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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Archive for December, 2015

Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota, FL Fishing Report for 12/27/2015

by on Dec.28, 2015, under Bradenton and Sarasota

Action exploded in the coastal gulf early in the week as a variety of species gorged themselves in bait balls. Anglers fishing with me on my Action Craft flats skiff the Snook Fin-Addict, out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, caught and released tripletail, cobia, Spanish mackerel and false albacore in the coastal gulf on flies, CAL jigs with shad tails, DOA Shrimp and top water plugs and snook in Sarasota Bay on top water plugs during the past week. Sea conditions in the coastal gulf have been tough with wind and rough water some days but when we’ve been able to get out there it’s been good.

Dylan Lewis, from CO and his dad, Gary Lewis, fished the coastal gulf with me on Sunday. This trip was rescheduled from the previous Friday due to rain, wind and rough water but it was worth it. They had good action catching and releasing numerous Spanish mackerel, several tripletail, a couple of cobia and false albacore on flies, CAL jigs with shad tails, DOA Shrimp and top water plugs.

My personal best day ever guiding for false albacore, and also my clients personal best, was in the coastal gulf on Tuesday with John Collins, from CA, Greg Weatherby from RI and Peter Weatherby, from Jupiter, FL. They had fantastic action catching and releasing false albacore on Ultra Hair Clouser flies, my Grassett Snook Minnow and epoxy glass minnow fly patterns. The action, which included several doubles, got better and better as the day went on and we left them biting. A great day!

We were met with winds blowing more than 20-mph on Wednesday, so that trip was rescheduled. I fished Sarasota Bay with Jerry Roth, from Orlando, FL, on Christmas Eve day. Jerry loves to fish with top water plugs and with overcast conditions and a flood tide when we started, conditions were good for that. He fished a surface walking plug, had numerous “blow ups”, hooked 3 snook and landed 2 to 30”. Great action!

With water temperatures in the low to mid 70’s, false albacore, tripletail, Spanish mackerel and more should still be a good option in the coastal gulf when sea conditions are good. Catch and release snook fishing around lighted docks and bridges with flies and DOA Lures should also be a good option. Look for reds, snook and big trout mixed with mullet schools on shallow flats and edges of bars in backcountry areas of Charlotte Harbor and lower Tampa Bay.

Tight Lines,
Capt. Rick Grassett
IFFF Certified Fly Casting Instructor
Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters
Orvis Outfitter of the Year-2011
Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.
www.snookfin-addict.com, www.snookfinaddict.com and www.flyfishingflorida.us
E-mail snookfin@aol.com
(941) 923-7799

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Tips For Crowded Holiday Fishing in Tampa Bay–Capt. Ray Markham

by on Dec.25, 2015, under TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Every year I try to leave time around the holidays open for some things I want to do, and to get caught up on the others I never seem to have time for, but inevitably, there are folks who come in town on vacation, see how nice the weather is, and suddenly think….”let’s go fishing!” Well, the onslaught of calls is underway, and at times I take some unplanned trips, but the truth is, it can get mighty crowded on the water during the holidays. With the weather at record high temperatures on these beautiful days, the desire to go bend a rod is even stronger.

Fishing has been outstanding, and the full moon that pops up tonight on this Christmas night will create some strong tides that will undoubtedly make fish eat. Water temperature is very warm for this time of year and there is still plenty of baitfish in the bay. Red tide is spotty and is only affecting certain areas of the lower bay. Snook season is closed but run up any of the rivers, like the Alafia, Little Manatee, Manatee, Anclote, or most any of the deeper creeks and you’ll find a load of snook that are in the process of moving toward their winter haunts. Live shrimp or artificial shrimp like the DOA work exceptionally well. Whitebait, greenies, and pinfish for the natural bait users will get the job done as well. While it’s only catch and release for these fish right now, they will give you a lot of action and can be released with little or low mortality when handled minimally and released correctly.

Redfish have been blowing up topwater MirrOlures in the upper bay area. Portions of the flats around Rocky Creek and Double Branch all the way to Safety Harbor have been holding schools of upper-slot redfish. We’ve been nailing them on CAL Jigs with the 3-inch Shad tail in all colors that contain night glow. The Eppinger Rex weedless spoon has also been deadly on these reds and is especially good when there is a presence of small pinfish on a flat.

Flounder action around the mouth of Tampa Bay seems to have picked back up as the red tide moves away from the area. Good action with some nice sized flatties is to be had for anglers working the nearshore artificial reefs just off the coast of Pinellas.

Kingfish and Spanish mackerel are still out around Egmont Key Shipping Channel for anglers looking to troll up some fish for the smoker.

Regardless of what you want to target, look for some company on the water and remember to keep your distance from other anglers and respect their space, and they will respect yours. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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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Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota, FL Fishing Report for 12/19/2015

by on Dec.20, 2015, under Bradenton and Sarasota

nglers fishing with me on my Action Craft flats skiff the Snook Fin-Addict, out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, caught and released snook and jacks in the ICW near Venice at night and bluefish, Spanish mackerel and false albacore in the coastal gulf on flies during the past week.

Bill Rhodes, from Hernando Beach, FL, fished dock lights in the ICW near Venice with me on Monday night. He caught and released a few snook and jacks on my Grassett Snook Minnow fly and a couple of other glass minnow patterns. We fished the coastal gulf in Sarasota the next day and found tough conditions with a big swell and sea fog. He caught and released a tripletail on a fly and had a couple of other shots before we pulled the plug due to the poor conditions.

Anna Maria Island winter resident, Bill Morrison, fished the coastal gulf with me on Thursday. Fish were fired up due to an approaching front and he had good action catching numerous bluefish, Spanish mackerel and a couple of false albacore on Ultra Hair Clouser flies.

False albacore, tripletail, Spanish mackerel and more should still be a good option in the coastal gulf when sea conditions are good. Catch and release snook fishing around lighted docks and bridges with flies and DOA Lures should also be a good option. Look for reds, snook and big trout mixed with mullet schools on shallow flats and edges of bars in backcountry areas of Charlotte Harbor and lower Tampa Bay.

Tight Lines,
Capt. Rick Grassett
IFFF Certified Fly Casting Instructor
Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters
Orvis Outfitter of the Year-2011
Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.
www.snookfin-addict.com, www.snookfinaddict.com and www.flyfishingflorida.us
E-mail snookfin@aol.com
(941) 923-7799

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Some Excellent Rye Whiskey–From The Backwoods of Florida’s Adventure Coast?

by on Dec.13, 2015, under Hernando and Pasco Gulf Coast, Recipes and Food

Wild Buck Whiskey is all about Natalie and Kevin Goff's pride in their products!

Wild Buck Whiskey is all about Natalie and Kevin Goff’s excellence in small-batch whiskey making!

The backwoods between Weeki Wachee and Chassahowitzka are mostly known by folks visiting the 31,000 acre National Wildlife Preserve in hopes of spotting a Whooping Crane or a manatee.  This Preserve is huge, and the general impression, at least to passers-by, is that there’s no “civilization” west of US19.  That’s not the case, especially in terms of whiskey-making!

Historically, I suspect that lots of whiskey was made in these woods.  Of course, it wasn’t done so legally.  However, Kevin and Natalie Goff, owners of Wild Buck Whiskey, are operating their “still”, adhering to all the rules set forth by local, state and federal authorities.

The hand-hammered copper still at Wild Buck is where the small batches of whiskey is distilled.

The hand-hammered copper still at Wild Buck is where the small batches of whiskey are distilled.

Rye whiskey must be aged in new oak barrels

Rye whiskey must be aged in new oak barrels

wildbuck-3

It takes lots of love and diligence to make good whiskey, and Kevin and Natalie are dedicated to creating a quality product, in small batches.  This is a whiskey made for sipping and just a splash of spring water or an ice cube will bring it to life in your glass.  Made from natural ingredients and pure Florida water, their rye whiskey can be found at finer restaurants, bars and liquor stores.  But don’t expect to find a case or more than a few bottles at your local retailer as the rye whiskey has been in high demand since winning several awards.

And stand by….Wild Buck’s Rum will be available in early 2016.  It’s made for sipping, too. So don’t even think Cuba Libre!

Natalie and Kevin Goff, escapees from busier parts of Florida, are extremely proud of their products.

Natalie and Kevin Goff, escapees from busier parts of Florida, are extremely proud of their products.

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Tampa Bay Fishing Report, 12/11/15, Capt. Ray Markham–“Fishing away from red tide is outstanding!”

by on Dec.12, 2015, under TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Anyone who knows me or has heard me talk about fishing over the past few weeks probably heard me mention red tide. Make no mistake about it, red tide is affecting our fishing where the bloom is present and on the periphery of where it is located. The key to catching fish is to move away from the red tide bloom and the outskirts of it. Healthy fish continue to eat and put on a normal rod-bending show.

Flashing back about ten years, red tide nearly decimated our fishery. In the lower Tampa Bay area, spotted seatrout never fully regained the population of big fish or numbers of fish we had back then, but it was still acceptable to people outside of the fishing capital of the world. While snook populations took it on the chin along with numerous other species, most did survive the ordeal only to be hit by a series of days with hard freezees about five years ago. Nature’s damage can be devastating, but add unethical anglers who kill fish by improper handling or keeping illegal sizes or numbers of fish are other issues.

Recognizing the signs of red tide are the first steps toward finding healthy areas that support active fish. Start with the internet and check out information from the FWC at http://myfwc.com/REDTIDESTATUS. This will give you general areas that are affected. Observation is the next step. Signs of red tide can affect your eyes and breathing along with producing dead fish, but not always. Wind blowing from the direction of the red tide can push dead fish to the perimeter of an affected area or areas that are free of the toxin. If you see or smell it, move. Fish in perimeter areas can be affected but still alive, and act as you might if you are sick and not eat.

Good fishable areas show signs of life and active feeding. The areas that I have fished recently that were good have bait in the area as well as mullet schools. Mullet are late moving out to spawn, but areas around John’s Pass and the ICW up to Indian Rocks produced trout, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, flounder, redfish, snook, and Spanish mackerel. Middle to upper Tampa Bay north of Piney Point to Apollo Beach had exceptional action with snook, trout, redfish, bluefish, jacks, ladyfish, and even cobia. The rest of Tampa Bay north to Double Branch was normal with no signs of red tide.

Red tide will move fish and push them to unaffected areas if they escape. By noting the signs and differences of both good and bad areas, you will catch fish.

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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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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Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota, FL Fishing Report for 12/5/2015

by on Dec.05, 2015, under TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Anglers fishing with me on my Action Craft flats skiff the Snook Fin-Addict, out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, caught and released snook and trout on CAL jigs with shad tails, DOA Deadly Combos and top water plugs in Sarasota Bay and Little Sarasota Bay during the past week.

Sarasota winter resident, Mike Perez, fished Sarasota Bay with me on Thursday. We spent most of our time in skinny water where he caught and released a nice snook on a top water plug.

Don Tase, from NH, fished Little Sarasota Bay with me on Friday. He caught and released a few trout to 18”, ladyfish and jack crevalle on CAL jigs with shad tails and DOA Deadly Combos.

Catch and release snook fishing around lighted docks and bridges with flies and DOA Lures should be a good option now. Look for reds, snook and big trout mixed with mullet schools on shallow flats and edges of bars in backcountry areas of Charlotte Harbor and lower Tampa Bay. False albacore, tripletail, Spanish mackerel and more should still be a good option in the coastal gulf when conditions are good.

Tight Lines,
Capt. Rick Grassett
IFFF Certified Fly Casting Instructor
Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters
Orvis Outfitter of the Year-2011
Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.
www.snookfin-addict.com, www.snookfinaddict.com and www.flyfishingflorida.us
E-mail snookfin@aol.com
(941) 923-7799

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