December Fishing Report

December was a great time to fish on Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach. Water temperatures and air temperatures stayed in the high to mid 60s most all month. We saw many varieties of fish caught and the quantities were good as well.

Whiting were caught with regularity this month, and many of the fish were of good size; up to 18 inches, and that’s about as large as we ever see them here. Along with the Whiting we saw good numbers of Silver Trout, Butterfish, and Croakers. The preferred bait has been live shrimp or bits of fresh-dead shrimp. Large Sabiki Rigs also work well here for these fish when they are in schools, when it is possible to catch multiple fish at one time. All these species are unregulated, with only a limit of 100 lbs each type per fisherman per day.
There were quite a few Sheepshead feeding around the base of the pilings that support the pier. Careful observation will show you where these “feeding stations” are. Minimum size on the Sheepshead is 12 inches, with a bag limit of 15 fish per day per fisherman.
Spotted SeaTrout were caught primarily in the evening hours. Spotted Trout seem to prefer a live shrimp over anything else; however, they are quick to bite a grub tail lure that is tipped with a bit of fresh shrimp. Minimum size on the Spotted SeaTrout is 15 inches with a bag limit of four fish -one of the four fish per day may be over 20 inches.
Of course we saw a lot of small Sharks caught this month on Pier 60 as usual. BonnetHead Sharks and small Sand Sharks were the most prevalent species seen. Our policy on Sharks is to let them go without harming them here on Pier 60. As we say, we don’t bite the sharks, and they don’t bite us.

One surprise this month was that there were a number of large Snook at the end of the Pier following small fish upwards into the lights as they were being caught.  Richard Ruzzo, from the Chicago area, had a large Snook inhale a free-lined Silver Perch but he was unable to get a good hookset and the fish got away! None of us expected to see this number of Snook this late in the year and so we were all a bit surprised.
Another story related to me by Richard from Chicago was that several fishermen were all standing around at the end of the pier with their rods lined up against the rails when all of a sudden, without any warning at all, one fisherman’s’ rod went flying through the air at least 20 yards, landed in the water, and just kept going! After a few moments of disbelief the fishermen looked at each other and then everyone burst out laughing! Sometimes being over-awed by nature is a good thing.

Fishing hours for December, January and February are 6AM- 9:30PM. Fridays and Saturdays we are still open 24 hours. This schedule will remain until March 1st when we go back to 24 hour a day fishing seven days a week.
Good Luck Fishing!

November Fishing Report

The month of November brought more falling temperatures, and some great opportunities to have fishing success.  Fronts with stormy weather interrupted the fishing a couple of times, but afterwards fishing picked up steadily day by day.

Spanish Mackerel were biting on live shrimp and shiny lures while waters were high –to-mid 60’s.

We also had a few Snook feeding off the end of the pier, with a few anglers releasing over-slot fish.

A few Pompano were caught, along with Flounder and LadyFish.

RedFish were biting well this month. Quite a few anglers had large over-slot Reds to release, with only a few legal fish of 18″ to 27″ taken. Most of the Red Drum we see are larger fish and must be released.

Spotted SeaTrout were showing up later and later at night, with plenty of larger fish taken on lures or live shrimp. Keepers must be over 15″ and one fish in you bag of 4 fish may be over 20″.

We saw Whiting, Black SeaBass, BlueFish, and Jack Crevalle in good numbers. Bottom fishing produced many smaller reef species from around the pier.

The latter half of the month, water temps were into the low-60’s for awhile, and transitioned more fully into a “winter” pattern.

Silver Trout and Butterfish showed up in larger schools daily off the end of the pier. The Butterfish, also known as Silver Perch, is a small but tasty treat for those who are quick with a knife, or like to cook fish whole.

We had plenty of Sheepshead milling about the pilings, and lucky or skilled fishermen had success landing legal fish above 12″. Cut fresh shrimp, crabs, or mollusks of any type can work well, paired with a small strong hook and split shot for just a little weight. Set the hook when the line twitches, as once you feel the bite, it’s already over; he got your bait again!

We saw lots of Croakers this month, more than in recent years. They have been running up to 12″ and were taken on cut bait of fish or squid.

We see our best fishing between fronts during the winter, as the fish feed heavily just before the next front hits. Worsening conditions hinders both fish and fishermen from finding each other, but there are techniques to help insure success under most circumstances.

Our Winter Hours are:

December 1 to March 1      Sunday – Thursday         6 AM -9:30 PM
Fridays and Saturdays      24 hours a day
Good luck fishing!

Fall Fishing Photos

October Fishing Report

Make A Difference Helper with a Yellow Tail Jack

Make A Difference Helper with a Yellow Tail Jack

October fishing on Pier 60 was very good, even excellent at times, with many different species of fish seen. Cold fronts heading through our state brought us high winds and churned up waters briefly. Good fishing returned within a couple of days. As the heat of summer is past, water temperatures are starting to moderate significantly and there are blooms of tiny plankton, and small minnows which draws predators close to the structure of the pier. Jack Crevalle were busy corralling schools of small fish then rushing in a vicious attack; a feeding frenzy we call a “Jack attack”. Schools of Blue Runners, Ladyfish, and BlueFish have all made a showing this month.

Parts of the Gulf of Mexico north of us had been experiencing a red tide bloom which kills sealife. There were many concerns that it was going to move this way; however it appears as if this years’ threat is past. Water temperatures are dropping and the chance of a fish-kill event is low.
We saw quite a few Spanish Mackerel this month, along with a few King Mackerel  or KingFish showing up. The Macks usually like small minnows, shiny lures or live shrimp. Preferred methods of rigging include free-lining or fishing under a float. King Mackerel strike hard, and run fast. The larger, loner fish are called “Smoker Kings” for their propensity of emptying spools and smoking the drags of fishermen’s reels.

Again we saw many many Flounder caught at the pier in October. Many of the Flatties were of decent size over 18 inches – well above the minimum size limit of 12 inches. Most of the flounder were caught on live shrimp; however the Flounder can also be enticed to strike a grub-tail lure especially when tipped with a bit of fresh shrimp.

Quite a few Cobia were caught off the pier this month. One angler had the rod ripped from his hands when the Cobia attacked his bait. The rod was seen cruising past the end of the pier and was caught by another angler who managed to catch the line, retrieve the rod, and release the undersize fish!

Samantha Pfaehler with a redfish

Samantha Pfaehler with a redfish caught in early November 2014 on Pier 60.

RedFish or Red Drum were seen cruising off the end of the pier, and quite a few bruisers have been caught and released lately. The Redfish fights until it is spent; so it is important to release oversize or undersize fish with care. Anglers are encouraged to support the belly of gravid females and return the fish to the water via landing net, only releasing the fish once she has recovered her strength. The slot limit for keeping a RedFish is 18 to 27 inches. Reds will inhale a shrimp or cut bait with equal aplomb.

Mangrove Snapper appeared with some regularity here in October. Keepers above 11 inches were not uncommon. We also saw keeper Lane Snapper and Black Seabass. Sheepshead were around the pilings available for the fisherman who would like to try. For Sheepshead try using a small hook and very little weight with a morsel of shrimp. Minimum size on Sheepshead is 12 inches with a bag limit of 15 fish.
Pompano made a good showing this month. Most of the time anglers on the pier catching the Pompano use the goofy jigs with teaser to get the Pompano to bite. We had a variety of reef species this month on the pier, including HogFish, FileFish, Lookdown or MoonFish, and Atlantic SpadeFish. We even saw a strikingly beautiful Moray Eel caught on the pier this month about 12 inches long.

Spotted SeaTrout show up mostly after dark. Live shrimp are theTrouts’ favorite; however lures work equally well. The Spotted SeaTrout must be at least 15 inches to keep, with a bag limit of four fish per angler; one fish may be over 20 inches.

We saw Snook in the shallows this month, and some anglers managed to get Legal-sized 28″-33″ fish to bite. One keeper we know of was released anyway, even though the season extends through the end of November.

Extended fishing hours will end the beginning of December. We are open 24 hours a day through the end of November.

December 1 to March 1      Sunday – Thursday         6 AM -9:30 PM
Fridays and Saturdays  24 hours a day.
Good luck fishing!

September Fishing Report

Nick from Margate, Fl. poses with a pair of Mangrove Snappers.

Nick from Margate, Fl. poses with a pair of Mangrove Snappers.

September started out hot as late summer here can be, and the fishing was hot as well. From the first week of the month we saw anglers catching a variety of good fish, including lots of keeper Flounder, Spanish Mackerel, Spotted SeaTrout, and large over-slot RedFish. We also had Mangrove Snapper, Lane Snapper, and HogFish caught. In addition, Sheepshead were taken by those who tried fishing next to the pilings with small hooks and bits of shrimp.

Many small Cobia were caught and released this month, with all the larger fish outmauouvering the anglers. Black SeaBass were frequently caught, but only a few keepers over 10″ were taken home.

During the middle of the month we had some squalls, which dampened the fishermen, but didn’t hurt the fishing too much. We had a lot of fishing action before the storms, with Pompano, Croaker, LadyFish, and more species landed. Lots of small Gag Grouper are feeding around the rubble and pilings off the end of the pier.

Kevin and Ian from the UK with Flounder and Spanish Mackerel

Kevin and Ian from the UK with Flounder and Spanish Mackerel

The normal Spanish Mackerel daytime bite has been sporadic. Some days we see them with some abundance, and other days we don’t. The waters have been black with small fry surrounding the pier, and this attracts schools of Jack Crevalle and Blue Runners. Once small fish are surrounded, the feeding frenzy ensues, and for a few minutes we see a “Jack Attack”.

Snook season opened Sept. 1st. and since that time we have not seen any slot-sized fish of 28-33 inches kept. A few undersize Snook have been seen in shallow waters underneath the pier in the swim zone, and it appears that the larger fish have moved into the passes and bay already.

Spotted SeaTrout have shown up in some numbers, with a few fish taken during daytime hours. The best time for the Spotted SeaTrout by far has been late at night. The later it gets, the more fish are seen. An hour before dawn there are hundreds, if not thousands of Spotted Trout working the lights. Small lures can be used to good effect, while live baits always are a good bet too.

A Red Tide outbreak and bloom was reported in the Gulf of Mexico to our north. We have been monitoring it, and it did not enter our waters to any noticeable extent. We have seen no fish kills here, or seen any other signs of an outbreak.

Capt'n Tom

Capt’n Tom

We are pleased to tell everyone that our fishing hours have been extended this year. We will be open 24 hours for 9 months of the year.

March 1st – November 30th   we are open 24 hours for fishing.

Dec 1st- Feb 28th  – Sun-Thurs 6 AM -9:30 PM    Fri-Sat 24 Hours

Good Luck Fishing!