Friday, March 23, 2018

East bay fishing report: Fishing the docks

Wintertime Docking. Fishing the docks is a great way to put some fish in the boat this time of year. Mangrove snapper, sheepshead, snook, redfish, trout and flounder are just a few of the species you can expect to catch. Another great reason to fish docks is that you can usually find docks out of the wind when it's really blowing and you don't have to run across the bay to fish. Docks are great places to fish for one reason — variety.

Bait. When fishing the docks, I like to present baits in a few different ways until I find out what works best for that specific day. Free-lined baits and baits under a cork can work very well, but my two favorite rigs for dock fishing are a shrimp on a jighead or a live bait rig with a split shot about a foot up the line. Remember that the water is very clear this time of year so scale down your tackle. I use hooks even as small as size 1 and fluorocarbon leader in the 10-20 lb. class. Long accurate casts can be the difference between picking at them all day and slayin' 'em.

Where. Our region has several great concentrations of docks to fish. First, we have the two rivers, the Alafia and the Little Manatee. Both offer plenty of great docks to fish. The Apollo Beach area is also littered with great docks, many in deep water, that are great producers of quality fish this time of year.

Not all docks are created equal, though. There is no doubt that if you just fish dock after dock till your time is up, you will catch fish, but fishing only select docks can be more productive. I like to fish docks that have at least two secondary fish-attracting attributes to them. Those benefits can include lots of oysters or barnacle growth, structure under docks, docks on points, docks on channel edges, docks with grass flats nearby, docks with dock lights, and the list goes on. If you have time constraints, only fish docks that will help you be more productive.


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
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