Sunday, February 25, 2018
Outdoors

Captain's Corner: The right bait for going after mangrove snapper

August has long been a favorite time to fish for mangrove snapper inside Tampa Bay. This year's no exception. Bait's the key. Shrimp, greenbacks and even cut bait can work, but nothing's better than a frisky whitebait. Spending extra time or traveling further to get them is time well spent. Though they're growing, much of the bait "raining" on the surface of many flats is smaller than the preferred 3-inchers. We've anchored on the deeper edge of the flat and chummed the larger ones to within cast net range. There's likely store-bought chum that works, but I like my concoction: bread crumbs mixed with a can of sardines in soybean oil and a can of cat food with a splash of menhaden oil. I used Kozy Kitten cat food for years but can't find it. 9 Lives works great but choose the one with fish in it. It might take 15 minutes of continuous sprinkling of chum to get them balled up, but then it can be one throw and go. With warm water temperatures, we've focused on deeper water along the edges of the ships channel. Mangos have ganged up along the rockiest edges and ledges of the channel, from Egmont Key to several miles inside the Skyway. We've done exceptionally well in the B & C Cuts of the channel. Others have reported equally good catches in other bends in the "ditch" up to G-Cut.

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

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Captainís Corner: Spring-like conditions lead to improved bite

Spring-like conditions have fired up a bite that a couple of weeks ago was practically nonexistent. Water temperatures in the mid 70s have mangrove snapper, grouper, triggerfish and hogfish aggressively chewing again in the 40- to 50-foot range.With ...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Captainís Corner: Cobia moving into bay ahead of schedule

Rapidly increasing water temperatures have migratory fish moving toward the bay area. Typically, schools of coastal pelagic fish such as cobia and mackerel do not return until late March. This year, they are way ahead of schedule. Cobia are one of th...
Published: 02/23/18

Captainís Corner: Rising temperatures fire up the bite

With no cold fronts rolling into the bay area soon, it also means water temperatures are on the rise to the mid 70s. That has the bite fired up inshore and nearshore. Snook fishing is on fire with these warmer temperatures at night. Weíve been findin...
Published: 02/22/18

Captainís Corner: Warming waters, better visibility are good signs

Scuba and freediving spearfishermen and women have enjoyed great underwater visibility over the past week. Some boaters going offshore can make out the bottom structure from the gunnel of the boat. Best depths for visibility have been in 30 to 40 fee...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/19/18

Captainís Corner: Flats coming to life in north Pinellas County

The flats are really coming to life in north Pinellas County. Our main focus this time of year is spotted sea trout, though redfish are cooperating and schooling a bit. Snook are also responding to the warm weather, occasionally eating on the falling...
Published: 02/18/18

Captainís Corner: Bait a challenge, but effort will pay off

Bait has made its way into the bay and is on nearly every marker. The problem: Bait is moving and showing up at different times daily. The time spent to get bait will pay off. Fish have been blasting pilchards. Snook and large trout have been communi...
Published: 02/16/18
Updated: 02/17/18

Captainís Corner: Springtime fishing patterns moving in

The first half of February has been hit or miss for inshore fishing. The consistent cold fronts and warmups seem to have the fish confused. The week ahead should be pretty good. The best bite has been midmorning into the afternoon. With temperatures ...
Published: 02/14/18
Updated: 02/15/18

Captainís Corner: Get an early start when chasing redfish

Redfish schools have started to invade the flats around Pinellas Point. On low tide in the morning, I look for a school on an outer sandbar. These fish are staged on the edge waiting for the tide to come in. Once the water level rises, the fish will ...
Published: 02/13/18

Captainís Corner: Baitfish in the shallows improves fly fishing

Seeing large groups of pelicans diving and catching baitfish in warmer, shallow water is a sure sign spring conditions are approaching. The appearance of quality baitfish will spark a feeding frenzy that should steadily improve flats fishing for fly ...
Published: 02/14/18
Updated: 02/16/18

Captainís Corner: Action picking up as temperature rises

The wind finally stopped blowing so hard that we couldnít go offshore. Water temperatures were still in the low 50s offshore at the beginning of the week, and this affected fish behavior. Because the water was calm, we ventured out to the 80- to 90-f...
Published: 02/11/18
Updated: 02/12/18