Capt. Sergio’s Corner – Fall Fishing Tackle Tips By: Capt. Sergio Atanes                                       

November is the month I pick to get my tackle in shape for the Fall and the start of my favorite month for fishing.  Preparing your fishing tackle for the Fall fishing is a must. Update your tackle with different colors on your artificial baits and medium running baits. Also, change out to lighter leader material and hook sizes.

Here are a few tips:

·        Give your reels a good cleaning by loosening the drags and lubricating the gears.  If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, there are several good tackle dealers in Tampa who can service your reels at a reasonable price.

·        Check the line guides on your rods for any scratches or nicks. Use cotton swabs, or borrow a pair of panty hose from your wife when she’s not looking and cut it into small strips. It will last a long time so, don’t worry, she won’t miss one panty hose.  Now, run the cotton swab or piece of panty hose through the guide. If the panty hose clings or the cotton sticks to the guide, replace the guide or risk losing a fish later.  A slight scratch or cut on the guide will cut your line under pressure from a pulling fish. (Figure A)

·        At the end of the day, never put your hook on the guide if your rod doesn’t have a built-in hook holder, as this can and will scratch the guide. Instead, take an electrical nylon tie with a screw hole built in and place it just above the top grip on the rod. This allows a place for the hook to sit (Figure B)

·        Most anglers take too much tackle on a fishing trip. Remember the last time you went on a vacation with your wife, and she brought half the closet along? There are many new small soft sided tackle boxes that can handle all your needs.  I suggest you leave most of your tackle at home, and replenish your tackle box as needed.  In addition, small medicine bottles work great for hooks and small sinkers to keep on the console of the boat and use as needed. (Figure C)

Hopefully the honey dos are done, and your tackle is ready for fishing.  Remember, fishing heats up as the water temperature drops.

November will bring lower water temperatures and an increase in fish activity.  Look for snook cruising the mangrove shorelines of creeks and rivers. Live shrimp or fresh cut ladyfish are one of their favorites in the Fall.

Flounder will hit jigs tipped with shrimp bounced on the bottom under docks.

Bigger trout move into the channels and deeper cuts around the mangroves.

Redfish will start their move under docks and around bridges looking for food. Live shrimp are one of the best baits just before the change of the tide.

Sheepshead (bait stealers of Tampa Bay) start their migration looking for mates and can be found around rocky bottoms, bridges and docks.  This is the start of the season to fish for them until late February when they move back out to the gulf waters.  Live shrimp, dead shrimp or fiddler crabs are best baits.

Grouper action gears up, as the bigger gags move closer to shore and make their appearance around the Skyway Bridge and the Ships Channel. Cut bait with a small strip of squid will increase the bite.

Best live baits: Shrimp, mud minnows, small silver dollar size pinfish and fiddler crabs.

Artificial baits:  Saltwater assassin (soft bait) – MirrOlure (hard bait).

Good fishing and tight lines.