Tampa Bay Fishing Report
Capt. Woody Gore
November 18, 2013
Tampa Bay - Saltwater Fishing Report
Snook: Moving water and a livewell full of pilchards and pinfish
will work but don't be surprised if you don't drag a redfish or gator trout off the same broken bottom grass flats. But if you're looking to snag that snook of a lifetime, with the heart stopping action of a topwater lure. Just tie on MirrOlure Top Dog Jr. and walk-the-dog, letting it rattle across that same broken bottom grass flat. Soon you'll witness the most incredible strike as a giant snook crashes your lure.
Always remember big snook are females and probably full of eggs so handle with care. Snap a quick photo, get her back in the water and revive her slowly.
Spanish mackerel: For those who love the drag screaming action of mackerel fishing, this is the time of year. If kingfish are your thing, hit the beaches and hard-bottoms close to shore for action that is sure to pick up as water temps come down. Anchor up and chum, or slow troll live baits or spoons.
There are resident fish, but most of the giants are pelagic and follow the baitfish schools north in spring and south in fall. However, there are more big mackerel around Tampa Bay now than there have been many years, thanks to the gill net ban and commercial harvest regulations.
The Gill Net Ban: Which now appeared to be in jeopardy, when Leon County Judge Jackie Fulford, ruled that Amendment Three of the Florida Constitution, otherwise known as the net ban, was approved by a voter referendum in November 1994 by 73% of Florida's voters. The amendment made it unlawful for the use of entangling nets (i.e., gill and trammel nets) in Florida waters. The use of other forms of nets, such as seines, cast nets, and trawls, was restricted, but not totally eliminated. For example, these types of nets could be used only if the total area of net mesh did not exceed 500 square feet. According to the Pensacola News Journal, the order issued the week November 7th from the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee shuts down the gill netting, while the court considers the claims by net fisherman during the life of the pending lawsuit.
Mackerel (Cont.): These fish are huge, for the species. Fish 5 to 6 pounds and when they get to this size, they have tremendous speed, power and endurance almost like small king mackerel.
Finding them are fairly simple, just locate a spoil bar or inshore reef within 5 to 8 feet of surface, surrounded by deeper open water of 10 to 20 feet. These are natural feeding areas that attract mackerel. Once you're anchored up-tide from the reef or bar start pitching a few sardines or greenbacks into the water. It they are close by it won't take long before the feeding frenzy begins.
Now put a live threadfin or greenback, nose hooked on a 2/0 long-shank hook on a 50# hard leader tied to your 15# braid of your spinning reel.
Mackerel are good, table fare. For those you keep, bleed them promptly and get them on ice quickly. I put mine in a large heavy duty trash bag before putting them in my cooler; it keeps the cooler cleaner. At the cleaning table, fillet them and remove the skin or fillet them and leave the skin on for smoking.
Redfish: Redfish and oversized redfish are everywhere in the bay. But if you're having difficulty finding them finding them, I tell you once again. Simply locate a school of big mullet and fish right in the middle of them. The redfish bite for the last two months remains one of the best I have seen in three years. Every part of the Tampa Bay seems to hold multiple schools. Live greenbacks and of course cut baits and a circle hook seem to be the bait of choice: threadfin herring, cut large greenbacks, cut pinfish, cut ladyfish, cut mullet.
Spotted Sea Trout: The big trout have started to show up on our flats along with plenty slot fish. I like to find a good grass flat with plenty of potholes. Start by working the edges of as many potholes as possible and you are sure to find some worthwhile fish. Trout are a good species to work on your artificial bait skills, because they are not too picky when it comes to food. One good artificial is a Gulp shrimp under a popping cork; hook the shrimp just like you would a live one, which is through the carapace or head. Just cast out and pop the cork. The popping sound will draw the trout's attention and you are sure to hook up. Trout no longer have a closed season. So, only take what you plan on eating for supper as they do not freeze well. Remember they are a fragile species and have a delicate slime coat, so please use a de-hooker and not your hand or net for the ones you release.
"Give Me a Call & Let's Go Fishing" – 813-477-3814 Captain Woody Gore is the area's top outdoor fishing guide. Guiding and fishing the Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, Bradenton, and Sarasota areas for over fifty years; he offers world class fishing adventures and a lifetime of memories.
Single or Multi-boat Group Charters are all the same. With years of organizational experience and access to the areas most experienced captains, Woody can arrange and coordinate any outing or tournament. Just tell him what you need and it's done. Visit his website at: WWW.CAPTAINWOODYGORE.COM, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a call at 813-477-3814.
More Fishing Reports: