keeping Snook so they are strictly catch and release.
                Tarpon are rolling up and down the Clearwater beaches in the morning. A typical method is to stage in their known swim lane, waiting for them to show, then ease in front of them, casting a large sardine, threadfin or pumpkin seed in their path. I like to use an egg float with 4 - 6 feet of leader to a 5/0 circle hook. If the fish aren't rolling much, but swimming slowly in a straight line, I like to put some cut baits on the bottom to attract them to eat while foraging. Frequently they are just moving to quickly to entice a bite. The fish you want to see are lazily milling around, also called "daisy-chaining". These Tarpon are more likely to stop for a meal.
                Trout are holding well on the mitigation reefs from Sand Key to Indian rocks, as well as most of the jetties along the coast. They are in spawning mode from spring all the way through summer. Any of the areas we catch Snook are also holding Trout. Usually, the large Trout will eat a bait while Snook fishing, but occasionally we'll find a school of smaller male Trout inhabiting a trough along the beach. They are very cooperative and will jump on a small sardine or light colored paddle tail jig.
                Redfishing has been spotty. It is still best around the bigger tides. I am focusing on docks on the slower, quarter and half moon tide phases, pitching cut pinfish or sardines deep into the shadows of any dock with depth. On the higher tides around the new and full moons, we are finding schools of 50 - 80 fish around the mangroves and oyster bars. Using the same method of casting into the holes between mangrove limbs. Most fish in those schools have been over the slot limit of 27 inches.
                Every day is different out there, and sometimes if things are slow inside, we may jump out a few miles and Grouper dig or catch a few Mangrove Snapper. I always like to have options for my clients. I hope you can find the time to get out on the water with me soon. There is a whole summer for you to have a special day! Call me at 727-365-7560 or email me at brian@captbrian.com. Don't wait 'til it's too late to book something. Let's go fishing!    
Capt. Brian Caudill

Kayak Fishing Tampa Bay

Early risers will reap the rewards in the month of June.   Warming waters and the onset of summertime conditions merit low-light fishing for the successful Tampa Bay kayak anglers.   Summertime rains will shift the equation, possibly jumpstarting areas that have been dismal in the past few months.
June will provide solid action for redfish, trout, flounder, mackerel, big black drum, pompano, jacks and ladyfish.    The anglers who are fishing before the sun has even shown on the horizon to the east will have the best results.   Don't neglect the sunset and post-dusk this month.   Great tides late afternoon/early evening from the 11th to the 14th and again from the 25th to the 30th will the best tidal movement of the month.
The other days, go shallow early then go really deep when that action slows down.   I am doing the drum and pompano trips again with great success on days where the action on the flats species is going to be more difficult than the dates listed above.    Flounder remain an easy target in specific locations, another cooperative "deep water" option when things are tougher in the shallowest areas.  
Redfish will be active in the sunup and sundown periods.   Speckled trout will cooperate best at sunrise or after sunset on into the middle of night.   Mackerel, pompano, jacks, ladyfish and flounder will be cooperative just as the sun rises until about 9AM.   Keep lures down in contact with the bottom for pompano and flounder and for the other species get the lures moving at a brisk pace anywhere you see hovering birds or surface explosions.   Up top:  Use the Top Dog Jr. or Top Pup by Mirrolure for big trout.    When July arrives, this action may change but right now, the thick turtle grass flats with depth about two feet will have trout staring up for a meal.  Let them slurp at the lure until they find a hook.    Bend down the barbs for your own safety and for ease in getting fish off the lure.  
For the bridge options, use the yellow Silly Willy with a pink teaser added.   This is high current, "water over your head" fishing so extra caution is necessary in attempting these trips.   When the wind is up, it may be better to not go to the bridges.   The surface can turn into rolling swells, a bad situation for small boats, kayak or not.   Wear your vest whenever you are fishing alone but probably a better idea to be wearing a comfortable PFD if you are doing these kind of trips. 

Neil Taylor
Owner and guide: 
(Cell) 727-692-6345 
Owner and site administrator: 
Co-host: Outdoor Fishing Adventures, 8 to 9AM Sundays on 1040 "The Team" ESPN Radio

Stay alert and make a difference:
Keep an eye out and make the phone calls.    Illegal nets found around Tampa Bay have been confiscated thanks to the tips from citizens.    Working with the field staff, I personally know that they have a great response rate on the calls I make.    Too many people do not make the attempt because they did not get a response in the past.      Trust me, they do the best they can and they do respond as quickly as possible.
 The great work of FWC officers to target felony netters and keep an eye on other recreational offenders has led to better fishing for us all.  Their continued efforts to catch felony netters are making the south shore region return as a great fishery again.   But help them out:  Keep your eyes peeled for illegal activity and make a call if you see poaching, 888-404-FWCC (3922).  Your tips will help make cases and you could be eligible for a reward.  If you see a poacher:  Make a phone call.

At the request of my contemporaries, "keeping the message alive":    If you catch a snook:  don't take it out of the water for eight minutes taking pictures.    Don't "get a weight" of the fish.    Enjoy the species if you cross paths, but take extra steps to make sure those fish remain in the living population.     Currently closed anyway: A huge contingency of the best respected fishing guides on the Gulf coast opposed their decision to reopen to harvest, made sincere pleads over and over to get the decision reversed but were ignored.  Do your part and try to give this species a chance to return to prominence regardless of their faulty data and poor decision making. 
If you see someone keeping a snook call the number above.  If you see someone handling them badly, make an effort to educate that person so that our existing fish are able to have a successful spawn.