The different fish I catch
Redfish are mostly an inshore species. In West Central Florida, we catch them on grass flats, near mangrove shorelines, oyster bars, and structure such as residential docks. Once a Redfish reaches about 5 lbs., they put up a tremendous fight…they don’t like to give up easily. A 30″ Redfish, on 10 lb. test, is one of the most exciting fish to land. Redfish are mostly crustacean eaters, but can be caught on a variety of live and cut baits, as well as artificials. Redfish are good table fare.
Tommy tarpon tarpon is the largest and most spectacular gamefish found in inshore/nearshore waters.
Tarpon are found inshore except when migrating offshore to spawn. They also migrate north and south along the coast depending upon water temperatures. Juvenile Tarpon stay in brackish (fresh/saltwater combination) waters, such as rivers and canals. The larger Tarpon move into Tampa Bay as the water temperature nears 70 degrees, usually in April or May. Tarpon also have a lung and can be seen gulping air on the surface of the water. They are one of the toughest fighting game fish. They will take live bait, dead bait, cut bait, and artificial baits. A favorite bait is a small blue crab. The Tarpon record in Florida is 243 lbs. Most Tarpon caught weight between 60 - 150 lbs. They can be caught along Gulf beaches and in the bays and bridges. Tarpon are not edible.
Snook are tremendous fighters. Initial runs of fish, in the 30″ range, will take 50 yards of line or more. They can jump and seem to be able to find anything with which to cut the line. Thirty pound leader is the norm. Their mount is rough like sandpaper and the gillplates are razor sharp. Snook like to feed on moving water, usually an outgoing tide is the best. They are finicky eaters and can frustrate even the most patient angler. But, the fight and food quality are well worth the wait for the hardcore angler. Snook become lethargic in cold weather, sometimes dying if water temperatures drop below 60 degrees. Snook are make great table fare…beautiful white meat.
Speckled or Spotted Sea Trout are found in nearshore and inshore waters near the Gulf of Mexico. Grassy, sandy and mixed grass/sand bottom areas are the best place to fish for Trout. Spotted Sea Trout are on of the most sought after species along the Florida Gulf Coast. In early spring, trout numbers increase. Slowing drifting, while casting soft plastic baits, often results in large numbers of Trout. Light tackle, in the 6-10 lb. test range, is used. Live bait, including shrimp, pinfish and sardines, as well as a variety of artificials will catch Sea Trout. Only the coldest weather and water temperatures slow the Trout action. Trout are great to eat….very mild tasting fish
Spanish Mackerel can be caught on live bait such as sardines, threadfin herring, as well as on artificials such as silver spoons or others ressembling small bait fish or shrimp. Using light wire leader will help prevent cut off’s from their sharp teeth. I prefer using 40 lb. test mono and long shank hooks for more strikes. On light tackle, Spanish Mackerel offer lightning fast drag-screaming runs, and the action is usually very dependable. Catches of 20-40 fish are common. Spanish Mackerel are an oily fish but they are good to eat either smoked, cooked on the grill or broiled.
Other fish we catch are Sheepshead, Gag and Goliath Grouper, Mangrove Snapper, King Mackerel, Pompano, Permit, Jack Crevalle, Bluefish Sharks many different types, and Ladyfish among others round out the mix of hard fighting and, for the most part, good eating species common to the Tampa Bay Area.