Offshore: Smoker kings, reds, snook, pompano, Spanish, plenty of snapper. Goliaths on the close marks. Grouper close as well. We cast spoons at Spanish and bonito; great fun, weather permitting. Drop fish at the close marks; gave up a nice mixed bite: snapper, white grunts, a few flounder. Plenty of sharks for the kiddy big fish tug-a-war!
Absolute Florida Flats Fishing, a longtime guide service for the West Central Florida Gulf Coast, serving the Tarpon Springs, New Port Richey, and Clearwater area, reports outstanding Spotted Sea Trout Fishing! The water temperatures have fallen into the 60s with the shorter days and cool mornings. Live baits as well as artificial baits are both working well; we finally are starting to see some cool fronts moving all the way through our region
Crews reported tons of Spanish and some kings at 3–9 miles out. We hooked up a few kings in the passes as we fished for pomps and caught squirrelfish as a bycatch, but they busted off—typical. Grouper action is getting better everyday as close as 5 miles out. Tripletailers hooked up grouper around the carb pots, kings snagging pins, shrimp and small trips on the way up.
Happy hookers dragged plus 10–15 lipped plugs on the bumps from 3–12 miles off and caught nice kings as well. The close marks at 3–5 miles out are holding snapper, grouper, cobia, grunt, and all the usual suspects. You can toss Sabikki good baits around the reefs or use cut mackerel. Spoons, shallow running plugs, and flies all took a share of the macks. Cobia are still a hot target with pins, carbs, and bait-dressed jigs all good-to-go offerings.
Inshore: My crews took advantage of the breaks in the weather and got rewarded with the really first and best of the redfish rodeo after the crazy weeks winter weather.
More Opinions from the Rock of Ages: never being one to avoid a “Barney”, here’s another opinion. With the Manatee Zones and other slow-speed no-wake areas, how do we best optimize the power on our skiffs? We want an optimum hole shot, for performance, safety, and economy. Power-to-weight ratios being taken into consideration, which prop is most appropriate on the shallow water flats?
Every boat manufacturer in Florida will give you an estimated figure on your skiff without motor, fuel, add-on equipment and true passenger max load. Now there’s no subterfuge really implied, but the draft specified is for the bare hull. Additional outfitting must be considered when determining true draft capabilities. Other factors will help trim and adjust the true draft of your when not underway, not making way.
Capt. Rich Knox, with Absolute Florida Flats Fishing Guide Service, reports with the first sets of baby cold fronts coupled with the shorter days have the water temperatures hanging below 80ºF, signaling the beginning of cooler weather to all the predator game fish on the inshore fishing flats!
Offshore: Good stuff reported this week with fair weather letting crews run the deeper marks. Scads of red grouper, but the closure rained on the parade. Other grouper took up the slack with gags at the head of the list. Plenty of snapper again from 5–20 plus miles out; bring Spanish sardines and chum. Kings made an appearance with scads of Spanish, some bonito and cobia on the marks at 9-plus miles out. Ground fish filled out the catches with smalls filling the coolers at 3-plus miles out. Cobia are a favored target on the close bumps if you're lucky; pinfish are the bait of choice for ling. Tripletail are scattered on the pot lines with bigger trips out about 4-plus miles out and on points south. We'll give it a try this week. Weather could get a tad rough this weekend with rain in the forecast and winds at about 12-plus knots outa the east by mid-morning. Keep the faith, no secrets here, watch the weather, run and gun!
Among my entire favorite angling activities, sightfishing for tripletail has to be right up there with the most exciting and simplest. Tripletail fishing doesn’t require any fancy gear, high tone plugs, flies or livebait. Expect to burn some fuel cruising the potlines; it can be well worth it.
It’s the right time of year! There’s a mess a whitebaits in Estero Bay for a change, good stuff. Redfish bite is hot and getting hotter as the spot tails keep getting bigger and bigger. Stinky shrimp under a cork were a sure thing in Estero Bay with chunked shiners, pins, and ladyfish right in there as convenience baits. Live pins probably took the bigger fish; bigger bait bigger fish, longer wait? Most crews limited out every day, plenty of action. Snook are mixed in with the reds on the mangrove edges and in the feeder creeks, bully snook were reported in the passes from New Pass, Big Carlos in Estero to Boca; gear up for the battle and don’t be surprised if you hookup an oversized sow redfish, many reported at 35-plus inches, good stuff for that photo on the form!