“You have to be patient,” Chiem said. “You can catch fish out here, grouper, snapper, mackerel. People don’t think you can catch grouper out here but you can. You just have to know what you’re doing and be patient.”

Cristian was born in Havana, Cuba in 1988, then moved to Tampa, Florida where he was raised walking distance from Upper Tampa Bay. There his father helped him discover a love for fishing that would last a lifetime. Cristian fished the area until he knew every creek, oyster bar, and channel but, most importantly where the fish would stage up during tidal change. One of his favorite places to fish is Double Branch Park, this area offers great site fishing opportunities for Snook, Redfish and Speckled Trout using fly or spinning set ups.

Buyer beware: These days, it seems everybody and their brother is a fishing guide. Unfortunately, many of these captains are part-timers which use inferior equipment, vessels, have zero customer service skills or just recently obtained their USCG license and have little experience. Then there are the charter booking agencies who don’t care whose boat they stick you on, as long as they take your hard-earned money. These unscrupulous charter services sadly leave the consumer very disappointed and believing that the fishing in Florida is highly overrated.

Where found: OFFSHORE species associated with rocky reefs, debris, and wrecks, typically in 60 – 240 feet of water; sometimes caught NEARSHORE in south Florida; juveniles associated with floating objects and may occur in water less than 30 feet deep.

Another fantastic winter species in the Bay area is Flounder. Undoubtedly one of the most unattractive fish, but probably one of the best tasting! This time of year, the Flounder will move in on large sandy areas in big numbers. For flats fishing, target potholes and creek mouths with substantial flow. Use the same rig for Sheepshead but you might want to switch to a circle hook. On the warmer days, a small live greenback or shrimp on the bottom will be best. If you like throwing artificial, try a #313 Gold Glitter C.A.L jig from D.O.A paired with a 3/8 oz Hook-Up Lures jig head. The heavier jig head will keep your bait on the bottom and in the strike zone longer during the retrieve. On the colder days, the fish might not be as active. Try a cut piece of any baitfish or shrimp. Some great areas to look for the “Door Mats” are around the Skyway Bridge, Fort Desoto, and Pinellas Point. The minimum size is 12” total length and the bag limit is 10 per person.

IMPORTANT NOTES: Our top three picks do not require that you have a Florida saltwater fishing license to drop your line, but you’ll need one almost everywhere else. (Learn more at http://myfwc.com/license/recreational/saltwater-fishing/) Some exemptions apply for children, senior citizens, disabled residents and people who have qualified for federal financial aid. A no-cost license is required for fishing from docks or piers unless the pier itself has purchased a license. Learn more at http://myfwc.com/license/recreational/do-i-need-a-license/

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For diverse fishing opportunities, you can’t beat Fort DeSoto County Park. Start with the Gulf Pier stretching more than 1,000 feet into the Bay near the open waters of the Gulf. A strong tidal current attracts bait fish, which in turn bring in the big fish — everything from king mackerel to tarpon and sharks. (You’re also likely to see at least a couple of dolphin frolicking nearby.)

Enjoyed all the information in this article. Our trip will be in February 2018. I normally fish fresh water lakes in several states for bass and specs and have enjoyed many years of fishing Lake Erie for walleye, perch and small and large mouth bass. Looking forward to learning the different spices in and around the bay. God bless and happy fishing Al Osborne.

Clearwater Beach has had a good Redfish bite, along with a good number of trout and some nice sharks. Redfish have been biting best on the early morning high tides for us and for anglers looking to target these fish we haven’t been have any issues finding them! Trout fishing has also been really good fishing over deep grass flats near the passes. And the sharks have been biting good on fresh dead bait while we have been catching other fish.

One of the area’s true salts, Hawkins taught me an important tactical point: Fishing a bridge doesn’t necessarily mean hugging the structure. There are times when pompano and other species will feed close to the structure, but consider that the eddies spun by flowing tides can create feeding scenarios 100 yards from the pilings.

A fishing trip along these back bays, white sandy beaches and mangrove shorelines always doubles as a premier nature tour. Don’t be surprised if your charter gets briefly interrupted by curious dolphins, hungry manatees, or flocks of exotic birds. Top that off with some of the most magnificent sunrises and sunsets anywhere on the West Coast, and you’ve got yourself a one-of-a-kind fishing experience, bar none.

Remarks: spawns OFFSHORE between March and September; feeds on mollusks and crustaceans, especially sand fleas; local movements are influenced by the tide, and seasonal movements are influenced by temperature.

Bait has made its way into the bay and is on nearly every marker. The problem: Bait is moving and showing up at different times daily. The time spent to get bait will pay off. Fish have been blasting pilchards. Snook and large trout have been communi…

After our varied winter conditions, we are enjoying exceptional inshore fishing. Many snowbirds as well as local fly fishermen are finally having some fantastic shallow water fishing due to mild weather and warmer water. Baitfish are plentiful, and t…

Captain Steve made our trip fun with his extensive knowledge of the Bay and guided us to a very successful fishing experience. We caught dozens of snook and sea trout. We are looking forward to our next fishing trip this summer!

St. Pete Beach Fishing Charter Spring Fishing Report – Spring is here in St. Pete Beach and that means fishing is heating up! The cold fronts have stopped coming through for the most part and we have set record high air temps in February. Those warm air temps have let our water temps creep back up and more…

Cockroach Bay and Bishop's Harbor are both good fishing spots, located in the middle of Tampa Bay. Deeper channels between the islands just outside of Skyway Bridge near the south shore of lower Tampa Bay are also good fishing spots.

Take a ride through Fort DeSoto Bridge into Boca Ciega Bay. In this area you’ll find the Cow and Calf spoil islands and Jackass Key on the western side of the bay. Each of these locations holds large schools of redfish.

Tampa Bay is one of the state’s largest natural harbors which houses a plethora of gamefish who call this place home. Tampa Bay is also the state’s largest natural open-water estuary. What this means for you is nonstop year round fishing action!

Captain Matt is the man!!! Truely a savy fisherman and a pioneer poon killa (always catch & release). He’s the only man to be out on the waters of Tampa bay with. If you are lucky enough to make time to fish, he’s the guy you want to guide your adventure. No question!!! See you in may Matt! Can’t wait!-Bradley W Vetter

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Terry Tomalin, the Tampa Bay Times’ larger-than-life outdoors editor, traveled Florida and the world to take readers on extraordinary adventures. He died on May 19 after suffering a heart attack. He 55.

Drifting live pilchards or threadfins downcurrent past pilings is a popular tarpon tactic, but don’t hesitate to fire down a small greenie on a light hook and splitshot. Mangrove snapper and the occasional grouper feed around bridge pilings just like they do on ledges, limestone outcroppings and coral reefs.

Fishing is a great vacation activity. It’s you and the water, under the sky, putting your skills to the test. Get set to relax, have fun and generate some unforgettable memories and meals, whether you go out on your own or cast off with friends and family in tow.

There’s nothing as rewarding and relaxing as spending a day on the water in pursuit of fish. At Captain John O’Hanlon Fishing Expeditions, we have more than 30 years of experience in our field. No matter your experience level, we can take you on the fishing expedition of a lifetime.

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