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.

Tampa Bay Redfish

It’s Inshore Slam Time!

Tampa Bay Redfish

JP Displays The Tampa Bay Redfish That Completed His Inshore Slam.

The big three Tampa Bay inshore species, snook, redfish and trout, are feeding heavily right now. This makes the task of catching an inshore slam a real possibility. This feat is when an angler catches a snook, redfish and trout on the same excursion.

JP Benzschawel did just that on a recent charter with his dad and friend and this is how it played out.

We started out catching snook along some mangrove shorelines. The snook fishing is outstanding right now, so the action is fast and furious. After following an incoming tide and catching 30 or more snook in a few different areas, I decided to stop by a trout spot while on the way to catch some redfish along some oyster beds.

Once at our trout spot, I did a little live-bait chumming and everyone set out a bait. Not wanting to spend too much time on trout, we caught a few and left in the pursuit of redfish.

As we neared high tide that day, I setup adjacent to a large oyster bed and chummed constantly while everyone fished. On this day, there were more snook in my redfish spot, than redfish. However, we did manage to catch a couple redfish along with many more snook.

Every day is different on the water, but this is an excellent time of year to score an inshore slam. If you’ve never achieved one, give me a call.

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.

The Afishionado 100 Snook Club Has New Members

The Afishionado 100 Snook Club

New Inductees into “The Afishionado 100 Snook Club.”

Back during the winter of 2015, I had four different charter clients who caught and released over 100 snook. The numbers were as follows: 112, 103, 123 and 110. After the first milestone, I established the Afishionado 100 Snook Club. Well, I’m happy to say that Pedro, Gus and Regan, topped the record with 125 on Friday, February 16.

This day started as any other. I woke at 4am to launch my boat before daybreak to go catch bait. At 10am, I picked up my New York client and his two 13-year-old twin boys and headed to my first snook spot. After four hours they landed 86 snook in that one location. As the action slowed, I suggested we move to another area, so they could “join the club.”

Once there, hungry snook surrounded the boat and the action continued. After they caught their 100th snook, I said, “let’s top 122.” The boys were all for it, even though their dad was ready to call it quits. Luckily, it took less than an hour to reach the 125 mark, then I pulled anchor so I could be back at port by 4pm.

This kind of action doesn’t happen every day, but when it does, there’s cause for celebration.

WHO’S NEXT?

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 my, Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.

Redfish and Snook Fishing in Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay Inshore Fishing is Heating up!

Redfish and Snook Fishing in Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay Redfish and Snook Fishing

Tampa Bay Inshore Fishing

Technically, the Spring Equinox doesn’t occur until March 20, but for us here in Tampa, it basically starts at the beginning of February. By now, the flow of extreme cold fronts from the northern regions of the country have waned and our daytime temperatures consistently stay in the mid-70’s to 80 degrees.

As the month progresses, the water temperature continues to raise, and propels the fish to go on a major feed. Top on the list: snook. The snook fishing will be outstanding this month.

Other prime Tampa Bay inshore fishing targets are redfish and sea-trout. Redfish prefer to feed around oyster beds during a high tide. Sea trout, on the other hand, like to lie in wait on deep grass flats for bait to pass by with the moving tide.

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 my Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.

Shark Fishing in Tampa

Power Plants Heat up the Action!

Shark Fishing in Tampa Bay

Cold front after cold front have plunged the water temperatures in Tampa Bay into mid-50’s. This has caused most fish to seek warmth, and they do this by dropping into deep water or moving to one of Tampa Bay’s power plant outflows.

Lately, I’ve been catching trout, sheepshead, a few snook and redfish in deep-water canals under docks. However, the best action has been taking place in the power plant outflows. This warm water plum draws in pompano, mangrove snapper, trout, ladyfish, jacks, sharks, stingrays and a few cobia.
For pure excitement, I like to target the small coastal sharks that roam the warm waters of the outflow and it’s a simple undertaking. All you need are long shank 1/0 hooks and some shrimp. That’s right, shrimp. Sharks love shrimp!

Here’s what I do: First I locate one or two sharks and anchor your boat. Using my light-tackle inshore gear, I tie a long shank on my fluorocarbon leader. I don’t use wire leader, because I won’t get as many bites. The long shank hooks help to prevent cutoffs. Then using a light drag setting, I hook a shrimp under the horn, cast it out and place the rod in a rod holder and wait until the shark swims off with the bait before picking the rod up.

The longer I sit in one spot, the more sharks I will catch due to the scent of the shrimp drawing them in. I also break up some shrimp and chum the areas where I’m fishing.

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 my Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.

Winter Solstice and Fishing

Today is the first day of winter and the shortest day of sunlight during the year.

The fishing lately or should I say, catching, has been up and down just like the weather. It’s 80 degrees in Tampa today and we’ve experienced above normal temperatures most of the month. A strong cold front passed through a couple of weeks ago, which brought the fishing to a crawl, but since then, the bite is back.

Winter provides a little something for every angler.

I’m catching snook, redfish and trout in deep-water areas adjacent to bay area grass flats and sheepshead around residential docks and pilings. And then there’s the power plant outflow.

Power plant outflows are an excellent fishing source on the coldest days of winter. When Tampa Bay water temperatures drop into the upper 50s, fish seek refuge in the warm-water outflows of power plants. The best part there’s a large varity of species that flock to the outflow. The most abundant of them are sharks. But, there’s also cobia, pompano, permit, mangrove snapper and jack crevalle.

Just like the fish I seek to catch, the bait, move into deeper waters for warmth as well. Most three and four post range markers will hold bait during the winter. Bridge pilings hold bait also. Catching bait around these deep-water structures can be challenging at times.

Most days, I’m fishing with scaled sardines; some days, shrimp. It all depends on availability.

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 my Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.

November is a Great Month to Fish!

Finally, cooler weather has moved into the Tampa Bay area and the water temperatures have dropped to the upper 60’s and this has had a huge impact on the concentrations of fish. When the water cools, fish seek warmth. There are areas in the upper Tampa Bay regions that hold hundreds of snook due to the water depth and a muddy bottom that builds heat during the day and retains it overnight. Not only do these snook congregate in astounding numbers, they’re extremely hungry.

Once I set up to catch these fish, I chum heavily with live bait to activate the bite. After the snook begin to feed, which is usually only a matter of minutes, I start baiting hooks. Then it’s on like Donkey Kong! Most times, a snook will then take your bait as soon as it hits the water. Even beginner fly anglers can get in on the action, because it’s literally like shooting fish in a barrel.

The good news is, this kind of non-stop snook catching last through the rest of fall and all winter long. It’s commonplace for clients to catch 50 or more snook an outing. During the winter of 2015, four separate charters caught and released over 100 snook. Your party could be next!

Not only are the snook huddling up, so are the redfish and trout. Occasionally, I’ll catch trout and some redfish in my snook spots, but usually I move to areas with deeper water. The deeper the water, the warmer. I still chum to get the action going, before baiting the hooks for solid hook-ups.

Cooler weather has also ushered in the king mackerel, aka kings or kingfish. Kingfish are making their annual migration run along our coast as they head back to the Florida Keys for the winter.

My favorite method for catching kingfish is slow trolling with live bait, which usually produces larger fish and is by far the most exciting. Many times, you get to watch the fish take the bait. Other times, a kingfish might skyrocket on a bait trolled in the prop wash.

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 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.