The marine waters arent constantly clear here as the citys name may suggest, however they seldom do not have for healthy numbers of snook, trout, redfish, tarpon, sheepshead and other nearshore types. The requirement for periodic range notwithstanding, why did I spend so darn much money and time driving or flying numerous miles somewhere else when a lot of rod-jousting fun can be knowledgeable closer to home?
Capt. Paul Hajashs clients score well on trout feeding or nestling on grassflats with clients casting 1/8-ounce jigheads tipped with Mister Twister Darts.
Youve become aware of Tampa, but possibly not Clearwater. Its a city of over 100,000 citizens located about 15 miles north of St. Petersburg on the Gulf coast and across a big bay from Tampa. Clearwater attracts swarms of college partiers during spring breaks, but it likewise continues to set new year-round tourist records.
Often when the existing slacks up, gag grouper will increase from rocky holes in the bottom to strike, and it takes a bullish rod-pumping effort to keep them from holing back up.
Pelagics– Spanish and kingfish mackerel generally arrive in early March, which can be come across offshore of Clearwater Beach in much deeper water. My most successful tactic includes drifting in 30-plus feet of water and chumming with live sardines to get a great bite going. I drift dazed live bait in the chum.
A spoonful of types makes the rod pointers decrease..
Attempt casting ahead of its path and a freelined a threadfin herring or pinfish if you come across a poon rolling or cruising by.
Sheepshead choose fall months with cooler water, and theyre typically taken around oyster bars near residential docks by chumming with diced shrimp and tossing your baited hook amongst the fray.
The Gulfs version of the Intracoastal Waterway runs between the mainland portion of Clearwater and Clearwater Beach. Capt. Paul Hajash (noticable Hash), a retired firefighter from close-by Largo, hes been fishing and directing the Clearwater location given that the 1970s. Shoreline fishing is hit-and-miss because its usually shallow even on higher tidal stages on the eastern side of Clearwaters ICW. Redfish: Large numbers of red drum keep Clearwater anglers hectic year-round. Pelagics– Kingfish and Spanish mackerel generally arrive in early March, which can be encountered offshore of Clearwater Beach in deeper water.
For more details about Clearwater-area Beach tourist attractions and holiday details, contact Amplify Clearwater (727-724-461-0011, www.AmplifyClearwater.com).
Hashing It Out.
Trout– Although available year-round, its best from April to September, with April representing the best shots at big spotters surpassing three pounds. While cold-water temperatures that in some cases drop into the 50s seriously impact types such as snook, trout hold up well in winter season months (specifically afternoons as the moon increases) over the deeper grassflats or found following mullet schools.
Numerous anglers who travel fars away to fish frequently discover that their own yards produce as great or much better action. Ive definitely concerned recognize that in my hometown of Clearwater, Florida.
We took pleasure in an abundant day of catch-and-release fishing with the affable Capt. Hajash, and were preparing a repetition together in the near future.
My finest fishing experiences focused around casting condominium and residential docks along the ICW in between Sand Key Pass and Caladesi Island. Ive also slow-trolled deep-diving lures along the upcurrent sides of Bridge 60 and Sand Key Pass with some success on snook and tarpon.
In all cases, prior to moistening a line check the most recent fisheries policies with the Florida Fish & & Wildlife Conservation Commission (850-488-4676, www.MyFWC.com).
Redfish: Large numbers of red drum keep Clearwater anglers hectic year-round. Edges of oyster bars, lawn flats, around mangrove islands and any mudflats you experience will frequently include feeding redfish. Cut baits succeed and very same with gradually worked spoons. Warmer water temperatures in late spring through September appear to produce the larger reds over the 27-inch slot optimum.
Although outstanding accommodations will be experienced with top-level facilities at Clearwater Beach resorts such as the Hyatt, Sheraton Sand Key and Sandpearl, the East Shore Resort (727-442-3636, www.EastShoreResort.com) on the ICW side of Clearwater Beach supplies a private dock and a very efficient fishing pier.
Tarpon– May and June are premier months for larger tarpon. According to Capt. Jim Lemke of Tampa, who often guides off Clearwater, poons in the 120- to 130-pound class have actually been often caught on small blue or pass crabs near bridges, beaches and hands down strong tides during the brand-new and complete moon stages. Live mullet, pinfish or threadfins herrings work well– Lemke recommends capturing them on Sabiki hooks rather than with a castnet if crabs are scarce.
While a variety of little, shallow oyster bars simply off coastlines and seawalls can be readily observed in this location, its the oyster bars in much deeper water that generally produce better outcomes. These can be located from experience or with fish finders.
Do It Yourselfing.
Excellent seafood dining establishments in the location consist of Cooters Restaurant & & Bar (727-462-2668, www.Cooters.com) on Clearwater Beach.
If the fishing is sluggish, I occasionally chum by dropping upcurrent sliced up bits of the same bait Im using. When you observe a ravenous sheepshead or redfish appear, its likely inspecting the piling in hopes of identifying precisely what youre providing. Let the fish peck it off the stacking and set the hook.
For the majority of species likely to be experienced such as redfish, trout and black drum, Hajash favors 6 1/2- to 7-foot spin gear with about three feet of mono leader attached to 2/0 circle hooks. Reliable baits consist of live tail-hooked shrimp and headless-and-tailless pieces of thread herring.
Legions of out-of-town and local anglers are likewise beginning to appreciate the light-tackle angling benefits around Clearwater. While a discussion of Floridas spotlight species might flash the Keys in ones mind at reference of bonefish or the Indian River Lagoon at redfish, Clearwater is more about range than specialized.
” Lots of citizens in the condominiums rest on their decks and view the fishing action down below,” Hajash stated. “Sometimes theyll wave and point to where fish have been hitting. On one event, a male really looked up my boat registration and called me with ideas on where to cast.”.
After anchoring, we cast live shrimp and I immediately engaged a redfish. Kelly did likewise on her third cast and Hajash likewise followed match.
” I particularly like chunk baits for redfish when theres existing present,” stated Hajash. “Its best to let pinfish and other baitfish peck away at it. Doing so produces more aroma that reds will find and theyll home in on the bait and quickly rob it from smaller sized fish.”.
The very best shots at the most popular types depend on tides and lunar phases in addition to seasonal temperatures. With that in mind, lets take an appearance at some of the more popular nearshore types.
We chose to move and our next place involved fishing oyster bars on the eastern edge of Clearwater Harbor (part of the Intracoastal Waterway). That put us just south of the Clearwater Memorial Causeway Bridge, which is also frequently called “Bridge 60” by residents given that its an extension of State Road 60.
We upped anchor and Hajash utilized the electric motor to continue north along the Caladesi coastline. A black drum soon crashed the celebration after selecting a chunk-bait hors douevres, and Hajash worked it to boatside for a quick release.
Fortunately, the fishing portion of the pier is cordoned off. It costs just $1 for gain access to and offers rod leasings, bait and take on, treats, drinks and restrooms. No fishing license is needed.
With a livewell pulsing with shrimp, crabs, thread herring, scaled sardines and such, we were rigged and all set with light to heavy spin rigs in the console rod holders.
On our trip, water temperature was a warm 83 degrees with an inbound tide and a few days before the brand-new moon phase. Capt. Hajash visited the east side of Caladesi Island and silently poled within casting series of the mangrove shoreline.
Clearwater light-tackle guide Brian Caudall, who moonlights as a vocalist and acoustic guitar player, targets seatrout in spring on seagrass beds and sandy holes nearer to Clearwater and Hurricane passes. “In May and June, trout remove along troughs and beaches as well as seagrass beds and sandy potholes,” he said.
The first portion of the pier is completely jammed with travelers on weekends where vendor cubicles offer crafts, junk jewelry and souvenirs. Street entertainers entertain at the Pier 60 Pavilion on the beach in front of the pier. Its quite entertaining, sort of like a mini version of Key Wests Mallory Square.
Post first appeared as “Clearwater, Near and Dear” in the September 2016 concern of Florida Sportsman magazine and reprinted with their approval.
My favorite pier activity works at a lot of piers however its particularly reliable at Pier 60. It includes first capturing a bucketful of fiddler crabs on low-tide exposed tidal flat on the eastern side of the ICW or western parts of Tampa Bay. An alternative is sand fleas.
To fully experience fishing around Clearwater, contact Capt. Paul Hajash (727-251-2623, www.FlyfishingFlorida.com), Capt. Brian Caudill (727-365-7560, www.CaptBrian.com) or Capt. Jim Lemke (813-917-4989, www.LightTackleAdventurers.com).
Of course fishing around pilings dangers cutoffs, but if you dont roll the dice you wont get a 7.
At one point we identified a big bull shark cruising in just about 4 feet of water near the Caladesi coastline– ample reason enough to deter wade fishing hereabouts. Simply seeing that shark triggered a vibrant memory by Capt. Hajash.
Redfish, trout, black drum, snook, sheepshead and the like enjoy pecking around live oyster bars in search of munchies, and they appear to scare far less when they cant see you. We made casts to the edges of the bars and engaged in hookups with reds, trout, black drum and on one event a great snook scarfed the shrimp but cut the leader by darting into the sharp-edged oyster bed.
Fishing the Gulf beaches of Clearwater is seldom possible due to the presence of frolicking swimmers. Yard flats on either side of the ICW channel are excellent bets for reds and trout; several little islands in the ICW south of Caladesi Island where no internal combustion motors are allowed can sometimes deserve a go to for snook and reds.
Coastline fishing is hit-and-miss considering that its normally shallow even on greater tidal phases on the eastern side of Clearwaters ICW. Open shorelines are tough to come by on the western side of the ICW, however the waters deeper near the seawalls or hotel docks and fishing benefits mangrove snapper, reds and snook at night. In these cases I favor live crabs or pinfish to discourage bait thiefs, and keep the offering just off the bottom below a large white bobber.
Hajash likewise believes that hooking live shrimp through the tail better allows shrimp to fend off junk fish and deters burying out of sight in bottom lawn and sediments.
On the upcurrent side of a bridge piling encrusted with oysters, I flip the crab into the water so the existing brings it directly onto the piling. I sometimes lay flat on the deck with the rod pointed directly at the water to efficiently do this maneuver. The idea is for the fiddler to connect carefully and to naturally grasp onto the piling.
The action off the deep end of the 1,080-foot Clearwater Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach deserves a shot. As a basic rule Im not a fan of elbow-to-elbow fishing, so I only do this late-late in the evening in between March 1st and November 30th when the pier is open 24 hours and the fishing typically much better than colder water December through February.
The marine geography makes for interesting options. The Gulfs version of the Intracoastal Waterway runs in between the mainland part of Clearwater and Clearwater Beach. This develops chances for fishing beaches, mangrove islands, seagrass beds or flats, oyster bars, seawalls, bridge and dock pilings, and a 1,080-foot pier.
I utilize a No. 2 bronze hook embedded in one side of the shell (hook point upwards) and a little split shot secured above a three-foot 30-pound fluorocarbon leader.
” I had three men from Scotland aboard and among them hooked into a big shark,” he said. “After 2 hours into the fight, I suggested cutting the line, however quickly realized that the shark was still too green to do that close to the leader. After 5 hours and 15 minutes I lastly was able to reach down to grab its tail– it turned out to be an 11-foot lemon shark in the 450-pound variety.”.
Cobia appear from about March to July, and Capt. Caudill and others like to hunt for them around the Sand Key Bridge, Clearwater Pass, north of Honeymoon Island, following stingrays and often around inside buoys. Great baits involve crabs, grunts and threadfin herring.
Many schools of mullet swarmed the waters and stingrays frequently cruised by, using evidence that the coastline flats held a great deal of life. With the tide high and water warm, snook might be heard cavorting deep in the shaded comfort of the mangrove prop roots out of our sight– amazing to hear, however annoying to know that the linesiders ran out play.
Besides the excellent fishing action around Clearwater, another outside feature is viewing manatees, cetaceans, bald eagles, ospreys, roseate spoonbills and numerous other seabird species. Heck, I even get tickled simply enjoying pelicans doing their thing.
Snook: Live threadfin herring or scaled sardines rarely get ignored by snook, although linesiders can be easily handled practically any baits or lures when theyre active. Snook typically become more aggressive during March to May in addition to October and November as summertime water temperature levels drop. Excellent ambush points consist of points of islands, along Caladesi Island, along bridge pilings, oysters bars and in the eddies of the passes. Walking the pet dog with a Zara Spook or comparable topwater lure is my favorite approach.
” Near high tide phases, baitfish swim into the mangroves too and snook understand that,” Hajash said. Look for edges of mangrove-lined islands dry and almost high on the lower tide stages.”.
No matter what species you target or when you come, chances for lots of rod-bending action rate highly in Clearwater. Ill definitely be investing more time here myself than expecting the lawn to be any greener for the light-tackle saltwater enjoyable I crave.
Composed by Doug Kelly, photos by Kelly Kelly.
As real most everywhere, boat transportation uses access you cant always delight in when shore bound. Im currently in a between-boat stage, so striking Clearwaters locations by vessel recently includes opting for a skilled guide or a boat-bearing buddy.
A recent journey involved the latter. Capt. Paul Hajash (noticable Hash), a retired firefighter from nearby Largo, hes been fishing and assisting the Clearwater area because the 1970s. Hajash blended wife Kelly and I from the Seminole Street boat Dock early one morning in his 20-foot Back Country Pro Guide boat pressed by a 150 Mercury outboard.