Vol 6 No. 44 - July 26, 2006

Speckled sea trout coming back

Steve Whittmer, of Tampa, caught this 31-pound permit while fishing with Captain Tom Chaya recently.
Captain Tom Chaya
Reef fishing gave us plenty of nice Spanish mackerel and lemon and blacktip sharks in the 20- to 40-pound class. The mackerel weren't as thick as previous weeks, but we still managed a couple dozen per day. A few were in the 30-inch class, which is quite large for Spanish mackerel. They were feeding on small sardines and the sharks were all caught on cut bait.

We also are starting to see a lot more speckled sea trout. They have practically disappeared over the last few months but have made a bit of a showing over the deep grass areas throughout the bay. A few schools of reds are still working the oyster bars near Joe’s Island. Jack Summers and crew, from Winter Haven, nailed some nice reds, with the biggest at 34 inches, using big whitebait. The key to being a little more successful on the hot summer days is to be flexible. We have to move the boat a little more often to find fish but in the heat of the day it helps cool it down. We have been fishing the bays during the fast moving tides and the Gulf reefs when the tides aren't as strong and using lots of chum.

Captain Zach Zacharias
Tom Lovelace and crew, visiting from Raleigh,N.C., tallied up a diverse catch from the inshore Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay midweek.

The Gulf gave up a number of Spanish and juvenile king mackerel, bluefish and grouper. Later in the day we boated snook, redfish and mangrove snapper.

Mangrove snapper have finally started to make the scene this past week and the action for the delicious panfish should build and peak over the next two months.

I can't predict how much longer the mackerel action will last, but as of this week it has been pretty strong.

Captain Rick Grassett
Anglers fishing with me on the Snook Fin-Addict caught and released snook, tarpon and trout during the past week. Snook were finicky around lighted docks and bridges before dawn, but tarpon were aggressive.

Bill Crelin, from Milwaukee, Wisc., and his brother-in-law and nephews, Tom and Tommy, joined me for a pre dawn snook/flats trip in Little Sarasota and Blackburn bays on Monday morning. Despite plenty of snook in and around lighted docks and bridge fenders, they didn’t want to bite. However, when the sun popped up we worked bait schools and caught about 6 trout to 16 on DOA Deadly Combos, CAL jigs with shad tails and fly poppers near Blackburn Point.

Tampa Tribune Outdoor Editor Frank Sargeant joined me for a trip on Tuesday morning. It wasn’t on fire, but we managed to catch and release 6 or 8 snook to 25 on String Bean and my Grass Minnow flies near the Venice Inlet.

Jim Eliason, owner of Discount Tackle in Bradenton, and Morgan Christian, from Lakeland, Fla., joined me for a tarpon trip on Thursday morning. We fished the Peace River and canal systems of Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda. There wasn’t much happening in the river, but we found them busting baits in the canals. Jim and Morgan jumped a total of 4 tarpon, landing one of them, a feisty 15-pounder, with rootbeer and nightglow DOA TerrorEyz.

We should have some great tarpon fishing in the coming weeks. In addition to tarpon, snook in the surf or under dock lights and a variety of fish on the flats at dawn should all be good options next week.

Captain Ray Markham
Anglers aboard the Flat Back II caught (or hooked and lost) snook, trout, redfish, flounder, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, tarpon, gag grouper, red grouper, hard head catfish, gaff top sail catfish, bull shark, lizardfish, puffers and ladyfish.

Bud Graf, of Tampa, and his 12-year old granddaughter, KayLea, of Connecticut, headed out with me on lower Tampa Bay for a half-day trip. Working areas of patchy grass and hard bottom we caught flounder, trout, Spanish mackerel, and ladyfish while using CAL Shad tail jigs and DOA Shrimp. Bud scored the big fish of the day with a 23-inch spotted seatrout.

Don Gambuzza, of Sarasota, did a 6-hour trip with me along with one of his fishing buddies. In just a few hours we managed to catch over 100 trout on CAL Jigs with shad tails and DOA Shrimp. In addition, we also caught flounder, red grouper, ladyfish and Spanish mackerel.

This week’s new moon should produce some good moving water and tides. It’s going to be a busy week on the water, and snook fishing should be good.

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