Large schools of rockfish spotted various locations in Tampa Bay
1: At Big Pier 60 in Clearwater, a constant number of Spanish mackerels were caught again this week. A decent number of whiting, speckled trout and the usual crevalle jack were also caught. Other catches worth noting include a keeper slot-sized snook, a cobia and a flounder, reports Big Pier 60 Bait & Tackle (727-462-6466).
Fish of the week
Goldfish: The rockfish sting has really picked up for anglers in the Tampa Bay area. Good numbers are reported, along with great schools sighted in a number of locations.
hitting area, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Elsewhere
2: At Madeira Beach, better numbers of Spanish mackerel appear near shore along beaches. Pigs bite well from about 40 feet. The lane and mangrove snapper, as well as the red grouper bite, really pick up about 60 feet. Further offshore there are large mangrove snappers and yellowtail flounder. Above 140 feet, pelagic fishermen catch blackfin tuna, trevallies and the occasional wahoo, reports Captain Dylan Hubbard of Hubbard’s Marina (727-393-1947).
3: At John’s pass, the redfish sting is really good around the mangroves inside the back bays of the pass. A few redfish also bite the bottom around the wharfs and the pier. A good number of mangrove snappers and a few sheep also bite around the docks. Lots of snook in the pass, but it’s “hard to chew them”. Speckled trout bite around lights at night. Spanish mackerel, as well as pompano are biting at the pier and whiting are in the surf, reports Hubbard.
4: At Fort De Soto Park, lots of snappers and mangrove sheep are found around the marina and deck area. There is a good sting of rockfish on the grassy plains around Tarpon and the Indian Keys. Jackass Key is also good for rockfish and snook. The area’s grassy plains produce decent numbers of trout up to 18 inches, especially around Conception Key. Some pompano bite around the mouth of Bunces Pass. At the Gulf Pier there are Spanish mackerel, snapper, mutton and schools of jack crevalle crossing. “The bait fish are thick enough to walk under the pier,” reports Capt. Claude Hinson of Tierra Verde Bait and Tackle (727-864-2108).
5: Around the Sunshine Skyway and lower Tampa Bay, fall fishing has really begun in lower Tampa Bay. Large schools of rockfish cruise along the flats at low tide, eating everything in their path. Mangrove snapper fishing throughout the bay remains very good. Many snappers hang around the fenders of the Skyway Bridge, along the shipping channel, bay reefs, and almost every other structure. A good number of Spanish mackerels appear on all the reefs of the bay. Just look for birds working in bait schools and you’ll find mackerel, reports Palmetto Capt. John Gunter (863-838-5096). Tripletail are still around beacons, crab pot buoys and debris floating in the bay. The snook fishing is very good and more schools of rockfish are appearing every day. Speckled trout fishing is good on deep grass in 3 to 8 feet of water. The mangrove snapper still bites on just about any structure, including the deck and bay reefs, reports Captain Shawn Crawford of Florida Sport Fishing Outfitters (941-705-3160.
6: At Anna Maria, a few schools of rockfish are found in the Upper Strait and some rockfish also bite around some docks. The structure around Longboat Pass and the bridges still produce mangrove snappers. Spanish mackerel bite the beaches and some mackerel are also in the bran. The deeper flat grass edges produce a good speckle trout bite and snook is active along the mangrove shores as they make their way to their drop spots, Crawford reports,
7: In St. Petersburg, there are plenty of rockfish from Weedon Island south to Pinellas Point and around the keys to Fort De Soto. A decent number of trout also bite on the deeper edges of the flats. Mangrove snappers sting around bridges in the area, reefs in the bay, and along the shipping channel. A few guardian gags bite along the canal and around the rock piles of the Skyway. Many Spanish mackerels are found along the beaches, around the Skyway and inside the bay. Snooks are moving along mangrove lines and more are growing in residential canals, reports Larry Mastry at Mastry’s Tackle (727-896-8889).
8: At the north end of Tampa Bay, the rockfish bite has been wild around Weedon and the Picnic Islands area. Redfish were also good in the upper part of the bay. Snook bite is good on the deepest flats and approaches to the deck. Speckled trout bite on the flats around Picnic Island and off the pier. Mangrove snapper and black drum bite around the bridges. The Spanish mackerel is in the bay and bites well in the morning. A few tripletails are on the markers. Tarpon and sharks still run the bridge’s shadow lines at night, reports Gandy Bait & Tackle (813-839-5551).
– A Homosassa, a few schools of rockfish grow on the outer points and keys amid rising tides. Slicing pinfish on the bottom is the best bait, but gold spoons, prawns, and plastics will also produce. A decent number of snook bites around the outer keys as well, mostly on live pinfish. Speckled trout bite is always good in 3-5 feet of water around the edges of yellow hard bottom with rock weed and sponges. Soft plastics on a 1/8 oz. Jighead, rigged under a cork produce the best numbers, reports Captain William Toney of Homosassa Inshore Fishing Charters (352-621-9284).
– At Fort Pierce, Offshore, it’s been tough the past few days. But, before the swell, the mangrove and mutton snappers were good on the bottom around 80 feet. A decent number of trevallies were biting around the 50 foot mark. At the cove, shoals of mule race along the beach, accompanied by snook and tarpon on the hunt. Better whiting numbers are in the surf as the weeds have cleared. There is a good snook bite in the inlet on the live croakers and the little snook beat small live bait in the jetty pocket. Inside around the bridges and at the Melody Lane pier there is a good bite of mangrove snapper. A few schools of mullet, as well as snook and tarpon, have also found their way into the river, reports Clint Walker at St. Lucia Fisheries Center (772-465-7637)