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.

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.

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.

Snook Fishing Tampa Bay

Snook Are in Full Spawn

The key to success with hooking up with a monster Tampa Bay snook is to fish during a strong tidal flow and have the right bait. Grunts, pinfish and large scaled sardines are prime snook baits. It’s also important to present the bait properly. Always cast up tide and let the bait flow back to the fish while keeping the bail on the real open. Once your bait is picked up and line starts rushing off the spool, close the bail with your hand and lift your rod tip for a solid hook set.

Mangrove snapper spawn this month also, so it’s a good time to go snapper fishing. Snapper fishing is easy. Just go load up your live-well full of bait and head to a rock pile, artificial reef or bridge and start chumming.

I like to cut up my own fresh chum from the live-well, but a frozen chum-block hanging off the stern will work. I good tidal flow works best for snapper fish as well, because it creates a flow of fish particles to pull the fish off the structure you’re fishing on.

As far as snapper bait. I like to use the smallest scaled sardine in the live-well. Better yet, if you have any 2-inch pinfish, use them. Snapper love them and they’re hearty on the hook.

There are two ways you can fish your snapper bait. Let it drop back with the chum slick while let out line or cast it out and let it swim in the current with the bail closed. The biggest thing about getting a hook up, is to be patient. Snapper will peck at the bait two, maybe three times before it inhales it, so don’t try to set the hook too soon!

Locating schooling redfish lately has been hit or miss, but I think that’s mainly due to the huge influx of freshwater that our area received during the last two weeks. Thankfully, we’re finally getting back to a normal pattern of afternoon storms. This should allow the waters to clear up and increase the odds for locating schools of redfish.

When I’m out fishing and the winds lay down in the middle of the day and the temperatures start to rise, I often crank up the motor and go search for triple tail or cobia.

Triple tail love to hang out around crab trap buoys and will eat just about anything you toss at them. They will also trail along with floating debris. I saw a bright orange object last summer that looked like a fish marker, so I went and checked it out. It turns out, it was a floating bait net with a large triple tail in it. My client cast a scaled sardine at it and the fish rushed out of the net and devoured the bait. So always be on the outlook.

Cobia on the other hand, like to hang around larger structure. Large buoys, range markers or navigation signs, any of these obstacles can attract cobia. Cobia like to shadow large stingrays that are cursing the grass flats too, so keep an eye out.

Wade is the hardest working fishing guide on Tampa Bay!

We have been out with him several times.  He arrives at the ramp with the bait well FULL! Wade does not waste the clients time finding bait like many other guides. He is up early and is loaded down with bait and ready to go from the second you step on his boat!

His boat is another thing worth mentioning too. Wade fishes out of a 24 Sheaffer, in my opinion the best custom bay boat money can buy! The boat is pleasure to fish out of for several anglers. HUGE bow and cockpit too with an excellent solid dry ride. Most other guides do not invest in a top shelf boat like a Sheaffer!

As to the fishing we have had AMAZING days with Wade! He works harder to catch you fish than any other guide I have fished with period! One example: On one of our last trips with Wade, we caught 110 snook & 30 reds! That was three anglers and we were going crazy hauling the fish in ALL DAY!

Patrick Barnett, Tampa, FL
May 23, 2017