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Spring has Sprung and the Fishing is “On the Hook” by Misty Wells

If you are planning a visit to Clearwater you need to carve out some time to go fishing, the Spring fishing is HOT and so is the Bite.  Right now if you are planning a trip off-shore you will be in for a reel treat the Red Grouper bite has really been great and they are in-season.  I would plan at least a half day trip off-shore to catch this tasty treat, you could book a private charter with many of our local charter fisherman or catch a ride on one of our party boats in the Clearwater Marina.  When fishing for Red Grouper you will be bottom-fishing which means you have a pretty good chance to run into some Hogfish, Triggerfish and Grey Snapper.  One thing to remember this time of year is to bring another rod to throw out a flatline because the Kingfish are just starting to show up and they are great to catch and to eat.  Kingfish are a pelagic fish which means they wander the sea’s and really are in our area hot & heavy a few times a year.  Charters out of Clearwater I recommend the Gypsy or Bottom Line Sport fishing for a private Offshore Trip or if you prefer something different and more budget friendly call the Double Eagle.  They are all located in Clearwater and they will put you on some nice fish.  


The Inshore bite has been heating up as well and Snook season has just opened here in the Bay.  Snook are a sought after prize here in Clearwater and just as tasty to eat, just be sure they measure between 28-33 inches.  Redfish and Trout have been very steady and plentiful as well for the Spring so you are sure to have a box full of fish for dinner.  Be on the lookout as well for the big prize “Silver King” aka as Tarpon, we have one of the best fisheries of Tarpon in the State of Florida so there is no need to head south when all the action is right here in Clearwater & Tampa Bay.  


When in Clearwater a bucket list item for sure has to be going fishing, you will create memories of a lifetime and have a great time.  You can find a good list of great captains by visiting my website at in the meantime if you have any questions or need some fishing tips send me and email at Tight Lines & Good Times

Misty Wells Host of “Let’s Take It Outside” TV show & National Radio show, Outdoor Pro –Writer & Adventure Guide for Fishing & Hunting trips. Founder of “A Reel Future” a non-profit organization devoted to sharing knowledge & passion of fishing and the great outdoors to foster kids Statewide. 

For show info or be a guest go to 





One of the fish we bring home most often is the grouper. There are a number of grouper species found in Florida. The gag, red, scamp and goliath groupers are the most abundant species, but you might also find Nassau, Red Hind, Rock Hind, Black, and Yellowfin. Though they'll eat just about anything, they won't travel very far to feed. When a grouper hits your line, you've got to set the hook immediately and prevent the fish from pulling the bait back into its hole.







Over 15 varieties of snapper are found in Florida waters; the most common species in the Gulf are the mangrove, lane, and red. Snapper fishing is among the easiest styles of saltwater angling to learn. They will eat live shrimp, small live pinfish, squirrel fish, and ballyhoo or chunks of cut bait. These also happen to be the same treats that attract grouper. The rules for snapper fishing are complicated due to their popularity and slow growth rate.







Amberjack are large, strong fish that live offshore and grow over 100 lbs. They put up quite a fight and will test any angler's strength. Most commonly found on menus in a smoked fish spread, the amberjack has a stronger flavor than grouper or snapper. AJ's will eat almost any bait and are often caught while fishing for other species. With a 28" minimum, you can bet on a fight to bring home a keeper.







Not to be confused with the dolphin, this fish is one of the most beautiful and delicious in the Gulf. Dolphin are a very structure-oriented game fish, ordinarily hanging around weedlines or various pieces of flotsam. They are apparently not very long-lived, but grow very fast - reaching at least eighty pounds. They feed on squid, flying fish, and many other baits.







Frequently called "smokers" for what they do to a reel when they first hit a line, Kingfish can be found in the spring and fall in the Gulf waters. Kings tend to hunt in schools, herding bait into a small area - baitfish often try to hide behind each other, with the resulting formation of a tightly packed “ball” of bait. Sharp teeth and fast movements create quite a stir when this fish hits a bait.








Blackfin tuna find their way into the Gulf in large schools. These fish are a lively fight, eating topwater baits but running with force as soon as they're hooked.

A shrimp boat on the horizon usually means an eager school of tuna; they tend to feed on the crustaceans and small fish the shrimpers toss from their nets.








Cobia are a delicious fish that live inshore or nearshore. Common cobia weigh around 30 lbs, though 50+ lb fish can be found a bit farther offshore. Adults are often solitary or travel with just a few other individuals, frequently in the company of sharks. This makes them a difficult species to target, and capture is therefore often incidental. Despite this, however, cobia is a highly sought after food fish.







Two species of flounder can be found in the Gulf waters near Tampa Bay: the Gulf Flounder (generally up to 15" and 2 lbs) and the Southern Flounder (larger, up to 3' and 20 lbs, but most are 1-5 lbs). Flounder provide an excellent, lean white meat. These fish prefer live to dead bait. Live shrimp retrieved slowly along the bottom often produce excellent results. Although many are taken by rod and reel, "floundering" or gigging offers the best challenge for this species. The flounder is vulnerable to this technique because it often enters the shallows at night to feed.







Permit live offshore near wreckage and rock formations and also inshore on turtle grass flats, sand flats, and outlining channels. The Permit gives a powerful fight once hooked with steady fast runs, and many quick changes of direction. Pound for pound their fight is as good as it gets. On average permit are selective rather than opportunistic feeders. They seem to have a varied diet, but usually feed exclusively on one organism per feeding period.







Similar to the Permit, the Pompano is smaller, usually weighing up to 8 lbs. Pompano are one of the most delicious fish to eat (they fetch the highest market price of any saltwater fish from the commercial fish houses in the continental U.S.), they can be caught from the surf on light tackle, and they put up a tenacious fight making numerous, long runs.







The elusive snook lurk usually inshore in coastal and brackish waters, along mangrove shorelines, seawalls, and bridges; also on reefs and pilings near shore. Most snook caught fall between 18 and 30 inches, but large specimens have pushed well beyond the 52-inch mark and weighed in at over 50 pounds. They are highly sensitive to water temperatures, preferring very warm waters; they can't survive for long in water temperatures below 60 degrees.







The redfish, or red drum, has been found to weigh up to 94 pounds although most large ones average between 30 and 40 pounds. In shallow water settings, redfish are often seen "tailing," or grubbing for food in such a manner that their tail fins are exposed above the surface of the water. Usually inshore in shallows and flats, large reds can also be caught from beaches and piers during the winter months.







Tarpon are one of the most exciting saltwater fish to catch. They are aggressive and put up a legendary fight. While they live mostly inshore, they spawn offshore. They grow up to 8 feet in length and sometimes weigh 200 pounds. The tarpon must gulp air from the surface to survive, even in highly oxygenated water. The term for this is "rolling." Rolling tarpon can easily be spotted at the surface of the water by an angler. Unfortunately, casting to a rolling tarpon will not always result in a strike, and they can be rather finicky at times. They are among the toughest battlers once hooked and should be released unharmed if caught as they have virtually no food value.










Trolling is for the beginners and experienced anglers alike. This is the type of trip we recommend if you have kids or if you just want to go out and have a lot of fun and of course catch some great eating fish! Trolling is an absolute blast and typically there is consistent action so you or the kids don't have a chance to get bored! Basically, the boat is constantly on the move circling over the bait piles and bigger fish, trolling the lines in the water and when a fish hits the lure or spoon, it's your job to reel it in! You won't be anchored up for this kind of fishing. This kind of fishing is typically done year-round. Trolling fish are as follows: King Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel, Barracuda, Bonito, Cobia. *Black Fin Tunas typically in May, Mahi Mahi and possibly Sailfish in the summer.


Amberjack Fishing

Amberjack Fishing This is a year-round fish to catch! Amberjack is a big fish and a heck of a lot of fun! This trip usually requires an 8 hour trip or longer depending on time of year. You might want to pump some iron before you take on this fish! If you want a big fighting fish, this is your fish!


Bottom Fishing

Bottom Fishing is fun for everyone! Experienced or a beginner? The Captain takes you to the fishing spot, anchors the boat, baits your hooks (unless you like to bait your own) you drop your baits down to the bottom, and get ready for the Grouper Bite...sometimes the bite is instant and sometimes they nibble on your bait just to tease you. Your reaction time is imperative to catch these fish. You have to be able to react on that bite in order to get that Grouper up off the bottom or out of its hole! This type of fishing is quite challenging but a lot of fun! 


By the way, Bottom Fishing will at times cause you to blurt out various phrases and choice words you didn't realize you knew or haven't used since High School or College! Yup...these Grouper sure can get a rise out of just about anyone. Challenging...but rewarding! 


The best time to fish for the grouper is in the cold months: November through end of January.


Shark Fishing 

This trip should definitely go into your "to do list". Imagine being one-on-one with a shark. Now is a great time to go shark fishing. You out to the spot, anchor the boat, set out a chum line (puts scent into the water) and drop some big baits down. Then it becomes a waiting game...and then you get a "hook up"! Get ready to play tug of war with a shark! It's an absolute blast! Exhilarating and sometimes exhausting, but the reward is the experience itself, and of course the bragging rights. Typically the best time to fish for shark is in the late day (please call for departure times). Usually we catch Black Tip Sharks, but we do get Hammer Heads, Tigers, Bull Sharks, Nurse Sharks and some Reef and Sand Sharks.
Finally, we do practice catch and release unless you plan on eating the shark.



Information courtsey of Above Average Fishing Charters