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wes

Picnic Island Pier - South Tampa

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For anyone looking for some Sheepshead - go to this pier. I walked the pier today eating my miserable sandwich, killing my lunch break to see what was being caught. One man in particular was bringing in trophy sized sheepshead. Each piling was holding two or three of these fish. Yet as always, only one man out of 12 were catching. This only reinforces the theory that 10% of anglers catch fish. When I asked this gentleman what his secret was, his reply was honest: "I have been fishing here forever, and I just know what to do. Plus, knowing the tides is important as most of these fools miss the fish by the time the bait gets to the right depth."A staggered response, but a great response none-the-less.While I am sure those guys would not be thrilled about publicizing their spot online, these guys also believe "the computer is a government spy machine sent to ruin their lives" (honestly that is a quote) so I doubt they will find out. ;)

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Couple years ago I took my Grandaughter to that pier to catch her first fish. Will never go back!A dozen or so 30 somethings were throwing cast nets on the SheepHead, pulling in several at a time, keeping them all, and hollering "F" bombs and "MF" back and forth. Almost knocked an elderly lady in the water and did throw on top of her line.I called FWC as I left but doubt they ever showed up.Shame too because it's a nice park and pier.

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First post here.I fish at Picnic Island quite a bit (no boat) so I'll try to offer the lowdown on it.First off I will say it's in a remote part of Tampa and it's not a place to go at night alone. I normally CCW and even then if I'm out there by myself I pack it in when the last folks leave. Perfecty safe during the day, but safety first at night. There is good cell reception out there and you usually get a TPD patrol car drive by once a night. The pier is well lit at night (2 lights that come on about 8:15). There is a boat launch and ample parking for trailers, and a freshwater hose hookup.http://www.windfinder.com/report/picnic_islandThat link usually shows the current wind, if it's gusting above 20 I don't fish there.On to the fish! The silver trout bite is very hot there (not as hot as a month ago, but stills lots of fun). You can easily put on 40+ everynight and they make a great finger fish fried with cornmeal and salt. Catch them off the end 1/3rd of the pier casting to the north, the bite turns on at around the same time the lights do (little past 8PM). Up to 12-14 inches can be had with a Berkley Gulp shrimp, shads etc (I prefer 3 in) on a 1/0 hook with a small bullet weight jigged off the bottom to top. DOA terror eyez and other soft baits work well also. Swimming with the trout are lots of lady fish that will hit topwater lures, if you're into that you can ocassionally catch them to about 24 inches. Great place to take a kid who needs to get his hook wet without getting bored. Speckled trout can be had in with the silver's (season closed right now). For a concentrated spot for the specks try fishing the area just east of the big boat guide pylons. They school up there and are caught up to 24 inches. If they hit the second you're bait hits the water then they are there, if not 90% they aren't.Catfish can be had easily (about 1-2 an hour) anytime casting off the end 1/2 of the pier to the south. Cutbait, berkley gulp on a slip float rig with the depth set to 1-2 feet off the bottom w/ circle hook it what I use. I cast it out, and forget it. There is no good fishing off the south side of the pier. (unless you consider catfish good fishing)Lots of pinfish all over, but the easiest spot is off the end of the pier casting south. Sabiki rig or a bait net will bring them up by the dozen. Greenbacks can also be had easily in the shallower water off the start of the pier, along with ballyhoo. Lots of needlefish and angel fish if you like that cute stuff to show the kids.Flounder can be had off the middle pier casting south. I use a 1/0 j-hook or circle hook with 2 split shot about 20 inches up the line and berkley gulp and I'll slowly reel or jig the bait back torwards me and work the area in to the right and left. I've never got a doormat out there, they are typical 12-14 inches.Cobia and snook. I ocssionally wade out there off the beach and have seen both species cruising by but never been able to cast to them. Quite a few folks wade out there to a sandbar and catch speckled trout. The wading overall is so-so with a few spots you can get out too and work without spooking the fish. It's by no means a flats area though.Sheepshead and Red Fish. I have caught both there, casting torwards the north off the first 1/3 of the pier. There is a fence line from the national gypsum plant that extends in the water. The trick is to get your bait out past that and work parallell to the shoreline. I usually use a slip popper or jig head. As of late the only red's I've caught have been undersized.Some folks crab and shrimp off the unused portions of the pier with moderate success.Most folks that come there fish with live Shrimp (I swear they keep the bait shops up on Gandy in business feeding the fish). The pinfish will tear that up long before you have a chance to get a good fish. When I have used shrimp, I usually let them die and harden up for 15 minutes, that way they are harder for the pinfish to rip off. Either that or use brine/lightly frozen shrimp.More stuff for the kids and family; at dusk you can usually see Dolphins fishing in schools and they are always curious. Manatee head through there and under the pier every once and a while. About once a week a giant tanker will drive through the shipping channel towed by tugs about 150m away, but this is always at night.There are picnic tables and a few outdoor grills. There is also a fenced in dog park with beach access of the canines.Dan

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I just read this old post and found it very interesting. I have also fished the bay for lots(!) of years. One of my premiere fishing buddies (the MOST premiere actually) Captain Mike Plastic once showed me the secret to winning the National Sheepshead Competition. Not that there is a national Sheepshead Competition, of course, but the method proves the best.

  1. Buy frozen shrimp.
  2. Thaw
  3. Shell them
  4. Put on small hook (#8 or #10)
  5. Push tiny hook through (Now Peeled) shrimp meat
  6. Use split shot on the line or tie a light-weight(!) rig that will bring baits to bottom.
  7. Drop bait to bottom
  8. Feel tug
  9. Lift. Do NOT set hook; simply lift.
  10. Fight fish
  11. Unhook fish
  12. Repeat from Step #5.

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