Colin Barfoot, left, and Dave Nash, of Portsmouth, England, caught these cobia offshore of Anna Maria Island. Islander Photo: Courtesy Capt. Bert Rawald
Brie de Leon, right, and grandfather Peter Jones with a 27-inch snook caught by Brie on a CAL jig with a shad tail while fishing Terra Ceia Bay with Capt. Ray Markham.
Four-tide days rev-up fall fishing
Bait is getting thicker off the beaches as water temperatures dip, and that could mean kingfish will be swarming through the area. But there needs to be another cold front — or two — to trigger a healthy kingfish run.
Four-tide days this week will make one of the best fishing times of the year even better.
Kimberly Shearer from Annie’s Bait and Tackle said she’s received reports of two cobias of 46 and 34 inches caught on a 3-mile reef. Also, she said customers reported a limit catch of trout from 16-19 inches in front of Paradise Bay Trailer Park. “They were using Storm Rattlin’ Top Water Chub Bugs and catching them early in the morning on an outgoing tide,” Shearer said. “There was also a nice size Cobia caught near Jewfish Key.”
Capt. Mark Johnston of Legend Charters is catching Spanish mackerel up to 3 1/2 pounds, large barracuda and black-tip sharks on an outgoing tide. He was using live shiners.
Capt. Warren Girle reported plenty of trout, scattered redfish, ladyfish and Spanish mackerel. But the big surprise, he said, has been a thick run of flounder. On the nearshore trips, he reported catches of 12 and 14 doormats. He said on one of his offshore trips he went out 24 miles for more than 100 grouper, but only four keepers. He said the biggest grouper was 27 inches.
All but two of the grouper were reds. There also are a lot of kingfish over a swiss-cheese bottom (sand and rock with holes). “If we get another one or two cold fronts like last week, everything will turn on and before you know it the snowbirds will be here,” Girle said.
Capt. Mark Howard of SumoTime Fishing Charters said the fall fishing patterns are in full swing with a multitude of species. Speckled trout have been feeding heavily all over the Tampa Bay waters, he said. This past week has produced some excellent limit catches (4 per person) on some quality-sized fish. “Keeper fish have averaged 18 inches, with some 20-inch snaggle tooths coming to dinner,” he said. “The biggest speckled trout landed on my charters measured 25 inches and hit on a live frisky shiner.”
He said nearshore the bite has been excellent with the keys to success being finding the bait schools under the diving birds. He said to look for these two important elements and you will find mackerel, bonito, shark, cobia and kingfish.
“Speaking of kingfish, they have made a strong showing off our coast approximately 3 miles offshore and farther out,” he said. “Slow trolling a nice big bait rigged with small-diameter wire will improve your chances of catching these exciting and toothy predators.”
He reported redfish are roaming all around the Tampa Bay area. Look for the redfish in potholes on an outgoing tide and then watch them drop in the hole for some heavy action. Chum with shiners to get the redfish excited and into a feeding frenzy. Also, he said tarpon are in their fall pattern. The silver kings have been feeding heavily on shiners off the beach with two hookups during a recent beach fishing trip.
“All around Tampa Bay there are schools of tarpon staging for their migration to their winter quarters,” he said.
Capt. Mike Greig said he’s caught some redfish to 12 pounds, plenty of trout, Spanish mackerel, sharks off the beaches. He said on Oct. 13 he caught a lot of reds, but only a few the next day.
“You get on them one day and then next day you don’t catch as many. Usually on the new and full moon they school up,” he said. Also, he said the kingfish aren’t as thick as they could be. “And they may never get too thick,” Greig said. “They’re either offshore or south of us.”
Kyle Dodrill from the Sunshine Skyway south fishing pier said there’s been pompano, big Spanish mackerel and kingfish during the mornings off pier ends. He said the grouper bite is picking up, and there are still some tarpon, but the silver kings are starting to leave. Finally, he said there also are some big redfish and jack crevalle running through.
Brett Lance from the Rod & Reel Pier said anglers there have caught Spanish mackerel, black drum, and occasional snapper.
Dave Sork from the Anna Maria City Pier said a good supply of bait has brought Spanish mackerel, blue runners and jack crevalle to the planks.
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