By Capt. Sergio Atanes
Being a guide is a rewarding experience, watching the smile on a young child
catching his first fish or the look on their parent’s face struggling to land the one
big fish of the day. It’s all in a day’s work for us guides.
Being the captain of the vessel, the young kids and their parents are expecting
us to lead them to treasure (the fish), but we must first ourselves know where
to go and what to do. Here is where a little work gives a big payoff.
You can’t fish the same grounds day after day, because sooner or later you are
going to deplete the stock from that area, so invest a little time learning your
area. I call it spending some T & M (time on the water and money for gas)
exploring new areas. Here are some ideas to make you a better angler.
Find old charts of Tampa Bay at yard sales and you will quickly find they have a
wealth of information. Did you know that Tampa Bay had over 23 wrecks
between the Skyway Bridge and downtown Tampa? The old charts can lead you
somewhat close to them, and if you are lucky enough to find one you hit the
jackpot. I found 6 of them over the years, some were lost as silt settled over
them and they slowly sank into the ground.
Ledges in Tampa Bay you say yes, I do and some real nice ones at that. During
spring and start of summer they produce some real nice grouper, grunts and
seabass. When winter sets in, the same ledges hold large sheepshead and
resident gag grouper, tripletail for some unknown reason and even some big
There are several fish havens around the St. Pete pier that are no longer on
modern charts, but the old charts still show them and with a little T & M you
might just find them. They are one of my favorite spots for catching sharks
during the summer months and even some nice grouper.
When looking for good hunting grounds in Tampa Bay, I would suggest the use
of deep running plugs. There are several good brands on the market that can
dive from 15 to 25 ft according to your speed. Pick a spot from your chart and
troll an area of hard bottom, and using your tracking on your GPS, run a north to
south pattern. When you get a strike, mark the spot with a buoy or an anti-
freeze bottle filled with expanding foam, and with a heavy enough weight to
hold it in place, go back and drift the area with live pinfish, sardines or cut bait.
When you get the first strike, it’s time to anchor and start catching. Oh, did I
forget to mention you just found a new spot to fish.
Ballast Point rings a bell. Many years ago, most sea-going ships could not enter
what is now known as Hillsborough Bay without dropping their ballast
overboard. I will admit the fishing is not as good as when I fished it years ago,
but certain times of the year large trout and sheepshead call Ballast Point rocks
Okuma 7 ft. Cedros Heavy spinning rod.
Okuma Azores 8000 spinning reel.
Fins 50-pound test braided line.
50-pound fluorocarbon leader.
Tackle (sheepshead, redfish, tripletail)
Okuma 7 ft. Ricky Red spinning rod.
Okuma Helios 30 spinning reel.
Fins Windtamer 15-pound test braided line.
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
Emil firstname.lastname@example.org 813-973-7132 reelfishing.com