September Fishing Report – Tampa Bay Area
Snook season opens and as usual the action should be excellent. You’ll find plenty of big fish around bridges and passes especially at night with free-lined baits like pinfish, greenbacks and jumbo shrimp. Fishing the flats around broken bottom potholes and mangroves will be good. For some exhilarating experiences try tossing a good topwater walk-the-dog topwater lure. MirrOlure, High Roller, and Thunder Shad are excellent choices. If you’re not into artificial lures greenbacks always do the trick. However, this usually requires some experience throwing a net and a good circulating livewell. Early morning beach fishing is also productive, you’ll find plenty of fish chasing bait in the surf; try a shallow diving lure.
If you’re looking for some late summer fun particularly for the youngsters, take them snapper fishing. Not only are these fish fun to catch but they are great eating. Small free-lined greenbacks or pieces of fresh shrimp around markers, bridges or rock piles will usually result in a limit of fish. If the tides a little strong add enough split shot to keep the bait down 3-6 feet. Don’t forget a chum bag. Here’s a tip: Put them on ice immediately, this make them much easier to clean. It gels the fat in their stomach keeping it from sticking to your knife.
Tampa Bay is still be loaded with plenty of threadfins and the mackerel and bluefish will be all over them. Mac’s and Blue’s are excellent targets this month. If you’re looking for awesome, light tackle action this is it. Threadfins are everywhere but look around marker cans, range markers or shallow reefs. Anchor up current, toss out a few baits for chum and throw to the striking fish.
Redfish action will be steady with schooling fish moving around the area. Approach schooling fish carefully you don’t want to split them into several groups because it’s often difficult to group them back up. Always pole or slow troll to within casting distance, Power-Pole down and present a low profile by getting off the bow. Try to pick off fish at the outer edges; and never cast into the middle of the school. Reds eat shrimp, greenbacks, and pinfish. If they’re not looking for live bait cut bait might work.
Trout fishing is always productive around lush grass flats. It takes moving water to get them eating but when they start… its fish-on. Popping corks with artificial plastic tails or live shrimp will produce. If you’re watching a cork and it’s bobbing up and down that usually a pinfish eating your bait; trout snatch it under and keep it down.
August Fishing Report Tampa Bay Area
Redfish – August should see more redfish action around the Tampa Bay area. This past month we could find lots of fish but getting them to bite with any consistency was something else. I’ve set on schools of 50 to100 fish and tossed everything in the boat at them only to have them ignore our offerings. Occasionally we’d catch one or two on a cut pinfish but not with the action we’re used to seeing. With tons of bait around its likely the fish are not that hungry but at least they’re out there. The bay area notoriously produces good catches of redfish you just need to find the ones ready to eat. Redfish will push into the Mangrove lined shores and oyster bars on incoming tides. Live bait normally produces good catches along with cut baits. Early morning top-water artificial lures on the grass flats will offer some good visual excitement as well. Work both incoming and outgoing tides.
Snook - One More Month… Snook fishing will continue strong this month with larger fish still on the beaches. Expect to see them bunching up near passes and deeper holes. They often appear to have lockjaw but patience seems to pay off when looking for larger fish. Many report catching good fish with dead bait left on the bottom. Artificial lures usually produce some awesome action and if you’ve passed the learning curve you can have a great time tossing plastics to waiting snook.
Spotted Sea Trout – Trout fishing can always be fun especially when you find some larger fish willing to eat. I’ve been getting into some good action in deeper water and around the fish attractors using free-lined greenbacks. Also check out the deep grass flats (3-4 ft.) using a popping cork with greenbacks, small pinfish (the flats are full of them) or shrimp.
Cobia – Markers and sandy flats equal Cobia. These fish frequent markers especially those holding threadfins. They also cruise the flats following rays and manatees. When marker fishing, keep a chum bag out you just never know what might show up.
Tarpon – Tarpon fishing at the bridge has its good and bad days. Recently we’ve been seeing nice pods along the beach. Threadfins, crabs and larger sardines should do nicely. If you happen upon a daisy chaining pod, toss bait into the middle and hold on. There are also good reports along the upper bay bridges. Fish the light lines at night.
Snapper - Grey Snapper are everywhere. Pieces of live shrimp or cut sardines on a ¼ oz. knocker rig works great. Just find a bridge, rock pile, dock or just about any structure and its fish-on.
Mackerel & Bluefish – Tampa Bay is loaded with mackerel and bluefish and fishing this month should be great. Just look for schools of threadfins, put out a chum bag and hold onto your rod and reel. I’m seeing mackerel catches up to 5 and 6 pounds and some of the biggest blues ever. This is some real excitement on light tackle but need to use wire leaders like 30# Tyger Leader and inexpensive long shank hooks. For some exciting top water action try tail hooking your bait and let it work against the current. This forces the bait to the top for some great top water strikes.