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.

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.