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Fishing Is A Family Affair

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On: Fri, Jul 18, 2008 at 4:05PM | By: Captain Sergio Atanes

Fishing is a great sport for families to spend some quality time together. Not all kids are created equal when it comes to sports, but fishing is different, and any youngster can learn the basics and catch fish. In fact, fishing is 20% knowledge and 80% luck. Let’s start with the basic tackle. A saltwater rod and reel combo can be purchased for under $40.00 at most tackle stores. Add a small tackle box, some hooks, sinkers, lures and swivels, all which can be purchased for under $50.00. For less than the cost of one football game, a family of four can get started for under $200.00. The next question is where do we go from here? That’s easy, because the Tampa Bay area has plenty of fishing piers both inside Tampa Bay and on the Gulf of Mexico.

Pier fishing is simple. Just pick an open spot, especially next to the guy catching fish (just kidding) and ask questions at the bait house. This could be your best source of information on what is biting and how to rig for them. Look for the anglers with wagons or small shopping carts converted to carry rods and tackle. These guys are what I call pier pros and they know their stuff. Fishermen are good-natured and most are always willing to extend a helping hand to get someone else started. Different baits are used for different fish. Trout, Mackerel, and Redfish prefer greenback sardines, and they can be caught using sabiki rigs or throwing a bait net. Cobia, Grouper and Tarpon prefer pinfish, and they can be purchased or caught using a small gold hook tipped with shrimp.

Sheepshead love fiddler crabs. When my kids were young this was a favorite of ours to catch. Fiddler crabs are those small quick running little crabs you see along the shore line on low tide. My kids really enjoyed chasing them down to catch them. There’re fast and run into holes they have burrowed in the sand. To catch one, first get a small, slender stick about six or eight inches long. Stand very still in the area of the holes and wait until a fiddler starts to poke his head. Place the stick behind the hole about three inches and place the other hand in front of the hole so when the fiddler is forced out he has nowhere to go except into your hand. It’s a great way to start the day. Surface feeding fish like Cobia, Mackerel and Tarpon can be caught by free lining your bait with the current.

For bottom feeders such as Redfish, Grouper and Flounder attach a weight just heavy enough to keep the bait on the bottom. Sheepshead make their home around the pilings, and a simple rig consisting of a #2 hook with 24 inches of 30 pound test mono leader and a 1 to 2 ounce sinker, depending on current flow, will surely help you land one. Sheepshead are known as one of the best bait stealers around, but when hooked they will give any youngster a battle they won’t soon forget. Another source for action is along the miles of shoreline and beaches.

Wade fishing can be both fun and refreshing during the summer months. Add a picnic lunch and you’re ready for action.

Tackle box suggestions · 1/0 - 2/0 L254 Eagle Claw hooks · ¼ - ½ - 1 - 2 ounce egg sinkers · Pack #10 swivels · Leader material 20 and 30-pound test of momo · 3-inch D.O.A. lures · Several top water plugs · Green and yellow floats When looking for the rod and reel combo, a medium weight outfit is perfect, along with 10 to 15 pound test line. Try using one outfit with 20 pound braided line when fishing for bigger fish. There are many brands on the market, and I find Power Pro works best for me. A family that fishes together stays together. I am always willing to help kids learn more about fishing, so don’t hesitate to call me for any questions you may have. Fishing piers phone numbers. Fort DeSoto Park Pier 727-864-3345 Fort DeSoto Gulf Pier 727-864-9937 Skyway North Pier 727-865-0668 Redington Long Pier 727-391-9938 Good fishing and tight lines. Capt. Sergio Atanes


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