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A Lil’ Bit of Everything
Tim O'Mara shows a beautiful baby tarpon taken last week
The weather has been courtesy of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Skies have been brilliant azure; winds have been of a serene whisper, and the temperatures the comfort of piscatorial tropics. All in all, for this time of year, things have not been bad, though the biological time clock of fish and the conditions have them a bit confused on where to be and not to be. Nonetheless, we’ll take it.
Redfish have been scattered around here and there. Quarter moon tides have kept the water ultra low and make fishing for them at the peek of flood tides a short order. We did run into a tight little bunch yesterday. A school of roughly 50 fish were milling in just 18 inches of water over the sand and flat rock. As typical in very shallow water, an out going tide, and over light bottom, they were very nervous about eating anything. We settled for a few on both ends of the size slot. Utilizing the run and shoot offensive, they are available in quality size and numbers (with water).
Trout have taken a backseat the past two weeks with the warm air. We are still getting some good numbers on big fish, but not in the likes we did a few weeks back following the cold fronts. This has been the typical catch 22 the past 8 weeks, but winter temps are inevitable and it will become more consistent in the weeks ahead. Throw in some quality flounder, ladyfish, and schools of marauding jacks to 12 lbs. and the scene is complete on the shallow flats, bayous, and channel edges. There has been some nice cobia cruising the flats as well. While set up on some classic snook potholes last week we took a 30lb. cobia. As well, there have been fish on either side of the power plant and on the deep grass flats just offshore.
The bluefish schools I reported a few weeks back are thick as fleas now and can be taken on virtually every cast at anytime of day. Rock piles 3 to 4 miles offshore located adjacent to plush patches of turtle grass get the nod. A few grouper, mango snapper, and an occasional 5 lb. trout can be expected as well.
Sonny Wall hefts a 33 inch snook taken over the weekend
Juvenile tarpon have been on a very consistent bite the past 4 weeks. Saturday we jumped 4 in 90 minutes and landed 2.5 (sorry Anthony, you did not get that one all the way in). Again the tarpon proved the key ingredient on yet another Bounty Hunter grand slam (snook, redfish, trout, tarpon) A few jumbo snook have eaten us up in the tarpon liars as well as both under and slot sized grouper. A rare catch of a 12lb. goliath grouper (aka jewfish) was taken and released on Sunday. We too had a brief encounter with a manatee that took up a liking to us. With the manatee issue at hand, I could not help but notice that this 12-foot cow had not one scar on her back and wondered to myself how bad she really has it.
The snook bite has been off the past two weeks on the outside. This is typical at this time of year for the flats. They are home, the lights are on, but they are not answering as well as we’d like em’ to. In the upper reaches of the major rivers, the snook underground network is having their secret society meetings after sundown on major low tides or a few can be taken while targeting other species just inside the mouths.
Spanish mackerel have been thick as fleas on the grassline, passes, artificial reefs and over classic grouper rocks. Bait has been plentiful and chumming them into a frenzy is a snap on any good tidal flow.
We had a few nice days the past two weeks where we took some shots on near shore grouper. Even without dedicating more than 2 hours to it, we took half dozen keepers while returning from mackerel fishing in 8 to 15 feet of water. As the moon started to build towards this full, the key ingredient showed up--- hand sized crickets.
It was long time friend Jimmy Bradley who pioneered the tactics of limit grouper fishing in shallow water over 20 years ago in these parts. With his method of live chumming and casting scaled sardines on the shallow rocks, limit grouper fishing in these depths would not be a science that all too often goes without due mention. I am not crazy about the moon, but with the availability of the bait this week, I intend to take a siesta and have some fun with some old friends. Anglers in the know with the right bait should keep a flat line out (if the grouper do not snap it up) for the lone smoker who always seems to lurk on the better spots just off Pasco and Hernando. School kings are being taken in 35 to 45 feet of water around the reefs and to the northwest, but the run remains in 60 to 80, and the smokers in all the traditional inshore haunts
Screaming Drags and Tired Arms!
Paul O' Mara takes a sunset redfish last week
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