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Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota, FL Fishing Report for 12/9/2017

by on Dec.09, 2017, under Bradenton and Sarasota, Siesta Key to Boca Grande, Tampa Bay, East and South Shore

Anglers fishing with me, out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, had good action catching and releasing false albacore (little tunny) and tripletail in the coastal gulf on flies and trout and pompano in Sarasota Bay on CAL jigs with shad tails during the past week.

MichaelRobbSarasotaflyalbie3
Michael Robb, from Buffalo, fished the coastal gulf with me on Monday and had good action catching and releasing several albies on a fly. In addition he also caught and released his first tripletail on a fly. Michael’s dad, Larry, joined him on Wednesday but despite a stable weather pattern, the action with albies in the coastal gulf ended as baitfish moved on.

Walter Poxon, from MN, and Bill Poxon, from Sarasota, celebrated Bill’s birthday with their annual fishing trip with me on Tuesday in Sarasota Bay. They had steady action catching and releasing numerous trout and a nice pompano on the west side of the bay on CAL jigs with shad tails.

With the passing of this weekend’s front, water temperatures will plummet and fish will move. Migratory species could reappear following the front depending on conditions. After the weather stabilizes, there should also be good action with trout, blues and more on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Shallow water action for snook, trout and reds is improving due to cooler water. Fishing lighted docks and bridges in the ICW for catch and release snook with flies and DOA Lures should also be a good option.

Tight Lines,
Capt. Rick Grassett
FFI 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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Florida Sportsman Online West Central Fishing4Cast, 12/8/17, from Capt. Ray Markham

by on Dec.08, 2017, under TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Finally, the weekend ahead will see some cooler temperatures. These temperatures will be quite a bit cooler than the near record highs we’ve been seeing recently. Look for falling water temperature to slow down metabolisms of fish, making the necessity of slowing your presentations with artificial lures and smaller baits, both natural and artificial, more important.

OFFSHORE/ NEARSHORE

The clock is ticking down on the closure of gag grouper at the end of the month. Now’s the time to get out and take advantage of the nearshore action with some big rod benders. Anglers are reporting taking the minimum 24-inch and larger gags in as shallow as 15-feet of water. Gags can be caught in lower Tampa Bay exiting the bay in the Egmont Key Ship’s Channel on the sloping rocky channel. Trolling has been a deadly effective method for these fish. An assortment of big jigs with soft plastic curly tails and plugs like some of those from MirrOlure, Rapala, Mann’s are the norm. Lures that have small lips are best trolled behind planers or on downriggers. Controlled depth fishing with downriggers is the most effective method. Vance Tice of St. Petersburg has these methods down to a science. While he ventures out into the Gulf for some big gags, his forte is Tampa Bay trolling. For information on these trolling techniques, Tice may be reached at (813) 787-8712.

Capt. Dylan Hubbard of Hubbard’s Marina at John’s Pass in Madeira Beach reported his Extreme 12-hour trips landing gag grouper approaching 40-pounds! These monster gags have been caught on the 39-hour trips, but with gags moving shallower, the 12-hour Extreme trip has been exceptionally productive for bottom fishers. The gag action has been so hot, that Hubbard’s has added two more 39-hour trips, on December 15 and December 19. Hubbard commented, “The gag bite has been off the charts to say the least the Dec 1st 39 hour had nearly 60 fat keeper gags along with scamp, red grouper, mangroves, yellow tail and more! Tuna are being caught on the trollers and flat lines too.” If you want to get in on the action, book your trip now with Hubbard’s at www.hubbardsmarina.com.

Nearshore action with tripletail has been very good. Most any kind of floating object, piling, channel marker, or stone crab trap float can hold these fish. Approach the structure quietly with a light to medium power rod with a live shrimp, jig, or artificial shrimp, like those from DOA Lures, rigged on a popping cork and about two feet of leader and cast to it. If there is a fish there, and you don’t see it, it will generally rise to the occasion.

INSHORE

Water temperatures that have been in the low 70’s for several weeks will see a dip in the mercury this weekend as a cold front moves south through the Suncoast. Adjust your retrieve, slowing it down. Work the lower third of the water column for the majority of the species you target. Snook season closed last week, but catch and release action will continue as these fish move into the backcountry, into residential canals, and up rivers and creeks. Look for slow moving baits like the DOA Shrimp to get some top action from these fish.

Coming off last Sunday’s big moon, tides have been lower than the norm, but with northerly winds expected for part of the weekend, you will continue to see some low water and can also expect fish to move into the potholes that this low water creates. Trout fishing will be like shooting fish in the barrel. Jigs, like the CAL Shad and MirrOlure Marsh Minnow will take flounder, trout, redfish, snook, bluefish, and many others. Just work them slowly. Curly tail jigs provide more action than most any other with just a little bit of current. Light jig heads that fall slowly will trigger strikes from lethargic fish.

Good numbers of bluefish have been chomping at trout in lower Tampa Bay. These vicious fish can chomp a keeper trout right up to the gills in one bite. Be prepared to lose some jigs when you get on the water and bring plenty of replacement tails.

Redfish action seems to have slowed lately. With lower than average low tides, look in channels where a flat dumps water off areas with oyster bars to find a few reds.

Sheepshead continue to show themselves in greater numbers as they prepare for the late winter spawn in February and March. Most area seawalls, docks and anywhere where barnacles grow and crabs gather will hold sheepshead. Rock piles along the coast and in Tampa Bay, and the Gandy and Howard Franklin Bridges are known big sheepshead attractors. Live fiddler crabs, oysters, blanched sand fleas, clams, and most any mollusks make good bait for these fish.

FRESHWATER

Capt. Angie Douthit, guiding on Lake Okeechobee, reports the water level is still higher than normal, but some great action from spawning bass and crappie has been taking place. A variety of lures is working for both, but bass have been hitting slow rolled spinnerbaits and topwater lures worked very slowly. Some of Capt. Douthit’s anglers have been catching some monster tropy bass.

Crappies are hitting minnows slow trolled around edges of grass beds. The action will increase as cold fronts move south. To book your exciting and productive day of fishing for bass and crappie call 863-228- 7263. Be sure to check out Capt. Douthit’s website for all the latest client photos, fishing reports, accommodations, what to bring, etc. at www.southfloridabassfishing.com. ‘Til then…I’ll catch ya later!

Capt. Ray Markham

(941) 723-2655

Ray.markham@gmail.com

www.CaptainRayMarkham.com

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Sportfishing Industry Supports Florida’s Invasive Lionfish Removal Incentive Program

by on Dec.06, 2017, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Sportfishing Industry Supports Florida’s Invasive Lionfish Removal Incentive Program

Funding will reward harvesters who find and remove tagged lionfish

December 6, 2017 – Alexandria, VA – The American Sportfishing Association (ASA), along with other fishing and boating industry leaders and organizations, presented the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) with funding to support the 2018 tagged-lionfish removal incentive program. The program rewards harvesters who find and remove previously tagged lionfish from waters around the state of Florida. ASA’s contribution is part of an overall $25,000 donation presented at the start of the three-day meeting being held in Gainesville, Fla.

“The American Sportfishing Association is proud to help fund the FWC’s 2018 tagged-lionfish removal incentive program,” said Glenn Hughes, ASA’s vice president for Industry Relations. “We are thankful for FWC’s dedication to lionfish control efforts and their development of innovative approaches to combat this invasive species and to protect Florida’s native ecosystems.”

“It’s important for Florida’s recreational industry to be involved in the fight against invasive lionfish that threaten our fisheries, which is why ASA and Keep Florida Fishing® continue to strongly support the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission through programs like these,” said Kellie Ralston, ASA’s Florida Fishery Policy director.

Lionfish are a nonnative invasive species that can reduce native fish populations and negatively affect the overall reef habitat. This program will run May 19, through Sept. 3, 2018, and will coincide with the annual summer-long Lionfish Challenge, which rewards recreational and commercial lionfish harvesters with prizes for submitting their lionfish removal efforts.

About the 2018 Tagged-Lionfish Removal Program

The goal of the 2018 tagged-lionfish removal program is to increase statewide removal efforts by giving divers a greater incentive to harvest lionfish more often while in search of the valuable tagged fish. Additional non-cash prizes are also available for those that harvest and submit a tagged lionfish.  The program will also provide FWC with valuable data on the movement of lionfish.

Approximately six to eight lionfish will be tagged at each of the 50 randomly-selected public artificial reef sites throughout the Atlantic and Gulf between the depths of 80 and 120 feet. Participants will have access to the reef locations at ReefRangers.com. Additional information about the rules and requirements of the tagged-lionfish removal program will be announced in early 2018.

About Keep Florida Fishing®

Keep Florida Fishing® is an advocacy arm of the American Sportfishing Association with the goal of ensuring Florida anglers have clean waters, abundant fisheries and access to both. Learn more at www.KeepFloridaFishing.org. Find Keep Florida Fishing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is the sportfishing industry’s trade association committed to representing the interests of the sportfishing and boating industries as well as the entire sportfishing community. We give the industry and anglers a unified voice when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect sportfishing business or sportfishing itself. ASA invests in long-term ventures to ensure the industry will remain strong and prosperous, as well as safeguard and promote the enduring economic, conservation and social values of sportfishing in America. ASA also gives America’s 46 million anglers a voice in policy decisions that affect their ability to sustainably fish on our nation’s waterways through Keep America Fishing®, our national angler advocacy campaign. America’s anglers generate more than $48 billion in retail sales with a $115 billion impact on the nation’s economy creating employment for more than 828,000 people.

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Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota, FL Fishing Report for 11/26/17

by on Nov.26, 2017, under Bradenton and Sarasota

Anglers fishing with me, out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, caught and released false albacore (little tunny) and tripletail in the coastal gulf on flies during the past week. Conditions and water temperature have been ideal, most of the time, for migratory species in the coastal gulf and action has been great!

PeterRyan1stflyalbiejpg

Lynn Skipper, from Apollo Beach, fished with me on Tuesday. We had wind and clouds that day so conditions were tough in the gulf. However, despite poor visibility we found several tripletail and Lynn caught and released his first tripletail on a fly. Great job!

Jim Collins, from Bradenton, and Peter Ryan, from CO, fished the coastal gulf with me on Wednesday. Conditions were great and fish responded accordingly. They had non-stop action catching and releasing albies to more than 10-lbs and Peter also caught and released a tripletail on a shrimp fly pattern!

PeterRyan1stflytripletail

The action continued on Saturday when Mike Perez, from Sarasota, fished the coastal gulf with me. He also had great action catching and releasing numerous albies and a couple of tripletail on a variety of glass minnow fly patterns. Rod bending, drag screaming action, love this time of year!

With the water temperature in the low 70’s, action with Spanish mackerel, albies, tripletail and cobia in the coastal gulf should continue. There should also be good action with trout and more on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Shallow water action for snook, trout and reds is improving due to cooler water. Fishing lighted docks and bridges in the ICW for snook with flies and DOA Lures should also be a good option.

Tight Lines,
Capt. Rick Grassett
FFI 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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Nature Coast Fishing Report, Capt. William Toney, 11/8/17–Homosassa/Crystal River/Yankeetown/Waccasassa

by on Nov.08, 2017, under Chassahowitzka and Homosassa, Ozello to Crystal River, Yankeetown and Waccasassa

Some of the hardest hitting and drag pulling fish that pass through the Nature Coast heading south are biting now. Spanish mackerel are abundant on the near shore rocks and coastal flats. The flats mackerel are mixed in with trout over hard bottom in 3 to 5 feet of water. Just like the trout they will hit most jigs but the bad luck about mackerel are they’re sharp teeth. Luck has allot to do with landing spanish mackerel while trout fishing and one way to have more luck is to set the hook quickly with every strike. This will help prevent the bait from getting to close to those sharp teeth. Sometimes an angler will get cut off but it happens. On the near shore rocks a chum bag will help concentrate the fish. Use live shrimp on a 2/0 long shank Eagle Claw hook free lined with the tide and chum for the best bite. The long shank hook acts like a leader without having to use wire that mackerel will sometimes shy away from. On the bottom around the near shore rocks there are grunts and a few sheepshead biting also.
The waters are starting to clear up some. We have experienced some coffee colored water from the north west wind pushing the tannin stained fresh waters from the Waccasassa and Withlacochee River toward the south. Look for incoming tide this weekend to be in the morning.

 

Capt. William Toney

captainwilliamtoney@gmail.com

 

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Coexistence–Getting Along With Others During Florida’s Bay Scallop Season

by on Oct.29, 2017, under Chassahowitzka and Homosassa, FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, Horseshoe Beach, Ozello to Crystal River, Shell Point to Lanark, Ochlockonee Bay, St. Marks, Aucilla and Econfina, Steinhatchee

Big Bend Action Spotter, Florida Sportsman Magazine

September 2017

In last month’s Big Bend Action Spotter, I wrote about getting away from the scalloping multitudes by fishing in places likely less “infested”. This month, let’s consider coexistence!

 

I know lots of anglers who simply give up saltwater fishing in the Gulf of Mexico during Florida’s recreational bay scallop season, which ends this month and includes the busy Labor Day weekend. Many head to the Atlantic side of the state, even to freshwater rivers and lakes. But there are options and complete abandonment of the Gulf isn’t necessarily one of them.

 

Know that for the most part, scalloping goes on in water that’s three to ten feet deep. At the deep end of that range, there are scallops, but only hardy divers with big lungs can get there. Deeper than that, it’s pretty much snorkeler-free. Sea grass flats, especially our big one that starts just north of Anclote Key off Tarpon Springs and ends at St. Marks, can run to the thirty-foot depths, depending on water clarity. And just like the three-foot flats, the deeper ones are peppered with patches of sand and live spongy bottom. Add to that some wrecks, rocky outcrops and ledges, you’ll have a good mental image of what the Gulf’s floor look like.

 

It’s those scattered bottom structures in the ten-foot-plus depths that should be of interest to fin fishermen who want to avoid the last of the 2017 season of “scallop madness”. All summer long, vast numbers of baitfish and yummy crustaceans have been flourishing, all while hiding from predators who lay in wait along the edges of sand patches, behind rocks, under ledges and among wreckage. And, depending on late summer rains or storms that might cloud the waters, it should be clear enough away from shore for you to visually investigate the bottom. Spotted seatrout, flounder, black sea bass, red grouper or mackerel are all good targets and you might even be able to bring home a gag grouper–if you’re in Dixie, Levy, Citrus or Hernando county state waters.

 

From Hernando County, you’ll have to run past the scallopers to get to the deep flats. Reaching the end of the Bayport and Hernando Beach channels drop you into water that’s too deep for the average snorkeler to access. Just beyond the three-mile limit, you’ll start to see good patchy bottom, as well as some big rocks.

 

If you depart Crystal River’s main channel, head northwest from Marker #1A towards the Duke Power channel and look for the “Hump”, a shallow rise in the bottom. It’s a good spot to try for trout before you head farther west to the two Crystal Artificial Reefs. They lie just south of the point where the Duke Power channel takes a turn towards the old Cross Florida Barge Canal channel. These “Fish Havens” are decades old, but still offer some relief and potential for reef fish and pelagics.

 

Cedar Key isn’t necessarily a scalloping destination, but you can find some deep, clear water there. I’d recommend you head south out the Main Ship Channel and drift the grassy top of Seahorse Reef for trout. Then, if you want deeper water or more structure than turtle grass, head west to the live bottom near the Kingfish Hole.   Staying south of the Cedar Keys archipelago will keep you in cleaner water than heading north towards the mouth of the Suwannee River, where the river’s outflow can muddle things.

 

The Suwannee’s darker waters will eventually dissipate and clear up between Horseshoe Beach and the Pepperfish Keys. The water will stay gin-clear beyond Steinhatchee and Keaton Beach in Taylor County. After navigating through the scallopers from any of those ports, you’ll be able to find lots of good, active grass flats, as well as lots of unmarked rock piles, some only as big as a small boat. You’ll find plenty of trout over the grass, and if you find your next “super secret rock pile” expect red grouper or big flounder to be the winning catch that day.

 

Water clarity to the south and southeast of St. Marks can be iffy. It all depends on recent rains and the dark water flow from the St. Marks, Aucilla and Econfina rivers as well as the many creeks that flow into the Gulf along the Jefferson and Wakulla county coastline. If the water’s clear, there will be lush grass beds and a good trout bite. If you’re looking for reef fish or pelagics that chase bait over rough bottom, search northern Apalachee Bay. It’s the boundary of Florida’s natural Karst geology so there’s plenty of natural structure in the 12 to 20-foot depths. There’s no structure much better than ledges, rocks and small seeping springs when it comes to successful fishing—and there are plenty of them, some undiscovered, there.

 

Moving to deeper flats and the potential of inshore species as well as reef predators and pelagics, you’ll need to change your tactics and tackle. I suggest 3/8 to 1/2-ounce jigs to get to the bottom, and I’d put my money on chartreuse as a good color. Pair jig heads with a D.O.A. 4-inch Shad swimbait (Glow, with a chartreuse tail, is my favorite.) And consider using spinning combos larger than your usual 2500-4000 class gear in these deeper waters. If a grouper or a king mackerel unexpectedly comes to dinner, you’ll be glad you brought your 5000-class tackle!

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Just One Point North–Rocky Points Along Florida’s Big Bend

by on Oct.29, 2017, under Cedar Key, Chassahowitzka and Homosassa, FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Steinhatchee, Suwannee, Yankeetown and Waccasassa

Big Bend Action Spotter, Florida Sportsman Magazine

October 2017

 

There are many rocky points along Florida’s Big Bend. And I suppose there are many places labeled “rock point” along the United States’ coastlines. After all, it’s not a particularly innovative name. But there’s only one Rock Point near Steinhatchee, in Taylor County.   And it’s one you should know about if you’re interested in some pretty good inshore fishing.

Unlike local Sponge Point, that has no sponges, and Sand Point, which has no sand, Rock Point DOES have rocks. Lots of them. While its rocks offer good cover for redfish and the adjacent flats and backwaters can also add good numbers of spotted seatrout, getting there can be a tedious exercise. Rock Point is only about 3 miles north of the Steinhatchee River channel, but to get there, especially on low water, you need to dodge some offshore sand bars and shallow inshore grass flats. My advice is that you take a northwesterly course from Marker #7 in the channel, staying outside the bars, and SLOWLY and CAREFULLY head towards Rock Point when you’re offshore of it. The shoreward approach towards Rock Point isn’t especially rocky, but it’s important you respect the integrity of grass flats you’ll cross. On low water, you may need to shift modes from your outboard to your trolling motor or push pole. On higher water, usually above 2-plus feet on your tide chart (Use the “Steinhatchee River Mouth” tide station.) you might be able to idle with your outboard jacked or trimmed up. In either case, be careful not to damage the sea grass. Doing so is a fineable offense.

The rocks at Rock Point are not pebbles. Some are boulder-sized and the niches and canyons between them offer shelter to predators waiting for schools of bait, usually small mullet, to cross the point with the tide. Knowing that, and that it happens on almost any tide and in any season, should give you a clue to fishing this point—and any others you might encounter that are similarly structured. The tide runs across the point, so set your boat up in order to make long upstream casts. Don’t crowd the point. This may mean casting into the wind, but larger and heavier lures will work here. The “hatch” you’re trying to match are likely to be 6-8inch mullet, so big lures like MirrOlure Top Dogs or D.O.A. PT7s are good choices. If the tide’s full, you might try something that suspends, like a Paul Brown Devil, but be careful not to work them too deep or too slowly. If you do snag one on a rock, break it off and try to fetch it after the catching’s done!

The fact is that “one point don’t make a whole day of fishing”.   So, while you’re in the neighborhood, take advantage of some other October options here. The seagrass beds you’ll cross on your way to Rock Point will finally be devoid of summer scallopers and the trout they scared away should have returned to fatten up for the winter. There are some deeper potholes to the southwest of the point, and more important, a deeper creek channel in the bay to the south. The small rock pile on the north side of the creek bed is a good place to try, and a drift into the southeast corner of the bay is a worthwhile exercise, if the mullet are jumping. The tip of Rock Point is actually a small island, and the north shoreline inside the cut that separates it from the mainland can also be fishy, provided you take a stealthy approach. For some reason—maybe lack of pressure—the redfish along this shore can especially spooky. Long casts and silent running are a must.

This particular Big Bend “Rock Point” is pretty typical of many similar points that you’ll find from the Suncoast Keys in Citrus County, all the way to the shoreline near St. Marks. Learning each one might take a lifetime, but having knowledge of just a few can make for lots of fun days of fishing.

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2017 bay scallop season in Dixie/Taylor counties set

by on Feb.11, 2017, under Hernando and Pasco Gulf Coast, Horseshoe Beach, Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Ozello to Crystal River, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach and St. Joseph Bay, Shell Point to Lanark, Ochlockonee Bay, St. Marks, Aucilla and Econfina, Steinhatchee, Suwannee, Yankeetown and Waccasassa

The 2017 bay scallop season for Dixie County and parts of Taylor County will be open from June 16 through Sept. 10. This includes all state waters from the Suwannee River through the Fenholloway River. These changes are for 2017 only and are an opportunity to explore regionally-specific bay scallop seasons.

These changes were discussed at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) meeting on Feb. 8, where staff was directed to work with local community leaders on selecting potential 2017 season dates and to adopt changes by executive order.

At the Feb. 8 meeting, staff also updated the Commission on the status of bay scallops in St. Joseph Bay in Gulf County, and set a July 25 through Sept. 10 recreational bay scallop season off Gulf County, including all waters in St. Joseph Bay and those west of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County, through the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County.

A prolonged red tide event in late 2015 negatively impacted the scallop population in St. Joseph Bay, which led to modified local scallop regulations for 2016 that included a shortened season and reduced bag limits. FWC researchers conducted a scallop restoration project last year within St. Joseph Bay to help speed the recovery of the scallop population. These efforts have been going well and the scallop population has shown signs of improvement. Staff will conduct similar restoration efforts in 2017.

All other portions of the bay scallop harvest zone will be open from July 1 through Sept. 24. This includes all state waters from the Pasco-Hernando county line to the Suwannee River Alligator Pass Daybeacon 4 in Levy County and from north and west of Rock Island near the mouth of the Fenholloway River in Taylor County through the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County.

Bag and vessel limits throughout the entire bay scallop harvest zone will be 2 gallons whole bay scallops in shell or 1 pint of bay scallop meat per person, with a maximum of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in shell or 1/2 gallon bay scallop meat per vessel.

At the December 2017 Commission meeting, staff will review public feedback on these changes and make a recommendation for future management. To submit your feedback on bay scallop regulations, visit MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments.

For more information on these changes, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and select “Commission Meetings,” then click on the link below “Next Meeting.”

For information on bay scallop regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Bay Scallops.”

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Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota, FL Fishing Report for 11/27/2016

by on Nov.27, 2016, under Bradenton and Sarasota

Action was steady on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay during the past week. Anglers fishing with me, out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, caught and released trout and blues on flies, CAL jigs with shad tails and DOA Deadly Combos. Holiday weeks are usually all about family fun and this one was no different.

Alan Ross, from Sarasota, FL and his son Adam Ross, from CA, fished Sarasota Bay with me on Monday. It was their first time fly fishing in saltwater and they did well. They had good action catching and releasing trout on Ultra Hair Clouser flies fished on sink tip fly lines.

Susan Gros, from The Villages, FL, also had some action with trout and blues on flies on Tuesday and Marshall Dinerman, from Atlanta, GA, got in on the action on Wednesday catching and releasing numerous trout and blues on Ultra Hair Clouser flies and CAL jigs with shad tails.

On Friday and Saturday, grandfathers and grandsons got in on the fun. Phil Rever and grandsons Max and Wesley, all from MD, fished with me on Friday and Bill Misischia, from University Park, FL and grandson Patrick Walsh, from IN, fished with me on Saturday. They all had good action with trout and blues in Sarasota Bay on CAL jigs with shad tails and DOA Deadly Combos.

Trout, blues and more on deep grass flats and snook, reds and larger trout in skinny water should be good options. Night snook fishing around lighted docks and bridges in the ICW with flies and DOA Lures should also be a good option. There may be some action in the coastal gulf with false albacore (little tunny) as the water cools down and baitfish school up along the beaches. Tripletail should also be a good option since stone crab traps are now in the coastal gulf, increasing the amount of available structure for them.

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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Thoughts Regarding Table Value of Smoothback Pufferfish

by on May.27, 2016, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST

Smoothback Puffer Lagocephalus inermis, Family:Tetrodontidae

                               Smoothback Puffer Lagocephalus inermis, Family:Tetrodontidae

Since the spring of 2015, there’s been an “outbreak” of smoothback puffers along Florida’s Gulf Coast, from Tampa Bay to Pensacola.  Likely a deepwater species, I’d never seen one until I caught 4 off Steinhatchee on Florida’s Big Bend last year.  These are NOT the small porcupine blowfish that usually cut chunks from soft plastic baits and steal live shrimp.  So far, many specimens over 20-inches have been caught.  And they’re not coming from offshore waters.   Catches have been reported in less than 3 feet of water, over close to shore rock piles and oyster beds.  I’d never seen one in my 60-plus years of fishing in Florida, and many anglers and marine scientists are also baffled.

Many of my readers have asked about the edibility of these fish, having heard about some pufferfish that are poisonous, but still popular as food in Asia.  These puffers are not the same as fugu, often listed as one of the most dangerous foods, there is some concern that anglers might contaminate the flesh during the cleaning process.

At a recent meeting of marine scientists, I had the opportunity to ask one who is probably one of the leading experts on seafood safety about smoothback pufferfish.  His thought, “I wouldn’t eat one!”.

That’s good enough for me.  I’ll stick to catching them (they really fight well!) and practicing catch and release!

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