Woody Gore

I am certain there is a fair share of grumbling about this closure, but for me, I believe this is a good thing for our fishery. Although should you choose, you can still catch them you just have to put them back. On the other hand, if you are still going to pursue these species you certainly need to practice proper catch and release; especially if it is going to help rebuild the resource. It has been a long time coming and I believe it will give all three species a chance to recover and hopefully regain a better foothold in rebuilding these popular species.

Every year our Tampa Bay region witnesses a continued increase in fishing pressure. If we do nothing, soon it is possible these terrific species will no longer be available. According to the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Tampa Bay is the largest open-water estuary in Florida encompassing nearly 400 square miles and bordering three counties. There are more than 200 species of fish found in Tampa Bay, so I am fairly certain anglers could learn to target and enjoy catching the many other species available throughout the Tampa Bay region.

 “Let’s Go Fishing & Catch Something Different”

Mackerel: The big mackerel have moved into the bay and it sure makes for an exciting fun-fishing trip especially for the kids. So find a school of threadfins or glass minnows, start chumming and hold on. I like to use a pair of scissors and cut the greenbacks into about three pieces letting them drift with the current; then followed up with a half dozen live ones tossed out. This usually gets them going fairly quick. Catches in the 3 and 4 lbs. range reported using long shank 2/0 hooks and fifty-pound leader. For some added action try a popping cork and if the current is too strong to keep your bait in the strike zone add a #3 split shot.

Sheepshead: Are showing up almost everywhere especially around docks, canals, and rock piles. Their tough, toothy, boney mouths mean aggressive hook sets. Try fishing for these great fighters around markers, bridge fenders, docks, seawalls, rock piles, oyster bars or practically any type of structure. There are plenty of rock piles and artificial reefs throughout the Tampa Bay area. Check out a Hot Spots Map or other bay fishing map showing reefs and wrecks. Then take some time visiting and locating the best ones. I like a split shot and 1/0 hook with a piece of fresh shrimp, you do not need to purchase the large ones, regular and medium broken in half do just fine.

Grey/Mangrove Snapper, Orange Mouth Grunts: While you are looking for that favorite sheepshead spot; guess what else you are going to find on those rock piles, wrecks, structure, piling, bridges and oyster bars. Yep, you figured it out the first time you dropped a shrimp down and pulled up a snapper. They all hang out in the same areas and are great table fare. And the best part is they all love shrimp. However, grey snapper also likes small sardines/greenbacks hooked on a slip sinker rig. Here is the catch to snapper fishing a slip rig; you must keep a tight line because you are only getting one bite after that your bait is gone. If you do not hook up on the first bite reel up, bait up, and drop again. Yes, it does take patience but it is worth it at supper time.

Flounder: Flounder is very popular, delicious to eat and can often show up in various locations. They put up an awesome fight and are great fun to catch. Fishing can be tricky sometimes but who does not love a challenge. I recommend using a jighead because your bait has to stay on the bottom pick a weight that lets you get down and keep it down so have much better feel when a fish strikes. I recommend a slow twitch and drag along the bottom rather than bouncing because it tends to trigger more strikes. A flounder’s strike is normally soft and unless your line is taught you can miss it.

Much like snook, flounder are ambush feeders lying in wait where tides and currents bring the food. Check out passes, inlets, channels, areas with a good current around sandy shoals are likely spots to hold flounder. Anywhere current sweeps bait through, around or over is a good place to look for flounder.

As ambush feeders, they use structure to hide and often lie flat in the sand waiting on current to sweep food right to their hiding spot. If there is a good source of food there is probably a flounder or two in the area. That’s why they like inlets and passes. Places like this have everything they need to survive, plenty of places to hide and an abundance of food.

Cobia A few Cobias show up around the bay most are cruising markers or following large rays or manatees around the flats. If you are anchored up mackerel fishing on a shallow reef, it is common to see one or two show up at your outboard motor or under your boat. So, always try to keep at least one rod and reel rigged and ready to toss a nice pinfish or in their direction.

Give Me a Call & Let’s Go Fishing – 813-477-3814

Captain Woody Gore offers the area’s top outdoor fishing guide service. Number one in customer service he’s guided and fished the Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, areas for over fifty years; he offers excellent customer service, world class fishing, and a lifetime of memories. Single or Multi-Boat Charters or Multi-Boat Large Group Charters

Website: WWW.CAPTAINWOODYGORE.COM, Email” wgore@ix.netcom.com

 Mobile/Text: 813-477-3814

Fish Species: Snook, Redfish, Trout, Mackerel, Flounder, Cobia, Sheepshead, Snapper,
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Woody Gore

About The Author: Captain Woody Gore

Company: Captain Woody Gore Charters

Area Reporting: Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg, Clearwater

Bio: Born and raised in Tampa, Capt. Woody developed a passion for fishing as a child and years later, he is still expanding his fishing knowledge base and skill levels. Now with over 50 years of worldwide fishing experience he does everything possible to create an unforgettable and world class fishing adventure.

Click Here For Past Fishing Reports by Captain Woody Gore