Wade does everything a great guide should do!

If you’re fishing in the Tampa Bay area, you simply can’t go wrong booking Wade.

A lot of guides will say they specialize in fly fishing and light tackle. Wade brings the goods. He understands how to position the boat based on the skill of the caster. I’m not an expert fly-flinger but I’m not bad either. Wade watched me, figured out where my comfort zone is, adjusted his positioning and set me up for success all while coaching and tending to a less experienced angler in the boat. How he juggled it all I’m not sure, but it is obvious he has the experience and expertise that makes for a great guide.

Bottom line, Wade does everything a great guide should do: He puts you on fish consistently. He gives you the best opportunity to hook them and he does it every minute you are on his boat. He coaches with a steady, reasonable voice and talks the fish up to the gunwale. He’s easy to get along with.

I’ve fished with guides who take time in the first hour catching bait. Some will add that time to the trip, and some will start the clock when they leave the dock. Wade showed up at the dock both days on time with the live well full, so we didn’t waste time or daylight netting snacks for the predators. When you book a trip for a specified period of time, that’s what you get, no BS and no time wasted. During a total of 12 hours of booked trip, I fished almost 10 of them and caught fish at every spot but one. We didn’t stay there long. Time spent moving from spot to spot to follow the tides are part of the deal and Wade even keeps that to a minimum by planning his routes well. By the end of each day, we had a 10-minute trip from last cast to the dock.

Edward Zaun, Barnegat, New Jersey

The Fishing is Excellent!

The big debate over eastern standard time vs daylight savings time has absolutely no effect on fish. They know days are getting shorter and even, as early as last month, snook were already moving into their winter haunts. Now with major cold fronts passing through, look for fish migration to intensify.

It’s time to change my strategy. When looking for fish I concentrate on deep water holes and areas that are protected from the wind. As winter approaches, these areas will fill up with fish. As the mercury drops the fishing only gets better.

My main concern this time of year is always where to catch bait. Cold fronts push baitfish of the grass flats and into deeper water. Not only that, they don’t always stay in the same place. If the bay waters are calm, I’ll often run all the way to the Skyway Fishing Pier to catch bait. I can practically always count on bait being there except on the worst of weather days.

When catching bait gets tough, I’ll stop at Gandy Bait and Tackle and buy some shrimp. Most people always buy select shrimp. Personally, I think that’s not only a waste of money, but it also not the best choice for catching fish. My go-to shrimp size is medium. Fish take them more readerly and they also make for good chumming. That’s right, when I’m using shrimp for bait, I’m chumming as if I’m fishing with scalded sardines. So, I buy plenty of shrimp. If I’m running a four-hour fishing charter, I’ll buy a minimum of 10 dozen.

Fly fishing is a great option when fishing during cooler months. Snook can be caught easily on a fly at this time and the best part is you don’t need to be an avid fly caster like Ed who is featured in the photo. A 20-foot cast is all that’s needed. Many fly anglers catch 10 or more snook an outing with a little persistence.

So, in closing don’t assume the fishing isn’t good this time of year. Give me a call and I’ll show you otherwise!

It’s finally beginning to feel like fall.

As we reach mid-October the water temperature begins to drop and soon most flats should be in the upper to mid-70’s. That’s when redfish and snook start to become more active. The redfish bite is outstanding all month. Every charter that I pursued redfish, has had success. Some days, I encounter mostly over-slot fish, but during most trips, slot-sized fish were being caught.

Some local fishing guides have been complaining about the lack of redfish all year. I haven’t seen it! The whining started in early spring, way before any inkling of red tide. Without a doubt, some years are better than others, it’s can be cyclical. Back in August, when the water temperature was 90-degrees on the flats, locating schools of fish was difficult at times, I must admit, but that’s because they were staying in deeper water.

I believe, most anglers get into a rut, especially fishing guides. They go to the same fishing spots every day and expect the same results. I have a client that now fishes with me, who said he fished with a guide that literally sat in one location the entire four-hour charter while repeatedly saying, the redfish will show up, but they never did.

Not me, brother! When I roll up on a spot, I start live-bait chumming before I even bait a hook. I want to see if there are fish present and willing to eat. Once a see a few fish hit a bait, I’ll bait hooks. Then after 15 to 20 minutes if nothing much is happening, I’m moving on. Redfish are always on the move. If they didn’t have fins and tails, I’d know where they were every second.

The snook fishing has began to pick up also and will accelerate as water temperatures drop even more. Just as with redfish, when I locate a school snook I live-bait chum the entire time I’m fishing, to keep the action going for hours on end.

With the presence of red tide all long the Pinellas coast, it’s hard to say what our fall migration king mackerel run will be like this year. Typically, most of the winning tournament fish are caught within a mile from shore. I’ve got a feeling the kings are going to stay well offshore and bypass our area all together. I hope I’m wrong, but there’s no baitfish for them to eat!

The Snook Harvest Season, Re-Opens Today.

With the abundance of red tide media coverage lately, you may think our fish along the Gulf Coast are dead, not so! Tampa Bay and, as of yet, Pinellas County have not experienced any massive fish kills and fishing is strong.

September 1 traditionally marks the opening of snook season along Florida’s gulf coast. However, due to the devastating effect of the prolonged “Karenia brevis” algae bloom in Southwest Florida, on August 30 the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) issued an executive order prohibiting the harvest of snook and redfish in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier Counties.

If you want updates on the FWC Red Tide status, here’s an easy link. http://www.myfwc.com/research/redtide/statewide/ This map is updated weekly. Keep in mind, even though high concentrations of red tide are beginning to show up along Pinellas County, it’s located six to ten miles offshore. On top that, we’ve had a persistent easterly wind flow pattern for the last week that’s pushing it further out to sea.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, I want to come to the Tampa/St. Petersburg area and do a little fishing, but the beaches may be a mess. Don’t stay on the beach. This area has a lot more to offer than sand and piña coladas.

Downtown St. Petersburg is only a 10-minute drive to the beach but offers dining, arts, and sports. Central Avenue is bustling with restaurants, concert venues, bars and breweries. There’s the Dali Museum and you can even take in a Tampa Bay Rays game.

Tampa can keep you more entertained, but things are scattered about the city. Tampa boast world- renowned restaurants like Burn’s Steakhouse and the Columbia Restaurant. Breweries abound, with Cigar City Brewing being at the top of the heap. Tampa has a wonderful River Walk with restaurants and museums. If you’re into theme parks, check out Busch Gardens and if you’re here during the weekend, you may be able to catch a Tampa Bay Buccaneers football game. Ybor City’s, Seventh Avenue is loaded with restaurants, concert venues, bars, shops and art.

Although, not my typical fishing report, a felt compelled to get this Chamber of Commerce message out that there’s plenty to do after a day of fishing, should you make the trip.

September fishing in Tampa Bay is outstanding.

So far, so good. NO RED TIDE!

The red tide algae bloom that has been plaguing the shores of Southwest Florida for months is slowly moving north. By early August, massive fish kills were being reported at Anna Maria Island and by week two, medium concentrations of “Karenia brevis” have been detected off the southern tip of Pinellas County.

Back in January of 2005, a small patch of red tide was spotted about 20 miles due west of St. Petersburg. Six months later, the toxic bloom left scores of dead sea life all along the shores of Pinellas County. The bloom was so intense, it even made its way up into Tampa Bay as far as the southern point of Weedon Island. I know, because I was running all my charters in the upper Tampa Bay region. The bloom finally disappeared in February 2006.
We, along the Pinellas Suncoast, can only pray that this devastating phenonium remains offshore and dissipates.
Other than that, the fishing in upper Tampa Bay is outstanding.

Mangrove snapper are feeding like it’s their last meal and for many, it is! All it takes is a decent tidal flow and a little chumming to bring them to the surface. After that, it’s just a matter of dropping a bait for an immediate strike.

Anchoring and chumming excessively over structure, up tide of a bridge or near a marker, will often be pleasantly surprised at the variety of species you’ll encounter. Not only will you attract mangrove snapper, but Spanish Mackerel, jack crevalle, bluefish, sharks, ladyfish, cobia and the occasional tarpon will show up.

However, this doesn’t happen by accident. You must chum, chum, and keep chumming. This is key to success when I’m fishing the grass flats for snook, redfish and sea trout also. The only difference is, when I’m chumming deep water, it’s mostly with fresh cut-bait. In the shallows it’s primarily, live-bait chum.

The point is, if you’re not chumming, you’re not going to catch much. I see anglers all the time on their boats with a rod in the rod holder or in hand, and just sitting there waiting for a bite. Boring! Get off your butt, if you want to catch fish. I tell clients all the time, “fishing isn’t a lounge sport!”
All this rain and warm water temperatures has slowed the snook bite a bit, but on days with a good tidal flow first thing in the morning, it hasn’t been all that bad. It just takes a little extra chumming to get the action going.

As for redfish, they’re starting to be a little more predicable lately. At least now, when I target them around certain oyster beds, I can expect them to be there. Then again, some days I really must chum excessively to get them to eat.

Bottom line. This time of year, fish can get very lethargic due to the sauna like conditions. But, if you have your live well loaded by 7am and chum non-stop all day. You will dramatically increase the amount and quality of the fish you catch.

Featured Photo: The only dead fish, clients are seeing up my way are in my FISH BOX! Here’s a typical summer mix of mangrove snapper, Spanish mackerel, trout and redfish.

Usually, I get too busy to write fishing reports as often as I’d like, so, if you’re interested in seeing my most recent post, please like my https://www.facebook.com/AfishionadoGuideServices/, Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at <a href=”tel:813-286-3474″>813-286-3474</a>.

Flexibility is The Key to Success!

I often say, “Despite having to catch bait, guiding is an awesome job.” If you had to get out of bed every morning at 3:00 to 3:30am, to have enough time to hit the water and catch bait before you pick up 7:30 am charter with a welcoming smile, you’d understand. That being said, it’s important not to overload your live-well with bait during the summer months, unless you want to risk it dying.

I am a glutton for bait, and a firm believer that you can never have too much, but I even take precautions not to overdo it this time of year. Once I load main 55 gallon live-well, that’s equipped with two 1,100 gph pumps with bait, I know I’m set for the day. Then before I leave my bait spot, I transfer four to five scoops of bait to my rear auxiliary 20 gallon live-well to give them more wiggle room.

Understanding the tidal flow for your fishing area on the day you choose to fish, is of the utmost importance for success. By sunrise, the water temperature is already in the mid-80’s and it only gets warmer as the progresses. By no means should you go onto a grass flat during the tall end of a falling tide without monitoring your bait repeatedly. If you start to see it fluttering sideways or the surface gulping for air, it’s time to exit that area immediately and hope you salvage enough of your hard-earned bait to finish out your day.

Enough about bait, let’s get to the fishing!

The mangrove snapper bite is outstanding. So much so, as soon as you start chumming, dozens are coming to the surface. Once a chum slick is established, the best way to catch them is to drift your bait back with the chum. As soon as you notice line start rushing off your reel, close the bail with your hand and start reeling until your line is tight.

If you like Spanish mackerel fishing, now’s the time to catch some monsters. Anchor your boat over some hard bottom, an artificial reef or up tide of a range marker and start a chum slick. This time of year, chumming is the key to a successful today of fishing.

Some days, the Spanish mackerel or so big, you’d swear they’re juvenile kingfish as they approach the boat. Motto: Chum and they will come!
As far as the snook and redfish bite, it’s been inconsistent at best. Both species are feeding best during a strong tidal flow around a high tide and some days are better than others. Don’t be one of those guys who only wants to catch snook or redfish right now. Will you catch some fish? Yes, but adding other species to your list will make the day much more rewarding.

Featured photo: Last month, I helped organize another corporate tournament and was fortunate to have Alyssa Schutter onboard, who was celebrating her 23rd birthday. Boy was luck on her side. Once I moved onto a grass flat and anchored, Alyssa’s first cast yielded a redfish. Her second cast a snook and the third, a trout. Alyssa accomplished an inshore-slam, in about fifteen minutes. That’s unheard of and in record time aboard Afishionado. Happy Birthday Alyssa and congratulations or winning the inshore-slam division!

Usually, I get too busy to write fishing reports as often as I’d like, so, if you’re interested in seeing my most recent post, please like my https://www.facebook.com/AfishionadoGuideServices/, Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at 813-286-3474.

Time For The Big Ones!

It’s primetime for tarpon. The most exciting way to target tarpon is to cruise along the beach during the early morning hours and wait to see tarpon rolling. When tarpon break the surface, their shimmering backs can be seen from hundreds of yards away. After spotting some fish, I’ll sit tight for a few minutes and determine which direction they’re headed. Then, I’ll slowly position my boat so they’ll past within casting distance. As they do, my client times their cast appropriately so the bait sinks into the strike zone as the tarpon approaches. When the initial hit is felt, they reel up tight and pull back hard on the rod a few times to ensure a solid hook set.

Snook began to spawn heavily this month. I like fishing for snook during a strong tidal flow, because this is when snook feed best. This is especially true when this period occurs near sunrise or sunset.

Redfish are prowling most of the grass flats in upper Tampa Bay. I like fishing for redfish during tides higher than a 2.0 and the last couple of hours of the incoming and outgoing of that tide period.

I always chum with live scaled sardines to lure redfish to the hook, but did you know this also works well with fresh cut-bait? Ladyfish, mullet, threadfins, sardines and pinfish all make for great cut-bait. Sometimes, I’ll broadcast chunks of cut-bait around the boat to draw in the fish and attach another piece to your hook and cast it out and let it sit on the bottom. Then I’ll put the rod in a rod holder and wait for a redfish to pick it up and start peeling line off the reel. Many times, I get a bonus by catching an occasional snook or trout using this method.

Another fish to target right now is cobia. You’ll likely encounter cobia on any the deep-water grass flat. While cruising the flats, I constantly an eye out for large stingrays. Cobia like to travel with rays, so they can ambush any baitfish a ray might kick up. Equally important is being ready to pounce with a rod in hand. My favorite bait for cobia is a fake eel, but pinfish suspended under a cork is a good choice.

Spanish mackerel are plentiful for any angler looking for fillets to load up the smoker for making some fish spread. The most efficient method for catching Spanish mackerel is to anchor near a bridge, pass, channel mark or underwater structure, start a chum-slick and free-line a scaled sardine on a long shank hook.

Usually, I get too busy to write fishing reports as often as I’d like, so, if you’re interested in seeing my most recent post, please like my https://www.facebook.com/AfishionadoGuideServices/, Facebook Page to receive updates. For charter reservations call/text Wade at <a href=”tel:813-286-3474″>813-286-3474</a>.