Near Shore Fishing heats Up
Capt. Stewart Ames
November 24, 2016
Tampa Bay - Saltwater Fishing Report
Near Shore reefs have come alive with life. Quality sized Spanish mackerel have invaded inshore hard bottom areas with a vengeance, devouring any hapless whitebait thrown in their direction. For anglers interested in simply bending rods, there is no better time of year. The best approach is simply to anchor, throw a chum block or two and start distributing some crippled whitebait behind the boat. Any mackerel in the neighborhood will be behind the boat within 10 to 15 minutes. Using light inshore tackle and a 2/0 long shank hook for some "tooth protection", nose hook a whitebait and let it swim. On some days, once the fish show up, it's "on" for as long as anglers are interested in catching these fish. On others, fish move in and out of the slick, and require fairly regular chumming to keep them around. Either way, the action is generally fast. When winds are dead calm and tides are flat, even the mackerel will occassionally get finicky though.
The beauty of this type of fishing is that fish generally are being caught quickly and the chum slick being used to bring them in is in no way mackerel specific. Crippled whitebait and fish oil in the ater will interest just about anything swimming off the beach at this time of year so it's anybody's guess as to what spcies will show up next. On some days, it's just a stray bonita, on others it might be a sizable barracuda or cobia. Also, don't neglect what might be swimming underneath the boat. Oftentimes, mangrove snapper will school in these same areas and provide challenging sport and great meals. These fish are very sensitive to irregular bait movements so, whatever bait is being used, make sure that it is presented in the most natural way possible. Moving towards the end of the month and on into November, kingfish will be come a specific target as well. Hooking these speedsters on light tackle will challenge any angler, but fish up to twenty pounds can certainly be handled on this inshore gear. Bigger than that, some good luck will be required….mostly in the form of the fish deciding not to take a 150 yard run immediatly after hookup. Once these gamfish arrive, heavier spinning rods spooled with 20 lbs test would be more appropriate.
With a mid day high tide, fishing may only be half over. As water pushes up into the mangroves, redfish also move in to feed. Targeting mangrove points, oyster bars and deeper cuts that receive some current flow are likely spots to find feeding fish. Live and dead whitebait and pinfish are all that's needed. If bait runs low, even taking a smaller mackerel caught earlier and cutting it into chunks will get the job done. Plan on fishing four or five areas and cover areas quickly. Chances are, when one fish is located there will be more. Hopefully, this will be on the first spot. Find the right school of fish, and you may be catching until you're tired. Good luck and good fishing.
Kingfish, Bonita, Redfish, Snapper
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