Flexibility is The Key to Success!

I often say, “Despite having to catch bait, guiding is an awesome job.” If you had to get out of bed every morning at 3:00 to 3:30am, to have enough time to hit the water and catch bait before you pick up 7:30 am charter with a welcoming smile, you’d understand. That being said, it’s important not to overload your live-well with bait during the summer months, unless you want to risk it dying.

I am a glutton for bait, and a firm believer that you can never have too much, but I even take precautions not to overdo it this time of year. Once I load main 55 gallon live-well, that’s equipped with two 1,100 gph pumps with bait, I know I’m set for the day. Then before I leave my bait spot, I transfer four to five scoops of bait to my rear auxiliary 20 gallon live-well to give them more wiggle room.

Understanding the tidal flow for your fishing area on the day you choose to fish, is of the utmost importance for success. By sunrise, the water temperature is already in the mid-80’s and it only gets warmer as the progresses. By no means should you go onto a grass flat during the tall end of a falling tide without monitoring your bait repeatedly. If you start to see it fluttering sideways or the surface gulping for air, it’s time to exit that area immediately and hope you salvage enough of your hard-earned bait to finish out your day.

Enough about bait, let’s get to the fishing!

The mangrove snapper bite is outstanding. So much so, as soon as you start chumming, dozens are coming to the surface. Once a chum slick is established, the best way to catch them is to drift your bait back with the chum. As soon as you notice line start rushing off your reel, close the bail with your hand and start reeling until your line is tight.

If you like Spanish mackerel fishing, now’s the time to catch some monsters. Anchor your boat over some hard bottom, an artificial reef or up tide of a range marker and start a chum slick. This time of year, chumming is the key to a successful today of fishing.

Some days, the Spanish mackerel or so big, you’d swear they’re juvenile kingfish as they approach the boat. Motto: Chum and they will come!
As far as the snook and redfish bite, it’s been inconsistent at best. Both species are feeding best during a strong tidal flow around a high tide and some days are better than others. Don’t be one of those guys who only wants to catch snook or redfish right now. Will you catch some fish? Yes, but adding other species to your list will make the day much more rewarding.

Featured photo: Last month, I helped organize another corporate tournament and was fortunate to have Alyssa Schutter onboard, who was celebrating her 23rd birthday. Boy was luck on her side. Once I moved onto a grass flat and anchored, Alyssa’s first cast yielded a redfish. Her second cast a snook and the third, a trout. Alyssa accomplished an inshore-slam, in about fifteen minutes. That’s unheard of and in record time aboard Afishionado. Happy Birthday Alyssa and congratulations or winning the inshore-slam division!

Usually, I get too busy to write fishing reports as often as I’d like, so, if you’re interested in seeing my most recent post, please like my, Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.

Time For The Big Ones!

It’s primetime for tarpon. The most exciting way to target tarpon is to cruise along the beach during the early morning hours and wait to see tarpon rolling. When tarpon break the surface, their shimmering backs can be seen from hundreds of yards away. After spotting some fish, I’ll sit tight for a few minutes and determine which direction they’re headed. Then, I’ll slowly position my boat so they’ll past within casting distance. As they do, my client times their cast appropriately so the bait sinks into the strike zone as the tarpon approaches. When the initial hit is felt, they reel up tight and pull back hard on the rod a few times to ensure a solid hook set.

Snook began to spawn heavily this month. I like fishing for snook during a strong tidal flow, because this is when snook feed best. This is especially true when this period occurs near sunrise or sunset.

Redfish are prowling most of the grass flats in upper Tampa Bay. I like fishing for redfish during tides higher than a 2.0 and the last couple of hours of the incoming and outgoing of that tide period.

I always chum with live scaled sardines to lure redfish to the hook, but did you know this also works well with fresh cut-bait? Ladyfish, mullet, threadfins, sardines and pinfish all make for great cut-bait. Sometimes, I’ll broadcast chunks of cut-bait around the boat to draw in the fish and attach another piece to your hook and cast it out and let it sit on the bottom. Then I’ll put the rod in a rod holder and wait for a redfish to pick it up and start peeling line off the reel. Many times, I get a bonus by catching an occasional snook or trout using this method.

Another fish to target right now is cobia. You’ll likely encounter cobia on any the deep-water grass flat. While cruising the flats, I constantly an eye out for large stingrays. Cobia like to travel with rays, so they can ambush any baitfish a ray might kick up. Equally important is being ready to pounce with a rod in hand. My favorite bait for cobia is a fake eel, but pinfish suspended under a cork is a good choice.

Spanish mackerel are plentiful for any angler looking for fillets to load up the smoker for making some fish spread. The most efficient method for catching Spanish mackerel is to anchor near a bridge, pass, channel mark or underwater structure, start a chum-slick and free-line a scaled sardine on a long shank hook.

Usually, I get too busy to write fishing reports as often as I’d like, so, if you’re interested in seeing my most recent post, please like my , Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.

Redfish Charter Fishing Tampa

Irma hit Florida Hard

Irma hit Florida hard, but she can’t keep us down!

Redfish Charter Fishing Tampa

Hues of red begin to color the water during the fall as schools of redfish crisscross many of the grass flats in Tampa Bay

Many Floridians suffered substantial damage and lost income during the passing of Hurricane Irma. Among those the hardest hit were full-time fishing guides in south Florida and the Keys. For some, it may take years to recover and this comes just as tourist usually began visit some of these areas.

With this I mind, now more than ever, when hiring a fishing guide, make sure they are a full-time guide. Over the past few years, there’s been an influx fishing charter booking agencies and part-timers that are frankly, devaluing the industry. I can guarantee you, full-timers like me are going to work harder for your hard-earned money and provide a superior fishing experience.

I’ve made my living as a full-time professional fishing guide for over 20 years. My business success has largely been due to referrals and repeat clientele. That only happens by offering excellent customer service and a great time on the water.

Fortunately, I only had to cancel or reschedule some trips due to Irma, so I’ll be fine. Charter captains further south, not so much. So, if you’re heading south to do some fishing in the next six months or so, hire a full-time guide. His or her livelihood depends on it.

Now, how about a fishing update!

Hues of red begin to color the water during the fall as schools of redfish crisscross many of the grass flats in Tampa Bay. The optimum time to catch these big bull reds is around a good high tide with a strong incoming or outgoing flow. I like to find a secluded spot along the mangroves or an oyster bed and get busy chumming. I chum heavily with live scaled sardines using a chum bait to get the redfish balled up by the boat and many times, catch fish for hours on end.

Shorter days and cooler nights have the water temperatures dropping into the middle to upper 70’s. This change in the season really tantalizes a snook’s appetite. Mangrove shoreline points, oyster beds and creek or river entrances are all holding fish.

I’m preparing kingfish rigs right now. Next mouth, I expect to find king mackerel just offshore as they begin in make their fall migration south to the keys. The annual fall run traditionally begins around Columbus Day.

Who knows, at the rate things are going politically, next fall the kingfish may arrive around Indigenous Peoples’ Day!

Many times, I get too busy to write fishing reports as often as I would like. So, if you’re interested in seeing my most recent post, please like me on Facebook to receive Afishionado updates. For charter reservations call Wade at 813-286-3474.

 

 

The Catching is Hot Right Now!

Tampa Bay Fishing Charters

Tampa Bay Redfish Charters

You may think the fishing is only good either early or late in the day during the summer. Not so! Tidal flow has everything to do with how good or bad the fishing will be on any given day, regardless of how hot it is outside. If a good tide coincides with a sunrise or sunset in the summer, all the better, because fish do feed more aggressively when the sun is at lower angles to the horizon.

When looking for a good summertime fish spot I always consider pinch points, deep water grass flats and passes where the tidal flow is at its fastest. Moving water tends to have a cooling effect, which attracts more fish to that area.

Should I find myself on the water during the mid-day when the wind dies down and the water is completely flat. I might run and gun to beat the heat!
This may be as simple as traveling a couple of miles to chase an incoming or outgoing tide at a different location. Or, if the tide is slack in your area and your waiting for it to turn, I sometimes just check out nearby channel markers, buoys or range markers for cobia or triple tail. The constant moving cools everyone off and increase our chances in locating some fish.

Mangrove snapper has been outstanding this month. Many rock piles, bridges and artificial reefs are loaded right now. With a 10-inch minimum and a five fish per person limit, it’s been easy to limit out, even when I have four to five anglers on board.

The catch and lease snook fishing is good also. Snook are still spawning and most of the bridges and mangrove points are stacked with snook.
If you like to catch and blacken redfish for dinner, the best tide to locate a school is around a high tide. This time of year, redfish like to have a lot of water over their backs as they move across the flats. I usually don’t even start looking for redfish until a 2.0 incoming tide or higher. Most days, the redfish we catch are too large to keep, but a few manage to make the 18/27-inch slot.

Many times, I get too busy to write fishing reports as often as I would like. So, if you’re interested in seeing my most recent post, please like me on Facebook to receive Afishionado updates. For charter reservations call Wade at 813-286-3474.

 

Tampa Bay Summertime Fishing is HOT!

The mangrove snapper fishing is outstanding right now. Many of the Tampa Bay area rock piles, bridges and artificial reefs are loaded. With a 10-inch minimum and a five fish per person limit, it’s been easy for me to limit out, even when I have four to five anglers on board. While snapper fishing, we’re also catching large Spanish mackerel, trout, jack crevalle, ladyfish, bluefish and the occasional shark, cobia or tarpon.

The catch and lease snook fishing will continue to be brisk for the next six weeks. Snook are still spawning and most of the passes along our coast and bay bridges are stacked with snook. Snook season opens back up for harvest on September 1.

If you like blackened redfish, the best tide to locate a school is around a high tide. This time of year, redfish like to have a lot of water over their backs as they move across the flats. I usually don’t even start looking for redfish until a 2.0 incoming tide or higher. Catching redfish over 30 inches is common this time of year.

Many times, I get too busy to write reports as often as I would like. So, if you’re interested in my recent post, please like me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter to receive real-time Afishionado updates. For charter reservations call Wade at 813-286-3474.

Now’s The Time to Catch Big fish!

Catching Big Fish in Tampa Bay with Captain Wade Osborne

First, Tarpon:

Tarpon are on the move and for the most part, an early day’s start is preferred.   Here are a few of the advantages to being the first on the water.

Along the beaches, there will be less boat traffic in the morning and the ability to see the tarpon breaking the surface from a distance is enhanced as the rising sun glistens off their silver backs.

The best areas to set up to locate tarpon are just outside one of the many passes from St. Petersburg to Anna Maria Island.    

After spotting tarpon in open water, position the boat in their line of travel from a distance and wait for them to approach you. Do not chase the fish! Once you’re in position, cast your bait out in front of the fish so it has time to enter the strike zone as the tarpon approach.  If your first bait offering is ignored, let the fish pass by the boat at least 50 yards before starting the motor to circle around for another try.  Putting too much pressure on any one fish will shut the action down completely. 

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is another hot spot to hook up with the silver king.  Some areas of the bridge are better than others, so stake them out early.  Once anchored, I like to start chumming with cut bait.  While chumming, mix it up.  I like to toss out crushed live baits, with my fresh cut bait.  The only drawback from using cut bait is it attracts mackerel and sharks, so be prepared to re-rig often.  But the advantages of more tarpon hookups and the occasional cobia are worth it.

Second, snook:

Snook begin their annual spawn this month, so catch-and-release fishing will be red hot right through August.  Catching snook measuring over 30 inches is common place this time of year, so beef up your tackle and use at least 40 lb. fluorocarbon leader.  Spawning snook are also most aggressively feeding during a strong tidal flow so plan your trip accordingly.

Third, Redfish:

The redfish have been schooling on many of the grass flats in St. Petersburg and upper Tampa Bay.  One key to success is to arrive a few hours before high tide.  Oyster beds, mangrove shorelines and grass flats peppered with sandy spots are the best places to target redfish. 

Scaled sardines, pinfish or fresh cut bait are all excellent choices for luring redfish to the hook.  Ladyfish, mullet, threadfins, sardines and pinfish all make for great cut bait.  Whichever you decide to use, broadcast some of the same chunks around the boat to draw in redfish. 

Fourth, Cobia:

Cobia will be invading the flats this month also.  I always keep two cobia rigs on the boat.  One already rigged with an artificial eel and the other setup for live bait.  Some of my favorite cobia baits are pinfish, threadfins, large scaled sardines and jumbo shrimp.  When making a cast to a cobia always lead the fish, don’t drop the bait on its head unless you want to watch it swim away, fast.

If you should spot a large southern stingray on the flats look closely, because a cobia could be nearby.

Many times, I get too busy to write reports as often as I would like, so if you’re interested in what I’ve caught lately, like me on Facebook for my most recent updates. 

Smoking Springtime Fishing is Here!

Even though spring doesn’t officially start until March 20 this year, I’m really looking forward to it. This winter, the fishing was the most inconsistent that I’ve ever experienced. Cold fronts were few and far between and when we did get one, temperatures headed back north of 70 degrees the following day. This inconsistency prevented fish from settling into their normal winter patterns. That being said, there were a good number of days when sea-trout catches were outstanding. The next day, not so much.

The redfish bite was about the same, but with a slightly different twist. Some days, most of the redfish landed were in the mid to upper slot-size of 27-inches. Other days, most were under 18-inches. Still fun to catch, but a little disappointing if you were planning on a blackened redfish dinner. Fortunately, of late, schools of large redfish are once again prowling the grass flats.

Traditionally, St. Patrick’s Day marks the start of the annual kingfish migration run along the Pinellas County coast. Kingfish can be caught very close to shore with very little effort. Just run offshore about a mile or so and locate hard bottom using your sonar or by searching out crab traps. Crab fisherman, always drop their traps on hard bottom, because that’s where the crabs are. Go figure! Once you locate a decent spot, drop anchor, start a chum slick and put out some live-bait on flat lines.

Chumming for kingfish and waiting for them to come to you is productive, but luring the fish with a trolled bait is more proactive. Slow-trolling live bait also eliminates the possibility of catching non-targeted species like sharks. I always prefer to head offshore with some bait in the live-well, but you can catch it once you reach your destination with a Sabiki rig.

Kingfish are great table fare, if you stick to the smaller ones, because they’re common carriers of high levels of mercury. The FDA recommends eating fish under 30-inches to limit your mercury intake.

Personally, I like to smoke kingfish on my Big Green Egg and then make fish dip. If you’ve never done it, just Google smoked kingfish dip and you’ll find plenty of recipes.