Saturday, March 24, 2018

Captain's Corner: Red snapper hot offshore

Red snapper continue to be our main focus offshore. We have been finding very hungry fish in just about all depths, from 110 to 240 feet. Look for best results fishing over small structure such as roll-offs and breaks in these depths. Sardines have been the bait of choice — they are soft and the snapper tend to bite right through them, increasing hookup ratios dramatically. As more bites happen, the column under the boat fills with small bits of sardines that bring more fish into your drop zone. Since these fish do not tend to "run for the rock," they can be caught on a wide variety of gear. Conventional reels with 50- to 80-pound line are the norm, but larger spinning gear can be a blast. Our typical terminal rig consists of 5- to 6-ounce slip leads, and 5- to 7-foot leaders connected to a 7/0-9/0 circle hook. Red grouper have finally made their way into the 100- to 140-foot depths and are more than willing to take just about any offering put in front of them. Look for the best numbers to be found under large schools of vermillion snapper. Anchoring right on the edge of the hardest bottom will yield best results. Larger live baits such as pinfish and grass grunts will usually outproduce frozen baits in these areas due to the fact that the vermillion will tear apart a sardine before it even hits the bottom. Look for these fish to keep pushing east.

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


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

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