Thursday, March 22, 2018

Captain’s Corner: Cold fronts will bring king mackerel

King mackerel will take center stage this month as the cold fronts from the north make their way into the Gulf waters. These fronts will cool water temperatures to accommodate the large schools of mackerel and kings that will follow their route to the Keys for the winter. The "front runners" of the migration are headed our way. This wave of fish will have many of the larger females that will feed heavily on their way south. Look in areas such as the Shipping Channel, the beach and areas like Sand Key Hardbottom for these larger fish to be feeding on ladyfish, Spanish mackerel, and mullet. Red grouper fishing continues to be best in depths over 100 feet. Look for these fish to be making their way east after a few cold fronts move through. Live bait is still key but as waters cool these fish will switch to other offerings that donít require much energy to capture. Gag grouper will remain a bit finicky until water temps cool into the mid to low 70s. You can find one here and there if you target the ledges and rock piles in the 60- 120-foot depths with large live baits. If you get the weather window you will also find these fish feeding in depths of 240 feet or more. Snapper fishing has been outstanding in most depths but the larger structures in 90-120 feet are holding great numbers of snapper in the 3- to 5-pound range. Recently while offshore on a ledge in 95 feet, a variety of baits on 30 pounds brought no results. After a quick re-rig we lightened the rigs to 20 pounds and started catching mangrove and yellowtail snapper.

Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and


Captainís Corner: Snook bite is best now in afternoon

So what happened to our spring weather in February? The weather has the fish moving back and forth between their winter and summer spots, and with April just a few weeks away, the air temperature is warming up and should be in the upper 70s and low 8...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Captainís Corner: Windy conditions limit fishing options

The weather and water temperature roller coaster continues. Finding consistent action has been difficult with windy conditions keeping us from fishing many open parts of the bay or out into the gulf. Hiding in secluded backwater areas or on leeward s...
Published: 03/20/18
Updated: 03/21/18

Captainís Corner: Grouper moving in as water temperatures rise

Red grouper have made their move inshore this past week as waters closer to shore have warmed up a bit. Concentrate your efforts on hard bottom areas in depths of 100-120 feet for the rest of the month, and remember that all shallow water grouper are...
Published: 03/18/18
Updated: 03/20/18

Captainís Corner: Cold causes spiny lobsters to go into hiding

The cold front that ended Wednesday drove the offshore bottom temperatures back down into the low 60s. On dives Friday, my dive computer read 62 degrees at the bottom in 54 feet of water. On the next dive it read 60 in 62 feet. We were looking for ho...
Published: 03/18/18

Captainís Corner: Snook are the hot bite

Surface water temperatures have dipped into the low 60s, but the fish donít seem to mind. The longer days get the temperature up and helps keep it from getting into the danger zone at night. Snook have been the hot bite this past week and, believe it...
Published: 03/16/18
Updated: 03/17/18

It has been a crazy month regarding all the drastic weather changes. We experienced a record-breaking warming trend in February, followed by an endless amount of cold weather this month. The arrival times for many spring migrations of fish has been i...
Published: 03/16/18

Captainís Corner: Big trout moving out of the shallows

February seemed like March with record-breaking heat, but now March seems like February with below-average temperatures. This is a good thing. Spring fishing has started way too early in the past few years. The cold-water temperature we have now will...
Published: 03/14/18
Updated: 03/15/18

Captainís Corner: Temperature changes affect fly fishing

Having a fantastic river trip one day where we caught a lot of snook in shallow water on a fly and going back to the same location three days later and not finding any cooperative fish can be very puzzling. What happened? Recent warm weather was repl...
Published: 03/11/18
Updated: 03/14/18

Captainís Corner: Warming trend increasing activity over grass flats

Water temperatures have finally started to climb into the low 70s on the flats. The temperatures have been fluctuating with the past few cold fronts moving through. Large schools of reds should start showing up on the flats in the Pinellas Point area...
Published: 03/11/18
Updated: 03/13/18
Captainís Corner: Favorable water temperatures approaching

Captainís Corner: Favorable water temperatures approaching

We traditionally look at two holidays to signal the start of trolling season for kingfish and Spanish mackerel along with their attendant migratory companions, blackfin tuna, cobia and barracuda. These are St. Patrickís Day (March 17) and Columbus Da...
Published: 03/11/18
Updated: 03/12/18