Sunday, December 17, 2017
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.

Comments

Captainís Corner: Bottom fishing is good with dropping gulf water temperatures

The past few weeks have delivered lots of cold air, dropping water temperatures in the gulf. Thermometers are reading in the low 60s. This is going to change a few things closer to shore. Anglers will find an absence of kingfish on many of the spots ...
Published: 12/16/17

Captainís Corner: Look for that strong speckled trout bite on grass flats

The speckled trout bite has taken off nicely after the first good cold front last weekend. You will find a consistent bite along the grass flats from Apollo Beach down to Pinellas Point. The sweet spot seems to be 4-6 feet of water. If you can find s...
Published: 12/15/17

Captainís Corner: Drop in gulf water temperature means itís sea trout time

The gulf temperature has dropped significantly since our first real cold front last week. One day the water was in the mid 70s, then after the front, it fell to the low 60s. That caused speckled sea trout to become a reliable target. Redfish have bee...
Published: 12/14/17

Captainís Corner: Good time for shallow-water flats fishing

Shallow-water flats fishing can be very exciting this time of year. Trout and redfish are available in good numbers, and the opportunities to catch some gator trout have made recent trips very rewarding. Some of the largest trout have been in very sk...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/13/17

Captainís Corner: Seek clear water for bottom fishing as temperatures plummet

The great weather, calm seas and exceptional fishing we experienced at the end of November and beginning of December came to a screeching halt with the cold front that came through. Surface water temperatures plummeted from an unseasonable 71 degrees...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17

Captainís Corner: Sheepshead action lively in cooler weather

Conditions after the cold front are cool and are going to be for a while. That doesnít mean you canít or shouldnít fish. Many anglers get stuck on snook, reds and trout and forget how fun it is to catch sheepshead. Many reefs are already holding good...
Published: 12/09/17
Updated: 12/10/17

Captainís Corner: Fishing will return to normal, but when?

The severity of this cold front will determine the fishing forecast for the next several days. Bait that had been abundant inshore will scatter. Nearshore gulf waters will muddy, and water temperatures. at least temporarily. will plummet. How cold, h...
Published: 12/08/17
Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

I canít believe we are in the last month of the year. And while this is one of my favorite months to fish, it will be controlled by weather. As cold fronts become more frequent and harsh, planning your trips around them will make the biggest differen...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/09/17

Captainís Corner: Strong results for redfish, speckled trout

This is a great time for variety. Combined trips for speckled trout and redfish are achieving excellent results. With the correct approach, great catches of both species are a reality now. The best anglers use the lightest tackle. Light rods and reel...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Captainís Corner: Take advantage of abundant gag grouper before season ends

Gag grouper fishing and spearing is hot. The season for these grouper in the Gulf of Mexico is winding down, with a slated closure at the end of this month. The cooler water has the gags moving closer, and they are happy when the bottom temperatures ...
Published: 12/05/17