Had a great weekend fishing the Merry Pier in Pass-A-Grille. Saturday found tons of bait swarming the structure, and plenty of hungry fish around. Big mangrove snapper, macks, small grouper – even an ‘almost legal’ 31″ cobia. Sunday was good, too, despite Saturday night’s heavy rains. More snapper, plus flounder, a 20″ gag grouper, a few big stingrays, and a 10″ lane snapper. My Birthday was Sunday, and it was a great time. Looking forward to the 3 day weekend coming up!
August can be brutally hot, especially on days with no cloud cover and no breeze. The best bet on those days is to get an early start – and an early finish! Fishing has been a little off this summer. We’ve had swarms of big mangrove snapper, legal grouper and occasion cobia over the last few summers, but this year the grouper are small and scarce, the cobia elusive, and the snapper are running a bit on the smaller side. Of course, the bait drives the fish, and the big greenbacks have been hanging offshore, while clouds of glass minnows have been hanging out at the dock.
Anyway, here are a few catches over the last month:
St. Pete Beach fishing has entered the typical summer patterns. Bait has shown up, and although plentiful, it mostly remains small. Flounder, redfish and black drum have virtually disappeared, while cobia have yet to show up. Snapper and Key West grunts are now the staple at Merry Pier, with mangrove snapper ranging from 7-14″, with an average length of 9.99999 inches.
Grouper have been spotty, and small. I have yet to see a legal size gag caught. Seems to me like a lot of the structure inshore that used to hold big grouper may have been gradually covered with drifting sand, so what was once a couple feet of relief is now mere inches. Or, maybe it’s something else – the water temp, the bait, who knows? I’ll keep trying, though. Some highlights from the last month:
OK, first the bad news. No sign of greenbacks yet (although the glass minnows are thick). No cobia. No big grouper. Snook season is over. Flounder are small, few and far between. Merry Pier is swarming with filefish, puffers, pinfish, sailor’s choice, and cowfish.
The good news – nice mangrove snapper are showing up, and black drum are cooperating. Sunday, my brother and I landed 4 black drum in the 7-10 pound range, with two bigger ones getting away. Throw in some 10″ to 14″ snapper, and you have the makings of a great fish dinner… or three…
Another snook season closes this week, and, while I managed to catch a few, they all remained shy of the slot minimum size. Oh, well…. At least there’s plenty of non-snook action firing up. I managed a nice 7 pound black drum Saturday at Merry Pier in St. Pete Beach. Also on the menu are the season’s first mangrove snapper – they are still spotty, but there are a few 10″ to 14″ fish along with the smaller specimens. Meanwhile, the redfish have completely disappeared. But, on a whim, I decided to see if the out-of-season gag grouper were around. And, yes, they are. My friend Juan got a 23″, and we pulled in a bunch of 15″ to 20″ gags using frozen sardines. Fishing remains steady, but not great. Still no sign of the bait schools that will soon be clouding the waters. Any day now…
While February and March were pretty slow months, things are looking up. No more cold fronts in the forecast, so the bait should make a strong showing soon. Some glass minnows are already hanging around structure in south St. Pete Beach. Reports have pompano at the jetty and the small beach in Pass-A-Grille, while snook are feeding and macks are starting to show. There are still a few small flounder in the shallows. Yesterday, my friend Tim nailed a beautiful slot snook at Merry Pier, and I landed a nice black drum.
OK, yeah, been a little slow in posting updates. But, fishing has been a little slow, too. The redfish, flounder and black drum from November through January disappeared, and February was… VERY slow. But, finally, we’ve strung together a nice spell of warm days, and the fishing is picking back up. Last weekend, Allen managed to wrestle an over-the-slot redfish from under Merry Pier on a jumbo live shrimp. I’m getting reports of Spanish mackerel showing up offshore, sheepshead on the bridges, and pompano in the passes. Bait remains offshore and to the south, but it won’t be long. A few highlights from the last month:
Had a great weekend – despite cooler temperatures and low tides, the fish were biting. Jumbo live shrimp tossed under the Merry Pier yielded redfish, black drum and even a flounder! The redfish were all at the top of the slot, and hits were pretty tentative – the fish would simply inhale the shrimp and slowly swim off. FYI, small black drum are excellent, so long as you trim all of the darker meat off the fillets. Dredge in butter, coat with blackening seasoning, and toss in a smoking hit pan. Turn frequently to prevent burning, and serve with drawn butter. Awesome!