August Fishing Report

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!

Fall Fishing Pix

July Hot & Wet!

July is the middle of the summer and our usual advice given to anglers is to fish early in the morning and late at night. The middle of the day is just so hot that not only fish but the fishermen are looking for a place to cool off in the middle of the day.
This July the water temperatures rose above 85° and as the temperatures climbed just south of 90° it hurt the fishing; especially in the daytime. The second half of the month was quite wet, which helped lower the water temperatures, but the associated winds and waves that developed from this low-pressure system hampered anyone’s ability to fish successfully. Water clarity always suffers when it rains here, and with two weeks of rainy weather, wind and waves, the water was quite turbid.
That said, fishermen were able to get out and catch quite a variety of great fish here this month.

We saw many undersize Cobia caught and released here in July. Keepers must be above 33 inches in length  –  the fish that we saw here on Pier 60 were in the 20 to 25 inch range. They do put up a good fight but must be released to grow larger.
The Mangrove Snapper fishing has been pretty good this month. We had keepers caught most days. Mangrove snappers will take a variety of baits. Most of the ones we saw were hooked on squid or chunks of finger Mullet.
Jack Crevalle were seen this month along with Black SeaBass, Skates, Key West Grunt, Atlantic SpadeFish, Whiting, Flounder, Pompano, Black Drum, and Spotted SeaTrout.
We had many days in July where squalls would come through in the morning or afternoon and drop the water temperatures somewhat. Once water temperatures dropped,  we saw more Spanish Mackerel come back closer to the Pier from deeper waters.

The Snook bite has been very good this summer. Many days we saw several Snook caught and released. In the evenings the Snook bite was even better, biting various live baits, chunks of fresh fish, and we even had a Snook taken on a gob of Calamari Squid. Snook have been mating and spawning and are hungry to replenish their bodies after the rigours of the spawn.
Other catches of note and include Spanish Mackerel to 18 inches and Bull Red Drum or RedFish up to 40 inches.

Good Luck Fishing!

Mackenzie & Madison with a colorful CowFish

June Fishing Hot!

Fishing was Hot on Pier 60 in June. That’s when we get into our summer stride. With some early-June days offering squalls and cooler temperatures, which kept water temperatures in the mid-80’s for much of the month. As temperatures climb beyond 87 or so, it hurts the fishing.

Bryon Perry, Grand Ledge MI with Snook

Bryon Perry, Grand Ledge MI with Snook

We had plenty of Snook action this month, with the line-siders fought, caught, and released both mornings, evening, and late-nite. Snook were biting live shrimp, small minnows, LadyFish, and even cut baits. We should see the bite stay hot as the fish are post-spawn, and hungry to replenish and renew their reserves. Snook season is slated to open Sept. 1st.

Spanish Mackerel were seen daily here, and were biting both live baits fished under a float, or lures with a bit of flash- as in Got-Cha plugs or Gator spoons. Many Mackerel are taken on some of the larger Sabiki rigs we have in the tackle shop.

Crazy Jigs are weighted hooks with a teaser hook attached. You fish it by letting it flutter towards the bottom, then pulling it up sharply and allowing it to flutter down again. Something about it drives Pompano into striking it, as well as many other species, like Jack Crevalle, LadyFish, BlueFish, and even Flounder. Fishermen who tried this lure had good success here this month.

Cobia were seen with regularity, but all of the fish were undersized, and had to be released. With a 33″ to the fork minimum size, a keeper is a strong adversary, and may have been responsible for the several rods that were yanked over the side this month.

Flounder from keeper-sized 12″ up to 17″ or so were a regular catch here in June. Flounder will strike both lures and live baits, and even fresh cut fish like finger mullet or cut sardines.

Mackenzie & Madison with a colorful CowFish

Mackenzie & Madison with a colorful CowFish

White Grunt, Black SeaBass, SquirrelFish, CowFish, Scrawled FileFish, Spiny Porcupine Puffers, Atlantic SpadeFish, LadyFish, Whiting, and TriggerFish were all caught here this month.

Sheepshead were available this month, as they feed on the barnacle-encrusted pilings that support the pier. A small strong hook tipped with a piece of fresh shrimp or a small crab is key. Chum the fish into feeding, and then present your offering with as little weight as possible. The tell-tale movement of the line will be your cue to set the hook. The minimum size on Sheepshead is 12″ with a bag of 15, but we saw some whoppers over 18″ caught here in June.

Mangrove Snapper, or Mangos as they are locally known, made a good showing here in June. The Mango will feed on shrimp or cut bait, and will take a lure like the tandem grubtails, especially if tipped with a bit of fresh bait. The minimum size on the Mangrove Snapper is 10 inches, with a bag of 5. We have seen a fair number of Lane Snapper here as of late. Their habits are similar to the other snapper species. The size limit on Lane Snapper is 8″.

Fishing Aide Tom K. with Spotted SeaTrout

Fishing Aide Tom K. with Spotted SeaTrout

Spotted SeaTrout fishing was decent here, with most of the fish caught well after dark. There were daily exceptions to this, with a few keepers caught mid-morning or before sunset.

As we get further on into summer, the waters may get warm enough to curtail much of the bite during the middle of the day. We recommend fishing early in the morning and late at night. The middle of the day can get mighty hot, and the sun can toast you in a short time. Before sunset there’s usually a good feed going on, and then more so later at night, especially just before and after the tide changes. Peak water flows occur around the full moon and new moon periods. During those times fishing seems to be especially active, up to a few days either side of the full and new moon.

Capt’n Tom

Capt’n Tom

Pier 60 is open 24 hours all summer long. Your fishing day begins at 6 AM and goes until 6AM the following day. You can come and go, and no license is required.

Good Luck Fishing!

May Fishing Report

May was a great month to fish on Pier 60. Temperatures were moderate for both air and water, not scorching hot as it gets later on in the late summer. We saw water temps range from the mid-70’s to the mid-80’s which provided ideal conditions for a variety of fish to be caught.

Spanish Mackerel were around most days, biting both early in the morning, and again in the late afternoon. The fish were thick on some days, and low on others, but some fishermen scored most every day. Successful anglers use flashy lures to cover more water, and to reach out further into deeper water. Others found success using live shrimp or small minnows brought up on a Sabiki rig.

We saw a good number of Pompano taken this month. Most of the Pompano were caught early in the morning, using live shrimp for bait, or the favorite Crazy Jig with teaser that we carry in the shop. Other fish attracted to the favorite Pompano lure include, Jack Crevalle, LadyFish, Flounder, and Blue Runner. Anglers also caught and released a surprising number of reef species, like the CowFish, Scrawled FileFish, Spiny Box Puffers, and PufferFish, or BlowFish.

BlueFish, Sheepshead, Flounder, and plenty of undersize Cobia kept fishermen busy this month. Perhaps a few of the big hits that fishermen failed to connect with were large Cobia, a powerful and large omnivorous predator. We had several rods go over the rail this month, and other rods snapped in half.

Spotted SeaTrout fishing was good in May, with most big SeaTrout taken late at night on small live baits like shrimp or minnows. A few Spotted Trout were seen during the daytime, but the vast majority of fish show up under the lights late at night. Don’t let the lack of live shrimp keep you from Trout success. Many lures are very effective, work as soon as the lure hits the water, and allows the angler to cover more water in less time. In addition, using lures takes a bit of skill to develop but brings benefits to both the table and ego.

Snook fishing was in full swing this May for catch-and-release. In the mornings the fish were near the shoreline, in the non-fishing swim zone. At night, these fish move out towards the end of the pier, following one another in their mating “dance”. Although the fish are preoccupied with each other, they still feed at some point in the evening. Snook like a big free-lined Shrimp, a live fish, or a lure. Many successful Snook fishermen here use a live LadyFish for a killer bait. A large, clean and lively LadyFish nose-hooked with a sharp, strong hook tied to leader materiel is all that’s needed to entice a big Snook into hitting. Be prepared, for many Snook strike this kind of bait soon after it hits the water. It’s important to give the fish time to turn the bait head-first before setting the hook, yet be vigilant to keep the Snook from wrapping around the pilings. Please be careful to release the fish properly back into the landing net, and to avoid holding the fish vertically so as to damage its internal organs. Most all the large Snook caught here are the big “Breeder” females, and we want these fish to continue to live and produce more fish into the biomass.

Good Luck Fishing!