We wish you a very Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah to you and yours from all of us at the Bait House. Weíve been busy here getting ready for the holidays. Big Al has been making dreidels for all of the shrimp to play with and Bill (Duffy) has been filling the stockings of all the pinfish with small chunks of squid. Iíve been busy trying to teach Christmas carols to our local pelicans, but even with a mouth as big as theirs, they still canít carry a tune. Yup, I think we are ready for the big day. We invite you to bring the whole family down for a great day of holiday fishing. It will be a good chance for you to spend some quality time with your loved ones and you can try out all the new fishing gear you found under the tree.
With the warmer weather we have had over the last two weeks, the fishing has picked up in the Intracoastal waterway. We are seeing a lot of gray and mangrove snappers being caught in or around sea grass using live shrimp or frozen squid. If you can cast out to the sea grass edges, you will find flounders hitting on the same baits. Sheephead have been active around docks, bridge supports, and piers. Their bait of choice is live fiddler crabs if you can find them, but they are also biting on frozen sand fleas and live shrimp. Honeymoon and Caladesi Islands are the hot spots for redfish and sharks of all kinds. Cut ladyfish seems to be the bait of choice for the redfish. Anglers also commented to us that you should cut the ladyfish in strips rather than chunks. The redfish seem to prefer its bait trailing through the water. Donít be surprised if you catch a shark or two using the same bait and rigs. Our local piers are seeing a lot of whitings being caught as well as rays, sharks, and the occasional redfish. For those of you that like to net mullets this time of year, they are showing up all over the area especially around jetties.
The big story offshore is the number of large gag and red groupers being caught. While a lot of these are being caught using live pinfish, small grunts, and sand perch (squirrel fish), others are using frozen sardines and even live shrimp to bring these great fighters in. The majority of the fish are caught using bottom rigs. Now with the cooler water temps, groupers are moving closer to shore and even into the Intracoastal waterway. Recently, two local anglers found some keeper size groupers on a small reef just two and a half miles from shore. They caught them using live shrimp. If you want to find them in the Intracoastal, look for them near rock piles and any deep holes. Remember there is a 22Ē minimum on gag and red grouper. The world record gag grouper is 80 pounds, 6 ounces. The world record on red grouper is 42 pounds, 4 ounces.
We want to take the time to thank each and every one of our customers for making us their bait and tackle shop. Without your continued support we would not be here. I personally want to thank all the people that stop by or email me with their favorite spots, rigs, and baits so I can pass the information onto the readers of this column. Youíve made this a very memorable year for me. Remember, we have dock access for your boat and I can be emailed at Jim2988@msn.com. Have a Happy New Year and as always, Good Luck Out There!
Jim can be found daily at the Bait House - Clearwater Municipal Marina, phone 446-8134
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