By: Brian Timmins
Over the weekend of March 25 to 30 this year my wife and I were in the Tampa area of Florida to attend a reunion. We were busy the first few days but found that we had nothing planned for Monday the 29th. Since I did my homework before leaving home, I dug out my notes, made one call, and arranged a charter trip the night before (last minute luck).
I contacted Angler South Inc. which advertises “Classic Flats Fishing” on Tampa Bay and in Sarasota. This turned out to be Captain Tom Shubat, formerly of the Connecticut side of Long Island Sound. While this was a new name to me, I’m sure some of our longer-term members will remember him, or at least his several articles on fishing Long Island Sound. He currently has an article in Fly Fishing In Salt Water about the recovering permit fishery in Tampa Bay. He operates out of Anna Maria Island, which is on the south side of the mouth of Tampa Bay, close to Sarasota.
We booked Capt. Tom for a half day and had a wonderful experience. We met at 9:00 A.M. and after a short drive to his boat, we settled in on his Mako Marine flats boat (our first time on a real flats boat). We first tried fishing for Sea Trout along a sea wall that usually produces well early in the morning. No luck, but I’m sure he was also evaluating our casting ability. We then stopped at a marina gassed up and headed out into the bay.
We stopped by a fairly deep flat and started hooking up with Ladyfish of 20 to 24 inches. We landed a few and jumped a few more. These fish must breathe air based on the way they jump. This was great fun, which included my wife’s first ever fly caught salt-water fish.
After this, we went hunting Redfish on truly classic, shallow, turtle grass flats. We saw quite a few and managed to spook quite a few. Considering that it was our first really experience at flats sight fishing, it was fun even without hooking up.
Then we traveled back toward his home base and stopped to try a spot were Trout and Jacks are known to congregate on the outgoing tide. My wife and I took turns on the front of the boat casting to docks and shallow spots as we drifted and poled along. We both has repeated hits with some short run offs, which according to Capt. Tom’s trained eyes were mostly Jacks. We didn’t land any Jacks, but my wife did land a nice 18 inch Spotted grouper. At about 3:30 p.m. our half day was over (6 hrs – 1/2 day?).
In talking to Capt.Tom, he mentioned an opportunity that I promised to pass on. He owns a rental house, which will become empty in the beginning of May. From the middle of May through to early July is Giant Tarpon season in his area. Capt. Tom is offering full day charters for Tarpon at his standard full day rate of $250.00 and adding in a free night lodging at his rental house. His charter rate alone is one of the best in the area and with the addition of lodging in this area, well know for Tarpon, it can not be beat. Please call to confirm before planning your trip.
Capt. Tom Shubat’s standard rates are $250.00/full day and $175.00 half day. Contact him at Angler South Inc. (914) 761-1900 for a worth while charter experience. By the way, he is also a capable casting instructor and straightened out our early season casting mistakes quickly.