Fishing in October on Pier 60 was an adventure! We saw many different species of fish caught this month. The weather remained unseasonably warm, and so water temperatures remained over 80 degrees all month.
Spanish Mackerel continued to be caught most every day. Anglers were using lures, cut bait, and live minnows to catch the Spanish. Many anglers were able to catch their limits of 15 fish per day, and most all the Mackerel were well in excess of the 12-inch minimum size.
A few King Mackerel were in attendance, as some anglers lost their rods over the side from the ferocious strike of these migrating speedsters. It isn’t too uncommon to see the King Mackerel leap from the water, soar through the air, and land teeth-first upon a lively baitfish held close to the surface by a float or bobber. The screaming drag and futile efforts of most fishermen to turn the run usually ends in the fish having all the line. They call these fish “Smoker Kings” from their ability to smoke the drag and destroy the innards of most reels.
We saw lots of Cobia this month, with the larger keeper fish over 33- inch minimum eluding most fishermen. Many undersized Cobia under the 33-inch minimum were brought up and released, however.
Quite a few Snook were seen feeding at the end of the pier late at night this October, and a few anglers were able to take home a legal-sized fish between 28″ and 33″. Snook season remains open thru the end of November.
Flounder continue to be in abundance this fall. Every day we saw a good number of legal-sized fish over 12 inches, along with some doormat-sized fish over 20 inches.
Lots of baitfish around the pier insured that schools of marauding Jack Crevalle and Blue Runners would pass thru a few times daily in what we call a “Jack Attack”- a feeding phenomenon that is interesting to witness.
Pompano were caught with good frequency towards the middle of the month. Most anglers here find success using the “Crazy Jig” we sell in the tackle center. Essentially a weighted hook with attached feathered teaser, it flutters as it falls, and is a killer lure for the Pompano, and other species also.
Sheepshead have been feeding along the pilings that support the pier, and are easy to target once you get the technique down pat. Use a small strong hook, a split-shot, and a small piece of crab or shrimp. Chum the fish a little bit, then introduce your baited hook into the feeding area. Chances are the fish will strip your bait off until your technique is honed. Watch the line, as you can see it move before you will feel the fish take. Setting the hook is always problematic when fishing for the SheepsHead, but practice will soon pay off.
A few keeper RedFish, or Red Drum were taken this month. Keepers must be slot-sized between 18 and 27 inches.
Spotted SeaTrout are showing up mostly after dark, and are swarming around the lights under the pier. Usually the fish mill about for a few hours before feeding heavily, so if you see them but they won’t bite, just have patience, because after awhile they turn on, and bite most anything that moves. Spotted SeaTrout have a minimum size of 15″, and only one of your 4-fish bag limit may be in excess of 20″.
The last part of the month we saw rough weather, thanks to late-season Hurricane Patricia. Although Patricia ravaged the West coast of Mexico with unprecedented fury, we received squall bands here, and high surf.
Of course with all this fishing activity, we saw a fair number of Sharks. One excited angler was bringing up a fair-sized Spanish Mackerel when a 5-foot BlackTip Shark leapt out of the water and tore a gash in the Mackerel. The angler was both scared and stoked!
Pier 60 is open 24 hours a day for fishing until Dec. 1st.
Dec1st. – Feb 28 Hours are Sun-Thurs 6 AM-9:30 PM Fri-Sat 24 hours
Good Luck Fishing!
We saw quite a variety of fish caught on Pier 60 this month. A typical day might see Spanish Mackerel, Pompano, and Flounder taken in the mornings. Throw in a Cobia, Snook or Shark, and you see we get a lot of exciting fishing action here.
We lucked out again this Hurricane season. Hurricane Erika missed us by hundreds of miles as it thrashed the central Bahamas and eventually ran over Bermuda, flooding the Carolinas in the process. We received some of the “backside” moisture that was merely an inconvenience in comparison.
SheepsHead are hanging around the pilings, nibbling and grazing on barnacles and other crustaceans. Anglers can target these fish by chumming a little bit, then using small hooks tipped with small chunks of your bait. There are very few fish more adept at bait-stealing than this striped member of the drum family. The trick for me has always been to see the bite before you feel it, and use light tackle. The SheepsHead is tasty, tasting a bit like the crabs it feeds upon.
The Spanish Mackerel bite has been good, with a variety of methods being successful. Some use small Sabiki rigs to catch the small minnows, and then use them for the Mackerel. Live-baiters use floats as a rule, but some fishermen just free-line live baits. Other fishermen use lures like the GotCha plugs, Gator Spoons and MirroLure twitchbaits with good success. Observations have shown that matching the size of the artificial bait to the size of the minnows is one key to success.
A few Snook were caught this month, with almost all the fish being oversize of the slot of 28″-33″. While a few of these bigger fish will hang around the pier, many will be migrating back to the passes and nosing up into deeper inside channels in anticipation of cooling temperatures.
Mangrove Snapper continue to be caught regularly here. The Snappers must be 10″ minimum, and are a great fish for table fare. Cut bait and fresh shrimp are the best baits for them. Small undersize Gag Grouper have been noted in many of the same areas of the pier as the Snappers, and like similar baits. Small circle hooks work effectively for these reef-dwellers, and allow safe release of undersize fish, as the hook almost always engages the corner of the mouth, never gut-hooking as a J-Hook is inclined to do.
Many undersize Cobia were seen this month. Cobia are curious, sometimes travel in pairs or trios, and must be a minimum size of 33″. The Cobia will hit a lure, live bait or chunk bait with equal ardor. Many rods lost here on Pier 60 are undoubtedly the result of a Cobia, so be mindful. Larger Sharks might also be responsible, and Tarpon are still in the area too.
As the waters cool off we see an influx of migrating Spanish Mackerel, along with Jacks, and King Mackerel up to 50 lbs.
Night-time fishing has been good for Spotted SeaTrout. The fish usually show up around 10 pm, but delay biting until sometime later. The later it gets, the bigger the fish we see. Small minnows are attracted to our lights, and the SeaTrout feed around and through the lights. Schools of these fish move up and down the pier, so you have to find them first, or stay put and let them come to you. Fishing for the SeaTrout can be as easy as selecting the right lure, and insuring that your tackle is light enough to remain invisible to the Trout. Live bait, and chunk baits also work, but if you try a few lures, I bet you will use them more often.
Size limits on Spotted SeaTrout is 15″ and up, with only one of your 4-fish limit over 20″.
A few RedFish up to 15 lbs were seen this month. RedFish or Red Drum have a slot limit of 18″-27″, so anything under or over has to go back unharmed.
We also saw a few LookDown, or MoonFish caught this month. In addition, we saw LadyFish, Jacks, Lane Snapper, Sand SeaTrout, Whiting, and Silver Perch.
Pier 60 stays open for 24 hours a day until our winter hours start again Dec 1st.
Dec 1st – Feb 28: Sun-Thurs 6 AM- 9:30 PM Fri-Sat 24 Hours
Good Luck Fishing!
August gives us the peak of the summer heat, and summer squalls are usually an afternoon occurrence. This August was as wet and windy as any in recent memory. One good thing is that water temperatures were kept in check, meaning that fishing was improved by having the waters less than 90 degrees for most of the month.
We saw some great fishing this month, with the weather being the biggest factor in fishing success. Spanish Mackerel were schooling off the end of the pier, and fishermen were able to get some good Macks using a variety of methods. Cut baits fished under a bobber, small live fish fished mid-water, and lures were the best producers. A few fishermen connected with large fish, only to have all their line taken off, with no chance of turning or finding out what the big fish was.
A number of Tarpon were hooked this month, and these prehistoric air-breathers put on quite a show once they feel the sting of a hook in their jaw. A leaping explosion of silver followed by powerful pulling runs is usually capped by a thrown or pulled hook. Tarpon will take a live fish under a float, a dead fish on the bottom, or a fish-head with equal ardor. It’s difficult to keep one under control here, as their sheer size, from 60-100+ lbs. allows them to wrap a buoy or piling to get free.
The Mangrove Snapper bite was good this August, with keeper fish over 10″ taken on a regular basis. These Snappers will bite small live baits or cut baits with equal relish. A small circle hook with perhaps a split-shot for weight helps to keep these fish form being shy to take a bite.
Pompano were seen mostly in the mornings, with successful fishermen using both cut baits or the “Crazy Jigs” we sell in the tackle shop. The “Crazy Jig” is a local invent, that consists of a hook surrounded by colorful lead, and an attached teaser hook with a colorful skirt. The lure is fished up-and-down, and as the lure falls, it flutters irresistibly to the Pompano. The fish almost always hit the small attached teaser hook on the way down.
SheepsHead were seen cruising the pilings, grazing and nibbling on small crabs, barnacles, and shrimp. A small stout hook with little weight is usually the best way to fish for the SheepsHead. They have powerful jaws and teeth like a horse, but their ability to strip a hook is legendary. Watching the line move as they bite is more reliable than trying to feel the take. If you feel the bite, you are usually too late.
We saw quite a few undersize Cobia this month. Keepers must be at least 33 inches, and that is a powerful fish indeed. Cobia are known to be curious, not the least shy, and have an explosive nature once they figure out that they have been hooked. Many lost rods seen flying off the pier like a javelin are no doubt due to large Cobia. The Cobia will take a live or dead crab, live or dead fish, and even a lure placed in front of a Cobia nosing around the pier pilings. On most piers, etiquette dictates that the person who spots the Cobia first gets the first chance at trying to get him to strike. Other fishermen must wait until the spotter gets tangled or has his rig ignored.
RedFish were around the pier this month, with slot-sized fish from 18″-27″ seen on a few occasions. Reds usually travel in schools, and the tell-tale sign of a school working is to see a “mud” or churned up area that moves along as the fish work their noses and mouths into the bottom en masse.
Spotted SeaTrout showed up after dark around the pier, but were usually ignoring and baits until after midnight. The key to catching them is to stay persistent until the fish decide to bite, and also to down-size the line / leader to keep them from being shy to the bite. Small lures can be very productive on the Spotted SeaTrout, especially when the waters are full of small frye.
Other fish seen this month included Key West Grunt, Jack Crevalle, SeaRobin, StingRays, Sharks of several species, Silver Perch, Black SeaBass, Whiting, SpadeFish, Blue Runner, CowFish, FileFish, Lane Snapper, and ToadFish.
Snook season opens September 1st. Keepers in the Gulf of Mexico must be between 28″ and 32″, with a bag limit of one fish per day. The Snook season will stay open until Dec 1st. Fishermen here do not need a Snook endorsement on their license as they would other places, as it is included in the fishing fees.
Clearwater is again hosting the Super Boat races this September, with the Offshore Racing boats taking to the waters off the end of Pier 60 on Sunday, 27 September. There will be a fireworks show off the end of Pier 60 on Saturday 26 September around 9PM. The racing Pits will be at the Downtown Clear Water Harbor Marina, and there will be a Seafood Festival, Boat Parade, and Clearwater’s Cleveland Street District will host a meet-and-greet with the drivers and pit crews, with live music and more!
Pier 60 will be closed for fishing from Saturday, 26 Sept. from 4PM until 5PM Sunday after the conclusion of the races and associated clean-up.
There will be a fireworks show at 9PM Saturday off the end of Pier 60.
Good Luck Fishing!