Saturday, March 24, 2018

Captain's Corner: Tips to target tarpon

Tarpon continue to migrate along the west coast beaches. Large schools of fish will travel only a few hundred yards from the beach. I anchor up right outside the swim buoys and patiently wait for large, dark shadows or rolling fish. When I spot the target, I position the boat using my trolling motor to get within casting range and pitch baits in the path of fish. I also use the trolling motor to keep the boat from drifting into the school. The key is to approach schools of tarpon with care. Running motors scare fish and shut them down. Tarpon also will run to deeper water when spooked, making them difficult to sight-cast. I have a variety of bait; you never know what a tarpon will eat. These are my three favorites: scaled sardines, also known as "whitebait," are everyone's top choice; threadfin herring, which are called "greenbacks," are just as good as whitebaits but hard to keep alive; crabs are my third-favorite must-have bait. Tarpon are large, so it's important to use the right tackle to prevent prolonged fighting times. All my rods are rated "heavy" to handle 100-pound test line, rigged with an 80 series reel loaded with 80-pound braid and 80-pound pink fluorocarbon leader with a 6/0 live bait hook. Using the right gear will shorten the battle and save the tarpon's life.

Rob Gorta charters out of St. Petersburg. Call him at (727) 647-7606 or visit


Captainís Corner: Take advantage of this weekís favorable weather

Gusty winds and small craft advisories much of this past week hampered most of the offshore fishing. With lighter winds and warmer temperatures forecast, this might be the week to get out and take advantage. Water temperatures are cooler than we like...
Updated: 6 hours ago

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