Fishing in February on Clearwater’s Pier 60 was generally very good, but the weather imposed some challenges to our fishermen as well as to swimmers and Olympic-hopeful sailors competing here on Clearwater Beach. The weather varied from “postcard” days, to cold and windy squalls that brought high winds, surf, and dirty water.
Overall, we saw a good number of species caught here. ButterFish, or Silver Perch were seen in good numbers for daytime anglers. On days where the water was clear, Spanish Mackerel were caught with some abundance.
BonnetHead Sharks and BlackTip Sharks were frequently caught and released this month, along with StingRays and CatFish.
We saw a smattering of Whiting, along with a few Silver Trout. SheepsHead were caught next to the many pilings under the pier.
Spotted SeaTrout were seen both in the mornings, and more frequently, well after dark. Minimum size for Spotted SeaTrout is 15 inches, with a bag limit of 4 fish, only one of which may be over 20 inches. SeaTrout will feed readily on live baits or lures. The larger “Gator” Trout are fond of small live fish and can also be successfully targeted with lures.
A few Flounder were seen, along with the parade of Snook off the end of the Pier in the late evening hours. Snook have been moving out of the bay and passes, out along the beaches, and should be eager to feed on small live fish or live shrimp.
Pier 60 is open for fishing 24-7
The fishing day extends from 6AM to 6AM the following day.
Good Luck Fishing!
Fishing on Pier 60 in January was challenging at times. We saw the cold weather bring air and water temperatures lower during first quarter of the month.
Even so, we saw a 40 inch Snook caught and released on the first day of the year. We also saw Flounder, Spotted SeaTrout, small Gag Grouper, Blue Runners and Silver Trout.
With the water temperatures firmly in the low 60s fishermen were able to catch beaucoup Silver Perch, also known as ButterFish.
Although temperatures in the low 60s usually mean that no Spanish Mackerel are seen, this year was an exception. We saw several days where water temperatures were low but Spanish Mackerel were in great abundance here on Pier 60.
SheepsHead were hanging around the pilings, and persistent fishermen were able to catch a few, using small tidbits of shrimp for bait.
High winds and cold rain stymied fishermen from getting out and fishing here for much of the month. Those who fished between the cold fronts were able to do okay, however.
Whiting were showing up with some regularity on a few days in January. Fishermen out late at night were able to catch Spotted SeaTrout under the lights. Generally speaking, the SeaTrout fishing gets better as the night progresses, with the largest fish showing up later, in the wee hours. Small lures, small live baits and even cut bait works well for Spotted SeaTrout.
Good Luck Fishing!
December proved to be another hot month for fishing on Clearwater’s Big Pier 60. Warmer-than-normal weather patterns kept species of fish around that normally would have left for warmer waters. Mid-70’s air temperatures and low-70’s water temps prevailed.
Spanish Mackerel were seen almost daily. These toothy speedsters roam mid-water, and will take almost any offering that is moving and resembles a baitfish. Fishing with a float is most effective, as is using artificial lures to get a strike. Once the schools or productive area is found, anglers can make repeated casts into the area, and multiple fish can usually be caught. Spanish Mackerel have a minimum size of 12 inches, with a daily bag limit of 15 fish per angler. Most of the Macks we see here range from 15 to 25 inches. Freshly-caught Mackerel fillets are mild and have very little “fishy” flavor, especially if the red “bloodline” meat is trimmed from the skinless fillets.
Lots of Flounder continued to be caught here this month. Flatties need to be 12 inches or larger to be kept, and we saw a lot of “Doormats” in the 20+ inch size. Flounder, although they may lie on the bottom concealed, have two eyes looking upwards to allow accurate binocular vision for a strike up into the water column. So fishing a few feet up above the bottom is a good tactic. Some use floats to suspend cut baits or live fish. Others use lures to cover lots of ground and elicit a strike. The tandem grubtail baits we sell in the tackle shop work well, especially when tipped with a bit of shrimp or cut fish.
Cobia were spotted often this month, with quite a few undersize fish released. Cobia have a minimum size of 33 inches, and a Cobia of any size puts up quite a fight. This is a fast-growing, very curious fish that is commonly seen prowling under and through the structure of the pier. Cobia may strike a lure, or he may be taken using a large live bait fished on the bottom or free-lined. Some find success using a float, so its evident that this is not a picky feeder.
Snook season ended here Dec 1st, but we saw aggregations of Snook around the pier at night, with quite a few fish released.
RedFish were seen this month, with some Reds over 40 inched caught and released. RedFish have a slot size of 18-27 inches, so anything larger or smaller has to be released. Red Drum, as they are also known, fight with a head-shaking pull that experienced anglers usually recognize before the fish is seen. The big breeder “Bull” Reds contribute to next years’ fish in a big way, and it is the conservation of the breeding stock that has kept the biomass of this species in good health.
Spotted SeaTrout were taken after dark with live baits and lures equally effective. Spotted SeaTrout have a minimum size of 15 inches, with a bag limit of 4 fish. Only one of the four kept fish may be over 20 inches. Again, it is these rules that insure we have fish for the future, and the FWC does enforce these rules vigorously. Please handle SeaTrout with care; fish released after flopping around on the concrete usually die. Holding a fish in a dry towel removes the slimecoat, and is a death sentence also. I find that carefully bringing the fish to the rail, and touching or holding just the hook allows a release that does the minimum damage to the fish.
We also saw LadyFish, Silver Trout, Grunts, Black SeaBass and Gag Grouper here this month. Grouper season is closed to recreational anglers anyway, and the Grouper tend to be smaller than keeper size. These Gag Grouper are also known as “Grass” Grouper to locals, and like to hang around potholes, ledges, and other structure. These fish spend a few years inshore, then move offshore as they get older. They also change their sex, but that’s another story for future reports!
There have been lots of Sharks about, including BonnetHead Sharks, BlackTip Sharks and others. It has been, and continues to be, our policy here on Pier 60, to release all Sharks unharmed. Shark fishing is NOT ALLOWED. If you must fish for Sharks, do it somewhere else.
December 1st to February 28th:
Sun-Thurs. 6 A.M. -9:30 P.M.
Fri.-Sat. 24 hours
Good Luck Fishing!