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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Tag: clearwater

Capt. Ray Markham’s Florida Sportsman Fishing4Cast- West Central- December 22-24, 2017

by on Dec.22, 2017, under TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

A string of beautiful weather days should allow holiday anglers to get on the water if desired. However, with the first day of winter arriving on this Thursday, the 21st, don’t expect to see anything that feels like winter. Go with what you know according to the water temperature.


As we approach the gag grouper closure at the end of the month, anglers are finding these fish in as shallow as 10-feet of water from inside Tampa Bay all along the beaches. A good rule of thumb is to find some hard bottom or structure where you may find stone crab traps. You may do double duty here as tripletails are also being taken on the crab trap floats and lines that mark the traps. Live pinfish with a trimmed tail to slow the baitfish down have been top baits for gags. DOA Shrimp or the live version rigged on a light jig head or under a popping cork with a 2-foot leader will take these tasty fish. While gags are found shallow this time of year, you’ll also find them well out into the Gulf.

Kingfish have slowed with the water temperature drop in the Gulf. The temperature has dropped into the lower 60’s but with this warm weather, it could bring surface temps back up to bring in some Spanish or king mackerel again. Bait schools scattered on the last cold front, but could re-group again by the weekend.

Although the bite has slowed, anglers continue to find some hogfish despite the temperature drop. Anglers say downsizing tackle is the secret. Using small-to-medium size live shrimp on 15-pound class tackle with a long fluorocarbon leader will get it done, but patience is the key. Hogs are somewhat shy and wait to chew as all the other reef fish feed. Be prepared to lose a lot of bait, as everything eats a live shrimp.


The recent warming trend has snook stalled that were moving into the backcountry. Look for them on points and over dark bottom adjacent to channels. Water temperatures back on the rise approaching the 70’s will make topwater lures effective again, but jigs will out-pace them. The 3-inch CAL Shad has been my top producer for catch and release snookin’.

Redfish have been tough lately, but doable. Smaller jerk baits have been deadly. The MirrOlure Lil’ John rigged on a light jig head has been a top producer of reds laid up on shallow backwater flats and in potholes on sandy bottoms. Where I’m still finding pinfish, both the Eppinger Rex Spoon and MirrOlure MirrOdine 37MR49 have been hit. The new MirrOdine is the largest model they make, and I’m replacing the hooks with slightly smaller and lighter hooks to make the lure buoyant so I can work it in 6-inches of water. If pinfish or sardines are present, USE THIS LURE! You won’t be sorry.

Trout fishing has taken a big swing upward. Look for these fish in potholes on the low tides. Coming off this past Monday’s new moon have produced some exceptionally low tides, pushing these fish into the holes and channels.

Flounder are making an appearance again around passes and on sand bottom where it meets shell, grass, rock, or a change in depth. Jigs worked slowly on the bottom are hard to beat.

Pompano have disappeared, but a brief showing near Bunces Pass might reveal that more fish remain in the area. Doc’s Goofy Jigs have been a go-to bait here in yellow with a pink teaser.


Bass fishing has been taking off. Anglers fishing spinnerbaits at Lakes Tarpon and Seminole report good action with white or white and chartreuse colors. Crappie fishing should improve as the weather cools again. ‘Til then…I’ll catch ya later!


The new FWC Fish/Hunt FL app for your phone is an amazing resource. Download it and you’ll have all the up to date information on rules, regulations, and some very good information on how, when, and where to hunt and fish.


Capt. Ray Markham

(941) 723-2655



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Looking For GPS Numbers for Tampa Bay and Southwest Florida?

by on Nov.27, 2012, under TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

I’ve had lots of requests on the site for GPS coordinates of reefs, wrecks and offshore fishing holes.  The list is too long to print, so it’s time to “belly-up” and get your very own copy of my latest (2012) book, The Saltwater Angler’s Guide to Tampa Bay and Southwest Florida.  Click the link to the right (on the sidebar) and you’ll be magically taken to Amazon.com, where you can get a copy at a discounted price.

In addition to GPS numbers, the book also has essential information regarding fishing from all ports from Bayport (in Hernando County) to Chokoloskee (at the top of the ‘glades).

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Suncoast/Tampa Bay Fishing Report, Capt. Gary Burch, September/October 2012

by on Nov.05, 2012, under Dunedin, Clearwater and Largo, Old Tampa Bay--Above the Bridges, Uncategorized

September was pretty much a continuation of August as the fishing and catching action went.  All of the targeted species were available at any given time.  The water temps were slightly lower around 85 degrees and the air temperatures were around the middle 80’s. We did not cool down until later in the month and into October.

Most of my clients were catching trout, reds, snook, mackerel, sharks and a number of other species.  The key to September and October fishing was to keep moving around and chumming the spot with shrimp and white baits.  This created a very active area and drew in lots of hungry fish.

On into October, we had a few cool fronts that dropped the water temps below the 80 degree mark.  This seemed to turn on the bite and move the fish to different areas.  I checked the mangrove cuts and found redfish and trout had started to show up.  Also some larger trout were making their way into the bays.  I spotted a few snook in transition from the gulf passes to the bays.  These cold fronts should set up some great fall and early winter fishing.

Jim and company came out on a nice warm day and we fished in Clearwater Bay.  They caught a variety of fish on shrimp and white baits which included several nice redfish, a dozen nice trout, mackerel and lady fish.  We put in an effort for a snook but had no takers.

Richard and Joy joined me on a midweek trip to the shallows.  They caught redfish, trout and mackerel throughout the day.  Joy landed her first shark, a small Bonnet Head and had fun doing it.

Jordan and group picked a great day to go fishing.  Winds were calm and we had a great incoming tide.  They both started out catching some fighting redfish.  Nothing large but some great fighters.  Jordan’s biggest fish was 25 inches.  As we moved around the bay, they added several dozen trout, a few large mackerel and a shark or two.  At one of our stops, Jordan landed a 27 inch snook.  He did a great job catching the fish on light tackle.  This gave Jordan the slam of the day

Keith came out on a windy day.  We caught fish moving around to the cleanest water possible.  When the wind blows it dirties the water and scatters the bait fish and the fish that feed on them.  They usually migrate to the cleaner water around the bay.  Keith ended up with several nice redfish and trout.  He also added several mackerel and lady fish to the catch.

Kevin and family joined me for some fall fishing.  We moved around the bay fishing the areas that had the cleanest water.  Of course, the women struck first catching some nice trout, mackerel and a small shark.  It took a few more spots before the men finally showed up.  Kevin and dad caught some nice size trout with one measuring in over 20 inches.  They also added some mackerel and lady fish.  We put some time in for redfish but had no takers.

We had some great weather for Chase and Casey.  Moving around the bay paid off as we were able to cover more stops which resulted in more fish.  Both caught redfish up to 22 inches and trout up to 19 inches.  Several mackerel and lady fish were added to the pot as well.  Casey caught a small Bonnet Head shark and did a fantastic job boating the fish on light tackle.

Late October I could tell that fall was in the air.  Most of the fish caught at this time were very hungry and aggressive.  Even the smaller reds and trout took the bait like a freight train.  This is a great indication of things to come.

Watch for November to continue this trend of aggressive fish action.  Now if a strong cold front hits the area and drops the water temps 10 to 15 degrees, the fishing will disappear for a few days.  But give it a day or two and the sun will warm it back up.

Get out there and have some fun winter fishing.

Capt. Gary Burch

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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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Clearwater Fishing Repot, 12/7/11, from Capt. Gary Burch

by on Dec.07, 2011, under Dunedin, Clearwater and Largo

Hi all and Happy Holidays,

Tis the season to be thankful for all we have given and all of our
families.  I hope this Nov. fishing report finds you well.

November turned out to be an excellent fishing month.  The weather on the
most part was very seasonal and the fish loved it.

The gator trout and redfish action got a lot better with the cooler
temperatures and should continue and even get better as we head into

Nov. fishing report with photos is attached.

You can find out what we will be catching in December HERE:


All reports, forecast and articles along with all the fishing photos will
be posted on my web page.  http://www.allcatchcharters.com

Stay in touch on FaceBook. “Like Us” or comment here.


Thank you, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Capt. Gary Burch


727 458-6335

For more information on a charter with Capt. Gary, please visit web site
above or call.  Thank you

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Clearwater Fishing Report, Capt. Gary Burch, October 2011

by on Nov.07, 2011, under Dunedin, Clearwater and Largo

The October weather has finally cooled down to seasonal averages.  After a few cold fronts that passed through the area, the water temperatures settled down to around 70 degrees.  There have been a few days that were extremely windy and we searched out the lee side of the bay to find less choppy and cleaner water.  All in all, it has been a good fishing month.

The trout fishing has been on fire in the shallows of Clearwater Bay.  Most of my trips have targeted trout and redfish.  Mackerel and lady fish have also been added to the catch.  Grassy areas in about three to four feet of water throughout the bay have been holding the most fish.  We used the incoming and the outgoing tides to catch the majority of our fish.

Red fishing has been scattered around the flats and back waters.  We caught small reds on some days and large fish on others.  As we move further into winter, hopefully the bigger fish will school in a more consistent matter.

Here are some typical trips I had throughout October.

Mark, Bill and Andy came out and started in on the trout on their first cast.  All anglers caught over 30 trout from 14 to 18 inches and a couple small redfish.  They added lots of high flying lady fish and some nice size mackerel to the catch.  Andy is showing us his biggest mackerel.

The trout continued their attack on our baits as Mike, Adam and Tomas came aboard.  They caught over 40 trout moving around Clearwater bay while dropping their baits on the surrounding grass flats.  We used both white baits and shrimp under a float to attract our action.  Tomas caught the biggest trout and Mike caught the smallest.  They said there was no completion going on, but I’m just saying!  Lots of lady fish and some small redfish were caught as well.  Adam ended the day with the big fish award, a beautiful 31 inch redfish.

Don brought his grandson, Taylor along for a day of fishing.  Both caught several dozen trout and lady fish.  Taylor landed his biggest fish ever, a 29 inch redfish.  He did a great job fighting and landing the fish but had a little trouble holding it up for pictures.  Don helped out then released the red to fight another day.

Margo and friends picked a great day to be fishing.  A little over cast and slightly windy but the fishing was off the charts.  Together they caught 14 different species including, 20 trout, 2 black drum, 3 redfish, 2 flounder, 2 sharks and lots of others.  It was nonstop from start to finish.

So far we haven’t had any strong cold fronts to really mess up the fishing action.  Fishing in October ended up very consistent for this time of year.  We’ll get cooler in November and that will bring in bigger and better schools of trout and redfish.  Can’t wait.

Capt. Gary Burch

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Clearwater and Upper Tampa Bay April 2011 Fishing Report and May Forecast from Capt. Gary Burch

by on May.04, 2011, under Dunedin, Clearwater and Largo, Old Tampa Bay--Above the Bridges

April fishing has been off the charts.  The month started out good and
ended up being one of the best catching months in years.

I am attaching the April report because the photo’s are in the report. The
report is also on my web site.  All clients mentioned in the report, your
photo’s have been uploaded to my site.

Please note that the May forecast can be viewed on my web site at:


All indications are pointing to May turning out to be a great fishing
month as well.

Take care.

Capt Gary Burch


727 458-6335

For more information on a charter with Capt. Gary, please visit web site
above or call.  Thank you

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March and April 2011 fishing reports for Clearwater and Dunedin from Capt. Gary Burch

by on Apr.10, 2011, under Dunedin, Clearwater and Largo

You can tell spring time is here.  I’ve been extremely busy in March and April and a little slow in getting out the fishing action for this area.

The action has been nonstop with tons of trout, many redfish and lots of speedy mackerel and high flying ladyfish.

We had a 25 1/4 inch trout, an 18 inch, 4 lb. pompano, many 24 inch mackerel and several 27 inch redfish

Also here is the April forecast for the Clearwater and Dunedin fishing areas.


Everybody have a great summer!

Capt Gary Burch



727 458-6335

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November 2010 Fishing Report, Clearwater and Dunedin, from Capt. Gary Burch

by on Dec.02, 2010, under Dunedin, Clearwater and Largo

A day before the November cold front hit, the water temperature in Clearwater Bay was in the middle 70s.  There was bait still on the grass flats.  The inshore and bay waters were very clean.  The cold front was on its way and cooler air was expected.

John, Larry and Emily joined mejust before the front was to sweep through the area.  It was one heck of a day because of the great weather and the abundant fish caught.   We fished an outgoing tide in the calm Clearwater Bay waters.  Larry caught the first redfish and after that, I can’t remember who caught what!  All three anglers caught eleven different species and over 60 fish.  CheckoutJohn’s 21 inch trout, Emily’s 4 lb. bluefish and Larry’s 25 inch mackerel, just to mention a few.  They caught grouper, ladyfish and lots of others.

Emily had the fish of the day.  Her line took off screaming.  I was worried that it wasn’t going to stop!  The fish slowly turned and she fought it back to the boat.  We finally got a good look at this brown colored mystery fish.  Sure enough, it was a big brown bomber.  The cobia was at least 36 inches and close to 20 lbs.  Emily reeled the fish close to the boat just to have it take off on another run.  Finally I had a net shot and the cobia took off again, this time snapping the line.  What a disappointment for Emily after her experience.  We managed to get a picture of the fish beside the boat in the water.  We caught a few more trout and mackerel, and called it a day after the sunset.

The cold front passed through the following day and dropped the water temperature to the low 60’s.    A few days later, John from Massachusetts came on board for the morning.  We started in the back waters and around the mangroves.  The extreme low tides had us fishing some of the deeper holes that were adjacent to the high and dry grass flats.  Normally, these areas will hold trout and redfish because they have no place to go.  John was casting an artificial jig head with a 3” Cal plastic and I was throwing out live shrimp.  He caught a couple dozen trout on the artificial and I caught about 4 fish.  The trout were feeding on small baits in the area and didn’t want anything to do with live shrimp.  We moved to a different spot as the tide came in.  I chummed up a few shrimp along the mangroves to start the action.  John started to catch redfish using live shrimp under a float.  The dozen or so fish were all 15 to 18 inches.  He added a nice 16 inch flounder to the mix when time ran out.  John had to get back to attend an afternoonbusiness meeting at the Resort.

Eric,wife Shannon and Arlyn joined me for some late November fishing.  We started out at the rock jetties in Clearwater where some snook were still hanging out.  With water temps still close to 70 and lots of bait fish around, it’s not uncommon to find late season snook in this area. These fish will be heading to the back watersat the first hint of a cold front.

I chummed the water with some smashed up white bait and cast out lines.  After 45 minutes and no takers, we left the area.  But before we took off, I did a slow look along the rocks and saw about a half dozen snook lying aroundsluggishly.

We headed north into St. Joseph Sound and fished around a few spoil islands.  After a short lesson in fishing with artificials, my clients proceeded to catch eight nice size trout over 20 inches.  Next stop was back into the mangroves looking for redfish.  At this point we were casting live shrimp under a float.  After a few minutes, we did catch a couple of redfish and Shannon’s was the biggest at 22 inches.

I’m expecting more of this action to continue all through the winter.  The trout and redfish will only get bigger.  The addition of scattered bluefish should make it a banneryear winter fishing in Clearwater and Dunedin.

Capt. Gary Burch
727 458-6335

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