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Kingfish have arrived in our waterways with a huge splash! The migration of king mackerel are on the move all over Tampa Bay. King mackerel have the power of any game fish and are a challenge to the angler.
They make an entrance into our waterways like a night of flashing fireworks. They can be seen and want everyone to know that they have arrived in our waterways. They are huge in size from 20 to 50 pounders. when a school of these giants rushes by, it will rock your boat.
They are a migrating fish and only arrive in this area in the spring and fall. You will have several weeks to catch one, and then they move on. Their timing is unreal, as they appear in this area in March of each year, and then again, in late October or first of November.
Most anglers tell us that this fish feeds at night and by 9 a.m. heads for the deep holes. King Mackerel go with speed, following the bait fish and one can clearly see them in huge schools, while the birds also follow the leader and boats zig-zag across the bay in pursuit.
There is a limit on this fish -- two a day per person and they must be more than 24 inches.
You have from now to December to catch your first snook, a goal that most anglers try to achieve. Snook swim everywhere.
It is said that the best time to go fishing for snook -- that is, if you don’t care if you catch a snook or not -- is whenever you feel like it. This will be taking a ‘potluck’ chance of catching a snook.
There are numerous books out there on “How to Catch a Snook,” “How to Fish for Snook,” “Where the Snook Are,” and “A Sure Catch of Snook.” These go on and on, but most agree that it takes common sense and you, to catch a snook.
I have seen all types of lines rigged with steel wire leaders, various hooks, and weights to bring a snook to your bait.
I have seen lucky anglers that knew nothing about all of these so-called snook rules land a whopper. It might be being at the ‘right place at the right time.’
Weather is a big factor in fishing. And, as we are aware, Florida is one of the only places in the world where fishing is great the year around.
We do have some abnormal weather conditions. The quote I often use is from Mark Twain, who says, “People are always grumbling about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it!” It is true today’s weather reports have advanced since the days of Mark Twain, but one must be ever mindful of the weather while out on our vast waterway.
The sun is the main spring, as it powers indirectly or directly all the winds that blow.
Some anglers are not interested in the weather mechanism and rely on their radios and weather forecasts, but those giving this information may not be in the location that you are, so it might be to your advantage to know something about waves, wind, and currents.
In today’s world most boats have instruments that will help you with obstacles that might occur, but it would help if you had an idea why they were occurring. If you have a small boat, do you know how to handle it in a storm?
Fishing has been good in all waterways, not only in salt water. Many are fishing in the fresh waters of the Alafia and Little Manatee Rivers.
Those catching largemouth bass are getting a good bite with live worms. Some bait shops have them frozen in bags; others have live ones crawling in dirt in bags. Anglers using artificial worms say they work as well. Largemouth bass is a great tablefare, enjoyed by many with grits.
Freshwater catfish are swimming in schools, waiting for food, around the small islands at the I-75 bridge crossing the Little Manatee River. Those living on the upper Alafia are catching freshwater bass and catfish from their piers and docks.
Bluegill are a popular pan fish caught in our waterways. They have a great flavor and are delicious fried. Stump Knockers are giving a good bite to many who are fishing in lakes. This is also a small pan fish and makes a great tablefare.
Florida has great lake and freshwater fishing as well as saltwater. Remember that some lakes are private, but the upper waters of the rivers are yours if you have a freshwater fishing license.
Stray grouper are still having a good time playing ‘hide and seek’ with anglers. Some have been boated at the ship channels and others caught at the Skyway, where they are enjoying the company of the King Mackerel.
There are some die-hard anglers that say the only place to catch a redfish is Simmons Park in Ruskin, but there are many anglers out there proving them wrong. Redfish catches are being made all over the rivers and bay waters.
Flounder have been a good catch this week. This is a lean, white meat fish and a favorite at the dinner table -- broiled, baked, stuffed, or fried.
Sheepshead have had a good bite this week for those fishing from their docks. They bite rain or shine. Permit have also been a good catch this week. They are often confused with the Pompano, but either one you catch will be a great tablefare.
For some reason I don’t hear many stories about the tripletail fish, but I did this week. They are a dull black with silvery sides and belly and are generally caught still fishing, rarely caught trawling. It is good to eat, but has a lot of bones. Some were caught this week around a buoy out of Shell Point.
Spanish Mackerel are still taking residence in our waterways with your average size catch of two pounds. It takes patience to catch this small fish, which is a speedster.
Traffic has picked up on our waterways; watch the weather; be safe; take a buddy with you.
-- Aleta Jonie Maschek is a member of Florida Outdoor Press.
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