Oct 2nd 2014:
So today I was suppose to have a shoot but late last night it got canceled on me. The boat was ready, the gear was ready the weather and tides were great so I figured I call up an old friend and go fishing.
Hank never said no to fishing when he’s not busy with other plans.
Of we go to the boat ramp at about 8am. I wanted to try some new pompano jig I got sent. It’s called the Willie Nillie. As far as shape it’s nothing new, just a hook and weights. What makes it different was the flashy paint that was put on them to make them glitter in the water.
I figured this would get more attention from the fish. With the pressure Tampa Bay has on fishery I figured every little bit helps.
First to get landed on the Willie Nillie was this 25lb Black drum. Hanked had hooked a bigger on before this but it snapped it’s line. I hooked two more after this guy and and it dragged me into the piling and eventually snapped my line as well.
Between the jacks, snappers and lady fish we started getting in the pompano.
We got some big ones up to 14″ to the fork.
By 11am it was getting hot and we had almost reach or limit so we packed it up and called it a good day of last minute fishing.
The Willie Nillie definitely worked…… does it work better than a regular pompano jig? I really can’t say but to me every little bit helps if you can get that small edge.
Since the lure is new I asked where it can be found and they tell me Tampa Fishing Outfitters will be carrying them very soon.
The jig is made by Wahoo lures out of Punta Gorda Florida.
Pompano Bridge fishing tips:
- Get as close the piling as you can.
- Along with the jig use a teaser(a fly)
- Make sure you get to the bottom.
- Casting under the structure is a must when the bite is slow.
- Try not to hit the bridge, it will bend the hook. You can bend it back with pliers but after so many times it will weakened and break.
- Bring a de-hooker to avoid hooks in the hands. These guys are slippery.
This week I had International fishing celeb and friend Patrick Sebile call me up and wanted to do some fishing. He was going to be in town for the day and wanted to fish Tampa Bay for the first time.
Patrick has always been cool with me and it’s always good to fish with a friend. Usually when we are on the same boat before I was the camera person for the day but today I was to be the captain.
We met up at sunrise 7am. Patrick having to drive from Ft. Pieced was there on time like a true fisherman should.
Not too long after we launch were greeted with a “full double rainbow all the way.”
Being that Patrick Sebile founder of of Sebile lure was on my boat I wanted to catch fish with his new lure this year the Flat Belly Walker top water lure. The concept of this lure is the ability to have less effort when walking the dog due to it’s flat surface on the bottom.
The lure walked the dog nicely and have nice rattle to it. And at only $6.99 for a Sebile lure it is priced very nice.
Thought I thought it was a bit big, Patrick stuck with the 115mm stick shad the entire morning. He had plenty of sticks and follows but most of them came off.
My first game fish on the Flat Belly Walker was this beautiful 37″ snook.
This day the bite was consistent but the fish was not aggressive due the slow flowing out going tide we had to fish in.
About lunch time we called it a good day of catching up and of course fishing. I will do my best to try to fish the east coast soon and hopefully catch a little bit of the mullet run before it’s all over.
South Carolina, commonly known to us sportsman as the “lowcountry”; is a part of the world rich in history, good food, great fishing, and that good ole’ southern hospitality of the true south. I had an opportunity to make my first visit to the lowcountry this early Fall. This was a great opportunity to live all the great things I had always read and heard about via old writings, bayside discussions, and social media. I spent a couple days in Beaufort and then in Charleston, taking part in some flood tide and lowtide fishing, cast and blasting, and without a doubt the best southern food this foodie has ever tasted.
The floodtide was a completely new experience itself. I witnessed the giant tides flush into the spartina marsh and fill in the once dry fields of spartina grass teaming with fiddler crabs and snails.
As the water rose, redfish began to snake their way into the grass, subtlety pushing over blades of grass like ninjas, sneaking into clearings and tailing on fiddler crabs.
And as the tide rose up and covered up the tails of redfish, it marked time to stow away the fly rods and replace it with a shotgun in hand. Shooting birds out of a flats skiff was a definite first and definitely won’t be the last. Rather then be stealthy, the name to this game is to make your presence known, flushing marsh hens (clapper rails for those curious about what they actually are) out of the grass, allowing us to take the shot. This is a practice rich in history to itself.
The cast and blast experience in the lowcountry was greatly complimented with some of the most beautiful coastal scenes I had ever witnessed.
Special thanks to my hosts for making my first visit really special:
Capt. Owen Plair (http://www.redfishbeaufort.com/)
Will Abbot (http://www.floodtideco.com/)
Andy and Connie Villacres
Len and Jeannie Villacres
Fishing the Louisiana Marsh with Captain Greg Moon
My friend Paul Raffety and I just completed two days of fishing with Captain Greg Moon of New Orleans. This adventure-booked almost a year in advance- included some challenging conditions: line storms, thunderstorms, rain, and high dirty water.
Captain Greg led us through those challenges and we emerged with five giant bull reds and a trophy forty-pound gator gar on 10-pound spin and a jig. The trip was wildly successful.
Captain Greg’s phone number is 702-497-1673
His web address is http://www.louisianaflyfishingcharters.com/guides-captains/capt-greg-moon
Here is a tasty photo recap of the experience.
We got out for a few hours with a couple of friends down in Boca. We ran Adam’s boat with Capt.Cameron and got on a nice Tarpon bite.
Tested out the Spooltek Lure, 13fishing Concept C low profile reel and the Envy Rod combo.
Here is a quick video clip of one of the double hook up we had.
Disclaimer: I am by no means a tarpon expert. I am just writing about my experience and what works for me.
We had 19 eats one day and the 2nd day we had 16 eats. All the fish were in the 60 to 120lb fish. What makes it even better it was all sight casting on lures.
Most people assume when we fish for big tarpon it’s either on bait or a fly rod. Well at least that is what is shown on most TV shows and magazines anyways. I do not blame you at all for thinking so, I know I did.
Not until about 5 years ago did I even know you had a good chance of catching big tarpon on spinning or heavy casting gear using lures. This was when I found out via the forums(pre facebook) that the DOA bait buster was the lure of choice when it comes to targeting big tarpon. Not just any bait buster but the 5/8oz trolling model with the beefed up hook.
side note: I kind of miss the forums in a way. You actually get to learn stuff. On facebook it just seems people just shows off their catches.
Now I am sure, when they are hungry tarpon is not picky about eating many lures. If you want to land a big tarpon though this lure has all the right ingredient.
At 5/8oz it cast well on large spinning gear. At 4″ it was a perfect size to not attract many trash fish (ladyfish) and big enough for the tarpon to eat.
Since we are fishing 6 to 20′ of water the trolling model sank well and a has very strong hook. Some people slightly mash the barb and sharpen the hook on the trolling model for optimal penetration. They also swim amazingly well with the little tiny wiggly tail.
The color that worked the best that day was silver with a black back.
Now that we got the lure of choice down let us talk about the gear aka the rod/reel/line/leader. The rod I used that day was a heavy Shimano Terez Cameron was using the XXH 8′ Shimano Teramar. The longer the better when it comes to casting to tarpon. Indeed it is heavy but you are not blind casting the entire time you are only casting to rolling fish.
If you have a rod that is at least 7′ Medium heavy to extra heavy you are all set. All you need now is a spinning reel that is a 5000 series or better that can hold 40 to 60 lb braid. You do not want much heavier than 60lb test as it will get too hard to cast the desired distance.
Connect your braid direct to the leader with a uni uni know or something you have confidence in. I like the slim beauty and I double the braid via Bimini twist. I then have 4′ to 6′ of 60lb fluorocarbon leader(best abrasion resistance but not necessary) and tie the bait buster on with a loop knot for the best action.
For the most part for this method of fishing to work we must be fishing 6 to 20’f of water. The passes and bridges are not the best place to try this but it can work at times. the ideal conditions are moving water but not very fast moving.
In the video bellow Cameron and I are fishing in abotut 17′ of water. You see me cast to the roller, I then wait a few seconds (wait time varies depending on depth of water) for the lure to sink then reel in at a slow steady pace. The eat will come 90% of the time during the retrieve not the the fall. In the video the eat happens to be right at the boat and caught me by surprise.
Once the fish eats, and starts to run hold on and get ready for the first jump. If you feel confident enough it is probably a good idea to set the hook a few times so the hook goes into the jaw.
The tarpon’s mouth is very tough and many times the lure gets thrown out at the first or 2nd jump of the fight like you see in the video.
If you are not getting eats try changing the colors. I find the gold body with black back works really nice as well. Next is to change up the leader. If you are using 80lb try going down to 50lb test. Also try slowing down your retrieve. I find the slower the retrieve without bumping bottom the better.
Note: since these tarpon are around bait you will also catch, ladyfish, cathfish and cobia. Don’t be discourage, life and activity is always a good sign.
Hope this helps and happy Tarpon fishing!
One more thing, if your fish is over 40″ it is a law(unless you have a harvest tag) that they stay in the water for the photo.
Today the winds were down to less than 5 mph. With slick calm conditions today, my friend Lee and I decided to fish the Tampa Bay bridges for some pompano. Usually this time of year we could catch one here and there. Pompano, if you don’t knot it, makes for pretty good table fair.
Armed with the typical pompano jig it was slim pickings for what seemed like hours. This year the bridge fishing for pompano has been quite slow Lee tells me. He did add that the Mangrove snapper bite has been outstanding however.
Sadly, this little guy called a burr fish was the only fish worthy of a photo for the first couple hours.
We kept running from bridge to bridge to no avail. It was so calm out there we were expecting to see black drum tailing on the piling but instead we saw juvenile tarpon rolling.
These guys can be quite picky so we paid them no attention and continue our pompano hunt. Of course this lead us to hooking two of them which made for an exciting event on 10lb test gear.
Speaking of gear here was my set up today:
|Dan James Custom Rod with HMX blank and Microwave guides|
|New 10lb test braid by Mustad|
|Daiwa 2500 Ballistic with mag sealed|
We manage to land one of the juvi tarpon and got some nice photos. He guy was under 20lbs and in the legal limits to take out of water for a photo.
Those of you that do not know, if you catch a tarpon you “CAN NOT” take them out of the water if they are over 40″. A Large tarpon are very tough to control and will end up hurting themselves beyond recovery.
“People will be allowed to temporarily possess a tarpon for photography, measurement of length and girth and scientific sampling, with the stipulation that tarpon more than 40 inches must remain in the water.”
Once the tide started to turn we decided to give up the pompano hunt and go after the more reliable mangrove snapper.
Our basic rig a Carolina rig consisting of, #1 hook, 30lb leader and a 1oz lead to get to the bottom of the swift current.
We would cast it out near the piling then let it sit at the bottom. Keeping the line tight so you can detect movement, the key is not not set the hook when you feel the nibble. Let them eat and when you feel it move deliberately then set the hook. Reel very quickly or the big ones will break you off in the pilings. Mangrove snappers are very strong for their size, you need to get them away from the structure as soon as you can.
You can use an anchor to hang out at the pilings you are fishing but we were lucky enough to have a Rhodan GPS trolling motor which allows us to anchor using the gps while we fished. This was a back saver not having to pull anchor and redeploy when we were looking for a more concentrated group of fish.
Using medium shrimp it did not take much to pull them out of the bridges pilings. We had our limit of 5 per person in about an hour of fishing.
The biggest fish was probably 13″ but I hear they get much bigger this time of year even inshore. Now it is time to go clean some fish and eat some fresh snapper dinner.
Mangrove snapper rules for the gulf coast:
|Gray/Mangrove Snapper||10″||5 per harvester per day||Included within 10 per harvester per day snapper aggregate bag limit|
Last week I woke up at 2am to make the drive over to the east coast to do some snook fishing. It took almost 4 hours so that puts me at about 6am.
The place is to fish with Ryan and Colter, some new friends that I recently me through Instagram. They had been on some big snook and said today it was a good chance to get one.
The first couple hours was spent casting a fly at tailing giant snook to no avail. These big girls were coming in with tide and was not very hungry.
We were frustrated but moved on get some bait on the beach. Bait was not an problem. One throw of the net even 1/3rd open we had plenty.
Offshore we go, where chumming up the water brought in immediately lots of bonito. I manage to get my first bonito on fly. The 2nd one however was bitten in half by the sharks that joined the party. We got some great video how the ravenous the sharks were but soon got bored and decided to head in for a rest.
After a couple hours of staying out of the heat and a bite to eat we were ready for round two.
We manage to get some big mullet for bait this time around. This did the trick. We had 4 hits but only manage to land one fish but it was a damn good one.
This giant snook is largest snook since 2007! Thanks Ryan and Colter , will have have to come back with a bigger fly rod to get those bull sharks on fly!
Looking back I didn’t realize it has been a year since I’ve written anything about any fishing trips. Long gone are the many trips offshore seeking out snappers and groupers. Same can be said about another cobia season up in Destin. However semi-annual trips to Venice, LA still get my heart going. I won’t bore you with the little details of the trip but I have to extend a big thanks to my friend Todd for allowing us to stay at his house and take us out fishing on an overnight trip, my first overnight trip to the rigs. Also to my friend David Sun who put it all together and invited me on yet another amazing trip.
Day 1, we rode out with Capt Hunter Cabellero from Paradise Outfitters. After a quick stop to load up the live well with runners we were off to the first and only rig. Upon arrival the best way to describe the action for the next two and a half hours would be Elegant Violence. A combination of slow rolling backs and sickles slicing through the slick calm water, skyrocketing tunas, and large boils 360 degrees around the boat painted a picture of beauty. Top water poppers and live blue runners didn’t stand a chance against these fish. Almost as soon as they were in the water they were getting crushed. Hunter kept pitching out live runners as chum to keep the tunas near the boat. As the dust settled and the live well was empty we caught 16 tunas in short amount of time and decided to call it a day at 10am.
Day 2 we left the marina about noon to go catch bait and fish the afternoon, overnight, and morning bite. Different day but same results. Poppers and live runners were getting crushed. We mixed it up a little and decided to do a little chunking and added a few more tuna to the boat. Right about dark the blackfin tunas made an appearance, almost like they were trying to tempt us not to run out deeper to the big floaters. We blew them off and ran out deeper and were greeted by more yellowfins. By about 2am we were all pretty tired so we took a little nap while the boat drifted around in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. About daybreak we ran to the nearest rig and picked up right where we left off at sunset. Tunas, tunas, and more tunas. We caught a few more and decided to call it a trip before it got too hot and we ran out of ice, 17 tunas and 8 jumbo blackfins burn a lot of ice.
Overall it was without a doubt the best trip I’ve had out of Venice. Had the pleasure of fishing again with old friends, Todd, David Sun, Jimmy Bennett and Dudley Adams and got to make a new one in Timmy Rattinger. Thanks again Timmy for introducing us to those M Fischer poppers, you made me a believer!
The past two weeks I have been getting things ready to attend ICAST in Orlando. This leaves very little time to get out fishing.
While cruising my Facebook feed I saw Spencer Goodwin posted a clip of some very cool group of tailing redfish. Spencer kayak guides out of Tampa Bay so he is out quite often. He tells me the next time he gets on them he would give me shout.
A few days goes by my phone rang. It is Spencer, he tells me the storm is about to hit us but they are tailing really well right now. I had my gear in the truck already so I said “Ok, let me load the kayak and I will be right there!”.
It was a tailing scenario and I had to drag the kayak over dry land at a few points so I decided to load the Hobie Revolution vs the Pro Angler. This was a wise choice as it was bone dry out on the flats.
Forty five minutes later and I was on the water and hustling to get the spot before it got too dark. Spencer had already caught a couple and was satisfied with just keeping an eye on them until I got there with the camera.
With the low tide, once I got there it did not take too long to find them. I got a few shots with them tailing as Spencer cast to them. At this point even though I brought a rod I was satisfied with just taking photos of these guys digging in the grass and feeding as their tail wave in the air.
As the sun starts to sets we slowly headed to the ramp. The activity of the redfish escalated to something I have always wanted to see. They started to tail along side the sting rays. I sat there and took photos until there was zero light left.
I got home and downloaded the card and it turned out to be my best tailing redfish photos in Tampa Bay.
Thanks to Spencer Goodwin of Tampa Bay Kayak Charters, I get to share these videos and photos with you guys.