October was a super month to fish on Clearwater’s Pier 60! We enjoyed great weather, with only a couple of cold fronts to break the calm. Migrating species of fish co-mingled with residents, and anglers here took advantage. We also hosted the Clearwater Superboat National Championship Races the first weekend of the month, and the great turnout ensures races again next year.
We saw a great many Spanish Mackerel this month. Feeding from first light until dark, the Mackerel feed on small minnows around the pier. Fishermen use these minnows, caught on a Sabiki rig, to get the most bites. Live Shrimp also work well, as does many flashy lures, or even cut bait. Mackerel hit hard, and tire only after taking a couple of quick runs.
We had anglers tangle with the King Mackerel here in October. The King Mackerel is stronger and larger, and ranges off our shores twice a year. Some of the largest of these are “Smoker” Kings, named for their ability to spool a rod in spite of the smoking drag. Sometimes anglers get lucky and don’t get cut off or spooled. Kingfish are no doubt responsible for unattended rods flying like a javelin from the end of Pier 60, as happens here quite frequently.
Flounder were seen almost daily here this month, with many of the fish respectable size. Anglers used live minnows, live shrimp, and lures to get the flatties to bite. Minimum size on Flounder is 12 inches, but many fishermen opt to keep only fish upwards of 15 inches.
Mixed schools of Ladyfish, Jack Crevalle, and even a few Bluefish were seen. A few Pompano, a flurry of Silver Trout, and Sand Sea Trout accompanied the Spotted Sea Trout here in October.
Snook season is still open for slot-sized fish of 28″-33″. Slot-sized fish are still in the area, with larger fish hanging around under the pilings. We had a few oversize Snook caught and released this month. Small minnows free-lined or a large shrimp are usually the baits of choice for the picky Linesiders.
Quite a few Cobia were caught and released here. Only one legal-sized fish of 33+ was seen and he was released as were all the undersize fish.
How about an undersize Hogfish, Grunt, Whiting, a 100-lb StingRay, and more!
Sheepshead are in abundance, with some whopper-sized Sheepies taken recently. These striped members of the Porgy family, like to eat crustaceans. Crabs, shrimp and the like are favorites, and their take is notoriously subtle. Watching the line is key, for if you wait to feel the bite, you are too late.
Autumn Redfish have arrived, and anglers are catching and releasing Bull Reds in the 40-inch range. The Red Drum, or Redfish, has a slot limit of 18″-27″. Any fish smaller or larger has to be released. These big fish are the breeders, and contribute heavily to the yearly biomass, so it’s important to keep these fish stocks around. These older and larger fish are not the table fare of the smaller, more-tender young Redfish. Pier 60 Redfish are most often caught using a live greenback minnow. Reds also like cut baits, and gold-colored spoons work well. Redfish fight hard, and do not give up easily. A 20+ pound Redfish has a lot of muscle to bring to the fight, and he will test gear and anglers both, looking for a weakness for his advantage.
Spinner Sharks and BlackTip Sharks are seen nightly, as are the smaller BonnetHead Sharks. We ask that anglers here treat Sharks with the same respect as all other fish, releasing Sharks gently and with as little damage as possible.
Water temperatures are still in the mid-70′s at the end of October. As cold fronts start to arrive with more regularity and with a steeper gradient, water temperatures will begin their downward trend. We will start to see more Whiting, Silver Trout, Butterfish and Spotted Sea Trout in November.
Daily Fishing Hours are 6AM-9:30 PM Sunday-Thursday
6AM-6AM Friday & Saturday open all night
Good Luck Fishing!
September was a great month to fish on Pier 60. We saw plenty of fishing action starting at first light. Spanish Mackerel were most frequently seen early in the morning and then another flurry just before sunset. During the middle of the day many species retreated and fishing was off and on.
We saw quite a few keeper Mangrove Snapper this month on Clearwater Beach. Mangrove snapper, commonly called Mango Snapper by locals, are our local inshore red snapper species. The Mangrove Snapper must be 10 inches to be a keeper here in the Gulf of Mexico. They will bite cut baits with relish.
During the daylight hours we saw plenty of Jack Crevalle. The Jacks generally will push the baitfish against an object like the pier or the shore, then attack all at once in a phenomenon known locally as a “Jack attack”
We saw a few Pompano caught this month, but no great numbers. Pompano will feed on cut baits and certain lures we carry in the tackle shop.
More than one angler tangled with the leaping Tarpon this month. The Silver King leaps from the water when he feels the hook, and a shaking, leaping fight is usually short unless the angler is prepared for it. Strictly a gamefish, the Tarpon has no food value, and are released alive.
A few keeper Cobia were caught in recent weeks. The Cobia must be 33 inches or larger to be a keeper, and fights like a fish possessed once he finds out that he’s been hooked.
Spotted SeaTrout were most often seen well after dark. Generally speaking, the later into the night the larger the fish we see. Spotted SeaTrout can be a picky feeder, tuned to specific size or color of bait. A good selection of colors and sizes should be offered to see what works at any given time.
Snook season opened September 1 in the Gulf of Mexico, with a slot limit of 28 to 32 inches. Bag limit is one fish per angler per day. Snook fishing has been very good out on the pier, however once the season opened on the first day of September, Snook virtually disappeared. Only a few over- slot sized fish were landed and released to my knowledge. Snook season closes with the end of September.
Incidental catches during the month of September include Triple Tail, small King Mackerel, Blue Runners, giant StingRays up to 100 pounds, Bluefish and Ladyfish.
Pier 60 will be closed for fishing on Saturday 28 September and Sunday 29 September because the 5th Annual Bright House Clearwater Super Boat National Championship races will be held off the end of Pier 60.
On Saturday we have fireworks setting up during the daytime, with the fireworks show commencing after dark, around 9 PM. On Sunday we have the Super Boat races themselves. The first heat is set to start at noon. We expect a huge turnout, as the boats will be speeding past the end of Pier 60 at speeds up to 150 mph!
Good Luck Fishing!
August is usually the hottest month of the year here in Clearwater. Successful anglers know that fishing is usually best early in the morning from dawn up until 10 or 11 o’clock in the morning. During the middle of the day fishing is less successful, as the fish usually retreat to deeper waters, then return later in the day. After dark we usually see an influx of different species of fish, and as a general rule, the later it gets, the larger the fish.
We saw quite a few Spanish Mackerel caught in August. The Mackerel bite starts just after first light. Macks generally like to bite small minnows, flashy lures, or even cut baits suspended under a float. Lately cut shrimp pieces moved through the water have been enticing the Macks to strike.
Quite a few Flounder were caught this month on Pier 60. The flatfish will strike a live minnow or an artificial lure with equal ferocity. Flounder up to 20 inches were taken.
Pompano showed up on more than a few days this month. Anglers were catching the Pompano using either jigs or small pieces of shrimp.
Fishing for Sheepshead in August was fairly successful. We saw quite a few Sheepies pulled over the rails. Sheepshead can be targeted by chumming around the pilings, then using a small stout hook and a very light weight or no weight at all and a keen eye to discern the subtle bite.
Spotted SeaTrout action was fairly consistent with the Spotted Trout showing up well after dark.
The SeaTrout were taking small minnows, live shrimp, and even cut baits or small Sabiki rigs. Generally speaking, the later into the night, the larger the fish that show.
Mangrove Snapper showed up with some frequency in August. Keeper Mangrove Snappers must be over 10 inches and we saw a good number of these tasty Mangos taken in August.
Snook fishing was very good this month on Pier 60. Most of the Snook were hooked using live minnows, small Pinfish, or even Ladyfish as live bait. The linesiders were feeding heavily and we had some nights where half a dozen fish were taken and released. Most of the Snook caught on Pier 60 would be over the size limit when season is open, September 1 through September 30. The slot limit for Snook is 28 inches to 32 inches in the Gulf of Mexico, with a daily bag limit of one fish per angler. No Snook stamp or license endorsement is needed, as our Pier license covers all anglers here.
We saw a variety of small Sharks caught and released this month on Pier 60. Sharks included BonnetHead and BlackTip Sharks.
A few Tarpon were hooked this month on Pier 60, but all of the Tarpon we saw were jumping and throwing the hooks. One angler lost his expensive rod to a wild jumping SilverKing.
A few Cobia were caught and released, however all of the Cobia we saw were just undersize of the 33 inch minimum.
Pier 60 is open 24 hours a day from April 1 to October 1. Your fishing day is 6 AM until 6 AM the following morning.
Good luck fishing!