Friday, May 25, 2018
Outdoors

Captain's Corner: Mangrove snapper is hot

What's hot: Mangrove snapper continues to be among the best bets, and that's inside and outside Tampa Bay and a bit offshore. Recently we found them ganged up on several of the rockier areas along the edge of the ships channel inside the Sunshine Skyway bridge. Whitebait offered on 20-pound tackle, 2-ounce egg sinker, 1/0 hook and 11/2 feet of 20-pound fluorocarbon leader worked best. On some trips we've raised mangos to the top in our chum line while bottom fishing in 45 feet. Two dozen of the largest we've caught were tricked into chewing fly-lined baits, whole and chunks drifted naturally with the tide in our chum.

Tips: Though a quality chum block (and they aren't all created equal) works great, enhancing our chum line with cut slivers of fresh bait often will raise the mangos quicker. Once they are on top and there are no structures for lines to get cut off on, mangos respond better to a lighter line and smaller hooks. Test of 12-16 pounds and a No. 4 hook work well when chunking.

Awesome encounter: While gathering bait at first light on the morning of the new moon, we came upon what appeared to be an acre of full-grown tarpon at the gulf pier on Fort De Soto. They were there for breakfast. As we idled through the middle of them, many slowly rolled beside our boat. Others came halfway out of the water, surrounding us as they exploded on balled-up whitebait and glass minnows, and spraying whitewater everywhere.

Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.

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Captainís Corner: Swimmer crabs attract big permit

Captainís Corner: Swimmer crabs attract big permit

The outgoing tides of last weekendís new moon washed thousands of small swimmer crabs, known locally as "pass crabs," out of the estuaries and into the gulf. This suddenly abundant food source offshore works as a natural chum line and draws big permi...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18

Captainís Corner: With full moon, tarpon are on the move

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Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18

Captainís Corner: Cloudier water improves the bite

Windy conditions this week have actually slightly improved fishing. The waters of Saint Joseph sound had become so clear that it made finding fish easy, but getting bites very difficult. Snook have been gathering in great numbers all along the beache...
Published: 05/19/18
Updated: 05/21/18

Captainís Corner: Red grouper fishing continues to be good

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Published: 05/19/18
Updated: 05/20/18

Captainís Corner: Catching a giant cobia

Cobia is the topic this week. Capt. Tom Markham, aboard the Simply Hooked, was beginning his daily bait routine. It turned out that one of the markers located near Clearwater Pass, surprisingly, had a giant fish waiting for him. The captain slid up t...
Published: 05/16/18

Captainís Corner: Tarpon showing up on beaches, bridges

This week shouldnít be a total wash out. While there is a chance of rain every day, it should only be sporadic. Hopefully it wonít dirty up the water too much. If you are a tarpon fisherman and look forward to their arrival like I do, then you are in...
Published: 05/14/18
Updated: 05/15/18

Captainís Corner: This is best time of year for bay area fishing

Itís the best time of year for fishing in the area. Tarpon can be targeted off of any of the bridges. The Gandy, Howard Frankland and Skyway are my top choices. While awaiting a tarpon strike, I kill time by dropping smaller baits for Spanish mackere...
Published: 05/13/18

Captainís Corner: Change tactics for fly fishing success

Most fly fishers would prefer minimum wind and cloudless skies to increase chances for a banner day. This has been a problem lately. The wind makes casting more difficult, unless very experienced, and clouds interfere with sight casting opportunities...
Published: 05/11/18
Updated: 05/14/18

Captainís Corner: Tips on handling burgeoning baitfish

Schools of baitfish have arrived and taken up residence in all depths. Birds are diving on them close to the beach, all the way out to the midwater artificial reefs. Farther offshore, bait schools might not be visible on the surface but can be detect...
Published: 05/11/18
Updated: 05/12/18

Captainís Corner: Buckle up, the tarpon are here

Tarpon season is here, and the fish are showing up in numbers along the beaches. While there have been tarpon in the bays and backwaters for awhile, there were very few schools cruising the coast until a few days ago. Then, seemingly overnight, big p...
Published: 05/11/18