June 17th, 2013
It looks to be a banner year for mangrove snapper fishing in the south Pinellas area. The have taken up residence at every structure – bridges, jetty’s, docks, piers, rockpiles – you name, there’s snapper on it. And they are running pretty big, considering it’s only mid- June. By late fall, there may be some monsters (well, inshore ‘monsters’, anyway).
My brother Allen and I hit the Merry Pier in Pass-A-Grille on Sunday morning. The tide was running pretty strong, and outgoing. We tossed live shrimp up under the dock in the first three finger slips, using 30 lb fluorocarbon leaders, 1/4 oz slip sinkers and size 2 circle hooks. Action was fast and furious – as soon as the shrimp hit the bottom (and sometimes sooner), the fish were on it. Most were in the 8 to 10 inch range, but when we got one a foot or longer, into the cooler it went. When the tide began to slow, we moved to the end of the pier – and so did the snapper. They sure like fast moving water. We ended up going through about 15 dozen shrimp, caught at least 70-80 snapper, and kept our two person limit. Good eating!
Other reports include occasional flounder; trout and snook at Blind Pass (including a 38″ brute caught Thursday); stray redfish here and there; lots of macks and ladyfish anywhere the bait is thick and the water is clear; and a few sheepshead, although nobody’s really targeting them.
Offshore, fishing is on fire! Miss Pass-A-Grille has been coming back loaded every trip. My friend Neal had a great adventure on the 39 hour trip out of John’s Pass, and he brought back a cooler full, including this beautiful American Red Snapper:
June 12th, 2013
With June in full swing, mornings and evenings are the ticket for St. Petersburg area fishing. Looks like Sunday will have a decent outgoing tide early in the day, so I’ll be targeting snapper. If I manage an early limit (quite likely), it’ll be time to sling a big pinfish into the deeper, faster water in search of sharks, cobia or tarpon. I stopped at Blind Pass yesterday for a couple minutes, and managed a nice sea trout on a jig.
June 6th, 2013
After 10 very long months in the desert, I am back on the Beach and fishing again! I have made it down to Merry Pier a couple times, and the fishing is starting to heat up. The mangrove snapper are thick under the dock and boathouse, and 5 fish limits of the tasty foot long fish have been pretty easy on live shrimp. Closer to the seawall, the snook are lined up facing the outgoing tide, and a freelined jumbo shrimp is just the ticket. Bait is plentiful and large under and around the pier, and there are plenty of mackerel, jacks and ladyfish lurking. I have seen some really large stingrays caught, and a few anglers have been nailed by SOMETHING big in the deeper water – probably sharks or cobia. No sign of the tarpon yet, although they should be around. Still a few stray grouper and flounder, but not worth targeting. Stay tuned – I should be providing weekly updates again.
December 11th, 2012
Still in Arizona, so I missed the traditional Fall flounder run in St. Pete Beach. But my sources tell me it was another banner year, with dozens of flatties caught daily. Most were over the 12″ minimum, and a few were over 24″. I’m hoping to be back in Florida for Spring fishing…
September 4th, 2012
I have spent most of the summer in Arizona. Not many fish there, but plenty of rattlesnakes. I finally got to spend a little time fishing in Pass-A-Grille this weekend, and the fishing was GOOD! Plenty of small snapper, with a few keepers mixed in. There were a few flounder around, but they were way too small. But the grouper were there! After I lost a monster on Saturday, I returned Sunday determined to catch it. I landed a 15″ red grouper using frozen sardines, then a 21 and 1/2″ that was safely released. Then came the BIG hit – this fish was taking drag, and I had the drag way tight. 80 lb test braid, 80 lb test leader, and a 7/0 circle hook - and I was glad I was rigged heavy. The fish still managed to rock me up, and 15 minutes later, it wouldn’t budge. In desperation, I tried the old trick of strumming on the line like a banjo string. Sure enough, after a minute or so the fish bolted, and the fight was back on. Thanks to skillful net work from my friend Joe, I landed a 29″ gag grouper – my biggest so far from Merry Pier!
29" Gag Grouper
Red Grouper from a Dock!
The Summer Mangos are Back!
That is One Big Gag Grouper!
And, if You Don't Catch Any, You Can Shop at the Merry Pier Fish Market. Queen Snapper Last Week!
May 10th, 2012
Bait is plentiful everywhere, and warm sunny days are producing outstanding fishing conditions. Macks are hammering anything moving at Merry Pier, while pompano are spotty in the Passes and the Jetty. Offshore, the bite is on fire, although current fishing regulations greatly limit what you can bring home.
Interesting sight at the Merry peir last weekend – a boat was tied up poorly overnight. The result:
April 20th, 2012
Weather permitting, I’ll be spending some time on the water this weekend. The bait is now thick in Blind Pass, Pass-A-Grille, and off the beach. My buddy Mike had a nice day last weekend at the Merry Pier, catching 2 flounder, a snook, 2 redfish and a 36″ cobia!
April 11th, 2012
OK, yeah, I’ve been slacking on my fishing blog. Work, out of town, under the weather… whatever. I’m back!
While weather conditions have been spectacular over the last couple months, fishing hasn’t been. Oh, sure, there are fish around. Flounder, redfish, grouper, Macks, black drum, sheepshead, pompano… you name. But, catches have been sporadic at best. The bait moved inshore a couple weeks ago, and there are good shows in Blind Pass and at the Merry pier – big greenbacks, too. Snook have been seen hiding under the pier, but nobody’s fishing for them since they’re out of season. The pompano run in Blind Pass hasn’t really taken off yet – some days they’re there, others… not.
Won’t be long, though. With water temps moving up and bait plentiful, I have high hopes for the coming months. And, I WILL keep you posted!
A few random catches:
Cooler Full of Sheepshead
January 24th, 2012
OK, time to catch up on my fishing blog. Went out in early January with Dick, Tim, and Joe. The target species was amberjack, so we headed to the surefire spot in 105 feet. First drop, first fish. Second drop, second fish. And so it went. The amberjack were big, hungry and plentiful. We tried a little bottom fishing nearby, but those pesky amberjack wouldn’t leave us alone. Joe dropped a finger size tomtate down on a size 2 hook and light spinning gear, hoping for snapper. Nope, he hooked into and landed a 30+ pound amberjack, after an epic fight.
We decided to give our backs a break, and headed for a ledge looking for grouper. As it turns out, the ledge was loaded. We nailed a bunch of 19″ red grouper, along with plenty of big gags up to about 20 pounds. See for yourself:
So, Saturday was gorgeous, upper 70′s and no wind, so I figured I’d join Miss Pass-A-Grille for the 1/2 day fishing trip. Good call! I ended up with 8 really nice grunts, which translated into a bag full of fillets. I saw tons of grunts caught, along with red grouper, gag grouper, triggerfish and porgies. If you haven’t been out on Miss Pass-A-Grille, I highly recommended it! Call ‘em at (727) 367-9833 for reservations and information.
A few side notes – great company on Miss Pass-A-Grille. There is still decent whitebait to be netted at Merry Pier. Flounder have moved offshore, and sheepshead are JUST strating to show. Still a few Macks around.
January 12th, 2012
So, I found myself at Merry Pier a couple Saturdays ago, and Cap’t Randy invited me out for the 1/2 day on The Miss Pass-A-Grille deep sea fishing boat. The weather was perfect – sunny and warm with calm winds. Off we went. There were about 20 others aboard, including several families – the boat is a perfect place for kids to learn how to fish. We hit several spots, and there were plenty of tasty Key West grunts in my bucket. I saw several legal red grouper caught, along with flounder and big gag grouper (which are, unfortunately, out of season). Here’s the end result of a great 4 hour trip: