Although variations of this fishing challenge exist throughout the world and our state, The Tampa Bay Grand Slam consists of catching a Tarpon, Snook, Redfish, and Trout all in the same day. It has been one of my favorite challenges for myself and my clients throughout the years and May is quite possibly the best month of the year to get yours.
I remember mine like it was yesterday and it is still one of my fondest fishing memories. I was 15 and was fishing with a few friends of mine on our first day of summer break. Catching a Grand Slam was not on our minds at the start of the day as we headed to the skyway bridge to tarpon fish. A strong incoming tide lead to hooking 4 tarpon and landing 2 in the first 2 hours of the day until the bite completely shut off. After an hour or so of no tarpon action, my buddy John recommended we go snook fishing and away we went. We were greeted at our first stop by a pile of smaller snook and we all caught snook nonstop for about 20 minutes. Just as we were about to leave that spot for greener pastures I hooked what I thought was a medium sized snook, but I realized it was a big trout as it did its telltale wiggle on its way to the boat, and the realization that I was one redfish away from catching my first ever Tampa Bay Grand Slam hit me. I said to my buddies, “I need a Grand Slam and I’m one redfish away!” As everyone’s excitement level increased we thought the task should be no problem. With a high flood tide an hour away and the sun beating down we knew the reds would be tight to the bushes and ready to eat. We went from spot to spot catching fish everywhere we went, but no redfish. At this point the tide was already starting to go out and the sun was beginning to set as we came up to what would likely be our last spot for the day located near the mouth of the Little Manatee River. I was beginning to lose hope as I cast out my first bait and bang, redfish on! I can’t remember ever being that nervous reeling in a fish before, it wasn’t huge, but managed to get me around the buoy of a crab trap. Now common sense would have been to start the motor and calmly drive the boat up to the buoy to free the line, but I was lacking in the common sense department at that moment. I jumped into the water, rod in hand and swam myself around the crab trap freeing my line. I swam to the boat and stood next to it as I lead my first Tampa Bay Grand Slam into an awaiting net. I jumped in the boat and celebrated with my buddies who were surprisingly as excited as I was. As I looked down, I saw some blood coming from both my feet. I realized that I was kicking my feet across a small oyster bar as I swam around, but it didn’t matter, I was officially the newest member of the Tampa Bay Grand Slam Club and I would have swam around on that oyster bar for an hour if I had to.
I get asked occasionally by clients if we can target the grand slam and I tell them to call me in May and we will get it set up. May is here now and I can’t wait to help my clients to their first grand slam. I often get as excited as they do when that last fish comes in the boat, especially when we don’t have to bloody our feet in the process. If you have ever dreamed of catching a Grand Slam then get out there over the next month or so with a solid game plan and you too can join the club!
Captain Matt can be reached at 813-205-2327, online at www.FishingGuideTampa.com, on twitter at @captainmatts or at Facebook.com/Fishwithcaptainmatt