Vol 6 No. 41 - July 5, 2006


Spanish mackeral abundant!
Captain Tom Chaya
All charters had loads of fun catching sharks in the 20- to 30-pound class. They were feeding on large threadfin in about 40 feet of water. We were actually fishing for Spanish mackerel when the sharks showed up and all were carefully released.

A few permit are showing around the wrecks. Rod Gillis from Tampa hooked four with the best being a whopping 28 pounds. Large Spanish mackerel were also being caught on just about any structure in the Gulf and the best baits for them were small sardines. The best action was early in the day. Good redfish action was better in the beginning of the week. Pieter Thomassen's group caught and released more than 15 each trip with most fish being over 30 inches. They also caught two very large snook at 40 and 42 inches on large scaled sardines. Tarpon are still moving up and down the beaches with best hookups at day break and early evenings on small crabs or big threadfins.

Captain Tom Chaya
All charters had loads of fun catching sharks in the 20- to 30-pound class. They were feeding on large threadfin in about 40 feet of water. We were actually fishing for Spanish mackerel when the sharks showed up and all were carefully released.

SUN PHOTO/RUSTY CHINNIS
Capt. Ray Markham with a gag grouper caught aboard the Flat Back II in Lower Tampa Bay on a DOA Trolling model Baitbuster.
A few permit are showing around the wrecks. Rod Gillis from Tampa hooked four with the best being a whopping 28 pounds. Large Spanish mackerel were also being caught on just about any structure in the Gulf and the best baits for them were small sardines. The best action was early in the day. Good redfish action was better in the beginning of the week. Pieter Thomassen's group caught and released more than 15 each trip with most fish being over 30 inches. They also caught two very large snook at 40 and 42 inches on large scaled sardines. Tarpon are still moving up and down the beaches with best hookups at day break and early evenings on small crabs or big threadfins.

Captain "Zach" Zacharias
Here it is the Fourth of July and there is still a ton of beautiful big bait in the area. Spanish mackerel are also thick in the Gulf and Tampa Bay when they are usually long gone for the summer. Another species that should be way long gone is king mackerel and we have been catching numerous juvenile kings mixed in with the Spanish. Many folks may not notice the difference but if you examine the mackerel carefully you will see that a lot of them are kingfish.

On the inside of Anna Maria and Longboat it has been primarily redfish, and they are running up to 30 inches and have been feeding the best at the top of big tides and the first of the fall up tight to the bushes. Not many trout have been taken, but most have been encountered north and east of the Anna Maria Bridge.

Fred Timbrook, from Parrish, and his grandkids, from W. Va., had a banner day boating easily 40 Spanish and king mackerel on a half day last Thursday. On Saturday, Craig Rupp from Kansas City and his crew duplicated that catch with about 50 mixed Spanish, kingfish, and bluefish.

Moving into summer, there should be increased action with redfish and mangrove snapper schooling up thick over inshore structure. Tarpon will begin to break up into smaller pods and take up residence in deeper bay holes through July and August. Some truly large tarpon can be taken in Sarasota, Palma Sola, and Terra Ceia bays over the next couple of months.

Captain Rick Grassett
Anglers fishing with me on the Snook Fin-Addict, out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, continued to have good action with tarpon during the past couple of weeks. The best action has been early in the day, although fly anglers have had some great shots at tarpon in shallow water later in the morning when visibility gets better.

Fly angler, Cliff Ondercin, from Sarasota, fished with me on Monday, June 19 and landed a 70-pounder on a black and purple Enrico Puglisi mullet fly. Tarpon schools were moving fast, but high in the water column, along Siesta Key that morning. It wasn’t the best fly fishing situation, but they would bite if you got a fly in front of them.

Fly angler, Bill King from Osprey and his family group of three other anglers fished with Captain Kelly Stilwell and me on Wednesday. Dave and Ken Sutton, from Michigan, landed tarpon of 70 and 90 pounds with live crabs while fishing with me along Casey Key. Captain Kelly’s anglers also connected a couple of time with live crabs.

John and Deb LaManna, from Lakewood Ranch, fished with me on Friday of that week. Tarpon were behaving the same way all week long, moving fast both north and south. John had a fly in front of several tarpon, but they didn’t bite. However, a couple of them ate a live crab. John and Deb double teamed a feisty 100-pounder and had her close to the boat after about 45-minutes when she wore through the leader. Close enough!

My brother, Kirk Grassett from Bear, Del., fished with me on Saturday. We had lots of shots with flies. He got a bite on an Enrico Puglisi black mullet, but the fish was coming at us so fast it was hard to get the hook stuck. Kirk fished with my friend Rusty Chinnis on Friday, had a couple of bites on flies and unintentionally broke a fish off on the hook set. A couple of other fly trips had lots of shots and a couple of bites, but no hook ups.

I spent a couple of days over in Stuart at the annual DOA Guide/Outdoor Writer Get Together on Monday and Tuesday. We caught snook, trout and flounder on a variety of DOA Lures in the Indian River near Fort Pierce and in the St. Lucie inlet. There were numerous snook in the 15- to 20-pound class caught and released as well as a few over 20 pounds. Anglers also scored with trout to more than 8 pounds, tarpon and tripletail.

Jay Alvis, from Indiana, and his nephew, Kyle Hehe from Sarasota, tarpon fished with me along Casey Key on Wednesday. We had a push of fish early, had three bites and missed them all and then it got quiet. Fortunately, we had another flurry of activity about 11 a.m. First Jay hooked up and landed a feisty 70-pounder that jumped numerous times all around the boat and was landed quickly.

Kyle hooked up next with one of the most noteworthy tarpon ever caught and released on my boat. The 100-pound tarpon ate a live crab about a mile north of the Venice Inlet and then proceeded to clear the beach of swimmers all the way to the Venice Jetty, as it swam south only a few feet from the beach. When it reached the jetty, with a strong incoming tide, the fish headed east through the jetty toward the ICW with a cheering crowd of people following along the shore. The fish then headed north in the ICW, as we continued to tighten the drag down. The fish was finally landed north of the Albee Road bridge about 3 miles from where it had been hooked, to cheers from a crowd of boats and people along the shoreline. When I landed the fish, I discovered that about 1/3 of the hook had broken off just above the bend, but there was still enough left to hold the fish. When I pulled against the drag with a scale later, I discovered that we had 14-pounds of drag on the fish and she was still pulling line off the reel. What a ride!

Fly angler, Bob Harness from St. Louis fished with me on Thursday and Friday. Bob’s guest on Thursday was Nick Reding, from New York City. Nick jumped a pair of tarpon on black bunny flies, getting several nice jumps and runs from each fish before they came unbuttoned. We had numerous shots later that day, but no bites. The action was slower on Friday, with a few good shots but no bites.

Tarpon fishing should remain strong until at least the full moon in July on the 11th. Hopefully, we’ll get some more action beyond that also, as fish school ahead of the new moon toward the end of July. Fishing upper Charlotte Harbor for tarpon of all sizes should also be an option.

Captain Ray Markham
The Flat Back II has been running in some different directions lately, but all in the direction of fish. We’ve been catching snook, trout, redfish, tarpon, flounder, jacks, and ladyfish on this coast, and across the state in Stuart, more very large snook, trout, redfish, snapper, tarpon, and big jacks were landed.

Jim Goff, of Terra Ceia had his brother-in-law and nephew in town for a brief visit. On a half-day trip they found lots of fish that were very shy and not looking to feed, but still we managed to entice a number of trout, ladyfish, and snook while fishing just north of the Skyway Bridge in Joe Bay.

My friend and outdoor writer/ photographer, Rusty Chinnis of Longboat Key, joined me to look for some tarpon in lower Tampa Bay. It was a bit breezy and fish were not cooperative. Rusty threw several fly patterns on a 12 wt. rod with no bites. I tried tossing a DOA Trolling model Baitbuster on 15-pound spinning gear and had an instant hook-up. I seemed to have hooked the bottom, but instead, when getting over the spot where I thought I was hung up, the bait moved. Moments later I was pulling up a near keeper gag grouper in about 10-12 feet of water. It was a fun morning, but without a tarpon.

Norman Wells of Exuma in the Bahamas fly-fished with me for two days during some slow tide periods. Norman was looking to land his first Tampa Bay tarpon. While having good experience with tarpon in the Bahamas, he said that our fish were much larger. Where he comes from, a 40-pounder would be a medium to large tarpon. We set out looking over hard bottom areas for some happy fish. It turned into a long day, as most fish didn’t show well with the windy weather we had. He had several shots at rolling fish, but no hook-ups. I took the opportunity to cast to a wayward fish with 20-pound spinning gear and a DOA Baitbuster and the poon scarfed up my bait and was off like a shot out of a cannon. After nearly 15 jumps and 15 minutes, the fish was spent and along side the boat ready for pictures and the release. We estimated the fish’s weight at about 100 pounds. After several hours of looking for fish again, we decided that they were done and went inside Terra Ceia Bay for some snook, trout, and redfish action, and we did find it. I managed to pick up all three species, for not only the West Coast Slam, but also an IGFA West Coast Grand Slam with tarpon, snook, and redfish in a single day.

Day two was different. We arrived on some hard bottom about 6:45 a.m., and were greeted with dozens of rolling fish that seemed to be chewing on threadfin herring and scaled sardines. Norm changed flies repeatedly, only to be refused. We must have seen 300 tarpon over the course of the day, but none took his fly. He did, however, pick up small grouper and black seabass in the same area. Back inside Terra Ceia Bay, we fly fished for snook, trout, and ladyfish. While we weren’t fishing for them, we even managed to pick up a few quality lizardfish. So, there ya go. Ya never know what you’re going to catch.

Friday, the 30th I left for Stuart to spend some time with my friend, Mark Nichols, owner of DOA Lures. We worked a couple of days on a prototype lure for a special outing for his guides and a group of outdoor writer’s coming in early the following week.

Sunday, I had Jerry McBride, assistant editor for Shallow Water Angler and Florida Sportsman Magazines onboard with his two kids. We had a ball catching snook, trout, and redfish on DOA Shrimp and CAL Jigs. Eventually we were chased off the water by a rainstorm.

Monday, the outdoor writers arrived and we were assigned guests aboard each boat. I had Robin Smilie, of Florida Sportsman Fishing Shows aboard along with Spencer Marchant, rep for Shimano, Power Pro, and a number of other brands. We started at the St. Lucie Inlet just before sunrise and within the first hour Robin hooked up with a big snook on a DOA Baitbuster. After a 10-minute tussle with the fish, she was boat side for a few pictures and the release. We managed to catch several more snook there before we went wade fishing on a nearby flat. I picked up several small snook there in the 25-to 30-inch range. The tide turned to come in and with the flooding tide, dozens of snook in the 20-to 30 pound range moved up on to the flats. Unfortunately, only the smaller fish in the 28-to 30-inch range would eat. Spencer picked up a nice speckled trout weighing about 5-pounds on the DOA Shrimp.

The following day, contributing editor for Florida Sportsman Magazine, Max Branyon, hopped aboard for a short morning fish. During the course of the morning we hooked up and lost several snook. I did land one snook at the "Hole in the Wall", a spot at the St. Lucie Inlet. We then moved up the St. Lucie River to the Roosevelt Bridge looking for snook. Earlier that morning several anglers landed about a half-dozen snook up to 25-pounds there on Baitbusters. By the time we arrived, the action had hit a lull, so we left to head back for a shallow flat that I had seen big snook on the day before. When we got there, the tide had started in. At one point we saw at least a hundred giant snook in the 30-to 40-pound range moving around on the edges of the flats. Lockjaw was the scenario, but Max did have one big fish hit and spit the Baitbuster he threw.

It’s great to see a fishery so alive with big fish, and within only a few hours ride from the Tampa Bay area. I leave there always looking forward to the next time I head over to fish. ‘Til then…catch ya later!

 

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