Fall Fishing is Just Around the Corner!

The JERSEY BOYZ, brothers Drew and Dean Paolella from Madison (exit 14) spent the morning trying to out fish each other while on a school of redfish.

Despite the lingering presence of red tide all along the coast from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs, Tampa Bay remains unaffected. Beach anglers continue to struggle to catch fish due to the ever-changing migration of the algae bloom. Low to high concentrations remain scattered throughout the region. The only way to stay on top of it, is to check the FWC’s Red Tide Status Report daily.

As for where I fish in Tampa Bay, the fishing is outstanding!

The redfish fishing has kicked into high gear on some the flats. Usually, the big spawning breeders start showing up just offshore, and at the mouth of Tampa Bay in October. However, that may not happen this year due to the red tide. Time will only tell.

The snook fishing has been good all summer long. As the days get shorter and the water temperatures slowly drop throughout the fall snook begin to feed even more. I’ve been catching snook, redfish, trout, and mangrove snapper in some of the same spots.

As for mangrove snapper, this has been the best year for catching these tasty treats that I can remember. They have literally been everywhere. I look for this to continue right up to mid-November when some strong cold fronts start moving through.

Seatrout are in no shortage on some of the grass flats. Most are in the 12-15-inch size range, but the numbers are impressive. I imagine the larger fish will become more active as the water temperature starts to drop.

The Spanish mackerel fishing was hit particularly hard in Tampa Bay during this summer’s red tide. Even though they were hard to come by then, they are now making a huge comeback. I expect it to only get better in October.

Speaking of October! The FWC plans to reopen snook, redfish and seatrout to harvest on October 11.

The official start of fall is on September 22, but don’t wait until then to book a charter to won’t soon forget. The phones lines are open!

The Fishing Continues to Excite in Upper Tampa Bay.

Larry Agle caught redfish, snook, a bonnethead shark and mangrove snapper on his most recent charter.

During the last couple of weeks, the fishing has been outstanding. Daily rains have lowered the water temperature and it may have even contributed to the disappearance of the red tide.

The mangrove snapper fishing remains strong, and I expect it to last for another month or so. Some days, the snapper are outcompeting the snook for chum and bait on the hook. Additionally, when you first get a hook up, you think you have a snook. That’s how aggressive and large some of these snappers are.

The snook fishing has remained constant and I find the best fishing to be during a strong tidal flow.  Some days it’s taking quite a bit of live bait chumming to persuade them to eat, but once they do, the action is pretty good. Another thing I’ve noticed about the snook fishing, if I’m not getting many bites while using a cork, I take it off and free line the bait. Snook tend to get cork shy every now and then.

Up until lately, I was encountering numerous schools of redfish, but now, not so much. I think all this rain has redfish on the move. I could be wrong, maybe I just need to look in different locations, but a couple of my best spots are only producing a dozen or so, that’s it!

Seatrout are still holding strong. I’m not seeing many over 20 inches, but there are plenty in the 14–16-inch range. Personally, I don’t target seatrout in the summer, unless they’re in season. The reason I try to avoid them, they don’t handle catch and release as well as other species. They’re being caught as by-catch.

Every day on the water is always a great experience aboard Afishionado.

Tampa Bay Red Tide Fishing Update

Brad Hobbs with a Tampa Bay snook.

All the local media hysteria reporting on the red tide issue and dead fish floating in Tampa Bay has many visitors and locals alike wondering if any fish survived the recent outbreak.

I’m here to tell you, there has been little to no impact to the fishery in upper Tampa Bay. As a matter of fact, the fishing is better than it was prior to Hurricane Elsa, which blew all the dead fish into the bay in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong, some parts of Tampa Bay were affected by red tide and fish died, but it was far less than the media would have you think. As of right now, I’m happy to report the red tide is loosening its grip on the bay and thangs are starting to get back to normal.

As Brad Hobbs from St. Petersburg, who fished with me yesterday, stated, “I expected to see floating dead fish, but saw none.” If that’s not enough to convince you, check out my recent posts on Facebook and Instagram. There are easy links at the bottom of every page on my website.

NO RED TIDE WHERE I FISH

The Wolfe family with Spanish mackerel and mangrove snapper.

So, if you’re from out of state you’re probably wondering if the fishing is any good in upper Tampa Bay right now. Yes, it is!

Back in March a leak from a Piney Point phosphate mining facility holding pond dumped 200+ million gallons of wastewater into lower Tampa Bay. For months, little to no environmental impact was observed. Unfortunately, as the weather heated up, the water temperatures throughout the region began to rise and a red tide algae bloom spawned. Now dead fish are washing ashore along the beaches from St. Petersburg to Clearwater. Most of the fish being affected live nearshore and at the mouth of Tampa Bay. This incident has slowed the fishing in these areas.

The good news: Not where I’m located at 5108 West Gandy Blvd., Tampa.

Since all this made national news recently, I’m getting phone calls inquiring about what’s going on. I can assure you this. The fishing has not been effected by red tide in upper Tampa Bay.

When considering a trip to this area and at which hotel to stay, first ask if dead fish are a problem there. If so, keep calling around. The concentrations of red tide vary day to day and better hotels are constantly cleaning their beach fronts.

For some of the best inshore fishing, please call Afishionado. I can accommodate one to six people comfortably and a goodtime will be had by all.

 

 

Redfish and Seatrout Reopen for Harvest

Mike Milner and Matt Baker display a couple of redfish.

It’s been two long years since you’ve been able to keep redfish and seatrout for dinner, but that day is finally here. Today is the day! Blackened redfish and fried seatrout are back on the menu.

More good news! It shouldn’t be too difficult get your limit. Many of my recent clients have caught redfish, seatrout and snook during the same charter, to make for an inshore slam. Snook reopens for harvest on September 1 by the way, so mark your calendars.

Other species you can keep inshore to eat are mangrove snapper, Spanish mackerel, and cobia.

If you’re traveling or just like to catch and release, I’m good with that. It’s just nice to be able to take more of a variety, should you choose to do so.

 

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.