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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Archive for January, 2016

Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota & Gasparilla Sound, FL Fishing Report for 1/23/2016

by on Jan.23, 2016, under Bradenton and Sarasota

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, trout and redfish on CAL jigs with shad tails in Gasparilla Sound and trout and ladyfish on flies in Sarasota Bay during the past week. Cold air and water, wind and rain were an issue, causing the cancellation of a couple of trips.

Keith McClintock, from Lake Forest, IL, fished the backcountry of Gasparilla Sound near Boca Grande with me on Tuesday. A very low tide and cool water had snook concentrated in a few spots. He had good action catching and releasing about 10 snook to 27”, trout to 20” and a red to complete his slam on CAL jigs with shad tails.

Dick Striano, from MA, fished Sarasota Bay with me on Thursday. We worked deep grass flats where he caught and released ladyfish and trout on Ultra Hair Clouser flies fished on sink tip fly lines. The best action was close to passes where water temperatures were more stable.

Look for reds and big trout mixed with mullet schools on shallow flats and edges of bars in Sarasota Bay and backcountry areas of Charlotte Harbor and lower Tampa Bay. Trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and more should be a good option on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Catch and release snook fishing around lighted docks and bridges with flies and DOA Lures should also be a good option as long as water temperatures don’t dip too low.

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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Chilling thoughts for winter fishing–By Capt. Ray Markham


Fish have to deal with the cold every day during winter. But being cold-blooded, cold weather doesn’t have the same effect as it does on humans. Living in sunny Florida, most of us don’t give much thought to the possibility of developing hypothermia. But with winter weather finally upon us, dressing appropriately for being on the water can be a matter of life and death, particularly if you fall into the water. The body loses heat 25-times faster in water than it does with exposure to the air. This is all the more reason to wear a personal flotation device in the event you do fall overboard.

Cold fronts that have been hitting us at about a weekly basis or more often have been driving the water temperature downward for the past couple of weeks. Sitting in the mid-sixties now, and with wind on the water, the wind chill factor drops the ‘feels like’ temperature even more. It’s important to dress in layers of clothing. Shivering is probably the first sign of the onset of hypothermia as the body core temperature drops. It’s better to have more clothing than you need, since you can always remove some as the days warm up.

Find areas out of the wind. Those spots will be more comfortable for both you and the fish. Warmer areas will also mean that fish appetites will be on the rise. Unlike cold-blooded creatures, we still need to eat on a regular basis. Fish eat when they feel hungry or the opportunity presents itself. Sheepshead are working the pilings around bridges, docks, piers and around most any structure. Most recently flounder are appearing in holes on the flats on these negative tide days. Dragging CAL Curly tailed jigs across the holes slowly will catch flatties. With the falling water temperature, snook are moving up inside the rivers. All of the Tampa Bay’s rivers are holding snook. Look for the power plants in the area to produce a plume of warm water around the outflows. Apollo Beach and Anclote Key both produce warm water on the coldest days. The most recent weather prediction is for the coldest days yet this winter to be the first part of next week. Cobia, snook, trout, pompano, sharks, ladyfish, jacks and more will be found around these plants. Warmer water will move up to a half-mile away from the power plant on still days.

Fish extra slow during cold weather and remember to dress for the occasion to stay comfortable and keep warm. ‘Til then…I’ll catch ya later!

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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Derelict Crab Trap Removal Event on Tampa Bay Jan. 23, 2016

by on Jan.14, 2016, under TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Ruskin, FL- On the morning of Saturday, January 23, Tampa Bay Watch, in partnership with the Sea World Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, the Florida Airboat Association and ReelCycle, will conduct a derelict crab trap removal effort at E.G. Simmons park in Ruskin focusing on the waters of Little Manatee River, Wolf Branch and the Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve.

The Florida Airboat Association will provide airboats to aid in locating and retrieving ghost or derelict traps. The primary objective of this project is to remove abandoned traps from the environment and to reduce unnecessary entrapment of marine organisms, such as blue crabs, stone crabs, small commercial and recreationally important fish and brackish water turtles. Manatees, dolphins and sea turtles can also become entangled in the trap line causing injury or death. Other benefits include the removal of marine debris from the environment, reducing boating safety hazards and increasing public awareness on the problems of derelict crab traps.

“This event is great because it gives the opportunity for the Florida Airboat Association and community volunteers to get involved in cleaning up marine debris and helping to keep marine life from needlessly getting caught and killed in abandoned traps,” said Serra Herndon, Habitat Restoration Director for Tampa Bay Watch.

It is estimated that there are thousands of derelict crab traps that have been accumulating for decades in Tampa Bay. Each year, Tampa Bay Watch performs surveys to identify derelict traps and conducts clean-ups to remove them. Having conducted 34 crab trap removals since May 2004, Tampa Bay Watch has successfully removed 1,629 traps from the waters of Tampa Bay.

The Tampa Bay Watch derelict crab trap program is conducted by trained volunteers that have a clear understanding of what constitutes a derelict trap. A derelict trap is defined as any trap found in the water during closed season for that species or any fishable trap during open season that lacks at least three of the following: buoy, line, current trap tag, current commercial saltwater products license. If derelict traps are found, do NOT remove them. Instead, record location of the trap either on a GPS or chart and any other pertinent information, then call Tampa Bay Watch to report your findings. For more information identifying derelict crab traps, please contact Serra Herndon at sherndon@tampabaywatch.org.

Tampa Bay Watch will be partnering with ReelCycle for this important crab trap removal event. ReelCycle (www.reelcycle.org) is a 501(c)(3) entity that focuses on waste reduction and sound management practices for the fishing industry. Devin Sanderson, ReelCycle’s Founder and President, said the following about this event: “Each year, hundreds of tons of derelict gear is discarded in landfills or illegally dumped, which can result in ‘ghost fishing’ or ‘ghost traps’. Ghost traps that are lost or abandoned continue to catch crabs and fish in large numbers, threaten stocks, and damage the marine environment. ReelCycle works to create recycling programs for undesirable gear, from collection through disposal, providing both conservation and socioeconomic benefits. ReelCycle will take the crab traps collected during the project and deliver the traps to a metal recycling who will process and melt down the traps to ultimately reuse into a another product. The non-metallic material collected such as stone crab traps, ropes, and floats will be incinerated and converted into energy though a waste-to-energy program. ReelCycle will be able to upcycle these traps into a renewable resource as opposed to being discarded in a landfill.”

Tampa Bay Watch is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) stewardship program dedicated exclusively to the charitable and scientific purpose of protecting and restoring the marine and wetland environments of the Tampa Bay estuary encompassing over 400 square miles of open water and 2,300 square miles of highly- developed watershed. Tampa Bay Watch involves more than 10,000 youth and adult volunteers each year in hands on habitat restoration projects. For more information, visit www.tampabaywatch.org, or call 727-867-8166.

Media is welcome at this event on Saturday, January 23, but must arrive at E.G. Simmons Park, 2401 19th Avenue Northwest, Ruskin 33570 by 8:00am. Tampa Bay Watch will have a skiff available at the boat ramp to transport media for on-water interviews with volunteers. To reserve a spot on a Tampa Bay Watch boat or for more information, call Rachel Arndt at 727-867-8166 x233 or email at rarndt@tampabaywatch.org. Serra Herndon, Habitat Restoration Director for Tampa Bay Watch, is the day of the event contact. If you should need to reach her on the morning of Saturday, January 23, her cell phone is 813-777-7175.

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Making the most of winter fishing days — By Ray Markham


Fishing during the winter has both its good points and drawbacks. But over-all, if you work with what you have, you’ll find that your disadvantages can also work for you.

Weekly cold fronts can stir up water, make seas and bays rough, and drop water temperature putting a virtual if not real lock jaw on fish. Even on the worst of days you can probably catch fish, as long as you deal with your conditions.

The most obvious change in winter will be water temperature. During the spring, summer, and fall, water temperatures will be up, making the metabolic rates soar. But during the hottest days of summer, the heat can be a drawback, forcing you to find areas with temperatures within the comfort range of fish. Offshore, you’ll need to find the depth where there is enough insulation between the surface and the bottom where fish will hold. In shallow water, you’ll still need to find some deeper areas for fish to comfortably hold, but that’s not all. Fish may hold in vast areas of small bays, but only feed in one area because of a difference in water temperature and water clarity. Temperatures can vary as much as 10-degrees in areas just blocks away because of the type of structure, bottom, or protection from the elements. Dead end residential canals protected from the wind that run north and south and with dark muddy bottoms and good depth will generally hold fish that will feed. The west side of that canal receives sun first as the sun rises and heats that side first making fish on that side of the canal more active. The east side benefits by the day-long heat produced by exposure to the sun and by afternoon will probably be the most productive.

Cold water kills off algae that grow during warm months improving water clarity. Sight-fishing is at its peak, but fish can also see you the best, making long accurate casts imperative to catching fish. On windy days, you can increase the distance of your casts by casting downwind, making the stealth approach to fish with your bait or lure easier.

High, cold winds stir up water and drop the temperature even more. Find areas with wind breaks or out of the wind and you’ll minimize that effect. Live shrimp are the most predominant inshore food source during winter and the slow movements they make are in tune with metabolic rates for fish. The DOA Shrimp that I throw is my go-to winter lure because it is the best imitation of what fish eat.

Dealing with the wind, cold, and water clarity issues can turn even slow problem days into productive days when you understand how to deal with them.

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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2015 Reflections and New Year’s Fishing Resolutions– By Capt. Ray Markham


Every year I hear the same old resolutions from folks. Some they keep, but mostly they don’t. They want to lose weight. They want to strive to stay on a budget. They want to be on time. They will get more organized…and on and on. Well for this New Year I’d love to hear a few new resolutions.

Here are a few I’d like to hear. “I’m not out to keep my limit of fish. I’d just like to take enough fish home for dinner tonight.” “Hey, I know that one trout is 27-inches and legal to take, but why don’t we release him to spawn again.” “Let’s not get too close to those other anglers fishing. They need their space as much as we want ours.” “Hey, I’m just going to pull my boat and trailer over to the side and get it loaded up before I get on the ramp. I don’t want to hold anyone up.” “Yes, I remembered to put the drain plug in.”

While 2015 is now in the history book, the year ahead may be an interesting one indeed. During 2015 we saw record-breaking heat during the summer, fall, and into winter. It seems summer never ended and winter has yet to begin. A slow start to the year with snook saw a strong finish with good number of big fish being caught in the last quarter of the year in some areas, yet others seem to still lag behind. If we have a mild winter, those fish that spawned and the small fish that came from them should have a good start for this coming year.

If you’d like to make a difference and have input regarding snook, the 2016 Snook Symposium regarding snook research and management will be held January 13th at the Caribe Royale, 8101 World Center Drive in Orlando. This day-long discussion is open to the public and includes the results of the soon-to-be released 2015 stock assessment, population recovery following the 2010 cold kill, and will discuss opportunities for improving snook management. To register online and learn more, go to MyFWC.com/Snook2016. You can also email Marine@MyFWC.com or call 1(850) 487-0554 for questions.

The month of January will see at least 21 days where we will have negative low tides. These will be prime opportunities to do some scouting of new areas, to find holes and check out the exposed bay bottom for structure. It’s also a good time to wade fish, so get your waders ready and let’s go fishing.

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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