By Neil Taylor

Speckled trout is OK but not what it is going to be sometime in October to early November.    I’m not saying there are no opportunities but it just isn’t “out of summer” quite yet when it comes to this species.   Expect larger trout to become great targets with topwater lures before October wears out.   The smaller trout are easy to intercept and catch right now.    12 Fathom lures is all I use for trout, until that topwater situation gets a little better.   I have new topwaters from Mirrolure to try out.  

Pompano:   Just never happened in 2019.    Maybe it happened on days I didn’t try?    I doubt it.   They just didn’t show up in locations they had been caught every year prior.   Why?  No one knows.     The bridges have probably been better than the other locations.   They just never showed up in locations I have caught them for years.    Why??   No one knows.    It’s worth saying twice.   I don’t have the first clue.  

Mangrove snapper are also a great target around the greater Skyway region.    It has been a spectacular snapper year and they are still here.   A live bait situation:   Using sardines is good.   But they will eat fresh or live shrimp too.   Rocks.   You want to be fishing rocks.  

Rocks in six weeks:  Sheepshead will get started.   Gotta have winter started for that to happen.   But it’s coming.    Hot for three more weeks, we’ll see how soon we start getting fronts.   This, the southernmost part of our area, not as cold as the upper Bay.   Right now:  Those rocks have mangrove snapper on them.    One of the only fish open for harvest, they are a good one to target if you want a fish for dinner.    It will be interesting, how soon the first fronts arrive and what that brings.   There are locations to catch silver trout all over Tampa Bay.   You want areas that are 9 feet or deeper.    Areas around the Skyway bridge will have silver trout.  

*The lower Bay just continues to be great opportunities.    Again, in a battle that is never really over: The great work of FWC officers to target felony netters and keep an eye on other recreational offenders has led to better fishing for us all.  Their continued efforts to catch felony netters are making the south shore region return as a great fishery again.   But help them out:  Keep your eyes peeled for illegal activity and make a call if you see poaching, 888-404-FWCC (3922).  Your tips will help make cases and you could be eligible for a reward.   *

As always: Be careful out there!

Neil Taylor
Owner and guide:
(Cell) 727-692-6345
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First date: January 25, 2020

The idea surfaced and I decided to move forward with it. The Captain Mel Classic will remain in the spring. There will be a second one in the Fall every year. This year, it will be in winter. Moving forward it will be in October or November. A date for the first one will be announced soon.

The format: A trout tournament. Bonus species: Redfish. $3o registration. $10 for redfish. Payouts, farther out because there is no “combined inches” payout like in the Classic. Details on that will be announced after it is discussed in Committee.

“Terrific Trout Tampa Bay”A new event.    It will be in the Fall in the future but the first one will be this winter.    Low cost, buy in:  No charity, total payout.     Trout the main target makes payouts higher.    A buy in for longest redfish, the bonus species.   

The Classic format is popular.    This one will be a little different.    Trout, our most reliable species:   “Longest” fish will win the cash payouts.    That will go down to many winners with the last winners getting prizes from my sponsors.     No charity, higher payouts.    One species, higher payouts.     Length is the decider in a photo-release contest.    

Your input requested.    For the Classic, five divisions.  For this one, four.    Dropping Junior.   The kids can select one of the other four and compete.    Keep Open?   Keep No Motor?   Keep Ladies?   Keep Fly?    Have no divisions and it is everyone against everyone?     Please let me know your thoughts. 

Participation will be good.    I figure:   A Fall date every year spreads the two out good for me.    This year, the Fall upon us, I figured a wintertime date gives me more time to promote it.   
Thanks for everything and let me know if you are interested in being involved.Buy in will be $30, same as the Classic.   Buy in for Redfish, $10.    No charity, payouts will go farther.    No combined species, payouts will go farther.   
Sponsor donations will dictate what happens.   I might use them all for prizes to winners.   If I get what I get for the Classic, I’ll probably have the raffle.   I have told the sponsors they are not expected to donate.  So, I anticipate some will, some won’t.      I’d just assign donations to winners.   Cash paid out first, then prizes for smaller fish caught.   Again:  I am just talking my thoughts.   I haven’t discussed it all in committee yet.
Note:    The site for this one will be different.   Nelson’s Sports Bar in Clearwater.     I will keep the Captain Mel Classic at the Fat Cat Tavern.    Having this one at Nelson’s puts it 400 yards from my house.   On 590 at US 19.    Southeast corner.   

Neil Taylor

Full time kayak fishing guide, Neil was an advocate for conservation since before the time he started guiding.Outdoor writer, speaker and radio show host, Neil connected closely with Captain Mel Berman and did many positives with Mel to promote ethical angling. After Mel passed away, Neil managed and eventually became that web site’s owner.
Neil Taylor

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