Fishing was excellent on charters this week on a wide variety of species. The vast majority of fish were caught using large, live shrimp. Snook, speckled trout, sharks, bluefish, flounder, sea bass, red grouper, gag grouper, mangrove snapper, jack crevelle, ladyfish, sailcats, and more were landed by clients fishing with me. I also ran a tarpon trip off of Venice where we hooked 2 but did not land either one, but that's tarpon fishing. Speckled trout on the deep flats in 6'-7' of water continue to be very reliable for anglers fishing live shrimp under popping corks. The Middlegrounds, Radio Tower, and Marina Jack flats have all been quite productive, and the earlier the better! Big Pass is full of ladyfish for those looking to bend the rods. Structure in the pass is holding grouper and snapper, slack tides are the best time to fish for them.
Dave Conway from Maine with a nice speckled trout.
I started the week off on Sunday with Dan Smart and his son Carrey from Naples Maine, his buddy Dave Conway, and his daughter-in-law Bette, both of whom live in Sarasota.
We started off in Big Pass with good action on jack crevelle and ladyfish using DOA CAL jigs. We moved to the flats where action was slow on artificial baits, so I ran in and got some nice hand-picked shrimp. That resulted in several nice speckled trout between 18" and 20", along with several other slot trout and short trout at the Radio Tower and Middlegrounds. Ladyfish, small sharks, snapper, and other species were also landed.
Brittany from Maryland caught several nice trout.
Gregg Gast and his girlfriend Brittany, both from the Easter Shore in MD, had a good trip on Monday. They wanted a couple fish for dinner and in short order a 16" and 18" trout went on ice using live shrimp. A move to Big Pass resulted in a bunch of ladyfish. Brittany wanted to catch a shark, so we moved to a nearby flat and used some cut up ladyfish as bait. We had one dump the spool before it broke off, but that was it. We finished up near Bird Key catching trout, snapper and ladyfish. Brittany caught-and-released a pair of nice 20" speckled trout to end the trip on a high note.
I ran a trip in a CB's pontoon boat for Joe Culloo from Colorado on Tuesday, we do this occasionally with larger groups. They did not catch a lot of fish, but did get several nice ones. The Radio Tower and Marina Jacks were the best spots and they landed a 21" and 20" speckled trout, other smaller trout, a 2 lb bluefish, a very nice black sea bass, jacks, and ladyfish, using live shrimp.
Ralph Talerico caught this nice trout on Wednesday.
Ralph Talerico from Pittsburg, PA caught trout and snook on Wednesday.[/caption]Ralph Talerico from Pittsburg, PA had a productive charter on Wednesday, both in terms of action and variety. We left Centennial park and headed over to the Middlegrounds, where he caught a bunch of speckled trout, a couple of gag grouper, and a few ladyfish. Most of the trout were "shorts", but he did land a beautiful 22" fish. A move to an oyster bar resulted in a keeper flounder, jacks, snapper, and a snook. We finished up in Big Pass, working a steep drop-off. Red grouper to 17", gag grouper, and mangrove snapper kept Ralph busy. Most of the fish hit live shrimp, though we did catch a few on Gulp! Shrimp.
I ran a tarpon charter on Thursday with Larry Hamacher from Harrisburg, PA. We found a pretty, laid up school at first light and got bit on a crab. Larry had it on for ten minutes and one jump before the hook pulled. We saw several more schools, but all were moving pretty fast. Late in the morning we found another bunch and after several attempts got in good position and hooked another. None to the boat, but he had two on with many other chances.
Tom Mazziotti from Atlanta GA, near Marina Jacks
The Mazziotti family from Atlanta; dad Tom, his son Thomas (13) and daughters Caroline and Mary Elizabeth had a great trip on Friday morning! We left Ken Thompson at 6:30 and the speckled trout bite was hot. A couple dozen fish came in with quite a few in the slot, though we were not keeping them. Ladyfish, jack crevelle, snapper, sailcats, and a nice bluefish were also landed using live shrimp under corks. The tide turned to go out and we moved to Big Pass, where action was steady on ladyfish and jacks. We saved a few ladyfish for bait and finished up at a spot nearby that I have been doing well on sharks at. We missed 4 or 5 good bites, then Tom Sr stuck one and landed it, a nice 40" black tip. Nice way to end the trip with a great family!