• Capt. Sergio Atanes

Fishing Together

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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