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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Tag: saltwater

West Central Florida Fishing Report, 1/19/18, Capt. Ray Markham

by on Jan.21, 2018, under TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA


There hasn’t been much going on offshore due to the inclement weather. Even nearshore waters have been fairly rough with the cold front pattern that’s been blowing out so many trips. However, Capt. Dylan Hubbard, out of Hubbard’s Marina (www.hubbardsmarina.com) reports decent action for the conditions near shore for anglers fishing with them. They only got out once this week, on Tuesday, but managed to get a handful of hogfish, grey snapper, lane snapper, porgies and black seabsss. Black seabass are excellent on the table and make an excellent fish sandwich.

Gag grouper are closed, but anglers working well offshore on one of the 39-hour trips out of Hubbard’s managed to catch some nice AJ’s on the special opening that closes January 27 at 12:01 a.m. They have another 39-hour offshore trip scheduled this weekend, and so far it’s a light load, so if you want to get out this weekend, here’s an opportunity to get on the boat where you might not be rubbing elbows with the guy next to you. Recent trips have brought in red grouper, scamp, kingfish, blackfin tunas, mangrove and yellowtail snapper, and triggerfish. However, the brief opening of triggerfish has ended.


The trout bite in most areas has been on fire. But the extreme cold of the past few days will probably slow things up until some warmth heats up the shallows in some of the bays. In the meantime, you’ll likely find some decent action in depths ranging from 4 to 6-feet where dark shallow flats drop off into channels and big potholes. Some exceptional action with suspending baits has been happening for those anglers tossing the 17MR MirrOlure MirrOdine, Unfair Lures Rip n Slash, or Rapala Twitch ‘n Rap. These lures will sit in the strike zone for great lengths of time until a fish decides to eat them. All that’s needed is a slight twitch of the rod to trigger a strike. Your best bet this time of year might be soft plastic CAL curly tail jigs with lightweight jig heads ranging from 1/8 to ¼-ounce or the same jig heads with soft plastic tails like the 3-inch CAL Shad, MirrOlure Marsh Minnow, or the Saltwater Assassin Sea Shad.

Winter cold makes most fish sluggish. But sheepshead are very active. They are preparing to spawn over the next couple of months or so and are feeding to put on weight for the spawn. Find them around most any pilings on docks, bridges, seawalls, and rock piles. A piece of fresh shrimp, clam, or oyster or a live fiddler crab or sand flea all work well. A 2/0 circle hook takes the work out of setting and makes for a higher ratio of hook ups.

Silver trout have made an appearance just off the beaches from Blind Pass to Clearwater along with a few whiting. Live shrimp cast beyond the surf have been taking these fish, but for some of the best action on silvers, get just off the beaches near the Blind Pass Drop and fish about the 14-foot depths there with tandem rigged jigs.

It’s been tough fishing because of the cold temps, but some of the anglers hitting Sarasota Bay are finding some bluefish, ladyfish, and trout. Capt. Rick Grassett is one of them. He’s been using CAL Jigs as well as some of the flies he ties for his fly anglers.

Capt. Dylan Hubbard reported some snook turning belly up that were either dead or stunned Thursday morning from the cold. As a reminder, snook season is closed and even picking up dead snook is prohibited.

Until water temperatures move way back up you’ll have to slow lure presentations down radically to get a bite. Shrunken strike zones mean you’ll have to get your lures closer to the fish without spooking them. So, longer fluorocarbon leaders just as light as you can make them without breaking off will be the name of the game now.


“Green fish”,(largemouth bass), are hunkered down in grass beds hoping to soak up some of the sun’s warming rays. Look for bass in deeper water and fish it slow. Crappie will be schooling in 6-to 10-feet of water on lakes Tarpon and Manatee. Bring some Missouri minnows and drift until you catch them. Chuck out a marker and keep your rods bent! ‘Til then…I’ll catch ya later!

Capt. Ray Markham

(941) 723-2655



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Free Fishing Weekends In Florida, June 2015


Governor Rick Scott announced four license-free fishing days in June for Florida residents and visitors. The license-free fishing weekends are: Saturday and Sunday, June 6-7, saltwater recreational fishing license requirement will be waived. Saturday and Sunday, June 13-14, freshwater recreational fishing license requirement will be waived. Governor Scott said, “This summer, we’re excited to make it easier for families to enjoy the world class fishing our state has to offer. Florida is the fishing capital of the world and one of the many reasons we welcomed a record 98.9 million visitors to the Sunshine State last year. I look forward to fishing with my grandsons this summer, and I hope everyone takes advantage of license-free fishing this month.” “We hope new anglers, including residents and visitors, are inspired to join in the excitement with those who already enjoy fishing,” said FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley. “This is an excellent way for the entire family to get out and enjoy all of the great fishing opportunities we have to offer in Florida: the Fishing Capital of the World!” The four days in June are a part of the eight total license-free fishing days the FWC offers each year. All bag limits, seasons and size restrictions apply on these dates. To learn more about license-free fishing days, visit MyFWC.com/License.

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Florida Announces License-Free Fishing Days for 2013


During its Feb. 13 meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) selected Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, Sept. 1 as the 2013 saltwater license-free fishing days. On these days, the requirement to have a recreational fishing license is waived for Florida’s residents and visitors while they are saltwater fishing. The FWC offers four license-free fishing days a year: two saltwater and two freshwater. While the Commission selects new saltwater license-free fishing days on an annual basis, freshwater license-free fishing days are set to the first Saturday in April and the second Saturday in June.

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Wright & McGill’s Lazer TroKar Enters the Saltwater Market With Surgically-Sharpened Hooks


New for 2013 from the world’s first manufacturer of Surgically Sharpened fishhooks, is a full line-up of precision fishing instruments geared solely towards the saltwater angler.

Lazer TroKar, known for producing the sharpest fishhooks on the planet, has launched a comprehensive line of hooks that will pierce and penetrate the toughest of mouths that cruise the world’s oceans. With its symmetrically engineered three-sided point, superior quality wire and heat-treat and complete with welded eyes on select styles, there isn’t an array of hooks available that compete with Lazer TroKar.

The full saltwater line-up starts with the TK3 & TK4 Lancet Circle. These hooks are a light-to-mid wire circle hook with a wide gap and welded eye, offered in sizes 1/0 – 9/0. Available in both an offset (TK3) and non-offset (TK4) version, the Lancet Circle is ideal for a myriad of species, techniques and fisheries.

The TK5 AP Circle is a money maker!  Based on perfected and proven designs in the billfish tournament world, the TK5 AP Circle is sure to provide consistent hook-ups and retention rates.  Offered in sizes 7/0, 8/0, & 9/0, all in Non-Offset Tournament Approved designs.

Live Bait fishing is as popular as ever from coast-to-coast, and Lazer TroKar is now manufacturing the world’s finest live bait hooks. When targeting inshore or near shore species such as Redfish, Snook or Sea Trout, the light wire TK7 will be the ideal hook, available in sizes 2 – 4/0.  When conditions and target species call for a more robust design, the TK8 Extreme Live Bait HD offers its services. The heavy wire design and welded eye of the TK8 is optimal for chunking Tuna and Stripers and is available in sizes 1/0 – 8/0.

Inshore enthusiasts will be pleased to see the popular Kahle® design utilized in the new saltwater family of TroKar hooks. The new TK9 Inshore Kahle is the perfect hook for live or dead bait, especially when rigging shrimp. Available in sizes 1/0 – 5/0, the TK9 Inshore Kahle’s deep gap and wicked line-pull ensure consistent and sure-fire hook-ups.

Lazer TroKar is now offering the TK10 Saltwater Straight Shank for those saltwater enthusiasts that desire a longer shank and wider gap. Of course, the welded eye of the TK10 goes a long way to ensure your hook-ups make it all the way to the boat. Available in sizes 4/0 – 7/0, the TK10 is perfect for toothy predators and when trolling live or dead bait.

Big Nasty!! That’s the new moniker given to the TK11 Extreme Octopus. Whether fishing for Sturgeon or Halibut in Alaska, trolling for Dolphin, or side-drifting for Salmon, the TK11 Big Nasty offers you a perfect solution. Complete with welded eye and offered in sizes 2/0 -7/0 the Big Nasty will be applicable to species across the country.

Ideal for Kingfish and other aggressive predators that pull like a freight train, the TK315 4X treble will hold up to the punishment. Built with straight points and a regular shank, the TK315 is one fish-hooking machine. Use for a premium replacement trebles on all lures and when fishing live-bait.

All Lazer TroKar hooks feature their premium Black Chrome finish, specifically tailored to withstand the corrosion and abuse that fishing in the salt presents. MSRP for TroKar saltwater hooks is $21.99/retail. All hook styles have a varied piece count per size.

For more information on TroKar, be sure to visit their website @ www.lazertrokar.com where you can download screen savers, view tech info about styles & sizes, visit the TroKar pro’s, check out trick TroKar apparel and much more.  Connect with Lazer TroKar on Facebook® and Twitter®.

Lazer TroKar…just don’t fish…DOMINATE.

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License-free saltwater fishing fun Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012


Looking for something to do this Labor Day weekend? Why not get out on the water and experience some of Florida’s finest fishing? Saltwater recreational anglers can fish without a recreational fishing license on Sept. 1 as part of the state’s license-free fishing days.

“Florida’s license-free fishing days are an excellent opportunity to share the fun, excitement and togetherness of a fishing trip with the entire family. This also is a great time for experienced anglers to introduce friends to the sport, even if they don’t have a fishing license,” said Nick Wiley, executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

“We hope Florida residents and visitors will experience the joy of saltwater fishing. We expect many will discover a healthy sport they can enjoy for a lifetime.”

Gag grouper is open for harvest in most state and all federal waters in the Gulf and Atlantic. For those looking to get in the water, bay scallop and spiny lobster seasons are in full swing. Want to stick a little closer to shore? Try your hand at near-shore species such as spotted seatrout or red drum.

Have questions? The FWC Division of Marine Fisheries Management will have staff working dockside at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Wakulla County and at the Cedar Key Public Pier and Marina from about 7 a.m. through midday. Staff will provide the public with fisheries publications such as Saltwater Regulations and Fishing Lines magazines and will be there to talk to the public and answer questions.

Fishing is a family-fun and wholesome form of entertainment, which is why the FWC offers four license-free fishing days each year. This year’s freshwater license-free fishing days were April 7 and June 9, and the first saltwater day was June 2.

Come out and learn how the state’s abundant resources, coupled with responsible saltwater and freshwater fish management, make Florida the “Fishing Capital of the World.”

All other bag limit, season and size restrictions apply on these dates.

To make your fishing day successful, check out MyFWC.com/Fishing for fishing tips, locations and rules.

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Having difficulty understanding Florida’s fishing regulations?–Gulf Recreational Seasons Monthly Calendar now available online!


Florida’s fishing “rules” can be complicated, if not downright intimidating.  There are State rules and Federal rules.  There is a 9-mile boundary that separates State and Federal waters that’s sometimes hard to find (There’s no line drawn across the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico!).  And sometimes the State’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) makes rules that don’t coordinate with the Federal rules.  In any case, for the casual angler, these rules and regulations can be daunting.

The website for the FWC (www.myfwc.com) has traditionally been a good resource, but it’s never been one of the easier sites to navigate.  Now, with the addition of the Gulf Recreational Seasons Monthly Calendar, you can take a quick look at the months and at the species you can catch and keep then.  This is a great tool, and I recommend you download the PDF of the Calendar, print a copy and put it in your boat or tackle box. You’ll find a link to the PDF (which is a cross-platform, Acrobat document that opens on just about any computer), on the FWC’s Saltwater Fishing Regulations page.

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