Skyway etiquette

I'm new to the skyway bridge fishing for tarpon,can anyone elaborate on the rules of the road? I would like to be as courteous as can be as I wish the others to do the same for me. I am fishing from a bay boat equipped with a two stroke and a 101 lb thrust trolling motor.

Replies

  • Lobstercatcher229Lobstercatcher229 Posts: 4,843 Captain
    I had a rough running engine in Boca Grande during the Tarpon run and got told: "never turn your engine off in the Channel". I am thinking that the Skyway Bridge won't be the zoo that Boca Grande is. It is nice to not cut off people's fish with your engine! And stay out of the way as much as possible.
  • TarponatorTarponator Under a BridgePosts: 10,781 AG
    There are two ways to fish the bridge.

    One is anchoring up. The other is using the tide to flow you through the bridge.

    Both work, but I believe the latter (i.e. drifting) is both more courteous and also more productive.

    Turn your engine off when you're doing it, and use your electric to correct your course (i.e. if the tide is going to pull you into one of the pilings, use your trolling motor to get you clear).

    When you're done with a drift, circle around the area you (and others) are fishing, and do another drift. Typically, I start my drifts a few hundred yards from the bridge and end them about the same distance.

    Just stay well away from anyone when you have your engine running and you'll do fine -- the fish at the Skyway react very differently than the fish in the channel on the outside of BGP pass. What you can do in Boca you can't do at the Skyway -- the water is much shallower here and the fish react much more negatively to boats running them over with an engine. Try and idle (or fast idle) around rather than running on plane -- you'll see more doing that, and knowing where the fish are (rather than guessing) is extremely helpful in positioning for a drift.

    Don't tell anyone, but if the conditions are right, we catch more fish (particularly after dark when they feed nearer the surface) live-bait fishing with our engine off in Boca. That said, I do understand why the common practice is in place and now you understand why I tend to ignore it.

    IMO, both Boca and Skyway/Egmont/Bean Point are equally zoo-like. We don't have as much user contention here between recreational and guides like they do down there -- but whenever you put more fishermen than pods of fish you generally have issues, and that's the case with both fisheries, and both areas can (and do) get quite crazy during the full/new moon periods (i.e. when the fishing is both easy and good).

    Hope this helps...Mike

    p.s. FYI, and in case you were wondering, there is no effective difference between a 2 stroke and a 4 stroke to the tarpon. One is much quieter above the waterline, but both are incredibly noisy below water (noise levels in the 150dB range). In fact, 4 stroke engines are even more noisy below water than a 2 stroke.
  • CaptainBlyCaptainBly Posts: 1,913 Captain
    Good info Tarponator as per usual. Seems everyone clams up this time of year.

    I too prefer drifting. I think it presents the bait better and you can cover more area. I don't have a trolling motor but you can usually hit the drift right without one. Sometimes the afternoon winds give me some grief but we can usually figure it out.

    If anchoring, have your anchor rigged to dump it and go. Put an anchor ball or something BIG on it and just toss the line when you hook up.

    DON'T USE JUST A FENDER OR A LIFE VEST. During the big tides, those will get sucked under and you won't be able to find your anchor until slack tide.

    Tight lines. Game on....
    In Loving Memory of James Zielske, January 19, 1957-July 5, 2013
  • FusionZ06FusionZ06 Posts: 943 Officer
    The majority of people I see at the Skyway anchor and chunk threadfin. During the stronger tides most people drift Egmont or Bean. Etiquette is pretty straightforward when drifting: go to the back of the line (don't cut), drift the entire area and circle back around way outside of all the boats and if someone hooks up get out of their way (you'd like them to do the same!). At the Skyway when anchoring pretty much just don't fish the same span. During peak season just about every span will be occupied. I've been anchored and had someone hook up and their fish came right for my boat, I tossed my ball in and moved. Again, only because I'd want someone to do the same for me.
  • LB200LB200 Posts: 298 Officer
    I would add this to the conversation. During the full and new moons, commonly called a "hill tide" in Boca, you really should not be anchoring under the skyway for tarpon. The fish are eating crabs that are flushing, normally, and there is almost no way to present a crab in a decent way with the fast moving tide from an anchored boat. Anchoring also blocks up the area for the guys trying to drift crabs.
    On the regular tides in between the moons then anchoring and throwing threadfins is the norm.
  • TaylormadeTaylormade Posts: 60 Greenhorn
    I just wanted to say that this is a cool thread this is and I wish more people started similar ones.
  • Lobstercatcher229Lobstercatcher229 Posts: 4,843 Captain
    Taylormade wrote: »
    I just wanted to say that this is a cool thread this is and I wish more people started similar ones.

    I like the saying, "if it is to be, it is up to me." ! Go for it Taylormade!
  • TarponatorTarponator Under a BridgePosts: 10,781 AG
    CaptainBly wrote: »
    If anchoring, have your anchor rigged to dump it and go. Put an anchor ball or something BIG on it and just toss the line when you hook up.

    DON'T USE JUST A FENDER OR A LIFE VEST. During the big tides, those will get sucked under and you won't be able to find your anchor until slack tide.

    That's a good point. I'll add to it: Don't use a small styrofoam crab trap buoy either -- the tide can take it under. I would suggest a 12" round orange bumper like this:

    253732.jpg
    http://www.westmarine.com/buy/taylor-made--tuff-end-round-fenders--P005_156_001_007

    Hope this helps...Mike
  • stpetebaitmanstpetebaitman Posts: 892 Officer
    I once saw a boat with an anchor pulpit have an anchor ball setup with the rope going through the pulpit. They threw their ball and tried to back down on a fish and were stuck on anchor.

    So, for those of you with a pulpit, take that as a common sense lesson.
  • Chawk20Chawk20 Posts: 55 Deckhand
    Do you guys ever drag a bait along the bottom while drifting? Is it best to drift the baits behind the boat or spread out? Thanks for the info going to put it to use sometime this week.
  • haydenfox!#$haydenfox!#$ Posts: 2,362 Captain
    Chawk20 wrote: »
    Do you guys ever drag a bait along the bottom while drifting? Is it best to drift the baits behind the boat or spread out? Thanks for the info going to put it to use sometime this week.

    Bait won't drag the bottom unless you have some serious weight on it. Eventually it will come up in the water column. Throw the bait in front of you, drift by it, reel up and repeat.

    Edit: I haven't caught a tarpon drifting, but I believe this is the technique as it was explained to me, and how I do it.
  • TarponatorTarponator Under a BridgePosts: 10,781 AG
    Fish different types of baits at different depths and let the tarpon tell you what they want.
  • brinkleybrinkley Posts: 184 Officer
    Great info. Quick question about baits, what if you have a blue crab hooked in the side horn and drift him along with the boat? That works as well as thread fin? Also, should you remove the claws or will that kill a blue or pass crab?
  • stpetebaitmanstpetebaitman Posts: 892 Officer
    what if you have a blue crab hooked in the side horn and drift him along with the boat? That works as well as thread fin? Also, should you remove the claws or will that kill a blue or pass crab?

    That technique will work well. Remove the claws, pinch with pliers at the elbow and they will drop the claw themselves. They will not die unless you rip out the claw and leave a hole in the crab's side.
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