Trout are Getting the Hook!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you are having the best holiday season! Here is what’s going on out there! Stable conditions can sometimes make catching fish a little more challenging. High pressure and blue bird skies, like we’ve had lately, can cause fish to be shy and require a lot more patience. Also, typical cool nights have lowered the water temperature a few degrees, although it is climbing slightly.      Snook are still lingering around the islands in north Pinellas but are very apprehensive to eat. They are mostly staging, awaiting the right time to head deep into the back country for winter. As usual for this time of year, our main focus has been trout. Although the numbers aren’t quite what coming months will bring, they are beginning to show up. Light colored jigs worked near the bottom along the rocks and sand surrounding the spoil islands have been getting strikes. Live shrimp freelined during the falling tides have been best. Once a few fish are located, it doesn’t take long to get some bites from trout as well as the many small foraging fish. Pinfish, puffer fish and porgies can be a real nuisance for a live shrimp and artificials. Make long distance casts and reel in to cast again once the bait is halfway back. Trout tend to keep their distance, yet the small predators will continue to nip the bait all the way to the boat. If the trout are not getting a chance to eat because of the small competitors, move a few yards and try again. And remember, trout are finicky and don’t like a half-eaten shrimp.

Fishing All Through the Holidays!

Hi everyone, Capt. Brian again! Thanks everyone for reading my reports and booking trips with me! Please consider a Gift Certificate as a Christmas Gift this year! They make great stocking stuffers! We are expecting a dip in the jetstream this week. But we should rebound the following week to mild temps.

Nearshore fishing is still going strong in north Pinellas county. Bait schools are roaming together just a couple miles offshore attracting kingfish, spanish mackerel and bonito. The beaches are still holding sardines for cast netting at sunrise. I like to have a baitwell full of sardines for chumming if sitting on anchor. Otherwise, once offshore, look for the birds diving into threadfin schools. Use sabiki rigs to jig up a few of the larger threadfin herring. Use wire and a 2/0 or 3/0 hook and a treble hook tied on for a stinger. Sometimes slow trolling in the vicinity of the bait schools is the best way get a strike from a kingfish. 50 – 65 lb mainline and 30 – 50lb leader is a good combination for these smokers often weighing over 30lbs. If the kingfish bite is slow, anchor over hard bottom, again near the bait schools and chum cut peices of baits. This will get the spanish mackerel and bonito coming to the boat and even the kings can get in the chum line eventually. The popular artificial reefs are holding a few mangrove snappers and small groupers. Once over a rockpile, chumming cut pieces will often gather the snapper right behind the boat. However, they are very shy of hooks and line so downsize to a #2 hook and long shot of lighter leader, usually 20lb. Then slowly drift a cut piece of bait into the chummed pieces. Break-offs will occur but the bite will be better.

Redfish are hanging around on the flats. Small schools are staging in the potholes on the lower tides. As usual this time of year, the large trout are also moving into St. Joseph Sound. I am ready to get you out there and catch some fish all through the holiday season. Call or email me and let’s get your day booked! Brian

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.