Fishing – 12-09-2015

Red tide go away — please, don’t come back


Although patches of red tide are present throughout our areas, fishing remains consistent. The key to finding a bite is in the water quality. Areas where clear, clean water exists is a great place to start your hunt.

On my recent charters, I’m migrating from shore out to cleaner waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Nearshore structure, such as artificial reefs, are providing ample action on mangrove snapper, flounder, throwback grouper and Spanish mackerel. Numerous other less desirable species — shark, jack crevalle, ladyfish and blue runners — are being found at the reefs where live shiners are producing the best bite.

On days when the wind shuts down beach fishing, I’m switching baits to live shrimp. Casting these shrimp under residential docks is producing good numbers of keeper-size redfish, as well as sheepshead, mangrove snapper and flounder. Add some over-sized black drum and juvenile jack crevalle to the cooler and you’ve got yourself a successful fall/winter fishing trip.

Some days working the docks are better than others and you’ll need to switch up your pattern from day to day. Don’t wear out a certain area. And switching docks can add to your arsenal. One dock may hold many sheepies and another can be loaded with redfish. The more docks you know, the better the payoff.

Capt. Warren Girle, despite some windy days in the past week, was venturing out into the Gulf of Mexico to fish nearshore structure. By bottom fishing with live shiners, Girle’s clients are getting a workout from reeling up keeper-size gag grouper, mangrove snapper, cobia and flounder. Although the gags are now out of season, it’s still thrilling, not to mention a challenge, to reel up a big fish. Plus, the snapper and flounder are making up for the space in the cooler where the gags would have gone.

Fishing inshore is still producing spotted seatrout, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and jack crevalle. All of these species are readily taking free-lined live shiners cast in depths of 4-5 feet throughout the grass flats. Keeper trout are present, but the abundance of undersized bait-grabbing trout are making it tough to sift out the larger fish.

Capt. Aaron Lowman is seeing success while fly fishing tripletail along the Gulf beaches. A typical day of running traps is ranging from Longboat Key to Egmont Key. Most tripletail being sighted are small, although Lowman reports seeing some in the 10- to 12-pound class lounging under a buoy.

Casting flies to these prehistoric-looking fish can be challenging. If the fly lands too close or on the fish’s head, you might as well forget about it. The fish will spook and quickly swim into the depths to take refuge and add insult to your stupidity.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier says fishers are reeling up black drum and flounder to the deck. Both species are readily taking shrimp combined with a bottom rig to reach down deep. Sheepshead and mangrove snapper also are being taken with this method.

Large schools of jack crevalle are wreaking havoc on unaware fishers at the R&R. Schools of 100 or more jacks are ravaging mullet schools and anything that crosses their path during the morning outgoing tides. Unsuspecting anglers leisurely dangling bait over the side of the pier are getting a wake-up call when the frenzy starts up. I have one word of advice — never let go of the rod. Well, maybe that was five, but unless you want to see your pole flying into Tampa Bay, you’d better heed the warning.

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