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The hunt for pilchards

Old 02-19-2020, 04:52 PM
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Default The hunt for pilchards

So,
I recently got a good cast net. 10' 3/8 mesh and 1.4# per foot weight. Guess what I can actually throw it and get it open. I would say I get roughly 15-16' opening, while not perfect should be plenty big to catch some bait. I always here people say watch the birds etc. But I have to say I rarely see the near shore birds on the bait mid-day when I am boating. So when the the best and when is acceptable times to look for the tasty baits.
FWIW Marathon Florida

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Old 02-19-2020, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by highflier1 View Post
So,
I recently got a good cast net. 10' 3/8 mesh and 1.4# per foot weight. Guess what I can actually throw it and get it open. I would say I get roughly 15-16' opening, while not perfect should be plenty big to catch some bait. I always here people say watch the birds etc. But I have to say I rarely see the near shore birds on the bait mid-day when I am boating. So when the the best and when is acceptable times to look for the tasty baits.
FWIW Marathon Florida

Highflier
congrats on putting the work in learning to throw the cast net!
you want to look for the birds feeding at sunup over the grass flats
Old 02-19-2020, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by highflier1 View Post
So,
I recently got a good cast net. 10' 3/8 mesh and 1.4# per foot weight. Guess what I can actually throw it and get it open. I would say I get roughly 15-16' opening, while not perfect should be plenty big to catch some bait. I always here people say watch the birds etc. But I have to say I rarely see the near shore birds on the bait mid-day when I am boating. So when the the best and when is acceptable times to look for the tasty baits.
FWIW Marathon Florida

Highflier
I have caught them every where they exist in Florida. First light 90% of the time or in the dark under lighted structure.
You snooze, you lose. Catching them can often be the toughest part of your day and I have live bait fished with them on my charters for over 25 years where you couldn't produce without them in the well.
Old 02-19-2020, 05:44 PM
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This is when you have enough.

Old 02-19-2020, 05:51 PM
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When all the other midday fishermen are still sleeping!
Old 02-19-2020, 06:15 PM
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Under lights or slick daylight are the best conditions. Mid day watch the bottom machine and throw off the back of the boat or wherever you see them on the screen.
Old 02-19-2020, 06:29 PM
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In Marathon look around the high school or Oceanside flats near the bridge area. Pelicans are a good sign , but often you can find them under a single white tern that dips and dives. Ask local tackle shop. Good source of intel.
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Old 02-20-2020, 07:09 AM
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Agree with others early morning or later in the evening.Try marking them in canals mouths suspended off the botton on an incoming.Confirm with sabiki then let her rip.Once you find them this way it should be fairly consistent.Pay special attention to what the current and wind are doing.We have several canals in Largo that produce this way.

Last edited by Lu 1967; 02-20-2020 at 09:52 AM.
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Old 02-20-2020, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by keleast View Post
In Marathon look around the high school or Oceanside flats near the bridge area. Pelicans are a good sign , but often you can find them under a single white tern that dips and dives. Ask local tackle shop. Good source of intel.
This^^^^^^^

As the above and I have caught them at the Key Colony pier at first light the Vaca bridge and on the flat out in front of Boot Key.
Old 02-21-2020, 05:17 AM
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Thanks for the advice, I am a mid-day fisherman simply cause well it take a bit to get the crew ready. I was afraid you guys were going to say first light. I guess I will have to try it and see if I an keep em alive for a mid day trip. LOL

The other issue is with the skinny flats is I don't have a flats/bait boat. just my offshore vessel. So I do need to be careful with the skinny water.

That pic above with all the pilchards. you put that there to make me jealous
Old 02-21-2020, 05:55 AM
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Originally Posted by highflier1 View Post
Thanks for the advice, I am a mid-day fisherman simply cause well it take a bit to get the crew ready. I was afraid you guys were going to say first light. I guess I will have to try it and see if I an keep em alive for a mid day trip. LOL

The other issue is with the skinny flats is I don't have a flats/bait boat. just my offshore vessel. So I do need to be careful with the skinny water.

That pic above with all the pilchards. you put that there to make me jealous
No, just to let you know I don't speak with forked tongue.

Depth is usually 3 feet or better "flats edges" to find them so you should be OK with your boat. If you have a good live well you should be able to keep them alive all day except in the summer when the canal temps get smoking down there. This is the time of year they should be more plentiful in the Keys. Get out early and see what others are doing in the areas mentioned. Some days chumming is effective and other days you can rodeo them under the birds diving. I have caught them around the head pin coming into boot key with the pelicans pounding them. Only in the first couple of hours of daylight though.

You get a full well and your gonna be catching fish.

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