Inshore- Colton Rice, from Seminole, reported catching a few nice redfish from the north jetty of Johns Pass using a soft plastic swim bait on a high incoming tide. The redfish were feeding best along the bottom he said while the lady fish and jacks were busting the bait on the surface. White bait has flooded the area making ladyfish, jacks, and mackerel plentiful along the beaches and inside the passes. Larry Scarpato, from Clearwater, was fishing the western tip of the North jetty using large live shrimp and nailing nice black drum right inside the tidal rips. He was free lining the shrimp with small split shots letting the shrimp drift into the rips and as soon as the tide slack in a whirlpool the drum were nailing the shrimp. Raymond Bizier, from the Orlando area, was catching plenty of mackerel with his buddy. They were catching them on free lined green backs about half way out the north jetty of Johns Pass. Carol Mello, from Valrico, was catching flounder on the bottom using live shrimp under the western span of the Johns Pass Bridge. She was using double split shots to weight the shrimp to bottom where the flounder hangout. Joey Drew and Will McClure our overnight mates were fishing the dock areas catching big snook on live pinfish and monster tarpon on large cut dead baits. Tyson Angel, from Pinellas Park, was catching fat black drum around the docks of Johns Pass using dead crabs for bait.
Near shore- Red grouper will be closing down October 8th at 12:01am so next Thursday will be the final day you can harvest these grouper. Gag grouper will remain open until December 3rd and scamp grouper will remain open all year. Right now the kingfish are the big news near shore now that they have pushed into the area waters. We are catching them while trolling on our way out and back during the 5 hour half day trips. We are also catching kingfish while flat lining during the 5 and 10 hour trips. The red grouper bite was great leading up to the most recent low pressure and should be recovering quickly thanks to the weak pressure gradient associated with this recent storm. The hurricane moving up the east coast of Florida will be a wild card since we don’t know how much it will affect our local area waters quite yet. The hogfish are biting well in the 30-60 foot range on live shrimp. We find that 20-30lb fluorocarbon and the least amount of terminal tackle possible entices them to bite more frequently. Mangrove snapper also feeding well near shore and will slow down as the gulf cools. They have been finicky though requiring an expert touch and bait presentation to get them to chew shrimp helps, or cut sardine plugs.
Offshore- Our most recent offshore trip was our full moon 44 hour trip just before amberjack closed on the 28th of September. We got lots of big jacks on large live baits and vertical jigs. The largest jack caught was nearly 80lbs and we got about a dozen more over the 65lb mark. The grouper bite was a bit soft on this recent trip mostly due to us focusing on jacks before they closed. Mangroves were steady but not too aggressive really requiring extra technique to get the larger numbers. Most advanced anglers limited out on this long trip but others struggled to get half their limit due to the pickier bite of fish. Mangroves get tough to catch as the water cools but they remain around all year. During the winter time storms they tend to congregate on large structure making it easier to find and dial in on them. Kingfish, tuna, and wahoo are the pelagic fish we see the most this time of year and on the recent trip we got some fat tuna and kingfish but lost the big fish we hooked which was most likely a wahoo due to its immense speed once hooked.
Written by: Capt. Mark and Dylan Hubbard
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