Thursday, March 22, 2018

Captain's Corner: Dirty water leads to offshore adventures

Once the high winds died down and we were able to venture into the gulf, we encountered dirty water caused by the wave action and had to run at least 15 miles offshore to find fishable water. We were greeted by schools of kingfish, Spanish mackerel and bonita, along with their predators, sharks and barracudas. Trolling Nos. 1 and 2 planers with different-size spoons allowed us to find concentrations of fish that tend to stay on higher-profile structures such as artificial reefs, wrecks and the go-to spot, the west end of the shipping channel. At times, aggressive sharks would shred hard-fighting bonita as they were reeled in. Having ready a 4/0 reel and a 50-pound class rod with a large circle hook and a length of steel leader, and immediately deploying what is left of the bonita will often result in an immediate hookup for the shark that is looking for the rest of his meal that was taken from him. It is best to have the drag backed off in anticipation of a long run by the shark when he is first hooked, and it doesn't hurt to have a rod belt handy for the angler who will be in for a long battle. Schools of bonita have shown up from just outside the passes going into the gulf up to 20 miles offshore. Though bonita are not considered to be the best table fare, they provide great catch-and-release action. They are often finicky feeders and will ignore the usual trolling spread. When that occurs, they are usually feeding on Sargassum fish or glass minnows, both of which are very small. Switch to a 00 spoon, or even better, a small saltwater streamer fly.

Dave Zalewski charters the Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.


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: 2 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