November 2021

November 2021

November is now upon us, which historically brings a string of cold fronts throughout the month. The first week of November immediately brought a weaker front followed by a much stronger one almost exactly a week later.

florida redfish

The front that came through on November 5thbrought a strong north wind that stirred up the bay and dropped water temps by almost 10 degrees. The week leading up to the front the water had remained a steady 74 for some time and starting just after the front we have now been anywhere from 64-67 degrees, depending on the time of day and cloud cover. These cold fronts can cause a lot of changes in not only fish feeding patterns but also locations and waterway depths traveled. Shrimp become an easier option of a food source, as less energy needs to be exerted than chasing baitfish.

snook fishing on floridas west coast

As the water remains cold, redfish will begin to use shallow, sandy, and muddy bottoms in the mornings to search for their food, as these areas are the first to heat up from penetrating sunlight. Kingfish and Mackerel find their way closer to shore for this same reason. In the summer, Tampa Bay has the highest tides of the year while winter in the bay records the lowest. These large tidal changes are due to the north and northwest winds from the cold fronts blowing water out of the Gulf of Mexico and consequently out of the bay. In the winter the sun is also closer to the earth causing the new moon low tide to be even lower. These negative low winter tides give great opportunity to sight fish our inshore species on the flats, especially with the presence of deeper potholes creating a good ambush spot for predatory fish.


Thank you to all who weathered the weather over the weekend at the annual Fall King of the Beach. The wind was blowing in typical KOTB fashion and so a decision was made to move the tournament from Saturday to Sunday. Thankfully the tournament was still able to take place and there were some solid fish brought to the scales as it made for another great event!

Good Luck,
Capt. Skylar Wilks

October 2021

October 2021

October is now upon us and with the fresh arrival of fall, we begin seeing lowering water temps and a wave of bait making its way across the flats and down the beaches. This time of year, we start seeing redfish school up inshore and the nearshore bite turning back on with kingfish and mackerel making their way closer and closer to shore and throughout Tampa Bay. Big threadfin herring have made their way into the bay, which is another signal that fall fishing is kicking off. The amount of snook in the bay, down the beaches, and inside the passes remain steady, although the bite is starting to get more finicky. These big schools of fish stage up at the slower tidal periods and make these fish extremely difficult to get to bite. With the water being so clear, it can be frustrating seeing the fish but being unable to get them to bite. Big shrimp and pinfish are a great way to get these fish to cooperate, as we move into these cooler temps the fish become more lethargic and less interested in chasing baits and expending energy.

fishing for tripletail in florida

Commercial Stone Crab traps have begun to fill the coastline. In a few weeks, once the algae and growth starts to show up on the ropes and underside of the styrofoam, I will begin targeting of my favorite fish this time of year, tripletail. I often drive past miles of traps looking for these delicious fish and once I see one hanging on the rope I position the boat up-current of the fish and freeline a shrimp with a small hook with the current towards the fish. The key is to draw the fish away from the trap before the bite so that the fish doesn’t wrap you up in the rope. I come across the occasional tripletail that refuses to eat any presentation I try and if you’ve had this happen to you, I implore you to try drifting a small piece of cut bait with the same technique. DOA Shrimp and white DOA Cal swimbaits are also great artificial options when targeting tripletail off the beach. Fall King of the Beach is rapidly approaching so make sure you sign up early and get prepared for what will certainly be another awesome tournament!

September 2021

September 2021

Thankfully, so far this hurricane season Florida has been spared. However, with Ida sliding by Florida’s west coast it did bring surf, bands of rain, and wind, which may have blown some Red Tide blooms back into our region. There have been some reports since Ida that the coastline is registering blooms and the blooms have brought back some of the stench, although there have not been too many reports of dead fish, which is a positive.

snook fishing on florida's gulf coast

The Bay is looking clean and clear over these last few weeks with the snook and trout bite remaining steady for summer as the inshore redfish bite starting to take off as we get closer to fall. Soon we will have a steady concentration of big bull redfish moving throughout the deeper parts of the bay and passes as they spawn. Live shrimp has been an easy ticket to a good day inshore in Tampa Bay as the sheepshead are getting plentiful, the snapper have been firing off, and the snook, redfish, and trout are happy to find an easy meal drifting through the current. Bait around Tampa Bay has been tough for the past several weeks but we are now starting to find bigger concentrations of “fishable” pilchards as the fry bait continues to grow.

florida cobia fishing

The tide has been forcefully moving as it typically does in the summer, which makes for great fishing at both the end of incoming and beginning of outgoing. As the water begins to fill up the mangroves for high tide it’s a great time to pitch baits around the trees and points of islands where the current gets swept through and with it a continual flow of bait and nutrients for predators. Fish the up-current side and drift your baits through those ambush points and corners until the water is just about touching the hanging mangrove limbs and then try your luck skipping baits under the limbs into the shadows when the sun gets up high. High tide is a perfect time for cut bait such as ladyfish, pinfish, and mullet making them a great alternative if you’re confident fish are moving through the area but using the cover of the mangroves for protection. As the tide flips and begins to move out, work your way out of that area with the tide and you will continue to find fish exiting the area making their way to deeper pockets and passes.

Get geared up for the Fall KOB!

August 2021

August 2021

I am a little conflicted about how to write this month’s report… I am disgusted and utterly heart broken about the recent state of our waters due to the Red Tide-Piney Point Pollution cover-up, as essentially irreversible damage has and still is impacting our ecosystem and livelihoods. I ran barely a handful of trips throughout late June and July due to Red Tide as the water was a disgusting brown, there were dead fish as far as the eye could see, and the stench was bad enough at times to have you covering your nose and mouth.

However, as if a light switch flipped and our prayers had been answered these last 2 weeks have been night and day different than the many preceding. The water has been crystal clear, with inshore visibility up to 10 feet both inshore and off the beach. On my recent trips (early August) we have seen just as many snook piled up in certain areas as there had been in April-May, with redfish and trout mixed in the same areas. There is bait up and down the beaches, flats, and bridges, though most of this recent hatch is very small. This time of year you want to put away the 3/8 mesh cast net and bring out your 1/4in or smaller, so that you don’t Christmas tree your net…trust me. I made that mistake about a week ago and it stunk to high heavens until after my trip when I could thoroughly rinse and clean it. I don’t typically use shrimp too often on my charters this time of year but I don’t know if the fish are just happy to find food, or what, but the snook have been firing off on free-lined live shrimp lately.This time of year the shrimp are typically small as well although most dozens are mixed and big or small the result is often the same… FISH ON.

If you’re cruising around Tampa Bay keep your eyes peeled for nervous water asI have seen and heard of a few reports of bull redfish moving throughout the deeper parts of the bay, although I have not personally looked for them yet. However, the Mangrove snapper have certainly faired what I would hope is the worst of the conditions this summer, as they are plentiful right now! A few trips ago we had 15-18in mangrove snapper popping our pilchards out of the mangroves before the snook could get them. Snapper are some of the best table fare so there were no complaints from anyone on board that day.

“Red-Tide/Pollution” is still currently present up and down the beaches but the bay has cleared up tremendously so find some clean water and live bait and go fishing!

Redfish, Snook, and Trout are once again CLOSED for the time being (October)

July 2021

July 2021

The fishing before Elsa was on the up and up with the big female Snook bite taking off, landing multiple fish over 35” on just about every trip going into July. The Tarpon have showed up in droves with tons of reports of multiple fish and sometimes double-digit days throughout Tampa Bay, Egmont Key, and Anna Maria. The often elusive but fun fighting Permit have also begun flooding the shallows and nearshore wrecks and reefs making for fun action on light tackle.

There have been traces of the dreaded red tide becoming more and more evident as June approached and it is unfortunately now inevitable, as July has now descended upon us. RED TIDE IS HERE and RAMPANT throughout Tampa Bay. Although Red tide is a naturally occurring phenomenon, within the last 30 years we have seen unprecedented fish kills and worsening human physical ailments such as respiratory irritation.

There are several reasons for the worsening conditions of our ecosystem including over-population, pollution, sewage and fertilizer run-off, Lake Okeechobee release, and a lack of oversight regarding Tampa Bay ecology due the direct actions regarding waste of businesses including Big Sugar.

The number of fish kills are rapidly climbing as some projections top 427 TONS of dead marine life and debris having been removed already as full-time clean-up crews have been deployed to help battle the awful stench, poor sights, and at a minimum a tickle in the back of your throat. 9 TONS of DEAD FISH and MARINE LIFE have been cleaned up in a single day following Elsa. Many of us were hoping and praying the storm would pull the red tide out of the bay and limit the bloom due to a lower concentration of salinity which red tide cannot survive. However, that does not seem to be the case as scientists are projecting this may continue well into the foreseeable future, bringing back nightmares of the most recent 2017 bloom. The longest bloom was recorded in 1994 lasting 30 months. However, the bloom in 2017 was one of the top 5 worst blooms in since red tide had been recorded, lasting 15 months. The Piney Point dump should be recorded as a major triggering event that can and will be a leading cause of another horrific year of red tide blooms.

I say all of this with a heavy heart, as I depend on Florida’s natural resources as my livelihood, but we need oversight and change, in order to reverse this trend of significant damage to our marine and human life. It is not just bait fish and small eels that are dying like some years, now there are manatees, dolphins, goliath grouper, and even tarpon that succumb to the effects of this worsening “phenomenon” that humans have exacerbated. I am pleading to you the public, and our elected officials that we need to raise awareness on the subject, and we must hold those individuals and businesses accountable for our worsening ecological state of emergency as we search for solutions and alternative methods of limiting the red tide blooms.

Capt Skylar

Well, much to my chagrin Redfish, Snook, and Trout are now open for harvest in the Tampa Bay area. Not to start this report out on a sour note, but I would have liked to see these species continue to repopulate unpressured for harvest for a few more years. As a full-time guide being on the water nearly everyday I’ve seen firsthand how relieving some pressure on these fish populations such as snook has allowed these fish the opportunity to have a larger breeding stock to repopulate after that horrible red tide from 2017. Our snook fishery is now teeming with healthy fish and this has given way to being some of the best fishing in the last 5-7 years that I’ve been on the water.

June 2021

June 2021

Well, much to my chagrin Redfish, Snook, and Trout are now open for harvest in the Tampa Bay area. Not to start this report out on a sour note, but I would have liked to see these species continue to repopulate unpressured for harvest for a few more years. As a full-time guide being on the water nearly everyday I’ve seen firsthand how relieving some pressure on these fish populations such as snook has allowed these fish the opportunity to have a larger breeding stock to repopulate after that horrible red tide from 2017. Our snook fishery is now teeming with healthy fish and this has given way to being some of the best fishing in the last 5-7 years that I’ve been on the water.

snook fishing

Trout were inexistent on my charters for a number of years since the red tide but even within the last 8-12 months we have come across some double digit days that are reminiscent of the days before the 2017 Red Tide and although I don’t believe their numbers are back to where they should be to be back open for harvest, it is my hope that anglers will be more cognizant of the amount of fish they keep and not try to repeatedly “fill a cooler”.June has started with great weather and great fishing! I still don’t think I can recall the last day we had rain, which is crazy for this time of year. Nonetheless it hasn’t been scorching out yet so no complaints on Mother Nature’s end. The big breeder Snook are back to being stacked in the passes and littered down the beaches. These fish get tricky because they get lockjaw when they congregate in big schools at slack tide waiting for the tide to move and new opportunities to feed.

There is a new hatch of bait making its way across the flats and the big black ball of schooled up fry bait are being pushed down the beaches by predators including Jack Crevalles, Snook, Mackerel, and Ladyfish. The big schools of Bonito have finally moved away from Egmont Key however, the big jacks, Sharks, and Tarpon can certainly still be found. There is a celestial event to look forward to on June 10th when we will be able to witness the “Ring of Fire” as the first solar eclipse of 2021. A full “strawberry moon” will then follow this event on June 24th.

These events will have an effect on the fishing, as fish will choose these big moon phases to spawn. Snook for instance will move into high tidal flow areas and the female will release her eggs into the tide as the males fertilize the eggs with the flow. These events lead to some hungry fish both pre-spawn and post-spawn. Tarpon on the other hand will typically move offshore during a full moon to partake in their spawning rituals in large groups. Therefore look to target these big ones the week leading up to these events and the week following as well.

The Suzuki Repower Fishing Report is sponsored by Mastry Suzuki Repower

May 2021

May 2021

The Spring King of the Beach produced an incredible turnout and the winning Kingfish was well suitedfor the title coming in at 54 lbs. There were a handful of 40’s that the scales followed by a slew of 30’s as the weather this year certainly allowed for a lot of fish to be weighed. The day started a bit rougher than forecasted making the early trek for tournament goers testy, but as the day wore on the weather laid down and made for some good fishing opportunities. My team and I chose to run about 25 miles southwest and as we pulled up to our area at first light it quickly became apparent many other boats had the same idea.

There were a handful of early bites around us as we all trolled around each other hoping to hear that drag tear. We were met with a big bite not too long into the morning hours as a king went airborne on our blue runner. After a hefty battle we were broken off by what we think was an unfortunate tail slap as the fish swiftly changed direction. We made a few runs looking for the big bite, but for us this just wasn’t the year. King of the Beach is one of the most electrifying tournaments to be a part of and Old Salt does not disappoint. There were tons of booths, massive raffles, giveaways, and tons of food and drinks, keeping everyone in great spirits all weekend long.

Tarpon are here and they are beginning to get thick in the bay. Boats are beginning to line up at the usual main stays as these big schools roll in. Pick your favorite shadow line between the concrete pillars of the skyway and drift baits through them with the tide and wait for the thump. If fishing around the bridges isn’t your forte, you can always run the beaches looking for schools, post up on sand bars on the outskirts of the passes, or check deep holes around Egmont for your shot at a silver king. Pass crabs are beginning to flush out on these big summer moon-outgoing tides. May has a New Moon beginning on May 11 that will cause big swinging tides and move the baits these fish are searching for. Big threadfins are always a good option during this time and they are plentiful around structure. Both cut and live threads will work well once you establish a good drift. Don’t sleep on the breeder snook opportunities this early summer weather offers as these big females come out of hiding ready to gorge both pre and post spawn around these big moon phases.

Continue to voice your opinion as we await the verdict on Redfish, Snook, and Trout in our area. The FWC is closing in on their course of action in response to the current executive order that was set to be lifted on June 1, 2021.

April 2021

April 2021

Spring King of the Beach is rapidly approaching as the end of April draws near. The fishing off of the beach has continued to heat up as these temps remain more and more steady though a stray cold front still blows through, stirring up the water and pushing the bait and fish offshore. The first two weeks of April produced a ton of Kingfish for everyone preparing for the tournament and running charters. The Spanish Mackerel are rampant in the shipping channel as well as inside the bay with an abundance of drag peeling bonito and the always-lurking sharks.

On my recent charters, we have had some fun catches, including a massive barracuda and multiple Spinner, Sandbar, and even Hammerhead sharks, one being more than 6ft long.That shark made for an exhilarating fight and even more exciting reveal. We caught the barracuda on a flat-lined, 12-inch, stinger-rigged mullet near Egmont Key, and it took off like a missile before being able to wear it out and subsequently land it only a few minutes later.Then on the very next trip, we hooked the big Hammerhead on a piece of cut mackerel lying on the bottom. My clients battled the shark for a solid 15 minutes and once they finally got the big shark pulled up next to the 22ft Pathfinder boat, man it sure humbles you quick giving perspective as to what truly lurks beneath.

Big schooling Jack Crevalle in massive numbers have been mixed into the mackerel and bonito frenzy in the shipping channel and near Blind’s Pass, where you can never find a shortage of boats in search of a close Kingfish. These speciesthis time of year always provide a great workout and endless tiring battles. The recent reports I come across have all had great success hooking big threads, greenbacks, blue runners, and mackerel on flat-lines or bump trolling near wrecks, reefs, and hard bottom both close to the beach and out to about 15 miles offshore.

I’m very excited for this season’s KOB and I’m always curious as to what that lucky winning number is going to be. Typically, that depends on the weather leading up to the big day but usually, historically speaking, King fishing always somehow equates to windy conditions making some captains shift their plans and keep closer to the beach and bay while others choose to battle the conditions and trek as far as possible offshore in search of the winning bite.

Good luck to all who participate,

March 2021

March 2021

March kicks off my favorite stretch of fishing seasons, where the cool spring air and rising water temps really get the fish fired up! It’s a great transition time into the explosive summertime bite though brutally hot mid-day, slack tide lulls, making getting an early start all the more important. The beginning of March usually keeps the same pattern consisting of stretches of days with nice fishing weather followed by an end of the week front and windy conditions. As we push forward into mid and late March, the water should hold water temps steady in the low 70’s and that’s when the real magic will happen.

snook fishing in tampa bay

The snook bite will continue to be off the charts and the redfish bite has remained steady. More and more big trout have been making appearances on recent charters, which are all welcomed signs of exciting times to come. As March rolls on we’ll start to see kingfish and mackerel reappearing in close and tarpon starting to make their journey north.

redfish caught on tampa bay

The big question still remains… Will redfish, snook, and trout remain closed when the executive closure order expires in May? My hopes are that all three will remain closed. The Red Tide bloom that prompted the closure lasted for roughly 16 months from 2017-2019 and I can personally recall being on the water throughout that period in disbelief at the vast number of breeder fish that were dead and belly up. It was a tough sight to take in and it truly devastated our estuary. However, if you were to ask any old-timer that has fished Tampa Bay throughout their life they would be the first to tell you our fishery has been rapidly declining long before that terrible Red Tide spell. There are a few key players in why that is: pollution, overfishing, and new and emerging technologies. Therefore, I am glad the FWC took decisive action to close our inshore species giving biologists more time to understand the effects of Red Tide and monitor marine life’s rebound. I don’t believe two years is long enough for these species to make a full recovery from Red Tide nor reverse the rapid decline of these fish, especially redfish, from so many years of abuse. I do want to acknowledge the continued efforts by so many organizations that support conservation and education and that collectively we can all make a difference to see Tampa Bay and our natural resources thrive for generations to come.

February 2021

February 2021

February will look to heat up just a touch, as we prepare for a sweet transition into “spring time fishing” and with that, more favorable weather and fishing patterns. Spring is hands down my favorite stretch of months with the most incredible fishing opportunities in Florida, thanks to the great weather and aside from the tropical showers.

speckled trout

From February-May we are blessed with an unbelievably active fishery here in Tampa Bay. Spring offers monster snook coming out of hiding and making their way into the passes and beaches getting ready to spawn with the new and full moons beginning in April. These months also offer a continuingly solid redfish bite, as they remain schooled up and moving across the flats.

Cobia fishing

Cobia will be making appearances around the buoys and power plant as bait becomes bountiful again with the water temp warming and a new hatch of bait flooding in from January through September. The tides also stabilize between the negative lows of winter and the flood tides of summer leading up to and after the summer solstice.

inshore fishing

You can easily spend an entire day this time of year inshore, fishing snook in the passes and redfish in the mangroves. But don’t forget you can also make an amazing day out of checking green and red buoys for cobia while on your way to soak blue crabs at the bridges for schools of the massive black drum that are infiltrating Tampa Bay.

Before we know it tarpon will be here to kick off summer, but for now enjoy the awesome mixed varieties of fish that this spring weather brings.