GO FISHING is a look at the area fishing scene through the eyes of local charter boat captains and fishing guides. Today: Frank Sargeant.
Captain John Paiva is eagerly awaiting the opening of the gag grouper season July 1 because he's been catching lots of big ones inside Tampa Bay in recent weeks by accident.
"A couple weeks back we were fishing for trout in about six feet of water and we caught two really nice gags, one about 10 pounds, the other 12 pounds," said Paiva. "And then more recently, in about 20 feet fishing for mangrove snapper, we got another one about 27 inches long."
Paiva said all of the accidental catches were on live sardines. However, he said when the season opens he'll go to live pinfish or big thread herring to target the grouper; www.tampabaysfishingcharter.com .
Captain Ray Markham predicts great catch-and-release snook action with the big moon tides this weekend-hit the sloughs, passes and mangrove points on falling water, says Markham, particularly around dawn and dusk. He said reds and trout are around but becoming more challenging with water temps in the 80's. Tarpon should be a best bet this weekend, fishing the weed rips of the major passes with live crabs, he said, again on the evening runout; www.captainraymarkham.com.
Offshore anglers continue to catch limits of red snapper, most coming from 80 feet on out. Barracuda's are abundant on nearshore wrecks and reefs, and the inside artificial reefs are also holding permit, which can sometimes be fooled with a live crab, particularly at dawn.
Captain Van Hubbard reports lots of tarpon along the beaches from Venice to Boca Grande, including plenty of jumbos-he says the action is likely to peak around the full moon this weekend, and should continue good for another month-live crabs, sardines or threadfins are the ticket. Hubbard also said catch-and-release snook has been gangbusters, with lots of smaller fish and plenty of 35 to 40 inchers as well, all on live sardines. Trout and reds have not been quite as cooperative, but Hubbard says anglers who seek "eating fish" can always manage enough for a fry. He said there are good numbers of Spanish off the beaches, and the occasional king to 20 pounds on nearshore reefs and wrecks; www.captvan.com.
Captain "Red Ed" Brennan reports from Homosassa that gag grouper are all over the rock lines in 20 to 30 feet-his anglers have been releasing up to 30 per day, with lots of keepers; again, he's looking forward to the opening of the season. Trout and redfish action is fair to good inshore, and the tarpon anglers have been doing well south of Chassahowitzka Point-this action usually continues to around July 4. Brennan reminds all diving families that the scallop season gets underway July 1; www.homosassaredfish.com.
The Inshore-Offshore Boat Show at Manatee Civic Center in Bradenton begins today and continues through Sunday. It features fishing clinics, new marine gear and lots of fishing boats; www.onshoreoffshoreboatshow.com.
Tribune correspondent Frank Sargeant can be reached at? firstname.lastname@example.org.