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.