It would be easier for me to tell ya'll what's not biting rather than what is. There are huge schools of redfish around the mouth of the bay, spanish all in the bay, snook in every pass around the bay, kingfish on fire along the beaches, cobia and permit on the nearshore wrecks, trout on the flats, snapper on docks, tarpon in the bay, huge sharks, what do you want. On Thursday I fished long time client Tom Shiber, Wade Faircloth and Tom's son Drew. I started fishing Drew when he was only five years old, he is now twelve. I have watched this young man grow over the years and his passion for fishing has only grown each and every year. On our trip we went permit fishing Drew caught and landed a twenty five pounder and a thirteen pounder respectively with our big fish weighing twenty eight pounds. There were several cobia there as well we had one follow the twenty eight pounder that weighed sixty pounds if he was and ounce. There was another charter captain on the spot, his name was Tom and sorry I can't remember his last name, but he and his clients landed an eight two pound cobia.
Mike has been working the bay area docks catching over the slot snook and snapper up to four pounds along with hundreds of redfish. If you see him just pull up right beside him he loves that, tell him I told you it's OK. Just kidding. But seriously if you see someone working a school of reds or anything please be courteous and show them the same respect that you would like them to show you.
Bait is at all the area bridges and piers and has show up in droves on the flats. In the deeper water marking them on the bottom machine has worked the best for me. On the flats you can chum them up pretty easily or rodeo them (idle until you see them then throw the net). Be sure to check us out on Saturday's at 6:30 am and Sunday's at 11 am Channel 8 WFLA on The Reel Animals Fishing Show and call in on Sunday's from 8-10 1040am ESPN radio as our guest this week is Art Paiva AKA Snooky Bear to win some cool fish stuff.
The big snook are definitely on the move and feeding on the way. They are headed towards the passes and beaches eating everything on their way. I had Luke Collins and the boys from Ashberry Water out this week and they got to witness first hand that the big girls were chewing. They had fish of 31, 32 and 34 inches off of just one dock and two other mid thirty’s fish in one of my creeks. Along with some nice big Trout it made for a great day. The bait of choice is 3 to 4 inch green backs freelined right up to the edge of the deep-water docks. Remember these fish are big for a reason. They are smart and strong so approach quietly and be sure your tackle is up to the task. 10-pound braid won’t cut it. You need at least some 20lb braid with 40lb fluorocarbon leader on a medium heavy to heavy rod. The action can be unreal.
There still are plenty of Redfish to be found although the big schools of a couple of weeks ago have moved on due to last week’s moon. There will be plenty of new schools coming in to take their place.
The Spanish Mackerel bite remains steady near the mouth of the bay and all along the Sky Way fishing piers. Use a long shank hook along with some 40 or 50 pound fluorocarbon leader to increase your hook ups and decrease cut offs. The Trout bite has also been solid with good numbers of fish coming on both live and artificial baits.
In the Tampa Saint Pete area there are well over 2,000 licensed boat captains/fishing guides. Out of these there is only a handful of "CHARTER CAPTAINS" in the area. Let me tell you about our week as Captain Mike and myself are filming for the television show. On Monday we were unsure if we would be able to film because of weather, we were scheduled to fish with Captain Doug Hemmer. At four a.m. the wind was blowing only 11 knots, I called the troops and we were to meet seven a.m. At seven the wind was howling about 20 knots and a front was bearing down scheduled to arrive around noon. Folks we were in the 30' Dorado and it was too rough to get bait at the skyway. Doug says,"Artificial it is" and we were off. I didn't think we'd catch a fish but a true professional at his craft, Hemmer managed to put together a great string of trout for us just as the front arrived and the winds were approaching 30 knotsand blew us off the water.
On Thursday we were scheduled to fish with Captain Jamie Goodwin, we were to meet at 11:00am as the tide would not be high enough until then. Jamie and Mike went out early caught bait and scouted around a bit before picking up myself and the crew. We went and checked out a spot or two on the way to the redfish Jamie had been catching earlier in the week. As we get there the tide is almost dead high so the fish were finicky and Capt. Goodwin has us throwing live bait, dead bait, half dead bait and on jig heads, hooks with split shots and just hooks. Every combination caught fish but no more than one fish each. When the tide turned to run out as our friend Captain Tommy LaOronge would say, "Oh Mylanta!!" it was like a switched flipped with double and triple hook ups on over slot and slot sized redfish. It was so crazy the Mike (having take a fly fishing class) caught his first fish on a fly rod. Jamie looked at me and said,"Come on it's your turn." Guys the extent of my fly rod experience is as a kid using one as if it were a cane pole, suffice to say I ain't no Flip Pallot by any stretch. With about 10 seconds of instruction from Jamie, I'm attempted to fly fish, but was accused of building a dream catcher. I had two fish chase the fly as I was frantically stripping the line and the third time was the charm, FISH ON!!!! We landed the fish and she was around the 29" mark.
I guess the point of all of this is here are two guys that make there living on the water. The first, Captain Doug Hemmer, didn't have a lot to work with weather wise, and worked hard and made it happen in spite of the conditions he was delt. The second, Captain Jamie Goodwin, started out with no moving water, made the fish eat anyway, and when the fish went crazy, turned Mike and myself onto a whole new realm of fishing with the fly rod. I tell you both of these gentlemen are not fishing guides. THEY ARE CHARTER CAPTAINS.