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Gag grouper, scallops open July 1

Posted Jun 21, 2012 by TBO.com

Updated Jun 21, 2012 at 01:53 PM

BY JIM LEE

Fishing results and tips for freshwater and saltwater spots, including Tampa Bay and area locations:

Freshwater

Bluegill, shellcracker and bass have been biting exceptionally well. However the problem is not the fish, but the windy weather. Lake Panasoffkee had a fair week of shellcracker, bluegill and bass catches, but not many got the chance to go fish for them.

Fish early and late for bass, but don’t forget night bass fishing. When the summer dog days arrive, you can night troll or drift artificial worms in the deeper haunts or wait until the dewfall and fish top water lures for the big boys that finally come near the shoreline. Lakes Panasoffkee, Okeechobee and Istokpoga are always good for bass action. Live shiners seem to get the larger fish most of the time.     

KISSIMMEE CHAIN: Grape Hammock Fish Camp, (863) 692-1500: Bluegill are off during this time between moons. You can still catch them, just not as many. Bass in the 2 to 6 pound are the normal catch with some going to 8 pounds. Live shiners take most of the larger fish.                   

LORIDA-ISTOKPOGA: Trails End Fishing Resort guide service, (863) 655-0134: Windy weather and summer doldrums have kept many anglers off the water. This is a great lake for bass fishing with a lot of bass that exceed 6 pounds in it. Pan fish catches continue but many are not on the beds. Troll with a small spinner/jig and you can take home supper. No big bass were reported, but the fish are there if you can fight the winds. Remember to take your drift anchor. Actually two drift anchors are even better.                   

LAKE OKEECHOBBEE: Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina & Resort, 800-473-6766: NO REPORT, windy weather will shut down even the most avid angler.             

LAKE ROUSSEAU and the Withlacoochee: Captain Frank Bourgeois, (352) 666-6234: NO REPORT.                             

LAKE PANASOFFKEE: Pana Vista Lodge, (352) 793-2061: Not many anglers out, but shellcracker, bluegill and bass are all being caught when anglers can get on the water. Bass action is very good on. Artificial worms and top water lures early on. Live bait also works well.         

Saltwater

Gag grouper and scallops open July 1. Tarpon are the good catch when you can get to them. Currently high winds have curtailed salt water fishing in general. The boat battle at Boca Grand is smaller with the high winds. Tarpon, bull sharks and hammer head sharks are the main events at Boca Grande. Tarpon can be caught at the Skyway Bridge and along the beaches. Flounder catches seem to be good this year overall.

In state waters out to 9 miles you can catch red, black, Yellowfin, yellowmouth, rock hind and scamp grouper. The bad news is that most of what grouper you will find will be undersized red grouper. Mackerel and ladyfish are a good easy catch. You can find them in the passes or just troll a Clark or similar spoon. Fish the outgoing tide for best results. Lower Tampa bay still has cobia, bluefish, mackerel, trout and snook. Snook have moved outside in many areas and are also moving to the barrier islands. You can also find snook in the backwaters around Ruskin.
 
Offshore, gags have been reported in 30 to 40 feet out of St. Petersburg. Weather has prevented most from going after them. Gags will still be in 40 to 50 feet off Bayport. Red grouper are still mostly only 18 inches and under and to keep one they have to be 20 inches.                             

10,000 ISLANDS: Captain Corey McMillin, (239) 695-4420: Most of the fishing is done in the back country. Even just off the outer edges are good as you are out of the wind. Snook, redfish and goliath grouper are mostly found in this area. Further back in, you will find snook and tarpon. Fish the deep holes with live finger mullet when you can get them. Cobia and trout are on the flats when there is no wind. Currently there are high winds. 

SARASOTA: Captain Rick Grassett, (941) 350-9790 or (941) 923-7799: Tarpon fishing has been steady with seven tarpon jumped and three landed. One jumped was with a fly. One took a black deceiver but did not get hooked. Some took live crabs or D.O.A. bait buster and a 4 inch shrimp. All this, in spite of the winds, but were taken mostly on the inside.     

RUSKIN: South Shore Bait & Tackle, (813) 641-2010: The winds are brutal especially in the afternoons. However, with the better weather, trout, mackerel, redfish and snook are all fair game. Flounder are being caught regularly, too. Tarpon are back in the bay. Spanish mackerel have been around if the weather doesn’t scare them off. 

SKYWAY AREA: Captain Sergio Atanes, (813) 973-7132: Small black tip sharks are a hoot to catch. Some mackerel are biting early on along with trout and a few flounder.                       

LOWER TAMPA BAY: Captain Tony Frankland, (813) 915-8541: Snook and big trout are taking live bait. A few mackerel are still in the bay. Small black tip sharks are the hot exciter fish. Redfish are scarce.                                                     

UPPER TAMPA BAY: Cody’s Bait & Tackle, (813) 884-3100: Redfish and snook are the summer fish in the upper bay. Fish the creek mouths and along the mangrove lines. Fish the creeks and canals for residential snook. Tarpon are in the middle and lower portion of the upper bay.                 

SOUTH PINELLAS: Captain Paul Hawkins, (727) 560-6762: Don’t let a little wind scare you. Tarpon are back and we can find them. It may be a little tougher, but they can be caught. Several tarpon were jumped and some brought to gaff. Tarpon fishing is best on the inside if you can figure out where to go. When the winds ease of, fish the beaches. Redfish and trout are the other big catches. 

FISHING PIERS: South Pier, (941) 729-0117: Expect the unexpected. Pier fishing offers most of the current species being caught in the bay. Fish the pier for Mangrove snapper, trout, redfish, perhaps a flounder, Spanish mackerel or even a stray tarpon. Grouper are off limits to keep. 

MID-PINELLAS PARTY BOATS: Offshore bottom fishing from Hubbard’s John’s Pass Marina and Kingfish dock, (727) 393-1947: Gag grouper open on July 1. But catching is still fun. If it is fishing you want, the gag grouper bite is fantastic this time of year and there are plenty of them. Mostly small red grouper are available by the ton, but are also on the no keep list as well as all other groupers. Gray snapper are big and there are plenty of them to keep. Go offshore for a deep sea fishing extravaganza. Fish the deeper waters for great mangrove snapper catches. Black sea bass and porgies are also on the list.           

GANDY BAIT & TACKLE: (813) 839-5551: The Gandy Bridge is closed to fishing. However, Gandy Bait and Tackle is the place to go in this area for live bait and tackle and information. Weedon Island fishing is good with a lot of redfish taken by wade fishermen. Trout, redfish, and snook are also being caught. Tarpon are beginning to move into Tampa Bay, so get ready to rock a 100 pound fish.                 

CLEARWATER TO DUNEDIN: Captain Brian Mathey, (727) 667-8291: With the windy weather, trout were tough to find north of Dunedin Bridge. There are some on the deeper flats. Fish the passes with live bait for snook or walk the beaches at sunrise.                 

TARPON SPRINGS: Captain Rich Knox, (727) 376-8809 or (727) 808-6688:  Big flounder and redfish. Trout are on the flats. Snook are in the passes up to 30 pounds. Fish the mangroves up tight. They are taking live bait. For pictures, handle gently, keeping them horizontal and release quickly. Big redfish are on the flats and along the mangrove edges. Small live baits work well. Trout are best put on ice to keep the meat firm. Tarpon have moved back into the area and are best found after the first bar off the beaches. 

KEATON BEACH (PERRY): One More Cast guide service, (850) 584-9145: Reports were scarce, with few anglers due to the winds. I thought it would be better this week, but it was not. However many are looking forward to scallop season opening July 1. 

HERNANDO BEACH: Captain Frank Bourgeois, (352) 666-6234: Gag grouper season opens July 1, so make reservations. Captain Frank is back from the keys but the high winds have kept him from offshore. However he is finding gag grouper in 40 feet off Hernando Beach. Reports on trout are scarce due to the winds, but Captain Frank went one day this week and did well on trout. 

WEEKIWACHEE: Captain Steve Soults, Angling Adventures (352) 686-0853: Captain Steve is on vacation this week. However, his area is full of trout, though the high winds make access difficult.                               

FLY FISHING: Those trying to fly fish this week were stymied by the high winds. The best fly fishing was inside since we had an east wind. While practicing for tarpon, Trout and lady fish are the easy catch blind casting on the flats. But do it with your tarpon rod, not your trout rod. This will help get your body in tune with your casting requirements.

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