Part 1 of a 3 part series of Fall inshore fishing reports from Tampa Bay.
Capt Tom Charlton of Charlton Reef Charters
Capt. Tom met us before sunrise at the Gandy boat ramp and we motored out in the dark. We were off to catch pickerel in the grass flats before our morning fishing trip. Tom had offered to show how he catches bait, an experience not to miss. We were able to take in the sunrise with dolphins, pelicans, and breaking fish, while seeing Tom in action with a cast net. Tom made fast work of filling the livewell and we set off. If you haven’t seen a captain using a cast net to catch bait, I recommend it on your next charter.
After a quick 10 minute motor, we set down for our first fishing spot. With circle hooks and live pickerel for bait, we quickly landed ⅔ of a Tampa Bay grand slam. Beautiful trout and hard fighting snook in the boat and released – in addition to a nosey pufferfish who kept eating our bait. The pufferfish are unique, or have “a face only a mother could love” as Tom put it.
We shot across the bay to fish the rising tide in the mangroves and were not disappointed. The missing part of the Tampa Bay Slam – a redfish – had eluded us so far, but luck changed with the tide.
A long cast to the shoreline mangroves was followed by a hard strike and bullish fight – a redfish in the boat. Grand Slam! Insert Babe Ruth joke.
The rising tide also brought a few nice snook to the net, as well as several dolphins checking out our catch. Thankfully they didn’t tax our catch.
Simple equation. A beautiful morning exploring Tampa Bay, a friendly and knowledgeable captain, plus catching a Tampa Bay Slam, makes for an excellent day on the water.
Though Tom hails from Houston originally, he has been in the Tampa area for decades and is a local on and off the waterways. He runs a classic Mako center console, great for cutting chop while running the Bay, or getting into skinny water to fish the flats for the Bay Grand Slam.
Find and book a trip with Capt. Tom of Charlton Reef Charters https://www.boatsetter.com/boats/zwchpnn
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