Monday, November 24, 2014

Big Trout are Here

Thanksgiving is usually when large winter seatrout invade St Joseph’s Sound.  As a result of some early cold, these fish were a few weeks ahead of schedule this year. With snook moving up into the rivers or offshore, and redfish populations thinning in the sound, these gator trout become the primary game in town. A variety of artificials will take these fish…minnow imitating plugs as well as plastic swim tail baits thrown on ¼ jig heads are both very effective.  Nothing beats a live pilchard but this bait tends to disappear when water temperatures duck below 61 or so, so securing it will be an infrequent occurrence in the coming months... save some major warming trend.  Large shrimp become the live bait of choice as catching these are usually as easy as driving to the local bait store or marina.  Free lined or fished under a bobber, shrimp will trigger a bite from all but the most lock-jawed of trout.

Although it is critically important to have the right bait and fish the right area, there are two other pieces of the equation. First, fish moving water.  Tidal movement seems to throw the feeding switch on these larger trout so targeting times of maximum water flow is key. Second, watch the weather patterns.  These big seatrout inhabit waters that are typically 2 – 5 feet deep.  When a cold front blows through, inshore water temperatures can drop 6 – 8 degrees overnight. When this happens, seatrout become much more interested in warming up than eating.  A strong cold front may actually shut down the bite for several days. Reciprocally, when a cold front is approaching, it’s almost as if the trout know they won’t be eating for a few days after it so they stock up and go on a major feed. Combine a good tide and pre-front conditions and you may have a “historic” day of big winter trout fishing.

Captain Stewart Ames
Gone Fishing Charters           

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Kayak Fishing Tampa Bay

Like catching big redfish?  So does Wayne!
November started out with varying results in the kayak fishing around the area.   The fishing has been very good most of the time and then grinded to a halt when High pressure settled in for a couple of days.    It is all based on the weather now.    Two days past each cold front, the conditions will stabilize and the fish will be happy.    Around the fronts, the biggest challenge is the wind but the murkied up water will also make it tougher to have success. 
Bluefish and spanish mackerel created a need for heavier leader at times.    Shallow troughs on low tides had these toothy speedsters clobbering the 12 Fathom mullet and providing some great action (or cutoffs with lighter leader).   For bluefish, grab a topwater lure and throw it.    You are less likely to lose your terminal lure choice with the treble hook lure.    Fight these fish with the rod tip high to prevent another bluefish from cutting your leader as it tries to steal the lure from the hooked fish' mouth.
 Mackerel were more likely to be on the "outside" but bluefish were way up in cut off troughs one would never expect them to be.   Before long they too will probably migrate "out and south" for the next few months.   Bluefish often just stay and when the baitfish leave, they will just start eating anything else they can find.    Eat a bluefish?   Not a first choice, you can get a lot of meat off of them and you can make these into a fish spread.    I leave them on the smoker an extra hour longer than mackerel and I go heavier on the other ingredients.   If possible also try to mix in another fish like trout or flounder.    
Flounder have been caught easily in certain spots in the Bay.   It has been the best flounder action I have ever seen here.    Routinely, 19-inch fish are coming up.   Average size has been about 14 inches in these locations.   Other areas have smaller numbers and smaller fish.    2015 should be a spectacular year for this underutilized species.  

Pompano are an option in the passes, particularly toward the mouth of Tampa Bay.   Use the Silly Willy with a pink teaser.     Silly Willy teasers are now from yours truly, made durable and attractive to fish.   Loop knot the two together with the hooks facing in opposite directions.  This lure in contact with the bottom will catch pompano.   Expect also to get silver trout and whiting which are also funneling in with the cooldown in air and water temperatures.   

Redfish have been another success story.    Their numbers fluctuate from month to month and year to year.    I believe that more people letting them go has been positive for overall numbers.   While I don't see them as endangered, you can't compare redfish to speckled trout.   Trout populations are ridiculous, something that should be the case for a species that spawns year round.   A picture is a great memory anyway and there are the trout and flounder to readily take home for that meal.   Not to mention snapper, sheepshead, silver trout and whiting also all species that are not severely stressed and prolific.   I like the trend toward sport fishing around Tampa Bay.  
It is later into November so the sheepshead are becoming a better option every day that passes.   First on the flats, then on the rocks and pilings.   Sheepshead are on the shallow flats, seen where you're targeting redfish.    Whiting and silver trout are a different game entirely: But great light tackle action and fantastic for putting together a neighborhood "fish fry".  Silver trout will eat just about anything placed in front of them.   Whiting fall victim to fresh shrimp pieces or the Silly Willy jig.
Dress for it when it's colder, get out when you can: The fishing's great, but go out with a plan!
As always, be careful out there!
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

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Capt Brian Caudill Fishing Report

Cooler air has lowered the water temperature quickly along the coast. Higher Northeast winds has pushed the water off of the flats, forcing many fish to dwell in the remaining potholes. Sunny days will heat the shallow waters more quickly, encouraging the redfish and trout to forage on baits making their way through the strike zones of waiting predators. Sardines are harder to locate directly after strong cold fronts, so live or artificial shrimp can be deadly. Use a small split shot to gain distance when casting a shrimp towards the holes along the edges of a flat. Using a float can be very effective in waters 3 - 4 feet. For artificial shrimp, use a light 1/8 ounce jighead and a bronze colored plastic shrimp or even paddle tail jigs. Cast into larger sand holes allowing the jig to work the entire hole slowly. Fish rarely chase a bait aggressively in the cooler waters, making shrimp a great choice. Target the falling tides as the warmer waters pour across the flats stimulating a better bite while pushing fish towards the holes and edges. Many species will inhabit these areas. Be ready for redfish, trout, flounder jacks or ladyfish.   

Capt. Brian Caudill