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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Tampa Bay, West Shore and St. Petersburg

Fronts ease the Suncoast into winter–By Ray Markham

by on Dec.05, 2015, under Siesta Key to Boca Grande, St. Pete Beaches, Tampa Bay, East and South Shore, Tampa Bay, West Shore and St. Petersburg

With less than three weeks remaining in the fall season, reflecting back will reveal that this has been one of the mildest on record. Warm air and easterly winds for nearly a week have made fishing for kingfish and Spanish mackerel just off the beaches a doable task. Plenty of big Spanish were caught but kings have been scattered. Captains Ryan Farner and Chris Turner of St. Petersburg will host a final kingfish tournament called the Bitch of the Ditch that will run Saturday out of Billy’s Stone Crab on Tierra Verde. The interesting twist is that this event has boundaries from Egmont Key to up inside Tampa Bay. The weekend will have a mild cold front easing into the area shifting winds and fish, but this front should push more kings southward to the area. Predicted winds won’t be as high as last week’s front, but changing wind direction will also change tide levels that will affect where you’ll find fish on the flats and in the bay. The Saturday weigh-in at Billy’s Stone Crab should provide interesting results.

Coming off the quarter moon this week, we won’t see the big swings in tides that we saw during last week’s full moon. Looking at the comfort zone chart for fish, the majority of fish that swim in our waters prefer water temperatures in the mid-seventies, right where Tampa Bay is presently situated. Tides won’t be moving that fast, so positioning yourself where wind blows between islands or at the mouths of small bays where there are narrow openings can speed up the water at that point, making an ambush location for snook, trout, flounder and more.

Some of the largest snook of the year have been caught this past week coming off the full moon. Most fish were caught in brackish water, meaning these fish were moving up rivers or creeks to the headwaters for the winter. Snook season closed this week along with gag grouper, making both species off limits for take-home. However, catch-and-release action for snook will bend some rods and make some smiles. Flounder continue to give anglers something extra to target. Look for sandy areas with good water flow. Reports from John’s Pass and the Pass-A-Grille area have been consistent productive areas.

If you’re fishing inside Tampa Bay and adjacent waters, look around all the channel markers and range markers in the bay for cobia, Spanish mackerel, and tripletail. All three species have been caught here this week.

Capt. Ray Markham specializes in fly and light tackle fishing with artificial lures, charters out of the Tampa Bay area, and may be reached via his website at www.CaptainRayMarkham.com, email at ray.markham@gmail.com, or at (941) 723-2655 for charter.

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Tampa Bay Sea Grass Coverage Exceeds Goals, May 2015

by on May.14, 2015, under Old Tampa Bay--Above the Bridges, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA, Tampa Bay, East and South Shore, Tampa Bay, West Shore and St. Petersburg

Article ImageSurvey results released this week by Southwest Florida Water Management District show the growth of more than 5,000 acres of new grasses from 2012-2104. Tampa Bay now has 40,295 acres of sea grass, exceeding the goal of 38,000 acres bay-wide set in 1995 by our partners at the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.
seagrasses
The gains mirror similar trends in water quality. Tampa Bay met all water clarity targets in 2014, for the third year in a row. Water quality is now as good as it was in 1950, and the bay supports as many seagrasses as it did then.

Seagrass is a very important marine plant that lives on the bottom of Tampa Bay in shallow waters. It is teeming with life, and creates a vital ecosystem wherever it grows.

Thank you for your role in supporting the restoration of Tampa Bay! -

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TIGHTEN THE DRAG FOUNDATION INSHORE FISHING TOURNAMENT, 9/27/14, ST. PETE

by on Aug.06, 2014, under St. Pete Beaches, Tampa Bay, East and South Shore, Tampa Bay, West Shore and St. Petersburg, The Sunshine Skyway and Beyond to Egmont

This foundations  raises funds to provide therapy scholarships for those with spinal cord injuries to recover and rehabilitate. The tournament founder’s son, Capt Robert suffered this injury 23 months ago. It has been devastating.
If you get a chance, please check out our website and read Robert’s story.. http://www.tightenthedragfoundation.org/#!capt-robert-tramontana/c1xl

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Capt. Ray Markham’s West Central Florida Fishing Journal- July 4, 2014

by on Jul.06, 2014, under St. Pete Beaches, Tampa Bay, East and South Shore, Tampa Bay, West Shore and St. Petersburg

Tampa Bay Potpourri is the spice of life

By Ray Markham

Make no mistake about it– it’s hot out there, but the fishing can be just as hot as the temperature if you’re at the right spot at the right time. Variety might be the name of the game, but quality fish are also being caught in lower Tampa Bay right now. The areas we have been fishing include shallow grass flats, sand bars, deep grass, limestone hard bottom, shell bottom, and sand bottom in depths ranging from 2 to 14-feet of water. Anglers aboard my Action Craft flats skiff, Flat Back II, caught snook, spotted seatrout, silver trout, flounder, permit, tarpon, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper, gag and red grouper, black seabass, and even a few lesser desirables like hardhead and gaff top sail cats, puffers, pinfish, grunts, jacks, ladyfish, lizardfish, and puffers.

The lures we used throughout the day were mostly subsurface in the numerous locations that we fished, except for the early morning topwater bite. Jigs ruled in deeper open water, using CAL Jigs with Shad tails on ¼-ounce jig heads, and MirrOlure Lil’ John jerk baits on both ¼-ounce and 1/16-ounce jig heads. Anglers caught silver and speckled trout, flounder, bluefish, gag grouper, red grouper, black seabass, and a tarpon as well as a few unmentionables…uh, like catfish, puffers, jacks, ladyfish, and quality lizardfish. Unmentionables? Well, I mention them because they pull hard, and for kids, put smiles on faces. They don’t care, and aren’t fish snobs. These species were all caught in depths ranging from 8-to 14-feet of water. One tarpon was jumped on the MirrOlure Lil’ John and broke off on the light trout rig used.

Tim Kolschowsky, visiting from Illinois, landed trout to 21-inches, bluefish, and a nice permit on a CAL Shad while fishing a long sandy bar in 3-to 5-feet of water adjacent to a grass flat on the Bulkhead. His daughter, Alicia Marie of Sarasota, landed bluefish, snook, mangrove snapper, trout, and jumped a tarpon using CAL Shads and MirrOlure Lil’ Johns in Joe Bay, Terra Ceia Bay and lower Tampa Bay. We caught silver trout, flounder, ladyfish, jacks, and bluefish on DOA Shrimp and MirrOlure MirrOdines in 2-4-feet of water on grass patches in Terra Ceia and Joe Bays, and trout on MirrOlure Top Dogs. Regardles of how mentionable or unmentionable these fish were, there’s no question, Tampa Bay is the Spice of Life…where variety rules!

Capt. Ray Markham specializes in light tackle fishing with artificial lures and charters on lower Tampa Bay out of Terra Ceia. He can be reached at

(941) 723-2655, ray.markham@gmail.com or through his website at www.CaptainRayMarkham.com.

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Old Salt King of the Beach Tournament, May 1-3, 2014

by on Mar.27, 2014, under Bradenton and Sarasota, Old Tampa Bay--Above the Bridges, St. Pete Beaches, Tampa Bay, East and South Shore, Tampa Bay, West Shore and St. Petersburg, The Sunshine Skyway and Beyond to Egmont

Click this PHOTO for info about the Tournament

The Old Salt Fishing Foundation presents the 21st annual King of the Beach (KOTB) Fishing Tournament held May 1st – 2nd – 3rd. Last year we increased the top prize to $20,000 and we have decided to keep it!

The Host…. The City of Madeira Beach will again serve as the host city for the King of the Beach. The city continues to be a strong supporter of the Old Salt Fishing Foundation and it’s tournaments, with more than 10,000 competitors and spectators from all around the bay area, state and beyond attending the three-day event making this the largest King and Spanish Mackerel Tournament on the West Coast.

The Field…. Consisting of more than 400 boats of all powers and sizes that will converge on Madeira Beach to create the most exciting fishing tournament ever! “Anglers tell me all the time that they fish a lot of kingfish tournaments not only is this the most fun to fish but if there’s one to win, it’s hands down the King of the Beach”, says Old Salt VP, Dan Casey. “We’ve designed this tournament to match anglers of all abilities”, says Verdensky. “We’ve leveled the playing field with a modest $195 entry fee and a 30 mile fishing boundary. This makes the K.O.T.B. a tournament that either a seasoned S.K.A. (Southern Kingfish Association) angler OR a novice can win. The ultimate goal of the King of the Beach is to offer a competitive community tournament with the maximum opportunity for payouts at minimal cost to the angler, all while doing it for a deserving cause.”

Three Days of Events….

Thursday night kicks off this three-day festival with a bang. Picture this, a recreation field on the water just minutes from the Gulf. Add live music, a food festival with the best local flavor, all types of marine and art vendors and a boat show. You now have a captains’ party like none other!

Friday night continues the fun with more great activities, food and a FREE concert.

Saturday starts off early afternoon with more food and drinks to try, live music all day, interactive kids zone, a King and Spanish mackerel weigh-in with over $100,000 in cash and prizes. To end the evening and this festival, a new “King” will be crowned.

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2013 MCFF/CCA “Fall Fly Fishing Challenge” Results

by on Oct.29, 2013, under Bradenton and Sarasota, Tampa Bay, East and South Shore, Tampa Bay, West Shore and St. Petersburg

The 9th annual MCFF/CCA “Fall Fly Fishing Challenge” was held on Saturday, Oct. 26th. The tournament, hosted jointly by the Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers and the Sarasota chapter of Coastal Conservation Association, benefits the conservation or education programs of both organizations. Anglers could fish any water on the west coast of Florida using flies only in a catch, digital photo, release format fishing tournament for reds, trout, snook and more. All fish were photographed and immediately released. Winners were awarded Orvis Access fly tackle outfits, handsome plaques and gift certificates.  A special thanks to donors to the event, Redfish Landing Guide Service, Orvis, CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, Economy Tackle, Simms, Andy Thornal Company, Cortland fly lines and Logic Lures and to CCA Regional director, Adam Miller, for helping make the event possible. Tournament co-directors were Brent Wilson and Doug Fisher along with committee members Steve Gibson, Rick Grassett, Bob Parker and Doug Forde. Anglers gathered at Harry’s Sports Bar on Friday evening, Oct 25 for the captains meeting and at The Meadows Country Club community room on Saturday afternoon for angler check in. Following the tournament awards, anglers were treated to a homemade BBQ donated and prepared by Capt. John & Leslie Hand.

Open Division-based on total inches (guides, anglers fishing with guides and any other angler wishing to compete)

Slam-largest snook, redfish and trout
Capt. Ray Markham, St. Petersburg, FL               59.5”

Trout
Steve Gibson, Sarasota, FL                                      129.5”

Redfish
Doug Forde, Sarasota, FL                                        24.5”

Snook
Capt. Doug Fisher, Sarasota, FL                             60.25”

Fly Angler Division-based on a point per inch format for redfish, snook, trout and multiple other species (no guides allowed in this division)

1st place-Fred McClendon, Lithia, FL                     351.25  points
2nd place-Justin Hamblet, Sarasota, FL                  317.25 points
3rd place-Manfred Pailer Nokomis, FL                   198.75 points

Open Division-based on total inches (guides, anglers fishing with guides and any other angler wishing to compete)

Slam (largest snook, redfish and trout)
Capt. Ray Markham, Terra Ceia, FL                       59.5”

Trout
Steve Gibson, Sarasota, FL                                     129.5”

Redfish
Doug Forde Sarasota, FL                                         24.5”

Snook
Capt. Doug Fisher Sarasota, FL                             60.25”

Fly Angler Division-based on a point per inch format for redfish, snook, trout and multiple other species (no guides allowed in this division)

1st place-Fred McClendon Lithia, FL                      351.25  points
2nd place-Justin Hamblett, Sarasota, FL                 317.25 points
3rd place-Manfred Pailer Osprey, FL                      198.75 points

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Tarpon Fishing Outfitters–Bigger and Bigger–and Better!

by on Jan.24, 2013, under Hernando and Pasco Gulf Coast, Tampa Bay, West Shore and St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs

I get into Tarpon Fishing Outfitters (on US19 near the intersection of ALT US19 in Tarpon Springs)every month or so and have been delighted to see its growth. When Mr. Lee, of Lee Fisher/Tampa Fishing Outfitters, bought the Tarpon Springs store, the selection was sparse and the place had a “lonely” feel.  Now, with the infusion of interest, capital and all those great Lee Fisher and Ohero products, it’s one of the premiere fishing tackle stores on Florida’s west coast.  In addition to Lee Fisher cast nets, a full line of Shimano reels, and Yeti coolers, you’ll find Ohero fluorocarbon leader material, Adrena lines, Trident hooks and affordable Ohero rods.  Tarpon Fishing Outfitters is also home to one on the best reel repair operations, still known as Dave’s.

Tarpon Fishing Outfitters, (727) 942-8944

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Tampa Bay Redfish Tour, 2012/2013, Fort DeSoto Park, St. Petersburg

by on Dec.06, 2012, under St. Pete Beaches, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA, Tampa Bay, West Shore and St. Petersburg

The winter schedule for the Tampa Bay Redfish Tour has been announced.  The start for each event will be held at the Fort DeSoto Park boat ramp in St. Petersburg.  Dates are 12/15/12, 1/19/12, 2/16/13 and 3/23/13.  There are entry fees for each boat and for each angler, most of which goes to the winners of the winter tournaments and to the Team of the Year.

For complete information, email tampabayredfishtour@gmail.com , or call Chris Morelli (727-710-2601) or Jim Devine (727-647-0520).

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The Saltwater Angler’s Guide to Tampa Bay and Southwest Florida is now available!

by on Oct.02, 2012, under Bradenton and Sarasota, Dunedin, Clearwater and Largo, Ft. Myers, Sanibel and Captiva, Hernando and Pasco Gulf Coast, Marco and The 10,000 Islands, Middle Charlotte Harbor, Naples, Old Tampa Bay--Above the Bridges, Siesta Key to Boca Grande, St. Pete Beaches, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA, Tampa Bay, East and South Shore, Tampa Bay, West Shore and St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, The Sunshine Skyway and Beyond to Egmont, Upper Charlotte Harbor

The Saltwater Angler’s Guide to Tampa Bay and Southwest Florida is now available!

It’s been a long time coming, but the University Press of Florida has just released my second fishing book.  If you’re a native and wanting more information on the Gulf of Mexico coastline from Chassahowitzka to Chokoloskee, you need this book.  If you’re planning to winter in Florida, you need this book.  Everyone needs this book. The Table of Contents is outlined below.

To order, simply click on the link on the sidebar to the right of this page and you’ll be taken to Amazon.com.  Thanks–and enjoy!

Part One–The Destinations

1.  Tampa Bay and Southwest Florida

2.  The Upper Suncoast-Hernando and Pasco Counties

3.  Tarpon Springs and North Pinellas County

4.  St. Petersburg and the Pinellas Peninsula

5.  Old Tampa Bay, Tampa and The Bay’s Eastern Shore

6.  Manatee and Sarasota Counties-The Gateway to Tropical Florida

7.  Charlotte Harbor and Her Gulf Islands

8.  Fort Myers, Estero, Sanibel and Captiva

9.  Naples, Marco and The Ten Thousand Islands

Part Two–Practical Matters

10. It’s All About The Fish…

11. …And How to Catch Them

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Fish Earth Day–Hook Kids on Fishing to hold event in Tarpon Springs, 4/21/12

by on Mar.06, 2012, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS, St. Pete Beaches, Tampa Bay, West Shore and St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs

In partnership with other like-minded organizations, the Anglers for Conservation is coordinating a Fish Earth Day using the Anglers for Conservation’s Hook Kids on Fishing Program on Saturday, April 21, 2012 from 9-11a, in celebration of Earth Day. Is there any better way to celebrate Earth Day 2012 than bringing families together fishing and learning about the our planet Earth? The Hook Kids on Fishing program will take place at:

Craig Park Spring Bayou

City of Tarpon Springs Recreation Division

(727) 942-5628

400 South Walton Avenue

Tarpon Springs, FL 34689

Kids ages 6 to 16, are welcome along with their parents. The first 80 kids registered will receive a free rod and reel. Registration is mandatory by calling the City of Tarpon Springs Recreation Division at  (727) 942-5628.

The Hook Kids on Fishing program teaches casting, fishing safety, knot tying, the tackle box, catch and release tactics, fishing habitat and conservation; and is taught by professional guides and knowledgeable anglers. Parents and kids bring your smiles, positive attitudes and patience along with you! Volunteers are needed.

Additional community sponsors include the Anglers For Conservation, Fish Florida Foundation, Coastal Angler Magazine, Florida Outdoor Writers Association (FOWA), Aylesworth’s Fish & Bait and Pure Ocean Productions.

The Hook Kids on Fishing program is a product of the Anglers for Conservation (AFC), a non-profit-501-C3, whose mission is to create a new generation of marine stewards using community-based angling education, habitat restoration and applied conservation science.

Volunteers are needed and sponsorships are available. For more information contact Rodney Smith at info@anglersforconservation.org; phone, (321) 750-3374; or visit the website, www.anglersforconservation.org.

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