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Beat the heat with shark fishing



When it gets hot and muggy, anglers look to feed their fishing need without draining their energy or budget. Now is the best time to find many species of shark close to shore. Most sharks move toward the beach at night and can be found nearby in the morning. Once the sun comes up, sharks move toward deeper water to avoid the heat. Sharks feed on almost anything they can catch, normally targeting mackerel or ladyfish near area passes. Hammerheads and bulls are notorious for feeding on the prized catch of tarpon anglers. The vicious strike of a hammerhead on a tarpon is an awe-inspiring sight. Several shark species are good table fare. Our favorite: The blacktip spinner, often considered the acrobat of the gulf and one of the most tasty of all sharks. Legally, you’re allowed one shark per person or two per boat. Simply taking a shark because you can isn’t prudent for man or beast. Personally, we release all females and the bigger males to reproduce. You should keep only medium-size males if your desire is a shark for the grill. Quickly and thoroughly ice your catch since the meat spoils fast in the heat. Shark fishing is a summer-long activity and a favorite for nighttime anglers as a way to beat the heat. Traveling a short distance from the beach helps preserve precious fuel but still produces exceptional low-budget sport fishing.

Larry Blue charters the Niki Joe from Madeira Beach Marina. Call (727) 871-1058 or visit captainlarryblue.com.

With storm season here, good time to check all safety equipment



Strong west winds and heavy rain have detoured us from running too far from shore the past few days. Summer weather patterns can be full of surprises. It’s always best to keep a close eye on the weather during this time. West winds normally bring storms in front the gulf to the shoreline. These storms can be severe. Strong winds, lightning and water spouts are common. This past few days have been a challenge. On Friday we saw a smaller boat sunk near shore. No fatalities were reported, but it keeps your guard up. Knowing all of your safety equipment is up to date is a must. Monitor the weather during these situations. There are many great phone apps that show radar and wind speeds for each area. These apps update by the minute, allowing viewers to better understand conditions as they arise. A VHF radio is also a great new safety tool. Listeners can hear updated weather reports and get severe weather warnings with these devices.

Dave Mistretta captains Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 439-2628 or visit jawstoo.com

Don’t waste fuel — plan ahead for permit trip



Offshore wrecks and artificial reefs are holding large schools of permit. With the high cost of fuel, reliable coordinates are the main concern when heading offshore for permit. I have a network of friends I trust to put me on fish. Permit will eat barnacles, shrimp and crabs that live off the bottom structure. Before heading offshore, fill the well full of crabs the day before and keep them alive overnight with a portable aerator. The strongest outgoing tides toward the end of the day are the best way to locate crabs. The grass lines formed by the current usually attract these critters. Once I get to my wreck of choice, I anchor up using a high-definition GPS trolling motor. All I have to do is put the trolling motor in the water and hit the “anchor” button on the remote. If I’m off my mark, I can “jog” the boat left or right with the touch of the arrow buttons. No more dropping a clunky anchor again. Due to the size of permit, use slightly heavier tackle. Ten-pound gear is too light to pull large fish from deep water. Thirty-pound braid with a long 30-pound fluorocarbon leader is needed. Permit have large eyes and become leader shy if you use anything heavier than 30-pound fluorocarbon. A large 6000 series reel capable of holding 300 yards or better of line is needed. Permit will peel off line in seconds when first hooked.

Rob Gorta charters out of St. Petersburg. Call him at (727) 647-7606 or visit captainrobgorta.com.

Summertime pattern on the way back



The summertime heat is in full swing. Looks like we will finally get back to our summertime pattern with the rain this week. Winds should be shifting from the West back to coming out of the East. We could use the rain over the water in the afternoon. This could help bring the water temperature down over night. It is currently sitting around 90 degrees. You will only be able to spend the first couple of hours of the day on the flats with water temperature this warm. After that, you will need to follow the fish to deeper water where it is cooler. The snook bite has been the best on the outgoing tide. Look for them to be in deeper holes in the passes and beaches. Scaled sardines are the bait of choice and can found everywhere throughout the bay. Surprisingly, some big speckled trout are being caught in 6 feet of water on the outgoing tide. We caught quite a few 26-inch fish this past week. Freeline a scaled sardine and in no time, you could have your limit. Mangrove snapper can save a fishing day when it just gets too hot on the flats. The shipping channels and bridges are holding some nice fish. Scaled sardines fished with a knocker rig will do the job. Remember, just use enough weight to get it down to the bottom.

Mike Gore charters out of Tampa Bay. Call him at (813) 390-6600 or visit tampacharters.com.

Adapt fishing strategies to weather



Inshore fishing has been pretty good in north Pinellas. Dodging storms is common during summer. But on sunny days, summer temperatures can increase the water on the flats to over 90 degrees. That’s when I fish the passes and the beaches for snook, trout and many other species that make their way toward the cooler waters. However, on occasion, I’ll run to near shore reefs and hard bottom areas with structure, usually 4 to 6 miles offshore. There has been a plethora of fish to catch. Mangrove snapper, mackerel, cobia, hogfish, grunts and a bunch of undersized grouper and occasionally one over the minimum length in the shallow depths. Cut squid or shrimp pieces are a guarantee for lots of bites, mostly from the smaller species. Grouper are eating pinfish or large sardines regularly and freelined sardines work well for the mackerel. Hang a chum block over the side to attract the fish to your location. Chumming with a few of the live baits onboard can also bring the fish off the bottom to chase the bait. There is always a chance to hook something very exciting like a large cobia, redfish or one of several species of sharks that inhabit our waters. Making that short run on calm days can provide all the action you need when the water temperatures inside are high, especially during low tide situations.

Brian Caudill fishes from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. He can be reached at (727) 365-7560 and captbrian.com.



Fishing is fun.       Really, it is pretty easy.    But almost monthly you will see someone getting killed doing it.   What can happen?   Think about it.    You may come up with some things I never thought of.   I can tell you:  I feel I am prepared for whatever might happen.

July through September, the chances of being caught in a massive thunderstorm are very possible.       Have a plan.   Don’t become a statistic.

I don’t care how you are doing it.    If you make the wrong choice in the wrong situation, you are in a major jam.     Me:   I practically hold the record for most time on the water and not being in life threatening situations.     There is a reason for that:   I make good decisions.

For you:  To be more like me, what do you do?        It is a combination of things.   First off, take the time to talk to other people.   Study things that “could happen.”     If you know things that could happen you can think about it before it happens and have a plan.        Assertive enough, you can get by but it is best to have thought through the possible pitfalls.

What to do?     I will tell you.   There are some options.

Winds and weather.     People who get in a major jam often went out when I wouldn’t have.     In a kayak, deep water and high winds is a bad mix.     You have high current, high wind and water you cannot stand up in and you have the situation where you may be in a major jam.      On days where the wind is howling, go fishing, but go to areas where you are protected.   Areas where if you end up in the water you can stand up.

Phones now make it easy.    Get the right radar ap.   Get notifications when there is major weather pending and that give you time to escape it.    Best case scenario:   Back to the launch, loaded up and head home.      There will be times where that won’t be an option.      A storm pops up right on top of you.      You need to predesignate:  “Safe spots.”   Every location you go fishing, where are you going to go to sit out a storm?      For me it is almost always on an island.    You secure your kayak and you have a nice place to sit it out on the island.    Wait for the storm to pass.      Much better to sit it out for an hour at a safe spot than to die of drowning trying to do something else.

In wide open water?   Is it less than three feet deep?    I would get out of the kayak and hold onto it while the storm goes through.      Shallow enough:  Get on your knees and hold on to your kayak.   Out with someone, do the same thing but get together.     You can set up where your boats aren’t beating on each other but you are sticking together.

Getting home safe:  You can do it 1000 ways.    Most of the time it isn’t a challenge.     But when it is:  Do you know what to do.     It only happens once in 1000 trips.    But are you going to make the choices that lead to success?   Success is “not dying.”    And make no question, if you do it wrong, you could get killed.

You screw up.   You let your paddle get away.      You have lost your motor.      What do you do?    If you have a phone and can call someone, that is obviously a solution.   If that is not an option what do you do?      I tested this one out.      I had someone take my paddle and told them I wanted to see if I get could home without one.    I waited for a tide switch.     I laid down where I could use my arms as paddles.     I had a slight breeze.   Using the tide and the breeze I made it back to the launch is basically no time.      Trying it half an hour earlier without the tide change:   It wouldn’t have worked.

You are out in low light conditions.   Where do you go?   I go in areas where it is literally impossible for a boat to be running at any speed.      That is intentional.   The fish are in there and it is relaxing to know that there is no way you can get run over by a power boat.      Stay away from the higher traffic areas but if you do frequent areas where you can encounter power boats, light yourself up and light yourself up GOOD.

In your supplies:    Do you have aspirin?   Twice in 14 years clients had heart problems and giving them that one aspirin might have saved both of them.    That applies even if you aren’t out fishing.    But when you are out in the middle of nowhere:   Regular aspirin is what you take or what you give to someone that may have a myocardial infarction.   A small thing, twice giving a guy a single aspirin got him to the hospital alive.  


“I was out fishing this morning around the skyway rest stop area and only caught one 13inch trout.  I then decided to fish the bridge and I was not far behind another kayak fisherman.  When I turned the corner, he was in the water holding on to his kayak and the bridge piling.  A rope was tangled around his leg.  His pfd floated away and he was not able to get back on his kayak.  The incoming current was ripping!  He was lucky I saw him.  It was a struggle, but I helped him get back on the kayak and I towed him to safety.  He was physically spent.”

“I didn’t listen.   You told me not to do certain things.   I pushed it.   I went out in a thunderstorm.    Open water, heavy rain, probably 50 mph wind.   I lost gear.   I was lucky that was all I lost.   I got thrown upside down.   The water was five feet deep.      It was a challenge to hold on to the kayak and have my toes on the bottom.    I had to fight it for about half an hour before the storm passed.      I did remember what you told me:   My PFD was in a readily available position.   I had it on right after I hit the water.    Your suggestion:   Made this situation less stressful.        Had I been in deeper water I think I would have still survived it because you taught me to keep that vest where I could get to it.    But it would have been stressful.     I will never do it again.    I will get somewhere when it happens again.    Just like you told me:  Being caught in open water in a storm is a mistake.”

“your lessons continue to pay off.      I got caught in my first pop up storm.    I was in the middle of nowhere.    You told me if it happened and the water was shallow enough:  Get out and sink my knees in the mud, holding on to my kayak.    That is what I did.    Probably 45 minutes.    It was a monster storm.   Pretty sure that was a waterspout that went right by me.      The storm passed, I got back in the kayak and caught some fish.    Any other decision I could have made may have put me in peril.     “

Beware of afternoon storms

“I got caught in the highest wind I have ever seen on Tampa Bay.    It had to be 50 or greater.     I could not make any ground.    I could not get to an island (like you suggested when you trained me.)    In wide open water, I dropped anchor, trolleyed it to the back, leaned back, and rode it out.    After it was over:  No problem.    You told me that dropping anchor and sitting still could be the solution in a tough situation.      Thanks to you telling me:  That’s what I did.     I really encountered nothing dangerous once I put that anchor down to just sit it out.       Had I kept going who knows what could have happened.”

“Part of the Neil Taylor lessons.     Lightning is around, get all the rods laid down, try to get off a flat open area.       One heck of a lightning storm, perhaps the best I have ever seen.    I laid my rods down in the boat.     I tried to take cover but couldn’t get to where I wanted to.       Twice lightning hit within 25 yards of me.     I always wonder if I would have been hit if my rods weren’t down inside my kayak.     They were in the rod holders.     Your tip:   Might have saved my life.”

“I pity the person that doesn’t listen to you.  You told me what to do if I get in a major situation.      It got bad.    It got REEELY bad.     I got to an island.    I got the kayak secured.   I watched a storm just destroy everything.   Except me.   Just like you said:   you pointed at that island and told me *go there if you have a storm pop up on you*.    What happened?    A storm popped up.     I was fine.    I wouldn’t have been fine if I didn’t know to go there.    Thank you.”

It is up to you.      You can be the solution.   You can be the problem.    I like to have a drink.   But I don’t do it out on the water.   I do it at home.     Use precautions.   Don’t overdo it when you are out there.      Check your weather.     “Keep an eye to the sky”.   Watch for things that may be popping up on you.     Be ready for the unexpected.     Get that life vest on if there is ANYTHING out of the ordinary going on.   Get out of the open water situation and find cover.    If that’s not possible, try to get shallow, get all the rods laid down and ride it out.  

Nature Coast, William Toney


So far scallop season has been as good as it can be. No accidents, no major crowds and plenty of scallops. West and north west of St. Martins Keys is the most scallops but the ones that I’ve seen at the cleaning stations have been on the small side. Some the size of a quarter. These would be best left in the water to mature to a more productive size. The half dollar size and larger do have some good size muscle. Further south past the Chassahowitzka Tower the scallops are larger.

 The near shore rocks have been producing some nice mangrove snapper and big grunt with live shrimp. Offshore the red snapper bite has been good out at 60 to 70 feet. Bring a variety of baits like sardines, live pinfish or from local Capt. Zach Hoffman use some fresh caught bonito to get the limit. High incoming tide this weekend will be mid morning this weekend.

Home Boy


People feel either safe or put out when they work around Neil Taylor

By Dan Zelger, Staff Writer

West Valley View, Avondale, AZ     July 12, 1995

As a child, Neil Taylor was not unlike other boys-he would often lie on his bed, gaze at the posters of baseball stars on the walls and fantasize about someday making it to the big leagues.

Now two years out of college, the Litchfield Park native is a man approaching the edge of that dream.   Currently in his first season in Class A ball, Taylor expects to make a move up the minor-league ladder very soon.

However, if the 24-year-old does reach the majors, it won’t be the way he envisioned while in his bedroom.    His playing career finished after high school; Taylor no longer makes outs, he calls them.  

The Agua Fria Union High School alumnus has become an umpire.

“After high school, my days as a player were pretty much over” Taylor said via telephone from his hotel room in St Lucie, FL where he is working Gulf Coast League games this season.

“But I wanted to stay in the game.   At first, I guess umpiring was just a way to make a little extra money while in college.   But it really appealed to me.   Once I got out of school, I knew I wanted to do this for a living.

Taylor has chosen a line of work in which there isn’t a lot of glory to go around.

“When they build new stadiums these days, some have forgotten to put umpire locker rooms in them,” Taylor said.   “We’re kind of like the invisible part of the game.”


After graduating from the University of Arizona in 1993, Taylor started pursuing umpiring as a career.   He spent his last two winters attending a school conducted by veteran National League umpire Harry Wendelstedt.

This past winter, he finished high enough in his class to earn one of 34 invitations to Major League Baseball’s Umpire Development Program in March.   There, he received assignments to work extended spring training.   And then the Gulf Coast League games.

“It’s hard to say how things will go because I just got started, but I could move up to another level soon” Taylor said.    “It could be to a higher development level in A ball, maybe the Appalachian League or somewhere else.    Then after the season, it’s anybody’s guess.”

When baseball finally reaches a collective bargaining agreement between the management and players, Taylor said, he could possibly earn a promotion to Class Double AA.

Usually, three umpires work an AA game, but due to budget cuts brought on by the national pastime’s labor problems, there have only been two this season.

When a new agreement is reached, the third umpire will be reinstated.   That should create a number of openings, one of which could be for Taylor.


Even if Taylor receives his promotion to AA soon, his chances of making it to the major-league level are still limited.   The odds of an umpire’s reaching “The Show” are even longer than for a player.

The major league roster of umpires is about 70 names long, and openings are few and far between.

“The sad fact is that most guys won’t make it” Taylor said, “It’s not like players, where there is a lot of turnover.   The only way you make it up to the majors is if one guy either retires or dies.

When the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays begin play in 19998, four more umpire spots will be added to the major-league level.   However, that only slightly improves Taylor’s chances.

“But I don’t worry about it that much,” Taylor said.    “It’s still early in my career, and all I can do is work hard and do the best I can to improve.    It doesn’t make much sense to sit around and worry about it.    I’m only concerned about my next call.”

In that regard, Taylor gets tested every game-not only in making the standard calls, but dealing with those who take exception to his decisions.    During a contest last week, Taylor had to deal with one belligerent pitching coach who was chastising him from the dugout.

“He was delivering some cheap shots,” Taylor said.   “It wasn’t one of those guys who just disagrees with your call.   He just wanted to be a pain.”

Taylor said that his patience with the pitching coach eventually wore thin-and he finally tossed him out of the game.   As Taylor recalled the story, one could tell from his voice that he was wearing a wry smile.

“Yeah, I took care of him, all right” Taylor said.


This article, year one of an eleven year career, spanning the entire minor leagues and several hundred big league games.    Neil amassed six championship series, two All Star games and was crew chief 7 of his 11 seasons.    

Panhandle, Daniel Snapp


Wow, what an exiting summer so far. I have been extremely busy. Locals and vacationers are enjoying what the beautiful Panama City area has to offer and it seems like everyone wants to go fishing! I have had numerous calls and instant messages on Facebook inquiring about the area and how to target specific fish. I appreciate the questions and enjoy talking to everyone and of course listening to all of the fishing stories.

Up on the flats, the red fish and trout bite has been either on or off for a lot of anglers from what I’m hearing. Hopefully you have been one of the lucky ones and have been able to find and stay on fish. This time of year can be difficult due to the heat, however, if you get an early start or fish late in the afternoon you can increase your odds of catching some fish. If you have a problem with artificial lures you may want to try live bait. The bait has been thick in a lot of the bayous and out around some of the points throughout the bays. Get a livewell full and fish them on the bottom, under a popping cork, or simply just free-line them over a grass flat or drop off. If needed, throw some out into the water to turn the bite on.

Off the beaches there are several species to target this time of year. Tarpon, Sharks, Jacks, Kings, and Bonita all will make for a great day on the water. These fish can be targeted with live bait, artificial lures, and my personnel favorite, fly fishing! For details on rigging, give me a call or stop by a local tackle store for everything you will need.

It should go without saying, but this time of year you need to stay hydrated. Take in plenty of fluids throughout the day.

Good luck!

As always, I encourage you to give me a call if you have questions about fishing in the

Panhandle at (850) 832-4952 or for additional information about Grassy Flats Charters, please visit


In addition, checkout “Grassy Flats Charters” on Facebook for the most recent pictures and video’s along with “Grassy Flats Charters” on Youtube and Instagram.

Direct Links:





Captain Daniel Snapp

Grassy Flats Charters

“Sight Fishing the Emerald Coast”

(850) 832-4952

July 2018, Grassett Fly Fishing

Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota, FL Fly Fishing Forecast for July 2018
Tarpon will be a good option this month. Some of the best action will be with trout, blues, pompano and more on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Catch and release night snook fishing in the ICW or in the surf should also be good options. With water temperatures pushing 90 degrees, shallow water action for reds and big trout will be best early and late in the day.
Tarpon fishing should be good in the coastal gulf this month, although May and June were below average. Record rainfall in May caused rough and dirty water causing some cancellations and poor conditions on other trips. Then red tide, fueled by runoff, reared its ugly head in June pushing large numbers of tarpon out to deeper water. That being said, July is my favorite month to fly fish for tarpon. Large schools of tarpon will dwindle in size and numbers to singles, doubles and small schools of post spawn fish. I usually find tarpon to be aggressive and curious in July, with spawning completed and after a long migration, they usually feed aggressively. The tactics are the same as earlier in the season, anchoring or staking out on travel routes, although fish are in a better mood. Unlike the large tarpon schools that we see around full and new moon phases in June, July fish are usually aggressive. Large schools of tarpon are impressive, but if you spook the lead fish you will spook all of them. Smaller baitfish, shrimp and crab patterns seem to work well late in the season.
Tarpon will thin out towards the end of the month as they begin to move to inside waters of Sarasota Bay, Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor. They move into these areas to rest and feed following spawning where they can be targeted in these areas with flies. Also look for tarpon feeding in schools of “breaking” ladyfish in these areas. I have done well fishing inside areas late in the season with wide profile flies, such as Lefty’s Deceiver or EP flies. When tarpon show up to feed in ladyfish schools, cast to feeding tarpon and strip the fly very slowly to present a large profile to fish cruising the edges of the school and to avoid ladyfish bites.
Catch and release snook fishing will also be a good option this month. With very warm water this time of year, it is important to use tackle heavy enough to land them quickly. Fly anglers should do well with clear intermediate sink tip lines and wide profile flies, such as Lefty’s Deceiver or EP flies, since larger baitfish may be more predominant. Docks and bridges close to passes should be the best ones. You’ll also find snook in the surf, where you can walk along the beach and sight cast to them in shallow water. The same flies that work at night usually also work in the surf, although be observant of the size baits that are present in the area you are fishing so you can “match the hatch”.
Reds should be very active in shallow water this month, although redfish action has been below average for some time. With plentiful baitfish and higher tides, they should spend more time feeding over shallow grass flats. Look for them along the edges of bars or in potholes when the tide is low or along mangrove shorelines and around oyster bars when the tide is high. You’ll also find big trout in many of the same areas where you find reds, but the bite for big trout is usually best early or late in the day. I tie my Grassett Flats Minnow in a larger size this time of year to match the size and profile of pilchards or pinfish that are plentiful. Fly poppers and Gurglers may draw some big explosions!
Trout will be plentiful on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. I like to drift and cast ahead of my drift with weighted flies on sink tip fly lines to find fish. Diving birds or baitfish “dimpling” on the surface are signs that predators may be present. A drift anchor will slow your drift to a more manageable speed if it’s windy. You may also find Spanish mackerel, blues, pompano and more mixed with trout on deep grass flats. You’ll need to add 6” of 60-pound fluorocarbon to your leader when toothy fish are in the mix. Flats close to passes or on points that get good tidal flow, like the Middleground, Radio Tower and Marina Jack flats or Stephens and Bishop Points are usually productive.
In addition to tarpon, you might find false albacore (little tunny), Spanish mackerel, tripletail or cobia in the coastal gulf this month. Look for mackerel and albies feeding on the surface. You might even find a stray king mackerel in the mix around feeding frenzies. I have seen large schools of albies “blitz” the beach while tarpon fishing this time of year. They are usually feeding on larger baits, such as threadfins or pilchards. You might find cobia swimming with tarpon or cruising bars in shallow water along the beach. You can use your tarpon fly tackle for cobia, but an 8 to 9-weight fly rod will be better suited for mackerel and albies. I also occasionally run into tripletail in July, either around a crab trap float, buoy or floating debris.
There are lots of options this month, late season tarpon, snook in the surf or at night or fishing skinny water for reds or big trout. Tarpon fishing is usually best when sweat is pouring down your back, but you’ll want to fish early in the day in inside waters. I think we have some serious water quality issues in our state and we need to do whatever is necessary to fix it. Our natural resources are under constant pressure; please limit your kill, don’t kill your limit!
Tight Lines,
Capt. Rick Grassett
FFI Certified Fly Casting Instructor
Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters
Orvis Outfitter of the Year-2011
Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.
(941) 923-7799