Fishing Report from For Shore Fishing.
By Michael Wilson / Ledger correspondent Gag grouper — The seasonal gag grouper bite has really picked up in the Tampa Bay region and locations elsewhere. Grouper anglers are reporting a good bite while trolling, bottom fishing, and casting plugs over structure in shallow water.
Strike Zone, 2, 3, 4, 5, Elsewhere
1. At Big Pier 60 in Clearwater, Spanish mackerel biting good early in the morning. During the day the mackerel bite is steady along with a good silver trout bite. At night, the speckled trout bite is good. Anglers should note, the Pier’s hours change on Dec. 1 to 6:00 a.m to 9:30 p.m. seven days a week, reports Big Pier 60 Bait & Tackle (727-462- 6466).
- At Madeira Beach, the cobia and gag grouper are thick right now. The big gags are biting especially on the near shore ledges and rock piles. They’re also being caught during the day as well. The hogfish bite is still good near shore while using lighter tackle and live shrimp. “We’re also still seeing nice tripletail along the near shore crab trap buoys,” reports Capt. Dylan Hubbard of Hubbard’s Marina (727-393- 1947).
- At John’s Pass, “Gag grouper are thick nearshore right now around Johns Pass and Hubbard’s Marina,” reports Dylan Hubbard of Hubbard’s Marina (727-393-1947). Pompano and sheepshead are also biting inside Johns Pass. The snook bite continues at night with a few during the day. The trout bite has been good inside around the back bays, reports Hubbard.
- At Fort DeSoto Park, there’s lots gag grouper with a good number of keepers being caught around the area docks. Pompano are being caught around the bridges and the passes. Big sheepshead have moved in all over and the flounder bite remains steady. Spanish mackerel and with some kingfish mixed in are being caught at the piers. Redfish and trout are being caught off East Beach and there’s a steady bite for snook, trout, and redfish on the flats inside the park, reports Capt. Claude Hinson, of the Bait Bucket (727-864- 2108).
- Around the Sunshine Skyway and lower Tampa Bay, “Gag grouper are all over the bay. They’re inside the shipping channel and outside. Trolling for them has been excellent, but the bottom bite is solid as well,” reports Capt. Shawn Crawford of Florida Sport Fishing Outfitters. (941-705-3160). The snook and trout bite is good in Terra Ceia Bay. There’s also a good flounder bite there as well as out front of Miguel Bay, reports Capt. Shawn Crawford of Florida Sport Fishing Outfitters of Bradenton (941-705-3160). www.captainshawn.com
- At Anna Maria, kingfish and Spanish mackerel are being caught on the beach and out to six miles. Inside, the trout action is good. “There’s lots of small trout, but if you have spot that produces big fish, they’ll be there. We had a few fish 24-26 inches this past week,” reports Crawford. Snook action remains excellent. The cooler, yet mild weather has them spread out from the beaches to their wintertime spots. “They’re everywhere, so you have to looks for pods of more than a few fish,” reports Crawford.
- At St. Petersburg, flounder fishing continues to improve. The top action is near passes where there’s good water flow, sand, rocks, and shell or grass. Snook fishing around the area remains good on both live bait and artificials. “Pompano continue to delight anglers fishing the area. Pompano jigs and the locally made Doc’s Goofy Jigs will put fish in the boat, reports Capt. Ray Markham of Backwater Promotions (941-723-2655). www.CaptainRayMarkham.com
- In the north end of Tampa Bay, “The Spanish mackerel bite has been on fire. Any kind of structure in 10-15 of water in the bay is holding mackerel,” reports Capt. Jake Whitfield Florida Outdoor Adventures (813-997-5980). Snook, redfish, and trout are beginning to move into their winter spots. “The snook fishing is especially good. We’ve been averaging about 30 snook a trip,” reports Whitfield.
Elsewhere At Fort Pierce,offshore, the sailfish bite is good trolling ballyhoo in 120 to 200 feet of water. There’s also some mahi on the troll and kingfish closer in in 50 feet. Bottom fishing is good for lane and mangrove snapper with the occasional cobia in the mix. In the inlet around the bridges, lots of black drum and sand perch are being caught. There’s also some sheepshead showing up, reports Clint Walker at the Fishing Center of St. Lucie (772-465-7637). On the Space Coast, speckled trout between 16-20 inches are being caught early in the morning on small topwater lures. The northern end of the Banana River has been very productive. Flounder are also being caught early around the port near channel drop-offs or the jetties, reports Capt. Keith Mixon of Mixin’ Work With Play Fishing Charters. (321-212-8484). At Homosassa, the inshore grouper bite is very good in water as shallow as six feet. Shallow diving plugs in gold or purple color have been the most productive. Snook fishing is good in the rivers. Most of the fish are on the small side, but there are plenty of numbers. The trout bite is good near Chassahowitzka Point around areas with hard bottom with rock grass. Popping corks with a glow or dark colored tail will get the bite. The redfish bite is scattered, but decent when you find the fish. Look for jumping mullet and us live shrimp on the incoming tide, reports Capt. William Toney of Homosassa Inshore Fishing Charters (352-621-9284). www.homosassainshorefishing.com