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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Tag: redfish

Kevin’s Redtrout Shootout, Wakulla County, May 30, 2015

by on May.12, 2015, under Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Shell Point to Lanark, Ochlockonee Bay, St. Marks, Aucilla and Econfina


It’s back! The Kevin’s Fine Outdoor Gear & Apparel Redtrout Shootout will take place May 30, 2015.

Cash rewards will be paid out to the top 10 teams weighing in the heaviest combined weight of (1) redfish and (1) spotted seatrout. With an entry fee of $75.00 per angler and a guaranteed cash purse, you and your crew will want to get registered today!

This unique inshore fishing tournament allows teams to launch their boat at any boat ramp, fish their favorite holes and then weigh their catch in at Jerry’s Bait & Tackle located at 664 Woodville Highway, Crawfordville, FL. Click here for map!

If all that sounds good wait till you hear the rest. We have everything from Banquets & Kick Off parties featuring live music. So be sure to take a few minutes and navigate the website to see what else we have in store for this years edition of the RedTrout Shootout.

Click here today to register!

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Redfish On The Half Shell–A Hunk ‘o Burnin’ Love

by on May.25, 2014, under Recipes and Food

When it comes to grilling redfish fillets with their skin and scales intact, known as “Redfish on the Half Shell”, there’s no better recipe than the one given me by my fishing buddy and Cajun chef, Joey Landreneau.  The tough hide of skin and scales ensures a barrier from the high heat necessary to quickly cook the fish while keeping the meat tender, yet firm.

It’s important to not over-spice redfish.  For me, blackening this fish with a heavy coat of spice does nothing more than cover up its nutty flavor.  Save your blackening spices and technique for species that don’t have much flavor, like tilapia, and use Joey’s simple one-hour marinade. Use a half-cup of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, and the juice of a lemon for two upper-slot redfish fillets.  You can add a light sprinkling of Cajun spice at the grill if you like the flavors it imparts.  Just don’t overdo it.

Luckily, redfish freeze fairly well if vacuum-bagged with a Zip-Vac, or similar device.  I don’t recommend months of freezing, but keeping one or two from a few weekly fishing trips will soon get you enough to feed a family or small dinner party.  Allow one fillet per person.  To prepare, put the fillets in a shallow baking dish and pour in the whisked-together marinade.  An hour in advance of dinner is ample, but be sure to turn the fillets every 15 minutes or so.  At grilling time, place the fillets skin-side-down and cook uncovered until the top surface of the fish turns white, meaning it’s almost cooked.  Then, finish the cooking by carefully flipping the fillet to the “meat side” for just a few minutes.  Most of the actual cooking takes place with the skin side down and this final touch is mostly to impart color and grill marks.  Total grilling time depends on your particular cooking gear and the thickness of the fillets, but you’ll soon learn to judge doneness by pressing a fillet with your finger.  Too soft means not cooked enough; too hard means overcooked—grilling tricks you’ll learn with experience.

A spicy side dish does go well with this entrée, and there’s nothing more popular at our house than my wife’s red beans, served over rice.  Preparing the beans is at the opposite end of the spectrum of “quick and simple” from the redfish, but I think you’ll soon find it a staple as a seafood side dish—or as a full meal if you manage to freeze some leftovers.

Mary’s Red Beans

2-pounds dried light red kidney beans

1-pound bacon, cut into small pieces

2 large onions, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1-cup celery, chopped

6 garlic cloves, chopped

1-tbs ground cayenne pepper

1-tbs ground black pepper

1-tbs dry thyme

2 bay leaves

1- large ham bone (Try your local HoneyBaked Ham store, where they’re $7.99–and meaty.)

1-pound Andouille sausage (Savoie’s is excellent, and available at many Publix Supermarkets)

Tabasco sauce, to taste

Salt, to taste

In a large pot, cover beans with water and soak overnight.  Barely covering the beans with water is sufficient.

The next day, fry the bacon in a larger pot, then add the onion, pepper, celery and garlic.  Cook over medium-high heat until the vegetables are transparent, then add the beans with the water in which they soaked.  Add the spices, ham bone, sausage and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook, uncovered, for at least 3 hours, until the “gravy” thickens.  Be careful to not add too much extra water as the beans cook and hold off on the salt until the end.  The saltiness of the ham may be just enough to suit your taste.  You can add Tabasco at the stove, or at the table.

Serve over white rice either as a side or main dish.

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Florida’s Big Bend Flats Come Alive After a Cool Winter…

by on Mar.13, 2014, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST

…and it’s time to get out your shallow-running and slow-sinking hard baits for both seatrout and redfish.

As the flats come back to life at the beginning of spring, the redfish and seatrout venture away from their wintertime hidey-holes and head away from shore.   That usually happens in early March in our part of Florida, giving boaters less willing to take chances on our rocky shoreline a better chance of catching a limit of fish for dinner.  While many anglers prefer to fish live baits for springtime fish, the majority of trophy trout (known as “gators” to locals) and redfish are taken with artificial baits that mimic the look and action of small mullet or sardines.

Good choices of hard baits include the  Live Target Scaled Sardine, the Rapala X-Rap or Flat Rap, the MirrOlure 7M, the Yo-Zuri 3D Minnow and the Heddon Swim ‘n Image.  These plugs naturally sink slowly and are designed to run just under the surface of the water when retrieved.   Your ability to make long casts is important, as is your stealth.  Springtime trout and reds can be spooky, so no “hootin’ and hollerinl” is allowed when fishing.  Just make long casts and make a big smile when you hook up to big fish!

Most of the above named lures are available at specialty tackle shops like Captain’s Cove Outfitters (Inglis)Mangrove Creek Outfitters (Chiefland), Gary’s Tackle Box (Gainesville), Alachua Farm and Lumber (Alachua), The Sea Hag Marina (Steinhatchee) and Big Bend Outfitters(Perry).

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21 Steps From Southern White Pine to Finished Fishing Plugs–High Roller Lures Are Made In The U.S.A.!


The Jertberg family operates what seems to be a small, ‘Mom and Pop’, fishing lure factory in Gainesville, Florida, U.S.A.  But it’s only small in terms of square footage.  High Roller Lures are now sold in tackle shops all over the Southeast U.S. as well as in select Bass Pro Shops stores in Florida (Islamorada, Miami, Danie and Orlando).  Terry Jertberg’s background is in fishing and painting, and his formative years spent in Brazil taught him all there is to know about fishing the Amazon Basin and about the devastation sharp fish teeth can do to fishing lures.  With that in mind, High Rollers are tough from head to tail.  The company makes several sizes of lures to catch inshore saltwater, freshwater, offshore, surf and big, mean South American species.  The most popular plug, and the one I use on Florida’s coastal waters for redfish and seatrout is the 3.25-inch Rip Roller Florida Special.  It’s sturdy, and is just right for making long casts to spooky fish with light spinning tackle.  The Rip Roller is also made in larger sizes and several other colors.

Take a tour of the High Roller, from start to finish:

The start: southern white pine stock

Terry Jertberg at the lathe, turning a plug blank.

Blanks are dipped in paint and then allowed to harden.

Cured blanks waiting for paint.

Lots of "handwork" goes into the making of a High Roller Lure

After painting, more curing is needed.

The next step--applying the characteristic "flecking" on the lures. Then more curing!

My favorites--the "Florida Specials"--waiting for hooks and eyes

Just about finished...

The final products--on the shelves of your favorite tackle store!

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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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3rd Annual Cedar Key “Kayak Fishing Get-Together”, October 13-14, 2012

by on Aug.26, 2012, under Cedar Key

This should be a fun time–and for a good local cause.  Here’s complete information from Al Clements:
The 3rd Annual Cedar Key Get Together has officially opened registrations. Already we have 17 who have signed up. The date is the weekend of October 13, 2012.
As a result of the large turnout and fun in the past I am having to limit the total number to 60 for the Saturday Night Dinner and Drawings. The price for the ticket is $15.00 per person and that includes Dinner and the drawings and the Charity. Last year every person won a prize and we expect the same this year. We also gave a donation to the Cedar Key Help Fund.
For those of you who may not be familiar with this event let me fill you in. First of all this is not a Tournament. It is an open day for all of us to get to know each other personally. Fish where and when you desire. Me and several others know the area well and will direct you where to fish for the species you desire. If you have never caught a 50+ Lb Black Drum from a Kayak this is your chance. Cedar Key has the largest and the most HUGE Black Drum in the Gulf. Just put some crab on your Circle Hook and hold on for the Sleigh Ride of your life!!
Last year we had several bring their entire family. All had a good time and great experiences. I would like to hear from those who attended last year and what they thought about the event.
The Dinner will be at the Low Key Hide A Way in Cedar Key. It is right on the water and also has a Tiki Bar and great seating. We usually eat around 6:30 PM.
If you desire to be a part of this event please Email me at alclements1@cox.net. Let me know who will be in your party and give me your Name and your Handle on the Jax Site. The check must be written to me, Al Clements, so that I can purchase all the food. Any extra money will be given to the Charity at Cedar Key. This Charity provides money for transportation to Gainesville for those who are in need of Doctors Care.
When I receive your check I will Email a ticket to each person in your party. The Ticket MUST BE BROUGHT TO THE DINNER in order to be in the drawing. Last year only one couple forgot their ticket and that was me. I won Nothing!!!
Come for the Sun and the Fun in October and be a part of the best Red and Trout fishing on the Gulf Side.
Look forward to seeing those of you who came last year and also meeting new friends this year.
Any questions please feel free to Email me.
Note: If you want to bring someone and they do not have a Kayak you can rent Fishing Kayaks from Tom at Kayak Cedar Keys. His phone number is 352 543 9447

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Don’t Miss the July 24, 2102 Gainesville Offshore Fishing Club Meeting–Fishing For Redfish with Capt. Mark Brady and Capt. Kelly Kofmehl


mbrady 01 Dont Miss the July 24,  2102 Gainesville Offshore Fishing Club Meeting  Fishing For Redfish with Capt. Mark Brady and Capt. Kelly Kofmehl

When:July 24, 2012
Doors will open at 7:00PM, meeting at 7:30PM.

Where: Dean’s Circle of Excellence Lecture Hall

Captain Mark Brady and Captain Kelly Kofmehl will discuss redfish at our July meeting.

Both make their living on the water as guides (Florida Saltwater Flats Fishing Charters), and compete annually in tournaments (IFA Redfish, West Coast Pro, X-treme). They are also frequent shows at many of the charity events (Doug Johnson, Mel Tillis, etc.) in the Big Bend area. Additionally, Captain Kelly holds a commercial license for grouper and stone crab. Collectively, both have over 40 years experience.

Capt. Brady states… “Our knowledge of the Florida saltwater flats is as good as any one you will find. We compete all over the state of Florida in addition to chartering local patrons as well as out of state clients. Our services range from prominent businessmen wanting to offer their clients a ‘different’ type of perk…to families wanting to introduce their children to the wonderful sport of fishing.”

Our guests will bring a fully rigged redfish tournament boat (a new Young Gulfshore20!) for our inspection!

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It’ll Be a Happier New Year 2012–If It Gets Cold and the Seatrout Move Into the Big Bend Rivers!

by on Jan.01, 2012, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST

I ended 2011 with some interesting fishing trips. Some were fruitful–others not.

The weather along the Big Bend has been unpredictable, at best. We had only one day of sub-freezing temperatures as the New Year approached and those temperatures only lasted until about 9AM! Water temperatures on December 31st never reached the mid-50s, hovering close to 60 in the mornings and reaching almost 70 in the shallows by late in the day. Essentially, this means the seatrout can’t decide whether to hunker down in the deep holes in the coastal rivers from Homosassa to St. Marks or to chase mullet and pinfish on the flats near the river mouths.

On the Wednesday following Christmas, I’d hoped to put my dad and my daughter on some seatrout.   It looked like we’d have a sunny day and that the fish might be in the Steinhatchee River.  However, much to our distress, the usual spots were vacant.  We did have some luck on the flats though, but not with trout.  In fact, we didn’t see a trout all day, just a few pesky redfish and a nice keeper flounder.  The following day I went over to Suwannee to fish with my friends Erik and Meghan (the ‘supermodel’) in their airboat.  We were hoping to find some fish in the backs of the big creeks there.  After about 6 hours of hard work and lots of running through about 6 creeks, I left and headed for home–with no messy fish to clean.  Erik and Meghan did head to to a popular spot later that afternoon and managed a couple of reds, a flounder and a trout.  Of course, they fished under one of the docks behind the Salt Creek Seafood Company and not in the creek holes!  On New Year’s Eve, I fished with Capt. Rick Davidson and after about 4 hours of hitting all our good spots, including the river holes, we finally found trout and reds in a small rocky area south of the river.  We managed about 15 keeper trout (keeping 6) and a couple of top-slot reds, including a tournament-class 7.5#, 26.5″ fish.  The fish were all in two feet of water and struck on MirrOlure MirrOminnow lures.  The ‘bite’ started about 2 PM and lasted until about 3:30 when the sun moved lower on the horizon, cooling things off.

Meghan, the 'Supermodel' gets her boots wet while fishing the backwaters of Sanders Creek, near Suwannee

Capt. Rick Davidson with a nice Steinhatchee wintertime trout

You can expect lots more seatrout to move into the rivers as soon as the water temperatures reach the low 50s or high 40s. Then, look for them at Steinhatchee near markers #26 or just downstream from the Sea Hag Marina in the ‘Suicide Hole’. Pat’s Elbow in the Withlacoochee River at Yankeetown is a a good bet, too, as are the Suwannee area creeks like Dan May and Barnett.

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Successful red drum (redfish) management prompts FWC to up bag limit, November 16, 2011


News Release

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Media contact: Amanda Nalley, 850-410-4943

(Back to Commission meeting news)

Recreational anglers targeting red drum in northern Florida can soon take home more of the popular fish, thanks to a change approved Nov. 16 by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

The decision came during the first day of the two-day November Commission meeting in Key Largo.

The changes take effect Feb. 1, 2012, and include the following:

  • Create three management areas for red drum (the northwest, the northeast and the south) instead of one statewide management area;
  • Increase the number of red drum that a recreational fisherman can take per day in the northeast and northwest regions of the state from one to two red drum;
  • Establish a statewide vessel limit of eight red drum;
  • Limit the number of red drum that can be transported on land to six red drum per person.

These rule changes are the result of a successful management strategy that began in 1989, when the species was considered severely overfished.

“This is our version of having a listed protected species and being able to take it off that list. This is a success story,” said Commissioner Brian Yablonski about the increased recreational fishing opportunity. “If ever there was a moment to give back, this is it.”

A 2009-10 red drum stock assessment completed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute showed that red drum escapement rates (the proportion of fish surviving through age 4 relative to the number that would have survived to that age if there were no fishery) have been consistently above the FWC’s 40-percent management goal in the northern regions of the state.

Other recreational red drum rules will remain the same, including a slot limit of 18 to 27 inches and a one-red-drum bag limit in the southern part of the state.

To learn more about red drum recreational fishing visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing” and then “Recreational Regulations.”

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Sea Hag Marina, Steinhatchee, FL–October 2011 Fishing Report and November Fishing Predictions!

by on Oct.31, 2011, under Steinhatchee

Take a look at the October Fishing Report! Read thoroughly and you  might just catch one of these!

Capt. Tommy Thompson with an over-slot Steinhatchee redfish!

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