Saturday, March 17, 2018

Captain's Corner: Red grouper fishing slows inside 100 feet of water

Red grouper fishing inside of 100 feet of water has been slow lately because they are spawning well offshore in depths of 170-240 feet. The first sign of spring should have these fish heading back to the east to the bait-rich shallows they are used to. With shallow-water grouper closed to harvest outside of 20 fathoms for the remainder of this month, the best bet is looking in areas just inside the "fence" or 120 feet of water for your grouper fix. Water temperatures in those depths are in the mid to upper 60s, so live baits will continue to outproduce frozen baits. This year we have been blessed with the best mangrove snapper bite I have seen. Just about every ledge and rock pile in depths of 60-100 feet is stuffed with these keen-eyed snapper. Anchoring uptide of the structure, deploying a bit of chum and dropping down in leader and hook size will get the job done. Frozen sardines cut into smaller chunks that are just big enough to hide a hook in work best. If the tide is running hard, try a small quarter- to half-ounce jig head to help get the bait down to the fish. On recent trips offshore we have found 25- to 50-pound amberjack on just about every wreck and spring in depths of 130-200 feet. We have had luck on both artificial and live baits. Spring is right around the corner and that means pelagic species such as blackfin tuna, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel and other species such as wahoo and sailfish will be arriving. Areas such as the shipping channel and the deeper wrecks will hold bait first and thus will hold these predators first.

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


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...
Updated: 1 hour ago

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

Captainís Corner: Spring fishing is getting close

When the weather settles down in the bay area, spring fishing should shift quickly into high gear. Just before the recent heavy winds arrived and churned the nearshore gulf into a muddy mess, seasonal migratory fish were showing up all over town. For...
Published: 03/10/18
Updated: 03/11/18

Captainís Corner: Trout return to their early spring areas

Cool air has filtered down, giving us hopefully the last cold blow for awhile. Recent fronts have shaken things up. But fishing has been good considering the weather. Trout have pushed into their early spring areas, basically where they were five wee...
Published: 03/10/18
Captainís Corner: Snook, trout out in abundance as spring approaches

Captainís Corner: Snook, trout out in abundance as spring approaches

March is here, and the weather is great. This month is when we make that change toward spring fishing. Snook really ramps up, and trophy trout mixed with good redfish are not far behind. Snook has to be the most targeted fish for March. Just about ev...
Published: 03/09/18

Captainís Corner: Cold fronts might be a blessing for fishing

So much for getting too hot too fast. It was a concern a couple of weeks ago when water temperatures were flirting with 80 degrees in some areas. We worried that the masses of kingfish might blow right by us as they sought that 70-75 temperatures the...
Published: 03/07/18
Updated: 03/08/18