The Fishin’ Report: Concerns mount over red tide – Suncoast News


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Nick Stubbs

Here we go again. Pinellas County has issued a red tide alert heading into last weekend and dead fish were reported along Sand Key. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s samplings confirmed presence of red tide in six samples from Clearwater shores, according to its red tide monitoring web page.As anglers well know, the red tide fish kills of 2017 and 2018 led to more than two years of closures on trout, reds and snook from southwest Florida all the way to the Hernando County line.

“Yeah, it’s not something anyone wants to hear right now,” said Larry, our weekly fishing report source at the Tarpon Trading Company in Holiday. The news is particularly worrisome, as the long closures designed to allow fish populations to rebound from the earlier kills were finally lifted June 1.It appears that the red tide has not gone farther north than Clearwater, but where it spreads depends much on the direction of prevailing winds. Larry said everyone has their fingers crossed.Guide bitesCapt. Mike Senker (352) 584-6297: Capt. Mike says red snapper season is well underway, though most of the action has been deeper than 80 feet, making going for them a commitment to a long ride. Those making the run are reporting the numbers are not what they were hoping for this season, at least so far. Gag grouper fishing is hot, with anglers finding keeper-sized fish in as little as 12 feet of water. Gumbo, a green, slimy growth that covers the bottom and fouls tackle is being encountered between about 18 and 32 feet of water, so most are avoiding that zone for their grouper fishing. Those anglers with smaller boats who do not venture deeper than 32 feet will do OK if they work rocks out to 16 feet. There won’t be as many big fish, but put in the time for the keepers.Pasco & North Pinellas tackle shop roundup

Cooper's Shrimp Shack (727) 868-8736: Bill reports that anglers are finding good numbers of trout in Hudson-area waters, with the majority on the shallow, open grass flats. The area’s creeks and canals have been giving up some nice reds to those fishing with live shrimp. Lots of snook are being seen, though most anglers have been striking out. An exception was the little daughter of an angler who stopped in the shop and was quite stoked to tell the story of her snook catch-and-release. Some anglers are doing well on sheepshead in the canal using live fiddler crabs. Offshore anglers have been finding a few keeper gags on the shallow limestone bottom northwest of Hudson. Anglers are saying they are throwing back seven of 10 landed to get their keepers, but that 12 feet of water is producing some fish that measure. Cobia have been caught over hard bottom in 20 to 25 feet of water.One Stop Bait and Tackle (727) 842-5610: Joe says offshore anglers have been targeting the red snapper since the season opened earlier this month. Word is some nice fish are being found around the 65-foot depths. Gag fishing has been solid starting in around 35 feet, according to some. Inshore, the snook are on the island beaches for the summer spawn. A mix of small males and the jumbo females are cruising in the surf. There also are a few being reported around creek mouths. Reds have been scattered and working along flooded mangrove lines when the water is up. The water is warming rapidly, which means fishing early morning and at night will begin to more productive than the hottest part of the day. The sharks don’t care about the heat, however, and there are lots of them on the flats, around sand bars and in the island passes. Chum and cut bait is all that’s needed. Blacktip, bonnethead, lemon and sand sharks are the main targets, with fish 2 to 4 feet typical. Blacktip sharks are prized sport fish, as they often leap when hooked and are favored by many as a table fish. Unlike most sharks, they also take artificial baits like jigs and plugs.Tarpon Trading Company (727) 937-1488: Larry reports the action has picked up at the bridges on the Fred Howard Park causeway, with angler reporting some nice catches of snook and trout. Larry was out early Saturday and poking around the north end of Anclote Key, where he caught and released a snook and some trout, but also came across a pod of bull redfish. They were not your typical reds, and were the largest he’s seen and more like the huge reds found on the Carolina coast. He and an angler in another boat tried to entice them to take a bait, but they struck out. An angler at the shop reported another miss, this one on a mammoth snook at Three Rooker Bar south of Anclote Key. After a long battle, the big fish won its freedom. The big females are on the beaches now to spawn, where they’ll remain into August. Offshore, most anglers are reporting excellent gag grouper fishing. One group that took a trip to 65-70 feet southwest of Anclote reported some great action on red snapper.Hernando tackle shop roundupDaddy D’s Bayport Bait (352) 556-2163: Dustin reports the offshore gag grouper fishing has been excellent. His anglers have been mixing it up, working 50 feet and beyond for a better ratio of keepers to shorts, or fishing inside 18 feet with good success, though more throwbacks. Those heading beyond 65 feet are reporting some good red snapper fishing. A number of offshore anglers are reporting a much improved hogfish bite. Inshore, the big news is the redfish. They are now schooling in bigger numbers and working the rocky points and island shorelines, as well as stalking creek mouths and moving into backwaters and canals. Live shrimp is a good bait choice, but they also take a range of artificials, including spoons, jigs and plugs. Small, live pinfish are another good bait. Trout fishing has been decent on the open grass flats. Jigs are a good way to cover a lot of water quickly. Sheepshead are taking shrimp and crabs in rocky canals.Dixie Lee Bait (352) 596-5151: Mark says his anglers are having their way with redfish. Lots of mid- to upper-slot fish are being taken along the Hernando coast, creeks, rivers and backwaters. The fish are starting to clump together in bigger schools, and “once you find them, you’ll be in a bunch of them now,” Mark said. Gold spoons and small, live pinfish have been the baits of choice. Trout are on the open grass flats. Snookers are finding fish around bars, points and the various small islands. Word is some trophy-sized tarpon have been landed by fly anglers working Chassahowitzka Bay. Offshore anglers are doing very well on gag and red grouper working between 45 and 65 feet of water. Dead bait seems to be producing the best for most. The red snapper bite has been hot between 90 and 100 feet, with some big fish reported by anglers dropping cut bait to the bottom.Mary's Fish Camp (352) 597-3474: Patty says the mullet schools are sticking around and that’s good news for anglers fishing hook-and-line from the seawall behind the camp shop. She said there were not that many people fishing over the weekend, but at least 80 nice mullet were landed between Saturday and Sunday. There are some mangrove snapper there, but with the mullet action so good, no one has been targeting them. When they do, live or frozen shrimp does the trick.

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