• Capt. Sergio Atanes

Even with the full moon and bluebird sky the bite was quite good as the tide starting coming in, my anglers caught enough

snook to make them happy.

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  • Capt. Sergio Atanes

Fishing Together July 2020

By Capt. Sergio Atanes

Fishing is a great sport for families to spend some quality time together. Not all kids are

created equal when it comes to sports, but fishing is different, and any youngster can

learn the basics and catch fish. In fact, fishing is 20% knowledge and 80% luck.

Let’s start with the basic tackle; a saltwater rod and reel combo can be purchased for

under $40.00 at most tackle stores. Add a small tackle box, some hooks, sinkers, lures,

and swivels, all which can be purchased for under $50.00. For less than the cost of one

football game, a family of 4 can get started for under $200.00.

The next question is where do we go from here? That is easy, because the Tampa Bay

area has plenty of fishing piers both inside Tampa Bay and on the Gulf of Mexico. We

are also blessed with miles of shoreline.

Pier fishing is simple. Just pick an open spot, especially next to the guy catching fish (just

kidding) and ask questions at the bait house. This could be your best source of

information on what is biting and how to rig for them. Look for the anglers with wagons

or small shopping carts converted to carry rods and tackle. These guys are what I call pier

pros and they know their stuff. Fishermen are good-natured and most are always willing

to extend a helping hand to get someone else started.

Different baits are used for different fish. Trout, mackerel, and redfish prefer greenback

sardines, and they can be caught using sabiki rigs or throwing a bait net. If catching your

bait is not in the game plan live medium shrimp will work fine just a little more hassle

keeping the pinfish off or maybe not if they kids are having fun. Cobia, grouper, and

tarpon mostly caught from the piers prefer pinfish, and they can be purchased or caught

using a small gold hook tipped with shrimp. Sheepshead love fiddler crabs. When my

kids were young this was a favorite of ours to catch. Fiddler crabs are those small quick

running little crabs you see along the shoreline on low tide. My kids really enjoyed

chasing them down to catch them. There are fast and run into holes they have burrowed

in the sand. To catch one, first get a small, slender stick about six or eight inches long.

Stand very still close to the holes and wait until a fiddler starts to poke his head. Place the

stick behind the hole about three inches and place the other hand in front of the hole so

when the fiddler is forced out, he has nowhere to go except into your hand. It’s a great

way to start the day.

Surface feeding fish like cobia, mackerel and tarpon can be caught by free lining your

bait with the current or if fishing from the shore I recommend to use a float to keep the

bait from sinking to the bottom.

For bottom feeders such as redfish, flounder, mangrove snapper and pompano attach a

weight egg sinker just heavy enough to keep the bait on the bottom, look for structure,

old dock pilings, rocky bottom and oyster beds all make for a great place to start .

Sheepshead make their home around the pilings, and a simple rig consisting of a #1

hook with 24 inches of 30-pound test mono leader and a 1-ounce sinker depending on

current flow will surely help you land one. Sheepshead are known as one of the best bait

stealers around, but when hooked they will give any youngster a battle they will not soon


Another source for action is along the miles of shoreline and beaches. Wade fishing can

be both fun and refreshing during the summer months. Add a picnic lunch and you are

ready for action.

Shore bound anglers can catch as many if not more than pier fisherman, you have miles

of shoreline to walk and try your luck, Some example Courtney Campbell Parkway,

Cypress Creek Park (great wading area for redfish), south end of Picnic Island, Gandy

Bridge east side around the radio towers all perfect for shore anglers and waders.

Weedon Island has a productive fishing pier a Kayak ramp and a lot of history a great

place to spend some time fishing and bonding.

Tackle box suggestions

 1/0 – 2/0 Trident hooks.

 ¼ - 3/8-½ - 1-ounce egg sinkers.

 Pack #10 swivels.

 Leader material 20 and 30-pound test of fluorocarbon.

 Several packs of Fishbites Chunks in Shrimp & Crab flavors.

 Fishbites Fight Club saltwater artificial baits pick several colors and styles.

 Several plugs my favorites Surreel Lures they just look so real.

 Green and yellow floats.

When looking for the rod and reel combo, a medium weight outfit is perfect. Okuma

makes a great priced outfit for newbie anglers. I would use 15 to 20- pound test line, try

using one outfit with 20-pound braided line when fishing for bigger fish. There are many

brands on the market, and I find Fins Windtamer works best for me.

A family that fishes together stays together. I am always willing to help kids learn more

about fishing, so do not hesitate to call me for any questions you may have.

Tampa area you have Picnic Island Pier, Ballast Point Pier, Weedon Island and miles of


Pinellas Area

Fort DeSoto Park Pier 727-864-3345

Fort DeSoto Gulf Pier 727-864-9937

Skyway North Pier 727-865-0668

Good fishing and tight lines.

Capt. Sergio Atanes is host of Florida West Coast Fishing Report on

Facebook and YouTube. He is also host to Aventuras De Pesca USA on

national TV and Radio.

Emil: atanes@msn.com Phone: 813-973-7132 reelfishing.com

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  • Capt. Sergio Atanes

Cobia Fishing Tampa Bay Style June 2020

By Capt. Sergio Atanes

OTHER NAMES: Ling, Crab Eater, Lemonfish

SIZE: Common from 10 to 25-pounds in Tampa Bay.

FOOD VALUE: Excellent, smoked or fresh.

GAME QUALITIES: A strong but unpredictable fighter. Usually clicks off long, fast runs, and can fight deep with great stamina; however, many individuals put on lackluster fights if not pressured too hard— saving their best efforts for after they are boated!

Lifetime Partners: Cobia will mate up at an early age and stay together, when only one cobia is spotted that means its partner has already been caught.

The first thing that comes to mind when someone says cobia fishing in Tampa Bay is buoy tending. I have another method I’ve used over the years that works as good if not better than chasing them all over the bay.

First let’s start with the bait; greenback sardines, blue crabs and pinfish are the baits of choice. I find an area of grass flats close to a channel or drop off. I prefer the water depth around 3 to 4 feet. I then start by chumming for the bait with a mixture of tropical fish food, anise oil and some salt water mixed to a cream of wheat texture. The secret to chumming is not to feed the bait but attracting them to the boat. I use an 10 foot 3/8 mesh bait HUMPBACK net with only 10-pounds of lead made by Tampa Fishing Outfitters. This light bait net works great if you don’t exceed 8-foot of water it’s also a life saver on your back.

A live well is a must to have on any boat, and if you don’t have one, they can be purchased at most retail tackle outlet stores. A good live well needs to be at least 25-gallons or bigger with a 700 or 1100 gallon an hour pump. Ok, now we caught our baits, but what are we to do next? That is simple: start cutting the baits (greenback sardine) in half and make a large pile on the cutting board. Start by tossing pieces in the water around the boat and wait for rays to start showing up. Southern rays or brown rays are attracted to you chumming and with them come the cobias. Remember, cobia like structure and are lazy to feed, but as the rays move in on the scent of the chum with them come the cobia. Rays stir the bottom up with their wings in order to feed and this brings up all the small shrimps and crabs and pieces of chum to the surface of the flats.

The cobia will be just under the rays or next to them picking the pieces of bait the rays leave behind. Toss a live pinfish, small blue crab or greenback at them and hold on. A word of caution: leave the bail open on the reel until the cobia get at least 20 feet from the boat before you set the hook, or they will head for the nearest structure your boat. I have several broken rods at home to remind me. I make it a habit to keep one rod with an artificial bait, many times I have had a cobia sneak up on me from nowhere and you have very little time to get the right size live bait so my old stand by the Savage TPE crab works every time. Of course, Mother Nature has a way of playing games and we have to go to plan B or C.

Plan B.

Buoy tending: the ritual of running from one buoy (channel markers-range markers) to another looking for cobia hanging around them during the slack tide periods. The term early bird gets the worm applies in this case, the first anglers to the buoys have the best shot at catching them. I prefer to use a large float with a 4 to 6 inch pinfish or threadfin sardine suspended about 3 foot under the float, start your drift up current of the buoy and let the bait pass the marker don’t give up on the first pass cobia sometime are cautious fish and take more than one drift to get them to strike.

SPOT-LOCK FISHING: Another vital element to some cobia angler is the use of Minn Kota I-Pilot trolling motor with SPOT LOCK, which eliminates the drift. With my I-Pilot I can Spot-Lock close to the buoy within casting distance and work my live bait on both sides of the buoy. It saves time, and cobia never spook.

Plan C.

Luck: being on the right spot at the right time when one just happens to be cruising by looking for a mate or structurer. Such as my good buddy Bryan McNatt was tarpon fishing off Bean Point when out of nowhere this large cobia came by asking to be caught.

Tackle: Around the flats 15-pound breaded line with 30-pound fluorocarbon leader attached to 3/0 circle hook works great, 7-foot medium light rod with Helios 30 Okuma reel. When fishing buoys or structure I go to 40-pound breaded line with 50-pound fluorocarbon leader at least 4 foot long a 7 foot medium heavy action rod with a Azores 6000 Okuma reel.

Greg Wade with a Bishop Harbor cobia.

Chris Camps with a nice cobia.

Cobia on the way to the grill.

Blue Thunder Float

Savage Gear TPE Crab (Great Artificial Bait)

Good fishing and tight lines.

Capt. Sergio Atanes is host of Florida West Coast Fishing Report on Facebook and YouTube. He is also host to Aventuras De Pesca USA on national TV and Radio.

Emil: HYPERLINK "mailto:atanes@msn.com" atanes@msn.com Phone: 813-973-7132 reelfishing.com

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