Capt. Sergio’s Corner My Biggest Catch By: Capt. Sergio Atanes

The future of fishing lies on the shoulders of the younger generation. We hope, sometime in their future, they can become great anglers and boaters.  Not every child can be athletic, but every child can be an angler with just a little help and guidance.

Last year I was able to start a Kids Fishing Clinic out on Picnic Island Park with the help of many of my local sponsors and the support of Mayor Jane Castor. This year, with the support, once again, from the Mayor and the RISE Foundation, we were able to make it better and bigger.  We helped over 150 kids learn how to fish. Each child received a rod and reel, plus a tackle tray with tackle to help them get started.  We had 15 volunteer captains who donated their time–14 police volunteers, CCA, FWC, Police Dive team, some parents and, of course, 158 kids.

Our goal was to get the kids involved with the great outdoors this area has to offer and, hopefully, make a bond with one of their parents. This was something both could do together and have some memorable time.  Thanks to the Mayor, the Police helicopter did a fly over showing support and, an hour later, the Tampa Fire boat put on a show for the kids.

Here is how it all came down. 158 kids learned how to fish from some of the best captains in the area. The CCA (Coastal Conservation Association) taught them about conservation and their program for scholarships. The FWC talked about all the different species available in the area to catch and the proper ways to handle and release them.  Special thanks to Dylan Hubbard who, for the second year, helped us with the offshore species section of the program.  And, a very special thanks to all the parents who, without them, their kids wouldn’t be there to give me the biggest catch of the year–new anglers for our future.

August Fishing Report: August could be a hit-or-miss month. It depends on the amount of rain and the temperatures. The phrase “Dog Days of Summer” has its largest impact this month.  I like to fish under bridges for mangrove snapper, snook, black drum and over slot redfish. First, it’s cool under the bridges and second, it’s a great gathering place for the big boys.  The water temp under the bridges seems to be just a few degrees cooler due to the current flow. Also, the bridge pillars hold an abundance of food. The only problem is that other species also like the area under the bridges. So, yes, you are going to have to put up with some trash fish—in the long run it’s worth it.

Tackle: If you are looking to catch the big ones, you need a large spinning combo like an OKUMA Azores 8000 reel and 40 to 80-pound rod, unless you are in into conventional reel outfits.  Depending on the tide movement, you will need a 1/2 to 1-ounce sinker and a 50-pound fluorocarbon leader at least 36 inches long tied to a 3/0 circle hook. I use 65-pound test braided line, as it cuts through the water better and that means less weight is needed. I personally prefer using a jig head with a 3/0 hook.

Baits:  Live medium size blue crabs cut in half work great. Fresh, dead blue crabs will work in most cases. Frozen crabs fall apart too easily and, to me, it’s a waste of money. It pays to spend a little more, but well worth the added expense.  Black drum can be seen on your sonar. Just drive around the pillars until the sonar turns dark due to the fact that they are big and in large numbers. The big redfish consider fresh blue crabs as their go to candy. If there are any around, because they hang in with the black drum, you could be in for a surprise.

Best spots in Tampa Bay:

The Gandy Bridge, Howard Frankland Bridge and the big Courtney Campbell Causeway Bridge are all great spots, just to name a few. The Skyway Bridge also has them, with some left-over tarpon.