"It is only the inexperienced and thoughtless who find pleasure in killing fish for the mere sake of killing them. No sportsman does this." - W.C. Prime, 1888.
A special thanks to all of you readers who stopped by the Bait House or sent emails with comments on my “Fishzilla” column. You’ve added a few more possibilities to the list of fish that Fishzilla could be. We have also had several of you stopping by to try and catch Fishzilla off of the north pier here, but so far nobody has hooked him yet. Keep trying. You may be the angler that finally gets that monster.
I had forgotten how good 90 degrees with an off-shore breeze feels. With the warmer water temperatures, we’ve seen a lot of migratory fish returning to our area. Just in the last week, the rays have returned in large numbers. Look for their wing tips to break the water surface as they “fly” looking for their mates. The two most common species of rays in the gulf are the Southern Stingray and the Atlantic Stingray. The Southern tends to be the largest. While the average size of wingspan is usually two to three feet, they are caught frequently twice that large. The world’s record is 246 pounds. While most rays are caught while fishing for other game fish, they can put up a fight using their tactic of sticking to the bottom like a suction cup. Cobias are known to travel with rays so we are hoping that they are returning to our area as well. If you wade out in the water to fish, it’s time to do the ray shuffle with your feet so that you avoid stepping on one.
Spanish Mackeral are in full swing, They are being found both in the intracoastal waterway in main channels as well as in the gulf. All area piers are reporting that anglers have had great success with these legendary fighters. While many are being caught using bobbers and live greenback minnows, others are hitting silver or gold spoons. King Mackeral are also running in the gulf and being caught trolling around 5 knots with an array of rigs. Area anglers have been hitting them with everything from spoons, rigged ballyhoos, ladyfish, as well as pinfish. Spotted Sea Trout are also in full bloom especially in early evening and through the night. Live shrimp as well as pinfish used with a bobber set about four feet down have been the rigs of choice. There is still a lot of Sheephead being caught around piers, docks, and bridges. They are hitting a wide array of baits including live fiddler crabs, live shrimp, clams, as well as frozen sand fleas. The charter day boats have been bringing home some very impressive stringers of large gag and red groupers as well as grunts.
Just to show how good the fishing has been getting in our area: A local family spent eight hours fishing the north pier by the Bait House and walked away with mackerel, sheephead, bonnet-head sharks, sea bass, flounder, and redfish. All caught in the same area during the same time. They told me that they had planned the fishing trip because of the full moon and extreme tide swings. With the number of nice size fish they had I’d had to say they made a good plan.
Remember that the Bait House has dock access for your boat and we can always be reached on your marine radio to check on bait availability. We also have rental rods and reels as well as aerated bait buckets for your day on the water. Thanks to those that email at Jim2988@msn.com 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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