Skyway Fishing Piers
Posted February 13, 2016
A week with gradually warming temperatures saw an increase in both baitfish & predatory activity as we approached the weekend at the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Piers. Sheepshead activity was high even in the cold weather, but fish seemed more willing to bite as waters warmed. Silver trout action remains solid – especially at the end of the North Pier – and many fish dinners were captured. Grunts and spottail pinfish also provided some entertainment for anglers concentrating on the artificial reefs. Shark activity began to pick-up again, with good numbers of sharpnose and bonnetheads cruising along the piers.
Sheepshead continue to gather around pier pilings, rock reefs and the rock retaining walls that form the entry sections to the piers. Anglers are sinking small shrimp and fiddler crabs near the pilings. Some visitors are also bouncing their offerings underneath the pier itself during the daytime hours. If clear skies seem to make fish in plain sight skittish, try the bouncing method in the same region fish were spotted.
Silver trout remain a reliable bite at the end of the North Pier. Shrimp and squid strips fished on offshore-style ‘chicken rigs’ slowly bounced along the bottom are deadly on silvers. Many anglers tie their own rigs with two Size #4 gold plated hooks placed on dropper loops and a pyramid or bell sinker hung below the hooks. Larger size sabiki-style baitfish rigs (Size #4 or 1/0) can also be deployed in the same manner, and will often take multiple silvers on one drop. For anglers who enjoy artificial lures, tandem jig rigs and pompano swim jigs bounced along the bottom are also very effective for these aggressive fish.
Visitors are taking good numbers of grunts & porgies from the artificial reefs that line each fishing pier. Fishing small strips of cut squid on larger sabiki-style bait rigs was the most productive method. Spottail porgies were the most common reef catch this past week, but many other species were also encountered.
As the weather warmed, waters cleared & baitfish returned to the piers, shark action began to rise over this past week. Baitfish moved a few hundred yards from the piers during the windiest days earlier this week, but they returned quickly as the week closed. Commercial bait fishermen surmised that baitfish sense the chance of being injured or crushed against pier pilings in the windiest high-seas weather, but will stay just a short trip from their traditional comfort zone. As these baitfish schools returned late Thursday, many nice-sized sharpnose sharks were taken along the piers. These lightning fast sharks gave anglers fishing medium-light spinning tackle quite a battle!
Hoop nets and bird rescue kits are in north and south bait shops. Please do not cut the line of hooked birds.
For anyone just getting in to fishing, I encourage you to come to the piers. It’s a friendly place with people from all walks of life. If you come out during the weekdays you will have more space to move about and the crew is not as busy as weekends so you can get plenty of help on what tackle to use and how to tie it. Kyle is on the south pier in the evenings to answer any questions you may have about grouper and shark fishing. On the North Pier, Big Mike, Jitterbug and Mike are all ready to give you tips or commiserate about the one that got away! All of our guys that work at both piers are helpful and good characters. Our shops are open 24/7, we stock all the pier tackle you will need, live and frozen bait, as well as snacks and drinks.
$4 per adult over 12
$2 per child 6-12
Kids 5 and under are free
Plus +$4 for your vehicle
There is no room to turn around RV’s, so they are not allowed. Slide on campers and Vans are welcome.