The Fishing Line: One Fisherman, Many Fish

I always enjoy taking folks out to fish in our beautiful local waterways.

Whether it’s a boatload or just a single angler, each trip is unique and adventurous. There’s always a lot to see, learn and catch! Most charters I do involve a small group or a family, but fishing oneon–one with a single angler can be a very rich and rewarding experience. A recent charter with Frank Brin is an excellent example. Frank wanted the full one-on-one experience and he was not disappointed.

I started the day by cast-netting for our bait at the bridges and grass flats near John’s Pass. After I picked up Frank at the Bay Pines boat ramp, I showed him the live bait we would be using that day – pinfish, mullet and pilchards (scaled sardines). I also had some live shrimp on hand. I explained that for this time of year, because we would be targeting a variety of species (snook, trout, redfish, mackerel, sheepshead, cobia), this selection of live baits would give us the best results.

Within minutes of leaving the boat ramp, we were fishing the mangrove islands and oyster bars around Bay Pines. While free-lining pilchards, we caught several trout, some of which Frank kept for a nice dinner. Part of my service is to clean and fillet any catch my clients want to keep, and I know of several local restaurants available to cook your catch.

Moving from one mangrove island to the next, we continued free-lining pilchards. Suddenly, BAM! Frank hooked a snook. These are great sport fish and Frank battled that snook around the boat for a good 10 to 15 minutes. This is the thrill of the hunt, the test of touch and patience and endurance, and Frank was DEEE-lighted! When he landed that snook, it measured 36 inches and weighed 12 and a half pounds. NICE FISH! Frank got some great pictures and I got a big ol’ bear hug from one happy fisherman!

Frank was pumped and ready for more action, so we moved to a favorite spot for redfish. This time we switched to cut bait – removing the tails of the pinfish and slicing the mullet and a few ladyfish into chunks. I chummed the area with smaller pieces of bait, tossing them for yards in every direction outward from the boat with a bait-bat. We baited the lines with cut pinfish, cast out the lines and waited. After about 10 minutes, Frank was hooked up again, this time with a big redfish. Redfish are another plentiful species of sport fish in our area, often described as having “shoulders” because of the fight they put up when they are a hefty size. This was the first of three Frank caught and released, all over the slot limit of 27 inches.

When the redfish action died down, we moved closer to John’s Pass and, using shrimp and pilchards, started catching mackerel. We must have caught and release a dozen or more when Frank hooked up a 27-inch cobia. Not a keeper but a good fight and nice fish all the same.

Whether you’re a local or a visiter, if you are really into fishing, going out one-on-one with a professional guide is the way to go. I know it gives me the opportunity to really educate my clients about the whole fishing experience: what bait and why, the knots I use, which tackle works best, how the weather and the tides affect where and how we fish, regulations and limits, as well as passing on a few of my own secrets for a great day of fishing.

Capt. Ted Nesti is a U.S.C.G. licensed professional inshore charter captain. Born and raised on St. Pete Beach, he has over 30 years experience fishing the Tampa Bay and Gulf Beaches area. He can be reached at 727-393-6129 or check out his website:

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