No fooling, the inshore fishing in April is outstanding!

Grant and Brian Perry with a snook and redfish.

The grass flats are becoming the most active since last fall. Baitfish have begun to invade the flats and the snook, redfish and trout are there to welcome them to breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you hit the tide right, the action can be non-stop. That’s the reason I don’t always start my charters at the crack of dawn. Many days, I don’t pick up clients until 11AM or later.

Even though, I may not see my clients for hours after sunrise, I still leave the dock before dawn to go catch bait. During the time in between, I’m busy cleaning the boat and rigging tackle. I may even scout some fishing locations for later. Once my passengers are aboard, we’re ready to fish. Depending on the current conditions, my first stop may only be five minutes from the dock. I always have a game plan before my charter shows up. That way, I utilize their time fishing, not sightseeing.

During the spring, snook, redfish and trout sometimes feed in the same areas. There are numerous days when you might catch all three species. That’s considered an “Inshore Slam.” Believe it or not, I’ve had many Floridians aboard that have never achieved this feat.

Another bonus about April: The Spanish mackerel are starting to migrate into Tampa Bay. They are a blast to catch on light tackle because they hit hard and make extremely long runs. The mangrove snapper fishing is picking up also. Snapper and mackerel can be caught in the same places at times. So, for clients that like to keep fish they’ve caught for dinner, now is an excellent time.

 

#Inshore Flats Fishing

March Fishing Madness

#redfish

Grass Flat Redfish

Now that spring is upon us, the grass flats are starting to come alive. March without a doubt is the kickoff to a great fishing season. Last month the water temperatures started off in the upper 50’s, but as February progressed, they warmed up 10-12 degrees. Now the water temperature is in the low 70’s.

This month, scaled sardines begin moving back on the grass flats. When this occurs, gamefish follow. Without a doubt, March is all about snook and redfish and for pure enjoyment, catch and release redfish and snook fishing is hard to beat.

Redfish for most of the winter have been scattered though out some flats, creeks, residential docks, and canals. Now they’re beginning to chase baitfish on the grass flats, mangrove shorelines and around oyster beds. When I spot a school of redfish on the prowl, I anchor my boat and start chumming. Doing so, gets them to stop and eat. Then it’s just a matter of casting a hooked bait into the mix.

When it comes to locating some snook, they will be exiting their winter haunts and shattering about the grass flats. Mangrove shoreland points are good areas for catching snook, because they create an ambush spot during a strong tidal flow. Areas sprinkled with sandy potholes are excellent locations to tangle with snook also.

Spring officially begins on the 20th, but don’t wait until then to spring into action!

 

Baby, it’s “Been” Cold Outside!

February Inshore Snook Fishing

Last month was one of the coldest Januarys on record, and to say it had a negative impact on the fishing, is an understatement. It was so cold it even slowed the activity at the power plant outflows. Water temperatures dropped into the mid-50’s. If it had dropped much lower there could have been a massive snook kill, like the one back in 2010. That year, an estimated one million snook died statewide due to a prolonged freeze.

Sheepshead don’t mind the cold, fortunately. Heck they spawn in the winter, so they must like it. They school up in large numbers this time of year and are easy to catch. Shrimp, fiddler crabs and even barnacles are all good baits to use when pursuing sheepshead.

Some spots that are often overlooked for sheepshead are deep water rock piles and artificial reefs. These underwater structures can be found throughout Tampa Bay. I check my local tide chart and fish these spots around a slack tidal flow.

What about mangrove snapper? Unlike sheepshead they spawn in the summer, but they do seem to have a decent appetite in the winter. Many times, you can catch them in the same areas as sheepshead. Just don’t expect them to eat barnacles. Shrimp or scaled sardines are the baits of choice.

Cold fronts pass through our area on a weekly basis this time on year. If you have the flexibility in your schedule It’s best to wait a day or two after a front to go fishing. Once the weather settles down and the temperature rebounds into the 70’s, so does the snook fishing.

February offers some of the best snook fishing of the year. Days of catching 50-plus snook are numerus, because certain areas shelter snook from the elements, so they migrate there during the winter. These oases continue to hold large numbers of snook right through March and into early April.

So, if you want to experience some non-stop snook fishing, now’s the time to give Afishionado a call.

 

 

Winter Tides Are Extremely Low!

Jim & his boys caught 125 snook in 5 hours.

Winter tides are the lowest of the year. Due to that fact, many days I don’t even start my charters until noon or later. That doesn’t mean I get to sleep in, oh contraire. Most of the time, I’m still up hours before dawn and on my bait spot before the sun breaks the horizon. That’s because there are days as the sun rises, the bait disappears.

So, what do I do for the next four or five hours before my clients arrive, you ask? Scout. Winter low tides are and excellent time to find new fishing spots where fish like to hole up. Even after the water rises, many fish will continue to use these locations as their core area. With that in mind, I either mark the spot on my GPS or remember a nearby landmark.

Over the years, I’ve discovered areas that hold hundreds of fish during extremely low tides but are inaccessible. So, unless you’re fishing out of an airboat, you must wait for higher water. Once you’re in, it’s like “shooting fish in a barrel.”

If your schedule only allows you to fish a negative low tide, there are still fish to catch and power plant outflows are the perfect location.

One good thing about the power plant outflows, the water discharge warms up the water hundreds of yards out on the adjacent flat. these areas attract sharks, cobia, redfish, snook, trout, pompano, ladyfish, jack crevalle and even an occasional permit. I’m sure I’m leaving a few species out, but you get the point. It’s a fish magnet!

Back to the afternoon tides. By now the water has risen by a foot or more making it possible to access some of my prime snook fishing areas. Once in, using my trolling motor, I set up. Then it’s fishing as usual. I chum I little bit and wait. As the tidal flow disperses the baitfish, the fish began to respond, and the rest is history.

There are many days, during the winter when you can catch 50 or more snook. Occasionally, there are days when it’s possible to catch one hundred or more. That’s why I founded the “100 Snook Club.” Charter parties that exceed the 100 snook catch and release threshold on any given day automatically become members.

The Afishionado Guide Services’ “100 Snook Club” has been so successful, this year I started a new campaign. Every new member of a fishing party that catches over 100 snook combined, will receive a free t-shirt with the “100 Snook Club” logo.

You could be next!

The Fish Are Stacked Up!

Fishing Deep!

 

Now that cold fronts are finally passing through with regularity, the water temperature will begin to plummet. When this occurs, it’s time to fish deep.

As water temperatures drop on the flats, fish start a mass exodus. Baitfish are the fish to leave, followed by snook, redfish and trout. Everything is seeking the comforts of warmer water. “Where do they find it”? you may ask. Most fish prefer rivers, back bays, residential canals, and power plants.

On breezy days, I like to find a spot on the leeward side of mangroves, or way back in a canal out of the wind. These areas provide the warmer water conditions that fish are looking for. Another excellent spot is an area tucked out of the wind with a muddy bottom. Mud holds heat. Then there’s always the go-to spot, the power plant outflow.

Some people assume that the fishing isn’t that good during cooler months, but that’s simply not true. I’ve had some of my best days of fishing this time of year. When its cold out, fish don’t move around that much, so if you look in the right areas, you’ll find them stacked up.

Tampa Bay Redfish Charter

RED OCTOBER!

Tampa Bay Redfish Charter

Tampa/St. Petersburg Redfish Charter

As far as I’m concerned, the only good thing about 2020: Fall is finally here.

October is by far, one of the best months of the year to catch redfish. That’s why I, and I’m sure a few others refer to this month as Red October. Its redfish spawning season and there’s always a possibility of running into an acre or more of spawning bull redfish. If you’ve never experienced this phenomenon, it’s a sight to be seen. The water actually turns red, and a large school can be spotted a hundred yards away.

These fish mostly stay in deep water, but I have encounter them on a few grass flats in the mid-sections of Tampa Bay. Schools of 300-plus are common. The most I’ve ever caught on one charter was 96 in five hours. Had I stayed longer I would have easily caught over 100.

The snook fishing also picks up in October. Last month the snook fishing was the slowest of the year due to extremely warm water temperatures. On some of the local grass flats, it exceeded 90 degrees.

A couple of fish that will remain active this month will be mangrove snapper and Spanish mackerel. Both species can be caught around bridges, artificial reefs and wrecks.

Usually, I get too busy to write fishing reports as often as I’d like, so, if you’re interested in seeing my most recent post, please like my, Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.

“Stay fishy my friends!”

Mangrove Snapper Fish Box,

The Fishing is Sizzling.

Mangrove Snapper Fish Box,

Fish box full of mangrove snapper

Jerry Reed said it best, “When you’re hot, you’re hot.” Right now, the fishing cannot get any hotter than aboard Afishionado.

The mangrove snapper fishing is outstanding right now. It seems they were a little slow to spawn this year, but the bite started picking up around Independence Day and it has been gangbusters ever since. Every year it seems the mangrove snapper fishing is getting better and better. You can literally catch them just about anywhere.

The snook fishing has been non-stop and will continue to be so the rest of the summer. Snook are stacked up just about everywhere it seems. Many days, my clients are catching snook for hours on end.

Fishing for redfish is always hot in July. The best places to locate schools of redfish are around oyster beds and the optimal time is during a high tide.

Whether I’m after large snook or redfish one of the best baits of choice when the water temperature is in the 90’s, is fresh cut bait. It could be pinfish, large scaled sardines, ladyfish or my favorite, threadfin herring. I like to cut up a pretty sizable chunk, stick it on a 2/0 or 3/0-size hook, cast one off each side of the stern of the boat and place the rod in a rod holder. Meanwhile, as anglers are fishing with live bait up front, I listen for screaming drag in the rear. By the time a client places their rod in a rod holder up front and go to the back of the boat to grab the doubled over rod, they have a solid hookup.

If you own a smoker and like fish dip and crackers, there are plenty of big Spanish mackerel out there to take home. Spanish mackerel are all over the place. I’m catching them in my cast net while catching bait, while on the flats snook fishing, around range markers, on artificial reefs and while anchored at bridges.

When I target mackerel, I always like the start a fresh cut bait chum slick. At the same time, I’m squeezing handfuls and live bait and tossing them overboard. I also use a long shank 1/0 hook to help prevent cutoffs from their razor-sharp teeth. Another thing I do to help prevent cutoffs is loosen the drag on the reels.

I can’t tell you how many people have the misconception that Spanish mackerel are only to be eaten if you are, “Naked and Afraid.” That’s simply not the case. Once mackerel are on board, I ice them down immediately. After they are filleted, just keep them on ice until cooked within a couple of days. I don’t recommend freezing Spanish mackerel fillets, because once they thaw out they turn to mush. However, if you smoke them first, you can freeze all you want. Then once thawed, you’re ready to make fish dip with your favorite recipe.

Stay fishy my friends!

Usually, I get too busy to write fishing reports as often as I’d like, so, if you’re interested in seeing my most recent post, please like my, Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.

 

Memorial Day, the unofficial beginning of summer.

Thankfully, the beaches have been reopened, and the economy is slowly starting to rebound.  First and foremost, today is a time to remember all the service men and women who fought and gave their lives to keep this great country free.

As far as the fishing goes, it is outstanding.

The snook are spawning right now and will be doing so through July, so it’s an excellent time to catch some monsters.  Redfish schools are cruising just about every grass flat and many of these fish are over 33-inches and weigh close to 20 pounds.  Tarpon are abundant throughout Tampa bay and June is a prime month to hook up with one of these giants.  Spanish mackerel are ripping the shreds out of bait and are excellent table fare if cooked within the first few days of harvest.  Another good fish to fillet up for dinner is a mangrove snapper.  They’re spawning now also and are very aggressive and ready to bite anything on your hook.

If you haven’t been out on the water fishing in a while, please give me a call and I’ll show you what you’ve been missing.

Usually, I get too busy to write fishing reports as often as I’d like, so, if you’re interested in seeing my most recent post, please like my, Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.
 

 

It’s March Madness on the Grass Flats!

With spring just right around the corner, March is shaping up to be an excellent time to fish.

Baitfish will be arriving on the grass flats by mid-month. Along with this influx of baitfish, snook, redfish and sea trout will be moving out of the back country and their deep winter haunts to feed until winter rolls around again.
Usually, March ushers in the harvest of snook, but due the moratorium on snook, redfish and sea trout, there’s little you can take home to eat. However, the catch and release fishing will the outstanding.

Let’s say, you couldn’t care less about releasing fish, and you gotta eat!
Sheepshead are still spawning and are relatively easy to catch if you’re fishing for them in the all the right places. I’m finding sheepshead in deep sandy holes on the grass flats, around oyster beds, bridge pilings, and artificial reefs. Baits of choice for these bandits, are shrimp, fiddler crabs, and believe it or not, small pieces of barnacle.

Mangrove snappers have been biting well all winter long and will just become more active as the water warms. When fishing for sheepshead around bridge pilings and artificial reefs, we start catching snapper also. Snapper love to feed on shrimp, crabs and scaled sardines.

When fishing for both species, I use a 1/0 hook and as little weight as necessary to suspend the bait into the strike zone. I always start a chum slick to get the action going. I like to anchor up tide and let particles of ground up baitfish draw whatever quarry I’m after, right to the boat.

Lastly, on table fare: By mid to late March, I’ll be running a short distance offshore to catch king mackerel. Their spring migration usually kicks off around St. Patrick’s Day and last four to six weeks, depending how along the water temperature stays in their comfort range. Along with the king mackerel, there will be schools of Spanish mackerel mix in.

Some people want to keep fish, and I get it! Fortunately, most of my clients just enjoy catching fish. Otherwise with all the closures, I’d be living in a van, down by the river.

My clients are catching plenty of snook right now. Alongside the snook, some of the largest trout most people have ever caught in their life are being released. I haven’t been targeting redfish much lately, but I will be this month as large schools begin to invade the grass flats.

The fly fishing is extremely good right now for snook and sea trout. If you’re not a purist and are willing to cast a fly once I have the fish chummed up with live bait, you won’t be disappointed. It’s as easy as matching the hatch. A cave man can do it!

Stay fishy my friends.

Pictured: Longtime client Brennan Porter and his now fiancee, Rachel. Brennan proposed later that day!

Usually, I get too busy to write fishing reports as often as I’d like, so, if you’re interested in seeing my most recent post, please like my, Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.

Tampa Bay Fishing Guide

The Fishing is Excellent!

The big debate over eastern standard time vs daylight savings time has absolutely no effect on fish. They know days are getting shorter and even, as early as last month, snook were already moving into their winter haunts. Now with major cold fronts passing through, look for fish migration to intensify.

It’s time to change my strategy. When looking for fish I concentrate on deep water holes and areas that are protected from the wind. As winter approaches, these areas will fill up with fish. As the mercury drops the fishing only gets better.

My main concern this time of year is always where to catch bait. Cold fronts push baitfish of the grass flats and into deeper water. Not only that, they don’t always stay in the same place. If the bay waters are calm, I’ll often run all the way to the Skyway Fishing Pier to catch bait. I can practically always count on bait being there except on the worst of weather days.

When catching bait gets tough, I’ll stop at Gandy Bait and Tackle and buy some shrimp. Most people always buy select shrimp. Personally, I think that’s not only a waste of money, but it also not the best choice for catching fish. My go-to shrimp size is medium. Fish take them more readerly and they also make for good chumming. That’s right, when I’m using shrimp for bait, I’m chumming as if I’m fishing with scalded sardines. So, I buy plenty of shrimp. If I’m running a four-hour fishing charter, I’ll buy a minimum of 10 dozen.

Fly fishing is a great option when fishing during cooler months. Snook can be caught easily on a fly at this time and the best part is you don’t need to be an avid fly caster like Ed who is featured in the photo. A 20-foot cast is all that’s needed. Many fly anglers catch 10 or more snook an outing with a little persistence.

So, in closing don’t assume the fishing isn’t good this time of year. Give me a call and I’ll show you otherwise!

Usually, I get too busy to write fishing reports as often as I’d like, so, if you’re interested in seeing my most recent post, please like my, Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.