Fishing for Dummies

My name is Joe And I am a bait murderer…. always have been. I can be in the middle of 50 boats pulling in fish, and I won’t even be getting a bite. I can be at a particular place at the designated time, with the right tide and the right moon, using the bait, rod and reel as instructed…. and I just murder the bait. I have had luck on charters and even head boats, That’s why I want to fish, but on my own… I murder the bait. A few years ago I got rid of everyting to do with fishing and got into motorcycling. Lucky bait! But recently I got a nice 23′ center console catamaran with twin 115 4 strokes… This boat is a fishing machine! But I, still am not ;-( Where do I start? I want to just go 30 miles out and drop a line… but that would probably just be a waste of gas. I hear any known structures are pretty fished out on the weekends, even if I had numbers, would I have the right hook? There seems to be a lot to this, and I’ve got too many bits and pieces over the years. I need a fishing for dummies book!!! PS I live near Lowrey Park, so I come down the Hillsborough River, across the bay and out into the gulf, so if you can educate me on any of those areas, the bait would sure appriciate it!

Have no fear. Help is available. Perter Kaminsky has written a wonderful book called ‘Fishing for Dummies’, published by For Dummies Press ISBN-10: 0764550284 and ISBN-13: 978-0764550287. Your local library may have a copy, or your local bookstore. If not, it is, of course, available from for as little as $1.69 for a used copy. It is not yet available as a Kindle Book unfortunately, but that may soon be a possibility. The book covers just about everything fishing, including:

Your fishing equipment, from the rod in your hand to the hook on the very end of the line
The fish that people fish for, what they look like, and where they’re found
The basics of bait-casting, spinning, and fly-casting
Fighting, landing, and releasing fish
Storing, cleaning, and cooking fish
It is written with the tongue-in-cheek style common to all the books in the ‘Dummies’ series. I own several and have found them to be wonderful instructional books. I taught myself how to sew, crochet, and knit with these books.

The Hillsborough River has been flowing for around 27,000 years. Humans made there way there from 15,000 to 12,000 years ago, and they’ve been catching fish ever since. If a cave-man can do it, so can you (sorry, Geico cave-man….nothing personal). If you can’t catch fish around Tampa, then you have some serious problems. The Tampa area is a fisherman’s paradise. I have been fishing the Tampa Bay and Hillsborough Bay for decades. The entire areea, especially the artificial reefs, are loaded with snapper, snook, seatrout and groupers. They are nowhere near ‘fished-out’. I am going to do something I seldom ever do. I am going to tell you (and anyone else reading thjs) where my personal Honey-Holes are. I want you to catch some fish. These are the locations of the best artificial reefs in the Bay.

Courtney Campbell
South of Courtney Campbell Cswy, Lat: 27 57.75 Long: -82 36.85
400 x 200 yards of concrete pilings
Depth: 16 feet

Howard Frankland Site
North of Gandy Bridge, Lat: 27 54.62 Long: -82 33.22
400 x 200 Yards of Bridge Rubble & Pilings
Depth: 16 feet

Chief Reef
South of Gandy Bridge, by Chamberlain H.S., Lat: 27 51.62 Long: -82 33.79
Materials: 50 Concrete Blocks, weight 500 lbs
Depth: 24 feet

Picnic Island Pier Reef
South of Gandy Bridge, 75′ from end of the Pier, Lat: 27 51.39 Long: -82 33.19
Concrete Pyramid Modules
Depth: 4 feet

Picnic Island Reef
South of Gandy Bridge, Lat: 27 49.96 Long: -82 33.60
830 Cubic Yards of Concrete & Misc. Fittings
Depth: 26 feet

Ballast Point Pier
Off Ballast Point Park, around pier area, Lat: 27 53.27 Long: -82 28.75
Modules of Concrete Pilings, slabs & culverts
Depth: 8 feet

Bahia Beach Reef
Between Intracoastal Waterway & Mangrove Pt, Lat: 27 44.91 Long: -82 30.88
Concrete Bridge and pile caps
Depth: 24 feet

Now, here’s what I want you to do. Go out and buy a box of frozen squid, thaw it out and cut it into 2″ pieces. Place the pieces in a Zip-Loc bag and take them with you when you go out. Select any one of these spots, and go there. Drop anchor. I used to be a mate on a fishing boat out of the area, so I can just about guarantee this will work for you. Use a Med-Heavy action rod, and 25-30 pound test line. Attack a 1 oz. bell sinker to the end of your line, and make a dropper loop 18″ above the sinker. Go up another 18″ and make another dropper loop. Attach 1/0 saltwater hooks to the dropper loops and bait each hook with a piece of squid. Drop the line to the bottom and reel in the slack, so the sinker is on the bottom, with the hooks above it. Now, when you get bites, reel them in. This is almost fool-proof fishing at it’s best. It won’t take long to get your limit of snappers.

Good luck, and happy fishing.

Daniel Eggertsen
Dan Eggertsen is a fellow saltwater fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on saltwater fishing since 2004.

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