We set up at a popular fishing pier in Tampa for our last day of Florida fishing. This particular pier allowed vehicles, so it was nice being able to drive to our fishing spot rather than walk. I had surpassed 200 species the day before, so anything I caught now would be a nice bonus. My only regret thus far was not catching a shark. After using a sabiki to catch a few bait fish, I set up four rods, each with 100 lb mono abrasion leaders, 135 lb coated steel bite leaders, and either a 6/0 or 8/0 Octopus circle hook. Surely with that many baits in the water I would hook up with a shark! The next four fish were species we used as bait. Three of them were new lifers!
Pigfish (Orthopristis chrysoptera) - new hook & line species #205
Pinfish (Lagodon rhomboides)
Scaled Sardine (Harengula jaguana) - new hook & line species #206
False Pilchard (Harengula clupeola) - new hook & line species #207
While sabiki fishing for bait I also caught a nice surprise, this Spanish mackerel. It had been one of my targets on our first day, but we had missed out on them. I didn't catch many sport fish during the trip, so I was glad to add this mackerel to the list.
Atlantic Spanish Mackerel (Scomberomorus maculatus) - new hook & line species #208
Finally, mid-morning I got a bite on one of the shark rods. The baitfeeder drag on my spinning reel worked perfectly, and after about 30 seconds of "click, click click..." I tightened up the line and had a fish on. It was one of my heavier setups, so it didn't take long to get the fish to the surface. It was a clearnose skate! Ken helped me with the bridge net, and we lifted up my first lifelist addition not in the ray-finned fish class (Actinopterygii). It wasn't a shark, but I was still excited!
Clearnose Skate (Raja eglanteria) - new hook & line species #209
An hour or so later, another one of my rods went off. "Click, click, click..." I tightened up the line again and had another fish on, but this time it was heavier! In fact, it felt too heavy, so right away I figured that it wasn't a shark. Sure enough, it was another ray, this time a cownose ray. This time the fight was a bit more spirited than the skate, and at one point the ray swam under the pier. I had to carefully get it to turn around so we could get the bridge net under it. It took several attempts to get it into the net, but finally we had it in and hoisted it up. Cownose rays are not as flat bodied as other rays, so this guy had some serious weight to him!
Cownose Ray (Rhinoptera bonasus) - new hook & line species #210
Other than a snagged sea turtle, the shark rods did not get any further action. We fished sabikis while we waited, and in the afternoon I added crevalle jack to my list, and after the after the sun had gone down I caught my last lifer of the trip, a black sea bass.
Crevalle Jack (Caranx hippos) - new hook & line species #211
Pinfish (Lagodon rhomboides)
Black Sea Bass (Centropristis striata) - new hook & line species #212
Overall, the trip was a blast! Thank you to Ken and Michael for sharing your knowledge and previously fished spots and being great travel companions. Thank you to Martini for taking us around to your Miami cichlid spots and being so friendly to a bunch of oddball strangers. Thank you to Miciah for taking the time to fish with us and convince us to switch spots in order to catch new fish. Thank you to Ryan for taking the time to come out and fish with us in Tampa. Thank you to Anthony and whoever else I talked to online before the trip asking advice. And most of all, thank you to Ruoxi for putting up with me and making the trip such a success!