Thursday, March 22, 2018

Captain's Corner: Targeting nearshore kings, Spanish mackerel

Mild temperatures and light winds have allowed anglers to target nearshore kingfish and Spanish mackerel this week. Large kings up to 40 pounds have been caught within 2 miles offshore, feeding on small Spanish mackerel and threadfin herring. Some of the larger charter vessels elect to pull hardware around the schools of bait showering on the surface, while other boaters will anchor and attract the fish by chumming with a store-bought chum bag or small cut pieces of sardines and herring. Kings and Spanish mackerel have very sharp teeth, so long shank hooks are a must when tying straight to leader. If breakoffs are too frequent or kingfish are present, try 4-8 inches of 30- to 40-pound wire and a single 2/0 hook with a small swivel. Many times attaching an extra piece of wire to a treble hook, also called a stinger, increases the odds of a positive hook set on a large kingfish. Be prepared for a blistering run, sometimes more than 100 yards, before slowing them down. Initially, drags should be set lighter to allow the rod and leader material to absorb the shock, slowly increasing the drag as the fight continues. A cool front dipping in the next few days will bring higher winds that often move the fish out deeper. We should still see a push from the north for a couple of more weeks as fish continue to migrate southward. Gag grouper season closed today, so both red and gag grouper are now off limits. Red grouper is set to reopen Jan. 1.

Brian Caudill fishes from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. He can be reached at (727) 365-7560 and


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

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