Saturday, March 24, 2018

Captain’s Corner: Dense baitfish schools attracting predators to coasts

With strong easterly winds blowing for nearly a week, offshore conditions have been difficult. The upside is that east winds provide calm and clean water along the beaches, and the baitfish have moved in heavily. Dense schools of mixed species of baitfish are so thick in some coastal areas that they create large "muds" in the water where they stir up the bottom. Some of these bait schools are several acres in size and will black out your sonar screen as you pass through them. Anytime you get this many forage fish together in one area, the big fish will also stack up. The feeding activity around all this bait is amazing. There are mackerel, kingfish, jack crevalle, bonito, tarpon, bluefish, sharks, giant redfish and many others swirling through the rich waters gobbling up everything they can. There are several fishing approaches that will work around the bait biomass. Some anglers are trolling spoons around the perimeter. Others are slow trolling large live baits on the surface for the bigger kings. Another method is to anchor and cast live bait or small spoons or jigs into the melee. There are so many mackerel in the schools that it is difficult to use a sabiki bait rig to catch the baitfish. More often than not, the mackerel see the small, shiny hooks and bite the entire rig off. To secure live bait, you are better off leaving the action zone, casting a net along the beach then returning to where the fish are feeding. Bring plenty of tackle; with so many sharp teeth, losing hooks and rigs to cutoffs is a regular occurrence.

Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at [email protected]


Captainís Corner: Take advantage of this weekís favorable weather

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Updated: 2 hours ago

Captainís Corner: Erratic weather making offshore fishing unpredictable

Continued heavy winds have kept offshore fisheries from settling in to predictable patterns. When things have calmed, nearshore baitfish have bunched up and kingfish and Spanish mackerel settled in around them. Unfortunately, each cold front has chur...
Published: 03/23/18

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...
Published: 03/21/18
Updated: 03/22/18

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