Sunday, March 18, 2018

Captain's Corner: Wind patterns favor fishing close to shore

Hard northeast winds have been keeping long offshore runs to a minimum for a while. But this same wind pattern has made fishing close to shore much better. Baitfish tend to swim into moving water, no matter if the water is moving because of current or the wind. This pattern has threadfin herring, small blue runners and cigar minnows covering just about every strip of hard bottom from the beach out to about 20 feet. For kingfish, finding the bait is key. Just because you have caught kingfish in a certain spot in the past does not mean they will be there now. Bait concentrations are on the move every day, and if you find them on even sand bottom, there are sure to be some big kings nearby. This past week we were lucky enough to find a huge school of bait on sand bottom just south of markers 9 and 10 in the shipping channel. Feeding on these baits we encountered cobia, both king and Spanish mackerel, sharks and bonito. Every bait that went out was smashed the second it hit the water. The migration of gag grouper is a bit behind this year because of warmer than normal water temperatures. These fish are heading down our way, but they will need at least two good cold fronts to push them into our area. Look for them to start showing up in good numbers in the 50- to 60-foot depths west of Clearwater first. Live baits such as pinfish, grunts and squirrelfish will lead to banner catches until we start seeing water temperatures dipping into the 60s.

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: 12 hours 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