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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Tag: gulf

Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota , FL Fishing Report for 3/19/2017

by on Mar.19, 2017, under Bradenton and Sarasota

Anglers fishing with me, out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, caught and released trout in Sarasota Bay on flies, CAL jigs with shad tails and DOA shrimp during the past week. Trout, blues, Spanish mackerel, pompano and more should be a good option on deep grass flats and passes of Sarasota Bay. You should also find larger trout in shallow water along with snook and reds when conditions are good.

Look for action in the coastal gulf to take off with king and Spanish mackerel, cobia and tripletail. Fishing lighted docks and bridges in the ICW for snook with flies and DOA Lures continues to be a good option.

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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Sailfish: State’s saltwater fish offers on-the-water excitement

by on Mar.11, 2014, under Uncategorized

Sailfish hold a special place in many Florida resident and visitor’s hearts. Whether they’ve admired a replica of the beautiful fish while waiting for a fresh-caught meal at a local restaurant, or felt their blood pump as one leapt into the air on the other end of a fishing line, the fish known for its tall “sail-like” dorsal fin is a Florida icon. Though you can find the highly migratory species in warm offshore waters around the globe, sailfish are so abundant off the coast of Florida and so popular with people it was made the state’s official saltwater fish in 1975.
Between its aesthetic beauty and its penchant for fighting, sailfish are a recreational favorite.

Like bonefish or tarpon, two of Florida’s other iconic fishes, the sailfish has a higher value as a recreational catch-and-release species than it does as a commercial food fish. The meat is tough and is rarely eaten unless smoked.

I sat down with coworker, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist and sailfish fan Justin Lerner to find out a little more about the appeal of fishing for sailfish.

“It’s very exciting fishing, especially when using a kite,” Lerner said, describing a fishing method where an actual kite is used to dangle bait at the top of the water, enticing the sailfish to take the bait right before your eyes. “It is a very fast, very acrobatic fish with a lot of energy.”

Lerner caught his first sailfish in 2000 on an offshore charter trip and was instantly hooked (my apologies for the pun).

While they are typically caught in water 80 to 240 feet deep, sailfish, unlike other billfish, can be found in fairly shallow water and, though not common, have even been caught off piers in south Florida and in the northern Gulf of Mexico near Panama City.

Look for color changes in the water, Lerner said, and fish along them. When the water goes from an inshore green to a deep blue you are in the right spot.

Sailfish can be caught in every region of Florida, but they are more abundant in south Florida in the colder months, from October through March.

“Cold fronts drive bait south, and fish run an interception,” Lerner said.

In areas of north Florida and the Panhandle, such as Panama City, they are more abundant during the summer and fall months.

Sailfish have been regulated in state waters at least since 1988, when a possession limit of one billfish per person was implemented, sale was prohibited, and gear was restricted to hook and line.

Today, there is a recreational bag limit of one billfish per person. Billfish includes blue marlin, white marlin, roundscale spearfish and sailfish. This means you can catch and keep one only billfish species per person, per day. There is no daily bag limit in federal waters for sailfish.

When fishing in federal waters, a federal Highly Migratory Species angling permit is required. Federal waters are beyond 3 nautical miles in the Atlantic and beyond 9 nautical miles in the Gulf.

While technique varies, one of the most popular ways to catch them is by kite fishing with live bait, usually goggle eyes or blue runners. Other popular techniques are slow trolling with live ballyhoo, or trolling with hookless bait and teasers and casting to fish as they appear in the trolling spread. Other popular live baits are threadfin herring and pilchards.

Hooked a sailfish? Once you get your fish to the boat, use caution. The long and pointed bill can be dangerous when attempting to unhook the fish. Lerner suggests holding the fish in the water by the bill while unhooking. Another option is cutting the line as close to the fish as possible. When release is your intention, leave the fish in the water at all times. Removing large fish from the water can cause internal damage to the fish and decrease its chances of survival. In all federal waters off Florida, a sailfish must remain in the water if you intend to release it.

While the species fights hard, it can tire and may need to be revived if you plan on releasing the fish. Use the appropriate tackle to shorten the amount of time it takes to bring your catch to your vessel. You can revive a sailfish by pointing its head into the current or pulling the fish through the current while the boat is moving slowly. This pushes water over the gills.

While most sailfish are caught and then released, if you plan on keeping yours, the sailfish caught in state or federal waters must be larger than 63 inches when measured from the end of the lower jaw to where the tail splits, also known as the fork.

Sailfish do not have a recreational closed season in state or federal waters.

All sailfish and other billfish caught in state and federal waters that are taken to shore or landed must be reported to NOAA Fisheries with 24 hours by calling 800-894-5528 or visiting the HMS permits website at https://HMSPermits.noaa.gov and selecting “landing reports.”

Learn more about billfish, including sailfish, by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Highly Migratory Species.”

Have questions, comments or suggestions for this column? Email them to Saltwater@MyFWC.com.

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Snook to reopen in Gulf state waters, March 1, 2014

by on Feb.25, 2014, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

The recreational harvest season for one of Florida’s premier game fish, snook, reopens on March 1 in Florida’s Gulf of Mexico state and adjacent federal waters, including Everglades National Park and Monroe County. The season will remain open through April 30.
In the Gulf, anglers may keep one snook per day that is not less than 28 or more than 33 inches total length, which is measured from the most forward point of the head with the mouth closed to the farthest tip of the tail with the tail compressed or squeezed while the fish is lying on its side. A snook permit is required to keep snook, along with a saltwater fishing license unless exempt from the license requirements. Only hook-and-line gear is allowed when targeting or harvesting snook.
It is illegal to buy or sell snook.
Snook are one of the many reasons Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World. The FWC encourages anglers to use moderation when determining whether or not to take a snook home, even during the open season. When choosing to release a fish, the FWC encourages anglers to handle it carefully to help the fish survive upon release. Proper handling methods can help ensure the species’ abundance for anglers today and generations to come. To learn more about fish handling, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Fish Handling.”

Researchers ask anglers who harvest the fish to save their filleted carcasses and provide them to the FWC by dropping them off at a participating bait and tackle store. These donations allow researchers to better determine the age groups that are being harvested, which makes stock assessments more precise. For the county-by-county list, go to MyFWC.com/Research and click on “Saltwater,” “Saltwater Fish,” “Snook,” and “Snook Anglers Asked to Help with Research.”
In Atlantic state and federal waters (including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River) the season is open through May 31, and one snook may be kept per person, per day. The size limit in Atlantic waters is no less than 28 inches total length and no more than 32 inches total length.
For more information visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Snook.”

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Gulf reef fish workshops scheduled for March 2014

by on Feb.25, 2014, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is hosting several public workshops in early March to gather public input on a proposal that would improve recreational reef fish data collection.
The proposal would create a mandatory permit or registry system for Gulf of Mexico recreational anglers who target reef fish like red snapper, grouper, amberjack and gray triggerfish. This system will help researchers better define the number of offshore anglers and help them contact these anglers to gather additional data. Get your voice heard on this important topic by attending an in-person workshop or a phone conference.
The workshops are scheduled for the following locations and times:
Monday, March 3: Fort Myers (6-8 p.m. EST), Bass Pro Shops, 1004 Gulf Center Dr.
Tuesday, March 4: St. Petersburg (6-8 p.m. EST), Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, 100 Eighth Ave. SE
Wednesday, March 5: Perry (6-8 p.m. EST), Perry City Council, 224 S. Jefferson St.
Thursday, March 6: Destin (6-8 p.m. CST), Destin Community Center, 101 Stahlman Ave.
Tuesday, March 11: Phone Conference (6-8 p.m. EDT), RSVP to the Division of Marine Fisheries Management at 850-487-0554 to obtain instructions to join the meeting.
Wednesday, March 12: Pensacola (6-8 p.m. CDT), Escambia County Extension Office Auditorium, 3740 Stefani Rd.
For more information visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Rulemaking” and “Public Workshops” or call 850-487-0554.

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FWC proposes 2014 Gulf recreational red snapper season, Feb 13, 2014

by on Feb.13, 2014, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) proposed 2014 Gulf recreational red snapper season dates in state waters. This proposed season will be brought back before the Commission for final approval at its April 15-17 meeting in Tallahassee.

Hate to throw those big snapper back? You may not have to if the FWC approves a 52 day season this summer!

The 2014 proposed season, if approved in April, would be 52 days long, starting the Saturday before Memorial Day, (May 24 this year) and remaining open through July 14, closing July 15. The Commission could choose to change the season length and dates at the April meeting. Starting the season the Saturday before Memorial Day could increase recreational fishing opportunities for anglers by giving them the chance to fish for red snapper in state waters during the holiday weekend.

The federal season is scheduled to be 40 days long, starting June 1 and remaining open through July 10. This season is subject to change if NOAA Fisheries data indicate that the recreational red snapper quota will be caught before or after the end of the federal season.

State waters in the Gulf are from shore to 9 nautical miles. Federal waters extend from where state waters end out to about 200 nautical miles.

To learn more about this agenda item, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and click on “Commission Meetings.” To learn more about recreational red snapper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Snapper.”

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NOAA Fisheries Announces the 2014 Red Snapper Recreational Season in the Gulf of Mexico

by on Jan.29, 2014, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS

The 2014 Gulf of Mexico red snapper recreational season will be 40 days, opening at 12:01am on June 1 and ending at 12:01am on July 11, 2014.

A list of frequently asked questions about the red snapper recreational season can be found at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Council Office website.

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Water Cold? Fishing Slow? Here’s a List of Chores to Get Your Fishing Gear Ready For Spring

by on Jan.27, 2011, under Cedar Key, Chassahowitzka and Homosassa, Horseshoe Beach, Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Ozello to Crystal River, Steinhatchee

Make Your List—and Check It Twice

No, I’m not Santa, but if you pay attention to this article, you may thank me.

Everyone knows that this weekend’s the last one before spotted sea trout season closes on the Big Bend. And we all know that the fishing’s been unpredictable for the last month due to the wide variations in air and water temperatures from Homosassa to Keaton Beach. So, my advice is to get out for this last weekend of trout keeping and then spend some time taking care of some things listed in my latest Florida Sportsman Big Bend Fishing4Cast!

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Homosassa Inshore Fishing Weekly Report, January 10, 2011 from Capt. William Toney

by on Jan.10, 2011, under Chassahowitzka and Homosassa, Ozello to Crystal River

Not a lot to talk about this week. I’ve been doing more hunting then fishing but when I went this week my clients and I did very well. It’s best if possible to pick a day before a front arrives or allow a few days after the cold front passes before going fishing. Then I have a answer for the most frequent question that people ask me because I’m a fishing guide- When’s the best time to go fishing? – Anytime you can

The Progress Energy hot water discharge is good starting place after the cold front and live shrimp is the best bait. The closer to the barrels the better the fishing. If you go there when the weather moderates then try jigging the canal and the flat all the way north to Drum Island with D.O.A. CAL shad tails. Glow is my favorite color and use a chartreuse jighead with the glow tail especially for trout.

On calm days regardless of how cold it is try the nearshore rockpiles for sheepshead. Live shrimp is the best bait and incoming high tide is the best bite. Sheepshead are a great wintertime stand by and bite well in cold water. Look for incoming high tide in the morning this weekend. Capt. William Toney www.homosassainshorefishing.com

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