Nearshore Action as Good as it Gets!


Clearwater Kingfish!

Clearwater Kingfish!

 I hope everyone is having a great Thanksgiving holiday! Here is my latest report before I go into a food coma! It’s been a great fall, and I hope to see you all very soon,  especially in the new year.

Nearshore fishing has been the focus for me on recent trips. The spanish mackerel and kingfish are feeding everyday on the hoards of bait schools just 2 – 5 miles off of the beaches in north Pinellas county. Birds are often an easy target to follow when looking for mackerel as they dip and dive into baits the fish have pushed to the surface. Drifting through an area the birds are working and casting a spoon or live sardine is sure to get a hook up. A light piece of wire only 4 – 6 inches long will prevent break offs from their sharp teeth. Schools of larger threadfin herring are carpeting the bottom in 20 – 25 feet of water. Use a sabiki rig to get a few for the baitwell. Once you’ve compiled 15 or 20 threadfins, slow troll a couple on larger gear for kings. Catches anywhere between 15 – 40 lbs are common lately. Most strikes occur when the baits are trolled directly through the bait schools observed on the bottom machine. Kingfish patrol the perimeter of these schools and key in on a trolled bait, swimming in a straight line, presented as an easy meal. If the bite is strong, anchoring and chumming the fish in can be a much quicker pace for action. Cut pieces of bait drifted back will create a scent that the fish will smell, focusing them directly behind the boat.

Inshore action has been pretty steady as well. Trout are starting to move into St. Joseph Sound. Each day I am seeing more and more of the larger “gator” trout on the rocks in 2 – 4 feet of water. Jigs, live shrimp and especially sardines are getting a few bites. Occasionally the fish will lay very shallow in as little as 1 foot of water. Usually they will slide out a bit once the boat spooks them so I still focus casts on the drop-offs. Snook are also staging on the islands in the sound. These areas are stops on the way to the backcountry for winter. Somedays they like to eat and other days they just laugh at us. But they are all good sized fish, 30 plus inches. Redfishing has been spotty. Low tides have pushed them into the potholes along the flats. Working the edges of these holes has produced some fish. Small reds are also eating the shrimp along the rocky bottom along the islands form Clearwater and to the north.

Cool Weather Coming in!

A pattern of high winds out the northeast has kept most anglers inshore this week. That trend continues through the weekend, although decreasing a bit. Prior to the wind, mackerel fishing had exploded on the nearby reefs and hard bottoms just a couple of miles offshore. Reports of kingfish biting in close were common too. Scores of bait schools have been getting pounded by pelicans, making the bait easy to get a cast net on. Occasionally the bait has been scarce, requiring a lot of driving the shorelines, eventually finding it with a bottom machine or diving birds. Winds lay down in the early morning hours allowing a short window to approach the nearshore fishing. Chumming for few minutes will bring the fish to you. Longshank hooks are a must to prevent break offs. Be ready to head in as soon as the winds pick up. The snook are still inhabiting the inside cuts along the passes, yet several small snook are foraging along the eastern mainshore in north Pinellas county. They are chasing the smaller sardines and glass minnows that have made their way onto the protection of the shallower flats. Redfish are being caught around the rocky structures and also the cuts near the beaches as well. Cut baits laid on the bottom will attract these bottom feeders. Small baits pinned to the bottom around the rocks will also get mangrove snapper, sheepshead and trout in the area.

Cooling Waters Brings Action!!

   The water has cooled slightly due to rain and cloud cover in the North Pinellas area. Bait has been plentiful, filling the well with only a few casts of the net on our Clearwater Fishing Charters. The cooler water has stimulated the flats, giving anglers a variety of species to target. Trout have been extremely cooperative. Almost every grass flat has held a fair amount of trout, mostly in the smaller range. Moving around and fishing dropoffs and edges of flats near the passes produce the larger trout. Snook are still holding around the swash channels and around structure along the beaches. Sardines have been the bait of choice, producing not only snook but occasionally large trout and even a few redfish. Higher tides are also producing high numbers of redfish along the mangroves and oyster bars. Cut pinfish and even sardines under a cork near the overhangs are a great method. The nearshore reefs are starting to see Spanish mackerel and mangrove snapper. If inshore fishing is slow due to the lack of tidal flow, we often scoot just a couple of miles offshore and work the reefs. Sharks, Spanish mackerel, snapper and even cobia are possibilities. …