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Grouper bite is strong, but scallops prove scarce
Posted Jul 19, 2012 by TBO.com
Updated Jul 19, 2012 at 09:07 AM
By JIM LEE
Weekly fishing results and tips for freshwater and saltwater spots, including Tampa Bay and area locations.
Catching has been all but cancelled due to the stormy weather in most areas of the state. However, beginning today and for the weekend, better catches will resume. It is still best to fish early in the day to avoid the heat. Lake water is high due to the rains, so fish the moving water for best results. Bass have moved back to normal summer cover under the flotsam and in the Hydrilla grass. Some will still be behind the weeds in the high water. The new moon phase started at the beginning of this week and is in full swing. That means you can still catch fair catches of shellcracker and bluegill. Just not as many as on a full moon. Lake Panasoffkee, Istokpoga and Okeechobee are great destinations for pan fish and bass. Fish early and miss the heat in the afternoon.
KISSIMMEE CHAIN: Grape Hammock Fish Camp, (863) 692-1500: Good bluegill and shellcracker catches this week on the new moon. Bass anglers are doing well too. Good numbers are reported with bass running from 3 to 8.5 pounds. One 81/2 pound bass was taken on an artificial lure.
LORIDA-ISTOKPOGA: Trails End Fishing Resort guide service, (863) 655-0134: Artificial baits being used mostly and are taking fair catches of bass. No big fish were reported. Bluegill catches are good early in the morning due to afternoon rains.
LAKE OKEECHOBBEE: Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina & Resort, 800-473-6766: Bass action is good. One guided trip took 115 bass. Another angler in the same area took a 9 pound bucket mouth. Call ahead for accommodations and guides.
LAKE ROUSSEAU and the Withlacoochee: Captain Frank Bourgeois, (352) 666-6234: NO REPORT.
LAKE PANASOFFKEE: Pana Vista Lodge, (352) 793-2061: Great bass catches in the 3 to 4 pound range. Shellcracker are still being caught in decent numbers. This has been a great year for shellcracker. The next full moon phase that begins about a week before the full moon on the first of July should produce lots of shellcracker.
Gag grouper catches are excellent, especially off Hernando Beach, or in 80 to 240 feet of water. Scallop catches are not so good. You can find a few scallops, but you will have to dig a little deeper in 7 to 8 feet of water. Gag grouper are being caught in 50 to 60 feet off Bayport. There never was a shortage, just new rules. Scallops opened July 1 and quickly fizzled. Many scallop divers have returned home empty handed. Scallops are generally deeper this year. This weekend may put an end to that however, as the waters clear. We will see. Tarpon were a little spooky when they returned the first time. Let’s hope there is no interruption due to all the rain storms. Mackerel will continue to be scarce for a while, but trout, redfish and flounder will be the inshore big three. Offshore, both gag and red grouper are being caught in 50 plus feet of water. In state waters only, out to 9 miles you can catch red, black, Yellowfin, yellowmouth, rock hind and scamp grouper. 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.
10,000 ISLANDS: Captain Corey McMillin, (239) 695-4420: NO REPORT.
SARASOTA: Captain Rick Grassett, (941) 350-9790 or (941) 923-7799: Trips have been skinny this week due to the rainy and windy weather. However the one day Captain Rick did fish they jumped 3 tarpon and landed 2 of them on flies. The fish are there, but fishing conditions have been rough. However, the bright side is that starting today conditions should be a lot better. Black deceiver flies work well.
RUSKIN: South Shore Bait & Tackle, (813) 641-2010: Gag grouper in the bay are being caught when you can get out to them. Mangrove snapper are waiting for anglers. Live shrimp or baby greenbacks work best.
SKYWAY AREA: Captain Sergio Atanes, (813) 973-7132: Mangrove snapper, silver trout, snook, rat reds and a few mackerel are all on the list of possibilities. As the weather clears the weekend will be back to normal.
LOWER TAMPA BAY: Captain Tony Frankland, (813) 915-8541: Bad weather cleared yesterday and fishing should bet back to normal by the weekend. Pompano are on range markers and Doc’s jig will produce several fish at a marker. Mangrove snapper are eating along the edge of the ships channel on small whitebait or live shrimp. Fish the 5 to 6 foot grass flats for good trout catches. Small to medium size snook are hungry as they can be and will eat most anything you throw at them when you can find them.
UPPER TAMPA BAY: Cody’s Bait & Tackle, (813) 884-3100: Anglers that had a good poncho fished the creeks and creek mouths for redfish and a few snook. They fished the morning bite as the afternoon weather is tough. The weekend should be better.
SOUTH PINELLAS: Captain Paul Hawkins, (727) 560-6762: Not many trips, but the tarpon are around. You just need to go after them. Beginning today, tarpon fishing should be back to normal. Call ahead for a good tarpon report.
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.
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. If it is fishing you want, the gag grouper bite is fantastic this time of year and there are plenty of them. Some good size red grouper are also available. The gray snapper bite is good. Go offshore for a deep sea fishing extravaganza. Fish the deeper waters for great mangrove snapper catches. Black sea bass, 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. Look for tarpon in the upper and lower bay. Trout, redfish, and snook are also being caught.
CLEARWATER TO DUNEDIN: Captain Brian Mathey, (727) 667-8291: Trout, redfish and snook are all waiting on anglers to fish for them. The weekend should be great with better weather. Walk the beaches at sunrise and cast for snook. Live creek chubs or a fly entice these early risers.
TARPON SPRINGS: Captain Rich Knox, (727) 376-8809 or (727) 808-6688: NO REPORT
KEATON BEACH (PERRY): One More Cast guide service, (850) 584-9145: Scallops are deep and scarce, and the water is dirty. However, trout fishing couldn’t get much better than the last couple of days. We had 20 trout and 4 redfish on one charter. Most of the fish are taken on Cajun Thunders in 4 to 5.5 feet. 20 trout on one trip weighed just over 38 pounds with a couple over 4 pound pounds each. Nice catch considering the water temperature was 87.5 degrees.
HERNANDO BEACH: Captain Frank Bourgeois, (352) 666-6234: Only a few trips this week, due to the weather, but gag grouper catches are hot. Excellent catches of both gag and red grouper are being caught. Most of the gags were in the 30 inch range.
WEEKIWACHEE: Captain Steve Soults, Angling Adventures (352) 686-0853: NO REPORT
FLY FISHING: Walk the beach at Anclote, Honeymoon or Calidisi at daybreak and cast ahead in 6 to 12 inches of water for snook. The snook are in the shallow water waiting to ambush the chub.