• Capt. Sergio Atanes

A Little Work Gives a Big Payoff May 2020

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

their home.

Tackle (grouper-trolling)

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.

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


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

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