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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Tag: florida

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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Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota & Gasparilla Sound, FL Fishing Report for 3/6/2016

by on Mar.07, 2016, under Bradenton and Sarasota, 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 trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, pompano and ladyfish in Sarasota Bay, trout and redfish in Gasparilla Sound, tripletail in the coastal gulf and snook at night in the ICW near Venice on CAL jigs with shad tails and flies during the past week. With the water temperature up into the mid 60’s, there was good action on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay with trout, bluefish and more, tripletail in the coastal gulf and snook at night in the ICW.

Martin Marlowe, from NY, fished a couple of days in Sarasota Bay with me on Monday and Saturday. He was joined by his son, Bruce Marlowe from RI, on Saturday. They had good action with trout to 18”, bluefish and ladyfish on CAL jigs with shad tails and Ultra Hair Clouser flies fishing deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Martin also snook fished with me in the ICW near Venice on Sunday evening and had great action catching and releasing snook on my Grassett Snook Minnow fly.

Joe Polidoro and his father-in-law, Murray Bring, both from Sarasota fished Sarasota Bay with me on Tuesday and had good action catching and releasing trout, ladyfish and a pompano on Ultra Hair Clouser flies. Keith McClintock, from Lake Forest, IL, fished Gasparilla Sound near Boca Grande with me on Wednesday. We worked edges of bars and backcountry areas where he had some action with trout and a red on CAL jigs with shad tails.

Steve Kost, from Lakewood Ranch, FL and his guest, John Makovitch, from Pinehurst, NC, fished Sarasota Bay and the coastal gulf with me on Thursday. John caught and released his first tripletail on a DOA Shrimp in the coastal gulf and his first fish on a fly in Sarasota Bay! They also had good action with trout and a Spanish mackerel on Ultra Hair Clouser flies and CAL jigs with shad tails on both shallow and deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Shane Nichols, from MA, fished the coastal gulf with me on Friday and had good action catching and releasing several tripletail and getting some shots at others with DOA Shrimp.

I gave a presentation on “Fly Fishing the West Coast of Florida” at the News Channel 8 Outdoors Expo & Boat Show at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa on Sunday and spent some time at the DOA Fishing Lures booth. The new version of the DOA Shrimp and the new DOA Snake were featured at the show and should be a hit!

There is still time to sign up for CB’s Saltwater Outfitters Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing School next Saturday, March 12. The school will cover fly casting basics, line control, shooting line and the roll cast. Leader construction, fly selection and saltwater fly fishing techniques will also be covered in the class. The course, designed for beginning and intermediate fly casters, will focus on basics but also work with intermediate casters on correcting faults and improving casting skills. Cost for the school, which will run from 8:30 AM to 3 PM, is $150 per person and includes the use of Orvis fly tackle, a text book and lunch. Contact CB’s Saltwater Outfitters at (941) 349-4400 or info@cbsoutfitters.com to make reservations.

Tripletail should be a good option in the coastal gulf when conditions are good. Trout, bluefish and more on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay and night snook fishing around lighted docks and bridges in the ICW with flies and DOA Lures should also be good options. Look for reds and big trout mixed with mullet schools or cruising shallow flats and edges of bars in Sarasota Bay and 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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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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Red tide posing problems in portions of Tampa Bay and south By Ray Markham

by on Nov.27, 2015, under TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

As much as I hate to report this, red tide has again reared its ugly head, stretching from Charlotte Harbor to north Manatee County and parts of the south Pinellas beaches. For charter captains in Charlotte, Sarasota, and parts of Manatee County this has been a real problem keeping bait alive for the live baiters. But on the positive side, bait dying in the livewell is like the proverbial canary in the coal mines. Dying bait instantly tells you to move. But for anglers like myself who fish strictly with artificial lures we have to look for other signs that the toxic bloom is around.

Fish move when the first signs of red tide show up. But not all fish move in the right direction. Some head into back bays and get trapped by the bloom and die. Others remain in schools and die. My first indication is the obvious—dead fish. But when I’m seeing fish but finding that I detect eye or breathing irritation, I move. While fish may be there, the bloom seems to turn the bite off for fish that are present. The old adage of never leave fish to find fish doesn’t apply here. While even healthy fish don’t always bite, if I find irritation and presence of fish I move to find fish without sensing the irritation.

On recent trips down around the Bulkhead and the mouth of the Manatee River we’ve been on schools of redfish, trout, snook, and have caught good numbers of flounder. Mullet schools were jumping everywhere. But on a day following one of those good trips, the area looked like a deserted wasteland. It wasn’t until I moved well up into Tampa Bay that we found more feeding fish. Joe Bay, Bishop’s Harbor, and the South Shore areas seemed to be unaffected and we continued catching fish there with no signs of the red tide there.

I had similar results in areas while fishing off South Pinellas around Fort Desoto. Schooling redfish around Conception Key were there one day and gone the next, and irritation of my eyes was my indicator that the algae bloom may be present. Moving north, the John’s Pass area was in good shape, and fishing that area produced good numbers of redfish, trout, snook, and flounder. Poking my head outside the pass, we caught bluefish and Spanish mackerel.

Noting the signs of a red tide problem may keep you from wasting your time in affected areas that are marginal for killing fish, yet still support life. Fish caught in areas of red tide are ok for consumption as long as they appear to be healthy otherwise. Updated information on red tide can be found at http://myfwc.com/REDTIDESTATUS. To report a fish kill, call 1-800-300-9399.

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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Don’t Miss A Meal at BeckyJack’s Food Shack in Weeki Wachee, FL!

by on Sep.17, 2015, under Hernando and Pasco Gulf Coast, Recipes and Food

BeckyJack's Food Shack 8070 Cortez Blvd. Weeki Wachee, FL

BeckyJack’s Food Shack
8070 Cortez Blvd.
Weeki Wachee, FL

Whether you’re coming back from fishing at Bayport or Hernando Beach, watching the Mermaid Show at Weeki Wachee Spring State Park, or just driving down US19 in Hernando County, a stop at BeckyJack’s Food Shack is a “must”.  Yes, the joint is truly a shack, and it’s only open Wednesday thru Sunday (Noon ’til 8PM), but you can expect some excellent food there.  The house specialty is the “crunchy fish”, coated in corn flakes and almonds and fried to a golden, crispy finish.  If you’re “sorta hungry”, order the sandwich, but if you’re a big eater, try the crunchy fish platter with a side of their famous bean salad.

There's a good chance you'll have a short wait for a table at Beckyjack's

There’s a good chance you’ll have a short wait for a table at Beckyjack’s

The Crunchy Fish platter is worth the wait--and it's a bargain at only $9

The Crunchy Fish platter is worth the wait–and it’s a bargain at only $9.  They’re also famous for their hamburgers and Reubens.

The interior at BeckyJack's is eclectic, fun...and even a bit over the top!

The interior at BeckyJack’s is eclectic, fun…and even a bit over the top!

 

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Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota, FL Fishing Report for 7/25/2015

by on Aug.02, 2015, 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 trout on a variety of DOA Lures and top water plugs on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Despite a persistent west wind, we also had some action fly fishing for tarpon.

Anglers spin fishing with me early in the week caught and released a few trout to 3-pounds on CAL jigs with shad tails, DOA Deadly Combos and top water plugs on deep grass flats on both sides of Sarasota Bay.

Tarpon weren’t plentiful, but in a good mood. A fly angler had only a few shots at tarpon one day and one hookup. We’ve been in a west wind pattern for more than a week, causing rough water and often poor visibility due to storm clouds, making conditions tough for tarpon fishing.

Tarpon action in the coastal gulf should improve when the west wind pattern ends and we switch back to a normal weather pattern of east in the morning and an afternoon sea breeze. You may find trout, Spanish mackerel or blues on deep grass flats, particularly close to passes. Also look for reds, snook and big trout mixed with mullet schools on shallow flats and edges of bars. Catch and release snook fishing around docks and bridges close to passes or sight fishing for snook in the surf with flies or DOA Lures should also be good options.

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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FWC Marine Fisheries Management Workshops, Summer 2015

by on Jun.11, 2015, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Do you have ideas about how Florida’s marine fisheries should be managed? The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) wants to hear from you.

Whether you are a seafood aficionado who wants priority placed on getting fish to the dinner plate or a recreational fisher who prefers to catch and release, we want to know what marine fisheries issues you are concerned about. This is your chance to let us know what we are doing right, where you see opportunities for improvement, and what your top priorities for marine fisheries management are.

To gather this input and develop a better understanding of the public’s views on marine fisheries, the FWC will host several workshops across the state throughout the month of July 2015.

All are invited and we hope you will be able to attend.

Groups that might be interested in participating include commercial and recreational fishers, wholesale dealers, those in the tourism industry, fishing guides, divers and concerned citizens.

At the meetings, staff will provide a brief presentation about statewide and regional fisheries management issues that are currently being worked on and other potential issues that have been brought to our attention. Then it will be your turn to fill in any gaps and let us know where you think the FWC should focus its efforts in the coming years.

Workshops are from 6 to 8 p.m. local time.

July 6:

  • Key West – Harvey Governmental Center, 1200 Thurman Ave
  • Naples – City of Naples – City Clerk Office, 735 8th St. S.

July 7:

  • Islamorada – Founders Park Community Center, 87000 Overseas Hwy.
  • Punta Gorda – Punta Gorda City Hall, Council Chambers, 326 W. Marion Ave.

July 8:

  • Coral Gables – Hyatt Regency Coral Gables, 50 Alhambra Plaza
  • St. Petersburg – Fish & Wildlife Research Institute, 100 Eight Ave. SE, Karen A. Steidinger Auditorium

July 9:

  • Jupiter – River Center, Burt Reynolds Park, 805 N. US Hwy 1
  • Crystal River – City Hall Council Chambers, 123 NW Highway 19

July 13:

  • Pensacola – Sanders Beach Community Center, 913 South I St.

July 14:

  • Destin – Destin Community Center, 101 Stahlman Ave.

July 15:

  • Panama City – Gibson Hall, Gulf Coast State College, 5230 West US Hwy 98

July 16:

  • Steinhatchee – Steinhatchee Community Center, 1013 Riverside Dr

July 20:

  • Stuart – City of Stuart, Commission Chambers, 121 SW Flagler Ave.

July 21:

  • Ft. Pierce – City of Ft. Pierce, St. Lucie County Commission Chambers, 2300 Virginia Ave.

July 22:

  • Cocoa – Cocoa Central Branch Library, 308 Forrest Ave.

July 23:

  • Ormond Beach – City Hall, 22 South Beach St.

July 27:

  • Statewide Online Webinar

July 28:

  • Carrabelle – City of Carrabelle, 1001 Gray Ave.

July 30:

  • Jacksonville – Jacksonville Public Library – SE Branch, 10599 Deerwood Park Blvd.
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Florida Offers Saltwater Fishing Camps, Summer 2015

by on Jun.04, 2015, under TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Hey kids and parents! Are you looking for something fun to fill the long summer days? Why not try a Kids’ Saltwater Fishing Camp? Several of these educational, weeklong events are scheduled across the state this summer. Spaces are limited, so sign up today before they fill.

Hosted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and partners, these clinics enable young people to learn the basics of environmental stewardship, fishing ethics, angling skills and safety.

Find a camp near you:

To find out more about FWC’s other fishing clinics for kids, go to MyFWC.com/Fishing and select the “Youth & Student” option under “Education.”

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