Summertime Fishing vs Catching

Mangrove snapper are abundant in the summer.

Me, I’m going catching!

About 70% of my clientele are non-residents, so the majority of them don’t care what species they catch, as long as they have something tugging on the end of their line. So, in the summer I always fish where it’s the easiest, in deep water. Artificial reefs, submerged rock piles, and bridge pilings are usually the most productive when it’s blistering hot outside.

The aforementioned areas are loaded with baitfish, and where there’s bait, there’s fish. The majority of my catch right now consist of mangrove snapper, seatrout, weakfish, Spanish mackerel, black drum, jack crevalle, ladyfish, the occasional cobia and shark. Not all are good table fare, but they are all fun to catch. Kids particularly, love catching any of these fish, most adults too.

Fry baitfish are everywhere, and the biggest of the hatch are the perfect size for mangrove snapper. I nose-hook them while using a size 1 or 1/0 hook for the best presentation. If fishing around the bridges, I freeline them close to the pilings and wait on a strike. When fishing deep-water rock piles and artificial reefs, I use just enough weight to get the bait to the bottom. Some areas require that you get the bait very close to the structure and let it sit. When that’s the case, I do so during the last part of an incoming or outgoing tide, or when it’s completely slack. Many anglers assume that fish won’t eat if the tide isn’t moving, not true. You just have to do a little extra chumming to get the action going.

I’d say about 90% of the time my clients want to keep some fish for lunch or dinner. That being the case, I don’t even consider going after redfish or snook lately until the fish box is looking satisfactory. Even then, I ask everyone on board if they’re done catching, and ready to go do some fishing?

Afishionado, “Always an Adventure.”

If you enjoyed reading my fishing report, you should check out my most recent post. Please like my Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.

Springtime is Slam Time!

Aaron Rogers displays a 28′ snook.

If you’ve never achieved an “Inshore Slam” now is the time!

Every year when spring rolls around, the grass flats throughout Tampa Bay come alive. As baitfish start moving onto the flats, snook, redfish and seatrout follow. When this occurs, it’s the easiest time to achieve an inshore slam. If you don’t know what that is, it’s when you catch slot-size (or over) snook, redfish and seatrout on the same outing.

Now many of you may think that should be easy. Well, it’s easier said than done for some people. You’d be surprised how many people have been fishing with me that have never caught a slam. Occasionally, I meet a few anglers who have lived in the Tampa Bay area and fished all their life, but the slam still eludes them.

If an inshore slam is something you would like to pursue, you might assume that catching a slot-size seatrout would be the easiest. Not necessarily, at times it can be the most difficult to land. That’s why many times, I’ll start out fishing around some sandy potholes on the grass flats trying to catch the seatrout first. If I have no success, I’ll move on snook and redfish and come back to seatrout to close the deal.

While in pursuit, here’s where I look for that snook and redfish.

With water temperatures back in the low 70s snook are moving out of the back bays, creeks, and rivers and seeking shelter along the mangrove shorelines and points. Snook feed best on a good tidal flow. Some days it may vary whether they prefer an incoming or outgoing. So, just make sure the current is moving.

To get the action going, I toss out a few live scaled sardines and wait for the snook to respond by attacking the freebies. Once they start feeding, I have you cast a hooked live sardine to the same spot for an instant hook up. If you get lucky, you’ll be able to catch numerous snook in the same spot and also land one over 28 inches.

If I’m fishing during an incoming tide and it’s reaching its peak, move on to redfish.

Redfish like to feed on crustaceans around oyster beds and barnacle encrusted mangrove roots during a high tide. Redfish also like to travel with mullet. The reason: mullet flush baitfish and crustaceans out of the grass as they feed. Anytime I spot a school of mullet I get out in front of them and Power Pole down.

In either scenario, I always start by chumming with scaled sardines. After that, you cast a bait out that’s suspended under a cork. Once the cork goes under, give the fish 2-3 seconds to eat the bait, then when you reel and get your line tight, lift your rod for a solid hook set.

Let’s say after a day on the water you caught all three inshore slam species, but they weren’t all big fish. You still achieved a slam, just not an official inshore slam. There’s always next time.

Spanish mackerel make their presence at the mouth of Tampa Bay and slowly end up all the way past the Countney Campbell Causeway. Early on I mainly catch them around the bridges, artificial reefs, and range markers. As time goes on, Spanish mackerel start moving onto the grass flats as they feed on baitfish. There have been times when I’ve caught them in as little as two feet of water.

Some people claim Spanish mackerel aren’t good table fare. Not true. The key to good fillets is to ice the fish down immediately and always cut the bloodline out when filleting.

Afishionado, “Always an Adventure.”

Tampa fishing guide Wade Osborne, president of “Afishionado Guide Services” has been plying the waters of Tampa Bay as a professional full-time captain, since 1997. Osborne has been featured on numerous TV and radio shows and writes for multiple publications. Osborne offers inshore fishing charters on light tackle spin, fly or plug. He also offers eco-tours with an emphasis on photography.

If you enjoyed reading my fishing report, you should check out my most recent post. Please like my Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.

Wintertime Fishing is Here!

Angel caught his first snook on a live shrimp.

El Nino has had a major impact on our weather patterns lately, and I don’t expect it to change anytime soon. The worst part is that it seems to rain mostly on the weekends. This El Nino weather system also causes a huge fluctuation in temperatures. We’ve been getting two to three days of a cold front out of the north and El Nino pushes right back with the same out of the south.

What does this have to do with fishing, everything!

First off, catching baitfish can be difficult to nearly impossible. Cold water temperatures push baitfish into deeper water and around structure, like bridge pilings and range markers. Even on a relatively clam day catching baitfish in the winter can be challenging, add 15-20 knot winds and fuhgeddaboudit. I’ve been stopping at my local bait shop and buying medium-size shrimp lately just in case I can’t catch any baitfish before my charter. So far, that’s only happened once, but fortunately we caught plenty of fish anyway using only shrimp. Everything in Tampa Bay will eat a shrimp. That’s why it’s called the “Sara Lee” of baits.

Sheepshead especially like shrimp and they are very active right now. Most anglers think of sheepshead as living only around dock and bridge pilings, but they also hang out in deep sandy pot poles and around drop offs along mangroves. The latter are the two main areas that I prefer to pursue them. Fishing for sheepshead in the back bays has its advantages. Not only does it give you a better opportunity at catching other species of fish, but it can also give you shelter from the wind.

Just like chumming with baitfish activates fish, so does chumming with shrimp. That’s why at the end of the day, I never throw out my leftover live shrimp. I always bag and freeze it for my next charter. The next day when I’m running a charter and I arrive at my first fishing spot, I pull out a bag and start chumming the area with pieces of shrimp. Doing so draws in redfish. seatrout, ladyfish, jack crevalle and occasionally snook.

One thing that I always tell people is winter fishing can be very inconsistent and rewarding at the same time. No two days are ever the same, but if you keep an open mind and not be hell bent on catching only big fish, you can have a good outing.

Afishionado, “Always an Adventure.”

If you enjoyed reading my fishing report, you should check out my most recent post. Please like my Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.

Snook season reopens soon!

Manatee mating season runs through September.

If you’ve never eaten snook, your chance is coming up. Beginning September 1st through December 1st, snook are open to harvest. Clients ask me all the time how they taste, and I always reply, better than a grouper. Those who know would hungrily agree. The size limit on the Gulf coast for snook ranges between 28-inches and 33-inches. There is also a daily recreational bag limit of one per harvester.

The three species that have been most cooperative lately are mangrove snapper, Spanish mackerel, and seatrout.

Mangrove snapper are feeding heavily around most bridge pilings, rocky shorelines, and artificial reefs. Once anchored or spot locked, I always chum with fresh cut bait or live bait to get the action going. If there’s some tidal movement, I’ll put a small piece of split shot just above the hook to get the bait down. Most of the time when the snapper begin to feed Spanish mackerel start showing up in the same spot. Then it’s pure mayhem. Between snapper occasionally getting you hung up in structure and mackerel cutting off your hook with their sharp teeth, I find myself constantly rigging.

As for the seatrout, they bite best on a strong moving tidal flow. Tampa Bay is dotted with grass flats throughout, so I just pick a flat and work it over. I concentrate most of my efforts around the sandy potholes scattered about the flats. I like to Power-Pole down and work one section at a time.

In closing, more than ever, I keep an eye out for manatees. Manatees typically mate between March and September, with multiple male manatees competing to breed with a female.
Manatee mating herds are interesting to watch as several bulls (males) pursue a cow (female) until she is ready to mate. For everyone’s safety, I watch these mating herds from a distance as the animals are focused on mating and do not heed intruders in their midst. It’s also important to remember, touching or disturbing manatees is not only illegal, but can also be extremely dangerous.

Afishionado, “Always an Adventure.”

If you enjoyed reading my fishing report, you should check out my most recent post. Please like my Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.

July started off with a BANG!

Tim with a nice mangrove snapper.

Fishing has been outstanding for the most part. The majority of what’s been biting are snook, mangrove snapper, seatrout, Spanish mackerel, sharks, and a few redfish. Sure, there have been a few days where the fish bite has been slow, but that’s why it’s called fishing.

If you’re looking to keep some fish for dinner, the only species that’s closed to harvest right now is snook. Other than that, putting fish in the box has been a given.

So, if you’re looking to catch dinner or just catch and release, book your adventure today.

If you enjoy reading my fishing reports, you should check out my most recent post. Please like my Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.

June in Tampa Bay.

Bonnethead fishing on light tackle.

For pure excitement, it’s hard to beat the Spanish mackerel and bonnethead shark fishing right now, especially, if you have kids on board. Both species are being caught in the same location and by using the same tactics. Hard bottom or along the edges of deep grass flats are the places I find both.

I first anchor or spot-lock my boat. Then I start a fresh bait chum slick by drifting chunks of cut bait fish down current. For bait on the hook, I have my clients free-line small to medium sized white bait or medium to large shrimp. That’s right, shrimp! Some days bonnethead sharks prefer shrimp. To help prevent cut-offs, use a long shank hook tied onto a three-foot section of 30lb. fluorocarbon leader. Fluorocarbon works better than wire leader because it increases the number of strikes.

The snook spawn is in full swing this month, which also means they’re closed to harvest until September. Snook spawn along deep-water mangrove shorelines, in the passes, around deep-water structures, and bridges. They will remain in these locations throughout the summer. A strong moving incoming or outgoing tide are usually the best for the most action.

Mangrove Snapper in their spawn in also. During this time, they are extremely aggressive and will absolutely devour baits as soon as they hit the water. Many times, my clients catch Mangrove snapper while fishing for snook and redfish along mangrove shorelines. “They don’t call them Mangrove snapper for nothing!” When I just want to target them, I anchor near bridge pilings or over structure and you guessed it, start a chum slick.

The redfish bite was inconsistent inshore last month, but it’s improving since the rainy season has started. When looking for redfish, I always check out oyster beds and look for mullet. The reason behind looking for mullet is that redfish often travel with them.

If you enjoyed reading my fishing report, you should check out my most recent post. Please view my Facebook Page to watch a video of John reeling in a redfish. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.

“Afishionado, Always an Adventure!”

Summer like fishing, and it’s not even spring!

One of 34 snook.

With temperatures in the mid-80s the last couple of weeks, it’s hard to believe it’s still winter. Especially, since it’s snowing in much of the country. Visitors are not only enjoying our spectacular weather but have the opportunity to experience some of Tampa Bay’s outstanding fishing too.

With water temperatures hovering in the mid-70s, the snook, redfish and seatrout fishing is excellent. There have been days lately where I ran two, four-hour charters back-to-back catching fish all day. This is good news for the upcoming Spring Break season, because I only look for the fishing to get better as spring approaches.

Just yesterday, John Marrinucci a 20-year client from Denver, Colorado caught 34 snook and 21 redfish.

So, if you’re here vacationing or live here through the winter, now’s a good time to plan a fishing trip. Just pick up the phone and give me a call, I would be happy to show you the adventure of a lifetime.

If you enjoyed reading my fishing report, you should check out my most recent post. Please view my Facebook Page to watch a video of John reeling in a redfish. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.

Feels like summer, and it’s not even spring!

Back-Bay Snook Fishing

With temperatures in the mid-80s the last couple of weeks, it’s hard to believe it’s still winter. Especially, since it’s snowing in much of the country. Visitors are not only enjoying our spectacular weather, but have the opportunity to experience some of Tampa Bay’s outstanding fishing too.

With water temperatures hovering in the mid-70s, the snook, redfish and seatrout fishing is excellent. There have been days lately where I ran two, four-hour charters back-to-back catching fish all day. This is good news for the upcoming Spring Break season, because I only look for the fishing to get better as spring approaches.

So, if you’re here vacationing or live here through the winter, now’s a good time to plan a fishing trip. Just pick up the phone and give me a call, I’d be happy to show you the adventure of a lifetime.

If you enjoyed reading my fishing report, you should check out my most recent post. Please like my Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.

No trace of red tide in upper Tampa Bay.

Cownose Stingray.

My last three bookings came from anglers staying in hotels on Pinellas County beaches. The first thing they asked me was about the fishing in the bay since red tide continues to plague the Pinellas coastline and kill fish.

That is not the case where I’m fishing. As a matter of fact, the fishing is pretty good but I’m only catching a few snook and redfish right now, because the water is too cold and they’re lethargic. What I am catching is seatrout, mangrove snapper, sheepshead, jack crevalle, ladyfish, bonnethead sharks and stingrays. As an added bonus, you’ll see plenty of manatees and dolphins up close and personal.

I know what you’re thinking! I came to Florida to catch snook and redfish. Well, come back in a couple of months, because we just experienced the coldest Christmas in 40 years and the water temperature is still in the low 60s.

Most people visiting our area just want to feel something on the end of their line this time of year. If that’s you, book me and let’s go have a good time. No matter what time of year, something is always biting in Tampa Bay.

Remember, “if you’re not fishing, you’re not catching!”

If you enjoy reading my fishing reports, you should check out my most recent post. Please like my Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.

Winter Fishing is Here!

Snook have moved into the back bays for the winter.

During the first half of this month, we had to endure summer like conditions, but for the rest of December we will be experiencing below normal temperatures. This change has fish on the move and unpredictable. As we settle into winter however, fish will become more stationary and willing to eat.

Snook are moving into the back bays with muddy bottoms for warmth and on frigid days, are more active from noon on. Snook tend to move slower in the winter also. This is the easiest time to catch them on a large shrimp or a piece of cut bait.

Redfish have moved into the creeks and rivers throughout Tampa Bay and tend to prefer banks lined with oyster beds and in the deeper bends. Residential dock pilings are another place to locate redfish. Shrimp is an excellent choice of bait for redfish during the winter. Whenever I am using shrimp, I break some up and use as chum also. The smell of shrimp in the water attracts redfish and other species as well. Chunks of cut up ladyfish is excellent bait for redfish too.

Seatrout prefer deeper water in the winter months as well. I have found over the years seatrout will mingle with redfish, but with snook, not so much. Many times, I will go to one of my favorite redfish spots and start catching seatrout. A few bonuses about winter fishing for seatrout is they love shrimp, and they do not have worms.

I have not seen an influx of cobia or sharks at the power plants yet, but that should change after this next cold front. The unseasonably warm weather conditions that we experienced most of this month has kept the bay water temperature in the low 70’s, so the action at the outflows has been disappointing.

No matter what time of year, something is always biting in Tampa Bay.

If you enjoy reading my fishing reports, you should check out my most recent post. Please like my Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.