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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Tag: fishing forecast

Florida Sportsman West Central Florida Fishing 4Cast–Capt. Ray Markham

by on Mar.03, 2016, under TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Moderate weather has been the norm of late. Even with mild fronts making it down to the Suncoast, it’s not been cold out. Water temps are back on the rise and there is the first push of pelagic fish at hand. Go fishing!


For anglers looking to put some meat in the box, Spanish mackerel are beginning to show up on the beaches and near most passes from John’s Pass south. Keep your eyes peeled and your ear to the ground; because now that we’ve seen some Spanish come over the gunnels you can just about expect kingfish to start to show on offshore wrecks. We have a mild front that should come in some time on Friday bring some wind that will kick up seas and dirty the water, that will put a king in the mackerel action but once it clears and the water cleans up, look for some kings and Spanish to show. If you head out of Tampa Bay and follow the Egmont Key Ship’s Channel all the way out to the Whistler, somewhere along the way you’ll find a good show of bait. That’s where you’ll want to look for kings. Time’s Square is another good location for early arrivals of kingfish.

It’s almost tournament time again and the 25th Annual Suncoast Kingfish Classic is just about a month away. The long-running tournament promises to bring out some of the best kingfish anglers in the southeast. Slated to run April 7 through 9 at John’s Pass Marina, the tournament is a favorite local event that draws some of the top kingfish anglers in the country to vie for the $20,000 first place prize. A discounted early entry fee for those who get in before the April 1 early entry deadline may be incentive enough for those who are already checking their rod guides, changing line, and twisting up some leaders to prepare for kingfish season. If you’re around April 28-30, the Old Salts will be cranking up their mack daddy event, the 2016 Old Salt Spring King of the Beach Tournament where anglers will be fishing for some big jack…no not crevalle, but $50,000 for the top angler in the Madeira Beach event. This big buck tourney has been known to draw big crowds to enjoy the festivities and witness some big kings being weighed in.

If bottom dropping is your bag, anglers working shallow to 50 or 60-foot depths are finding it slow going and have reported some red grouper, catch and release red grouper, and some tasty grunts. To elevate the lowly grunt the Old Salts have come up with the Great American Grunt Hunt slated to run down the road May 12 & 14….details to follow.


Spring is just a few weeks away and lucky us! We will be springing forward with our clocks March 13 so we will have sun setting an hour later after that date. A variety of things have been going on inshore. Snook season reopened on Tuesday with the expected lackluster start. Water temps have been slowly climbing with the recent warm weather but on opening day in the ICW near John’s Pass it was 68.5-degrees. Not really cold but just warm enough to get a few fish to eat in that area. We caught several under slot fish near there.

Redfish action has been good, with good numbers of fish bending rods in the upper Tampa Bay region and in the ICW near Dunedin. Spoil islands and mangrove shorelines in the area are producing reds in the mid-slot on live pinfish and cut baits. Tampa Bay anglers are scoring with the Eppinger Rex Spoon that is about the size of white bait that’s on the flats and around the Sunshine Skyway. Steady action in Terra Ceia with trout and reds has been the norm. A few flounder continue to mix up a day’s fishing there. Bluefish in lower Tampa Bay are keeping anglers on the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Piers busy as well as the Spanish mackerel. Gotcha Jigs, Diamond Jigs, and Clark Spoons are the top meat getters for mackerel there. Bigger trout are coming from Sarasota Bay waters just inside the passes. Capt. Rick Grassett’s anglers have been tossing an assortment of flies for ladyfish, jack crevalle, trout, and redfish in that area. Grassett’s night trips for snook have been productive with good numbers of fish being caught on fly around dock lights and bridge fenders.

For those who just love to eat fish, there’s none better than a pompano, in my opinion. For anglers targeting them, they are getting several fish per day around the Gandy Bridge, and in the Fort Desoto area near Bunces Pass. Pass-A-Grille can also be a hot spot for pomps at times. The original Doc’s Goofy Jig continues to be the top lure for pompano but anglers fishing live sand fleas and fiddler crabs find fishing productive for them as well.


Bass anglers continue to show some big bass being caught from area ponds. Bedding bass around lake perimeters are hitting an assortment of soft plastic lures. Lizard and eel type imitations and just about any of the creature baits that are available are getting the most attention. Crappie fishing continues to be good on Lake Tarpon. With the warmer weather, though, the schooling action could break up. Continue drifting for specks with Missouri minnows or crappie jigs suspended at different levels to find the schools and concentrate on those areas.

News Channel 8 Outdoor Expo & Boat Show this weekend!

Come out and join us at the WFLA News Channel 8 OUTDOOR EXPO & BOAT SHOW at the Florida State Fairgrounds March 4, 5, and 6th for some great family fun. If you want to learn some secrets for catching more fish on artificial baits, I’ll be on stage speaking Friday night at 6:30, Saturday at 5:30, and Sunday at 1 P.M. on a variety of inshore fishing topics using artificial lures. This is where you want to be this weekend if catching more fish is what you want. Some of the top guides in the area will be there to share. Come early and enjoy all the fine speakers and check out what’s new in the fishing game. The biggest names in fishing will be on hand giving seminars and answering questions all weekend long. The list of fishing celebrities includes Capt. C.A. Richardson, Mark Nichols from D.O.A. Lures, Capt. Geoff Page and Capt. Rick Murphy, Capt Scott Moore, Capt. Billy Nobles, Capt. Glenn Taylor and many more. All kinds of boat manufacturers, fishing tackle distributors, and lure manufacturers will be on hand along with many other great outdoor companies to assist you in catching more fish. Reel Animals and Bull Bay Rods Pro Staffer Miss Chasten Whitfield will also be there helping kids learn to throw the cast net and tie knots so bring the whole family out to the News Channel 8 Outdoor Expo & Boat at the Florida State Fair Grounds March 4th, 5th and 6th! Details: http://wfla.com/outdoors-expo-boat-show/
Til then…I’ll catch ya later!

Capt. Ray Markham

(941) 723-2655

Email: ray.markham@gmail.com

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Capt. Andy Cotton’s Sarasota, FL Fishing Forecast October 2014

by on Sep.29, 2014, under Bradenton and Sarasota, Siesta Key to Boca Grande

Fall fishing should be in full swing this month, with a wide variety of species that can be targeted. From breaking fish in the coastal gulf to a variety of gamefish on the shallow flats.

Snook will start to move in from the beaches and passes as the water temps start to fall. You will find them along mangrove shorelines, in potholes on the shallow flats and along sandbars. I like to work these areas with top-water plugs and DOA soft plastic baits. Look for these fish at night staging along seawalls, bridge fenders and other structures where there is good tidal flow. Target these spots that have over-head or underwater lighting and fish the shadow lines with swim-baits or deceiver style fly patterns or surface flies like a gurgler.

The large schools of redfish that were found last month will start to break up and scatter across the shallow flats in Sarasota Bay. Look for schools of mullet or bait flipping on the surface as this may be a good indicator that there is fish feeding in the area. When looking for redfish I prefer to get out of my boat and wade the areas where redfish are working. This gives you more of low profile and stealthy approach to spooky fish. A variety of baits will work but I prefer to use a DOA CAL Shad tail or DOA shrimp rigged a weedless worm style hook or on fly a Grassett’s Flats Minnow tied with a weed guard to prevent snags in heavy grass.

Look for big spotted seatrout in the same areas as the snook and redfish on the shallow flats and in potholes. Fishing a topwater plug early in the morning can be deadly on over-slot fish. The deeper grass flats will hold trout in different size ranges along with Spanish mackerel, bluefish and pompano. A DOA CAL Shad tail jig or Deadly combo with DOA shrimp should produce steady action.

Another good option this month is juvenile tarpon. These fish can be found up creeks and residential canal systems around the Peace and Myakka rivers. These fish usually range from 10 to 30 pounds, with some smaller and larger fish mixed in. Snook tackle will be plenty to handle these smaller fish. A rootbeer color TerrorEyz or DOA Glow shrimp are two of my top pics for juvenile tarpon. Fly tackle in the 8 to 9 weight range with a fast sinking line and a small bunny fly or a scaled down version of the flies that you would use on adult tarpon. Large tarpon may be found in the deeper water that surrounds the grass flats in Sarasota Bay and Charlotte Harbor. These fish can be spotted feeding on schools of ladyfish. A DOA Baitbuster cast in to the frenzy should produce a strike.

The coastal Gulf of Mexico should be alive with plenty of bait and predators to follow. Schools of Spanish mackerel and false albacore will be moving along the beaches, so keep eye out for birds diving and bait scattering on the surface as these are good indicators that there is trouble below. I like to get up wind of a school of breaking fish and drift slowly to the fish while casting spoons, swimbaits and flies in to the mix. King mackerel can be found working the edges of these schools and sometimes can be seen skyrocketing through the fury. Look around marker buoys and crab pot floats, you may spot tripletail floating just under the surface. Generally tripletail are not spooky fish and will readily take a wide variety of live and artificial baits. Small baitfish and shrimp fly patterns will entice these fish in to biting.

Capt. Andy Cotton is the owner/operator of O’Fish All Guide Service “LLC” in Sarasota and is an Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide out CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key. He can be reached at (941) 685-9439 or at www.ofishallguideservice.com

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‘Labor Day Letdown—Or Post-Irene Blues’ September 2, 2011 Florida Sportsman Big Bend Fishing4Cast

by on Sep.04, 2011, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST

take a look…a couple of new products mentioned, too!

September 2-5 Florida Sportsman Big Bend Fishing4Cast

I remember when I was in high school in St. Pete that we’d always wish for a hurricane the first or second week of school. Of course, our parents didn’t have the same outlook (My Dad worked for Florida Power and hurricanes were a nightmare for him!) but we kids were more interested in a few days off school and of course, some rare Gulf of Mexico surfing! Now, I never wish for hurricanes and am really glad we dodged the bullet on Irene last week. I really feel bad for my fishing buddies in North Carolina as well as all the folks in Vermont, New Jersey and New York who have been flooded by the rain that came along with Irene. We were just plain lucky. So now with Irene out of our way and nothing in particular in the way of tropical disturbances nearby, we need to concentrate on the upcoming Labor Day weekend. The nicest part of the weekend is that most of us get an extra day off work–and of course an extra day to fish. The worst part is that the waters along the Big Bend may still be steamy, hot and grass-covered. That being the case, here are some recommendations:   More Online!

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‘Could Things Be Worse–Part Deux’–a look at late summer Big Bend Fishing

by on Aug.30, 2011, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST

Take a look at Capt. Tommy’s August 26, 2011 Florida Sportsman Big Bend Fishing4Cast

Last week I whined about heat. This week, it’s hurricanes. So far we’ve seen A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H—and now I, for Irene. None of the past eight named storms has even reached hurricane status, and for sure none even threatened our state. But this week is special—it’s the week that the long-awaited and well-planned Florida Outdoor Writers Conference is planned for Naples!

Since this is the first hurricane of the season, it’s probably not a bad idea to talk about hurricane preparedness. The hurricane experts, located in Colorado (where else?), have predicted lots of tropical storm activity this year, and odds are we may feel some of that on the Big Bend.

More?  Click the link above!

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Capt. Tommy’s Florida Sportsman Big Bend Fishing4Cast, August 19-21, 2011–‘Could Things Be Worse?’

by on Aug.18, 2011, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST

Maybe yes.  Maybe no?

Looking back at my relatively short career as an outdoor writer, I honestly can’t remember a time when I simply didn’t want to go outdoors. The heat’s unbearable—and that’s just walking out of the house and going to the car. A day in the sun, on the boat, is worse.

Last week I had an unconfirmed report from a usually reliable source that he had seen what he called a ‘fish kill’ involving scallops and black sea bass….

Take a look at this week’s Florida Sportsman Big Bend Fishing4Cast There, you’ll get the latest info…

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‘Other Fish in The Sea’–Summertime Brings Other Species Than Reds, Trout and Scallops!

by on Aug.11, 2011, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST

Take a look at the latest Florida Sportsman Big Bend Fishing4Cast.  It’s all about catching ‘other’ species–mackerel, black sea bass, mangrove snapper, cobia and tripletail!

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It’s All About Hydration–Florida Sportsman Big Bend Fishing4Cast, August 5-7, 2011


Take a look at this week’s Fishing4Cast!  Now that the heat indices are over 100 you might learn a few tricks!  Also, don’t forget that my 2008, 2009, and 2010 Big Bend Fishing4Casts are now archived on my Editorial Website.

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Capt. Tommy’s Archive of 2008, 2009 and 2010 Florida Sportsman Big Bend Fishing4Casts Now Online


Floridasportsman.com doesn’t archive my weekly online Big Bend Fishing4Cast columns, and I don’t really blame them!  It’s a grueling task and had it not been for a great summer helper, Paige Lacy, I would have let it slide for another year or two.  I started the column in May of 2008 and add one new column every Thursday.  Each week, I cover the area from Bayport to Keaton Beach and include some basic fishing information as well.

If you’re interested in comparing fishing info for the last few years, or just want something to read, take a look at my Editorial Website.

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Live Bait—the Answer to a Slow Fishing Day?–Capt. Tommy’s Florida Sportsman Big Bend Fishing4Cast, 6/17/2011

by on Jun.20, 2011, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST

It’s posted!

As you probably know from reading my 4Casts, I’m not a fan of live or natural bait. It’s not that I don’t think it works, but it may be that I have some sort of phobia about things that make my fingers smell fishy. But let’s not go there.

Natural bait, fished dead or alive, certainly has its place and it’s exactly the smell I avoid that makes it work, especially this time of year when the water’s hot and during times when those extremely high summer tides spread out the big inshore fish like ‘gator’ seatrout and ‘top-slot’ reds.

I consider myself a good and successful guide, but that’s based on my particular (and likely peculiar) clientele. They enjoy the hunt, fish with fly rods or light spinning tackle, don’t necessarily want to keep fish for food and like me, only want to fish with artificial lures. But I do have lots of successful guide friends whose clients want to bring home a limit of fish on every trip (Some actually wish there were NO limits!) and they rely on natural bait and tactics. So, for those of you who want to catch lots of fish this time of year, let’s talk about natural baits.


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Florida Sportsman Big Bend Fishing4Cast, June 10, “To Beat The Heat–Don’t Sleep Late”

by on Jun.11, 2011, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST

With the Florida Sportsman Web site in a re-building mode after a pretty bad crash three weeks ago, the Big Bend Fishing4Cast has been posted.  On an almost daily basis, I’m seeing improvements as the site’s files are rebuilt and improved upon.

This week, I write about dealing with the oppressive heat we’ve had in Florida for the last month or so, and pass along some suggestions from regional anglers and guides.

“Blistering is the only word I can think of to describe the recent spell of hot weather we’ve had in north central Florida and along the Big Bend. This past weekend the mercury rose to the upper ‘90s, making it downright uncomfortable to fish in a boat without a top—and as far as I’m concerned just about too hot for some fish species to be interested in eating.

My best advice to anglers wanting to fish this time of year is to get up early. There’s no rule that says you can’t run out in the dark, provided you follow the USCG rules about lighting your boat properly. You might also consider taking a good narrow-beam flashlight to navigate twisting channels, especially those at Homosassa and Steinhatchee. Bigger boats with radar should always operate their units when under way, giving them a slight advantage, but operators must be careful to tune their radar sets so not to confuse channel markers with docks or other boats. GPS units are also a big help, especially those with built-in chart sets.”

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